Twill Sampler 1.1

I’ve been working away at this project for four months now. My idea was to weave all the twills in the first chapter of Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, which are all threaded with a straight draw. So far I’ve woven only ones using a light warp. I’d thought I would get them all done on the six metre warp, but I came up short by about 6 drafts.

I found two mistakes early on. One draft was missing a tie-up, another just didn’t look like the photo. Otherwise they were all fine.

What have I learned so far?

That some twills are easy to memorise and a pleasure to weave. And some are a PITA. It partly has to do with the treadling. If it’s a simple line rather than moving all over the place obviously it’s going to be easier to follow. But some treadling sequences flow nicely while others feel awkward.

That some of the twills would probably look better with a wool yarn, but others were fine using cotton.

There seems to be an endless variety of twills, but a lot of patterns look similar. That means I could now choose the ones that are easier to memorise. (Though if I was using a loom with treadles this wouldn’t be relevant.)

I have added tags with notes about each draft. I should do this as I go, as four months back is a long time to remember details, even if I did use post-it notes in the book.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve added a great deal more to my knowledge. I’ve already woven quite a few twills, and I think I understand the structure fairly well. I was able to spot mistakes in the drafts. I guess there were no big surprises. Still, there might be something in the dark warp twills, so I won’t judge until I get them done.

I still want to do the last six drafts, so I tied a new warp onto the old one and pulled it through, then cut off the old and tied the new one on. I’ll do the same when I come to weave the drafts using a dark warp.

Chequerboard Rug

To quickly make more room in the stash for Bendy Show purchases, I decided to knit up the last of the bargain yarn from the Lincraft sale. It’s a non-machine washable yarn that I suspect is meant to be fulled.

It was a delight to work with on the machine. Together, the colours reminded me of a chess/chequers board. That gave me the idea to knit tubes in stripes that would form squares. I did a test swatch, then got cranking.

Then I bound off the end of the tubes and sewed them together. Crochet turned the straight edge of the outer squares into a jagged one, so I rejected that. Applied i-cord worked better. However, though I’d spliced all the remaining yarn of the two colours together, by the time I’d done half the edging I knew I didn’t quite have enough.

I went to the Lincraft site to see if I could buy more. Yes, I could, but only buying two balls of the yarn made the postage uneconomical. So I started looking for some haberdashery I needed. I found that their range online is very small, and none of the things I wanted were there. So I cancelled my order and decided to rethink the edging.

Alternating stripes of red and grey was the answer. That got me around the rug and used up most of the rest of the yarn.

There are still five Lincraft stores in Melbourne, but none particularly close by. Their yarn isn’t available anywhere else, online or not, so I don’t think I’ll be buying any more. I like to know I can pick up another ball if I run out without paying more again than what it cost in postage.

Stashbuster Shawl

Remember those yarns I was going to cull but looked good together? Well I did weave something out of them: a shawl.

It was very lazy weaving. I wound the warp with six threads held together. The heathery purple broke so I knew it would never survive being a warp. It was moth-eaten, and the holes went deep, so it went in the trash. So I unwound and replaced it with a fine green and a blue yarn from the stash.

Initially, I thought I might treat each bunch of seven threads as one. I didn’t have set ideas, though. The wpi was 6epi, and I thought that might be too large for the heddles. The possibility of weaving a goose-eye twill had me reconsidering, too. My reed is 10epi. If I divided the seven threads in half I could put one half in each dent. Would that make too sleazy a fabric? I wouldn’t know until I tried it. I figured I could alway rethread the reed.

It turned out that the sett was a bit too dense, so I spaced it out to 0,1,1,1. Then I tied on and began weaving, using a thin black yarn doubled on a two-pirn shuttle so the weft was 4 strands thick. This came close enough to a balanced weave to show the goose-eye pattern well.

And I soon fell in love with it. The pattern looks beautiful and the fabric feels lovely. It was easy to treadle without being boring. Many episodes of the Conscious Chatter podcast were played over the next week or so, and finally I was at the end. I cut it off, plaited the fringe, gave it a wash and voila! Done:

Of course, I then had to put yarn back in the stash. It would have been too much of a coincidence if all these leftover cones had the same quantity of yarn on them and I used them all up at the same time. But I only put about 200 grams back, and with the warp for the Fancy Log Cabin Blanket being wound the stash was still well below 35 kilos.

And That’s That… Mat

The yarn used in this project had been knitted, stained accidentally by being spun dry with another garment that lost colour, overdyed to hide the stain – which partially fulled and shrank it, then frogged. Honestly, I was close to tossing it in my stash cull, but then I remembered that I wanted to make a mat for the brick edge in front of the heater, which is in a nice position for warming oneself up but rather cold on the posterior.

It seemed like a good opportunity to try out flat panel knitting on Chew-bacca. I set up the machine and started. The balls of yarn are made up of short lengths knotted together. After four tries to get a panel cranking I gave up. The furthest I got before stitches started dropping was about ten rows. No idea why, but I suspect the yarn is to blame. Having to take the yarn out of the guide to let the knots through was probably creating inconsistent tension.

I nearly tossed the yarn out, then and there, but I still had the option of weaving it instead. I wanted a thick fabric, however. When I remembered that I had a batch of long rug warp left over from an earlier project the answer came to me: beating hard to make a weft-faced fabric.

So I dug out the cotton and warped up the knitter’s loom, wound the yarn onto shuttles and got weaving. It was good, brainless plain weaving and after a couple of days I had this:

Which I’m ambivalent about, to tell the truth. It does what it was meant to, but I don’t think it’s particularly attractive. The cat likes it, or at least he likes the fire and the mat makes the bricks less cold to sit on.

I only used up half the yarn and since I had no great wish to weave another mat from it, or anything to be honest, I tossed the rest. At least it’s a natural fibre, and will decompose. And it got the stash total down a little more.

Bendy Report 2018

It’s been two years since I last went to the Australian Sheep & Wool Show, and on that visit I bought mainly fibre for spinning. I more than made up for it this year. Last time I went alone, but this time I had the company of a friend – and ran into another on the way home. Both of them are knitters, and one is also a spinner and weaver.

I had quite a to-do list, from visiting a seller of looms to approaching a publisher of books about an idea I’ve had for a while, eating the same scrumptious lamb rolls I had the last two times and visiting Bendigo Woollen Mill.

We decided to visit the mill first, because I’d seen a little video describing the contents of their show survival kit and I rather fancied it, and numbers were limited. For $30 you got this:

Plus a sachet of hot chocolate (drunk), a pack of mints (forgot were in my bag), a bottle of water and a calico bag (given to my companion in yarn covetousness).

It was good value because I wanted most of the contents, which is pretty unusual in ‘showbags’. However, there are always a couple of things in them that I don’t want:

That’s a bookmark, badge and stitch markers. If anyone (within Australia) wants them leave a comment and I’ll post them to you.

I took my smallest wheelie suitcase with me to be kind to my back, and (theoretically) limit the amount I bought. Going to the mill first meant I wasn’t tempted to buy more than what was on my list because I knew I’d have it with me for the rest of the day, and I should leave space for other purchases. This filled about 2/3 of the bag:

The blue is ‘8ply alpaca blue fleck’ had been brought into the back room just that morning. The grey is ’16 ply recycled fibres’ and is lovely and soft. There’s a ball of Bloom in ‘wine’ colourway and multicoloured sock yarn in ‘purple green multi’. And the only yarn from the front room is a ball of 10ply cotton in ‘sky’, which I want to try machine knitting.

We headed to the show next, had lunch and made our way back through the sheds. I found the Louet dealer, who didn’t have floor looms as I’d hoped, but we talked about me going up to her workshop in Sydney later in the year. I spent some time at the Ashford stand and bought two large shuttles and bobbins – just in time for the blanket I just finished warping up – and a book of weaving patterns from an old manuscript.

At Glenora’s stand I bought some more 8/2 cotton and chenille, a ball of Ashford 8ply and a part for the Knitters Loom that broke a few months back that I didn’t know you could buy.

And I had mentally decided I wanted to buy a handful of single skeins of pretty or luxurious or interesting yarn.

From left to right: yak (white and chocolate) and camel (brown) yarn from Ochre Yarn, Australian grown and processed cotton (the first in recent times) by the Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill, a lovely soft green yarn for a hat that matches my Green Stripes Jacket by Kathy’s Fibres, and a multicolour yarn that caught by eye by HalfBaked HandDyed.

And lastly, a cone of boucle saori wool, a handy mini crochet hook set and a sock darning mushroom:

When I first visited the show in 2007 I took photos, watched demonstrations, looked at all the animals and watched sheepdog trials. In following years I added the fashion show to that list, but as the show grew in size I didn’t have as much time for looking at animals and trials. Now I’m pretty much down to lunch and shopping. I didn’t bother with the fashion show this year now that it doesn’t include handmade items.

Today I’m exhausted. I expected that and planned to do not much more than write a blog post, add my purchases to the stash spreadsheet then put them away, and maybe do some weaving.

Will all my yarn acquisitions fit into the stash? No. Not even half! But I did stick to what I planned to buy except for the one small cone yarn – and I didn’t find any rug yarns. And some of it will be used straight away. (I’m looking at you, you lush green skein of green. You’re going to become a hat very soon.)

Dusk

Back in 2010 I bought one and a half kilos of Ton of Wool cormo yarn, inspired by the locally-grown and made philosophy. RSI stopped me knitting in 2011. For a while I intended to weave the yarn, but I didn’t want anything white. Dyeing would fix that but it was expensive yarn and I’d read that it was hard to dye.

Wait long enough, and I stop being precious. I’ve already posted about the dyeing. The result certainly wasn’t consistent. But in the intervening years I’ve grown to love the look of natural dyed garments, with all their organic beauty, so I didn’t mind.

The colours remind me of the sky when you look the opposite direction to the setting sun. Purples and a touch of orange. So I’m calling the garment Dusk.

The pattern I used is “The Weekender” by Andrea Mowry. Modified to knit on the MegaBond. It was an easy conversion of a fairly simple pattern. Much faster than the Green stripes Jacket.

Sewing up had to wait until the jacket was done. In the meantime the Addi circular knitting machines arrive and I whipped up a hat to match:

When I’d finally sewed up all the seams, washed and blocked it, Dusk proved to be quite, ah, roomy:

Is there a trend for boxy oversized jumpers with skinny arms? If there is, then Dusk it rocking it. Not that I care much about being trendy. I wanted a warm, cosy jumper and that’s what I got.

And I like it.

Lagoon Scarf

So one of the batches of yarn I decided to knit up straight away to make room in the stash contained two balls of California 8ply in the ‘lagoon’ colourway.

I started cranking thinking I’d see how the colourway played out then separate it into sections to make hats out of. But once it was off the machine it said ‘scarf’ to me. The way the ends curled up appealed, so I simply did a stitched stretchy bind off.

The idea of attaching little pom poms around the ends also appeals, but I used up all the yarn. Maybe I’ll find a skein at the Bendy Show.

Green Stripes Jacket

So. Many. Ends.

But I got them all sewn in eventually. Then moved on to the sewing and ribbing.

Machine knitting is fast, but any finishing I need to do is slow, especially if there’s ribbing to hand knit. I don’t want to get another bad case of RSI. Thankfully there isn’t much sewing involved in this pattern – just two seams.

You can see in the next pic that the design adds extra fabric at the sides, in an arty drapey way.

It doesn’t hang as well on the dress form as it does on a person who has, you know, arms. But getting around to modelling anything myself these day is more hassle than it’s worth. First there’s getting changed into nice pants or a skirt and a matching top, then there’s picking a spot with good light in winter, and lastly there’s wrangling the other half into taking the photos.

You’ll have to trust me. It looks good on, and it’s comfy and warm. I’d like to try making a woven version.

Speckle Scarf

Last year at the Canberra Festival of Wool I bought this lovely speckled alpaca yarn. It is soooooo soft!

I made a tube on the Lincraft machine, and once I’d reached the end of the first ball I knew what I wanted to make on it: a braided scarf. However, at the width Aunty Lyn makes I wouldn’t get enough length to make a scarf once it was braided. So I waited until the Addis arrived and cranked out a long length of tube on Yoda.

This made exactly enough yarn to braid into a good scarf length. I separated it into three pieces then joined the ends – first by trying a kind of staggered three needle bind off but that wouldn’t sit neatly, so I simply gathered up the stitches on the remaining thread then sewed the three ends together in a flat stack.

I reckon a tassel would look good at the ends, but I’d need another skein of the yarn. Who knows? Maybe the maker will be at the Bendy Show.

Circular Economy

Meet Tube-bacca and Master Yoda:

They’ve joined Aunty Lyn (in the background) to make up a small family of machines. Judging by the chatter on the Ravelry and Facebook groups dedicated to circular knitting machines, this is pretty normal.

As soon as I had them out of the box I set up Master Yoda and stared cranking. 500 rows of my usual test yarn later I had not only confirmed that the machine works smoothly and faultlessly, but that 200 grams of 8ply yarn is enough to make a shortish plaited scarf.

Which I then frogged. It is test yarn, after all.

After using the machines a few times I soon wanted a better set up than clamping it to the table. So after thinking about it, then discussing the options with Paul, I came up with this simple solution: a table extension with a hole on either end. My design, Paul’s carpentry skills:

What I love about this solution is it’s flat and portable. I found I’m more comfortable clamping it to a stool, as the height is better for my back.

I tried plain (flat panel) knitting today, but kept getting dropped stitches. It’s likely to be the yarn’s fault as much as beginner’s fumbling.

Overall, I love these machines. They are fun and simple to operate and knit up yarn fast. I’ve ordered a book of patterns and watched lost of YouTube videos to get ideas for more.

But my adventures in cranking have hit a bit of an unexpected hitch: lack of suitable yarn in my stash. This terrible state of affairs may not last long, however, as I am planning to go to the Sheep and Wool Show later this month. But that raises another thorny question: is there any room in the stash for more yarn?