Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gone Loopy

One of the things I said I was going to start trying after the Retreat was over, is art yarns or specialty yarns.  Well, here's my first try - a boucle yarn.

OK, I didn't say it was great boucle yarn but it's boucle, all the same. 

I began by following instructions in an articly by Jacey Boggs in the Summer 2010 issue of Spin Off.  The basic recipe she quotes out of Judith MacMc's book, The Intentional Spinner, is that you need 1 yarn S spun, 1 yarn Z spun, 1 thick ply, 1 thin ply, one high twist ply and one low twist.  I followed her sample by using some mohair for a high twist, thin Z spun single (photo insert on the right).  Then I used some merino to make a low twist, slightly thicker S spun single (photo insert on the left).  The idea is that you make the first ply step by spinning in the direction of the merino (in this case).  By plying in the direction of the low spun single, you add twist to that ply while removing it from the high twist single. 

You're supposed to make loops with the high twist singles as you ply them together.  I found that really difficult but she says that's normal.  My loops were, for the most part, more like fun fur than anything else!  And anyone who knows me, knows how much I love fun fur (said with every ounce of irony at my disposal). 

Once you have this first ply accomplished, my previously low twist merino singles became a high twist ply and I also found it difficult to move fast enough to keep this from happening.  The next step is to use a "binder" to cable with skein.  Jacey suggests using seaming thread because of its high tensile strength.  I don't know what that is so for the first sample, I just used regular sewing thread.  You can see the sample on the left side of this photo.

It was okay but I decided to go back to the Intentional Spinner and see what Judith says.  Now she suggested you could cable the yarn back on itself.  So I tried that.  First, I took my bobbin of merino and ran it back through the wheel, removing as much twist as I could while still holding it together.  The I plied the merino and mohair together.  I found that if I kind of rubbed my fingers together as the mohair got to the merino, it helped me form the characteristic boucle loops a little better.  Once I finished all the mohair that I'd spun, I wound off half the yarn onto a second bobbing and started the cabling process.  You can see this skeinlette on the right side of the photo above.

Oddly enough, the cabling step evened out the twist and both skeinlettes were perfectly balanced.  Much to my surprise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Too Much Fun

I've finally got some pics from the weekend.  We had a table full of patterns and resource material for participants to dig through and we used these a lot through the weekend.

The facility turned out to be more than perfect and the staff at the RiverBank Lodge were fabulous. I can't say enough good things about them.  We had little gift bags for everyone that become project bags.  There was a workbook (with companion cd full of period pattern books), projects, and other fun bits and pieces.

We had four absolutely terrific ladies and they were such a great mixture of personalities but all of them came game for anything and ready to try their hand at whatever we threw at them.  That attitude always makes it so much fun to teach. 

Jane and I found the worst written pattern that could ever have been produced and used it for our first session.  It was a great way to learn the common terms of the time and laugh.  Plus it's a really cute pattern!  I'll show you one day.

I could go on and on and on but I'll stop here and let you enjoy some pictures of the area around the RiverBank Lodge....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heritage Knitting in Progress

Sorry I don't have any photos yet.  I have the camera and I have the laptop but I forgot to bring the little cable that connects the two.  Details, details....

We're getting ready for our last sessions in our Heritage Knitting Retreat and it's been more fun than I could have imagined.  We have had 4 wonderful ladies participating and it's been a hoot.  We've learned how to read the world's worst written pattern and actually gotten a cute project out of it, we've learned a new knitting language, we've laughed, we've learned new stitch patterns, we've laughed, we've eaten, we've had fun with digging through the 19th century pattern books, we've learned about modern yarn equivalents to yarn selections like andalusian wool and berlin fleecy, we've eaten, we've laughed.  A good time was had by all, in other words.

Wish you could have been here.  We're going to rework the workbook a little bit and it will be available a little later if you're interested.  The hard copy workbook with companion cd is going to be $15 and $10 for the cd only.  The cd contains an electronic version of the workbook and a collection of digital copies of 19th century pattern books.  Shipping will be added to either type.

It's been 2 years worth of research and planning for Jane and myself and it feels wonderful to have this tangible outcome here at the end with both the workbook and the time we've had together this weekend.  It feels maaavalous, Darling!