Thursday, August 25, 2011

Checking in

It won't stay this way long but for a few days, at least, I've got my life back a little.  And no one can say that I'm not making hay while the sun shines.

I finished a spinning project:

I don't really like Etsy.  I find it hard to navigate and even when I search on a specfic vendor, I can never get it to come up.  But I was on the site the other day and came across this listing.  Who could pass that up.  I've never spun from a batt and wanted to try it out.  A batt, by the way, is simply a form of preparation that comes directly off the drum carder in a sheet like this picture shows.  The batt was made up of multiple shades of green merino with tons of silk tossed in for good measure.

I can't say it was the easiest preparation I've ever spun from but I know that's totally from my inexperience, not the fiber preparation.  I really didn't aim for a specific type of wool and I had no plans for what to make from it.  I just let it be.  And you can see what it be.  I wish you could feel how soft and squishy it came out. 

Now that it's here, I think I'm going to do a winter cowl.  Size 7 needles or so, a 1x1 ribbing, in the round, just go until it's gone.  Yep, I think that will do nicely.

The other thing I've been rocking is my bobbin lace.  I've got several projects in process, including a sampler bookmark and yardage of a simple, beginner edging (since I'm a beginner!).  The lace group I've been meeting with from time to time over the past 9 months or so, started a yardage club.  To gain entry, you have to complete a yard or two yards (can't remember what they settled on - I'll need to check that) of any bobbin lace pattern you want.  Takes more time that you might think but it's a great idea to stretch beyond the old comfort zone.  I'm currently at about 10 inches and when I hit halfway, I'll get a photo posted here.

The other thing I decided to try is a beginner project that came in my LACE welcome pack.  This is also a wonderful idea.  When you join the guild, you get an envelope that has information about the guild like the bylaws, etc., a membership list, a vendor list and this little pattern for a bookmark.  I'd never had a chance to try it so tonight I got my bobbins set up, the pattern pricked and ready and here's what happened:
Isn't it cute?!  I did that.  With my own little hands!  It's kind of wonky because I made the rookie move of taking all the pins out right away and spritzing water on it to iron.  Just like in blocking a lace shawl, you should really let the project sit under the tension of the pins for at least 24 hours.  Most of the time I'm pretty good about that, but for this I just couldn't wait!  I'll definitely make this again.  Only took a few hours and it's a nice little giftie.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chance Encounter

We have a local auction house that has regular auctions on Friday nights.  I don't go a lot but I do enjoy going from time to time.  A couple of weeks ago, I noticed on their weekly email that they had a "small loom."  That was the only description and there was no picture posted.  So, after I got finished at work, I headed over to see what this "small loom" was.  I knew the area that it would be in so when I got there I made a beeline to that area but I couldn't see it.  I looked high and I looked low.  Nothing.  Of course, the thought that came to my head was, "Small loom is right!"

I eventually found it hidden behind a basket and it was this:
It's a 9" Dick Blick Artcraft 4-shaft loom.  The gleam in this little guy's daddy's eye was a design developed by the Structo Company back in 1922.  Initially they were toys but came with all the fixings, including prepared warping spools and an instruction manual written by Mary Meigs Atwater, a most venerated weaver of the time. After World War II, I believe, when Structo had changed it's manufacturing output, the loom was put aside.  In the 1970s, Dick Blick (the artist supply place) bought the design and put out its version for a number of years.  It's all metal and this one had been sitting around a looooong time.  I took it completely apart and cleaned every little piece, put it back together and, Bob's your uncle, a truely portable loom.

The last time I was at Yarn Barn, I bought some blue and white linen because I wanted to do a twill study and I thought that would make it interesting.  I don't yet have a proper warping board (except on the back of my rigid heddle loom that was unavailable because it's got a project on it) but I realized tha the old weasel yarn winder I picked up at a local antique mall wound the yarn to 94 inches.  Well, I didn't need any more than that, so I just wound the warp on the weasel and got the thing warped right away.  I even got my twill study started.  (to everything there is a time....)

I'm not a very good weaver and I'm more interested in learning about weaving at this point than about making something perfect, so combining what little I know with this nice compact loom has been a perfect match.  It can be stored in the corner and brought out when I have a few minutes to work on the study.  Ideal!

p.s. If you want to find out a little more about the Structo and Dick Blick Artcraft loom, click here.  And here. And here. And here.