I had so much fun with my pick-up samples on the rigid heddle loom I wove off a scarf. I designed this simple pattern to pick-up the ribbon yarns in the warp and let them show more prominently on the surface of the scarf. I also picked up some contrasting yarns to complement the ribbon. I’m on a roll.. as I’m sure I’ll do more of this kind of structure. I especially like playing with color and texture. (Class schedule is on my website if you are local and interested.)
I’m playing with pick-up patterns on the rigid heddle (RH) loom in preparation for a class I’m teaching at Uncommon Threads. Its giving me a break from threading the big 24H dobby loom. This is a fun and easy way to get patterns on a simple loom. I’m struck by the comparison of simple loom complex patterns vs. complex loom simple patterns…..It took about the same amount of time to warp up the RH loom, weave 3 samples of different pick up patterns, and wash the samples as wind a 20 yard warp on the back beam of the dobby loom, and organize the heddles. OK, I know that the end product is really different as I’m going to weave a bunch of towels on the dobby and just a few samples on the RH but its kind of interesting to compare. Sampling on the RH is very quick and interesting if you want to try out something new. With pick-up, the patterns approximate what would take you much longer to achieve on a dobby loom.
Why do I dread tax day? It comes every year and it’s not really a suprise, we owe money. It happens….sigh. Oh well, I’ve paid my taxes and now I’m looking forward to this weekend when I’ll be at The Golden Fleece, 317 Potrero St, Santa Cruz, CA., Saturday, April 21 at 1pm. Jocelyn, aka Fiberdev, will be there with patterns and samples. I’ll bring the yarn! Its the shop owner’s one year anniversary. Now that’s something to celebrate!
I’m getting down to my last few pounds (!) of Angora yarn. Years ago I raised Angora rabbits. (Before Handwerks was officially a business.) I was going to insert a picture here but it was before I had a digital camera, yes back in the dark ages… so you will have to imagine what they look like. I had 4 white Giant/German hybrids (Fluffernutter, Harvey, Marshmallow and Snowball), one dark grey French (Midnight) and one English (Einstein) Angora rabbit. They are great animals but require a lot of care and attention as they are prone to some breed specific health problems. The Giant/Germans are big commercial sized rabbits and I would shear them periodically and save their silky long white hair. The French and English rabbits shed seasonally so I harvested their hair by a combination of plucking and combing. Within a short period of time I had more pounds of fur than rabbits! (and I also discovered that I had more rabbits on the way too…such as it is with rabbits) I soon found that my time was being taken up by tending the herd and I didn’t have enough time to spin up the fiber as well as take care of everything else. In 2002, I packaged up and sent off several large boxes of Angora fiber and merino fleeces to a wonderful business, http://www.fantasyfibers.com/ to have them process the fiber into yarn for me. I’ve been using the yarns since then.
I just pulled out the last skeins from Midnight blended with natural black merino in a 1:3 ratio.
It’s a nice charcoal color and you can see the French Angora guard hairs poking out. Its soft and will full nicely when it’s washed. The yarn is 2 ply and about sport weight, 1220 yards/pound. I’m going to use it for weft. I could have used it for warp but I thought it might fuzz too much and I didn’t want to fiddle with sticky sheds.
I warped the Gilmore, 46″ wide, 12 epi, with a commercial wool/alpaca DK weight yarn in a double two-tie threading.
and here it is close up:
and my progress so far, just beginning:
The warp is 3 1/4 yards long and I’ve left 8″ at the beginning to tie on and make into fringe at the end. I’ll just weave it off and leave enough warp for fringe at the other end.
The rabbits are long gone but it will be nice to remember and enjoy the memory of them when I have this blanket finished and want to curl up on the couch next Fall and WInter with a good book ar a fun knitting project. I’m enjoying weaving this and it’s exciting to have the bottom of the “Angora Yarn Box” in sight!
6. After you have knitted a series of heels and toes end with knitting a toe. Knit a few rows of waste yarn and remove it from the sock machine. You will have something that looks like this:
7. I turn the whole thing inside out so that I can weave in ends as well as close the foot by grafting on the wrong side. Here:
For handknitting I close the foot from the right side of the fabric with the knitting still on the needles. With most traditional sock patterns you close the toe at the tip of the toe. Since I’m doing short row toes I close the toe at the ball of the foot instead. You graft it the same way but you have more stitches and the grafting is under your foot when you are done. It looks like this on the needles:
8. I usually steam block my scarves to straighten them out and make all the heels and toes lie flat.
That’s it! Its fun to dress up your sock scarves with beads on the picot hem or change colors randomly or at the heels and toes. You can make them wider by using a larger csm cylinder, and longer or shorter by changing your row count. Its fun to experiment with the way the heels and toes create curves in the scarf. Instructions will be on my website under Patterns. Here’s a few from my collection:
What do you get when … you get carried away with heels and toes? Whimsy, a sock scarf. I used to demonstrate antique circular sock machines at fiber and knitting events. I found that like at most public demonstrations you get many of the same questions over and over from each group of people passing by. On a sock machine most people really want to see how you knit a heel or a toe. After many hours of knitting heels and toes you end up with a wonderful Dr Suess-ish scarf. I can’t tell you how many of these I have made over the years but I can share with you how I knit them. After repeated requests for a pattern, I’ve finally written it out so you can hand knit along with me. Whimsy If you happen to have an antique circular sock machine, here’s my method: (written csm instructions in a pdf format will be available soon too!)
1. Make a cup of tea, choose carefully.
2. Set up your sock machine and cast on in the usual way. I’ve got my Money Maker A right here:
4. Start knitting again. Knit as you would for the leg of a sock. Then you are going to turn a heel.
5. Now after your heel, knit some more rounds for the foot of the sock. Make toe but don’t csat off.
That’s the basic idea. Heels and toes, toes and heels, on and on. Stay tuned for part 2 for details and the finished results.
I’m doing simple relaxing things this week after all the excitement and activity of Stitches West and my Trunk Show. Both events were great and fun and exhausting. Everything seems to come at once! So far this week I’ve done the laundry, went to the grocery store and oh… posted a tiny bit of new yarn. (Select Single) Really there is just a little of this. Its the 2012 club yarn dyed in an assortment of colors. Its something new for me, a single (ply – one strand) alpaca/wool/silk blend. I don’t usually like singles but this one holds it shape and has just the right amount of twist. It also has SILK in it – how can you go wrong with silk???? Both alpaca and silk are long strong fibers, they blend well together, no short ends poking their way out of the yarn, they compliment each other. The crimpy wool adds loft to the otherwise dense and straight alpaca/silk blend. The resulting yarn is soft, strong, shiny and just plain lovely!