I am one of those people who does not like to sit idle. So I try to bring a small project with me to keep my hands busy while waiting. Usually that is a small knitting project, and one of the easiest portable projects is knitting small dish cloths. I knit in the car (as a passenger of course), while sitting and chatting with friends, during Zoom meetings for work, etc. My go to pattern is called Corrugated Cloth which I knit on 4.5 mm needles with 33 stitches in a row. So far in 2023 I’ve knit over 225 dish cloths and there are still a couple of months left.
I had been accumulating odd balls of scraps. Bits of yarn too small to make a full dish cloth. My scrap yarn bag had filled to the top and so I decided to make a scrap blanket.
After browsing patterns and projects on Ravelry I picked the pattern Excavation, but with a couple of modifications. I opted to omit the fringe and instead knit the blanket continuously. I also opted to alternate 2 balls of yarn, doing 2 rows with the first colour, then 2 rows of the second colour. This resulted in a nicely striped blanket. Often I joined in new yarn mid-row using a Russian join to splice the yarns together. Generally I alternated scraps with a bit of white in them with scraps that were darker (no white).
About a month later, my cotton scrap blanket was done. The finished project is 46″ x 48″ (116.8 cm x 121.9 cm). It was a very relaxing knit and the growth of the blanket was aided by some long Zoom training sessions for work.
Now that the blanket is complete, I was evaluating my bag of scraps and there are still quite a few left. I think I used 2/3 of the initial bag of scraps in the blanket. I also found another bag with scraps and a couple of odd balls. Another scrap blanket is on the horizon. Maybe next time I’ll use a single colour to contrast with the scraps. I will keep this in mind next time I’m shopping for more cotton yarn and see if I can find a main yarn I’d like to use. I wonder what colour I should pick? (I am open to suggestions!)
I was staring out my window watching a bird taking fiber from a nesting ball and thought this might be something worth writing about. I have been running a multi-year experiment on the fiber preferences of my local birds.
My experiment started in 2021 when I began spinning some llama I bought from a local farmer. Though the fiber was dehaired, when I got into the bags I discovered quite a bit of VM (aka vegetable matter).
VM is something spinners hate because if it gets into the singles there will be prickly bits stuck in the yarn. As a result, I ended up removing large sections of this fiber and putting it in the discard pile. I started with 200g of fiber and at the end had 158g of plied yarn. So quite a bit of fiber was passed over.
However, I found this neat metal hanger and thought I’d try filling it with fiber and see what the birds thought of it. It was spring and prime nest building season so it was worth a try. The VM filled llama got stuffed into the blue hanger. And as far as I could tell not much happened after that. We did not notice the birds taking any of the fiber and it seemed to be a total bust.
One day we had our cat Jupiter groomed by Purrdy Paws Mobile Pet Grooming. And as they were giving our cat back to me, they also handed me a pile of Jupiter’s fur. (Side note, Jupiter went over the Rainbow bridge in fall 2022 so looking through our photos or him to select one for this blog has been lovely.)
The blue hanger with the llama fiber was still on the feeder, and I added the handful of black cat fur to the top of the blue hanger. I wasn’t expecting much of anything but it seemed like a good way to use that handful of cat fur. What happened was that the birds, especially the chickadees, took the black cat fur away and continued to ignore the llama. Hmmm…
In May I went to a small fiber festival and a couple of my friends were selling nesting balls. Given my failure with the llama I was not sure how things would go with the nesting balls but I decided to expand my experiment. I purchased two nesting balls… one with Alpaca and another with wool and added them to our feeders.
We haven’t noticed much activity with the alpaca fiber, but the wool nesting ball has been a hit. We have seen both chickadees and goldfinches taking wool. It is really fun to watch them work.
I suspect I will have to refill the wool nesting ball next year to supply the birds with the material they prefer. I have also started collecting cat fur from our pet brushing efforts (we have 3 cats so collecting cat fur should be easy enough) and adding it to the blue hanger. It will be interesting to see which fibre gets the most attention next year.
I love to spin yarn. It is my favourite craft and I generally find it very relaxing. This year my husband got me this fabulous gift – a custom plate for my car.
Speaking of gifts… recently a friend offered me a tremendous gift of an autowind flyer from Level Wind Systems. What a generous gift! I got a flyer for my Majacraft Rose because that is my go to wheel.
I actually like my Majacraft Rose so much that I have 2 of them, one where I can use the regular and jumbo bobbins, and a second that has a massive Overdrive bobbin and flyer on it. The Overdrive wheel is great for plying and for spinning bulky yarns.
The autowind flyer has batteries inside the left flyer arm. When you switch the unit on, the yarn guide slowly moves up and down the right arm. This results in the yarn filling the bobbin much more evenly.
This is a photo of the same bobbin. You can see how the singles form a nice rotating layer on the bobbin.
I have spun a few skeins now and have discovered a few things. When I put the flyer on I need to tighten the flyer onto the mandrel of my Majacraft Rose. However, when I tightened the flyer enough so that it works properly, it was also impinging on the bobbin which made spinning not very nice. I had to really crank the brake and there was quite a bit of drag. To fix this I dug out some Plumbers tape (also called thread seal tape) and wrapped it on the flyer mandrel. Then I installed the flyer. The tape helps the flyer make a nice snug connection but also leaves the bobbin free to spin. This resulted in a much nicer spinning experience.
Another thing I discovered after using the thread seal tape was that my bobbin was sitting back past where the flyer could nicely wind on the singles. This resulted in an empty area at the rear of the bobbin. The singles were collapsing into the empty area which was not very tidy and could lead to tangles later when plying off the bobbin.
To fix this problem when I started spinning the next bobbin I added a simple felt washer behind the bobbin.
My current project is a pound of dyed fiber from Adele Forward, an Indie Dyer in Dorset, Ontario, Canada. Adele posts her dyed roving, locks and yarn on Facebook. Have a look if you are interested in buying some delicious dyed fiber.
This is my progress after spinning 3 bobbins of the same fibre. You can see bobbin #1 in the upper right (with the slightly empty section at the top/back of the bobbin), bobbin #2 in the upper left (which was spun with the felt washer) and bobbin #3 on the wheel (again spun with a felt washer in place).
Three bobbins spunI have now moved on to plying. Because I have 3 bobbins of singles plying is a multi-day job. It took me about 5 hours to fill the first jumbo bobbin with plied yarn. And here are the bobbins after plying up that first big bobbin. There is still lots of singles left to go into the second skein.
And here we are with the second bobbin done and all the yarn wound into skeins.
I have to say I love how quiet and helpful the autowind flyer is. It is a fabulous tool and I am very appreciative of this awesome gift.
A few years ago I adopted this Antique Skein Winder at one of our guild sales. Originally there would have been a mechanism that would count the rotations and pop once a full skein was reached. But that part of the tool is broken on this one. However, it is still quite usable for winding up skeins of yarn.
I noticed that mine was looking quite dusty and the wood was quite dry. Winter in Ontario can be quite cold and dry so this is no great surprise that my skein winder was looking a bit tired.
I dug out my bag of wood cleaners and assessed the problem. I decided to use the Home Hardware Outdoor Furniture Wax.
Before I started to use the wax I wiped down the skein winder with a damp rag to remove the surface dust. Then I added a dollop of furniture wax and started rubbing it in. This wax is nice to use because it is very wet and easy to spread around. I also find it very nourishing to the wood.
When the whole skein winder was waxed the wood grain was showing really nicely and the whole thing looked amazing. It didn’t take long to clean and maintain my skein winder and it was very satisfying to do because the results are so impressive. Having tools that work properly is wonderful. Having tools that are also beautiful makes them even more enjoyable to use.
I do a lot of spinning and therefore this tool gets used all the time. I went to the Chesterville Spin In on Feb 4th and bough this lovely braid of Superwash Merino combed top from Karberry Farm.
After I spun it up I decided to take a few photos showing my skein winder in action. To get started I move my spinning wheel off to the left and release the brake tension on the bobbin.
Next I attach the end of the yarn to one of the arms of the skein winder and start winding. (I use an elastic hair tie on the arm of the winder and simply tuck the end of the yarn under the elastic to secure it, and then I start winding.) The yarn flows off the bobbin on the spinning wheel and onto the skein winder. I do hold the yarn as I am winding so that it winds on evenly and with a bit of tension.
After I have wound up the yarn onto the skein winder I have a nice neat bundle of yarn. (In this next photo you can see where I attached the initial tail of the yarn using a hair elastic on the left arm of the skein winder.)
Next I use scrap yarn to tie four figure eight ties on the skein, spacing them out around the skein.
I also like to secure both ends of the yarn into the nearest figure eight tie. I take the yarn end, flip it over the nearest figure eight knot, and then tie a light knot. This allows me to always find one of the ends of the skein later because I know it will be in one of the four figure eight ties.
Once the four ties are knotted and the ends of the skein are secured, it is time to remove the skein from the yarn winder.
My winder has six arms. One of the arms has a neat elbow joint that has can be bent. When I bend the arm to the side this releases the tension on the skein, making it easier to remove the skein off the winder.
After removing from the winder I twist the skein into a neat bundle for storage. This skein of chain plied yarn will go in the pile of recent handspun waiting to be washed. After it is washed and dry it will be ready for longterm storage or for use.
And just for fun, I’m going to end this post by including the before and after photos side by side. I love how it went from drab to fabulous with a tiny bit of elbow grease. This handsome Antique skein winder deserved the TLC.
Hello! I am Carlene and a new poster here on the Felting and Fiber Studio blog. I live in Carp which is part of Ottawa Canada. I am a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild; the same guild that Jan Scott, Ann McElroy and Bernadette Quade belong to.
I am interested in a number of fiber arts including: crochet, knitting, spinning, felting and weaving. I will admit that spinning is my biggest passion and where I spend most of my time. I have been dabbling in weaving for a bit, using rigid heddle looms and taking some classes at the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild.
In June 2022 I managed to purchase a used Saori CH50 loom and since then my weaving has really taken off. I love the Saori philosophy and how well designed the loom is. Saori weaving is a free form style of weaving developed in Japan. You can learn more about the history of Saori online from Saori Global.
Here is my Saori loom. It is a cute little 2 harness loom with a small footprint similar to a card table. The official specs are as follows: Width: 69cm (26″), Depth: 61cm (24″), Height: 98cm (38″), Weight: 15.7kg (34.5lb), Weaving Width: 60cm (23″).
One of the neat innovations of the Saori looms is using a square back beam that allows you to slide a pre-wound warp onto the loom and speed up the warping process. You can buy pre-wound warps in a number of different thread counts (50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 threads), lengths (3m, 6m, 12m and 30m) and fibre types (cotton, wool, or mixed fibers such as wool, cashmere, silk). The most affordable warps are plain black warps in either wool or cotton. This is a 100 end cotton warp that I recently put on my loom. The warp threads are taped to the square tube, then wound on under light tension with spacers inserted occasionally. At the end of the warp the ends are again taped down.
After putting the warp onto the back beam, I lifted the reed and beater out of the loom and set it aside. Then I untaped the warp threads from the roll and lifted them up over the back beam, over the middle castle of the loom and taped the threads to the loom shelf using green painters tape.
Next I did some quick counting and inserted some chip clips as markers. I wanted to thread from the middle outwards so that I could easily position the warp threads in the middle of the reed and the heddles on the shaft. After counting out the threads I carefully snipped a single thread from the tape, then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the rear shaft. I repeated this process with the the next thread and then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the front shaft. I then skipped a heddle in each shaft and then repeated this process to thread the next thread, all the way across the loom.
In this next picture you can see all the black warp threads have been inserted through the heddles. I have used chip clips to keep the threads neat and tidy. There is a spare empty heddle between each of the threads.
I decided to add some supplementary warp threads to experiment with adding a bit of colour to my warp. I bought these Kumihimo bobbins to try. I wound cotton thread in various colours onto the bobbins.
Then I positioned the bobbins at the back of the loom and slowly threaded them into some of the empty heddles between warp threads. The placement of these threads was somewhat random. After adding in the supplementary warp threads I was ready to thread the reed. So I put the beater bar and reed back into the loom.
I used my threading hook to thread the reed and I did groups of 4 threads, then one empty space in the reed, then the next set of 4 threads. Chip clips were again used to keep the threads tidy.
After completing the threading it was time to tie onto the front beam and then start weaving. The warp threads are knotted onto the front beam. The blue yarn you see is a bit of scrap yarn at the beginning of the project to help space out the warp threads. The weft threads (the back and forth weaving threads) is some self striping wool/acrylic sock yarn (Kroy Socks Stripes in the colour Burnished Sierra). When you look at the back of the loom the Kumihimo bobbins with the supplementary warp threads are hanging off the back.
I wove a piece that was about 64″ on the loom. After taking it off the loom the piece measured 60.5″ x 20.5″. After washing the dimensions will shift again and there will be a bit more shrinkage.
After removing the blue waste yarn I trimmed the warp ends, knotted them together, then twisted the fringe. The result is a cowl for my Christmas gift pile. I still have one last step to do though. The fabric still needs to be washed to set the cloth and after washing it’ll need a quick press with the iron to make it look beautiful again. I have a stack of Christmas weaving waiting for washing and ironing. Luckily there is still a bit of time before Christmas to get it all done.
I got the stack weaving washed and realized that I had forgotten the step of sewing on labels. So today I sat down with the pile and sewed on tags. I have these nice vegan leather tags that I purchased off ETSY from FractalFocusStudios and I carefully sewed one on each item.
After putting the tag on I did a quick try on. Love it! My stack of scarves and cowls are now sitting in the pile of Christmas gifts. Soon they will all be adopted by new owners.