Sunday, February 22, 2015

from handspun to handwoven - a quechuemitl

quechquemitl from hanspun suri alpaca

I posted this project photo on my keepsakefiber facebook page and shared to Fiber Artists and Yarn Spinners group.  It received such a favorable response and engaged some questions that I thought I would share it in more detail here.

 I choose a quechquemitl for its simple construction and opportunity to show off a bubble crepe handspun that I made.  I only had a small amount of this yarn and alot of the 2ply handspun suri alpaca, in black. 
multicolor bubble crepe, wool with suri alpaca

So dream I did... I designed the striping on the warp board, knowing that I wanted the black section to be around the neck. 

 I used a 20/2 mercerized cotton for the weft.  I wanted a fabric that would drape, not a suit of armor.
The 2-ply suri alpaca was sticking together in the I beat lightly before and after throwing the shuttle. I did have a warp thread of the suri break.  I fixed this and wove on.

I planned the project to weave a 26 x 84 piece.  I ended up with a longer and narrower piece of fabric, 24 x 88.


Before wet finishing the fabric, I twisted my fringe.  I bundled the fringe with pony tail holders to prevent them from tangling during the finishing process.

I wet finished the fabric with a shampoo in warm water, spun it the washing machine to remove the water and draped it over a rack to dry, ensuring that the weight was evenly distributed so that the fabric wouldn't distort.

I marked the yardage in half lengthwise.  Used a zig zag stich on my sewing machine to secure the ends before cutting the fabric on the mark.  I made narrow hems on the cut edges and machine sewed the hemmed edges to the selvedge of each piece matching the ends.  The first seam makes an "L" shape.  The second seam will make the poncho shape.

Since, my finished fabric was not the same dimensions as planned it was large for me around the neck.  I decided to make box pleats at the shoulders to take this in.  Instead of starting with half my fabric length, I could have cut away 4 inches to make the neck smaller.  Anyway, the result is a garment that fits me the way I like it. 

How long did this take?  I spent 10 1/2 hours on the weaving and construction.  I'm not sure how long I spent on spinning the yarn.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ah angora...

I love angora... not just the yarn or fiber... but I love my bunnies.  I have 4 darling angora rabbits:
1) Latte, a torte
Latte (1 1/2 years old)
2) Chai, a chestnut agouti,
Chai (1 year)

3) CinnaBun, a cinnamon agouti
CinnaBun (6 months)
and 4) Bella, a black.   I love the way they greet me when I walk into the room where they are caged, the feel of their fur and the tickle of the fluff as I brush them to harvest the fiber.  
 Daily, I give them each a "bunny once over", by running my hands over their body to ensure there is no vm, matts or other problems.  Once a week, I groom them with a comb and harvest the loose fiber.  Every 3-4 months, they blow a coat providing lots of fluff for spinning.
Bella (6 months) and a brushing

Spinning angora is a wonderful experience.  It does take practice as it is slippery and requires a lot of twist.  I typically spin it into a fingering weight 2 ply yarn. 
Chai on the wheel - singles
Yes, it tends to fly away with the slightest breeze and stick to you because of static electricity... Yes, it is worth it.  I like to spritz the fiber with a watered down mixture of hair conditioner as I spin to prevent these difficulties.
Latte fiber

I like to weave and knit. The angora handspun works up beautifully in many projects.  
 Latte Lace angora scarf.  Knitting instructions for this scarf can be found at keepsakefiber on FaceBook.

 Caribbean Surf - this is my version of the Creekbed Scarf by Stephen West.
   Handwoven scarves from my first bunnies.... Jasmine and Cali

Friday, August 22, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day any day

You can celebrate  Earth Day any day by upcycling...
I have a thing for saving unwanted items and remaking them into something useful.  Here are a few of what I call my Earth Day creations.

I turned my collection of plastic grocery bags into this handwoven rag rug.  It makes a great liner for the trunk of my car.

I saved the woven plastic feed bag and converted it into a large market bag.. yeah, to use instead of collecting more of the plastic grocery bags. 

and my latest, from my husband's discarded undershirts... a knit rag rug for our little bathroom.

I created the tee shirt yarn by following the instructions in this tutorial, and knit the rug using the instructions for Rag Doily Rug (originally made from sheets).

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Use the good stuff...

Go ahead use the good stuff, no matter what that is.  Do you ever find yourself saving the good stuff for that special project only to have it sit in storage? For what?  I have, but no more.  I did this with a shawl that I spun from a raw Icelandic fleece and knit into a lace shawl.

I saved it because it was "good stuff".  I thought I would sell it but realized that I would have to ask what seemed like an outlandish price.  I packed it away and moved it a few times before I came to my senses and took it out of hiding.  I moved it to my car for use when the AC was too cool for me and just right for my husband.  I found myself admiring it and smiling.  I then brought it out in public... oh yes, to the air conditioned office where I was chilly.  I wore it with pride and admired it again when I saw it draped over the back of my chair.  The color graduations amazed me... I didn't notice those changes in the yarn while spinning.  I saw it in the knitting but hadn't planned the changes to match the pattern so nicely.  Again, I wondered why I had shelved this good stuff for another day.  What day is better than today?  Enjoy.  Use the good stuff.

I am now planning my next  project using the good stuff: my handspun angora from Latte.
 I am going to make this lace scarf.
What good stuff are you going to use/take out of hiding? 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

November & December Crafting

Let me catch you up on what has been happening with me at Keepsake Fibers.... my hobby and passion.

November brought an opportunity for me to get back to my loom and do some hand-weaving.  It felt great to work with my hand-spun yarns to create a collection of scarves to be sold on consignment at Lupine Blossom Fiber Arts. 
display at LBFA

 Following the scarves, I wove a couple sets of kitchen towels.

 These too are for sale at Lupine Blossom Fiber Arts in Sandwich, NH.

Weaving is at a halt until the weather warms up.  My workspace is located in a part of the house that is not insulated or heated.  It is too cold for me out there!  So, I turned to other interests...

I planned projects that were small and could be moved into the house easily, utilized materials that I have in stock and allowed me to explore a new technique or skill.

 This is a quilted tote bag that allowed me to practice the Ryan McKenna applique technique. 
    Winter Birds Front
    Winter Birds Back
"50 Shades of Blue" is the same tote pattern where I used a quilted collage technique. It gave me an opportunity to explore the decorative stitches on my new sewing machine. I also got to use up some of the many fabric scraps I've been collecting :)

50 shades of blue
This purse is a good exercise in bag construction on a smaller scale.  I had fun with the colors.  My Mother-In-Law mentioned her favorite colors and I enjoyed shopping for the fabrics and working with them.  I wish I had taken a photo of the back.  It features a bird. 

Inside pockets, side ties for expansion, swivel clip for keys

I'd been thinking of something I saw in Lancaster, PA... I had no idea what they were called but looked like they would make a good hostess gift.  So I played around with a paper napkin and came up with a way to make these "wine coasters".
I added a beaded edging for a little sparkle.  This made a great gift for my sister-in-law at the Christmas party she hosted.  I think next time, I will add a wine bag to accompany the wine or maybe a little hat and scarf to adorn the bottle. 

I am always thinking about how to promote my Etsy shop and with only the handspun yarn in it ... I was limiting myself.  I also wanted to make a gift for a friend who is an avid knitter.  I made this quilted cable needle case for her.... thinking if this is a success, I'll make some for the Etsy shop
cable needle case rolled

inside pockets for cable knitting needles; pkg of beaded stitch markers
 Well the gift was a big hit!  I liked it too. So, instead of  making one for the shop I made another one for me, well I made two.   Not just one for my cable knitting needles, I made one for my dpns too!

for the dpns

quilted knitting needle cases
for cable knitting needles
 I experimented with the heirloom quilt stitches on my sewing machine.  The heirloom stitches look like hand stitching.  It is achieved by using monofilament thread on top and the colored thread in the bobbin ...adjusting the tension was tricky.
This project provided me a great opportunity to inventory my knitting needles and record it in Ravelry.  I will take another dive into the fabric stash to make a few more needle cases for the Keepsakefiber Etsy Shop.

I have quite the collection of seed beads.  So I decided to make a beaded band using the bead loom. I will use this for trim on a quilted bag.
And I kept going, with beaded embroidery I made  this button. 

    I also tried my hand a making some jewelry. I bought interchangeable earring findings so that I can switch out the earrings

    These stitch markers were a little addition to the quilted knitting needle case I gave my friend.

    And when I just needed a meditative project, I worked on my SAPGAP project.  This is a project where I spin for fiber.  I'm spinning shetland fleece into a 2ply sport weight yarn.  Right in my comfort zone. 

    Notice, I haven't done any knitting... perhaps, next month.