Monday, September 26, 2011

Done and Done

At long last I have some quilts to show for myself.  Debra quilted these finished tops for me (thanks Debra) though it took me forever to put the binding on this one.  Just in time for the beginning of Fall, I bound this quilt and and the pink one below, which I just got back in the mail, and they're ready to be put into use.

This quilt may look familiar since I blogged this top after I finished it. The pattern is adapted from one I saw in a magazine.

Here you can see some of Debra's quilting, and some of the variety of scraps.  It's a real scrap album of the fabrics I've used over the years.

This pink quilt has a distinct story.  I bought this top on eBay a few years ago when I really wanted a quilt made from one of those embroidery kits.  When this quilt came in the mail, I was disappointed because the embroidered blocks are not well executed, and because the pink was too neon for my taste. These embroidered quilt kits have been available for decades, but because of the color, I estimate that this one may be from the 1960s.

This top sat in the closet for a long long time.  At one point I thought I might take the blocks out of the top and re-set them.  Then I finally resolved to just quilt it, and I pieced a backing from some bright 60s-70s prints.

When I went to Texas this summer, I thought, hmmm, maybe Debra will do this for me, and she gamely came through, though this piece had its challenges.  For example, all the fabric was torn, and none of it was straight.  Somehow she got it all to behave, and lo and behold, I love this quirky quilt.

It's a bright pop of color and I smile every time I see it. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Woven Dishtowels from Recycled Yarn

Awhile back I reclaimed some yarn from an unfortunate looking but new cotton sweater.  I've saved it for the right project, and now that I'm weaving, I decided to use it to make some cotton towels.

I warped the loom with the recycled yarn, intending to weave three towels with new Sugar and Cream cotton yarn as the weft. Towels, place mats, and similar shorter pieces can be woven continuously and then cut apart.  It's like weaving one of those old gas station bathroom towels, (except, of course, it's clean).

After I got the first towel woven, I got worried that the new cotton would shrink more than the recycled cotton, which had already been washed, so I wove the other two towels using the recycled yarn for both the warp and the weft.

After I got everything woven, cut off the loom, and machine hemmed, I washed them, and found that the mix of old and new yarns actually came out the best.  The towels made solely of the recycled yarn shrank unevenly, perhaps because the yarn had no twist.  Recycled yarn, especially cotton, can come untwisted.

But the towels were serviceable nonetheless.  The last towel on the warp came out short, as I'm still figuring out how to accurately calculate warp lengths.  Michael got the short towel to use as a golf towel.  The other two went to my daughter Allie.

The towels are soft and drapey.  I'm going to make another batch, this time mixing the new and old yarns.

Recently my son Alex turned 21, and we had a dinner for him at the house.  Here he is with Jessica his girlfriend, who is a favorite of my old cat Wee.

Allie and her boyfriend Matt were also at the party.  It was a very sweet time.  The kids have grown, and now I officially have two adult children.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Woven Shawl Genesis

The school year has begun again, and I've been wrapped up in preparing for and launching my courses, but I did take time to warp my Ashford Rigid Heddle loom for a second shawl.  This one is for me, made of fine gauge wool sock yarn.  I had these yarns in my stash: mostly inexpensive self-striping sock yarns widely available from craft stores: for the warp I used one skein of Soles and More and two skeins of Deborah Norville Serenity yarns from JoAnn.  All the yarns were in fall colors, with lots of orange.  I love orange.

Warping the loom  requires stretching the yarn across my kitchen table and onto a sewing machine cabinet near the window.  Because these are finer yarns, and I'm using the 12 epi heddle,  it takes more wraps to fill the loom than the worsted weight yarn I used in the previous shawl, so warping took a bit longer.  I like to warp on Sunday afternoons and use the couple of hours it takes to enjoy the calm repetitive activity.  Needless to say, no cats are invited to this fiber event.

This is what was left of the three balls of yarn I used to warp the loom.  It took about 660 yards--more yardage than it takes to knit a pair of socks.  Weaving takes a lot of calculation at the planning stage.  I've gotten good about calculating the warp, but my weft calculations have been over generous, and I haven't figured out why.

Here's the loom with the warp tied on and ready to go.  I leave the loom on the dining room table, and weave in several sittings. 

For the weft I used these two sock yarns: Patons Kroy and Lion Sock Wool.  I used a whole skein of the Kroy and about half of the Lion. Both yarns are self-striping.

Here's the finished shawl. I alternated both weft yarns in a random pattern and got this lovely plaid effect.   I double knotted the fringe.

I was hoping for a 20 x 72" shawl, and the finished size was 20 x 66.  Somehow there was more warp take-up than I anticipated, but live and learn.  It still makes a decent sized shawl and I'm thrilled with the fall colors.  And I made plaid!  A very back-to school fabric that reminds me of my Catholic school days.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...