Blendalong - Ply Blends part 3 Chart

I had the hardest time getting photos this time. We have been cloudy here and I just took a bunch to give you the best color representative. Send photo/color suggestions anytime.

I presented the weavette squares in a 4x4 grid with one missing square to show the color progressions. In my chart, I list colors by the first letter only:

B=black, W=White, P=Purple, G=Green

Thus we get a chart that gives us the list of each ply by letter in our square.

And our photos:

And here, I give you the colors together:

This is the grid in different light and gives the truest color.


Blendalong tangent & What's Wrong with My Sock?

Damn it all to hell. I did a swatch like a good girl. I cast on and my ribbing seemed to make a tiny little circle. I searched the web extensively. Artyarns Supermerino – lovely soft yarn. Socks. Simple equation, right? One of my favorites was Grumperina’s Paula socks. She cast on 44 stitches on size 3. I used a 3 also, but went up to 56 stitches to account for fiberguy’s freakishly large instep. I even planned to pick up as many stitches as I could around the afterthought heel for more room, right? I get about 4 inches down the leg and think this is really loose fabric for a sock. Everyone else’s Supermerino seems thicker. Iris Schrier was doing Modular knitting on Knitty Gritty today and she used it. It looked thick on her size 8 needles. Mine looked thin on my 3’s. And Hell’s Bells, it was too small. Way too small. What could I be doing that is so far off? Even in Knitty, the Thuja socks call for 44 stitches on size 6 needles. Her gauge is 5.5 stitches/inch 9 rows/inch in stockinette stitch; mine was 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/in in stockinette. And though mine was tighter, it still felt so loose that I could put my finger through it. I weighed the skein and it was correct. What the heck am I doing WRONG???

To fix it, I ripped back to above the heel and laddered to make 2x2 ribbing for the stretch. I will increase a few for the instep and take away later. I tried not to growl at the cat.

I had more success yesterday. My mosaic sock is done and I start sock two tomorrow. Notice the arch ribbing to increase fit? I used a new sock blocker that fiberguy is making for me and it gave me a lovely round toe. It wasn’t finished yet, so I had to put a plastic bag over it to block the sock – no one is anxious here…

And the ply blend samples are done and I am just trying to get a better photo of them. The colors are very hard for me to capture and I may ask you all for help with this bit later. A few interesting things have come out of the ply blends so far. Please note in the samples below that one forms little diamond shapes and the other forms a more straight grid. I have seen this phenomenon before while weaving, but now I see what causes it. If I used a 4-ply of different colors, a barber pole yarn, I got diamonds. If I used two 2-ply strands, I got straight lines. Check out the threads coming off the samples to see this. Isn’t that interesting?

The two 2-ply samples were all a bit thicker, not wider, but puffier.

Lastly, I will show you my ply box that my good friend Harvey made me years ago. It was based on a design in Spin•Off and I use it all the time. While sampling for the ply blends, at one time I had 16 bobbins going. This was not necessary, as I saw later. In the next set, which I started today, I'm down to a normal set of bobbins and the ply box goes back to sleep.


Blendalong - Ply Blends part 2

I have started with the Ply Blends portion of the blendalong. So far, I tried cabled yarn and didn’t think that worked to show the colors well. I have here some 4 ply and that may work for you. If so, you are going to need a lot of bobbins. I use weaving bobbins to hold singles and my drink mixer to wind them, with the critical latex band to hold the bobbins.

The choices here for me are a) making a 4 ply or b) making two 2 plyed yarns and holding them together.

Remember, by the end of the blendalong you will have lots of little bits of yarn , so don’t go crazy with quantity in this section. The exception might be if you are going to make socks, you might want the ribbing in one color, so more yards.

For the mini weavette squares (2”), I am using 80” of yarn. I would overestimate here to save yourself trouble. I use 3.5 extra wrap-arounds at the end of base weave, before using the needle. It takes me roughly 6 minutes from start to finish for a weavette square. It will take longer to put them together, I think. There is a great site for weavette sewing.

Well, I am a little behind here. I tried several choices and have ripped them all out. I will try again with larger needles. Since it is a 4 ply, it is close to a worsted weight and I think a size 3 needle might be more appropriate for socks. For a vest, I would go up in size.

Links for all my buddies
Some great links for today. Nona Swatches still is one of my favs. Who knew that just swatches could be so entertaining? I would love to see hundreds of sites doing this with both stitch patterns and yarns. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful resource? A massive internet swatch library. Oh, well, I can dream, can’t I? If you know of any other swatch collections, please let me know and I will be glad to post them.

Then this next one could take a few hours out of your life. On the left side you will notice a stitch catalog with 1371 stitches listed. She gives the books they came from and often has photos with her swatches. These are written out with good references. I don’t know whether to be thrilled or appalled. I love this resource, but am a bit iffy on the listing. On the other hand, we all use pieces of patterns from Barbara Walker’s Treasury series so maybe this is OK. After all, Barbara Walker collected this info from a lot of people too. How do you feel about this issue?


New Tools, back in the studio

Finally, I am back in the studio for a little claywork. Most fiberworkers that know me face to face, met me through the tools I make. Mostly high end polymer clay fountain pens, well, pens of all kinds and rug / crochet hooks. I have been out of the studio for about a year due to health issues and, ah, grief. My best friend died suddenly and it really threw me. She was a studio buddy. It was hard to start up again.

I love color and really love working in a way to blend colors in many strange and wonderful ways. The blendalong has gotten me thinking about color again and the floodgates burst open. I have started a fresh new batch of tools for the Fiberarts Fiesta in May. I will be helping in the Elemental Affects booth and have some tools there.

Can you just see the colors swirling in the green/gold piece there? And the shine may be just visible to you under the surface. The process from raw clay to tool takes about a month since it is more efficient if I can do certain sanding levels all together. I can't wait to see this one shiny and glowing. I will do 3 bakings, 12 sanding levels and two polishing levels to get the finished pieces. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? Oh, but it is so worth it when you get fun things like this:
Blendalong continues tomorrow.


Darn socks & Blend-a-long part 1 -- Ply blends

More things off the table today. 8 socks darned - yes I darn handspun, handknit socks. Usually though, I will replace heels instead of darning. This is not really picture worthy as they just look like really old socks and sometimes have heels of different colors.

Two second
mousing gauntlets done. Again, no pics as you have seen these. Like second sock syndrome, SSS, I have problems with glove pairs. But I am all done but one.

The wonderful
Habetrot has put up my humble little sheep on her famous site. Gee, I feel honored. It's like making the cover of Time Magazine for sheep paintings. I have been enjoying her many knitting and sheep graphics since she started her site. But she really blew my mind when she brought my attention to the Latvian mitten collection. Full of knowledge, fiber-oriented and a wicked sense of humor - any wonder why I love this woman?

Ply Blends
I have been getting a lot of emails to slow down this blend-a-long until people without an enormous stash could get some fiber shipped. Fair enough. No photos of finished blends for a few days until everyone can catch up.

In the first part, we will determine a personal unit length, then spin 9 unit lengths of each of our 4 colors. We will create our two-ply blends. Then either cable these together or just hold 2 two-ply strands together for a swatch. We will repeat these steps for each of 4 colors as per the chart below.

This is ply blending only. All of our singles will be a solid color. In part II, we will get to using carded blends. This is a great exercise for spindles.

Here is the chart for this first part. A unit is whatever you define. For myself, A unit will be 3 armlengths as I go into the wheel or about 2.5-3 feet. Remember that for my colors, I chose Green and Purple, but you substitute your own colors here. You will need the black and white.

I will ply 3 units with like color (BB), and ply 3 units with opposite color (BW). Repeat for each of 2 colors and 2 neutrals as per chart.

It may sound a little confusing, but you are only making 9 total blends in this section, as per the middle chart.

Try to spin evenly so your sample shows color and not size variation.

Instead of a swatch, consider making socks, fingerless gloves, or some other small project with our samples. This way you will see your results and be able to show them off at guild meetings. If you plan this, you might need solid black to separate your rows. And since ply-blending is 4 ply but everything else will be two or three ply, you might want to spin thinner for the ply-blends.

In the carding sections, you could also comb. If you don't own cards or combs, consider a set of cat or dog brushes, or dog combs. I will be using the dog brushes for the carded section as I only want a short stripe of two rows.


All FOs All the Time

It’s freaking FOs all the time around here. Ha! Don’t I wish. But it is the end of a long project. What I present today is the music sweater. For those that know me, you have invariably seen me working on this sweater at some time in the last few years. Yes, years. This was knit mostly at concerts (we love the live music). I can point at a section and say, this is John Prine – it must have been a great show, my tension is all off. Oh here is where we saw Reeltime Travelers for the last time. Bob Dylan is in this section. So many concerts, several Durango Meltdowns, folk fests. In saving the sweater for only the special times, the concerts come to mind when we see the sweater.

It is unblocked and the big guy has lost about 30lbs since I started, so it is big. I should be able to block it down and fix that up a bit. I thought you might want to see it anyway. AND, it is OFF the living room table. Yippee.

Pattern: Rosemarkie from Starmore’s Celtic Collection
Yarn: A mix of Jamieson & Smith and Jaggerspun
Needles: #2 & #3 Addi Turbos
Started: Feb ‘03
Finished: Feb ‘07

I am so sad to see this project end. There is so much joy and laughter captured within. You know some people feel like their spirit is captured if you take a photo of them? Well, this sweater captured all that good music and fun.

And, of course, it is Shetland, so it is a joy in itself.

Oh, and just a mention. I am working on a special group project that you may wish to join as a spinner. You don't need a wheel, a spindle will do, but you have to be able to spin and card consistently. You don't need a drum carder, you can use handcards, combs or even dog brushes as long as you can get an even blend. Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming post. It's a complex proposal, but really easy & fun project. I can't get out to teach this class right now, so I thought I would give it here in the blog. I shall work out the details and let you all know.