Oh the skein of it all!

OK, I can’t resist a groan-inducing pun, but if you’ve ever found yourself converting skeins to balls, then you know what I mean. Skeins can tangle. They require a 2nd pair of hands (or a chair back / ironing board / door handle) for holding. Plus, winding balls of yarn is… not very mentally engaging.

In all honesty, I kind of like doing it. (It is meditative when you do it on your own and a good excuse for a chat if borrowing hands.) Despite this admission, it’s also fact of life that I suffer from “skein resistance”, where skeins build up in the yarn stash, unused, because I can’t be bothered dealing with them.

So, I finally did something useful with a discount voucher I had lying around and invested in a ball winder.

*Insert emphatic sigh of relief.*

A day of hanging skeins off the ironing board and winding them into tidy balls of yarn-y goodness has removed all skeins!  And it was so simple. If only I’d known earlier (should have listened to my mum… she suggested it ages ago).

Best of all, I can now plan a project using some hand-spun yarn that I picked up at the local agricultural show last year. It’s unique in my stash and I’m excited to see how it weaves. Mind you, I did my wraps, pull test and weighed it etc, only to discover it’s a 10-12 ply, not suitable for warp and I have nearly 600m of it… so it’s going to go a loooong way!

What a fascinating fibre

So, following on from my last post I have now seen and touched some lotus fibre!  Here’s a pic:

Brown and white woven lotus fibre scarf

It is definitely a lot like linen in feel, but has a sheen that’s really silky. The cloth had a great drape and that surprised me because it had a… stiffness? density? I’m not sure what the word is, but it was like I could imagine linen of a similar ply feeling like.

The muted colours of this scarf are lovely too, don’t you think? And the pattern is part colour and part different ply yarns which made for a very attractive scarf!

Lotus flower fibre

Someone I work with, who is a keen traveler, has found out that I weave. As a result I’ve been shown a range of wonderful photos of the workshops he visited in Myanmar where they make cloth from lotus flower fibre!

The locals harvest and process the lotus plants and then spin it and weave the yarn into cloth.

With any luck he will remember to bring in the scarf he bought for his wife and I will be able to report back on what this interesting fabric feels like! Having a look online it gets described as a cross between silk and linen in feel, which sounds fascinating.

The yarn-y bits of my brain

At work the other day they’d been running a team-building activity that involved building a tower so they had all of these materials sitting in a box. Wire. Yarn. Sticks. I have to admit I kept staring at it thinking if I took the wire and used it to make a frame with the sticks I could use the yarn to make this… or that… or that!

I resisted the urge to make anything (they might want to use those materials in future), but the yarn-y, craft-y bits of my brain were firing all day.

Thrum tubular

I hate to see things go to waste, particularly “useful” things like containers, so when my workplace had a sudden glut of plastic tubes I was very excited! But, I know from past experience that I can collect containers only to throw them out – completely unused – years later. So, I took a conservative 5 tubes to try them out.

Then another 25.

And another.

And… another.

I doubt any craft-er would be surprised to hear me say I found a range of ways to deploy the tubes, but the truly wonderful bit is they are now integral to my thrum storage system!!

A draw full of clear tubes in which you can see yarn
This is where thrums have always gone, but now… look at those peek-a-boos of colour!

Turns out the tubes sit on their heads rather nicely in my thrums drawer and I can cram quite a bit in each one. Soooo satisfying. Of course the extra joy of this approach is I can see the yarn! The drawer, I should point out, is only half full in the above pic.

Here’s what they look like up close:

Two clear tubes with red lids, containing yarn

And I’m going to take the ball-bands I’ve got for (most) of these thrums and put them into the tubes, so I will always know what the yarn is. Organisational goodness.

Oh how I love a good recycling project.

How big the stash?

I might have mentioned there was a yarn audit going on recently. Turns out I have 160 different types of yarn comprised of 200 untouched balls/skeins and around 50 “too big to be called thrums” leftovers from previous projects.

It feels about the right size for me. Enough that I won’t have to run out to get matching colours for the weft-only yarns, and enough that I can’t possibly get bored!

The funny, and maybe a little sad, thing was discovering just how many of my stash yarns have been discontinued. Now, some companies keep things fresh with short-run fancies etc and that makes perfect sense, but I was surprised at the range that have passed into stash-history over the 2.5 years I’ve been weaving!

I often buy a single ball of a yarn, but maybe I should buy more in future? Maybe not…the upside of just one ball is I mix yarns a lot more and have to be creative in their use! Which of course suits me perfectly.

The plan now is to never have to audit my yarn again (it took days!) and just update my trusty spreadsheet as I use yarn and, well, buy more, because we all know that’ll happen!!

Another strange discovery in this process was that some yarn stores are bad at recording what they’ve sold you. I appear to have 2 balls of a very expensive yarn for free (!) and there were other cases where I was charged for the wrong thing though the price was close enough. I should probably stop making small talk with the staff while they ring-up my purchases…

Having fun with the loom

I’ve had a bit over a week off work and there was a list of errands and chores as long as my arm to keep me busy. But then came the weather. I’m no one’s friend when it’s either humid or over 33C so, as I said in my scarf in a day post, I was hiding and weaving.

What I didn’t expect was that I’d weave quite this much!

Finished scarf on the table
The first hot day weaving project…
A black scarf with a stripe of varying shades of pink and mauve
Having some leftover of the variegated so I decided to use it for a stripe, so here is the second hot day scarf…

I did a yarn audit in the middle of the week, so I have an excuse to buy more yarn… okay, technically it was to refresh my memory of what’s there, but the shopping part of my brain had an eye on whether the yarn store had space to grow (it does… squeeeeeeeee!). The other result of the audit was finding balls of colours that I don’t normally use.

Lemon and white scarf
A pale lemon scarf with white stripes was the result!

I did a subtle pattern of stripes on the lemon scarf and it has turned out beautifully. It also got me thinking about patterns. I haven’t done one for a while…

Black and brown warp on the loom
I love colour-and-weave patterns and I think this two-tone chestnut will look great with the black

So I’ve warped a colour pattern and, for something different, I threaded before winding on the warp (that’s the back beam in the foreground there).

The pattern will slow the weaving down some – not as much as being back at work though!

Scarf in a day

As it has been a bit hot (40C/140F) the past days, I hid in the aircon with my loom watching movies. Wonderful thing about having a rigid heddle loom… you only need a table and your lap anywhere in the house!

I’d actually measured and wound the warp onto the back beam earlier, but something was niggling at the back of my mind… I’d glimpsed a broken thread somewhere… note to self: don’t listen to extremely interesting podcasts while dressing the loom!

Anyway, I unwound and discovered:

Broken yarn in the heddles of the loom
My phone wouldn’t focus on the yarn… but you get the idea

The yarn gods were smiling though, because I had one more warp end than I needed so I could just pull this end out.

Despite the broken bit, it is gorgeous wool. I’ve not woven a vari that is a ply of multiple colours and then crossed it with itself. But this was the yarn I sampled last year. I’d thought it’d look good with purple – which it did – but against itself it was stunning.

What fascinates me, is the interplay of the colours… the long change of the variegation gives strong warp strips and these don’t blur or get muddied by a weft that’s going through the same changes.

The variegated yarn in the warp showing strong stripes

Here is the scarf, just waiting for a wash, with the stripes still strong:

Finished scarf on the table

The colour twist gives it such a lively surface too. Up close it almost looks busy.

A close up of the unwashed cloth

I’m looking forward to seeing if it changes at all when fulled!

And then there was yarn

I think it was inevitable. The moment I decided to re-acquaint myself with all the weaving info I accrued in the first crazy months of my passion (obsession?), I fell head-first into what a weaver friend of mine calls wanting to weave ALL THE THINGS.

This is true: About 5 minutes into remembering why I have separate folders for ‘patterns’, ‘drafts’, ‘ideas’ and ‘techniques’ I was already planning about seven scarves. Then, of course it’s xmas and everything is on sale, so I bought yarn.

I have cupboards full of yarn. I did not need any more yarn. But… I didn’t feel I had the right yarn for the first thing I believe I’m going to weave just as soon as I give the craftroom a really, really thorough vacuuming. Yes well.

Good thing was (aside from getting 20% off) that I only bought two skeins and that’ll do for this new project. Of course it does mean that I now absolutely have to weave this project first, to justify buying the new yarn. Hmm… Have to love the way the brain works, don’t you?

Anyway, the yarn is Manos del Uruguay, Clasica 12 ply in a lovely blue and mauve vari and a natural cream/white.

Two skeins of wool, one blue and one whiteAnd what will be the fate of this lovely yarn? You’ll have to wait and see. It’s a bit of an experiment, so it could all go very badly, but I suspect it’ll be an attractive ruin even if it does!

A final note for this post… when I went back through the stack of documents I collected (mostly from the internet) about weaving back at the start, I found a post I’d saved which at the time meant nothing to me. I liked the example cloth in the pics but it might have well been written in Venusian. This time I opened it, read it and at the end when ‘aaah, that’s how you do that’  *grin*

Exploring pooling #1

Yarn pooling is kind of fascinating (this is where you use the colour repeat in a variegated yarn to make a pattern) and some months back I started looking at a few of the vari’s I had to see what their repeats were like. Interestingly, it turned out that all of them have been dyed deliberately to prevent pooling!

So, I might not be setting out to pool anything soon, but I do now have a clearer understanding of the yarns in my stash. Well, and a project brewing at the back of my head.