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Hand Spun, Hand Woven, Hand Sewn.

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Hand Spun, Hand Woven, Hand Sewn.

One of the reasons I keep vowing to weave more is the fantastic experience of sewing with handwoven wool fabric. It's plush, elastic, and quite easy to work with (though the fraying is a bitch). The simple cheater "plaid" I wove for my Kindle cover is a perfect example. I wanted a thick fabric that wouldn't require interfacing or lining but would still protect my precious Paperwhite from abuse, so I wove up some bulky weight handspun Falkland from Fat Cat Knits in the Chevalier colourway.

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After cutting it off the loom (I have a 20 inch Ashford Knitter's Loom) I roughly washed it by hand and put it in the dryer on hot to full it. So cushy!

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I didn't use any sort of pattern -  I cut fabric for a tube twice as long as the kindle and a bit wider. I sewed it into a cylinder and closed off one end. Then I turned it right side out, sewed off the other end, and tucked it inside itself (so the end seams were together at the bottom inside), making a rectangular pocket with double thickness and no visible seams aside from the one inside at the bottom. Then I topstitched around the opening and down the side seams, to keep everything in place. One thing about sewing with handwoven wool is it is quite springy and stretchy - you have to be careful not to stretch it as it feeds under the presser foot, or it makes for ugly wobbly seams.

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I added a flap closure, again in double thickness, by folding a rectangle of fabric in half, sewing the three raw sides (the fourth was selvedge so I left it open and hid it inside the case when I attached the flap), turning it right side out, and topstitching. I attached it along the top stitching line on the main case, and added a magnetic snap closure.

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A giant coconut shell button easily covers the snap hardware that shows through on the outside, and looks cute as hell.

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I wanted the flap to attach on the inside so it wouldn't pull open at the corners while crashing about in my bag, which would leave the Kindle vulnerable. I think it looks pretty sharp too!

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I made a bit of an error eyeballing the original fabric amount so the case is a bit big, but that means there's room in there for my iPod too!

So. I should weave more. Seriously. 

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New Weavings

I've finished two woven projects recently and I wanted to share them with you! Both use handspun in the weft, and a wool/nylon warp (although in different weights and styles).

This yarn became this scarf:

This is what I look like to Jacob, apparently. I live in permanent MySpace land.

And this yarn became a cozy couch throw:

Next on the loom is some sort of cushion cover project using leftovers. I'm not quite sure what the specifics will be yet. I love weaving. It eats up yarn in a most satisfying fashion.

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Playing Catch Up

Apparently keeping up with blogging isn't a skill of mine - I knit faster than I blog! Wanna see a few FO's? Oldest first:

The Wurm hat, in Tosh Sport

Juneberry Triangle, in handspun Polwarth from Unwind Yarn Company

Afterthought heel vanilla socks in OnLine EmotionIV

A handspun monster for a neighbouring two-year-old

And a matching hat for her new baby sister

A woven wrap in a hand-dyed alpaca boucle and Wool Silk Sport from Yarntopia Treasures 

 So by a few FO's, I meant six. And there are more, but that's for another post!

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Technicolor Scrap Scarf

I'm finally blogging the new weaving project I was hinting about! It's been done for some time. Yeah... life has been busy lately.

So I said a while back that I was doing a project with sock yarn scraps that wasn't a hexipuff blanket (I like the little puffs but not the finished quilt - I'm more the mitered squares blanket type, really). I decided the best way to use some of my gorgeous leftover sock yarns was in a woven scarf. As I'm still a new weaver I make a lot of mistakes, and it's comforting to use yarn that I've already got my money's worth out of. That way, if I totally ruin a project, it doesn't lead to guilt. I try really hard not to let my hobbies induce feelings of guilt. Guilt can really mess up something that was supposed to be fun, and I'm not cool with that.

So, what does it look like?

Fantastic is what it looks like, if I do say so myself. There are SO MANY MISTAKES in this scarf, and normally that would annoy the crap out of me, but I just can't bring myself to hate a single thing about it. It's soft, it's warm, it's squishy, the colours look wonderful, and it has sparkly bits - there is nothing more I could ask of it.

I used my new 12.5 dpi reed, which made a dense but drapey fabric with fingering weight yarn. The warp is a variety of sock yarns, some as fancy as Koigu KPPPM and Sweet Georgia Tough Love, and some as cheap as Knitpicks Stroll Tonal. The weft is Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in black. I think I'd like to actually knit something out of this yarn some time - it's delightful. I also carried some gold... string (it's not embroidery thread or sewing thread, it's that scratchy shiny gold stuff you can find on spools in the bead section at Michaels) along with the black for about two inches on each end of the scarf. It had exactly the effect I hoped for - a luxurious hint of localized bling.

I have to say, I much prefer the fabric created by the springier, more high-twist sock yarns. It has more give and thickness, without actually being more dense.

So. Mistakes and learning experiences:

  • When instructions tell you to roll paper between layers of warp on the back bar, do it. It does make a huge, huge difference.
  • Be careful when threading the reed. Otherwise you might end up with a goofy warp that has one extra thick strand. Woops.
  • Wind the work on when the shed gets too small, rather than passing the shuttle through an unfeasibly small space and consistently picking up warp threads that are meant to be left alone.
  • Weaving done on sproingy warp yarn shrinks a lot when it comes off the loom, and even more in the wash.
  • Using multiple yarns of very different stretch and give in the warp will give you problems.
  • If there's a manufacturer's knot in a warp thread replace it with a weavers knot or put the break at one end of the warp. It WILL come undone later, when you really don't have any space to fix it.
  • The thing about the paper that we talked about earlier. Seriously.

Have one last picture - enjoy the pretty flowers on my two-foot-high bolted kale plants! They're not good for much other than looking at now that it's warm and they insist on reproducing rather than growing leaves (yes I did cut them back, no they won't be deterred, they're twitterpated and who am I to stand in the way of love?).

I guess this counts as a crafty goal achievement too because I started (and finished!!) a sock yarn scrap project! I'm so clever.

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Impending Loom

The post title isn't totally accurate - I just really wanted a pun that would elucidate the perils of my taking up weaving alongside my other hobbies in regards to my having any time at all to actually clean or cook or wash myself. The loom isn't actually impending, don't worry. It's here.

After having admired handwoven fabric my whole life (there's this certain scratchy pillow on my parents' couch that I just love) and having considered taking up weaving for some time, I read a

fantastic review of the Ashford Knitters Loom

early in March. It was in the most recent KnittySpin, and it set a fire under me. I wanted a loom. I NEEDED a loom. I HAD TO HAVE THIS VERY LOOM AND RIGHT EFFING NOW.

Admirably, I waited for a while. When I was at Fibres West, I had a look at the

Harmonique

(Ashford retailer) booth to check the quality of the materials and construction. I loved that the 20" loom was big enough to work just about any kind of scarf or wrap, and even perhaps fabric I could use for sewing. As a person with very large hobbies in a fairly small home, I loved that it could fold down completely flat. Jacob was very impressed by that aspect as well, as his job takes him into other people's homes every day, and the only loom he had ever met was a floor loom big enough to need her own bedroom.

But I waited, because I didn't NEED a loom, not really. My friend Ursa told me she would be willing to sell her very lightly used Knitters Loom for a great price.

Sold.

Wanna see my first project? I warped it with two boring colours of Patons Kroy sock yarn left over from Christmas presents, and used a single skein of Noro Yuzen as the weft. I used the 10dpi reed, and the finished scarf is about 2 yards long. It took me two evenings from start to finish, and was an extremely pleasant experience all round. The loom was lovely to work with, the instructions on warping were very clear, and the whole process was logical and soothing.

The edges are a little bit wibbly, but overall it turned out great. I am so, so happy with this loom. I am endlessly fascinated by the way colour and texture in warp and weft interact. I can definitely see why weaving has worked its way into the heart of many powerful myths and stories.

I went and purchased the 12.5 dpi reed to work on my current project, and I'm loving it just as much. More on that when it's done, because I've been working on it for two evenings and weaving is the hare to knitting's tortoise (except they both get there in the end and each is just as good. That was a poor metaphor. It's fast OK?).

Also, taking up weaving means I've achieved one of my

yearly craft goals

- learning a new crafting skill. Yay!

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