Thursday, June 28, 2007
Basically, I wrapped the fabric around myself one and a half times and cut. Since it was a plaid, I just marked it and cut along the line in the pattern. I laid it out flat and folded the top over for a casing that was slightly wider than the elastic. I used 3/4" elastic, so the casing was probably about an inch. Again, I used the lines in the fabric instead of measuring. Then I folded it over again. Yes, I know that's not the proper way to make a casing, but i was in a hurry! :) I just sewed it closely to the edge.
Next, I held it up and marked it for length. Again, I just used the lines in the plaid to cut. I folded it over twice, roughly a half-inch each time and sewed it again for the hem.
I pinned the two raw edges together -- the only pinning I did for the entire skirt -- wrong sides facing -- and sewed them together with a standard 5/8" seam. Be sure to stop just short of the casing -- it's important to leave that open so you can put in the elastic!
I attached a safety pin to the elastic and work it through the casing, making sure not to twist it. When it came out the other side, I put the skirt on and adjusted the waistband to suit myself and sewed the elastic accordingly. To ensure that it wouldn't twist later, I sewed vertically through the fabric and the elastic in the waistband in a few random spots. The last step is to close the openings in the casing. You have to sew this by hand.
And today, I have a new skirt to wear to work. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
These are spindles and lucets made by my husband. Not only does he do nice knotwork, but he also does nice woodwork!
I think we've seen these yarns somewhere before!
These look familiar, too!
Oh, yeah, and I make bags, too! Also available at the P&T and local craft fairs.
Mary Anna carries a nice collection of Cornish tin jewelry, too!
She made the sweater, the scarf and all of the jewelry in this pic!
Below is the view into the back hallway. The curtain is made from walnut shells that were sliced down and strung. Cool, huh?
The bags are called tagaris -- traditional Greek bags in which workers carry their lunches and other things. These are all handwoven by Mary Anna, who is of Greek descent.
These are two of the first shawls that our team made during sheep to shawl demos.
Two view of Mary Anna's loom. From the front, you can see some of the hangings and table runners she's made, and from the back, you can see piles of carded wool waiting to be spun for a custom job she's working on.
Mary Anna & I both do custom spinning. My last job was spinning a large trash bag full of combings from a Great Pyrenees dog. His mommy loved him so much that she wanted a scarf made from his hair. I would love to make something from Jet's hair, but it's just too darned short!
Mary Anna is an all-around artist. She spins, dyes, weaves, knits, paints, does calligraphy and makes jewelry. I hope I haven't forgotten anything!
She did all of the paintings on slate, including the Welcome sign with the hexes on it. We are in the heart of PA Dutch Country, so tourists expect to see stuff like that. Amish don't actually use them, though -- you're more likely to see it on an the barn of an Englisher.
Below is the view from the front door. Mary Anna has arranged the line of sight to lead directly to the handspun yarns. Misty Dell is her yarn and Fiber Space is mine. The picture to the left is a display of Misty Dell yarn.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
So I thought you might like to see some of my finished products. These hats are all handspun and handknitted.
This hat above is made from mystery wool.
The gray part of this hat is Jacob wool and the white part is Karakul. They are both primitive breeds and the textures are very different. The combination made for an interesting end product.
This hat is 100% Jacob.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Why I Knit
By Fiber Maeven
When I was given this assignment, I jokely responded that I knit because it keeps me from inflicting bodily harm. Although that’s not entirely untrue, it’s not the only, or even the biggest reason.
It all started because I needed a hobby that would keep me from snacking in front of the TV in the evenings. It had to be something that would keep my hands in perpetual motion but that allowed the rest of my body to relax. It had to be repetitive enough that I could still pay attention to CSI, yet interesting enough to keep me . . . well . . . interested. What were my options? Hmmm . . . solitaire . . . jigsaw puzzles . . . juggling chainsaws . . . and all fun things to do, but not one of them quite fit my criteria. Oh, yeah, I forgot . . . my holy grail of hobbies had to be creative and constructive.
I seemed to remember that my mom had attempted to teach me to knit when I was a child. I hadn’t been very good at it. But I’d been seven. Twenty-five years had passed. Surely I had acquired some dexterity since then.
Let’s explore a knitter’s psyche, shall we? I, like so many of my sisters, learned to knit as a child. My mother used to knit sweaters and doll clothes for me. I’m not sure who taught her, but she tried to teach me. Of course, she tried to teach me lots of things, but I was a typical kid who would have none of what the adults were selling. Later, much later, actually, when I was in my 30s, I got the urge, for no reason that I can readily identify, to learn the craft. My mom hadn’t knitted for at least 20 years, so I decided to take formal lessons.
My first project was a 2 x 2 rib scarf, but it quickly grew tiresome. I moved on to a baby afghan, which was actually good enough to give as a gift, and that is exactly what became of it. I made several more of those, and then decided that I was bored with making squares and rectangles, so I learned to knit hats in the round on circulars. Next came socks on dpns. Eventually I tried sweaters. Interesting but boring. And the finishing . . . my word . . . the finishing!!!
Apparently I have an issue with finishing anything, actually. My house is strewn with project bags containing UFOs. A sweater in the round for my dh that begs me to finish the neck; a poncho desperately in need of fringe; a plethora of other projects that only need to have the ends woven in. But it’s not knitting!
Knitting has a rhythm all its own. It has a feel and a mood. It puts me in a trancelike state of solitude. It’s Zen.
And did I mention that it keeps me from inflicting bodily harm?
Even though you can just click the pics to get a better look, I enjoy posting. Humor me! The first three pics are close-ups of different batches of my Chaos yarn. That's what I call my random Kool-Aid colorway. The other pic is my yarn label. Oops! I see a mistake -- I should have deleted the bottom sentence for a label on a natural skein! Think anyone else will notice?
Another load of yarn ready to head off to the Pen & Thread for sale. I don't usually have this much at one time, but I destashed some of my commercially dyed stuff. The top row is all Kool-Aid dyed. The middle row was commercially dyed roving and the bottom one is natural .
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
This is my latest work. I tried diluting the Kool-Aid by using less than usual and adding more water than usual. In the roving, I got a very nice lavender, but the blue and pink were a little too "baby" for what I was going for. The yellow was pretty much what I expected. This is the finished product. You can see the singles still on the bobbins if you scroll down the page.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Oh, what the heck! I know where the article is, so I'm just going to go ahead and post it!
The Fine Art of Kool-Aid™ Dying
By Fiber Maeven
Okay, so I’m spinning and I realize that I’m bored with white, off-white, cream, ecru, beige, blonde and all of the other colors that are variations on the white theme. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. I just need a little variety or I get bored.
I switch to natural non-whites – the black sheep colors – browns, reds, chestnuts, fawns, grays – also very nice, but again, where’s the excitement? Let’s face it: spinning the same color for an extended period is akin to a road trip on I-80. What to do . . . what to do . . . Dying comes to mind. I admit it -- I have a dark sense of humor.
I love dye parties – hovering over dye pots on the open fire in Mary Anna’s front yard, eating interesting cookies and playing with Scrabble the Goose (RIP). This is when Mary Anna teaches us about plants, barks, and insects and the colors they create, which mordents to use with them, and how they can be brightened or muted or saved to dye another day. It’s a fun learning experience. The colors are beautiful and natural. However, some of the colors I want are just not natural, and aside from dye parties, I don’t have time to use the natural ways. It doesn’t help that, without Mary Anna standing next to me, I would probably die a slow, horrible death because I can’t tell a huckleberry from a holly berry . . .
Okay, so I can’t be trusted with natural dyes . . . how about chemical dyes? I’m afraid of things I can’t pronounce. And like used motor oil, they are difficult to dispose of. Did I just end that sentence with a preposition? Oh, well . . . Onward through the fog . . .
Let’s talk about drink mix dying. Drink mixes are perfect! Easy to use, easy to discard – see how I avoided the preposition that time? They are also edible, depending whom you ask, as well as easy to pronounce, and they create the most unnatural colors.
There are several brands of drink mixes, but I prefer Kool-Aid™. It’s familiar, reliable, and no matter where you live or travel, it can easily be acquired. It also smells good. One can dye a lot of fiber a lot of different colors in a relatively short period of time. Kool-Aid™ dying is inexpensive and the only mordant required is white vinegar, which is also edible. I’m in favor of anything I can eat.
So Kool-Aid™ dying is my preferred method of dying fiber. Please note: it only works on animal fibers. I’ve tried it on plant fibers and I’m usually left with some hideous pastel that makes me wonder how a Kool-Aid™ stain on a white T-shirt can possibly be so vibrant. When the dye process is completed, Kool-Aid™ is also color safe. It will not run or rub off on other items of clothing. It is washable – use the same care you would for any wool item. I do not recommend leaving it on the dashboard of your car in July, however, because, like any other dye, it will fade.
Here’s how to do it: Take a large pot – I like those big 16-quart stainless steel pots that Ollie’s sells for a couple of bucks – and fill it about half-full with cool water. Dump in several glugs of white vinegar. I do not measure. I do not believe in measuring.
I always start with white roving or scoured fleece. I split it into manageable serving sizes (about two to three feet of roving or several handfuls of fleece) and toss them into the pot. It’s okay to put several pieces into one pot as long as they all get saturated. Gently hold the fiber under the water until it is saturated. Do not stir or otherwise agitate. Remember that, as in life, agitation is our enemy. Let the pot sit undisturbed for about 30 minutes. (I should probably mention that I usually do several pots at the same time so that I can cover more ground in a shorter period of time, but that’s just me.)
When 30 minutes, give or take, has passed, lift the fiber out of the water and place it into a strainer or colander. Do not rinse fiber. Feel free to rinse the pot.
Now the fun begins. I use five or six packets of Kool-Aid™ at a time. Just open them up and pour them into the pot. Add cold water, stirring as you go. Add water until the Kool-Aid™ is a shade you like. If you like bright colors, use less water. If you like more diluted colors, add more. Be sure that all powder is dissolved for most even results.
Now gently lift the fiber out of the strainer and place it into the Kool-Aid™. Hold it under the water until it is saturated. Put it on the stove and heat it up to approximately 170F. Again, do not stir or otherwise agitate. Simmer uncovered until all of the color is exhausted. Yes, you read that correctly. The fiber will absorb all of the color and the water will turn milky when it is done.
Take the pot off the stove and gently lift the fiber out of the water and back into the strainer. I highly recommend using heat resistant gloves or wooden spoons or other tools to do this step. Let the fiber drain while you rinse the pot. Do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate the fiber in an effort to get the liquid out. Just let it drain. When it is reasonably cool, dip it into a pot of clean water that is about the same temp as the fiber. This should rinse out any residual dye. Then put it back in the strainer and leave it alone for awhile.
When it has drained to your liking, hang it up to dry. I have a wooden frame that I simply hang the fiber over to dry in the breeze. Any railing or banister will work. This technique works well for roving. For fleece, I use a large frame with screening stretched over it. I know from experience that it is best to dry fiber outdoors. If you hang enough fiber over the same piece of linoleum for a long enough period of time, said linoleum will eventually need to be replaced. If hanging the fiber inside, I recommend hanging it over a bucket or drip pan. Trust me on this.
Okay, time has passed and your fiber is dyed beautiful unearthly bright colors. Now what? Well, it’s always good to have options, don’t you think? If you’re using one color, just card and spin. Actually, if you’re using roving and you’ve been nice to it throughout the process, carding might not even be necessary.
If you used two or more colors, you can card them together and spin, or card and spin separately and then ply them together. One of my favorite things to do is to card three random colors together and spin and ply them with three other random colors carded together.
I should mention that this technique can also be used on finished yarn and even commercially produced yarns – as long as they are natural protein fibers. Dye a whole skein one color or dip a section at a time for space dying. Try speckling your yarn – after the mordant process, lay the yarn flat and splatter or drizzle color randomly over it.
Go play! This is supposed to be fun!