The last week and a half have been incredibly interesting and rewarding.
The Echo spinning wheel arrived on a Tuesday late afternoon, our friend from out of the country arrived on Wednesday for a week, and Thursday, we were off on a road trip to Paige, Texas to visit Susan at Yarnorama.
It is funny how things work out. Due to the distance, I had not been to Yarnorama in two or three years, not since I took a weaving boot camp there; however, the week prior to our visit, I had ordered a book from Susan, as well as two braids of Fiber Obsessions for spinning, which arrived two days before we went to see her.
As soon as I we walked in the door, I knew I had been away far too long. Yarnorama has an extensive collection of weaving supplies (including their own brand of 8/2 cotton threads), an assortment of looms, spinning wheels and fiber, books, and a plethora of knitting and crochet yarns.
The bonus is being able to pick Susan's incredible mind, which I immediately did, regarding weaving.
The book I ordered was the Stubenitsky Code by by Marian Stubenitsky. From what I had read about the book, the author has devised a revolutionary way of developing weaving drafts using a tie-down thread, which exponentially opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for those of us with 4-shaft and 8-shaft looms. In essence, a lot of the patterns that could only be done on 16-shaft and 24-shaft looms can now be done, in a modified fashion, on looms with fewer shafts.
To be honest, I had opened the book when it first arrived and skimmed through the first two or three paragraphs and was lost. As soon as Susan greeted us upon our arrival, I asked her about the book. In five minutes, she gave me a comprehensive outline and explanation that gave me a bare bones working knowledge of the concept behind the book. My mind was blown!
From there, Susan shared dozens of samples she had woven for the shop, several with varying setts, which completely changed the quality of the fabric. She referred me to Jane Stafford's online guild and encouraged me to join for the wonderful lessons she provided.
Susan had a white cotton chenille towel and pair of purple cotton chenille wash cloths that were plush and luxurious. The instant I touched them, I knew chenille was in my future, although I have to admit, prior to the tactile examination, I had negative, novelty yarn connotations of chenille. She swayed me in a nanosecond.
(On an aside, the day after Yarnorama, we drove to Comfort, Texas to visit the Loom Room where we found some cotton chenille!! While I bought it, unfortunately, it was not as plush or thick as I needed...)
She also presented a lightweight blanket made of 8/4 cotton rug warp and wool for weft. I am amazed! This was particularly on point for me because I am planning to weave several blankets as Christmas gifts. My plan was to use fingering or sport weight wool for both warp and weft, but after seeing her blanket, I will copy her and use the 8/4 cotton rug warp, instead.
Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed with all her creations, it did not occur to me to take a single photo.
As my plan is to return in a couple of weeks, I shall remedy that issue then.
My friend acquired the Stubenitsky book, as well as some gorgeous silk for weaving. Susan had two samples of a silk scarf pattern of her own design. She was instrumental in assisting us with choosing colors and extremely gracious in sharing her project notes.
My purchases included fiber for spinning and a few dyed locks to play with.
Specifically, I bought more Fiber Obsessions (Susan's own brand) in a Merino/Bamboo called Hurricane. It was so soft and airy, I began spinning with it immediately.
For something a bit different, I decided to ply it with 10/2 mercerized cotton.
With a total of 231 yards of thick-thin yarn between sport and dk, I thought it would be perfect for a cowl, if I could come up with a stitch pattern that would create something of a flat fabric. My first thought was linen stitch, but I wanted it to be a bit more supple and have more drape.
So far, so good!
I also finished spinning one of the first braids of fiber I ordered from Yarnorama. It's 100% Corriedale wool in Potting Shed.
I plied with a fine lace wool in brown. I know have 361 yards of sport to dk weight yarn. The Corriedale is not as soft as merino. Thus, I think this one will end up as weft for weaving.
The first successfully spun yarn has already made its way onto the loom.
From Lucky Ewe, I bought some amazing Morningside Road Fiber wool/bamboo/silk that I used two strands with which to ply.
In fact, I liked this blend so much, I returned to Lucky Ewe on a Friday and bought another braid of it. It is currently on the wheel now.
While I was at Lucky Ewe, Linda told me they had two spinning classes lined up for Saturday, July 14th. The first is Learn to Spin from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and the second is Balance and Bubbles from 2:00pm to 5:00 pm.
That is not all, though.
In the midst of our friend's visit, yarn and fiber shopping, spinning, and weaving, I pulled 13 towels off the Beast.
Only twelve are shown in the photo, as the one with hemp weft will be dedicated to a weaving bench cushion (and I tucked it away, as it did not need to be hemmed, but forgot to bring it out for the photo shoot).
These are the samples of a draft I ultimately want to use for fabric for a duvet cover. I used 11/2 cottolin in natural for the warp and 8/2 cottonlin, sport weight hemp, 8/2 cotton, 5/2 mercerized cotton, and 10/2 cotton, as well as doubled 8/2 cotton and cottolin.
My absolute favorite is the white on top, which uses two threads of 8/2 cottolin; however, I just love the fabric that the 5/2 mercerized (the orange-gold color) as weft makes. Also, my original thought was to use 8/2 cottolin for warp and weft, but the design came out too small and the fabric was too tight (blue on top below). I used a double bobbin shuttle to throw two strands of the 8/2 cottolin (blue on bottom below) and really liked the size of the pattern; however, it is a pill to try to keep even tension when using two bobbins at once (and NO, I have no desire to throw two shuttles, either).
So, I am leaning toward finding some 5/2 cotton (or bamboo) that I really like for the weft.
In the meantime, I have a dozen wonderful tea towels!
Whew, that was a long post.
Hope you stayed with me. Thank you!