Welcome, Little Peggy

March 27, 2010

I have been remiss in posting blog entries, due to an ongoing veterinary emergency. However, just before I knew there was an emergency, I bought a new wheel (I should say another wheel).

This is the Rappard “Little Peggy” wheel, all the way from New Zealand:

Here is the flyer, already in use you can see:

I always wanted one of these wheels, and I must say I am not disappointed!  The wheel is heavy and balanced nicely, it is easy to treadle, and spins like a demon. It is rapidly becoming a favorite wheel.

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Linsey Woolsey

March 15, 2010

This is a bit of a departure from my usual spinning and knitting blogs. However, when you come down to it, this was really the whole reason I learned to spin to begin with!

Way back when, I was a theatre costumer. Then I was a living history reenactor and made historic clothing. Then I learned to weave. Somewhere along the line, I got the bright idea, “Wouldn’t it be cool to sew historic clothing with fabric I spun and wove myself?”

Cool, yes, but who knew the learning curve was so large?

It took some doing, but I finally reached the point where I was weaving cloth but then stopped to learn to knit and was completely sidetracked. However, one project I did finish was an-about-three-yard-long piece of linsey-woolsey.

 

The yarn was spun from a Romney fleece from “Silver,” a ewe owned by Sandy Morris in Cold Water, Michigan. I warped my Schacht rigid heddle with a linen warp and used the Romney singles for the weft. I should have either spun the singles a tad thicker, or else used a 12-dent reed, but for a first try, it was pretty good. I fulled the piece by throwing it into the washer and monitoring it to the point just before it felted.

For several years, I carted around my length of linsey woolsey to all my reenactments and demonstrations. I don’t believe half the people who saw it remotely understood what it was all about. However, I did find one believer.

My friend Glen May is the education director for the Monmouth County Historical Society. For the past few years, John and I have been presenting our spinning demonstration at the MCHA’s Holmes-Hendrickson House site in Holmdel, New Jersey. We do the Wool Days in April (this year, April 24 and 25), along with isolated other appearances.

Glen coveted my handspun, handwoven linsey-woolsey. Slight of build, he kept holding up the 15-inch-wide width and saying it was perfect for a waistcoat. Finally, Glen scored a real double-header:  he got me to agree to make completely from scratch a pair of black wool Colonial stockings, to go along with his new linsey-woolsey waistcoat. How could I turn down that challenge?

I will do another post about finding the perfect fleece for the stockings. The waistcoat was a bit easier, having already made the fabric. And, the joys of having a fully stocked sewing room on premises – here is the linsey woolsey to the left, a length of natural color heavy linen for the waistcoat back to the center, and a lighter lining weight linen on the right:

 

I am using the J.P. Ryan Men’s Waistcoat Pattern. I had to position this several times to make sure I had it right. No “do over’s” with handwoven.

 

The fabric width was just short of the pattern piece and will require piecing for the lower side flaps.

 

The pockets sewed up quickly:

My chiropractor has me on a knitting hiatus for a week or so, so expect more on the linsey-woolsey waistcoat!


Russula

March 8, 2010

While hunting around for a pattern on Ravelry one day, I stumbled across Welsh designer Sally Pointer (sallyinwales). Her patterns, published under her Wicked Woollens  line, are inspired by nature and by historic garments, both big draws for me.

While I’m not typically attracted to berets or tams, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sally’s Russula Cap. Her pattern notes say the name comes from a genus of mushroom known for their rounded red and orange caps. Something about the whole Wales – forests – mushrooms thing fired up my imagination and I needed a Russula Cap.

 

The yarn was a bit hard to find. It is Twilley’s Freedom Spirit and the only place I could find that stocked it was Paradise Fibers. Fortunately, they carry the whole line of colors, so I took the opportunity to order a range of them. But for my Russula Cap, I used the one in the pattern photo, #502 Fire. The colors range from a very deep red to orange and while it is self-striping, the stripes are subtle until your rows get shorter.

The pattern is very easy. You cast on 100 stitches and work around for about two inches, then fold the work in half and knit together so that you have a nice, neat, turned under band. The one problem is that on a small head, like mine, the finished hat was a little big. If I make it again, I will rib the starting rows and possibly cast on a few less stitches. As it is, I took 3 strands of left over yarn, braided them, and threaded them through the band to make a drawstring to tighten things up.

The hat is all increases to the middle, then decreases to the end. I like the way the orange happened right towards the end, and allowed for the ring on the top.

Of course, now that I have the darned thing, the weather abruptly turned to 50 degrees and lovely early spring. Oh, well. At least I’ll be ready for the fall!


Entrelac Scarf Revisited

March 6, 2010

Okay, boy, am I going to be ahead of the curve on Christmas knitting this year! No more last minute rush, no, sir. The entrelac scarf I gave as a Christmas gift this year was such a hit, I’m already making another one for someone for Christmas 2010. Why wait?

Again, I’m using Crystal Palace Taos, this time in a color way called “Desert Blooms.” And having found the size 7 needles a little too small, this time I am using size 8s and they seem the correct size. Although the label on Taos calls for size 9s, I found the resulting fabric to be too loose. Size 8 is nice.

Also, this time I strung some clear glass beads along the cast-on edge. When I finish off, I will use more beads and this sets up the foundation row.

First triangle:

 

Second triangle:

 

Third triangle:

 

First turning row:

 

Now back across, block:

 

By block:

 

This is the turning row I usually get bollixed up on, forgetting to make this a sort of free-standing triangle:

 

And the stitches picked up to start the next row of blocks:

 

And so on:

Block by block:

Row by row:

Now about 15 inches long, and just coming to the end of the first skein:

I’ve decided I like the colorway, too. It is for someone who is never too old to be a “girly-girl,” and she will love it.