All posts by Amy Gunderson

Creative Director at Universal Yarn

IRL – Wisp Scarf mod

I am lucky enough to work with a great group of ladies here at Universal Yarn. We mostly consist of Yonca (sales manager), Heather (social media goddess), and Katie and Jackie (customer service wizards), me (Amy) the design person. We’re a small group of 5 women, but we all knit, crochet or both. There’s hardly a day that goes by where one of us is not wearing our handmade preciousness.

Thus begins a new series I am calling “IRL”, or In Real Life. Every day I come to work in a building that houses more yarn than you can imagine. It can be overwhelming to look at it all boxed up in the warehouse, sitting on shelves, or piled on my desk. It’s always calling to me, “knit me! make something out of me!” We sell yarn here, but we also love using and wearing it. I thought you might be interested in some of the things we make, so here goes.

I’ll start first:

IRL_WhisperLace_WIsp

I’m wearing a scarf I knit up last year made out of Whisper Lace. With just 2 balls of color 103 Harbor, I came up with a whopping 20″ x 60″ scarf/stole. It’s long enough that I can keyhole it, or when it’s really cold, double wrap around my neck like the photo above. The pattern is a modified Wisp by Cheryl Niamath, free on Knitty. I didn’t add buttons; I just cast on extra stitches, added a couple of random vertical garter stitch columns for interest, and knit until I ran out of yarn. For me, a person who almost exclusively knits garments, it was a refreshing change!

How about you, what Universal Yarn are you wearing today?

Weaving Wednesday – challenge!

A few months ago, I sent a little care package to Denise over at Schacht, maker of our Cricket rigid heddle loom.  It contained several different yarns, all completely different in composition and construction: Infusion Handpaints, Cotton Gold, Poems Silk Solids, and Bamboo Bloom Handpaints.

Infusion HP 115 Gray Matters web BBH 310 Fuji_web Cotton Gold 1100_web Poems_Silk_Solid 701 Black_2_web Poems_Silk_Solid 702 Sterling2_web

The challenge for Denise was to take all these vastly different yarns and weave them up into something awesome. I didn’t make it easy for her, but I at least softened the blow by including coordinating shades in each different yarn. Well let me tell you, Denise passed this challenge with flying colors (so to speak, at least in greys and blues!).

Check out the Schacht newsletter for details on the finished project and a great how-to for repairing a float, or skipped warp thread.

 

I Sampled!

Crafting is often a lesson in patience, right? In knit and crochet projects, we’re always told to “gauge swatch” before beginning a project, particularly one where we’d actually like the item to fit. It can be a drag, but is also very worth it when the piece turns out just as we want it to.

Weaving is no different. Except in weaving, we call it “sampling” instead of “swatching.” You may remember the felted scarf I wove a couple of months ago using regular Deluxe and Deluxe DK Superwash. I was pretty happy with the finished project, but there were some aspects I wasn’t crazy about.  No surprise, this was something I just dove into without first sampling.

Semi-felted Scarf_blog

Of any project to start on without first swatching or sampling, a scarf is probably the safest. I mean, it’s a scarf! It can really be any size or shape we want it to be. And my felted pucker scarf fit just fine. But one thing I didn’t like was that the regular Deluxe, the part of the scarf the felted in the washing machine, was a little thick for my taste. I had warped and woven that portion with 2 strands next to each other.

I wondered, if I use just a single strand of wool, will it felt to itself, not having that other strand next to it to adhere and shrink with? To answer my own question, instead of committing to an entire big scarf, I decided to make a small sample.

For my sample, I warped my Cricket using an 8-dent reed, Infusion Handpaints color 110 Ruby Mine, and Deluxe Chunky in 91904 Pomegranate Heather. As a side note, I love love love this color of Deluxe so much, I did a cabled sweater (free pattern!) last year out of it.

Again, I did a plain weave structure and wove in the same order I warped: 1 pick of Deluxe, 8 picks of Infusion Handpaints.

Inprogress_1

 

Instead of starting and stopping the Deluxe after each stripe, I tried something new.  I wove my pick, then I pulled out a long loop at the side. After the felting process, I knew I would be able to simply cut off those loops, thereby avoiding any unnecessary bulk.

Here it is off the loom, nice and drapy:

OfftheLoom

Here we are after one cycle in the washing machine on cold:

After1Cycle

It was somewhat felted, but not quite enough for my taste. I put it through another full cycle on cold, and it was perfect!

Here it is after the felted loops and fringe were trimmed:

sampler

I’m very happy with my experiment! As you can see, the single strand of Deluxe felted beautifully with no problem. I really love the resulting texture. And the variegation of the Infusion really makes for a complex looking piece that was, in fact, super simple to weave!

The piece was comprised of 82 ends, was 10 1/4″ wide on the loom, and shrank to 6 1/2″ wide, or by about 1/3.  I have definite plans to weave an entire scarf following this sample, probably with these same colors. I’m also lusting after Infusion Handpaints 115 Gray Matters and 112 Hydro Power. Perhaps I’ll just have to make all 3!

Infusion HP 112 Hydro Power hi-res Infusion HP 115 Gray Matters hi-res

 

 

Poof! Done!

Bamboo Bloom Handpaints is a unique and lovely yarn. It’s a customer favorite and is just so pretty on the hank:

BBH skein pic Tarik_web

A blend of wool and rayon from bamboo, this is one of those yarns that doesn’t need much in the way of fancy stitches or weaves. Its innate beauty does all the work! It’s a thick-thin yarn with tufts of soft wool here and there.

BBH 320 Dragon web BBH 321 Miko web BBH 319 Forest Light web BBH 318 Emperor web BBH 317 Sensei_WEB BBH 313_Kanji_web

We also just updated the palette with some scrumptious new colorways. We have some really nice one skein knit patterns for cowls, including this Persephone Cowl.

The beauty of this simple cowl is that all you do is knit until you come to one of those tufts of wool. At that point, you work a dropped stitch by yarning over which enhances the tufts. I wanted to try a similar technique, but with weaving.

First, I set out to warp my loom. For the warp, I chose Little Bird in color 113 Shoe Polish. I opted for this yarn partly because I wanted a light yarn that would allow the Bamboo Bloom to shine, and partly for its strength (100% microfiber acrylic). For this project I used a 10″ Cricket and the only reed size I have for this loom is a 12 dent. I knew I didn’t want the scarf to be too dense, so I threaded only half the slots/holes, making it 6 ends per inch.

The weave structure is simple plain weave. The fun happens whenever the tufts of wool appear.  First I pass the shuttle through the shed, and then lightly beat.

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See where the thick wool slub is? I just used my fingers to pull up a little loop through the warp threads.

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Then I pulled up 3 more little loops, and then beat again to hold everything in place.

 

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It’s as simple as that! You’ll notice that the wool slub extends beyond both sides of the 4 loops.  In order to avoid stacking the loops, I pulled them up sooner or later after the slub began so that a staggered effect happened. Just a little extra extra action makes this plain weave scarf more interesting to weave and to wear!

And now, dear friends, it’s learning time. My weaving project did not happen without incident. I don’t know where my head was while warping, but this was not my best warping job ever.

I made one crucial mistake: the paper I used to roll onto the back roller was not quite wide enough, so a few of my warp threads slipped outside the paper and had tension that was very different than the others. I really didn’t even notice the problem I was about until about halfway into my scarf.

It began with a single warp thread that was much looser than the others. To combat this problem, I wrapped a double pointed needle around this thread behind the reed to even out the tension. Every time I advanced the warp, I would have to re-position the dpn.

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Then, after a few more inches of weaving, many of the surrounding threads were showing to be too loose. I inserted my pick-up stick underneath these threads to make the tension consistent with the rest of the warp.

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These are just a couple of the tricks I’ve used to combat my  occasional poor warping skills.  If you have any tips, I’d love to hear about them!

Oh yes, and the reward for sticking with it all is this:

Bamboo Bloom woven scarf 2042 blogBamboo Bloom woven scarf 2051 closeup blog

And here’s what the back (loop-less) side looks like:

Bamboo Bloom woven scarf 2049 blog

I used about half the 100g skein of Little Bird for the warp, and one skein of Bamboo Bloom Handpaints #315 Cherry Blossom.  I’m thinking these will make great last-minute gifts for a few special women on my list.

 

 

 

Pucker Up

Before becoming a knitter some 5 or 6 years ago , I did lots of sewing. Although I tend to be FO oriented with my fiber crafting, experimentation solely for the purpose of learning and entertainment is very gratifying. It’s a low pressure way to work and has low to no expectation of success (in my world). One of my favorite things to play around with is fabric manipulation. It can be achieved in so many different ways – pleats, ruffles, gathers, godets, smocking, etc etc.  A quilt made up of pleated blocks; ruffles around a neckline; a smocked bodice.

Last time on Weaving Wednesday, I made a scarf that used the technique of felting as a means of gathering. I decided to modify that thought this week, again using felted wool to manipulate the fabric. But instead of one long felted strip, I wanted an all-over gathered effect.

I opted to combine Deluxe Worsted (100% wool) and Deluxe DK Superwash (100% superwash wool). The regular (non-superwash) Deluxe will felt when agitated, the Superwash will not because it has been specially treated. Both Deluxe and DK Superwash are available in So Many colors, that choosing just two was very hard for me! Most folks in the office here know that I’m a total sucker for gray. I almost did go with two shades of gray, but branched out and went with one blue and one gray. Adventurous, right?

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Starting with regular Deluxe Worsted, I did a direct warp on the 15″ Cricket.  I threaded one slot, then skipped 5, and repeated this all the way across ending with one slot threaded. Then I went back and filled in the large gaps with my DK Superwash. The last felted scarf I wove shrunk in length more than I had expected, by almost half! I do like my scarves long, so I went ahead and warped about 130″. I figured about 10″ of loom waste each end, and after shrinkage, I should end up with about a 60″ scarf plus fringe.

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I wove following the same sequence as I warped – 2 picks with Deluxe, 10 picks with DK Superwash. I decided to cut my yarn after every “stripe”, although in retrospect this may not have been entirely necessary.

I was sure to alternate sides that I began each color section in order to avoid “stacking”. I didn’t want all of the color changes to occur on just one side of the scarf. And I made it easy on myself. I didn’t measure a thing while weaving, aside from making sure my work was square (same picks per inch as ends per inch). I simply wove until I ran out of warp, and finished off.

 

I clipped the non-superwash Deluxe and fed the ends back through the length of the warp for an inch or two. I did this because I knew I would be putting my scarf through at least a cycle or two in the washing machine. Had I not done this, I would most likely have had a big tangled mess where the Deluxe had felted around parts of the DK Superwash.  I also tied the ends of the Superwash in a loose knot along each group of fringe to protect them from unravelling too much in the wash.

pre-felting

Here it is, off the loom, ends clipped but not fully clipped, all ready for felting! I have a top load machine without a center agitator. I placed the scarf along with a pair of jeans, a couple of towels, and a little other assorted laundry I didn’t mind putting through more than one cycle. I started with a delicate cycle, cool water.

There was definitely some felting that happened, but not enough for my taste. If I was smart, I would have continued the delicate wash, checking eveyr 5 minutes or so to make sure the project was felting to my satisfaction. Instead, I started the machine on a regular wash with warm water and threw caution to the wind.  The scarf came out a touch more shrunken than I would have liked, but not by much. I still like it a lot, but I could have opened that washing machine to find a mess. Learn from my mistakes, weavers! Be cautious!

Semi-felted Scarf closeup1_blog

Here’s a close-up of the finished fabric. After taking out of the washing machine, I did have to pull apart a few parts of the scarf where it had sort of felted on itself. But this was easy to do as long as it was still damp. I also clipped all the ends close to the surface while it was still wet, trimmed the fringe, and pulled things into shape a bit. After that, I let it dry fully.

Semi-felted Scarf_blog

Here it is in its full puckery glory. It has the appearance of seersucker fabric, particularly in these colors. I’m really itching to try variations on this – more contrasting colors, cotton in place of the superwash, larger “grids”; the possibilities are many!

And here are the details for anyone wanting to give this a try:

  • Length of warp on loom: 130″
  • Length off loom: 110″
  • Length after felting: 70″ (not including fringe)
  • Width on loom: 14″
  • Width off loom: 13″
  • Width after felting: 8″
  • Ends: 110
  • Ends per inch: 8 (8 dent reed)
  • Weave structure: plain
  • Materials: Deluxe Worsted, color 14011 Sea Glass – 1 hank; Deluxe DK Superwash, color 832 Icy Grey – 3 balls

 

See you next time for a weaving experiment with Bamboo Bloom!

 

 

Variation on a Warp

Ever since I acquired a variable dent reed for my 15″ Cricket, I’ve been wanting to play around with it.  I happened upon this blog post by Jane Patrick over at Schacht, where the folks there had a variable dent reed challenge a few months back.  Jane based her scarf on one from “Woven Scarves” by Stephanie Flynn Sokolov. Here, I present you with my scarf based on Jane’s scarf based on Stephanie’s scarf. Whew!

First, let’s touch on this variable dent reed. It is just what it sounds like: a reed that can have varying dents in it. This is achieved by having multiple pieces of the reed with different dents (widths of holes) which can be arranged to one’s liking in the wooden frame of the reed.

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For my scarf, I arranged the dents such from right to left such that I had 1×12 dent, 1×10 dent, 1×5 dent, 2×10 dents, and 1×12 dent.

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I warped my Whisper Lace #111 through the 10 & 12 dent sections, and Poems #606 through the 5 dent sections. Poems is 100% wool, meaning it has the capability of being felted. Stephanie’s original scarf employing this method is a brilliant way of taking something simple and adding interest. As you can see, the scarf is just plain weave using Whisper Lace.

I hemstitched both ends and added knotted fringe at each end.

FeltedCenter_2

Directly off the loom, it’s a perfectly nice scarf.

FeltedCenter_3

I love the way Whisper Lace weaves up. It has a great classy yet rustic feel. But the real magic is yet to happen! Off the loom, I then hand-felted the center stripe of Poems, causing the yarn to shrink up. The result of this shrinking, is that the surrounding yarn that was not felted gathers causing a gentle ruffle.

Felted Scarf blog

Because one side of the Whisper Lace is narrower than the other, it can overlap for a nice layered look.  Stephanie’s scarf in the book incorporated beads on the fringed edge, which I really loved and wanted to do for my scarf too.

Felted Scarf Fringe closeup blog

When hemstitching, I had grouped my ends into 3s. I added a single bead to each group of 3 ends and tied a couple of knots to secure. I had this project on the loom a couple of weeks ago when we were at Stitches East in Hartford. I knew at that point I wanted to add beads, and found just what I wanted at the Bead Biz booth:

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Beautiful glass beads, and very affordable! I only used a small fraction of what I purchased, so now I’m feeling the need to incorporate more beading into my projects!

For anyone wanting to make their own felted center scarf, here are my specs:

  • Whisper Lace, color 111 Ebony, 2 balls (I used only 1 1/2); warp and weft
  • Poems, color 606 Time Travel, 1 ball (I used only a small portion); warp only
  • Warp Length: 100″
  • Width on loom: 13″
  • Scarf off loom: 12 1/2″ x  85″
  • Center stripe after felting: 45″ long
  • Weave structure: plain weave using Whisper Lace only

I think I’ve just embarked on a felting kick. Join me next time for more adventures in intentional shrinking of yarn!

 

 

Plaid, Part Two

A few weeks ago, Katie started on her plaid blanket using 6 different colors of Deluxe Worsted Superwash. After weaving 3 identical panels, sewing them together along the selvedges, and blocking, here is her reward:

Katie plaid blanket finished 1078 blog

 

 

After blocking, each panel measured about 12″ wide  x 48″ high. The finished blanket is 36 x 48, a perfect size for a couch throw or even a baby blanket.

Katie plaid blanket flat 1090 blog

 

Just 8 balls of Superwash and a few hours of weaving later, and Katie gets this awesomely colorful throw for her living room.

Katie, greys and greens and blues would look great in my house…hint hint. Kidding!

Next time, join me as I incorporate some beads and felting into my weaving!