Friday, July 15, 2022

Knitting Tales

Maggie's Miami Beach Yarn
  Many of our members are acomplished knitters.  Some even spin their own yarn although its unclear whether the knitting grew out of the need to use up hand spun yarn or the spinning grew out of the need for something to knit with.  In extreme cases some members have been known to raise their own sheep or alpacas.  

There are pros and cons to knitting with hand spun yarn.  On the one hand, you can create unique pieces that highlight the unique yarn. You also have first hand knowledge of the fibres that you are knitting with and how they have been processed.  They may be deliberately overspun to create an active yarn that will pucker when washed.  They can also be glorious combinations of colours and fibres that make even the simplest knitted object unique.  The downside is that hand spun yarns will have some element of inconsistency depending on the skill of the spinner.  They may not be a standard grist and you can't buy another skeine if you run out.  That often means adapating patterns to fit the yarn.

Sheila's merino wool vest is made from natural coloured hand-spun yarn.  The yarn was spun over a period of years while attending events.  The pattern stitch is called "Sketch" and is from the "Twisted Stitch Sourcebook" by N. Gaughan.  Sheila had hoped for a sweater with sleeves but had to fit the "cloth" to  the supply of yarn  The antler buttons are a good match.  

Sheila's vest of hand-spun wool

Jetty's shawl & felting

Jetty's shawl is an example of an informal piece made from hand spun wool but you'll note something else in the photo.  Spinners always have bits and bobs of dyed fibre around. Jetty made good use of those bits and bobs to make a felted picture. 

Jane's tank top
There are a multitude of yarns on the market these days.  Some feature interesting fibre blends that have practical applications, think wool/nylon sock yarn.  Some feature complex colour grading for stripes.  Wool/silk blends are one of the most popular for knitted clothing because they combine the warmth of wool with the softness of silk.

Jane's tank top is knitted from Caesura Papersilk.  It is a 50/50 mix of wool and silk in a lovely blue.  The pattern is by Asa Soderman.  It is a seamless knit, in other words it is knitted as a tube.  Note the button detail on the back.  

button detail

Below is an example of a sweater being knitted from the top down to give a seamless finish.

knitting from the top down in progress

Knitted landscape with sheep

The final piece is a preview of our guild challenge for this year.  We were asked to create a piece (in any medium) that was inspired by the landscape.  In this knitted piece Maggie has captured sheep grazing amongst the flowers on a hillside.  

Monday, July 4, 2022

Designing with Stripes

stripes on tree trunk
Stripes are a common pattern we can see in the natural environment.  They occur as layers of strata on a cliff face, ripples in sand, rows of vegetation in a field, tree trunks in a forest etc etc.  Stripes are also one of the easiest patterns to reproduce in almost any medium using a minimum of technology.  They can be simple lines etched into clay on a primitive pot or bands of flamboyant colours in fabric.

Stripes designs can appear simple but even something as random as the stripes on the tree trunk in the photo have design elements that make you look twice.

Below are some examples of playing with stripe designs.

4 towels 1 warp
Linda had fun playing with a long warp with yellow and red stripes on a blue background.  Then using the same yellow and red yarns, she added bands of stripes at the top and bottom, divided the cloth with red weft stripes and went crazy with a repeating sequence of red and yellow stripes to give a plaid effect.  The stripes are balanced and symmetrical.

sylvia's stash pillow

Sylvia's striped pillow is made from her stash of yarns.  She picked a group of yarns on the red/blue spectrum.  The repeating stripe in fushcia gives continuity while the darker colours vary across the piece.  The look is informal.

stash buster scarf

The scarf is another stash busting project using solid stripes of different colours and textures.  Note the use of the narrow black stripe between different yarns that helps to transition from one stripe to another.  The black edge stripes help to balance the design.

stash buster tea towel

The blue striped tea towel is another stash busting project.  This has a random pattern of narrow stripes.  The warp was made in sections using a group of 4 threads two of which were always blue.  The colour of other two threads varied.  The 4 threads were then threaded through the heddles randomly to create a random pattern of mini stripes some as small as 2 threads.  The mini-stripes combine to make larger compound stripes. The blue threads provide continuity.across the warp.  The overall pattern is asymmetrical.

striped border

There are many mathematical formula's that you can use to create a series of stripes.

The next example is a planned pattern based on the Fibonnacci series.  This naturally occuring numerical relationship produces a pleasing border for a tea towel.  It has a more formal appearance than the previous works..

exponential curve

The red towel is also based on a mathematical relationship, this time it is based on an exponential curve.  The warp is made from two colours with different colour values.  The dominant colour gradually changes from the red to white and back again.  Creating the warp is the most difficult part of this project.  It requires you to follow a chart showing the number of white/red threads in each stripe.


M's&O's scarf
The final piece is based on a painted warp woven with two weft threads.  The finer weft thread weaves a pattern in M's and O's while the thicker weft thread weaves tabby.  When washed the tabby threads create a curved line with regular spacing across the scarf giving a rippled effect.  At a distance it appears as subtle stripes.  A bold colour change was used to give large accent stripes at the ends of the scarf.  This piece has stripes on two levels.

M's&O's weft stripes

So, next time you see a pleasing striped design you might find there is more to it than shows at first glance.

Family Day at Qualicum Beach

We are out and about these days so if you see our booth drop by, try your hand at weaving or just chat.  This photo is from our booth at the Qualicum Beach Family Day event.  You'll find us at the Qualicum Beach Museum for Children's Day and at the Lighthouse Fall Fair among other events.