Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Finished Projects

In an effort to start the new year off right, I've finished two projects I started last year. The first are the felted slippers I mentioned in a previous post. For the felting process, I washed them in our washing machine with a load of clothes using hot water. Because we have a front loading washing machine, things don't usually felt well so I took them out and hand felted them some more in the sink. Then they were popped into the dryer for the final step. I'm quite pleased with the felting and fit results, although admit they'd work better on someone's feet who lives in a fully carpetted home. I find they're a bit too slippery for our linoleum and wood floors. These were made using handspun Lincoln wool.

green silk with handwoven jacket My second completed project is one I'm quite proud of. It is a dressy jacket made using dupioni silk and my hand-spun, handwoven yardage. The story of the woven yardage: I bought some black alpaca roving while at our very first alpaca show in Southern California around Fall 2003. We weren't showing - we were just interested in alpacas. I took home the roving and spun it but wanting to make it go as far as possible, I plied it with an Ashland Bay wool roving in fall colors. Beautiful yarn! In April 2004, I entered that yarn into a fiber arts competition at the Monterey Pronk, an alpaca show in Monterey California. It won a blue ribbon! The yarn then sat in my stash for a while as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Every spinner out there knows what I'm talking about - we have many yarns that sit until they "call to us". Well this one spoke to me when I had a black cotton yarn I had put on the loom to "play" with. That warp's purpose was specifically so I could experiment with different treadling and different tie-ups. But after I was "played" out, I found I had lots of warp left over. In a simple twill, I wove the 48" of fabric.

handwoven alpaca-wool over cottonBack to "let it sit until it calls to me". In September 2005, I pulled out my pattern stash. I wanted to use the fabric to make a vest but didn't find any patterns I liked. Instead this dress jacket called to me. I made a "muslin" using the pattern pieces, adjusted it to fit me, cut the pieces apart to accomodate the handwoven fabric width and made my jacket. It helps that I've got a lot of pattern drafting experience (see the link for Kings and Sages Apparel, my line of boy's clothing) but it really was quite easy. My next project is a black corduory winter (well, California winter) jacket using some of my other handwoven stash.

Close-up of woven fabric: handwoven fabric of alpaca and wool w/cotton warp

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More socks - this time from alpaca

Handmade Christmas presents are fun to make and give. Part of the fun is the challenge of making the gift without the recipient knowing! I made these socks for dh. Actually, the gift he opened Christmas day were the socks on the needles 75% done. It took a lot longer to knit his socks than it did to do mine because of the secrecy. Once I could knit them in the open, they were quickly finished.

I used the same pattern as before using the large size this time. I actually knit both socks in tandem. I wound the yarn into a center pull ball and worked one sock from each end. When I ran out of yarn, I switched to plain white and finished them up. The colorations aren't an exact match because it was hand dyed roving. I handspun the yarn after dyeing it as well as some of the undyed white. The roving is alpaca neck and leg fiber. It's not something I'd want to wear on *my* neck, but it's absolutely perfect for socks! The durability is supposed to be incredible. Ask dh in a few years what he thinks. His initial opinion is positive with a dash of "could you make the leg longer next time?"

I have another alpaca neck/leg roving project to post about but as that's a present for someone, I have to wait until they open it lest it spoil the surprise!