Kim's Blog

Archive for Weaving

Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild

Spinning for Aran knitted fabrics.

Sept 9 – 11 the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild are hosting their annual retreat/fibre camp.  As well as the retreat there are three workshops offered this year.  The line up of instructors and workshops include:

  • Jessica Silvey’s basketry workshop where students weave a Wool Trimmed Cedar Bark Basket.
  • Sylvia Olsen’s knitting workshop on Coast Salish Colourwork Techniques.
  • Kim McKenna’s spinning workshop on Spinning for 4-ply yarns used in Aran/Cable Knit Fabrics.


To register go to

For further information regarding events, workshops and venue check out the SCSWG website below

Handpainted Warp Transformed

June 9, 2013

One picture is worth a thousand words.  The words that came to mind when Laura Fry shared this photo with me started like this….drape, hand, silky, luxurious, captivating, light, flowing, artistry, masterly……………..





Prairie Colours for Vladimira

May 28th, 2013

Friend and tapestry weaver Vladimira Fillion asked if I would help her figure out an easy way to dye samples using the recipes from Karen Kabel’s “Dusty Little Dye Book”.  By the end of the day we had twenty six samples for her next tapestry.  The colours were soft muted greens, golds, sands, slates, lavenders, mauves and mushroom colours.  Karen Kabel’s colours are beautiful.

Vladimira’s samples look as if they have been dyed from marigolds, logwood, lichens, fustic, heather, yarrow, etc.  In reality they were dyed using  just three colours from Cushing’s Perfection Acid Dye line  Acid dyes are very lightfast and will help Vladimira’s tapestry stand the tests of time.

These dyes exhausted extremely well, almost no colour at all remained in the dye bath at the end of the dye run.  Very impressive take up.

You might like to take a peek at Vladimira’s “Saga Nishiki – Baby Snake” tapestry which will be in the HGA Small Expressions Exhibition May 31 – Sept 7 at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in Saint Charles, Illinois.

Painted Warps, more “Magic in the Water”

May 23rd, 2013

The beginning of April I received what amounted to three very full baskets of warp yarns from Laura Fry.   My dyeing instructions were to handpaint them in whatever hues my little heart desired.  In otherwords Laura had just handed me thirty six blank canvases to play with that I could push and pull whichever way my imagination cared to carry me.  What a liberating, creative exercise.  A gift.  Starting was the hardest part.  I felt somewhat like a moth in a wool shop as I decided just where to begin.  The photo on the left is a sneak peek of one of the handpainted warps.

Mid-May I shipped twenty four of the warps back up to Prince George so Laura could get started.  The weft yarns Laura thoughtfully chooses will transform those shots of colour I have handpainted onto the warps.  Then comes the best part, where the true magic lies, the manner in which Laura finishes her scarves.  With Laura’s scarves seeing is not believing, touching is believing.  The drape and hand she imparts to the finished cloth is nothing short of amazing.  If you’d like to see the warps as they take shape on her loom check out    If you’d like to see them in person Laura will have them available for sale through the Seattle Weavers Guild Sale, Circle Craft in Vancouver, the Art Market in Calgary and through her website.

As for the reference in the title of this post….Painted Warps, more “Magic in the Water”.  It is a reference to her book, “Magic in the Water” which explains the process of wet finishing cloth to improve its drape and handle.  For any cloth-a-holics out there Laura also self publishes a series called A Good Yarn which contains samples of handwoven cloth before and after wet finishing.  You can find more information on the AGY series on her website.  Valuable reference materials for weavers and a well-used staple in my own library.  As I have been spinning flax into linen this past year I am anxiously awaiting her next publication, entitled AGY Linen & Hemp, due to be released in June.



Squirrel Cage Skeiner

January 13, 2012

I recently demonstrated the use of one of my most useful and cherished tools, a squirrel cage skeiner.  Not many people present had seen one before and wished they had known of them before they purchased an umbrella swift.

What does it do you may well ask?  I use it along with a ball winder to quickly and smoothly (without snags or breaks) wind a skein of yarn into a ball.  The skein is placed around the two drums and then with the help of a ball winder wound off into a ball.  Before I purchased the squirrel caged skeiner I had been using a umbrella swift.  But I did not like the action of the umbrella swift because even when it was mounted horizontally it would seize or snag now and again.  It also did not work very well with slippery or very fine laceweight yarns.  The laurels of this model of skeiner include:

  • It is handy when winding handspun skeins into balls.
  • It can be used to hold a skein while you wind yarn onto your weaving bobbins or for winding off warp yarns onto warping boards or reels.
  • It has a nice smooth action which does not seize up.  This allows me to wind off a lot of yarn in realatively short order without the yarn snapping and breaking.
  • I also use it like a distaff to hold my combed rovings while spinning.
  •  It can also be used to help finish yarns; using it to block smaller skeins…similar to how you would use a wool blocker.
  • Because the drums rotate, a skein of delicate laceweight singles are easily wound into a ball without worry.  The yarn will not break because of the added weight/drag of the skeiner.
  • The large flanges on the ends of the two bobbin-like drums help to keep slippery yarns under control when winding yarns onto warping boards.  So, I no longer cringe when I think of making up silk or rayon warps.
  • One feature that I particularly like….my squirrel cage skeiner  can be dismantled and stored away when not in use.
  • Another useful feature is the two drums which can be positioned where you want them along the length of the pole.  This  allows you to use it for more than one length of skein.
  • Cost:  Umbrella swifts generally cost between $75 – $125.  My squirrel cage skeiner cost me approx. $150 4 years ago.

So all in all a great tool to put on your wish list.  

Muga Striped Scarf Cut from Loom

My dyeing day had to be put on the back burner until my next days off work, but I have had quite an enterprising two weeks none-the-less.  The handwoven muga striped scarf is finished and has been cut from the loom.  All of the beautiful Louet roving with its brilliant oranges and reds has been spun up on my laceweight Houndesign drop spindle and the singles “finished” so it is now ready to knit.  I will explain how one “finishes” a singles yarn to prepare it for knitting in my next post on August 31st.

For now, I will leave you with a photo of the finished singles yarn.  Its colour reminds me of flowers in our garden – the same captivating red-orange colours which the hummingbirds find so attractive.



Muga Striped Scarf, almost finished…..

I expect to cut my muga striped scarf from the loom and plunk it into a dyepot sometime around the 11 or 12th of August.  Can hardly wait…so much fun in the meantime dreaming of the perfect colour to dye it.

I have set aside a few days in a row the second week in August to dye my scarf as well as the yarns for Diana’s fingerless mitten kits….which now have a name….”Ha’penny Mittens”.  The first four yarn colours slated for Diana’s Ha’penny Mittens are “Love Letter Blue”, “Thistle Pink”, “Cinnamon Spice Brown” and “Summer Sun Green”.

When not at the loom, I have been drop spindling some brilliant Northern Lights Roving (see photo above) from Louet.  If all goes according to plan…this singles yarn will be knit into my third ever knitted lace project – a simple scarf in an undulating lace pattern.  If you have not already read the book Colour by Victoria Findlay (also featured in the photo)…it is an excellent overview of the various pigments and their historical significance to the world of colour.

Next post….August 15th…when I will unveil the handpainted yarns for the “Ha’penny Mitten” kits.


Muga Striped Scarf

I have been itching to do a bit of weaving lately.  I wound off the warp yesterday and spent today dressing my loom with a fine white wool/silk blend yarn interspersed with random stripes of muga silk.

I thought some of you might enjoy reading a bit about silk……silk is harvested from the cocoons of moth larvae/caterpillars commonly known as silkworms.  Moths, like butterflies, are part of a large order of scale-winged insects known as Lepidoptera.  The main differences between moths and butterflies are:  the mechanics of their wings, the structure of their antennae and the time of day they are most active.  The manner in which the wings beat together as a single unit is one of the more prominent differences between these two families of insects.  In moths, the wings are physically coupled by a device called a frenulum.  In butterflies, the trailing edge of the forewing overlaps the leading edge of the hindwing which in turn helps their wings to operate as a single unit.  Moth antennae are usually stout with comb-like edges while those of butterflies are generally slender with clubbed tips.  Most moths fly at night.  The few species that are active during daylight hours are usually very colourful and, at first glance, easily mistaken for butterflies.

Of the 400 – 500 species of silk-producing moths in the world, only about 9 species produce commercially viable silk filaments.  These are separated into two main categories, domesticated and wild silkworms.  The silk in the white wool/silk blend yarn is from the domesticated species, Bombyx mori.  Bombyx silk is also known as cultivated silk and yields a creamy lustrous white fibre.  The muga yarn is from a wild species known as Anteraea assamensis.  The muga silk used in this scarf is a beautiful golden beige colour.

I plan to dye the scarf after it has been woven and look forward to the subtle variation in colour that the muga stripes will provide against the white wool/silk ground.

Next post…..August 1st.