Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fresh Bread

Today I baked some of my favorite bread. It is a whole-wheat-cranberry-orange-pecan loaf from the King Arthur whole grain baking book, which has become one of my favorite cook books. I've loved everything I've made from this book, but this bread is especially good. It's moist and chewy and has a fabulous flavor. And I think this bread is part of the reason my fiance asked me to marry him ;-)

Alpaca Merino Shawl

I finally finished the shawl I was working on. The draft is an advancing twill from Twill Thrills. The warp was Angel Face, a lace-weight alpaca from Briar Rose Fibers, and the weft was merino wool from Jaggerspun. I used this fiber combination on some scarves a couple of years ago and was really pleased with the results, and I am just as happy with this shawl.

I thought I would share some of my observations from using this yarn as warp.

First, the yarn is sticky. Not sticky, as in I couldn't get a good shed. Rather, sticky, in that little fuzz balls kept forming at the lease sticks while I was beaming the warp. I was continually separating warp ends with my fingers because they were being glued together with all these little fuzz balls. I didn't remember this from last time I used this warp. But that was a warp of narrow scarves, and this warp was a shawl, about 28" in the reed. Probably the width made it more noticable on this warp.

Second, the yarn is fragile. On both projects, I used louet looms with texsolve heddles and the louet raddles. I also used the paper clip temples on both projects. I would hate to try this as a warp on my baby wolf, which has flat steel heddles. When I wove the scarves, the selvedges broke often, so when I planned the shawl, I used a double strand for the floating selvedge. That seemed to do the trick. The only reed I had that was wide enough to weave this shawl was a 6 dpi, and I sleyed five per dent. I had several broken ends throughout the shawl, and I found it interesting that every broken end was one of the outside ends in a dent. I don't remember this happening with the scarves, which were woven with a 12 dpi reed. Next time I use this yarn again, I will use a finer reed and see what happens. I also had broken ends more frequently when I got to the end of the warp, where I didn't have the warp spread perfectly when I beamed it. Next time I will pay more attention to spreading the warp. I'm glad I used the louet raddle because the warp was spread much better than it would have if I had not used it. If you're not familiar with the louet raddles, Cally gives a fabulous explanation here.

Anyway, below are a couple of pictures of the shawl. I wish you could feel it. It is very drapey, very soft, very light weight, and very warm. I just ordered a skein of the alpaca in another colorway and see another shawl in my future.