Hand Spun & Knit Top Down Beaded Shawl

Posted by Tropical Twister under Chiengora , Hand Spun Yarn , Handspun Knitted Shawl , Knitting , Knitting Projects , Projects , spindles , Spinning , Spinning with Beads , Techniques 
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For close up views, click one time on image in blog and then click one time on next image. To return to blog, back arrow two times.

shawl close upbeaded shawl

Used hand spun beaded yarn to create top down beaded shawl. The yarn is wool and alpaca. The spinning process was described HERE and HERE in the blog. The beads are silver lined glass beads and antique Chec beads from an old lamp. I’d gotten an ounce of Momi fiber (wool, silk and glitter the color of sunset) from the Ashville fiber festival which I spun on the Trindle I’d purchased at the festival. Too little yarn for a project but worked great to provide an accent of colored lace.

I used the same pattern as the pink top down shawl

Lacy2And, an interesting aside. Lacy, my mostly border collie … just learned she has no discernable border collie DNA. Had her DNA run through Wisdom DNA thinking I’d learn border collie and what. (No blood is taken, cheek swab.) Learned she has only two breeds discernable: Austrailian Shepard (that fits) and Cocker Spaniel (didn’t see that one coming). It was great fun and splendid painful anticipation while waiting for the DNA results.

Tropical Twister


Cortez Village Heritage Festival (Craft Show)

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Knitting , Knitting Projects , Projects , Spinning , Techniques 
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Photos show my set-up for show today (before anyone arrived). Featured Lacy’s Chiengora Shawl. We were rained on, winded on, and sunned upon. I was demonstrating spinning (wool/silk/seaweed) and my Weave ‘n Stixs. It was great fun. Met a number of guests and several fellow crafters. Introduced locals to Fiber Space. If you’re reading this, and you’re local, please come to our next Fiber Space, November 22 (Saturday) 9 to 12 noon. (No cost/fee and everyone is welcome.) We’ll be meeting at Palma Sola Presbyterian Church located just off West Manatee Ave. behind McDonalds near the fire station (6510 3rd Ave. West, Bradenton FL).

Notice the chickee in the background. This is Florida; the Seminole Indians used available materials. Families lived in homes called chickees. The chickees had no outside or inside walls. The house was made by driving big logs into the ground between posts. The floor was made of long poles covered with cypress bark and palm leaves. The roof was made of poles covered with bark and leaves. The roof sloped down on each side from the center. A ladder was used for climbing up to the floor. The park, the Florida Marine Museum, uses the same style roof for their sheltered areas.

More on the Weave ‘n Stixs later.

Tropical Twister


Garter Stitch Top Down Shawl Pattern

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Handspun Knitted Shawl , Handspun Knitted Shawl PATTERN , Knitting , Knitting Projects , Projects , Techniques 
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Simple Garter Stitch Top Down Shawl

Select circular needle to compliment the yarn size.  I used size 11.  Cast on three stitches.

Row 1 Knit 3 (3 stitches) (notice this and all odd numbered row “knit”)

Row 2 K1, yo, K1, yo, K1 (5 stitches)

I use an openable marker to mark the center K1 stitch.  Don’t encircle the entire stitch or you won’t be able to tell front from back.  Put it through the face of the center K1 and you’ll always know the front.  Since you always knit uneven rows and yarn over only on the front the marker makes it a lot easier to remember what you are doing.  I move the marker up every ten rows or so, so that I can easily tell front from back as I knit.  After you work the pattern for awhile, you’ll see that you “K1, yo”, then knit to the middle back.  You “yo” just before and after the center stitch.  Then knit to within one stitch of the end of the row, finishing with a “yo, K1”.  

Row 3 Knit 5 (5 stiches)

Row 4 K1, yo, K1, yo, K1, yo, K1, yo, K1 (9 stitches)

Row 5 Knit 9 (9 stitches)

Row 6 K1, yo, K3, yo, K1, yo, K3, yo, K1 (13 stitches)

Row 7 Knit 13 (13 stitches)

Row 8  K1, yo, K5, yo, K1, yo, K5, yo, K1 (17 stitches)

Row 9 Knit 17 (17 stitches)

Continue established pattern.  Each even row the K# will increase 2 with every row.  Just knit between yo’s and you won’t need to count.  Remember to knit uneven rows (back). 

FINISH (#1)  Chiengora

The hypotenuse (the long side of the triangle) falls across the shoulders.  The two (2) short sides are the “live” stitches.  The sum of the two short sides, the live stitches you have loaded on the needles, is longer than the hypotenuse.  When center line down the back is long enough bind off.  Bind off by starting on an even (front) row.  At the beginning of the row just K1 then K1 again.  (No “yo’s”, yarn overs.)  Take the first stitch back over the second stitch and drop it off.  Continue across the live stitches.  You’ve finished the shawl!

FINISH #2 Llama Shawl

While I wanted the shawl simple and rustic, I  found the shawl very plain.  I decided to add a contrasting border to lift the finished look.  The Silk Sliver with Rambouille yarn  http://seabreezespinners.com/category/articles/hand-spun-yarn/ I just finished was too white.  I had some previously spun wool which was naturally yellowish white which blended better with the tone of the llama. 

Will post FINISH #2 next post.


More Chiengora

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Spinning , Techniques 
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(chiengora article 4 of 4)

I’ve had a number of questions, so I’ve added the following as things to consider when spinning chiengora (pronounced “she-an-gora”).

Now, the reason, to my thinking, that anyone spins chiengora when there are other lovely fibers to spin, is sentiment.  I love my dog.  I’ve been known to nuzzle my face down into her and snuggle.  I love the notion of wrapping myself in her warm coat.  And all that extra coat attention has the plus of keeping her cleaner and cooler.  So, the following is for anyone who wants something novel to spin and has a favorite canine they want to memorialize. 

Border Collies and all other double coated dogs have two kinds of hair.  Straight coarse outer hair and soft short undercoat.  If you shave a dog you get both.  My choice is to spin only the undercoat.  If you spin the coarse outer hair, you get coarse yarn.  Even if the coat is silky, and Lacy’s is silky, the outer hairs are straight and yarn spun from them will be coarse.  The yarn might be suitable for decorative items, but not worn next to the body.  There is a breed specific information page on Chiengoa at http://woollywormhead.com/page32.htm

I “harvest” the undercoat, as described in a previous article, by “raking” the coat weekly.   (This keeps down the carpet puffs as well.)  When it’s said a dog has blown it’s coat, that’s the soft undercoat that had been shed by the dog.  If Lacy lived outside, instead of being an inside A/C dog, she’d have a huge shed in the spring during the first heat wave.  She’s be blowing or loosing that winter insulation she no longer needed. 

Unlike wool (sheep hair) which has varying degrees of crimp, dog hair isn’t crimpy, neither the inner nor outer coats.  The undercoat certainly can be spun by itself.  Even cotton which has a very short staple can be spun.  However, I choose to mix in some wool as it makes the spinning easier and it tends to strengthen the yarn.  The natural crimp of the wool tends to hold the fluffy undercoat and the finished garment doesn’t shed so much.  Now, chiengora is a lot like angora, it’s cousin.  When I’ve worn an angora sweater, it leaves traces of itself on my skirt or pants.  Chiengora will leave stray hairs including the occasional outer hair that got spun up in the midst.  Dog hair is very warm.  Mixing wool with the dog hair, it breathes better and is more pleasant to wear.

The finished chiengora, dog hair garment doesn’t smell anymore than wool, angora, mohair or suede smells like sheep, rabbits, goats or cows.  Lacy’s is bathed regularly and has a healthy diet.  She does have body oil and does get smelly at times but generally she’s a clean dog.  I wouldn’t want to try to spin a matted, parasite infested mass of dog hair.  But, my guess is if you’ve read this far, you’re a dog lover and any dogs in your care don’t match the aforementioned description.  Hair from a groomer is probably not the best choice.  Unlike the shearer of sheep, the groomer likely has made a number of cuts and the hair is all different lengths.  It is also likely to have guard or outer hair included in the mix.  I think it would be too much trouble to separate the two.  I have but one dog and she provides an abundant amount of hair.  Every time I “rake” her, she provides more.  I keep the hair in paper bags.  I found out early that storing it in a sealed plastic bag from which I removed as much air as possible before sealing the bag is not the best choice.  The hair is usable but it mats.  Just letting it float down into a large paper grocery bag (if you can find a store that offers them) is a better choice.

If you don’t feel up to spinning it yourself, I’ve found a host of spinners on the net who accept commissions to do it for you including: Cherri Hankins http://cherrihankins.blogspot.com/2008/04/chiengora-yarn-spun-from-dog-  hair.html  OR  http://www.chiengora4u.com/Welcome.html   OR  http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=584156 and a host of others.  Or contact your local spinning and weaving guild like our, Manasota Weavers http://manasotaweaversguild.com/ and you are likely to find someone there who will accept a commission.

The above is some personal thoughts about chiengora.  Some readers may have had different experiences and I’d welcome your comments about your experiences, suggestions or reasons you approach the whole process differently.

Tropical Twister


Chiengora (dog hair) Lacy’s Shawl

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Knitting , Knitting Projects , Projects , Spinning , Techniques 
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Finished (Chiengora article 3 of 4 )

First the finished shawl was soaked in “Soak”, rinsed, soaked again, rinsed, and then soaked in Ikaria deodorizing pet shampoo, rinsed and spun dry in non-agitating front loading washer.  The completed shawl had been placed in a net laundry bag before being placed in the washer.  The water temperature throughout was “cold”, that is, straight from the tap which in Florida in the summer is room temperature not really “cold”.  Even wet through, there was no doggy odor (thank goodness).  Then the damp shawl was blocked by laying it out on the living room floor and coaxing it into shape and then left to dry flat.

The fiber was harvested over the past year and spun at different times.  Some was spun quite thin (lace weight) and other thicker (sport weight).  Using the different weights as bands creates interest, one of those serendipity things.  (If one chose to lessen the effect, the yarn could be used in progressively heavier or lighter weights to lessen the contrast moving from weight to another or one could be more technical and record settings and thickness each time they sat to spin.  Thereby having greater consistency.  Me, I just like to spin.)   On Shasta Daisy’s blog http://fiberfanaticblog.artisticexpressionsinwoolandglass.com/spinningpad.html  she reports her dog, Princess Vanity, provides different fiber in the spring than in the autum shed.  Something to consider.  I’ve just gathered and co-mingled my “harvests” in the past, but from this point forward I plan to be more mindful of the seasons.

FINISHED So soft …






I’m not sure which is harder to photograph, a black shawl or a black dog.  (I put a white t-shirt under the shawl to better photograph the lace.)

Thank you for visiting http://Seabreezespinners.com/

Tropical Twister


Chiengora “Lacy” Shawl

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Knitting , Knitting Projects , Projects , Spinning , Techniques 
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In progress. (Chiengora article 2 of 4)

I’m knitting the thick & thin two ply chiengora into a simple garter stitch triangular shawl.  Unlike the other shawl featured, “Handspun Knitted Shawl”, this one starts at the center back at the neck and the “live knitting” continues down the sides.  (I’ll post the pattern later.)  This is a great choice for any hand spun.  It creates a chevron (diagonal patterns) across the back which highlights variances in the yarn. 

I hope to finish the shawl today.  Afterwhich, I’ll clean it (the dog hair was spun without cleaning first which helps hold the short stapled fiber together), full it, and block it by laying it out to dry.  More later.

Tropical Twister



Spinning Chiengora (Dog Hair)

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Spinning , Techniques 
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(Chiengora 1 of 4)
First, you need the right kind of dog.  This is Lacy, my “mostly border collie”.  She is a double coated dog.  That is, in addition to her outer coat, she has a soft, wooley undercoat.  The dog books say Border Collies shed twice a year, they’re right, day and night.  

The name “chiengora” comes from combining “chien”, French for dog, with “gora” as in angora, due to the “halo” the fiber produces.

HARVESTING CHIENGORA (no animal is harmed in the process).  It’s actually very healthy for the coat to remove the dead, loose undercoat from the dog, and cooler.  To keep Lacy’s coat healthy I use the Ikaria line of shampoos and conditioners from PetEdge http://www.petedge.com/home.jsp .  The rake photographed below is also available through PetEdge.  I’ve tried lots of tools but the Oster rake below seems to be the most effective to me.

I gently grasp her loose skin and rake the direction the hair grows.  Great gobs of dead hair are harvested each time.

I blend the dog hair with wool.  (I used Louet corriedale dyed in a color close to her natural coat color.)  While a purist may shutter at the notion of blending the hair I do so for two reasons.  First, the dog hair is very short stapled.  That is, it is short in length.  When spun alone, it requires a tight twist to hold in the short hairs.  I find this makes the yarn hard and less suitable for the scarves and shawls I like to knit.  Second, the dog hair when spun and knit has a lovely “halo”, fuzz.  When the spun yarn is fulled to set the twist, the wool and dog hair slightly felt and the wool holds the short stapled dog hair into the yarn.  I weigh out equal weights of dog hair and wool before blending.  I use a drum carder to blend the fiber.  One of the tricks of the drum carder, is not to try to process too much fiber at one time.  I layer first the longer wool, then a layer of dog hair, then a layer of wool.  I pull the batt off the carder, fold it in half and send it through the carder again.  In total, I send it through the carder 3 or 4 times.  I roll the finished batt and store it in a cardboard box careful not to flatten it.



The next part of the process is spin singles from the fiber.  You’ll see the singles emerging on my Matchless spinning wheel.  I then ply two singles together for strength and yarn size consistentecy. 




Visit http://Seabreezespinners.com/ again for projects made from the Chiengora.


Tropical Twister & Lacy


Fiber Space

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , FIBER SPACE , Knitting Projects , Projects 
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Fiber Space met today.  Some photos of various projects.  Beading, quilting, knitting M. J. working on a blue prayer shawl and me on Lacy (knitting my border collie).  Elizabeth is practicing spinning “long draw woolen yarn”.


Thank you again for visiting http://Seabreezespinners.com/
Tropical Twister