Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This Band Has A Steady Beat

My inkling is improving. My beat is becoming more regular and the edges are not as horrendous as they once were.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Off Track And Wandering

The exercise tracker has not budged since last Friday. I've been feeling weak and achy for several days. Not a full blown flu mind you, but not up to my usual routines. I've been sleeping a fair bit, and in between I pick up this or that and work on it as long as my attention holds.

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Not much progress on any one item, but inching forward on all. I plied up the remaining superwash merino which was leftover after the Lace Edged Denim Sweater was completed. I've started a top down sock with a simple wave-like pattern. I've restarted (for about the 15th time!) the Olympic '02 Team USA ski sweater. Looks like this time might be the charm. (Either that or I am getting more frustrated and therefor less picky.) On the inkle loom in the back is a failed attempt to learn a pick-up technique. I've resorted to weaving it off in the default pattern created doing plain weave.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Beat Goes On

I think my daughter has inherited my fascination with the fiber arts. She thought she would never knit. But now she does. She thought she would never spin. But now she does that too.

She resisted weaving. As argument she listed all the knitting and spinning she already had on the go and insisted that with a new baby she didn't have time to take up yet another hobby. When we were at Fibrefest a while back I whet her appetite for weaving by suggesting that we "rest our feet" and "kill a little time" by watching a demonstration of the knitter's loom.

Psssh. She was a pushover! After the 30 minute demo I merely had to suggest that the knitter's loom is a lot like my rigid heddle loom and she might want to --- you know, take it for a while and see how she liked weaving. Heh. I believe she whimpered a little, called me a "Beeotch" and said that I was some kind of fibery "pusher" 'er somethin'.

When I heard she was bringing Kaylen over for a visit today I slyly suggested she might want to bring along some of her fingeringweight leftover yarns, the stuff she no longer has a use for. Heh. Next thing she knew we were warping the loom together and she was trying her hand at weaving.

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And doing a darn good job too!

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I sent her home with the loom and the suggestion that she might want to weave runners for her beautiful new bedroom suite. Betcha we'll be warping up the loom for that project within a couple of weeks. ;-)

Michelle, just give in. Resistance is futile.
Gillian, if you need a weaving companion --- try teaching one.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Nail Loom Dimensions

"Lily's Mom" asked the measurements of my nail loom.

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Jim, of Oyama Lake Alpaca Farm, made the loom using a square of white shelving and some finishing nails. The outside dimensions of the wooden square are 25cm x 25cm (9 3/4" square). The nails themselves form a 20cm square (8") and are 2.7cm from the edges (1"). There are 21 nails per side (including the shared corners) for 80 nails total. I have no idea how long the nails were, but 3cm (1 3/16") is above the surface and they aren't at all wobbly. There is 1cm (3/8") space between each nail.

Given the stretchy nature of most yarn, the square "shrinks" a little when it comes off the loom. Depending on the elastisity of the yarn used, my squares end up being 7 1/4" - 7 1/2" when finished.

How to use it: Here

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Contest, Contest!

I was visiting Nicole's blog, "Knerq", and read of a contest going on at "Skeins Her Way". Three winners will be receiving the pattern for Ali's "Fitted Tank" with the first prize winner also receiving 4 hanks of "Blue Sky Dyed Cotton" in their choice of colours. To enter you have to have a blog. It that sounds interesting to you, check it out. And don't forget to tell them that Marlene/Wovenflame sent you. Here, grab my blog address and take it along with you. ;-)

Okay, okay. I might as well be upfront about it. I'll get an extra entry if you say I referred you.

Now for the "work" part of the contest. Ali wants contestants to list their summer knitting goals. As most of you already know, knitting isn't my only fibre related interest and I've recently started exploring weaving on small looms in addition to my usual spinning and knitting. Summer is also my prime time for doing fibre preparation like fleece washing and wool combing. So as you look over my rather short list of summer knitting goals, keep in mind that I will be up to my elbows in other fibery goodness as well.

Dale of Norway US Olympic '02 Ski Sweater. This one has been in "time out" ever since I discovered that it contains rows with 3 colours. It has discouraged me, but I will not be defeated!

Cabled Hoodie, Sirdar 8427 - or possibly and adaptation so I can use a worsted weight handspun.

Socks - these are ongoing projects I keep in the car. No intended finish date.

Loden Mist, that fantastically beautiful lace jacket on page 47 of the Spring 2007 issue of "Knitter's".

Order Level II of the Master Knitters Program.

I might not finish any of these this summer, but these are the knitting projects foremost on my mind.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Inkle Loom

I've had this Inkle loom for months now, maybe even as much as a year or more, and despite great intentions it remained unused until just last night.

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Because of my recent interest in the "nail loom" I joined a Yahoo group dedicated to small looms. That led me to another Yahoo group devoted specifically to just Inkle looms. That in turn led me to a blog with a tutorial on how to get the Inkle loom warped.

Suddenly the time seemed right to drag out the Inkle loom and a bag of old crochet cotton and finally get down to the business of warping the loom. I plunked the loom down in front of the computer and followed the pictures and explanations step by step. Within a very short time I was weaving. By evening's end I was nearly finished.

My colour and fibre choices were limited to what I had on hand and my "draft" was ultra simple, but my goal was simply to learn to warp the loom and to practise the weaving, so I'd deem the exercise a success.

I found the warping and weaving to be very easy, but keeping the selvedges even and neat was another matter. I have a feeling that it will take a lot of practise to get those looking good.

Next step? Finding something I like better for the warp. Different colours perhaps and maybe thicker --- I'll be looking for perle cotton locally.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nail Loom Tutorial

Due to Photobucket's change in policy that requires high fees for using their service, (which originally was free), my original post of this tutorial no longer has its photos visible. Try going WAY back using this "way back machine" link.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Okay, here is how to use the homemade "nail loom". Although I use 2 or 3 thickness of yarn together, as one, to make the squares thick and firm, I have taken the pictures using only a single thickness of variegated, worsted weight, acrylic yarn so that you can better see what I am doing. I recommend that you use only one thickness on your first, practise piece and then once you get the hang of the procedure you graduate to more strands for a fuller appearance in the final square.

Start by turning the loom so that one corner is facing you. Place your yarn supply to your left. Tie the end of your yarn to the lower corner peg. I like to use a slip knot as it is easy to remove later.

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Drape your strand of yarn across the loom and around the opposite (top corner) peg, clockwise.

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Bring it down to the lower corner again around the next empty nail to the right, and across to the next empty nail on the left ---

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--- and back up to the upper corner you go.

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After pivoting around the next empty nail at the top left hold it in that position ---

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--- while you grab a large crochet hook and, going UNDER the middle strand on the loom, grab the working yarn ---

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--- and forming a loop, drag it across to the next empty nail on the top right.

With that secured around the nail, take the lower half of the loop and pull it downward ---

--- to the next empty nail on the lower right. As you snug this up you will see that the lower portion is already woven for you, thanks to the LOOP technique! Now it's just a matter of placing it around the first empty nail on the lower left, and you're heading back up to the top again.

Once again, pause after wrapping that empty nail on the top left, grab the hook and, weaving over and under (with this technique it works out that you ALWAYS start with an "OVER") ---

--- pull the loop through, wrap the next empty nail to the upper right, and drag the lower portion of the loop down to the next empty nail to the lower right.

--- with the lower portion already woven for you, wrap the lower left nail and proceed back to the top.

Back and forth you go filling the loom. When you get to a point where your crochet hook will no longer reach all the way across, do it in sections, holding the loop with your finger while you weave the hook in and out on the next section.

Continue repeating the steps until the loom is full and you have only the last nail on the left remaining unwrapped. Cut your yarn leaving a tail at least long enough to reach across the loom one more time ---

--- and then weave over and under with the hook and pull the final strand across and out the right hand corner.

Now, beginning at one corner, you can just pull up on your work, popping the loops off the nails.

Untie the beginning knot. All that is left is to weave in those beginning and ending tails.

My example square is all loosey-goosey and messy looking because it was done single stranded. Blocking would improve the look, but better yet, just use a thicker yarn or more strands ---

--- for a perfectly plump finished square.

These squares should be great for making blankets. All the squares are exactly the same size with exactly the same number of loops to sew into. Anyone who has ever had to put together a charity afghan, with it's various contributors making squares of unequal sizes and unequal numbers of rows, will appreciate the wonder of this uniformity!

Downloadable manuals for other loom types are available free from "Eloomanation".

Edited to add:
I've had a number of questions over the years about the dimensions of the homemade loom and the number of nails. Although I think these things can vary and you'll still have success, here are the measurements from my particular loom:

The nails on the loom span 20cm on each side, with 21 nails on each side (including the corner nails) for 80 nails total. The distance between the nails is 1cm. The board itself is 25cm square, providing a 2cm border all around. Each finishing nail rises about 3cm above the surface.

Any questions?

More About The Small Loom

Responding to a question from Leisel.

This isn't a Weavette although it is similar. It is just a board with finishing nails hammered in at regular intervals. It was made by the owners of Oyama Lake Alpaca Farm. Darlene Homenchuk and her husband were doing a small demo at Fibrefest. Only 4 of the looms were made. With the loom she provided a single sheet photocopy as instructions. No pictures, just text. If I hadn't had the demo I doubt that I could have figured it out from the instructions, although it is VERY simple to use.

I've seen the Weavette instructions here. The instructions for that are WAY more complicated than the diagonal weaving instructions I use. The little loom I have is used in the same manner as the Hazel Rose Loom. The company that makes the Hazel Rose Loom provides an instruction booklet with their product. I haven't seen it, but they mention it on their site.

The cool thing about weaving diagonally is that it is accomplished by pulling a LOOP of yarn across the loom each time. Going over and under the "warp" threads with a crochet hook, you then pull across a loop. One side of the loop ends up weaving the top corner, and the other side is pulled down and fills in the bottom corner --- without you having to go over and under again. You accomplish twice as much weaving in half the time! Also, with this little loom you fill it ONCE and you are done. It doesn't require several layers of weaving like the Weavette.

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This is a simple little loom with a very simple, but fast and effective weaving technique. The technique does require that there be a nail in each corner, which I think is absent in the Weavette? With some precise nailing, it would be very easy to make a loom like this. If you're more likely to hammer your thumb than one of the many nails necessary, Hazel Rose Looms makes beautifully finished looms in a variety of sizes.

If there is enough interest I could do a photo essay of how to weave on a simple homemade "Nail Loom". Sing out in the comments if you are interested.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Have I Done?

Thought I'd participate in this little knitting questionnaire I found on Minnie's blog.

"Bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing."

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up

Mittens: Tip-down (perhaps some day)
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting (doesn't really interest me)
Participating in a KAL

Drop stitch patterns (another one I don't like the look of)
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn (I love to try new fibres)
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn (as soon as I spin it up!)
Two end knitting (in some distant future I may give it a try)
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn (another one I'll be spinning soon)
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn

Graffiti knitting (I wonder if I could mattress stitch a stop sign cozy in the cover of darkness --- heh, heh)
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book [well sure, why not? I'll start small with a magazine article first. ;-P ]
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money

Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting (I prefer to work at my own pace --- although sometimes that IS marathon style)
Knitting with someone else's handspun yarn ( quivet!)
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit

Knitting for a living (that would take the fun out of it!)
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking (no interest)
Dying yarn

Knitting art (perhaps some day)
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously (Well I usually do two socks at the same time on ONE long circular. Does that count?)
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards (I think I may have tried knitting backwards at one time, not sure)
Machine knitting
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys

Knitting with cashmere (when it's spun, I'll get right on that)

Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern

Intarsia (I've never seen intarsia that I truly liked, but I'll be doing it for the Master Knitter Program.)
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
(Maybe someday)
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting (meh)
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Rug (I've woven rugs, but never knit them.)
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting (don't live in the right climate for that)
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets

Shrug/bolero/poncho (Say NO to ponch-Os)
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Knitting with one color in each hand. (it wasn't included in the list - heh)

Lap Loom

This is the other little item that caught my eye at Fibrefest.

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I went home the first night (after having spent all my allotted money) still thinking about this simple little loom and how I could use up some of my less-than-lovely stash (acrylic yarns and odd balls of this and that left over from other projects) making squares for blankets for charity. I considered the possibility of making the loom myself, but --- well --- my nail hammering skills are not that great. The next day I went back with money my son had given me to buy it --- my Mother's Day gift.

It surprises even me how much I enjoy using this little thing. I can pop off a square in 15 to 20 minutes and it isn't exactly brain surgery. Sometimes a mindless, quick project with no real goal in mind is just what I'm looking for.

Fancier, pricier versions of the loom are available here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fibrefest Haul

Look what followed me home from Fibrefest International. I went with a plan. I was going to buy a longer niddy noddy, another bobbin or two for the Little Gem II, sock blockers, and as much luxury fibre as I could manage.

There were no sock blockers, no Majacraft bobbins, and the niddy noddy I saw did not suit my needs. Somehow I still managed to spend all the money I went with.

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Want a closeup look?

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50 grams of white bamboo top. 25 grams of cream yak top.

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25 grams of white silk/cashmere (85%/15%). 20 grams of ramie.

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250 grams of "Black Rainbow Glitter" a N.Z. Halfbred wool with a bit of sparkle added. I hope I'll be able to spin it thin enough to make a lace shawl for the holiday season.

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A packet of silk hankies. This will be a totally different spinning experience for me.

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A huge 225 grams of camel/silk. Ooooo, I'm looking forward to this one. I was gifted a small sample of camel silk a few years ago and that tiny bit was easy to spin into a 3 ply laceweight and it went far enough to make a pair of baby socks. This big bag should be enough to make something substantial.

And last, but not least I got these:

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Two lovely alpaca batts. Once I get my existing project off the wheel the alpaca batts are likely to be the first thing spun up. They are the bulkiest to store and I am rapidly running out of space in my "playroom".

There was one other fun item, bought for me as a Mother's Day gift. I'll show a picture of that tomorrow.

Close Up For Nicole

Here's the close up of the lace pattern on the border of the Lace Edged Denim Sweater, Nicole. Sorry it isn't a better picture. It's so dark (darker than this picture portrays) that the camera has difficulty picking up the details.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Profile Revision May Be Needed

If you are a Blogger user and wonder why you haven't received answers to your enquires, please take a moment to revise your profile.

You may have set your email address as "visible" when you first signed up, but Blogger did something a while back that reset everyone's profiles with "hide email address". That means that when you leave a comment, even if you asked me a question, I have no way to respond to you except to leave my answer in my own comment section and hope that you eventually find your way back and also think to look in my comment section of that particular post to see if I've answered you. I'm betting a lot of my answers go unread.

There is a simple way to remedy this. Please go update your Blogger profile and while you are doing so recheck "show email address". This way I can respond to your comment/question personally and you won't have to search for my response/answer.

I take no credit for finally realizing this. I read about it first on Dave's blog, Criminy Jickets. He has asked that we pass the information on.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Quick, Blurry and Poorly Posed

I'm dashing out the door to spend the day at Fibrefest but just had to show you this.

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I finished the sewing up of the Lace Edged Denim Sweater this morning. It fits, it's comfy, and I love it.

Made of handspun 2 ply superwash merino (17 - 18 WPI).

Unfortunately it likely won't see much wear until next fall.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Streak Of Blue Lightening Socks

I've been (occasionally) knitting on this particular pair of socks for so long that many of the details now escape my (admittedly poor) memory.

This ruffly looking cast off was only done yesterday so I DO remember that part. I used the ultra-stretchy cast off I learned while doing the Swallowtail Shawl.

K2, *transfer the 2 stitches on the right needle back to the left needle and then K2tog through the back loop. K1 and repeat from* around.

It makes for a very stretchy cast off perfect for toe-up socks. AND ---

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---when worn it doesn't look at all ruffly.

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The rest of the details for these socks are lost to the miles and miles (okay, just 7", but knitting only in meetings, waiting rooms, or on long car rides, it took forever!) of K1, P1 ribbing. I THINK I used Heartstrings Pattern: A50 - 5232 "Basic Toe-to-Cuff Sock", but after the heel was knit I would have filed the pattern away.

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It was likely some kind of sock yarn from

Monday, May 07, 2007

Swallowtail Shawl Debut

Swallowtail Shawl, design by Evelyn A. Clark,
published in Interweave Knits, Fall 2006 issue.

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Width across the top edge, 48". Depth from tip to top edge, 24"

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Started May 02, 2007. Finished May 05, 2007

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Knit with 2 ply laceweight (18 WPI), spindle spun from undyed Bluefaced Leicester roving.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Blocking Swallowtail

As promised, a picture of the Swallowtail Shawl blocking. I like to wet block my shawls, pinning them out severely.

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Although I use interlocking foam "play mats" when blocking smaller items, like the individual pieces of a sweater, for larger items like this shawl I use foam insulation board. (For REALLY large shawls I lay a sheet on a carpeted floor.)

The Swallowtail Shawl is a great one for using blocking wires. My blocking wires are 36" tig welding rods, much cheaper than "real" blocking wires. I placed one wire down the center back and two across the top edge. I made sure those wires remained straight, but allowed the wires threaded through the lower, pointed edging to curve out slightly while I pinned.

Pictures of the finished shawl tomorrow.

With Yarn To Spare

Stephanie said in her May 4 th post, "I'm knitting quickly since I've started to fear I won't have enough yarn". Although it sounds absurd, I too find myself knitting faster when there is some doubt as to whether or not I will have enough yarn for a project. It's almost as though I am trying to outrun the yarn supply. Perhaps if I knit fast enough, or constantly enough, the yarn won't have time to run out? Sound impossible?

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Ha! I proved the theory right. I knit as fast as I could and as constant as running a household would allow and --- TA DA! --- the Swallowtail Shawl is complete, and with a little yarn to spare. That little bundle of Bluefaced Leicester that was sent along with my spindle really went a long way! The shawl is having its pre-blocking bath right now. Photos in the near future.

Now what was I up to before I was distracted by this? ---- Ah yes, the Lace Trimmed Denim Sweater. More on that soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

While I'm Waiting

My knitty-fingers got fidgety while I was waiting for the Lace Edged Denim Sweater to dry during it's blocking and I cast on for this:

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This is the beginnings of the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits, Fall 2006. I'm doing it in the 2 ply laceweight that I spun up from the lovely Bluefaced Leiscester included with the Spindlewood Co. spindle that I won from Spindlicity.

IF I'm able to finish the shawl (I'm concerned I may run short) I'll likely dye the finished piece.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wool Watching

Watching wool dry.

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I got to a point in the Lace Trimmed Denim Sweater where I had to knit to "x # of inches" before doing the underarm decreases. Normally I'd just keep knitting until I reached that measurement. BUT, to improve the look and drape of the handspun I've been knitting the pieces slightly smaller and blocking them to size. When asked to knit to a certain length, I could go by the rows per inch measurement --- but that isn't necessarily the same over the lace portion as it is over the main, stockinette section. Soooooo, I'm blocking what I've knit so far to the correct width, measuring the length so far, and then doing a calculation based on rows per inch over stockinette to figure out how many rows to knit before doing the underarm shaping.

Which leaves me watching wool dry.