Thursday, February 28, 2008

Night Magic

All done.

Fringe beaded and trimmed. Project washed and pressed --- and named. Naming the scarves is a requirement for the guild show. I dub this one "Night Magic" because of the way the colours shimmer against the black threads.

And now off to warp the loom again! A new idea is demanding to be brought to life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And a Woven One

Yesterday I mentioned that I would be submitting a knitted, handspun, lace scarf in the guild's show at City Hall, and that there might be a woven one as well. I've made quite a bit of progress on the knitted one, but have found that the weaving is going much faster.

Late on Sunday I took this handspun, a hodge podge of assorted fibres and colours which had been plyed with a fine black weavers' wool,

--- and used it mixed 2/1 with a fine black boucle for the warp,

I wove away, as compulsively as I usually do with such things,

--- and by late Tuesday evening I had it completely woven, cut off the loom, a few skips repaired, and some experimental fringe alternatives pondered. The scarf is in a finishing bath now and will be pressed, have its fringes sprinkled lightly with beads and trimmed evenly, to be ready for its debut here tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Upcoming Show

A deadline is fast approaching. My spinning and weaving guild is having an art show at City Hall and the deadline for guild members to get their submissions in is Saint Patricks Day. The show is titled "Scarf City" and will be a display/sale of scarves made by guild members. Guild Standards require that the scarves either be woven or contain at least 50% handspun yarn. I'll likely submit one woven scarf and one handspun, handknit lace one.

This is what I have done so far.

Don't worry, it will look far better when it's blocked! Handknit lace undergoes an amazing transformation from rumpled dishrag to elegant work of art during the blocking process.

I'm starting both ends at the same time for two reasons. First, I want the wave patterns to be the same at both ends of the scarf with the lace pattern "right side up" at both ends. Second, I have a limited amount of this hand dyed, handspun merino/silk blend and this way I can use every last inch and still be assured that both ends will end up the same length. The two ends will be grafted in the middle when they are complete.

I'll recycle a picture from an older post to show you the handspun I am using.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Masters Monday - 2.9

Ooops! Getting a little ahead of myself. Once again I've done the swatch knitting but not the labeling and pattern write ups. Maybe getting caught up on the paperwork should be my goal for the coming week?

Swatch 12 - (lace of choice) Spider Stitch

Swatch 13 - (lace of choice) Pierced Diamond

Both of these swatches are from stitch patterns I found in the Barbara Walker Treasuries. I knit them in a coned, superwash wool, fingering weight yarn usually used for machine knitting. I had thought about using another shockingly bright yarn, like last week, but the orange I was thinking of may have been too dark and possibly even a bit too fuzzy to meet the acceptable standards.

So next week's Master Monday report had better be that I have done the write ups for these last three swatches. I will be knitting this week though. I have two non-Masters knitting projects I'm actively working on.

And I'll be weaving. The loom is warped for the next project.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When a Project Goes Well

I'm thrilled with the way this turned out! Despite winging it without a pattern, improvising all the way, everything still went together perfectly. Many decisions were based solely on supplies at hand.
  • I had all the cotton denim yarn, purchased at a clearance sale months ago.

  • The bright orange acrylic was leftover yarn given to me by my daughter.

  • Who doesn't have a pair of holey old jeans kicking around?

  • I even had leftover thread in the right colours.

  • I had the perfect buttons purchased long ago for a project that I changed my mind about.

  • The inkle band, cut in two, turned out to be exactly the right length to make shoulder straps that place the bag at a comfortable carrying height.

  • The inner pockets were made from a scrap leftover from the main lining.

  • The plastic canvas was in my stash, previously rescued from a thrift store for next to nothing.

  • The bag turned out a nice size and shape simply by cutting the woven yardage exactly in half.

The only things I had to buy specifically for the project were the fusible interfacing (to stablize the weave so it could be cut and sewn), and the bright orange broadcloth for the lining. Both of those I got at a local department store. I didn't even have to set foot into our big (annoying, high priced, slow service) fabric store.

All the details would have taken less time if I had had a commercial pattern to refer to. As it was I had to stop and carefully think about how best to accomplish the features I wanted. The bottom and the narrower sides were given some stability with plastic canvas basted invisibly between the layers. The inside was lined, complete with six customized pockets, four flat ones of various sizes, and two pleated ones for bulkier objects.

With the exception of the inkle bands, I have enough of everything left over to make another whole bag.
I haven't decided yet whether I will do that and sell the extra one, or if I will buy a pattern for some kind of lined purse. Either way it won't be anytime soon. Sewing isn't my favourite hobby. Although I did a fair bit of it years ago, now I only sew when it is a necessary step for finishing some other fibre related project.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Idea

Lately the ideas for creative projects have been coming fast and furious. I can't get one finished before four more are shouting and shoving in an effort to find their way to the forefront. Their antics often have me tossing and turning in the middle of the night.

This latest project, an inkle band, is at least a "go with" for the handwoven fabric (sitting in the background) that I just completed on the rigid heddle loom. Now to dig out the sewing machine and get to work designing something to bring the two together.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Denim Creation

I've been considering this weaving project for quite some time now. First I had to collect a few pairs of old jeans. Then, as I have to do my warping outside, I had to wait for a nice day. It was still a bit chilly on Sunday but the beautiful sunshine drew me outdoors even if I did have to wear fingerless gloves while warping.

Here's the loom set up on the old door and peg warping station I have improvised.

And back inside where it was warmer I got to work threading every other end into the holes in the rigid heddle, tensioning and tying on to the cloth beam. I'm using an indigo dyed cotton denim yarn.

After cutting old jeans into 1/2" strips I was off and weaving. 2 shots of the denim yarn, one of a bright orange acrylic, 2 more of the denim yarn and then a strip of the recycled denim jeans. Nice, simple tabby weave.

Of course once the loom is warped I become obsessed and weave like a mad woman. I had the whole thing woven and off the loom by the next day --- all 1.7 metres of it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Masters Monday 2.8

My offering this week. Doesn't look like much, but believe me it was a lot of work! In Level II you don't just knit your swatches from a provided pattern. You have to do all the research yourself and come up with a swatch that fits the requirements.

Swatch 11 - (lace of choice) Floral Mesh

For this swatch, and two more lace ones, the requirement is to knit a lace swatch, bordered by seed stitch, and containing at least two multiples and three repeats. And the big has to be no bigger than 7 inches! After much experimenting I found that for me that means no more than 8 stitches in each multiple, and no more than 12 rows in each repeat....otherwise it ends up being over sized and would be rejected.

After getting the knitting done then you have to write up a pattern for it including the seed stitch border. All information like needle size, gauge, materials, references/sources, abbreviations, must be included. I've gotten bogged down there a bit. I have a rough draft of the necessary information, but I have to fine tune it. So just the knitting of Swatch 11 this week. I can't say it's finished until all the paperwork is done.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Great Big Grins

I couldn't resist adding my granddaughter's great big grin to my blog.

Kaylen's just learning to walk. We caught a few of her tottering little steps on video. You can check them out on her blog.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Skein

Another fat skein plyed up. This one is 6 3/4 ounces/92 grams, 316 yards/289 metres of 2 ply pink superwash merino. I spun it from mill ends that I processed on my new drum carder.

I'm beginning to suspect that I am very inaccurate when I measure WPI. Using a WPI tool I estimated this to be between 15 and 17 WPI (it varies a little in thickness), which would make it a fingering weight. However according to my calculations using Spinderella's formula of weight multipled by yardage I get something more in the line of worsted to perhaps even bulky!
I've been knitting a good many years (over 30) and just eye-balling it, I'd say it is somewhere in the neighbourhood of sport to light worsted weight. I guess the true test would be knitting up a swatch......but I don't have time for that right now.

Oh a little additional tidbit of information; This skein was from 8 batts so the batts I made must have weighed less than an ounce each, about 11.5 grams a piece. I wonder if I'm supposed to be making them fatter? To me it seemed that the carder was "full" at that point. If you have an opinion on the matter, please comment. Keep in mind that this is a "fur drum" I'm using and the teeth are shorter and finer than standard drum carders.

If you missed the post about my lovely Christmas present, it's a Patrick Green drum carder, the "Deb's Delicate Deluxe".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Plying Purple

Yesterday I spent the afternoon freeing up my bobbins. With only 6 bobbins I have to be careful that I don't get carried away with multiple spinning projects going on at once or I'll find I don't have an empty bobbin to ply to.
This is one of two spinning projects I've been working on lately. It's a 2 ply, 23 WPI, laceweight, from merino/silk roving hand dyed by Fleece Artist and purchased from Shades of Narnia at the Ryder Lake Spin-In last fall.

I had two braids which were similar in colour, but not exactly the same so I spun each 50 gram braid to a seperate bobbin and then plyed them together to get this nice blending of the colours.

I have one huge 100g skein (love those big Majacraft bobbins!) with a length of about 379 metres. That's 414 yds and 3.5 ounces for those who would like the conversion. No specific plans for it yet. Perhaps a lace scarf for the guild's scarf themed art show?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Masters Monday - 2.7

I have completed three more swatches this week. The description and labeling for them is done, and I have answered all the questions that relate to them.

Swatch 8 - Twisted Decreases (Blended)

Swatches 8 and 9 feature twisted decreases which are meant to be a little more visible and decorative than the usual decreases. I honestly don't think I would use them anywhere. I prefer decreases to be as inconspicuous as possible.

Swatch 9 - Twisted Decreases (Full Fashioned)

Swatch 10 - Central Double Decrease

The central double decrease is most commonly used at the centre of a V-neckline, or in lace patterns.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Simple Solution

I'm one of those knitters that ends up with puncture wounds in the pointer finger of their left hand. While I don't exactly push the needle with my finger, I do continuously guide it. Eventually all that poking wears through my skin, creating a cut of sorts that follows the ridges of my fingerprint. This odd little injury can be quite painful if (when!) the needle stabs into the wound....repeatedly.

In the past I have tried many different methods to protect the area. The most obvious, a bandage, was too clumsy and thick, interfering with my manipulation of the knitting needles. I tried a leather quilters' thimble and it was also too cumbersome. I then tried using fingercots but they dulled the sensation of my fingertip too much making it feel like I was knitting with gloves on.

I have finally found a near perfect solution.

A humble piece of masking tape. It works great! It protects my finger just enough to prevent the shock of a needle ramming into an open wound, but isn't bulky and also leaves enough sensation in the fingertip so that I can still feel what I am doing.

As you can see in the picture, eventually even the masking tape wears through but at $1 per roll I can afford a new inch or so of tape whenever that happens.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Masters Monday - 2.6

I put more effort into the Master Knitter program this week and it feels good to report more progress than usual.

This is Swatch 6, a vertical to horizontal seam like you would do when inserting a sleeve.

And Swatch 7, a horizontal to horizontal seam where "stair step" shaping is involved, like sometimes requested for a shoulder seam. Personally I like short row shaping and a 3 needle bind off better.

And the biggest accomplishment for the week......the forever single mitten. This little mitten was way too much trouble to ever deserve a mate.