Monday, April 18, 2016

Weave, wove, woven

I finished my first weaving project, which started out as a test run but now looks like something. My first thought was, I can always use it as a table runner. But while knotting the fringe, I had the piece draped across my bare legs. Mmmm! So warm! So maybe it is a scarf or a small shawl?

Pattern: none.
Yarn: Leftovers from the Pinwheel sweater and Fuzzy Feet and the Mitered Crosses blanket
Loom: Ashford 24" rigid heddle, 7.5 sett
Finished size: 49.5" length (plus fringe), 10" width (more or less)

I obviously have some learning to do. The edges are not even, especially where I got in a hurry. Also, there is one missed warp, which of course stands out like a neon sign in outer space. All in all, I think it is not a bad start, though.

Of course, I had some assistance from the *other* helpful weaving cat in this household. Maybe Finn thinks the scarf/shawl is for him?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lessons learned

What is wrong with this picture?

I finally got around to warping the new loom, and I did it BACKWARDS. It took me HOURS to get this far, and it is wrong, wrong, WRONG! And it left me with about 40 12-foot sections of yarn after I undid all my hard work.

Finding a good place for the warping peg was another challenge. No matter how or where I situated the peg, it had a tendency to pop off when I was about two-thirds of the way done. GRRR!!! I finally gave up on making the tension tight across the warp and concentrated on making it as even as possible. And still the peg almost popped off again. I think I will invest in a warping board.

Since I was warping solo, I tried to work out a method whereby I would not need an extra set of hands for winding the warp. None of my ideas worked very well, but I was finally able to find instructions on the Ashford web site. However, not wanting to wind up with another 40 12-foot pieces of yarn, I refrained from cutting the warp threads until the warp had been wound.

Since I was using scrap yarn to practice with and had already ruined a bunch of it warping BACKWARDS, I had to resort to mixing yarns. The burgundy yarn is Elann Peruvian wool, the pink Lamb's Pride, both ostensibly worsted weight but not the same at all. So while tying off the warp threads, I bunched them by color. This led to them being rather spread out. I'm not sure how much of a problem this is, but it doesn't look ideal.

Another result of tying the warp threads off by color is the knots turned out rather bulky, making the woven fabric bulge. Again, not sure if this is a big deal, but in the future, I will include fewer threads in a bunch.

FINALLY, I was able to weave. A recurring problem is the shed - the yarn is stretchy enough that I keep losing tension with one color or the other, which makes the shed too small. The lack of tension also causes the heddle to lose its footing. And it is taking me a while to get the knack of avoiding draw in or loops along the selvages. On the plus side, I have been able to salvage the original warp yarn by spit splicing the pieces together.

The class I took gave me a false sense of weaving competency. Doing everything myself with no one to look over my shoulder is quite the opportunity for learning. Originally, I planned to start warping with crochet thread and create a bunch of samples with different weight warps and wefts. Instead, I had to resort to worsted and now must simply practice, practice, practice. This stage may go on for a while. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 08, 2016

Cats of the Internet

Someone started the hashtag #helpfulknittingcats. I had to contribute.

Today I started the hashtag #helpfulweavingcats.

At least Beau is learning to leave the yarn alone... for the most part.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

My first (real) loom

While the knitterati were gathered at Stitches South or the Interweave Yarn Fest, I wandered off to Bowling Green for the Black Swamp Spinners Guild Market Day. I've been there before, I knew who the vendors would be, and I knew there would be looms, so it is no surprise that I came home with this:

It's an Ashford rigid heddle loom (24") with a stand, purchased from the Weavers Loft. The waxing and assembly took me three hours on Sunday, and unfortunately I have not had the time since to thread the warp and start the weft. Soon, though, very soon. I have LOTS of ideas!

Monday, March 28, 2016

New favorite socks

My xmas gift to myself is done - one comfy pair of xmas-themed socks. Spring is trying to be sprung around here, but today I deemed the temps low enough to justify wool socks. Then I declared these my new favorites.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Co Poste Yarn Striping, in 'Jollyville', and Simply Socks Yarn Co Simply Sock, in 'Silver Lining'
Needles: US1
Modifications: Heel and toe and ribbing in contrasting color

Usually, I buy sock yarn on sale and get what is available, but this xmas I decide to splurge and buy the prettiest yarn instead of the most economical. A pretty yarn does not need a fancy pattern to shine. This pattern is becoming my go-to sock pattern, as the short row heel provides a better fit than a gusseted heel.

And the fit is perfect.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A lost week or more

The day after my trip to the Jay County Fiber Fest and Spin In, my throat caught fire. I've been virtually comatose ever since with the worst head cold I have had in years (thanks, g'daughter!) This past Monday, I finally felt well enough to take a short walk around the nabe. Tuesday I made it to yoga - the forward folds made my ears pop. Today I managed a little yardwork. I would have been more worried about the duration of this illness, but the g'daughter's pediatrician said something to my daughter about this year's cold virus being particularly long lasting.

The good news is, when I wasn't binge-watching "Nurse Jackie", I was binge-knitting the poncho with no name. Despite my inability to count, the first two panels came together perfectly.

For the Best Innovation of the Year, I nominate Clover Wonder Clips. I have tried all sorts of other methods to hold two pieces of handknit fiber together for seaming, but nothing works as well as these clips. AND they are much easier to see than straight pins.

The i-cord seaming was tedious but inspired. Since the stitches on the edge of the fabric had been slipped, there is a slipped stitch for every two rows. I worked the slipped stitch into the i-cord with one pass, then created an i-cord row without the slipped stitches.

In other words: Cast on 2 stitches; k1, slip 1, pick up the stitch from each piece of fabric through both loops, k through all the stitches; pass over slipped stitch; slide stitches to other end of needle; * k2; pick up stitch from each piece of fabric through both loops; slide stitches to other end of needle; k1, slip 1, k through all the picked up stitches, pass over slipped stitch; slip stitches to other end of needle; repeat from *. Got it?

Because of my counting mishap, I am wary of getting the second side panel to line up as well as the first. Each side panel has short rows across the top, to provide some shaping. I really, really, REALLY want the poncho to be symmetrical.

Working the i-cord and pinstriping require I sit at a table, which taxes my scoliotic back. After a certain point, these tasks cannot be avoided, though. Onward!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Slow fiber vs. fast fiber

Just what I need - another hobby.

Some of you may recall that I experimented with weaving, using a toy loom and a cardboard one. That whet my appetite.

So yesterday I attended a class in weaving on a rigid heddle loom, at the Jay County Fiber Fest and Spin In. In the process, we each took a turn at the individual steps involved, including the actual weaving of fabric out of Red Heart Supersaver and Lion Brand Homespun yarns.

Within a relatively short amount of time, we each had a square of our very own weaving to take home. That is when it occurred to me that, rather than knitting certain large and/or tedious objects, weaving them would be faster. And, I think, result in a better finished product.

Take place mats, for example. Dissatisfied with what is available in stores, I've contemplated making my own, but the idea of knitting rectangle after rectangle dissuades me. However, one could string the warp on a loom long enough for three or four (or more?) place mats and weave them in practically no time at all, compared to how long knitting would take.

Of course, sewing would take even less time, but I sew only under duress. I'm not very patient when working with material and thread, and I'm sure whatever I managed to put together would look wonky and ragged.

Besides place mats, I can see weaving table runners, tea towels, rag rugs, cafe curtains, even clothing and accessories. Knitwear would still be preferred for certain things - hats, mittens, sweaters, etc. - but weaving would be an excellent alternative for appropriate projects.

Of course, to weave, one needs a loom. Also, more experience than what I gleaned from a few hours on a Friday morning. I have some books on hold at the local library, and plan to attend the Black Swamp Spinners Guild Market Day and Fiber Fair in a couple of weeks, where I know there will be opportunities to purchase a loom. And I am not averse to planning vacations around fiber fests where there are frequently workshops.

But where would I put a loom? Right now, I don't even have a dedicated space for my spinning wheel. At one point, yesterday's instructor spoke of his dream to open a weaving studio, where people could come and use one of his looms. He lives far enough away that I would not find that convenient. But I really glommed onto the idea of having a fiber studio of my own. I live by myself in a three-bedroom house, you would think there would be space. I'd have to convert the guest bedroom, which would mean getting rid of a double bed and making the rare guest sleep on a twin in the room currently reserved for my g'daughter. Or I could usurp the g'daughter's room, merging her crafts into mine. It's not like she lives here (although sometimes it seems so).

Toward that end, I started rearranging the yarn and roving stash. O.M.G. Where did all that fiber come from?!? I can't spin or knit fast enough to make a dent in it.

But maybe I could bust that stash with weaving?