Neon Blue Blanket

I’ve had a head cold since Monday last week and have spent my days sleeping, reading, watching dvds and, when I was at my most energetic, doing a little weaving. I was most of the way through tying the Scary Tea Towels warp on the table loom, so I finished that Monday morning and wove about 8cm.

I also turned this:

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Into this:

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The squares were joined with a crochet hook and then I did a simple hooked edge around the outside. I had just two tiny balls of yarn left. I’m going to give this to my parents – they can fight it out between them who will use it of a night.

The pin loom bug has bitten deep, so I’ve started a another small blanket. This ones has two-colour squares. I’m using black paired with some multicoloured yarn I bought in New Zealand years ago.

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I tried the multicoloured yarn with the hexagon loom, but the colour sequence didn’t look that good, so I’ll have to dig something else out of the stash for a hexagon project.

Reed Easy

I thought I’d get sick of winding warp for these, but I’ve made enough big blankets that use all of the heddles on my table loom (and more) now that I felt like an old hat at projects with lots of ends.

And 300+ ends doesn’t look like much, when the yarn is this thin:

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I think this might be the first time I’ve removed the reed while threading. It let find a more comfortable position, so I’ll be doing that more in future. There’s no trick for making threading the heddles more ergonomic, however so I’m tacking them a stripe or two at a time.

Misfits

Try as I might, I can’t just throw out knitwear that doesn’t fit any more. If it’s in good condition I might donate a piece to the op shop, but if it has felted I end up keeping it in the hopes I can refashion it into something else.

In the last few weeks I’ve transformed two pieces. First this origami bolero:

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It was made up of rectangles, which I pulled apart. I widened a narrow piece with garter stitch, then attached all but one piece into a strip with some garter stitch ‘gathering’ to make a long, chunky scarf:

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Close up of the garter stitch areas:

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This cardy, which I dyed a little while back, was inspired by the above bolero. It too was made of rectangles:

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The sleeves were too tight, so they’ve become a scarf:

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The rest was knit from machine washable yarn, so it hasn’t shrunk:

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So I’m thinking of replacing the rectangle that had formed the arms and back with either some ribbing knit on the Bond, or a looser sleeve/back piece of woven fabric. Inspired by this book, which arrived in the post last week:

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The Seduction of Simple Squares

The pin loom has proven to be quite addictive. Most nights, while watching the telly, I make a square. Sometimes two. I’ve now got enough for a 4×5 square lap blanket, and hoping I can get enough squares out of the yarn I have left to make it a 5×5 blanket.

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I went to the guild last Saturday and had a peek at the other pin looms they had in stock. This one came home with me:

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Perhaps I’ll soon be writing a blog post called “A Hedonistic Host of Hexagons” or something equally silly.

New Projects!

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I started a few new projects before declaring my WIP finishing drive finished. How was I to resist when the pin loom was sitting there beside my tv-watching armchair, all new and interesting?

I tried some cotton weaving yarn first, thinking I’d make some washcloths, but the weaving part was really tough on the hands and the yarn turned out to be too thin.

Then after dividing the stash up into fullable and machine-washable yarns I had a few no longer destined for their original intended projects. I decided to try the Bendigo Woollen Mills Neon on the pin loom, and it worked very well:

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So I’ve been making one or two squares a night:

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They come out a bit bumpy, but the frogged yarn has quite a kink in it and they settle down a bit with blocking.

The other project I started was also inspired by my yarn contemplation. Since scarves are the most likely to contact my skin, and don’t need to have stretch, one of the best fibres I can use for them is silk. I had a skein I’d bought back in 2008 as art yarn – that is, yarn with the primary purpose of being on display. It is by Ixchel Yarns and is 100% silk with a thread of silver through it.

I bought some fine undyed silk at the Bendy Show a few years ago thinking I’d try it on the knitting machine. Now I decided to match it with the Ixchel silk. So I warped up the rigid heddle:

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I’ve found trying to use a ball winder on silk is an exercise in slippery frustration, so I just warped straight from the skein holder. All of the art silk went into the warp, mixed with the white. The weft is all white:

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I hem stitched the beginning, staggering the stitch length, too. And I’m doubling up the picks every now and then to add a little more interest:

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It feels lovely to work with, and hasn’t been any trouble. I doubt I’ll use up even half of the fine silk, which I have two skeins of, so I can see more silk woven scarves in the future.

Though I didn’t finish all the WIPs before starting new projects, tackling the list has not only cleared out a few stalled projects and helped me decided to abandon ones I wasn’t feeling much love for, but the anticipation had eager to get into something new.

Maybe hurrying to finish projects before I go away just means I’m confronted with an intimidating list of possible starting points when I get back. Having a couple of WIPs waiting for my return might help me get back into the craft groove when I do.

The Arty Necklace – Inserts

I started the Arty Necklace in 2012. Let me recap…

First there was the preparation, then the linking.

Next I was supposed to fill the frames with… something. I’ve been changing my mind on what I want ever since. First it was mini artwork, then photos, then embroidery, then mirrors. Each kind of filling has difficulties to overcome. None are particularly quick to do. In the end I came full circle and returned to artworks, so I brought out the acrylic paints and got to work.

First I filled all of the frames with pieces of acrylic board – cardboard with a surface that mimics the texture of canvas.

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Then I wrote down a list of as many kinds of traditional paintings I could think of, and started painting.

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This is going to take a while, so I’ve decided my WIP Wipeout is over and have begun a few new projects. More on that soon.

Yarn Shrink, Rethink

It’s been three and a half years since RSI set in and I had to give up knitting. In that time I’ve culled a quarter of the garments I made because they no longer fit well, partly because I grew, and partly because they shrank despite gentle, careful washing. So far this year I’ve culled three more garments for the latter reason. I really hadn’t worn them that much, so it’s disappointing.

And that got me thinking that if I was still knitting now, I’d be much more choosy about the yarn I made my clothes out of. But then I remember how I used to be intimidated by using expensive yarns in case I wasted them on a bad design, and that knitting was as much about enjoying the process as having a garment to wear a the end of a project.

Taste and fashions change, too.

Then there was the little discovery I made about the Paua Shell Ruanna. The green and black yarns I used are machine washable. The blue is not – or it is not as machine washable. The result is a slight shrinkage of the blue stripes, despite the fact that I’ve only washed it twice. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a mistake I don’t want to make again.

So in the spirit of learning and moving on, I’ve had a more critical look at my stash. Sure enough, I’d matched machine washable and non-machine washable yarns for a couple of other projects. I’ve now added the info to my stash spreadsheet, designated those yarns for other projects, and even shuffled the stash into tubs for ‘feltable’ and ‘non-feltable’ yarn.

From now on any garments and hats I make will use machine-washable yarn. But since most of what I weave isn’t garments and hats, that’s not a big change. I have a few projects in the to-do list for the Bond Sweater Machine, though. All but one use machine-washable yarn, thankfully. I just have to rethink one project.

Dyeing To Fix Them

Ah, those fibre craft puns…

What with all the culling I did before and after moving house, I’ve been accumulating things to over-dye for over a year now. Last Saturday I woke in the mood to do a one-off, cook-something-in-a-pot kind of craft. I wanted to try using up the candle-making supplies, but I want to try wet sand casting and I have no sand, so that’d have to wait.

So instead I cooked up some dye pots:

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First I had the Bison Scarf, which I didn’t wear because of the colour:

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I like this dusky burgundy-purple much better!

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Then there was the more recent Two Heddle Leno Scarf which was too pink for me (in the photo it is a bit less pink than in real life):

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Now a deeeeeep blue:

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Lastly I had made the mistake of spinning the water out of the Gift Yarn Jacket at the same time as something I’d dyed, leaving faint pinky-red patches:

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Overdyed with a diluted brown dye:

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I like it, but am considering refashioning it as well because the sleeves have been fulling and shrinking. (That’s why there’s a cuff missing).

With each dye bath, once the main item was out I threw in a silk scarf or scrap. They’d been solar dyed with leaves ages ago, but came out a dirty, unappealing yellow-brown. The result was surprisingly nice:

The blue one’s a keeper, I think:

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The pink one is destined for a friend who it will suit perfectly:

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I’ll need to seam the scrap of brown, but I think it’ll make a nice short scarf:

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Shrinking WIP List

With two weaving, one sewing, and one embroidery finished, and another embroidery project abandoned, the WIP list is less than half the size it was when we got back from our trip.

I have my sights set on finishing the Arty Necklace next. I’m full of ideas and enthusiasm for that one now.

And the rest of the WIPs?

I’ve never considered the portrait part of this WIP finishing drive. Which has made me reconsider whether I should have it in the list on the sidebar. So I’ve put it into a “Portraits Painted in 2015″ list.

The Eye Embroidery is my portable project, which I’m saving for waiting rooms and meetings, so I don’t want to rush to finish it.

That leaves the Jacobean Embroidery project, which I’m not enjoying. The photo of the finished piece is so small I can barely make out the stitches and colours, and I keep finding I’ve used the wrong colour or stitched the wrong way. I suspect I bit off more than I can chew with that kit, and I will probably pack it away somewhere until I become more proficient at stitching or give up and give it away. But if I don’t, well, it’s not a fast project and I don’t want to leave the looms idle.

Either way, once the Arty Necklace is done I’m free to start anything I want. Will I be paralysed by too much choice, or have a massive bout of startitis?