Cranky – in a Good Way!

A few months back the local Lincraft store closed down. They had a sale, and among the many bargains I picked up was this circular knitting machine for, if I recall correctly, about A$50:

I gave it a try, taking a series of pics on my iPhone…

It could be a hat:

Or could be a sleeve:

Or one legwarmer:

Or a hat for two people:

Much giggling was had. Then I put the machine away and mostly forgot about it as I was swept up in sewing with handwoven fabric. But the other day, while I was waiting for my dyed yarn to dry, I figured it would be a way to scratch the machine knitting itch. I dug out some skeins of beautifully soft alpaca yarn I bought a little over year ago in Canberra.

And I got cranking. However, this second tube confirmed my suspicion that the machine was the right size to make small children’s hats, not adult ones. I could get the tube onto my head, but it was really too stretched out to make a comfy, attractive hat. I decided I would knit a hat on the Bond instead and use the rest of the yarn to crank out a plain scarf on the Lincraft machine.

But just in case I was doing something wrong on the machine, I looked up circular knitting machines on Ravelry and did a quick google. Next thing I knew I’d lost an hour or two in YouTube. I learned that there was a version of the machine I’d bought released in the US that was pink and white, and that it was rather good for the price. The Addi King was the best, however, and the right size for adult hats.

So I googled and it came up in Amazon for over A$600. WTF!!!

Some more searching and I found it for half of that on eBay. Then I found a shop in Germany selling the machines for a far more reasonable price… and a $90 shipping fee! So high postage costs partly explained the crazy prices I was seeing – if it was travelling to the US and then to Australia the costs would be astronomical. Direct from Germany was better, and the price came down considerably if you shipped two machines – the small Pro and larger King model.

I did think about it for a little while before I succumbed to temptation. Now I just have to wait for them to arrive.

A Tidy Space Oddity

A few weeks ago I was feeling poorly, so for something to do I backed up this blog. Well, not in the usual way. Looking at the backups WordPress does, I couldn’t see how I would ever access the entries if I ever needed just the contents. So I cut and paste the contents of every month into a Word document – which is how I used to back up when this was a Blogger blog.

When I was done I skim read through the blog from the start. That was… interesting. It’s easy to feel like I am some kind of crazy person obsessed with making stuff when I read an entire year’s entries in one sitting! The blog has seen lots of changes, from RSI forcing me to give up knitting to passing phases of craft-related internet phenomenon (blogs, podcasts, ravelry, pinterest).

It put me in a strange, fed-up mood, so that once I had a little energy again I began tidying up and finishing things. The Taupe Jacket lining got sewn so I could put the machines away. Materials I’d gathered for a talk at the Guild that was cancelled got packed away as I was sick of them taking up space waiting to see if it would be rescheduled. I finished spinning the banana fibre after not touching the wheel for many months, to see if I should pack the wheel away.

I decided this mood might be good for culling so I started halfheartedly tidying the craft room. I started with jewellery supplies, moved on to refashioning projects and finally tackled the accumulation of carry bags around the house. In the middle of it I wound up in the garage, where I made the biggest impact – all the basketry materials I accumulated early last year went into the green waste bin.

Other than that I didn’t get rid of much. Mostly I put stuff away or stored it better. While the result was satisfying, I suspect if I had more energy and time I could have done a lot more.

I have the WIP list down to just three items now, but I’ll be starting a few weaving projects soon so that isn’t going to last long!

Saori-inspired Spring Sampler Scarf

Some weeks back when I warped up pretty much every loom I own, I put a simple 3ply wool warp on the Knitters Loom and gathered together thrums and yarns in pink, cream, brown and burgundy. I was inspired by Saori weaving, and hoped that a simple project would be within my abilities post-eye surgery.

As it turned out, I had so much fun that I wove a fair bit of the warp before the surgery happened. After the op I didn’t weave for a few days, but I put the loom near by tv-watching armchair and eventually I gave it a go.

I had a thick cream cotton, three strands of very fine grey, burgundy and yellow-brown boucle wound together, and some handspun to play with along with the thrums. I also used the warp yarns – using up the pink with plain weave sections between each bit of ‘play’.

Initially I played with using the thrums and seeing how the different yarns wove up. I also went through most of the weaving methods on a rigid heddle I’d tried before. Clasped weft, basketweave, thick and thin, rya knots, tapestry, danish medallions, leno and Brook’s bouquet had a turn. Then I began to mix the techiniques. I used a pickup stick to weave plain weave with half the warp as a background for Brook’s bouquet. I wove leno as the same time weaving another yarn over and under the leno twists.

I had so much fun! I didn’t think much about what the fabric would be. I figured probably not a scarf, as it would be one-sided and maybe a bit lumpy in places, and not have an overall even appearance. But when I took it off the loom, I was surprised to find it does make a nice scarf. All the different kinds of weaving hang together well, and the textural elements haven’t stiffened it up or made it overly lumpy.

The colours are not what I usually wear, so I’m thinking I might sell or give it away. But I will take lots of photos, because I came up with some combinations of techniques that I’d like to use in other projects. Also, I had a birthday recently and received an Ashford Vari Dent reed, and I have an idea I want to try with it.

But first, I have three other weaving projects wanting my attention. I want to get at least one of them done before I warp up another one. I’m definitely experiencing the ‘fidget’ part of my blog title!

Stash Plotting

The skirt fabric is off the loom, washed and draped over my dress model, waiting to be pinned and shaped into something hopefully wearable. The falling feathers scarf is half woven. The 4 shaft table loom is now on a folding table in the entertainment room with a pile of carpet warp and yarn awaiting transformation into a krokbragd rug.

The Knitters Loom now has a stand!

It’s an embroidery stretcher stand, and all it needed to transform into a loom stand was for Paul to make two flat pieces of metal for the side knobs of the loom to slot into.

But what to put on it, and the floor loom?

On Sunday I was feeling a bit under the weather and didn’t want anything mentally challenging to do. Over the previous week I’d been thinking a lot about saori weaving and how Amanda weaves thrums from previous projects into new pieces. So I dug out my bag of thrums and began considering what I could make with them.

First I separated them into cotton or wool. Most were in bundles according to the project they’d come from. I put all the 8/2 cotton thrums together and decided they would be used at warp ties.

There are three batches of red, white and black cotton from hand towel and tea towel projects. All using different thicknesses of yarn. The 8/2 cotton went into the warp tie bag, which left me with 3ply and 10ply.

I decided to make dishcloths, which I use rather than plastic sponges or ‘chux’ in the kitchen. They can be thrown in the wash and once worn out are biodegradable. I’ll try weaving the 10ply on my pin loom, and I’ll warp up the Knitters loom with some white 4ply cotton for weaving the 3ply thrums. They’ll be fringed on all sides, and I’ll have to either hemstitch or zigzag around them for stability.

Of the wool thrums, I have two batches of purple. One is quite short, but the other is long enough, and there’s enough of it, to become a side fringe on a clasped weft scarf.

My newest batch of thrums comes from the skirt fabric. All black. So when I warp up the purple thrum fringe project I’m going to add enough to do a second one with blue on the non-fringe side.

Looking for yarns to go with the thrums from the plaited twill scarf, I pulled out several cones. The grey and burgundy yarns below are very thin, but put together, with the rust coloured boucle yarn, they’ll be thick enough to weave without the risk of expiring of boredom.

But wait! A peek in the handspun box reminded me of the yarn I spun from the fibre that came with the electric spinner. It has brown in it, so I added that, but then the burgundy looked out of place. Hmm. Options…

By now I’d found uses for most of the thrums and was enjoying mixing and matching stash. I already knew I had a potential combination between the two new white/taupe yarns and the darker taupe-ish ones already in my stash, and the mix was one I’d been having saori-like daydreams about.

The next combo had popped into my head during a bout of insomnia. Pink and green. Watermelon colours. I’ve got lots of the green, so perhaps a shawl.

This new purple matches perfectly with the glitzy one in my stash.

Plans for making clothing have had me thinking about combining the slubby blue cotton with white and making a top, but on a whim I put it with blue and it works much better.

By this point I’d started tidying the stash. The blue alpaca below was from a scarf I frogged, and I’d just stuffed it in a box with yarns of similar thickness. Now I moved it to the ‘yarns other than cotton, wool or acrylic’ box and discovered I had a lovely combo of alpaca 8ply yarn. So soft!

This half-frogged project was meant to be knitted into something new, but this time I looked on it with a weaver’s eyes and realised all those lovely stripes would look fantastic woven into a shawl. (Last night I finished frogging it. A good tv watching task.)

Moving yarns of like fibre content and thickness into the same boxes did leave me with a problem: Bendigo yarn balls don’t fit into the smaller of my boxes. So I set to winding them into cakes… and in the process realised that these two yarns go beautifully together:

I spend most of the day mixing and matching, brainstorming, winding yarn and resorting stash. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday. It means I have an even longer to-do list of projects I want to tackle right away, though. Some of these might never happen – I’ll change my mind about a combo or find a better use for a yarn – but coming up with ideas is half the fun. The next challenge is to choose weave structures, drafts and looms for them – and decide which one to start next.

The dishcloths are going on the Knitters Loom first. That much, I know!

Plaited Twill Scarf

This was yet another leftovers-using project, this time to use up the orange yarn I dyed for the overshot sampler I did last year. These batches picked up black dye from the pot I had used previously in a failed attempt to dye some stained polyester pants. I couldn’t scrub the residue off the pot, yet it came off on the yarn as a greyish shadow. The pot went into the rubbish afterwards, which was a shame, as it was a good sized dying pot.

Since the shadowing wasn’t uniform, I mixed the orange threads among twice as many in the ‘dusky rose’ colour of in the same yarn. I’ve been liking the dividing stripe effect of the last few scarves I’ve woven, so I added some in ‘raffia’ too. Then I chose ‘almond’, a slightly off-white, for the weft.

It was MUCH easier to warp the loom this time as I wasn’t working with already cut ends and therefore no cross. I could use my warping board to wind and tie everything neatly, with one exception: because I wanted to mix the orange with the pink I wound three threads together – one orange and two pink – and that meant the cross wasn’t of alternate single threads but sets of three. This allowed me to move the orange thread of each trio around when threading so the mix was more random than simply orange-pink-pink and I didn’t get two orange threads next to each other.

Like with the Scarf of Leftover Colours, having eight pedals meant I could arrange the tie up so I could simply move from left to right. Then I got weaving.

Oh my. I may have fallen in love with plaited twill. It’s so pretty!

These are not my usual wearing colours. Either I’m going to have to revise that opinion, find someone dear to me who does wear them, or weave another plaited twill scarf. I’m thinking the latter.

I have other plans for the floor loom’s next project, so that’ll have to wait. On the Katie, I put another leftovers warp on, using up some burgundy warp. I found a draft I liked by entering “weaving drafts” in google images. I started with a blue weft, but didn’t like it, so I tried cream and it’s much better.

However, it wasn’t looking like it was supposed to. I realised I was making several mistakes: I should be working from the bottom to the top, the black squares for the tie up should be for shafts in the down position and not up, and I had missed four picks of the sequence in each repeat.

But I liked what I’d done, so I just made a new draft that looked like the result I had and called it ‘falling feathers’.

The other mistake I made was that, when I measured the warp, I cut sixteen threads for each stripe, when the pattern repeat actually uses 14. So now I have another small pile of leftover warp to use up.

Graduation Blanket

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I finished this just before NYE, but then decided to redo the sewing together of the squares. Just lifting the blanket made the stitching gape, so I looked up other ways to attach the squares and found one that worked better.

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It’s woven from mostly Cleckheaton Country – balls I picked up in op shops and a few extras I bought when I ran out of the two darker browns. Paul has it now, in his office to use as a knee rug on cold winter days.

Stash Portrait 2016-2017

Recent thoughts about where I want to go with weaving, and my fibre allergies led to a bit of a stash assessment. So I laid out all the yarn on the office floor and took a picture:

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(Wool yarns are marked in red, cotton in yellow, and everything else or yarns I’m not sure of the fibre are in orange.)

A sort was in order. I moved cones to the larger boxes and divided everything into wool and non-wool. All non-wool, non-acrylic yarns had instant keeper status. With those put aside, I considered which wool yarns to keep or cull. Sock yarns are keepers, since my feet don’t get irritated by wool. Recent handspun stays, too. The Bendigo Classic 2 & 3 ply does weave up into a nice blanket and makes good warp yarn, so I’ll retain that.

The rest I sorted by softness. The Tonne of Wool Cormo is the softest, Bendigo Luxury next, Cleckheaton Country and Paton’s Inca next, and the rest became one batch of ‘least soft’ yarn. From that I culled the Bendigo Serenade, Patons Shadow Tweed, Lincraft Cosy Wool, a cone of fine boucle and the metallic yarns I hated weaving with earlier this year.

I also culled my knitwear, removing two vests I don’t wear, a cardigan and a jacket. The jackets were unravelled. The yarn I got from them is wool, but I have plans to turn it into pin loom blankets. Since one is a bulky yarn, I’m currently making a pin loom 150% the size of the one I have, so the nails are spaced wider apart and I get bigger squares.

The stash doesn’t all fit into the boxes, but with the wool yarns hanging about in the way rather than the cone yarns, I’ve got more of an incentive to either use them up or cull them.

Stash Portrait of 2015

Well, that’s odd. I thought I’d already posted this. Ah, I had it scheduled for 2017! Anyway…

This is all the stash I had a week before Christmas:

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That’s 15 kilos worth. The boxes at the front are shallow – a 200 gram Bendigo skein won’t fit in them. The ones at the back are deep enough for two layers of them if placed flat.

Aside from a weak moment when I encountered another weaver’s stash bust sale, occasionally buying yarn to combine with what I have, I’ve not bought any yarn since 2012. My stash has been gradually and steadily diminishing.

It doesn’t seem that long since the row of stash boxes looked like this:

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The stash in 2011. 17 kilos.

For the first time I’ve included the cones of cotton weaving yarn in my stash photo and calculations. I never used to, but since I rarely knit and only occasionally use a knitting machine they really ought to go in now. I don’t have a lot of it, though. I’ve mostly woven with knitting yarns so far.

Yet now that I’m including the cotton, it feels like the stash has reached the point where it’s finally changing from a knitter’s stash to a weaver’s stash. This four years after I had to give up knitting due to RSI.

Perhaps it’s because of this that the sock yarn feels somewhat out of place now. I tell myself I’ll make more socks on the Passap when I wear out more pairs, but they’re simply not wearing out that fast. I’ve also told myself that it’s okay to weave the sock yarn if a really nice project idea comes along.

What does the future hold for the stash? Well, four of the five boxes I’ve emptied since 2011 are now filled with other kinds of yarn: macrame, craft, perle cotton for inkle weaving and embroidery, and my embroidery supplies. I have one empty shallow box, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for new yarns.

If I do buy new yarns, they’ll most likely be cone yarns for weaving projects. In fact, I’ve just ordered a 500g cone of black 3ply Bendigo Classic for a shawl. I want to attempt some weave structures I’ve not tried before this year, and perhaps some new weaving yarns, too.

Tapestry Hat

The Tapestry Hat is done:

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It came off my modified loom easily, just a bit of ‘persuasion’ to get the circle of plastic out from inside.

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Once out I knit a brim:

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Then I gave it a good rub under hot soupy water followed with a cold rinse and good squeeze, to get the yarn to felt a little. Even so, I think I should have woven a more densely packed fabric…

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Still, the gaps don’t appear unless the hat is stretched, and it’s not stretched when worn, so it looks fine on my head. Still, I’ll keep it in mind if I make another.

Now that my fidgety projects are done, I’ve been whittling away at the WIPs. The scary tea towels are off the loom and being wet finished. The woven squares are slowly being assembled to make a jacket. Though I’m not 100% happy with the look of crochet joins on a garment, so may end up doing it all again.