On the Go

I’m still weaving two-yarn squares while watching tv:

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I have nearly 30. Though I only had one ball of black and three of the multi-coloured, the black ball weighed twice as much as one multi-coloured ball and is slightly thinner, so won’t have as much leftover multi as I’d expected. I’ll join the squares with it, and do a crochet border. While I intended to make a blanket, I like the fabric so much I’m tempted to try making a garment of some sort. There might be enough for a simple kimono style jacket.

One Scary Tea Towels has been woven:

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Two more to go.

I’ve started two new projects. The first is to de-boringify a cashmere cardigan. I bought it for travel as it’s light and warm, and easily layered:

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After trying several embroidery methods, I’ve settled on using a crochet hook to do chain stitch. It’s fiddly, and very slow. I’m hoping that using some tearaway stabiliser and putting it on hoop will make it easier and faster.

The other project is a hat knit from frogged Inca yarn:

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Yes, that’s hand knitting. I’ll stick to a couple of rows a time, every couple of nights, it the hope of avoiding an RSI flare up. The thing is, weaving the yarn didn’t appeal, and it’s a bit thick for the knitting machine. I’ve got to use it somehow, so hand knitting it is.

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.

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.

Silk Stripe Placemats

The placemats are done:

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The plan was to weave a table runner to match, using up the rest of the sari silk. And I’d hardly used any sari silk. I had a little bit of warp left on the loom so I started experimenting with mixing the black cotton and sari silk, at at once I hit a problem.

With the placemats the overspun nature of the sari silk didn’t matter. I could ease out some of the twist with the end I started with, and when I cut the yarn to finish I could untwist the rest. But once I was weaving it without a break in the yarn the twisting became a difficulty I could do without.

And I was a bit over this project. And I was running low on the black warp yarn, too. And the sari silk would go really well in a friend’s weaving project…

So I decided there would be no table runner, just eight placemats. Which I’m very pleased about. Especially as stains aren’t going to show on these!

A Loopy Solution

Two years ago I made this scarf:

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It’s the yarn equivalent of endless soup. The lighter purple was originally knit into socks, then frogged when they shrank and made into i-cord, then after a while I made more i-cord out of sock yarn and wove a scarf out of it.

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Which I never wore. It was a) a bit boring and b) too thick and rigid.

I was going to pull it apart, right back to yarn. But every time I went to do it I had to admit, the fabric the i-cord wove into was rather nice. Just not as a scarf.

On Monday I was thinking about my new pin loom and thought I’d finally pull apart the I-cord Scarf and use the yarn to weave some squares. But to convince myself once and for all that it was worth undoing all that work I draped it over the dress model.

And then the solution hit me. Maybe it was seeing all the interesting weaving on the weekend – particularly the saori weaving – but it occurred to me that if the scarf is too wide I can just pull out some warp yarns on one or both sides and they’ll turn into a loopy fringe. Or I could pull them out in the middle. I’ve woven scarves with loops at one or both sides, but not one with loose weft in the centre.

So I got to work, and in a little while I had this:

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Much less rigid and much more interesting! A scarf I want to wear.

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(And another item off the craft to-do list.)

It’s Towel Time

An empty loom is a sad sight to see, so I’ve been thinking about what to put on it next. Every time I do this I looking at a three cones of cotton yarn in my stash and ask myself “am I ready yet?”.

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These were meant to become towels. A set for me and a set for Mum. The first and only previous attempted I made to weave these was back in 2008, and I got so befuddled by the math and intimidated by the number of warp ends needed when using 16/2 cotton that I packed the cones away without even taking off the labels.

Well, I’ve got a bit more weaving under my belt since 2008. Some of it involved projects with a few hundred ends, and some used cotton. If I did plain weave and just played with colour that would keep the project as simple as possible. It would keeps the number of ends to warp as low as possible too. So I measured up an average size tea towel in our kitchen, did the math and came up with 617 ends at 30 ends per inch for plain weave.

617 ends. I have 320 heddles.

I have plenty of handmade temporary heddles, but not enough to make up a shortfall of nearly double what I have. And I don’t relish the idea of making so many more of them. So what to do?

In the small hours of Saturday morning the solution suddenly hit me. I would be going to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild that day for their weaving demo day. I would just buy the thicker 8/2 cotton they stock and then sell the thin stuff. However, when I got to the Guild I started chatting to a lovely weaver who suggested that I simply use the thicker cotton as warp and the thinner one as weft – perhaps even doubling up for the weft.

Talk about a smacking-self-in-the-forehead why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? moment.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Here are the three cones of 8/2 cotton I bought for the warp:

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So if I use the 16/2 yarn for the weft, I have six colours to mix together. This could be fun.

While I was there I also bought this:

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Yes, I could have knocked one together myself, but it was there and so was I. I’ve been thinking about getting a pin loom for a while, as I have a heap of sock yarn that would look nice woven into squares and sewn together into a blanket. And I reckon I could make the squares while watching tv.

Weaving Weekend

I was sick all last week. Aches, back pain, headaches, fatigue and insomnia. It wasn’t until Friday that I worked out it wasn’t just a change in the weather but a bug going around when I started encountering other people who’d had the same symptoms.

Once I decided Friday was a sickie, my whole outlook changed. Instead of it being a failed work day it was a day on which anything I got done was a bonus. That improved my mood greatly! I just pottered around, resting and thinking.

One thing I decided was that, if I felt up to it, the weekend was going to be dedicated to weaving. I’m still determined to strike off as many projects in the WIP list as I can before starting new ones. So on Saturday morning, after a bit of Vitamin D harvesting in the garden, I got stuck in.

I got a placemat and a half woven:

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But the main achievement was to finish the Paua Shell Ruanna collar:

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And to sew it to the ruanna:

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I was always pleased with the ruanna, and now I like it even more.

I’d decided that, for some reason I don’t remember, this could be a scarf it if didn’t work out. Maybe because I didn’t have enough weft yarn – Bendigo Luxury in black. And I didn’t have enough… but I just ordered some more.

Now I can think about what to put on the loom next. Hmm. Choices, choices.

Though if I’m to stick to finishing WIPs, I should finish the placemats and table runner first.