One Finished, One Revived, One Waiting

Things have been busy here. My old house is finally empty and we met and signed up with an agency to sell it yesterday. All the moving of stuff and cleaning of stuff played havoc with my back so I’m VERY glad that part is over. Being able to knit and weave – or just sleep properly – without pain is a Very Good Thing.

Reading blogs through Ravelry is working well. It’s not that it’s faster, but I don’t have the disappointment of opening five in a row and finding no new posts. I used to ruthlessly remove blogs from my list that didn’t update very often. Now I don’t mind at all. And since there’s always a drop off of posting in December and January as everyone becomes immersed in the end-of-year insanity, and then holidays, it’s good timing.

I’ve finished Summer Nights a few nights ago, but it’s still drying and I don’t fancy modelling in damp clothes!

I’ve swatched for Sylvi, but she’ll have to wait until I finish the Lime and Violet Jumper. When I picked up the latter last night it took a while to remember how I’d planned the next bit – casting on for the arms so I could knit the yoke first, then knit the sleeves downward. It took me all evening to knit four rows because the rows are long, I had to establish the fair isle pattern, and then frog and decrease a few stitches to convert the cardigan shaping to jumper shaping.

But despite that, it didn’t take long before I remembered how much I love knitting fair isle.

And I almost forgot my latest Scrappy Socks, which are rocking along, as they always do:

A First

Yesterday I crumbled.

I bought my first pattern online.

Which pattern seduced me?

Sylvi from the Twist Collective.

Which yarn am I going to use?

Patons Inca. In the chocolate brown colourway.

Knitting a coat in chunky yarn in summer?

All I can say is… thank goodness we have airconditioning!

Baby Baby Blankets

Perhaps I should have called it my Sample Weaving Weekend. First up yesterday I decided to try out another yarn I was considering for baby blankets: Patons Washed Haze Aran. This yarn is soft and squidgy, and quite happy to snuggle up to itself, which will make it an excellent baby blanket yarn.

I wove them on the small loom. First I experimented with my push-down method of manipulating the warp ends, trying to produce a heart shape. I suspect this method is best used for angular patterns. Next I tried something new. After about twelve picks of plain weave, I decided to see if I could make a square of basket weave in the centre.

First I held the shuttle six ends in:

Then I changed the heddle position and pushed the shuttle through until it was six ends from the far side.

Then I changed the heddle position again and pulled the shuttle through. It wasn’t too hard because the yarn is cotton and fairly slippery. I then repeated the method again from the opposite side, followed by two rows of plain weave.

I was rather chuffed at the result. The samplers will probably be used as face washers, or I’ll sew on straps to make them into bibs.

What I really wanted to do was get a project going on the table loom. I considered the tea towels again, but I’d lost enthusiasm for them. I considered the multi-coloured blanket, but I don’t yet have a weft yarn. I considered sampling for the denim rag rug, but I’d have to cut up a pair of jeans, which produces a lot of dust, and it was cold and wet outside.

Finally, I decided on another project that had waiting in the sidelines for a while. I’d made this earlier this year on the small loom, but it was too narrow for the cabinet I wanted to put it. I’d intended to make a wider runner out of the rest of the yarn. I did some measuring up and calculations and got the warping board set up really to wind. Then I thought I’d better check if I had enough weft yarn to make a runner that big. And it turned out I had only enough to make another runner the same size.

So I dismantled the warping board, went back to the small loom, and started another narrow runner.

I figure either I’ll sew then together, or I’ll felt them a bit and use them as fabric for something.

This meant the table loom remained untouched all weekend. But both sampling projects I did on the small loom will lead to full-scale projects on the table loom eventually. They’ll just have to fit in with our busy schedule over the next few months.

Weaving Weekend

Since this was going to be our only free weekend between now and the weekend before Christmas, and I wanted to weave tea towels as my mother’s present, I decided that this would be a weaving weekend.

As it turned out, we also ducked out to get some other presents and the gift I bought for my father cost more than I expected and can be a joint parental present, so I won’t be feeling guilty if I don’t get the towels done. This may be a good thing, because I didn’t even get them warped up yesterday.

Why not? Well, first I followed the instructions in my weaving books on finding the right sett by winding the warp yarn around a ruler then dividing by half. I came up with 16epi. The yarn label is in Swedish with a few English words translated, so I could read that it’s graded as 16/2. I figured there’s going to be some sort of logic going on here. I looked up the charts and found there was no 16epi for a 10 dent reed calculation, but there was one for 17epi and I figured that would have to be close enough.

Then I flicked through Handwoven magazine and found some tea towels made with 16/2 cotton. And the instructions say to use a sett of 30epi.

WTF? That’s nearly double what the warp sett calculations came up with!

So I sat there looking from magazine to books and back again (not helped by a thumping headache) wondering where I was going wrong. I came to the conclusion that either:

(1) The weaving books are wrong
(2) Tea towels are normally woven at double the normal epi
(3) There’s a different yarn weight system between the US and Sweden

I’m actually more inclined to believe (3) because, heck, the US always seems to do things differently. Knitting yarns weight terminology differs between Australia and the US, and crochet stitch terms between the US and the rest of the world, so why not weaving yarn weight as well?

I procrastinated by doing lots of sums. First I calculated the warp length (towel length x 2 plus 5% shrinkage plus 10% take-up plus loom waste which came to about 155cm). Then, assuming that the weaving books were right and I’d be working at 17epi, I worked out how many ends I’d need to cut (20.5 inches plus 5% shrinkage plus 10% take-up equals 23 inches so if 1 inch has 17 ends then 23 inches has FREAKING HECK THAT’S THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY ONE LENGTHS OF COTTON I HAVE TO WIND AND CUT!

I took a deep breath and made myself accept I was going to be here all day just winding the warp. That this is all part of weaving something fine. To be honest, I wasn’t that surprised about the number, but it was the prospect of cutting that many ends when I wasn’t even sure the sett was right that started freaking me out.

Were there any more sums I could do to delay the cutting? Did I even have that much cotton? 391 x 1.5 m is 586 m! Those cones of cotton suddenly looked very small. I looked at the label. Next to ‘length’ it says ‘690’. 690 whats? Metres? Yards?

Does anybody know if the Swedes use metric or not?

At this point my headache was reaching Panadeine proportions, so I turned my mind to the other weaving task I wanted to do that weekend: sampling the rag rug cotton. I warped up the rigid heddle (since it produces less loom waste, I can get the same sett as I’ll use on the table loom, and the rugs are only going to be in plain tabby weave) and got weaving.

On the first sample I wove the rag without fiddling, putting a pick of the cotton between each pick of rag. The rag was from an old pair of trousers someone had thrown in with the donated jeans. I’d cut it by spiralling around the legs, but this meant there was a seam every 20 cm or so and in the weave this seam was obvious, like a big, hairy knot.

Next I tried a pick of cotton for every two picks of rag. The cotton isn’t cheap, so by doing this I’d use half as much. But I found I kept forgetting to change the reed position and effectively putting a row of cotton and rag in together. This is probably because of the headache and the brain fuzzing effect of the Panadeine. I also twisted the rag as I went, which took longer. But it made no difference to the seamy bits, and only served to make the rag less even.

Then I went back to one cotton pick per rag pic, but this time I folded the rag in half, right-side out. This was much more time-consuming, but neater. Yet I didn’t like the look of it. I prefer the knotty, hairy seams than this sterile flatness.

I cut the samples from the loom and stapled them to cardboard sheets, making rough notes.

The next step is to sample on the table loom. I suspect I wasn’t beating the rag hard enough. The rigid heddle plastic reeds and my arm strength aren’t enough to compact the rag properly. And I also suspect denim rag will behave differently than this trouser fabric. I don’t have enough cotton in this test batch to do a full rag rug anyway, so I may as well do more sampling.

And the tea towels? I think I need to do more research. I’m not sure Ravelry is such a great resource when it comes to weaving. There’s no Australian weaving group, for starters. And since Ravelry isn’t weaving-inclusive, there are probably lots of weavers who haven’t even heard of it, let lone signed up, but who interact online in other ways. So I searched Yahoo groups this morning and joined the ANZweavespin group.

And it’s time I joined the Victorian HW&S Guild.

Two Woven Finished Objects

I finished the Ashford Loomies Challenge scarf a few nights ago, but it’s been overcast and gloomy here and I didn’t fancy trying to photograph a dark object under such lighting conditions.

It’s a bit brighter this morning, so I took it out onto the deck:

I beaded the fringe and, after a wash and drip dry, it’s lovely and drapey. I’m calling it the Charcoal Scarf.

It’s not the only woven finished object completed this week. This is the Woven Roving Rug:

I crocheted down the sides of both pieces of fabric, joined them together, then used a crochet hook to attach trimmings of fringe to the crocheted edge so the fringe extends all along opposite sides. The whole thing needed a good, strong blocking to even it out.

It’s thick and warm and comfy. I’m using it as a lap rug in the work room. We’ve had some unseasonably cool, rainy weather here. I wore a wool knitted jacket yesterday. In November. Not that I’m complaining. Summer is my least favourite time of year.

Rainforest Sock

I have a new favourite sock yarn: The Knittery Chubby Sock.

It’s cushy and soft and knits up beautifully. This was therapy knitting not just for the yarn, but I used my basic toe-up sock pattern and just added one easily managable cable. They match the Classic Slant Cardigan I knit way back before I had a blog, which is also dark green.

They were such a pleasure to knit, I’m going to rip out Firestarters and do something similar. Since the yarn is grey – called ‘smoke’ – I might do a rib pattern to go with the Ribbed Wrap Jacket I knit earlier this year.

What’s with the matchy-matchy? I dunno, but ever since I was a child there was something about having socks that matched something else I was wearing, even if you can’t see the socks, that really floats my boat.

On Saturday I did my back in cleaning my old house ready for sale, and it’s taken days for it to heal up. I’ve been avoiding staying in any one position for too long as that seems to help. So lots of little tasks, or big ones broken into smaller ones, for me. Craftwise that means a little weaving, a little crochet, a little knitting, a little magazine reading, a little blog reading, a little Ravelry exploration, and a little shopping.

I ordered a bunch of stuff from Glenora Weaving and Wool. Some heavy duty warp cotton for rag rugs, some cotton for weaving tea towels, some shade cards for both, and the current and some back issues of Handwoven magazine.

I’ve also been flicking through issues of the latter I’ve already read. Every time I do, what I’ve learned through the internet or actually weaving makes the contents of the magazines suddenly seem new. A blanket project caught my eye:

I’d dismissed it before as too complicated, but on a second look I realised the method is simple. The colours are in the warp, but the weft is just the one dark colour. The weave structure is a variety of twills and basketweave, all done with 4 shafts.

It turns out that, thanks to Caroline’s bag of leftovers added to my leftovers and stash, I have a good range of colours in 8ply. All I need is a dark weft colour in enough quantity for a blanket.

But while I’ve decided to weave this blanket, I’m going to simplify the draft and make it all one simple twill. Not because I don’t think I can manage the patterns in the project, but because I’ve realised that I actually dislike the look of complexity in the blanket. The individual patterns are lovely, but get a bit lost en masse. My taste is a little more towards simple and geometric, though maybe there’ll come a day when I’d crave something more challenging.

Ashford Loomies Challenge

On Saturday participants in the Ashford Loomies Challenge on Ravelry could warp up and start their project. I wanted to try Weaver-Manipulated Lace which I can’t think of any application except a scarf (maybe curtains?). I chose some white Hempathy yarn. But another participant began a project almost exactly the same, so while I was wearing myself out and doing my back in cleaning my old house ready for sale on Saturday, I considered how I could change things to make this project unique.

On Sunday I chose a lovely soft laceweight – a mohair blend as far as I can tell. Caroline the spinner and s’n’b rocketeer gave me a bag of yarn leftovers on Saturday and this was in it.

I chose some black beads, which I intended to add to the warp, but it only occurred to me as I was winding the warp onto the loom that the beads would need to fit through the heddle, and they didn’t.

So they went on the weft instead, where they sit between the leno twists.

I also, kind of deliberately-by-accident, warped the loom up skipping a hole between the five strands that would be each leno twist, which means the weft skips over two warp ends. I could have fixed it, but decided to see what would happen if I didn’t. Turned out the leno twist kind of flows up into the plain weave. I like it.

Because it’s got mohair in it, I won’t be able to wear this, but I think it’ll make a lovely gift.

Blob Update

You know how it is. You get a bout of finishitis and complete a whole lot of projects. Then you start new ones. You end up with a couple so you have varying weights of yarn and complexity of pattern to suit your need or mood. And then it they synchronise. No matter how much time you dedicate to individual projects, they all somehow remain at a similar stage to each other, edging slowly towards completion like competitors in a race.

And they all look like uninteresting blobs:

Not great blog fodder. But I felt I should show them anyway, to assure you I am still knitting. And in fact, there’ll be some crocheting starting soon:

I’ve found some matching yarn to add to the woven roving pieces, to turn them into a lap rug. And I’ll get to use these:

My birthday present from the beau a few weeks back.

Log Cabin Cloths

I snuck in another project on the little loom over the last two days. The floor rug taught me that sampling really is worth doing, especially when I’m not 100% sure a yarn is suitable for weaving. But if the project was going to use plain weave, I could do my sampling on the little loom and there’d be less loom waste (leftover yarn that is cut off and thrown away).

There’s some Lion Brand cotton in my stash that I’d bought thinking I might be able to weave baby blankets and hand towels with. I also wanted to try log cabin patterning, and it seemed like a good one for this project. Instead of warping directly onto the loom, which can be a bit confusing with more than one colour, I measured the yarn and tied it on.

Log cabin was easier than I expected, and fun to do. But the weave was very open.

I wasn’t too alarmed. The hand towels I made a year ago in Bendy cotton were a bit open, but they filled in a bit once no longer stretched on the loom, and then completely after washing. Off the loom the log cabin cloths looked better.

After hand washing, spinning and a tumble in the dryer… better again, but not completely filled in.

I used the 5 dpi reed. I’m considering trying again with a denser, 7.5 dpi reed. But I have my doubts about the yarn’s suitability. It’s still a bit hard and stringy for baby blankets, though it may soften with more washing.

Still, the cloths were fun to make and I’d definitely use a log cabin pattern again.

Peri Peri Floor Rug

Weft: eucalyptus-dyed handspun
Warp: 16/2 linen
Weave: plain ol’ tabby
Finishing: 10 shots of warp linen as a border, then I knotted the fringe. After washing and drying I brushed the surface with a pet brush and it helped create a softer feeling surface under the feet – especially needed for the orange weft.
Comments: I suspect the linen is too wussy for rug warp. It did okay, aside from one warp thread breaking, matched up with the handspun, but it’s clear rag rugs are going to need the recommended 8/4 cotton carpet warp. Unfortunately I’ve not found an online shop based in Australia that sell it.
I should have woven a sampler, as it would have shown me that the orange yarn was a bit thinner. I could have combat this by doubling it.
Summing up: I like it. It may be simple and rustic, but it suits the purpose it was meant for.