Thinking Knitting

Mostly I knit during the evenings, but occasionally I knit while working, when I have to do a stretch of thinking and need to keep my hands busy and my butt on my seat. Yesterday was one of those thinking knitting days. The result was this:

And, strangely, I also got lots of writing done. More than I get done on days when I don’t do any thinking knitting. Maybe I should knit while working more often…

I didn’t get any meeting knitting done last night, however. The whole camera club competition meet was run with the lights out which, while it wouldn’t stop me knitting, makes choosing the next colour of yarn impossible.

A parcel arrived for me yesterday:

Unfortunately it’s going to be a while until I can attach the second heddle kit to my loom and try it out. Not only do I need to finish the possum pouches that are still on the loom, but I’ll be interstate for a week and a bit.

I can now blog on the road! Not only do I now have a wireless plug-in thing for the laptop, but I just bought and loaded a cheap photo-processing program. So the only thing that might stop me is lack of time. Or maybe not having anything crafty to report. But it’s nice to know I can blog if I want to!

Personal Sock Club Socks #1

Finished last night:

The toes, heels and cuff are knit with Patonyle and the rest with one of those self-striping Opal or Regia yarns (can’t remember which). When I lay them on the footstool last night to admire them, the beau said “haven’t you got a pair like that already?”. Which is pretty amazing recall, since I knit the original pair a few years ago and I do the clothes washing (he does the sheets and towels). These, however, fit much better.

It has surprised me how fast I knit these up. Just goes to show I can knit socks faster if I don’t get distracted by other projects. But I couldn’t leave my sock needles unoccupied, and for me the point of a personal sock club is it’s so well tailored to my needs that the new package arrives right when I need it, so I went up to my workroom and grabbed another bag.

Aha! A scrappy sock project. After considering the range of colours, especially the blue and black striped yarn, I decided this pair needed black contrasting heels, toes and cuffs. Half an hour later I had a toe done, all ready for mixing and matching the leftovers.

I should probably have worked on Sylvi, but it was late, and I may need some simple meeting knitting to work on tonight.

SES Hat

Done!

Pattern: SES Hat by Knitaholic.
Yarn: Shepherd Colour 4 Me
Needles: 4mm
Alternations: Knit in the round, which meant decreasing 4 st evenly around before starting the check pattern.

It seems a little large despite the reduced stitches, though not unwearably so. I do tend to knit a little loose, though. Not so much with colourwork, but maybe I’m getting looser as I get more practised at it. Next time I’ll use 3.75mm needles.

This is a good, serviceable yarn for this sort of thing, though at $6 for a 50g ball it’s a touch pricey. Still, it’s not easy to get good bright colours in 100% wool yarn – especially orange so, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers!

Impending FOs

I’ve still not been working on Sylvi. Last week was very busy, but even the beau was much tireder than he ought to be, so I reckon we had some sort of bug. There was more zonked sock knitting:

And I started a SES hat after buying some yarn for them and for some CFA socks (yes, charity knitting yarn is allowed):

And there was a little bit of weaving. I warped up the RH for more possum pouches, and continued with the Leftovers Blanket:

The hat is nearly done. I’d like to finish Sylvi before I head off to Canberra on Saturday. And maybe the blanket. I guess it would be better to finish the socks so I can take the next personal sock club yarn with me. And it would be nice to have the possum pouches done and sewed up.

Hmm. That’s everything, isn’t it? I might just start with the hat and see how far I get.

Zonked Knitting…

… is all I’ve been doing lately. I’ve had some tense and busy days. Late nights, public appearances, attending a dinner party then holding one, lots of filing/tax/banking, and allergic reactions to the smoky air all conspired to wear me out. But the level of tiredness has been a bit more than I’d expect, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was coming down with something, too.

This means I’ve been too tired to work on Sylvi. Instead I’ve reached for something I can do on auto pilot while staring into space or watching tv. Then last night I was surprised when this happened:

Yep, a sock already. Seems I can get stuff done even when I’m zonked.

Smoke

Of course, when I started the Smoke Socks – named after the colourway of The Knittery chubby sock – I had no idea there were bushfires in Victoria’s future. In fact, at that time we were having an unusually cool and wet summer.

Now that Melbourne is shrouded in an ashy haze, turning the sunlight a dirty orange, the name seems somewhat appropriate. They fit well and are beautiful in their simplicity.

On a brighter note, now that I’ve finished these socks I can receive my first personal sock yarn club yarn delivery. I selected a bag from my felt bin and was pleased to find the contents were exactly what I wanted to work on next:

Generous leftovers from a sock I made not long after learning to knit socks, but which never fit quite right. Now I can make a replacement pair that fit properly. So I got started by knitting the toe on the train last night.

Possum Pouches

A friend of the beau occasionally raises possum young, so I’ve known about possum pouches for a while. They’re simple knitted bags, with cotton lining, that wildlife carers keep young marcupials in when their mother has died. I’ve donated yarn for the cause, but not made any before.

After the bushfires there will be many young found whose mothers perished in it, or couldn’t be saved afterwards, so it was no surprise when the possum pouches patterns started circulating again. My first thought this time was that I could weave them a lot faster. So I warped up the loom yesterday and started weaving. By this morning I’d finished and sewed up these:

I’m considering them prototypes. Even though they’re quick and easy, I want to be sure they’re needed and suitable before I make any more. I emailed Wildlife Victoria on Friday asking if they really did need pouches as there is no mention of them on their site. The reply only said that there’d be drop off points for pouches and bedding up on the site soon.

After I’d finished the pouches I moved on to the Leftovers Blanket. First I wove a header in plain weave then started a 3×1 twill. Didn’t like either so I unwove and started again in 2×2.

Much better! I like this a lot.

I finally made it to a s’n'b meet yesterday. First time in ages it wasn’t 40+ degrees or I was out of town. I took Sylvi, but only in order to show people. Working on something that requires that much concentration while talking would either be an invitation for disaster, or make me completely unintelligable. Instead I worked on my Smoke Socks, which are nearly done. Here’s the back of Sylvi:

The camera doesn’t quite capture the vivid orangeness of the sunlight. This wasn’t because it was dawn or dusk. I took the pic at 9am, when the sun had been up for hours. This is from the smoke that has been drifing across the city for the last few days, turning the sun into a red ball and the full moon an eerie rust-orange.

I have to say, though, that back is looking worryingly small.

Still Warping

Once again, I turned my warping ‘board’ into a raddle, only this time I clamped it at the back of the loom to keep the warp ends spread out and in the right order. (I’m assuming this is what a raddle is and does.) Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.

Then I got stuck into threading the heddles. This is always uncomfortable for me, though removing the reed does help a lot. I suspect it is why my shoulder muscles are all siezed up and painful today (though I also suspect doing 20 rows of Sylvi last night rather than just 10 didn’t help).

Unlike the project in Handwoven that I’m basing this on, the twill pattern I’m using is a basic diagonal line that swaps direction for each colour. This is as much because I’m a newbie, and avoiding extended hours of back-straining warping, as it is about preferring simple graphic patterns.

I’m using floating selvedges for the first time, too. The project calls for worsted yarn, at 10 dpi. That would have been great, as my reed is 10 dpi so it would mean one end per slot. But I’m using 8ply/dk yarns (which are quite varied in thickness from sport to worsted weight) so I ended up with a threading of 1-1-1-2.

Turns out, the Ashford Table Loom comes with only enough heddles to match the 10dpi reed.

So I had to make some out of some linen.

Which, while time-consuming, wasn’t such a bad thing. Unused heddles usually sit at the side, and if I work on a project that uses the full width of the loom (like the denim rag rug) they get in the way. I could buy more heddles, but then I’d have to dismantle the shafts to get them on only to have more heddles getting in the way. I got to thinking that removable heddles that could be snapped on or off as needed would be a wonderful thing.

Finally I had the entire warp threaded onto the heddles, then I replaced the reed and threaded the ends through that. I love the way the colours reflect in the shiny surface of the reed:

And here it is all tied up and ready for weaving.

Tension is probably going to be an issue here. The project notes warn of it. The different yarns are likely to have different levels of stretch. To minimise the problem, I’ve used (as far as I know) all wool and acrylic and avoided alpaca, cotton and fibres that don’t have much elasticity. If I have any troubles I’ll weigh the looser threads down at the back of the loom.

I’m all ready to start now… except for my shoulders being all seized up.

Actually, while I warping up I got to thinking about how a loom like this might be altered to make it more ergonomic to warp. Removing the reed helps a lot, but I still have to stretch out my arms and hold them there while threading each warp end. If I stand up, I can lean over and reduce the distance I have to reach, but that’s a classic position for straining the neck (not to mention the muscles in the backs of my legs!). But if the whole loom could be tilted forward – perhaps as far as 90 degrees – I’d only have to position a seat at the right height and the heddles would be right in front of me.

Might have to have a chat with the beau about that…

The Measure of a Warp

Despite the fact that I have aircon, it was still too freakin’ hot on Saturday for doing anything mentally taxing. My workroom and our bedroom is on the north end of the house, above the garage, and the aircon struggles against baking head on all sides – even from below as the garage tends to turn into an oven. Usually I head downstairs to the lounge and knit.

But I wanted to warp up the loom. It occurred to me that measuring up a warp was the easiest task and probably do-able. And the warp for the Leftovers Blanket would be the most fun to measure so I chose that project.

The idea is to make a warp out of lots of leftover yarn:

Then weave with a single colour weft, which means no fussy colour changes during the weaving. I hadn’t bought a weft yarn yet, but decided that I’d poach the black Bendigo Classic set aside for another project. I set out my leftovers again. I didn’t have much in the way of yellowy-orange yarn, and I couldn’t find a good place for the white… wait a moment.

Add a bit of food colouring and vinegar, wrap in glad wrap, put in jar in sun on a 46.4 degree celcious day – hey presto!

In the meantime, I worked out how long the warp should be. I decided the blanket or wrap it would turn into was going to be the width of the loom and about two metres long. Add loom waste and take up. Use a piece of scrap yarn cut to length to set up the warping board, then start winding…

I love an arty warp shot:

The next pressing question was whether I’d get enough warp ends out of the yarn I had. So I started cutting the smaller balls and writing down how many ends I got out of them. To keep track I cut holes in a card and added samples of each yarn.

When all the small balls of yarn were used up I counted the ends and worked out how many more I needed, then spread the remaining number over the larger balls. I also got more ends by cutting a ‘border’ of the weft yarn for each side of the blanket. At the end of the day the yellow-orange yarn had been well and truly cooked by the sun. I rinsed it, and it dried in the hot winds within half an hour. I cut it up and added it to the mix.

Then I divided the warp up and laid it out in the colour sequence:

Last night, after a long, depressing day watching and reading reports of the bushfires and their victims, I trudged upstairs to start binding warp to loom. Before long my spirits lifted. Warping is not my favourite part of weaving, but with a colourful warp like this, in twill rather than plain weave, it’s actually rather fun. But it’s still hard on my back – even with the beater dismantled so I can get to the heddles easier – and after an hour I had to stop. I’ll have to finish at lunch, or tomorrow night.

WIP Bags

As promised, here are my ‘knitting’ bags:

Though occasionally I dream of the perfect project bag, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t one. Mainly because of the variety of project sizes and conditions the bag has to deal with.

There’s not much point carrying a sock around in a bag big enough for a jumper, or visa versa. Sometime you’re going somewhere you know it’s safe to have a soft, open-topped bag, sometime you’re end up in places where a bag is going to be crushed or kicked or tipped over (public transport), or someone is going to sit on your knitting (writer’s centres).

The soft cream embroidered fabric envelope was given to me by one of the beau’s elderly aunts, and has a handy measuring tape stitched onto it, but it’s only big enough for a small project. I use it when I want to tuck knitting into a bigger bag. The big felt bin from AK Traditions doesn’t have handles so isn’t good for travelling, but it’s good for big projects that sit next to the armchair, which I’m unlikley to carry around anyway. As are the two blue ones I made to match it.

I’ve got four small bags for socks and small projects and I occasionally use the two paper bags, too, because they’re too nice to not use for something. The carry bags at the top right are useful for s’n'b meets, wheras the black ex-camera bag is good for when I know whatever I carry is going to take a beating. I’ve also been known to use an old plastic tool box if, say, camping.

So yeah… plenty of bags here. How many bags do you have?