Grrrr….

I have just spent the last hour trying to get a post together and I’m having some very frustrating problems with WordPress!

My pictures keep on changing position, my text gets strangely formated, pictures disappear!, I can’t get a caption to show below a picture, and on and on.

I just wanted to vent, thanks for listening and hopefully by the end of the day I’ll have a post posted (other than this venting post).  Maybe I just need more coffee?

As you can see, even McKayla disapproves!

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A barn loom in Haverhill

At the John Greenleaf Whittier house in Haverhill, MA there is a barn loom in need of repair.  Or so I thought.  So I offered my services, brought it to the weaving guild, and got 7 to sign up to help.  And then I did nothing for a few months.  Well, at least nothing with the loom at Whittier.  But someone reminded me about the loom and I got my sorry butt off the chair (or whatever I was sitting in at the moment) and we got started. 

We have the trustees of the homestead on our side and the caretaker is more than thrilled that we are going to have that loom functioning.  He gets plenty of questions and hypothesis on how the loom works, so we are happy to take the mystery out of the whole process by having that loom up and running as it was intended to be.  We have much more to do, but it’s not in as bad a state as I originally thought. Yes, the harnesses need to be fixed, but they are usable as they are.  The reed is good, but we are going to substitute a modern steel one so we don’t damage the original.  And we are missing a brake for the cloth beam – not a minor detail, without the brake we can’t weave because we won’t be able to maintain any tension.  But the project is moving along!

I took some preliminary pictures.

Shown from back, as you enter the room

From the back, looking up. The clearest picture of the entire loom.

From the side, looking at the harnesses.

Close up of the harnesses.

The front beam.

The reed

The treadles

The top of the loom (looking a bit fuzzy).

Just click on the pictures to make them bigger.

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear….

Not posting has a way of feeding on itself.  The more I don’t do it, the bigger a task it seems to be.  So here I am. I last posted over two months ago and now I see this huge monster; this Herculean task.  I start to think of the pictures I have to upload, the items I have finished, the items that are languishing on my needles or the loom, what I’ve been up to and what I’ve been thinking. My head then goes into a tailspin and another day goes by without a post.

I (as you can see) decided that enough was enough.

So to start the catching-up:
Remember the blue dyeing job I did?  Of course not, it was months ago.  Well, here’s a link to refresh your memory (and mine too).  I used that yarn to knit the Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl.  Here is a picture of my finished product (click on it to see it bigger):

Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl

It looks so nice and innocent there on the hanger. But it’s smallish.  I got gauge in stockinette, I really did.  But my shawl came out smaller than the designer’s measurements (or it would have, but I added extra rows).  I also used a lot less yarn than she did.  So, I have come to the conclusion that I knit lace on the tight side.    This is not the first time this has happened, but I have been pretty steadfast (or is it stubborn) and always use the size needles indicated in the directions.  Those days might be over!   I am making another (different) shawl right now and I’m using needles one size larger than recommended.  Let’s see what happens when I am finished with that shawl.

I will update over the next week or so (it’s just too overwhelming to try to catch everything up in one post).  But, hey, it feels good to be back!

Posted in Knitting | 2 Comments

Blue

I was very nicely whittling down my projects to a more manageable level when I saw that Wendy (on Ravelry) was having a Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl knit-a-long.  Too good to pass up!  But… I didn’t want to wait to get more yarn for this project and I thought of my stash of sock yarn.  I needed something that was subtle, that was not self-striping.  I did have some undyed (bare) yarn from KnitPicks.  Now was the perfect opportunity and excuse to get some dyeing done.  I showcased my dyeing ‘kit’ back in January.   Well, I dragged the dye stuff out, pulled the book out and got going.  I have to confess, I thought it wouldn’t take too long.  Silly me.  It ended up taking the whole day; but it was a little like baking bread in that I had a lot of activity for a short period of time and then a lot of waiting for things to happen.

First I took the yarn out of it’s band and pulled the skein straight.  It was already tied in two places, I added two more ties.

The yarn all tied and ready to go.

Then I had to give it a bath and rinse it.

Following that I soaked it in a vinegar and water solution.  At that point I thought I was ready to go.  I read the instructions again – “allow to dry until damp”.  I had to go from soaking wet to damp.  Darn!  So I squeezed out as much of the vinegar-water solution as I could and hung it to dry on the clothes rack.  I moved on to other things.

Finally, dry enough.  So I mixed the dye.

The dye mixed.

Oh, yay! Ready to go!  Not quite.  That dye was boiling hot and it needed to cool.  So I put it in the window and went off to do other things while it cooled.  The breeze did the trick and when I came back the dye was ready to use.  I then set up the yarn to ‘paint’ with the dye.  As you can see in the picture below, I put the yarn in a plastic lined bowl (the center is just the plastic pulled up to keep the yarn in a circle).

Ready to be painted with dye.

I made three different dilutions of the dye, each weaker then the previous. To dye the yarn I just poured the different dilutions of dye, one after the other, onto separate three inch sections of the yarn.  I kept doing this until I had covered the whole skein in dye.  No brushes were involved.  That whole process didn’t take too long.  Here it is ready for the next step:

Yarn all painted and wet.

I next, gathered the plastic bag around the yarn, secured it at the top and popped the whole think into the microwave for about 2 minutes.  What a great use for a microwave!

Yarn cooling off after it’s sauna.

Once it was cool enough,  I gave it a nice rinse to remove any excess dye.  After squeezing out the water, I hung it out to dry in the back yard – and went off to do other things while it dried.

Yarn drying on the rack.

During this whole process something unfortunate happened – I had a glove fail!  Now one of my fingers has a blue tip.  I tried to take a picture without being rude to everyone!

Result of glove fail.

Here is the final product all wound up into a muffin:

All wound up

The actual color is actually closer to faded blue jeans than to the aqua you see in the picture.  The photo of the skein drying on the rack is more representative of the color.  I also knitted a swatch with the yarn, both to prepare for the Mystery Shawl and to see how it looked knitted up.

Lace Swatch

Well, now that I have done my first foray into the world of acid dyes I have all sorts of plans for dyeing to come.  I will not abandon natural dyeing.  My dye plants are blooming as we speak.

Posted in Dyeing | 2 Comments

Can we talk?

OK.  I finished the socks that I mentioned in my last post.

The finished socks.

This post has been sitting in draft forever.  I had a whole post written about how I hated knitting these socks and what a pain they were to knit, etc.  But, I just couldn’t get myself to click Publish.  The more I thought about it the more I decided that I was done with it and to let the whole thing go.  The socks are knitted and I like them.   Enough said!

I am on to other projects and working on finishing the projects I have started.

I am knitting the second sock of a pair. To the left is the first one completed.  This is Crosswired.  I really should just do 2 socks at a time for all pairs of socks, I have such a hard time getting enthused about the second sock.

Next I am working on two shawls.  Yes, I am still in ‘shawl’ mode!  Here are my ‘in progress’ photos of the shawls.

The one to the right kind of looks like a blob, doesn’t it?  Click on the captions to see what they are supposed to look like!

Posted in Knitting | 2 Comments

Oh my, how time flies!!

It’s been a while, and I am sorry about that.  I’ve rewritten many drafts of this post and nothing seems to flow.  I feel that my muse has left; I’m holding on to the thought that I’m just rusty!

I saw, with regret, my favorite picture editing site, Picnik, get swallowed up by Google+.  But, here I am again and I’ve found a new picture editing site, and so far so I’m liking it! I am now using PicMonkey, and it does everything I want to do.  My needs are simple.

My hands, however, have not been idle.

I finished knitting a pair of socks:

Sleepy Hollow socks

I am now working on  two more pairs of socks and a shawl.  I foolishly agreed to two sock KALs.   In addition, I joined two shawl groups in Ravelry; one is “A Dozen Shawls in 20Dozen” and the other is “12 Shawls in 2012” (sound the same don’t they? yes, but the rules are different).

Pair of socks#1. The group of knitters that I meet with on Sunday evenings, at Starbucks, is have a little knit-a-long (a.k.a. KAL). We plan on knitting all the socks in Cookie A.’s first book:  Sock Innovation.  Here is the first pair, on the needles:

Socks - up to the heel flap

These socks are called: Glynnis.

I also joined a KAL with Knitter’s Brewing Company.  Below is first sock of the pair.  I decided to knit each sock separately.  I find that, because I am using two colors, I have enough work keeping the two strands untangled; I just don’t need the added aggravation of having to sort out 4 strands of yarn.

Crossed Wire socks (so far)

This is the first pair of socks I’ve ever made that are knitted from the toe up and I’m really excited about that.  These socks are Crosswired, by Wendy Gaal at Knitters Brewing Company.

And below is the shawl, Kudzu, (at least up to this point):

Kudzu started

Posted in Knitting | 4 Comments

Oh, oh – not another shawlette!?

I’m still in the shawl rut track.  Well, technically this is a shawlette since it’s small.  Shawlette seems to be a word invented by the knitting community since I can’t find it in any dictionary, but a Google search will pick up tons of shawlettes.  Basically, it’s a small shawl, more like a scarf, but usually triangular or a semi-circle.  I can see why the word was invented – it’s a very elegant way to use a small amount of yarn and it’s a quick and satisfying project.  Note that most sock yarn comes in 400 or so yard skeins and a shawlette usually uses sock yarn.  They are designed to use about 400 or so yards.  A great excuse to buy an expensive yarn (but only one hank or skein).

The yarn I used for this shawlette was some sock yarn I purchased on Etsy.  I loved knitting with this yarn, so soft and the colors really resonated with me.

So the beginning is just stockinette stitch – very basic, knit one row, purl the next row. This had just the added twist of adding a stitch at each end and two in the middle on each knit row.  What could go wrong?  Well… I dropped a stitch.  Fortunately, when I found it I hadn’t gone too far past it (maybe about 4 rows or such).  So I fixed it and went my merry way.  Then, Argh!, I noticed that when I fixed the dropped stitch I had skipped a row.  It wasn’t very noticeable, but it caused that small section of the shawl to lose some of its stretch AND that just was not right.  I belly ached about it for about a day and decided that I really, really needed to fix it.  So I purposely dropped the stitch down to the row that had the error.  I was nervous that I would pick the wrong stitch to drop and finally just did it.  As it turns out, I picked the correct stitch.  I then proceeded to pick that stitch up and bring it up the ‘ladder’. Below are before and after pictures of that adventure:

Ooooops!

Fixed

Can you see what I mean about the color?  It’s fabulous.  It’s called Blackberry Compote.

Here it is blocking:

Blocking

The designer intended the edge to look like waves washing on the beach and I think this photo does the design justice.  The edging was a picot stitch all around and I, at first, pinned out every picot edge point.  But, because of a shortage of T-pins, I decided to decrease the number of picot edge points I picked up.  I think it works well and mimics the uneven edge of a wave.  I did, however, pick up all the points around the tip of the shawl.

Here it is all dry and ready to wear:

This is another free pattern from Ravelry, Holden Shawlette.

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I suppose they’re more useful than ashtrays

I remember when I was a kid in art class and the only thing that would come to mind when I looked at a lump of clay was “Ashtray!”   This is now my fourth shawl that I blog about and I’m beginning to feel that, maybe, when I am looking at yarn the only thing that comes to mind is “Shawl”.  You have to admit, though, that they are way more useful than ashtrays, especially if you don’t smoke.  Heck, we could all use something around our shoulders to keep us warm on those chillier days or in those drafty old buildings (like my house, in the winter).

That said, here is another shawl. I think that this one came out quite stunning.  A few weeks ago I blogged about the measuring of the warp and showed a picture of the measured warp.  I got it on the loom and wove the shawl.  I confess that I finished this back in February, but only now finally added the photos.

After I took it off the loom, I very slowly twisted the fringe and fixed two small errors.  I then washed and dried it – in the washing machine and the dryer; which I will never do again because the fringe got a fuzzy and twisted up.

There is something about bamboo yarn.  Most bamboo yarn is a form of rayon made with bamboo rather than some other plant material.  It is soft right off the cone and it is soft once woven up, but once it has been washed and it has dried, it is amazingly soft.  There is a luxurious feel to it that no amount of pictures can accurately convey.  So you will just have to take my word for it, but if you ever get a chance to feel something made of bamboo, please do so.  Tell them I sent you.

The pattern on this was very satisfying. It looks complicated but was really easy to do.  I threaded the loom by alternating the black and the silver yarns, starting and ending with black.  Then I wove it the same, alternating black and silver yarns, again starting and ending with black.  The trick was how I threaded it through the heddles – this design is shaddow weave, which in many ways is basically a plain weave, but it is designed so that the pattern appears to shaddow itself.

Here is a closeup of the pattern:

Close up showing the pattern

Here is a picture of the shawl draped over my loom:

Draped over the loom

And here is the shawl draped over figurine:

Shawl on figurine

Another view

Posted in Weaving | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A Shawlette

This project was addictive!  On Sunday the 12th I started this shawl and it was so much fun to knit that I had it pretty much finished one week later, on the 19th.  I did the final touches to it last night then washed it and ‘severely’ blocked it!  And the best part!!! No headaches with this one, no major screw-ups that I had to fix, nothing to complain about!  Yeah!

Below is a picture of it still on the circular needle.  The yellow threads are ‘life-lines’ just in case.  I kept on pushing the envelope on this one, by knitting more rows then the pattern called for.  Just in case I ran out of yarn I put in life-lines so that I could easily go back to an earlier spot.  I had all sorts of calculations going on to see if I could do more rows:  I was weighing the remaining yarn and estimating how many stitches I could get out of what remained, then translating that into rows.  I had to keep in mind that every knit row added 4 stitches and each ‘pattern’ row was actually the row with the increases and the next row (the so called reverse side of the shawl).  All-in-all it came out well (yarn wise).

On the circular needle

Here it is right off the needles.  I took out the lifelines.  The piece doesn’t look like much and it measures only 25 inches by 18 inches.  In fact a friend of mine saw it off the needles and remarked on how small it looked.  Just wait my friend, just wait!

Right off the needles

I love lace shawls. When you bind them off and take a look at them, they look small and kind of ugly. But…after washing and blocking it:  WOW!  The design really stands out and you end up with a very usable shawl.

Here it is still on the blocking board (sorry about the fuzzy picture).  But like I say, now you can see the pattern.  All stretched out it measured about 55 inches by 25 inches.

Blocking...

This being a shawlette, it’s just meant for protecting the shoulders and/or neck.  It bounced back a bit when I took it off the blocking board, so that it now measures 51 X 21.5 inches.

Front view

Back view on figurine

I love the colors of this yarn, it’s called “Alaska Nights”.  It was a hand spun and hand dyed by Kristein Thrift.  I originally picked it up in ’07 while on a cruise in Alaska.  I am so glad I found the perfect project for this yarn!

The pattern is a freebie on Ravelry, it’s called ‘198 Yards of Heaven’ .

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The socks

Hi all!  Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Busy time of year – tax season.  I still slip in time to knit and weave, just haven’t had time to blog.

I picked up the socks that I had, for some reason, abandoned.  Here is what I found:

Knitting two socks two circulars

Hard to tell where it starts and where it ends

No wonder I abandoned them, it looked like a mess.  I sat down under some good light and sorted the whole thing out.  I couldn’t find my book on how exactly to  pick up the gusset stitches when knitting two socks on two circular needles so I made something up.  Here is what I ended up with once I was done sorting it all out:

knitting two socks two circulars

All sorted out now

However, due to the way I picked up the gusset stitches, I ended up wondering how I was going to get all the heel stitches on one needle like they should be.  You see, I had half the gusset stitches on one needle and the other half on the other needle. This worked fine for now, but I knew that down the road I should have half the total number of stitches on one needle and the other half on the other needle.  That is, since the sock consists of 72 stitches, I should have 36 on one needle and 36 on the other.  The way I had them set up I was going to end up with 44 stitches on one needle and 28 on the other (that’s per sock, mind you).  I went to YouTube and found a video (something I probably should have done before attempting my fix, but I thought I was sooooo clever figuring it out).  That’s how I found out that my cleverness was not so clever.  I fixed the problem – just let me say it involved using an extra needle. But I’m on the home stretch now:

knit socks ciruclar

Almost done

This is why I love to use circular needles to knit up socks – you get to try them on without stabbing yourself with all the double point needles (and, I’d like to add, without having any of the stitches slip off the needles).

I still have a problem though – for some reason I thought that 20 + 12 = 36!  I know, I know, what was I thinking?  So now the bottom of the foot has 32 stitches and the instep has 36 stitches.  Here is the downfall of doing a pair of socks on two circular needles. Whereas, with the double-points I would just slip a stitch over to another needle, I can’t do that with the ciculars since some of the stitches are never on the outside of the knitting (see picture):

socks knitting

Try to move one stitch from one needle to the other without cutting the yarn!

[Just for clarity – those two strands between the knitting are the cable part of the circular needles, each one represents a different needle.]

So I am adding 4 stitches to each sole and I’ll have the requisite number of stitches when I go into the toe decrease.

Well, finally, done!  Here they are.  Sorry about the quality of the pictures, the light was bad and I was in a hurry.

finished socks

Here they are!

I made sure that the stripes matched up. The yarn is self-striping and has a regular repeat, so I so I had to start both socks at the same place in one of the colors of the yarn and it looks like I succeeded.  I’m very happy with these socks.

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