Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Normal service will now resume...

I tried to post yesterday but Blogger stopped talking to me when I tried to upload this photo. Is someone trying to tell me something? It can't be a complaint about the Moebius cowl because *that* is lovely. I didn't want to take it off, it curls around my neck like a warm cat -- the only thing missing is a purr. And I think my cunning plan worked: just look at how much yarn is left over. If anyone else wants to know: I used 66yds of yarn for the lace edge (I did 8 rows/4 pattern repeats instead of the 3 repeats in the pattern because I liked the look of it) and the edge. Next time I make one -- and there will be a next time -- I'll measure 66yds as a separate ball and Just Knit the rest. I could make it slightly smaller in diameter, too.

And as you can see the refurbishing is finished. The heddles slide smoothly on shafts like silk, and every dent in the reed has been polished. I will never, ever buy a carbon steel reed. Ever. Stainless steel rules. And after several delays, long thoughtful pauses, a lot of cursing and some re-threading I have successfully put my first warp on by myself. Back to front because that doesn't require help. I've only ever seen it done about 3 times and helped once, so I was actually surprise by how (relatively) easy it was. Thanks, Melanie! There is in fact some weaving on there, just enough to show that my weaving cunning plan may be working. The twill seems to be twilling as I hoped, although an error in the design (NOT the threading, I've checked every time I notice it) has led to a doubled pair of threads (one is on shaft 12 and one on shaft 1, if I recall correctly). I suppose I could just cut one out of the warp... have to think about that. The weft is not working quite as I hoped at the moment, but I've only just started sampling. I pulled out a skein of Touch Yarns laceweight in purple/grey/black that might look interesting behind the white silk warp. Although the strength of the contrast might kill the purple. Sample, sample, sample...

And finally, a swatch! I must have grown up, I'm actually taking time to do things properly. This is Handmaiden silk/wool on (well, off, really) 4mm needles. I made it long enough that I could block *half* of it so the swatch would record the difference for future reference or posterity, which ever comes first. I am going to knit the cap-sleeve top. Or try to knit it. Something about that photo makes me wonder if it will fit across real shoulders. But I read that top-down knitting allows me to test it as I go, and if it doesn't work I might try to make a Picovili instead.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Not so finished after all

Technically I have two FOs. According to the patterns each is finished, but...
The hat was just about the right size when finished. Probably a loose fit, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The yarn felt a bit harsh so
I decided to wash it to try to bring out the softness of the alpaca. Besides which I now understand these things should be washed when finished. So I ran a sink of just-off-cold water and some wool detergent, added the hat and IT GREW. It grew like the garden weeds are growing right now <your curse here>. It just took on water, turned flobby and expanded in size. Horrified, I rinsed it carefully, squeezed out the water and inspected the result: an immense hat. A huge hat, a hat suitable for, for a very large thing. Not quite the dome of St Pauls, but getting there. Argh. I rolled it up in a towel, squeezed out more moisture, shaped it tall & thin rather than short and wiiiiiiiiiide, then put it on a radiator to dry. When dry it was certainly softer, but it's probably too big. I may give it to him anyway as a joke to laugh at while I try again.

The Fleece Artist cashmere moebius cowl is also technically finished. I even did extra rounds of every bit of the pattern (bar the binding off, which would have been tricky to do more than once) and I still have lots of lovely cashmere left. What to do? I decided this morning to do what I think is the right thing: frog it back to the stockinette&yarn over section in the middle and knit in the remaining yarn, then tie in the frogged length (in which I will cleverly tie slipknots to indicate roughly where each successive section should start. I may have lost the 'start' of the, er, moebius but I don't think it matters if I have; I'll just stick a marker where I stop frogging and start knitting again. I will try to remember to post information about how many extra rows were possible.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't Panic! (yet)

OK, there's something else on the needles. Another set of needles. A conversation with a friend who has an elegantly semi-naked head revealed that yes, it does get cold (it was one of those conversations...). I measured it and said I'd knit him a hat one of these days. I like the look of the Seaman's Cap. Saturday I was in what passes for a LYS around here, about 3m of wall space in a department store, and thought I'd look for some appropriate yarn. Ha. About a third of the display is Paton's-style plain pastel superwash wools or synthetics for people much, much younger than my friend. The remaining space is Debbie Bliss, Jaeger and Rowan summer-weight yarns. I found a pigeon hole of Rowan Felted Tweed including some pretty heathered green/blue/white and stared at the label while I tried to work out whether I could use it. This was/is my first attempt at yarn substitution. The pattern calls for worsted at 20st/26 rows per 10cm. Felted Tweed does 22-24st/30-32 rows per 10 cm. After about 3 minutes my reasoning was spinning its wheels in the mud. Try looking at the weight: FT is 175m/50g; the cap calls for 200m/100gm. Near as dammit double. Right, I'll knit it doubled -- it'll be on circulars, I knit tightly, and he's got a big head (he said so himself) so I'll use a larger needle size and hope. I bought two balls, started off and it's looking very nice if a trifle thick (I'm telling myself it will wear well :-) Now, just past the halfway point I'm starting to worry that two balls won't be enough. The shop is extremely unlikely to have any left if I go back -- last time I tried that a full cubbyhole of alpaca/silk had disappeared in three days. The staff told me they can't understand why all the yarn just flies out of the shop; I told them that knitting and crochet was back in style and they were the only yarn in town. They still looked puzzled.

Anyway, how to allay my concerns? Buy more yarn online? Nice idea, I like that, especially as ordering just one ball seems so sad. I'd have to get something else too. No, Get Thee Behind Me, Satan. I've gone from no stash (other than a bag of nice tabletweaving yarn) to three bags of very expensive stuff behind the chair. I feel secure but poor. It occurred to me that I could weigh the remaining yarn. I began with 100gm; if I've got 50gm left, I'm in the clear! 46gm is probably enough, especially as I've got quite a lot of my first long-tail (thumb) cast-on as well. I love that cast-on. Such a tidy edge. Oh, and I love my Denise needles, too. Even though I have a nasty habit (three times makes it a habit) of holding a needle with one hand while holding the knitted stuff and cable with the other, then pulling to shift the knitting on the needle. With sufficient twist in the pull to undo the connection. I WILL learn from experience.

Next time I hope to show the next FO. It's a race: it might be the cap, or it might, it just might be my loom, fully warped and ready to go. I hadn't realised what a pain it would be to warp and thread with such a wide castle. A pain in the back, literally. Three cheers for Pilates!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A finished object!

Thumbelina is finished. It's shown flat for the moment, which suffices (in reality if not in RGB) to display the lovely colours of the Colinette Giotto in Jay. It fits well enough; the flaws are down to the design. As I suspected, there is something unusual about the intersection of sleeve, collar/side and back, but the flexibility of the yarn copes with it. It does drape beautifully. I will use it again, perhaps for a pullover -- the combination of subtle rayon glitter and the design makes this cardigan too showy for everyday use. Now that I look at it again, I think the model's pose in the Akashya book suggests there is something funny about the fit. The back wants to ride low, with the back/collar seam about 2-3" below my shoulders, but if I pull it up properly it works. The back seems a trifle narrow, but blocking carefully stretched it a bit. I wish I'd bothered to research all these finishing techniques *decades* ago: it makes such a difference to the fit.

On the needles now is my first attempt at Cat Bordhi's Moebius Cowl in Fleece Artist cashmere, a shade similar to Forest Midnight. It's absolutely gorgeous, although the yarn is showing signs of wear after I had to frog the first two attempts; foolish of me to try to do -- and count -- my first MCO while watching a film after a half-bottle of wine. It's sitting on a fetching camouflage Go-Knit pouch which is just big enough for the yarn, needles and pattern. I haven't yet tried hanging it from my belt to knit while I walk; perhaps I should try it on the treadmill on Wednesday :-) The stitch marker is one of my own in silver and amber with one of Corina's lampwork beads.

I miss Sana. She was A Cat Who Walked By Herself
, not very sociable (and all places were the same to her, bar the gap on the highest bookshelf and the warm top of the TV). We tried not to impose on her. I hope, I fervently wish that she had all the attention she desired and no more than she wanted.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Further procrastination seems harmless...

I don't know how, but most of the day seems to have crept past without my noticing. Perhaps while I was baking bread, shopping, cleaning the loo (toilet to NAmericans) or complaining about the showers at the gym, if I'd looked up I'd have seen the day looking sheepish as it tried to sneak out. Oh, well. I did do some work, cleaning up scans and typesetting. Then I had a worrying thought. I'm knitting a sweater, my first knitting project for over a decade, and I'm trying to do it right (I swatched and everything). Now I've started worrying about the pattern: 'Thumbelina' in the Colinette Akashya book. It's interesting; the back and sleeves (I even calculated the length I want and reworked the pattern to get it. I hope) are normal. The front/sides and collar are all one long rectangular strip of stockinette: start at the bottom of the right front and just keep knitting. The bottom of the strip is turned up to make a pocket on one side. It seems to me that there's a sort of corner/angle formed by the top of the sleeve and the shoulder seam of the back. The strip has no shaping for this; if there's any corner at all, the front/collar will fit it by distorting its shape as it's sewn in. Will it look bad? Untidy? What do I do? I wonder whether that long front/collar strip could have any other use...

Yes! I can hide my embarrassment. The Giotto is lovely: the rayon ribbon edge takes a deeper colour than the cotton ribbon, and it adds a very subtle glitter. It has the potential to look very elegant if I don't let the side down. The photo in the mirror works well, considering.

The Pink Thing is growing, too. It's a scarf. For someone else. I couldn't wear those colours even if I wanted to! I ripped out the lace and invented a pattern: stockinette in a 6st block of knit, 6 st purl, 6st knit, with edges. Continue the block as long as I like, then reverse. Some of the knit blocks are cabled, some of the purls are lacy (generally a dismal failure) or garter stitch. I'm really beginning to like it, but can't decide if it's Art or just bad knitting. He says bad knitting; my weaving class said Art. I reserve judgement until after I rip back and cut out the orange and red that look very unpleasant with the pale pink. That seems to be the trick with this stuff; when you come to a colour that doesn't work, just cut that section out and carry on with something nicer. I might add some beads in a couple of the purl panels, too. Tiny bronze glass glittery things, small glints of light to highlight the parallel lines.

The flowers know it's spring even if we had a hard frost this morning...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I want more time

I waste precious fragments of spare time wondering if there's any way I could make better use of the big chunks spent earning money or doing housework to free more time to waste. As it were. Anyway. I have been working hard, and not just earning money (see below). Then a good friend came to visit and, as my office/workroom/space is also our spare bedroom, I had to restrict my online activities for a while. But he's travelling for a couple of days so I have a fragment of time and a bit of space in which to gloat. See the pretty loom?

"See the handsome cat!" says Dyson.
He's a Maine Coon. The loom is a 16-shaft 24" Harris, in slightly sadder condition than I was expecting; its previous keeper didn't cherish it enough. All the metalwork has a significant coat of rust, so I've been sanding the shafts with finishing paper, then using wire wool before a finishing polish with a silicone furniture spray. The heddles just *glide* after that. Alas, I realised yesterday that some of the heddles are crossed; I have to take them off and put them back. Some shafts are held together with twists of garden wire: I have to buy some small nuts and bolts. One shaft is missing the end that comes off: I've ordered a new shaft from Emmerich (the company that bought Harris), which should arrive on Friday. Kevin is now the only person who can deal with loom queries; he's very nice, but busy. I suggested to the person who answered the phone that the company arrange for any staff who are remotely interested to take an introductory weaving course. I can't believe there won't be one or two who want to learn and do more, and they'll be able to answer queries more easily.
Anyway, the shafts are the easy bit. The reed seems to me (having never done this before) to be more difficult. Sanding every gap, even when it's only 8-dent, is going to take ages. I rang a blast-cleaning company, but the chap sucked his teeth and said he thought it would erode or buckle the reed. I will try 'flossing' it with rough hessian garden twine, then with parcel string, and see what happens. I'm slightly desperate to get it done because I am quite literally dreaming of weaving. Twill, in silk. I have a warp ready, you see...

That's why the reed has to be in good condition. It is silk. Cream silk. OK, that's completely over-the-top for my first piece, but on the other hand I have a secret project with a tight deadline that has to be done in silk, so it makes sense to start sampling the stuff I will shortly be weaving. The wefts are silk, too. The photo doesn't do it justice! Everything bar the coloured stuff is from Handweavers. The coloured stuff is from Treenways; I was just passing, honest, not looking at yarn porn at all, when I realised that the occasional band of the right colour might look really interesting next to the darks and the noil. The internet is a wonderful thing.