Archive for November, 2013

Book-learnin’

Posted in knitting, Socks, Weaving on November 15, 2013 by needlefingers

As you can see over in the sidebar, I’m not a grad student anymore.  And I’m still quite happy about that.  One of the best things is that instead of getting and Amazon shipment of books titled Cross-Talk in Composition Theory and The Rhetorical Tradition, I get fun things like these:

Weaving Books

Two of these were suggested by my friend last April when I told her I was thinking about getting the loom I’ll be acquiring.  The third, The Weaver’s Companion, just seemed like a good idea.

Since knitting will be a no-go, I think I’ll take Learning to Weave along with me for jury duty on Monday.  Or maybe I’ll take a Stephen King book.  Which one do you think is more likely to get me tossed off a jury?  :)  Actually, I’m not bothered by the prospect of serving on a jury.  I just know that it can result in both sides reaching an agreement at the eleventh hour, making all the time invested for naught.  Exactly why is it you need us to sit in uncomfortable chairs for all of it?

In knitting news, birthday gifts are underway.

Sign of Four - Lake Louise

 

I just started these socks, and they are moving so much faster.  Amazing what a difference good yarn and a non-fiddly pattern can make.

And I’m slowly progressing on my Loopy Ewe fourth quarter challenge.

Bile bag further along

 

Much more enjoyable studies, to be sure.

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When Socks Go Bad

Posted in knitting, Socks on November 13, 2013 by needlefingers

I don’t know where October went.  Nary a pair of socks were completed for Sockoberfest.  That’s not to say I wasn’t knitting on socks, just that too much other stuff was going on.

The problem was the socks that I was working on.  They took me a while because of a trifecta of issues.

  1. yarn that tended to split
  2. bluntish needles
  3. fiddly three-stitches-out-of-one pattern

If I had any two of the above three, it wouldn’t have been a problem. It all just conspired against me.

I was whining to a friend about them, and she told me to give myself permission to rip them out.  And I knew that I could.  But I was so close, ripping them out would have been like throwing away the time spent to that point.  So, I just focused, toughed it out, and got them done.

Borracha done

That said, they are awfully fun socks. Just be sure you’ve got good points and non-splitty yarn. ;)

And in other late breaking news . . .

Posted in dyeing, knitting, spinning, Weaving on November 12, 2013 by needlefingers

I’m buying a loom.

No one who knows me should be surprised by this.  Fifteen years ago, I went to a spinning guild gathering.  What brought me there was an interesting path.  I’m an English major, and I love to tell a story, so you might want to get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in.  I’ll wait.

Let’s start at the beginning.  My mom and grandmother were both talented crafters, though my mom never would have considered herself such.  She and my grandmother made beautiful lace crochet.  My mom also crocheted fun things for me.  Naturally, I wanted to learn to crochet, and I did.  I don’t remember how old I was when I first started, but let’s say it was somewhere around age eight.

My mom was friends with my friend’s mom.  Sue was just an awesome person and also crafty.  Then she took up knitting.  Since we spent a lot of time together, I got to see all of her wonderful projects.  I was amazed at how fabric-like knitting was where crochet was decidedly bumpier.  Of course, I decided I needed to do that, too.  Sue lent me the book she learned from (The All New Teach Yourself to Knit booklet by Evie Rosen, in case you’re playing along at home).  What’s great about this book is it has very clear illustrations for both the English and continental methods.  Sue had picked up the English method; I chose continental for its resemblance to crochet.

I dove right into knitting.  I practiced a small swatch of about 10-15 stitches.  I knitted, I purled, I knitted and purled, and then I decided I was ready to knit a fisherman’s sweater.  And I did.  That’s how I roll.

This area doesn’t have a lot to offer in the way of enrichment.  However, about an hour away there was an annual craft fair held on the museum grounds.  This was not your usual ‘teddy bears with lace glued on them and wooden cutouts of people’s backsides’ show.  Oh, no.  It was a juried fair, so there were artisans from all over.  There washand-thrown pottery, blacksmithing, fine art, and a woman, Rosalie Truong,  with angora rabbits.  Oh yes.  She had handspun angora yarn, dyed by her as well.  The softness!  The colors!  Up until this point, the spinning I had seen was with natural-colored fiber, so it really wasn’t anything I was interested in.  But now I saw the possibilities before me, and I knew I needed to do this.

In addition to her angora, there were other spinning fibers, and I bought two bags of a purple merino with firestar blended in.  I told her I wanted to learn, and she pointed me to the fiber arts building, saying that a spinning guild was set up there for a demonstration and that they would be thrilled to help a new spinner.  So off I went.

There were several women set up with their spinning wheels, mostly spinning the same natural fiber as I had seen before.  I told one of the women that I was interested in learning how to spin after seeing Rosalie’s booth.  She told me to get a drop spindle and learn on that.  Hmm.

I went home and ordered a drop spindle kit from one of my knitting catalogs.  (Note: don’t do this)  I received it in the mail, and the spindle appeared to have been cut from a 2″x4″, the wool was neppier than any neppy thing you’ve ever seen, and the instructions were less than clear.  After several tries, I laid it aside.

The next year, I went back to the craft fair, checked in with the spinners, and reported my progress, or lack thereof.  One woman said that she would be happy to teach me, but she would be leaving to winter in Florida soon, but once she returned in March, we could start my lessons.  Excellent!

There was a group of knitters I met with in the biggest town around us, which was about 60 miles away (told you this area doesn’t offer much).  That month, a woman pulled out all these beautiful yarns that she was going to make into a Kaffe Fassett sweater.  She was discussing how she had hand-dyed her handspun yarn for the project, and I was all over that.  “You spin?  I would love to do that!”  She told me that I should come to her spinning guild’s get-together in a couple of weeks, and they would be happy to teach me to spin.  I wasn’t going to have to wait until March!

That Sunday, I showed up at the event, trusty drop spindle in hand.  “No,” she said, “We’re going to teach you on the wheel.”  She had me sit down at her wheel and practice treadling.  First your feet learn what to do, then your hands.  I spent about an hour treadling, learning to start and stop the wheel.  Then we added the fiber, and I learned what fiber should look like.  Not the cruddy stuff sent along with the lumber-mill-reject drop spindle.

After I had spun on her wheel for a while, another woman invited me to spin on her wheel.  For the uninitiated, spinning wheels are very much a matter of personal preference.  What one person adores, another may despise.  Now, the first wheel I used, a Schacht Matchless double treadle, is a very, very nice wheel.  However, when I sat at Chris’s wheel, a Majacraft Suzie, I knew that was the wheel for me.  Later in the afternoon, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a couple of women were watching me.  “I hope I’m doing this right,” I said.  “Oh no, you’re a natural,” one replied.

I should also mention that during this get-together, there were dyepots over a fire.  People had brought spinning fiber to sell, and naturally, I had to give dyeing a try.  So actually that day, two passions were born.

I went home, mind abuzz with possibilities.  I researched the wheel I had fallen in love with and discovered that Majacraft had just released a new wheel built on the same principles as the Suzie, but a bit more fancy – the Rose.  So, a mere four days after first touching a wheel, I ordered my Rosie.  Drop spindle, schmop spindle.  (Although afterward I got a quality spindle, and it is much, much better.  Then Ramblin bought me a Golding, and, well, Reason #189 why I love Ramblin)

Now, also during that day, another woman let me try her wheel.  It was a single treadle, and I learned that I don’t care for single treadling.  But as I was trying it out, we were discussing various things, and I mentioned my knitting.  “I would love to do that,” she said.  I was puzzled. “But then, what do you do with your yarn?”  I pictured her spinning up a yarn, winding it into a ball, tossing it over her shoulder into a mounting pile in a corner, and turning back to the wheel.  “I weave with it.”  Note that I did not immediately have the desire to weave.

So I’ve had many happy years of knitting, spinning, and dyeing fibers.  I wasn’t against weaving; I simply said I didn’t need one more hobby as I barely have time to do the things I want to do with my current hobbies.  Also, there’s all that finishing.

It was a friend’s beautiful Lunatic Fringe towels that created a hairline crack in my reserve.  What can I say – I’m a sucker for all things rainbows.  Still, I resisted.  Then The Loopy Ewe started carrying rigid heddle looms, and people were posting their weaving projects on Ravelry.  Then the Fat Cat Knits group started posting pictures of woven fabrics made into gorgeous bags.  I began pricing the rigid heddle looms at The Loopy Ewe.  Then one day one of my friends, out of the blue, declared, “I want to learn to weave!”  Sigh.  “I’ll learn to weave with you.”

A friend had a loom for sale.  No, we’re going to Europe; I have no place buying a loom when I’ve never even woven the first thread!  And it was big, a Schacht eight harness 46″.  Surely I shouldn’t start with something impressive as that, should I? (with my history for diving in with both feet, I still don’t understand my hesitation at this point)  But I did email her about it.  And several other friends for their advice about getting into this new endeavor.  And then it got put aside with travel, teaching, and life in general.

Fast forward to the rigid heddle class from this past Saturday.  My friend and I went to River Wools in Terre Haute to be indoctrinated.  By the end of the day, we both had scarves we were quite proud of for a first effort.  All it did was whet our appetites.

I posted all over about my scarf, (See my scarf?) and a friend sent me a link to a loom for sale.  It was a good distance away, and another person had inquired about it.  But that was enough to get me thinking.  I checked a few sources and then remembered the loom my friend had for sale.  I hadn’t seen any mention of it on our discussion boards, so I thought perhaps she had sold it.  But I emailed anyway.  And she still had it.

So, that’s how I’m getting a loom.

Why I Love Ramblin: Reason #248

Posted in dyeing, love on November 11, 2013 by needlefingers

Over the weekend, we were wandering around the local behemoth store and found ourselves in the crock pot aisle.  I spied the nifty three-in-one model that would allow you to dye three different colorways of yarn (yeah, they say it’s for cooking, whatever) at a time.  I commented to Ramblin that would be pretty sweet to have because of the color possibilities.  And then we moved on.

Today, Ramblin had to pick up some things at our local slightly-smaller-behemoth store, and when he got home, he said he had a surprise for me.

dye crock pot

It’s even better than the one we saw earlier.  I love this man.

Whee-ving!

Posted in Weaving on November 9, 2013 by needlefingers

I’ve done it.  Resistance was futile.

My first woven scarf

My first woven scarf

first weaving closeup