Weave faster, the stash is catching up

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Stashbash, Weaving on August 26th, 2018

Results day has been and gone, the teen will be going away to where he wanted to go and he has been allocated perfectly lovely accommodation at a standard of luxury that was unknown when I went away mumblemumble years ago.  His room is ensuite with a small double bed, the one size that I don’t have fitted sheets for. The bed has been my area of interest because depending on which of his accommodation preferences he got he could have had a single bed, a small double or a double. The eighteen inch difference in width is significant if you are aiming to make something to cover it. I now know what I’m aiming at and his throw is third in the queue for the loom.

This is blanket number one, the sample (as usual, click on the photo to see a larger one). As I didn’t know what width I wanted my plan was to weave four panels for a smaller bed or five for a wider bed. Now I know the width I want I could make four panels and just make them a bit wider. This is a sock yarn blanket and both the warp and weft came from the sock scrap bag. I’m loving it, every ball brings a different combination of colours and the balls are all small so there is always something changing. I was going to cut this in two, join the two pieces and make a lap blanket but I may put it aside for now and make more later to end up with something bed sized. No-one needs to point out the gap in the reed, I made so many mistakes with this because I’ve not touched the loom in two years and I seem to have forgotten everything I knew. There was a threading mistake in the middle that was on the lower layer and wasn’t evident until I switched layers. I solved that with scissors and I should have resleyed but I was a few inches along by then and I couldn’t be bothered. I’ll catch it when I come to tie on the next warp.

The next warp (all plans are subject to change at a moment’s notice) will be the burgundy and gold that was in the last post and the warp after that will be a black/grey/teal combination based on the colours in this rug. I have no black yarn and I as I’d rather not dye black I bought some. I did have a cone of grey, right up to last month when I dyed it burgundy so I bought grey too. I am aware that I am congratulating myself on using up lots of tiny balls of sock yarn whilst quietly adding two huge cones of yarn to stash. Providing that I keep on weaving and don’t get diverted then there will still be more yarn leaving the house than coming in. The stash will be providing the teal for the third warp, it needs skeining, scouring, dyeing and drying and that’s why this is going to be the third blanket rather than the second. I’m not sure how much of those three cones I’ll need because I need to do some serious number crunching and having seen what a mess I made of warping I’m not convinced that I’m ready for warp calculations. I know there are online calculators but I’ve always done it old school, now might be the time to let someone else check my calculations.

I’ve finished another two pairs of striped socks, they look just the same as all the others which was the point really. This month I’ve bought two cones of yarn (2.25kg), made two pairs of socks (180g) and made a felt cover for the worms (150g). If I’d been quicker sorting out the many threading mistakes I made rather than ignoring them and hoping they’d go away then I might have been weighing in a blanket this month because I can see the knots on the back beam. There are a few days left in this month but seeing as I’m writing this now I declare August to be officially over. Net yarn gain for the month is 1.920g, making the total to date 3.88kg. ETA The sample is off the loom within the month and weighs 420g. Net gain for the month is 1.5kg, total to date 4.2kg.

I’ll catch it up in September providing that I don’t buy any more yarn. When you are buying a kilo at a time a single purchase makes a significant difference.

The calm before the storm

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Family, felting, Spinning, Stashbash, Weaving on August 9th, 2018

I have been busy but I’ve nearly caught up now except for the dusting. We went on holiday where I decided I’d rather sail a dinghy than a yacht because although I like the speed I also like my holidays with a good shower, headroom and no marine toilet. We came back from holiday to an incredible amount of tile dust and a shell of a bathroom (no toilet, marine or otherwise). I ran off to a knitting retreat leaving someone else in charge of the bathroom fitters, all meals and gardening. Everything has settled down again and now we are waiting for A level results after which there will be another flurry of activity as we get everything together for the teen to move into self catered halls. So far all I have bought is towels which is better than nothing I suppose.

Over the last couple of months there has been little knitting because it has been far too hot. This summer is being compared with the summer of 1976 which I remember very well. So far we’ve not had a hosepipe ban or a plague of ladybirds but it has been consistently very hot and very dry. The British summer is usually lukewarm with frequent rain so this is not at all what we are used to. On the plus side the grass has stopped growing, I think it may have stopped living but we’ll see what happens the next time that it rains. I have managed to keep spinning. This is just shy of a kilo of yarn for the weft of a doubleweave blanket. It could be the warp but I think it’s the weft, I need to sit down with a calculator and crunch some numbers to work out just how big a blanket I can make with 2kg of yarn. I’m aiming for “big enough” and if it isn’t then I’ll be looking round for some other yarn to add in as stripes.

This is the test piece for the doubleweave blanket. You can see the vertical colour changes as the bottom layer swaps with the top layer. You can see that one stripe started with red on the top and then switched to white on the top. No-one needs to be polite about this photo, this is the header and is unpicked/cut off at the end. It looks as if I’m nearly ready to go but I’m not because the friction brake is slipping. I’m assuming that dust is a lubricant and all I need to do is to wipe down the brake with some sort of a solvent so that it grips instead of slips. This is husband territory, he would have vanished into the garage, come back with a smelly cloth and sorted it for me. This time I am on my own. I should really disassemble the brake but seeing as the beam has the warp on it I’d rather not do that if I can get away with it. First I have to locate the appropriate smelly liquid and then see if I can clean it enough to get by, possibly with the aid of a toothbrush.

One of the touristy things on sale everywhere in Greece was olive oil soap. I didn’t bring any home because I know where I can buy it locally in great big blocks as it is sold for feltmakers. It did get me thinking about soap and how little I knew about it other than having covered saponification in chemistry. I now know more about it than I did before and know what a particular oil will add to a recipe in terms of lather, hardness, cleansing or conditioning. The bars on the right I’m using now as they were cold pour oven process, a heated phase at the end speeds the reaction so you don’t have to wait six weeks for the soap to cure. The ingredients for those came off the shelf at the local supermarket, you could eat it right up until the addition of the caustic soda. The bars on the left are at week two of curing, these are intended as shampoo bars but obviously I’m a way off testing that. They are coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and caster oil, it’s the caster oil that is the big thing in shampoo bars. It was an interesting diversion and as I still have a chunk of shea butter in the bottom of the fridge I will be making some more soap/lotion/hand cream. It has all the fun of cooking without the calories.

I used some of my new soap to make some felt, not a lot because I did the bulk of the felting in the washing machine. I needed a new cover for the wormery, the top layer that keeps it moist and dark. There is a plastic lid that goes over the whole thing but this is in effect a duvet to keep the worms happy while they get on with the important job of making compost. What I did was make a swiss roll of wool and bubble wrap, tie it up and run it through the washer. If I’d made a better job of tying the swiss roll together or had a single piece of bubble wrap rather than two I might have got away with it. One of the pieces of bubble wrap escaped, the wool folded back on itself resulting in one end that is very thick with the whole piece being a bit short. It’s fit for purpose, has cleared some wool from the floor and I quite like it even though now I wish I’d attempted to do something with the two colours rather than slap them together. I have some fleece that is not good for much so I will be doing this again but not until I’ve found a bigger sheet of bubblewrap. The worms seem to be happy on a cardboard and caffeine diet, the bulk of what they have is tea bags, coffee grounds, toilet roll middles and the odd eggshell and ripped up cardboard box. The bottom tray of the wormery is now full of black compost and the ghosts of tea bags, there is a small amount of plastic in the bag that does not compost. I am not yet annoyed enough to switch to leaf tea but I might be after I’ve picked hundreds of them out of the compost.

In June I sold 300g fibre, knitted one pair of blue/bright striped socks (90g), three pairs orange/brown socks (270g) making a total used of 660g. I did buy fibre and yarn in July, both are going into the blanket and half of the fibre is already dyed and spun. I knitted a pair of socks (90g), threw away 240g of fibre (I know, shock horror but it wouldn’t have felted and I didn’t like it) and bought 500g of yarn and 600g of fibre. It was a net gain for the month of 800g and a reduction to date of 5.8kg.

I should be packing

Posted by Caroline in Spinning, Weaving on July 6th, 2018

We are a household that has always packed for holidays on the morning that we leave. I don’t know why we do it that way, we just do. That means that it is not yet time to pack, it is time to make the lists of all the things that need to be packed and the last minute jobs that need to be done (empty the fridge, clean out the coffee machine). As I still feel responsible for the resident adult in training I have a list for him too. I’ve not yet hit peak stress levels but I’m well on the way.

That explains why I’m spinning, it is a nice quiet relaxing activity if it is going well, and it is. I have a pen and paper next to me on the table to jot down all the things that I still need to do before I lock the door behind us (empty tea pot and kitchen bin). I changed my mind about this project three bobbins in, I was going to ply these two braids (left) together and have 240g of yarn but the current plan is to ply them with something else that I haven’t dyed yet and use the resulting 500g of yarn as a contrast with four other braids that I had sitting around. It is working up to be a Grand Plan, nothing new there because I’m all about starting simple and then enhancing to ridiculous proportions. I’m not at all convinced at the moment about the two yarns working together and I might yet ditch the pink/grey combo altogether and dye something that works better with the brown/purple. I’ll work that out later. The sensible answer would be to sample and then I’d find out what the combination looked like before I worked my way through a kilo of fibre. I have the fibre, the dye and the time so the worse case scenario is that I end up spinning an extra 500g and end up with two projects rather than one, either way is a win.

The problem with this change of direction is that I’d filled three bobbins by the time I realised that it was going to be a while before I plied them. If I’d planned this properly I would have started with the fibre that I was going to be able to ply straight away rather than the one that I have to dye for. This is a new wheel and it only has four bobbins, additional ones are £26 for plastic, £35 for wood and seeing as the last time I bought a bobbin they were £12 I was finding that a bit hard to swallow. The solution involved five minutes with a pair of scissors and items that I already had. Ta da! I now have storage bobbins. The centre is a weaving bobbin (12 for £10 if you don’t already have them), the ends are board left from bookbinding and I used the bobbin winder to wind off from the spinning wheel bobbin. I could have made bigger end discs, they are the size of a mug seeing as that is what I drew around but larger circular objects are available. If you were buying weaving bobbins just for this purpose I’d go with the 6″ ones (10 for £14) but seeing as the 4″ ones are the ones that fit my boat shuttle that’s what I have. When I’m done I can remove the board ends and turn them back to their original purpose.

The Tailor sock hasn’t grown as much as I’d hoped, mostly because it has been too hot to be knitting. It is a long sock, seventy five pattern rounds until the heel and I’m on round 49 now. It shoots along after the heel because the colourwork knocks off and there is only one cable pattern rather than two. I will probably send it home for a fitting once I’ve turned the heel because it’s a lot of work for it not to fit.

While we are on holiday the main bathroom will vanish into a skip. The sink is cracked, hung so it doesn’t drain completely and has two different taps. The bath is chipped, has a tap that works when it feels like it and no-one but the dog has used it in the last twelve years. There’s nothing wrong with the toilet but it’s coming out anyway. We will return to a building site and then the new bathroom (power shower, no bath) will go in the following week. That would be the week where I have two days away and will be leaving the other resident adult in charge. When I booked my knitting retreat that was the only thing in the calendar, the holiday and bathroom project came along later. I’m sure it will all be fine….



Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Knitting, socks, Weaving on June 18th, 2018

I’ve not done any weaving in a very long time. The floor loom has been sitting gathering dust on a project that was going nowhere, I threaded it in July 2014 and wove seven inches before deciding that I hated it. The red and the black were fine but there was something wrong with the yellow and orange. Funnily enough the colours did not improve at all with the passage of time but it still took nearly four years to admit that this was a failure and pick up the scissors. I have a suspicion that I’m not going to like this piece of fabric either but that’s fine, it’s a sample and if I learn something from it then it will have done its job and it can leave home as a lap blanket. Planning it occupied my mind at a difficult time so even if it doesn’t make it to the finish line it will still not have been a waste. Also, it’s all leftover sock yarn so I’ve already had the value out of the original purchase. You may be able to tell from these justifications that I already think that it is a total write off and I haven’t got half of it threaded yet.

I knitted one pair of socks from the scrap bag that needed a bit of a stripe adjustment because I was running out of the brighter yarn on the second sock. No-one will notice that the teal stripe on the top sock is wider as it nears the toe, it’s less noticeable than it would be if the solid toe had started six rounds earlier. After that I got on a bit of a roll. Once upon a time I bought some lovely cashmere/superwash merino/silk sock yarn from a destash and before it arrived I bought two other similar sock yarns to go with it for my grand plan. When I received the very lovely yarn I found that it had been home to moths and by the time I finished with the skein I ended up with over a dozen small balls which rather took the shine off it. Enough time has passed now that I don’t feel bitter when I look at it and needless to say I can’t remember now what I intended to do with 300g of orange/red yarn. When I was tidying up and found the bag I looked at the small balls and thought”stripes”. Whenever I look like running out of brown yarn I rummage in the sock scrap bag for something to dye brown and set off again. I could be good for months with this, I was intending to knit round and round until I ran out of yarn but then something better came along.

This will not count in the reckoning of yarn in and out because this is foster knitting. This is the point at which I start knitting (oh dear, all those rows of rib I don’t have to do, how sad) and I can show you now what it will grow up to be because I’ve knitted it before. This is the start of a Nine Tailors sock kit, when I knitted it in 2010 I said that it was the most interesting thing that I had ever knitted and I think that is still the case. It has lace, beads, cables and fiendish colourwork. This time I am going to knit the colour chart the right way up and there will be twice as much of it as I’ll be following the pattern rather than making it shorter to accommodate my trouser bottoms.

I’ve held off posting this until Monday afternoon which was the last day of A levels in this house, exams are still going on depending on subject but we are done now. This is one ending that I’m glad to see, I want to turn the page and move on to the next chapter.



How was your day mum?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on September 30th, 2015

Thank you for asking sweetheart, my day was good. I did two loads of washing, dealt with the recycling (as I keep telling you, there is no recycling fairy), ironed a score of shirts, walked the dog, did some boring banking stuff, bought your father’s Christmas present, acted as your agent and booked you on a workshop, bought a length of shirt material and buttons to match, vacuumed the floors and baked a batch of bread. Then I went to my mother’s and devised a series of tests to determine which part of the wire-handset-mower combination was at fault, causing her robot mower to not mow. When I got back I decided to ignore the dusting for another day and instead played with wool and did some thinking.

I’m plodding along with this, it will in time be one of those looped scarves that ends in a V. It’s not exactly flying along and that’s because of the multiple colours in the weft. It’s all stop-start and I don’t like that. It is using up odd bits of yarn so it is a worthy thing and someone will like it when it’s done, possibly even me. Sitting with it gave me some valuable thinking time and as a result I’ve decided not to beat myself up about the lack of progress on the big grey blob of a sweater. There’s nothing about it that’s making me happy, the knitting is boring, the spinning is ok but not exactly exciting and combing is not right at the top of my list of favourite things. I will not freeze this winter if it isn’t finished so what does it matter if it isn’t? I would rather spend my time on something that make me happy and the grey sweater isn’t it. This time I will pack the pattern with the sweater when I put it back where I found it.

The knitting that is making me happy this week is the little sweater that I started last week. I can be certain this time that we are looking at the front here, you can see that the central black pattern is starting to divide. In about an inch there will be a few stitches cast off and a steek for the neck opening. I’ve not made a neck like this before and that is the single reason that I bought the pattern. I had a bit of a yarn crisis with this, I decided that I wanted a grey, black and olive colour scheme and then google assisted me with choosing the accent colours. Where it went wrong was that when I went to the sock yarn bag there was a marked absence of undyed yarn. I buy it a kilo at a time and although I assume that the bag will always be full it stands to reason that there will be times when it isn’t. There was just enough yarn to dye the grey and the olive and then I had to ditch my carefully planned colour scheme and look at what yarn I had. The blue is left over from baby Sirdal and the purple was sitting about from the neckwarmer that I ripped back last week. It’s not exactly what I had in mind but “good enough” will do. The blue and the purple look to be more uneven than the black/grey, it’s not my knitting but the wavy twice-knit wool

Now that I have recognised that grey Wensleydale is not a priority in the spinning queue it means I am free to spin some pretty things that I actually want to spin into yarn that I want to use. This is superwash Cheviot and if it behaves itself it is going to become a pair of socks or possibly mittens depending on how I’m feeling when I get that far. It’s hard wearing and washable but it’s not the softest of wools so that knocks it out of the running for baby wear. Before I start I need to decide whether it’s going to be one ball that transitions dark – light or two balls (ideally matching) that run dark – light or whether I mess about with it for something more random.


Countdown part two

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, Weaving, Wensleydale on September 23rd, 2014

THREE cushions. The cushion pads are 18″ square and the covers needed to be a bit smaller than that to make a plump rather than a flat cushion. There’s a difference between “a bit smaller” and “too small” and the width of the cloth put me very firmly in the “too small” camp. Had I started with a grand plan then the purple cushion would not have had the silk inkle trim but that was the one that I made first. I needed something to cover the join in the panels and I had a length of silk tape left from something else so that’s what I used. It would have been better if I had used the same purple wool trim that I used in the other two cushions, that would have tied the three together.  After I’d finished the first cushion cover I had to think about what I would do with the join on the second. There wasn’t enough of the silk inkle left but then I remembered the thin purple wool fabric in the top of my wardrobe. I’ve been surprised by the number of times that my son has worn the jacket that I transformed with dye but he didn’t want the trousers and after he wore them for the photo I put them away with the idea that I’d use the fabric for something. It made the ruffle in the second cushion and the tape that covers the seams in the third one, it’s fine enough to use with the smallest bias tape maker so I can see that the rest of it will find a use too. You’re not getting a close up picture because the checkerboard was sewn with child labour (they’re his cushions after all) and they’re best seen from a distance.

TWO big skeins of Wensleydale, the surprise here (to me at least) is that they are not the four ply I set out to make. Once I’d got my six bobbins full I made another sample of the four ply yarn and a three ply just to see what it looked like. I liked the three ply better. If it had been frosty then I might have leaned more towards a thick sweater but just now a medium weight one seems like a good idea. It doesn’t actually matter seeing as I didn’t have a pattern in mind, I can either find one that works with the yarn that I have or alter one that I like the look of. These haven’t had their beauty bath yet, I’ve been waiting for a fine day where I can hang them out to dry (which as you can see from the lighting might be today). There is 400g of yarn here so another two skeins should do it. I need to start up the comb-spin-ply cycle again.

ONE new project. I felt that I deserved a break from spinning grey so I turned the bright braid from the last post into bright yarn. This is another Ulina (the first one I made is here), it starts with a provisional cast on at the centre back and works outwards from there to the cuff. The wide black stripe was my insurance policy because at that point I wasn’t certain that I would have enough yarn to reach the cuff. I thought that if I added a wide stripe early on by choice then if I needed to add another to the sleeve from necessity it would look less obvious. When I was half way down the sleeve I weighed the remaining yarn, worked out how many rows were left in the ball and knew that I was in the clear. I didn’t even get as far as the purple in the ball.  I split the top into four and made two balls of two ply yarn so hopefully the second side will look similar to the first. I’ve learned my lesson with this one, I’m only putting three buttonholes on it rather than five so that I can use buttons that I already have. I’m also putting buttonholes on both fronts so that I can choose which set to use once I’m done (sewing on the button closes the hole that you don’t use so it’s not obvious that you were indecisive).

It’s a lovely sunny day here so it’s time to soak the Wensleydale and hang it to dry. Now I know what yarn I have I can start looking at patterns.


The wheel turns (TdF week two)

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, Weaving on July 18th, 2014

Well I’m still keeping up with the Tour De Fleece in that I’ve spun every day apart from rest day. I may not have spun for very long but I’ve added something to a bobbin every day. The pink is Southdown in “dyer’s mistake” which I like as yarn. The white is all there is of the Oxford Down. Last week there was a huge pile of it and I genuinely believed that there was at least 200g there. No, I didn’t go as far as to actually weigh it and yes, I do know that a pile of fluff is mostly air. When I started combing it last summer I pulled out the 4″ locks and I’ve continued cherry picking it on and off through the year. The result was that the remainder was barely long enough to comb and the waste was much higher than with the first batches. I’ve ended up with about 100g of three ply sock yarn which is good enough. As it turned out this was the last fleece in the garage, the other two bags in there turned out to contain combed top. I may have only got enough yarn for a pair of socks but the result is three bags out of the garage. That must mean that it’s time to buy another fleece…

As I anticipated, the first half of the threading took me a week and the second half took no time at all. I’m positive that I’ve been careful and threaded this perfectly with no mistakes but then I think that every time. It’s always such a disappointment to tie on and find out how wrong I was. That will be next week’s treat, I’ll have time to sort out the mistakes with the extra hour I’ll gain each morning. Next week I don’t have to make breakfast, hunt for missing items (this morning it was the bus pass that had gone walkabout) and check that junior has checked that he has everything ready for school. We haven’t quite broken up yet for the summer, school is open for another three days next week but junior is away on a residential music course for all five. I will miss him and I’m sure that the washing machine will pine for him too.

On my to do list this week was “repot bamboo”. This one is a thug and has to be contained or else it would run and take over my garden and my neighbour’s too. Every few years I take it out of the pot, hack it in half and put it back again. Last time I had to call in a husband with a saw, the pot had a fancy strip near the rim and the root had pushed out into the detailing and he had to cut the pot off to get it out. I can learn – this pot has a flat internal face and so I got the bamboo out without any trouble. I knew there were ants in the pot but I didn’t realise the extent to which they had taken over. It’s bad enough trying to cut the roots in half without having hordes of ants running up your limbs while you’re doing it. It’s raining now with more forecast for tomorrow and I’m hoping that will persuade them to move elsewhere.


TdF week 1

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, Weaving on July 10th, 2014

Last week I said that I was done with socks but clearly I’m not. The last pair have been finished, initialled with duplicate stitch and released into the wild and I started another pair just as soon as this yarn was dry.  I checked and the new ones aren’t the ones that are in the dog basket (don’t ask me why there were socks in the dog basket, I was just pleased that they were a pair) so they could be anywhere. The new ones will be husband socks, he doesn’t have to wear uniform quite as often as the school child so can have colour all the way to the cuff. I usually avoid white in socks because I find that it picks up stray colour in the wash and over time turns to a murky grey but if I need to I can always dye them at some point in the future. I still believe that all colour challenges can be solved with either navy, red or brown dye and with this pair the cure would be navy.

This is my Tour de Fleece spinning for days one to five, it’s pretty underwhelming but although I undertook to spin every day I never said how long for. This is Southdown, probably, and it is a shop reject because I intended it to be a more interesting range of colours. The Tour related project that I have put most time into was the weaving because I added yards to that during Le Tour de Yorkshire. I can’t remember the last time I watched so much television in one day and then I did it all again the next day too. It was a five yard warp, I’ve not measured the final length but I’m certain that there will be enough for whatever I want to do with it. It’s turned a bag full of random handspun into something I can work with although it’s not at all what I set out to make because the bag of random handspun really needed to be twice the size.

Progress here is measured in inches rather than yards, I know from experience that I drag myself across the first half of the warp and then the second half zips along. Threading is not difficult, it doesn’t take as long as I think it does but I find it to be so monumentally boring that I want to run away just as soon as I’ve started. I have started, that’s something at least, but I’m not promising that it will be finished before the next time I post. I can always find something else that needs to be done, even the ironing is more interesting than threading the loom. My target is two inches a day, every day which is nothing at all really but just as much as I can stand.

One of those other things that needs to be done is combing the bag of fleece that I took out of the garage. This is my next TdF spinning project, it’s Oxford Down and I promised a pair of socks out of it. I’m not sure how much there is left but there’s certainly enough for a pair of socks, possibly even three pairs. I’m going to comb until the bag is empty, spin enough for one pair of socks and then take a decision on the rest. Whatever I do with it only the empty bag will be going back into the garage.

Next week is the last week of school and then after that it will be my annual wool week. This year is even more exciting because it’s not going to be wool week but wool fortnight. The first week I’ll be excused from all parenting duties as the child is going away and the second week I’ll be excused all meals because both males will be out of the house for twelve hours a day. Will I have enough wool to see me through?  Watch this space.


I’m fresh out of normal

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, socks, Weaving on July 1st, 2014

It would be tempting fate to say that things are back to normal this week, that would be begging for something weird and wonderful to happen. There are only three weeks of “normal” left before the school holidays start so it would be good to have everything dusted and polished before the long slide into summer chaos. Last week was a busy week, the husband was off work so we caught up on all those jobs that need two sets of hands but can’t be accomplished with conscripted child labour. The home office is finished, the carpet taken up, new flooring put down, new blind at the window, trim to the floor – it’s really finished as opposed to our usual nearly finished (I am ignoring the dangling alarm sensor for very valid and earsplitting reasons). It does look more like a woodland retreat than it did before, the mural paper turned out to be cheaper than the paper on the other walls and I’ve put it up so that it can be removed without wrecking the adjoining walls. If in a few years he’d prefer a sea view then we can paste that up instead. We cut off Christmas tree lengths from the top of the hedge and had two runs to the tip household recycling centre. I’d love to see a recycling project involving conifer, pink foam backed carpet and laminate offcuts but don’t think that is ever likely to happen.

This week everyone is back at school/work and I am just about caught up with the washing that I didn’t have time for last week. This is good because I have things to catch up with on the fibre front. The gap on the loom is waiting for me to plan a contrast stripe. I’d originally thought that the whole warp would be solid red but a dig in the cotton box revealed that I had nowhere near enough red but quite a lot of orange. The current plan is for a red and yellow (lime? black?) stripe and a black weft. It needs a bit of planning now so that the pattern is balanced across the full width and the contrast starts at the right point in the pattern. This is rather more planning than I usually do so I’m in foreign territory. I’ve been avoiding it for a couple of days but it’s not going to work itself out, I either have to do some number crunching or accept that the pattern falls as it will.

This is old ground, this is my third pair of socks out of this ball of orange yarn. I think I’m done with socks for a while now, it might be time for some lace. They don’t match but I accepted that they wouldn’t match at the outset when I started knitting from both ends of the ball. This is not a problem seeing as it’s not unusual for him to be wearing one green and one red sock. As long as he keeps his shoes on they are a pair, he doesn’t care and I’m trying not to.

That’s all I have time for today, there’s floors to clean, grass to be cut and I still have a zip to put in a cardigan. The fun just never stops..


Plodding along

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters, Weaving on June 15th, 2014

This has not been one of my better weeks. I have weeks where I fly through my to do list and then others where I don’t seem to accomplish anything at all. Last week was definitely one of the latter. I abandoned the last box bag after I’d done the hard work of sandwiching together the zip and both layers of fabric. I’ll finish that one when I pull out the next length of fabric and start on the next set of not-box bags. I will then be muttering about the inefficiency of working with two colours of thread and wishing I’d done all the turquoise things at the same time. I’m surprised that I managed to get as far as ten bags before being bored with the shape, I didn’t think that I had as much staying power as that.

I managed to sort out the warp where I ran out of yarn. The lack of focus in the photo is down to me having one hand for the camera with the other one fending off the dog who seemed determined to have his toy in this photo. This was originally planned to be a 16″ wide twill sett at 16 epi but my plan didn’t take any account of the yarn that I had and I ran out half way through winding the warp. What can I say, I started with a big pile of yarn and I thought that there would be that magical quantity of “enough”. I thought about it for a while, rummaged through the boxes of yarn for some other candidates and changed tack. It’s now 16″ wide, plain weave, 12 epi and on the rigid heddle loom. At some point I may encounter a new challenge, this was planned for the floor loom and it’s a five yard warp. I can report that you can get a five yard warp onto the back beam of an Ashford rigid heddle loom, whether you can get that amount of fabric onto the front beam remains to be seen. It’s no big deal, I’ll weave until I can wind no more on and then I’ll look the scissors out.

Mr Fluffy helped me to warp it one morning, you can see that he is carefully holding down that piece of paper for me. How do I manage without him? The warp is going from the back of the photo and doubling around the long wooden stretcher under the settee so that I can tension it and inch the loom forward as I wind on. In the afternoon, tired from all that helping, he had a little snooze on the window sill, rolled over, fell off and landed on an instrument case. He managed to rip a claw which needed two trips to the vet and anaesthesia. He’s all mended now but he has learned nothing from his experience because that’s still his favourite snoozing spot.

Even the plain Jane socks tripped me up. I’d grafted the toe on one and was about to start the second when I noticed that it was an inch longer than the first. It was exactly ten rounds longer so it was obviously a counting error but of course I didn’t know whether the first one was too short or the second one too long until the matching feet came home from school. These are the prototype new and improved bigger socks, I only gave him an extra four stitches around because I can’t believe that his feet are really this big. I’m dealing with the recent outbreak of sock hijacking by labelling all future socks, I might go through the older pairs (and I’m using the word “pair” very loosely here) and mark those up too. As he has two out of three initials in common with his father I’ve settled for using the one that is different although they could also stand for “junior”.

The sweater sleeves turned out to be about the right length, I think they are fractionally too long but they are close enough to do. I managed to avoid obvious joins in the yarn right up to the last ball. It wasn’t so much that the colour was darker but there were no light flashes in the last ball of yarn so it is more solid. I decided to live with it because the alternative was to pull back four inches of both fronts and the back to have enough yarn to alternate rows all the way to the end . I felt better about it after seeing the recent Knitty, I will just take photos under a tree and let the dappled light hide the colour jump seeing as that’s what the professionals do. I’m picking up for the collar now, the zip is on order so it’s nearly done.

It was Whit Friday this week which is probably of no significance unless you live in Tameside or Saddleworth or play in a brass band.  In an attempt to be educational I’ve found you a video (here), I know without looking that I have no family lurking in the background (as much as you can lurk whilst playing a brass instrument) because they didn’t get to Delph until after dark. Can you imagine seeing one band every six minutes for eight and a half hours? I am glad that the classic Monday morning school exercise of “what I did at the weekend” is long gone because it would no doubt result in an eyebrows-into-the-hairline moment.