Purple suit wrap up

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, sewing, socks, Weaving on April 22nd, 2014

The worst part of the whole business was pressing the jacket – it was such an educational experience that I started looking for local tailors in the Yellow Pages because I would have happily paid someone to do it for me. I watched a professional do it on Youtube and then set to with a tailor’s ham and a sleeve board. It would have been more straightforward if I had a wider ironing board, I got on much better once I’d put a chair behind it to stop the jacket making a break for freedom. Tacking it all together was a good thing to have done, it would have been even better had I run a line of stitching around the cuffs and hems of the jacket because I had to rediscover the edge of those. It would benefit from better pressing and I will show it the iron again once I’ve forgotten what a performance I made of it the first time. Badly pressed or not, it’s a lovely colour.

The buttons were also educational, my new word for this week is “ligne”. That’s how buttons are traditionally measured and the ones I took off the jacket were 24 ligne on the cuffs and 32 ligne on the body (also known as 15mm and 20mm). In keeping with the theme of cheap and cheerful I bought a mixed bag of ten of each size on Ebay for £4 including postage so the jacket has cost £15, a teaspoon of dye, two tablespoons of citric acid and lots of hot water. He’s pleased with it and more surprisingly (because my standards are much higher) so am I. It’s very evenly coloured and I made a much better job of dyeing it than I thought I would.

I released another pair of school socks into the wild last week. As usual they didn’t hang around long enough to be photographed, this morning I tracked them down to the laundry basket. Of course I would prefer to be showing a shot of a pair of clean socks but at least they are currently still a pair so I’ll work with what I have. The knock on from knitting the longer cuff and starting the colour before I’d finished the gusset decreases was that I ran out of the patterned yarn before I started the toe. Fortunately I still had some bright yarn that I hadn’t out away yet and that lasted to the toe with about a yard left over. That means that I’ve used up two small balls of yarn rather than one so it’s a win.

This is all that I have left from the fabric that started life in this post. At some point I’ll use up all the scraps in a patchwork something, at the moment I’m sticking them all in a bag. I’m not sticking them in this bag of course, that’s the one I’ve just made. With this I started with the fabric that I had leftover, I couldn’t work back from the bag that I thought I wanted because I didn’t have enough fabric to have any choice as to size. It might not have helped me much because I’m no good at visualising sizes, I can wave my hands around as much as I like but I still can’t what the finished thing will look like until I have it in my hands. It’s a perfectly proportioned spindle bag with room for at least four ounces of fibre but I’d rather be making sock project bags. Now that I have one in front of me I can see what I need to change to get the sock bag that I want. I can see that future bags want to be a bit deeper and wider but not as long with a narrower handle and no interfacing in the lining. I knew the lining didn’t want to be stiff but no, I had to follow the tutorial. Bag two will be a variation on a theme and hopefully next time I’ll get the zip in to my satisfaction.


Where did I put that?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks, sweaters, Weaving on February 3rd, 2014

Somewhere in the house is a clear plastic bag with a dozen magnetic bag fasteners in it. I’ve always kept them with the buttons but recently I took them out to show them to someone and then decided that the button tin was a silly place to keep them and it would be much more sensible to put them …. well that’s the problem isn’t it? When I find my new and improved hiding storage place I’ll be able to really finish this laptop bag (click on the photos for larger ones). This is a replacement for the one that I made nearly four years ago, I’ve been promising to make another ever since the husband got a new and smaller Mac but it became more urgent after I set fire to the old case. That sounds extreme and it was. I caught it before it got as far as flames but it was headed that way, the wool layer had altogether scorched away and the cotton batting was toasty and brown. Wool doesn’t burn but cotton certainly  does. I didn’t mean to set it on fire, I was using the case to stop the floor lamp from singing in sympathy throughout my son’s music practise and I forgot about it then turned the light on. The smell should have been a giveaway but it took time to eliminate the dog as the source. I’m not likely to make the same mistake again but, just in case, this one is wool all the way thorough, instead of a layer of cotton batting on the inside I used a second layer of the wool fabric.

There’s less knitting than there should be because I’ve got new contact lenses and they are next to useless so I’m spending three hours a day with poor vision. I’ve been waiting for my sight to magically resolve but I am now suspecting that the lenses don’t fit and that I’ve been torturing myself unnecessarily. When I’ve been able to see I’ve been knitting the blue and white tube. My unbounded love for it faded a little when I got to the neck shaping because knitting in rows with one row colour changes makes for far too many ends. It would have been nice if I could have avoided it by knitting/purling from the other end of the circular needle but the need to cast off at the neck edge meant that was a non starter. Grumble, mutter. At the same time as I was grumbling through the one row colour changes at the neck edge I also had – surprise – one row colour changes at the sleeve cuff. I cheated on the cuff in an attempt to reduce the number of ends and with any luck I’ll managed to repeat in on the second one. If I knit this again I’ll try to stagger the grumbling sections because at that point there was no fun to be had in the knitting bag (yes, I have socks on the side, they are plain black, point made). There is a left and a right sleeve because after I’ve sorted out all those ends there will be a dinky little cuff that fastens with a button.

(ETA I was right, the contact lenses didn’t fit so it’s back to glasses for now)

Catching up

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Weaving on January 9th, 2014

Happy New Year to one and all. I usually start a blog post by looking at the camera card because the photos serve as a reminder of what I’ve been up to. I can’t do that today because the camera spent all of Christmas sulking in a corner muttering about its card being full. This means there are no photos of the mini bagels (yes, I remembered the salt the second time), the mini pork pies or the second pair of socks that I finished in time to go under the tree. The third pair of socks managed to work their way into service before I got the camera sorted out but the fourth pair are still in pristine condition. I used exactly 25g of a ball of black, the rest of the yarns are leftovers from other socks.

I still haven’t blocked the baby jacket and cowl, my blocking surface has been full of freshly laundered sweaters so that will have to wait another week. My big job this week was sorting the loom out, I wound this warp in October which is so long ago that I was bored with it before I started. The big delay was down to ordering then fixing the sectional rakes on the loom and then of course the tree went up and everything stopped for Christmas. All my threading errors are on the left hand side so I can only assume that I got giddy when I passed the half way mark and carried on past the time when I could actually see. The woven part that you can see here has now gone, there was so much wrong with it that it was easier to cut it out and start again. I started off wondering why it was that the pattern wasn’t emerging, it turned out that I’d changed my mind about what I was going to weave so what was in my mind wasn’t what I’d threaded but in addition I’d written the treadling down wrong. When I got the pattern established I managed to ignore the odd looking sections by telling myself that they were reed marks and they’d wash out. This would have been more convincing if I hadn’t had some ends left over after I’d finished threading. That strongly suggests that somewhere along the line I’d missed a heddle or four and when I looked closer in better light I could see that my “reed marks” were never going to wash out. It’s all fixed now which means I can get to planning the next piece.

This is the other major call on my time, a minute here, a couple of pieces there, it all adds up. Looking back it was unbelievably optimistic of me to think that we would finish this in the time between Christmas and New Year. We don’t usually tackle a jigsaw with this many pieces and it just about fills the breakfast bar which means that it’s tricky to see the pieces because you have nowhere to put them. I think we’re over half way there now and I’m at the stage where every time I look at it I see a piece and recognise exactly where it needs to go. Earlier in the week I did suggest that what we needed most was a jigsaw hammer but I think we will get it finished without that.

I have new knitting and I maybe need to tell you about setting my husband’s laptop case on fire (that’s a slight exaggeration because we all know that wool doesn’t burn but I’d scorched through to the cotton batting before I caught it so flames were on the menu). That will have to wait for another day as I the light has already started to dim and I have some close work to do. I deleted the next several hundred words moaning about the short days and the gloomy grey light because I could be dealing with a flooded house in poor light so my inability to see to thread a needle doesn’t really warrant a moan.




Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Weaving on November 28th, 2013

I was trying to work out how it is that I’ve been knitting these gloves for a week without them being finished yet and then I realised that although I’ve been knitting gloves for all of that time they’ve not all been these particular gloves. Last week I needed some round and round knitting to take my mind off things, I decided on gloves because my hands are cold in the mornings, found some suitable yarn (Apple Laine Apple Pie in Godiva) and needles and cast on. That is of course where it all went wrong because scarves and dish clothes are more suited to thoughtless knitting than gloves are. Scarves can be just about any size but gloves need to be sized to fit the hand that wears them. I knitted 3″ of cuff before accepting that the glove was going to be way too big and I ripped it back. I cast on again with fewer stitches but still no consideration as to tension and hand size so it wasn’t that surprising that when I tried on version two it was still somewhat generous in size. Some knitters may have concluded that it was too big but I convinced myself that it was nothing that a bowl of hot water wouldn’t cure so I could keep on knitting. The next morning I started the second glove because again I needed a distraction although I didn’t get very far because I was sitting in the car and my hands were so cold that I couldn’t hold the needles. When I came to start the fingers I was passed the stage of needing soothing knitting and I had plenty of time to think so I took a note of what my stitches per inch actually was, measured my hand, ripped both gloves out and started for the third time. I regret nothing.

These are the keepers, I’ve lost track of how many fingers I’ve knitted but it’s several more than there are now, I’ve shortened some, narrowed others and generally fiddled with them in an attempt to create the perfect dog walking glove. I am currently short of a pinkie and two thumbs so they should be finished for tomorrow morning’s walk. They never will be perfect – dog walking gloves should not be leaf coloured so that you have a fighting chance of finding one if you drop it. I’ve been knitting these now for long enough that I’ll settle for them being finished rather than perfect. It is time to move on.

I had a few hiccups with this warp. I wound it back in October and fortunately made a full page of notes that told me how many ends I needed, how many I’d wound in each bout and what I intended to do with it. I’ve had too much on my mind to think about weaving so the wound warp has been sitting in a bag until the magic time of “after Thursday”. When I came to get it out I found that somehow I had only half of the number of ends that I needed. That’s a big mistake, even for me, and I couldn’t work out what was wrong. It came to me eventually that I’d wound the warp with a cross at both ends intending to cut it in half but I’d packed it away without cutting it. By the time I’d worked this out I’d come up with plan B which was a different design altogether and worked better with the narrower fabric that I thought I’d be making. I’m quite sad to see plan B go so that might be coming up next. This is a four yard warp, it should fly once I get moving on it but at the moment it is having to compete with the backlog of other things that also have been waiting until “after Thursday”. It’s time will come but at my current rate of threading that won’t be much before this time next week. I will confess that this is the prettiest shot I could find, the other side is a mess of masking tape that’s keeping all the ends in order.


Learning all the time

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Weaving on October 7th, 2013

My brain hurts. It’s been decades since I last sewed a garment so this is more of a challenge than it should be. I’m of an age to have been taught sewing at school, proper sewing involving tailor tacks and darts rather than “textiles” which from a display I saw recently seems to focus more on creativity than skills. My school projects included a nightdress with a yoke and ruffles and a trouser suit that was so successful that I wore it as school uniform. That was a long time ago and it’s fair to say that I’ve forgotten everything that I ever knew. That’s not quite true, attaching the yoke did seem vaguely familiar, I couldn’t work out what should be pinned to what until I’d done it and then I knew I’d done it before. I’m starting with the assumption that I’m going to make a mess of this shirt so this is officially the learning piece, made from a sheet to test the fit and my ability to make a stand collar. I’m being easy on myself and making it short sleeved so I can avoid making cuffs because I think I’ve got enough challenges to start with. I have a post it note on the pattern with a list of the things I should do differently next time although I didn’t write “avoid fusing interfacing to the iron” because that is a lesson I will have no trouble remembering for years to come. The thing that worries me most is the buttonholes, I may have to get my fancy pants (but touchy) machine from the bottom of the wardrobe and beg it to stay on task for long enough to sew the buttonholes.

I have some other learning to do, I recently turned Poppy the wheel into a sectional beam for my loom. It was the right thing to do, her new owner spun more on her in the first week than I did in the six years that I owned her. This is why the loom has been sitting idle, it’s been waiting for this enlarged toast rack to go on the back beam. I’ve been dithering over this purchase for months and what made my mind up was falling across a cheap tension box. I bought the tension box, sold the wheel and bought the sectional rakes and then looked at them for a month. They are now on the loom so I have to give some thought to what I want to make next and then leap in with a new way of warping. It also means that I can get rid of the pile of paper that slithers all over the floor whenever I so much as look at it, I don’t need it for packing the warp so it is officially a mess and can all go in the recycling.

After putting it off for two weeks I sat down with a pen and paper and worked out what I should be doing with the neck of this baby jacket and then wrote it down. Having been bitten by this several times recently I didn’t write it on the back of an envelope or a shopping list but on the bottom of the knitting pattern that I’m adapting. Hopefully when I come to do the second side I won’t have to work it out all over again after an extensive search for the scrap of paper that I’ve thrown away as rubbish. I had no option but to buckle down and work it out because the more interesting knit has now reached the final few rows. After tonight this will be my only knitting project so it has to be in a ready to knit state.

Please excuse the short post, I have to go and hammer the rest of that shirt together.


Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters, Weaving on September 29th, 2013

The blog has graciously consented to reverting to photos that enlarge when you click them so feel free to enbiggen to your heart’s content. Today’s post is brought to you by way of a bunch of seemingly random numbers.

Three is the number of bags I got out of the length of fabric (it was a four yard warp). There is a bit of fabric left over that will come in for something at some time but for now it’s going back in the box. I couldn’t bring myself to make two bags the same so I added a contrast trim and some buttons to the third which had the same lining as the second. They are intended to be bags for socks in progress and they are a nice size for that. I like them, they aren’t perfect but I’m still learning. I tried to improve on the first handle which finished beautifully but was a pig to turn and got two handles that turned easily but the seam allowances fought with the pressing of the edges and as a result the contrast edging isn’t as even as I would have liked.

I have released two more socks into the wild. I have no idea where the pokey end has come from, that will be sorted with scissors as soon as I reclaim them for the wash. This is  a 50g ball of black sock yarn and the leftovers from a skein of Lorna’s Laces Jungle Stripe, it also made a pair of Fiesta Feet in preblog times, a pair of stashbuster spiral socks for my husband and a phone cosy. I had to finish the second of the pair by missing out one of the plain rounds in the toe shaping because otherwise there wouldn’t have been enough to graft the toes closed. That’s one ball of yarn that won’t be going back into the scrap bag.

The baby jacket that I was knitting last time reached the neck just as I needed something to take with me for my Saturday morning tea-drinking music school attendance. I’m making the pattern up and I hadn’t worked out exactly what should happen when I divided for the neck so I needed something else to knit. That means I now have one more baby jacket on the needles and yes, it’s the side to side DROPS one again.  This is the third one of these I’ve knitted, I am unrepentant because they are fun and use up sock scraps and anyway, I sold the other two so they don’t count. Needless to say the project that only needs a few minutes thought and a calculator to sort it out is now stuck in a bag and will probably stay there until the newness fades from this.


The number series could also read 3-2-1-28 because although there are seven buttons on this cardigan there are an extra twenty one in the button tin. I bought two sets of buttons and decided both were unsuitable then my mother bought two sets as well. We could discuss whether this is still the same cardigan as the original Sirdar one, I think that it is even though it’s knitted at a different tension with different yarn and I changed the length, the neck, blended two sizes and added waist shaping. It still looks the same because of the lace panels running up the fronts. I knitted it in JC Rennie supersoft lambswool, I bought it for weaving but it’s lovely to knit as well. It is very fine for knitting and for adult garments it makes for a lot of work. Had this been long sleeved I might have stuck it in a bag and denied its existence rather than face yet more plain stockinette. I think I’ll stick with using it for weaving in future.


Zipper win, button fail

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on September 24th, 2013

I’m always in love with the most recent thing I’ve made, right up until the moment when I make something else. This is my favourite bag design, for today at least. Like the last zipped bag I made, it all went together very well so perhaps zips aren’t as difficult as I thought they were. That’s one explanation, the other is that I got lucky twice. These will be for sale when I’ve made a few more and am less attached to the first ones. They are a good size for a sock in progress, I know this because I put my current socks in there to check and the handle is just long enough to put over your shoulder if you’re loaded down with other bags. I thought the raspberry and orange fabric was perfect for the lining, I had to cut the bag to fit the lining as there was so little of it. There is now even less of it and it is officially a “scrap”.

I’ve been doing a bit of spinning and dyeing too, all in the name of tidying up. I’ve been working my way through the bags that have been littering the spare bedroom floor and I came across one that held an oddment of orange and white superwash bfl fibre. It had been sidelined because I didn’t like the colour but things look different when spun so I tidied it by spinning it. It still didn’t grab me (neither did the sock yarn that’s sitting with it) so it had a hot bath in some dye and now I like it much better. The bag on the bedroom floor is now a ball of yarn in the drawer – tidy.

The cardigan is sidelined for the moment. It is finished but the buttons I bought for it weren’t right. That’s the second set I’ve bought that were just all wrong once I got them home so I’ve given up on it and handed it over to my mother. She’s the one that will be wearing it after all and she has access to different shops so hopefully will be able to find an acceptable set of buttons. It’s the right time of year for wool now, the geese are flying and it’s turning cool so I had no trouble finding some knitting to replace it. I’m into the foot of two socks and I trawled through the bag of leftover sock yarn for something to make into a baby jacket. It’s a bit bland and I wish now that I’d thrown some of these yarns in the dye bath too but that would have meant waiting for them to dry and I needed knitting NOW. I have another two bags of scraps set aside so in the absence of a must knit pattern drifting across my view it looks like I have a period of scrap reduction knitting ahead.

Out and about

Posted by Caroline in Family, Weaving on September 15th, 2013

I didn’t put the sewing machine away when I finished the bunting because I knew that I’d be needing it again straight away. Dan is now playing with a group that needs its players to bring their own music stand so now it gets to leave the house occasionally after years of living under the settee. Neither of us realised that it was going to be so difficult to carry, the top section has a tendency to flop about and poke people in the legs. When he got back at the beginning of August I said that I’d make him a bag for it before he needed to carry it anywhere again. I’ve spent the summer thinking about a doubleweave pick up creation with a musical motif but realised that this was silly for two reasons, firstly because there are only three days where it needs to be carried and secondly that at some point he’ll want a more serious looking (=black) stand rather than the bright red one that was the best choice for a seven year old. There was the other consideration that he needed it for Saturday and I didn’t start cutting out until Thursday.

He would have managed with a plastic bag and an elastic band but where’s the fun in that? The fabric was the result of some selvedge and speed experiments back when I first got the floor loom. My beaming wasn’t as good as it could have been and that made a fabric that looked like a scarf but had more skips in it than I fancied fixing. It was the right width to make the bag and I have about 8″ of fabric left from the length, enough for a pocket on something. This is the first bag I’ve made with a zip, it was straightforward enough although I’d have made a better job of it if I’d have taken the time to find the zipper foot for the machine. I think there may be a run of zippered bags coming up soon now I’ve worked out what I’m doing.

The result was fit for purpose, you can see that the stand was under control and had no opportunity to flail around and he had a free hand for opening doors. I learned about inserting zips into lined bags and got rid of a substandard scarf so all in all it was a total win. I need to buy a few zips, find the zipper foot and then see what fabric I have that is waiting to become bags. I also need to sew the sleeves into the cardigan body, zips are much more exciting than sewing up.

Single and double

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Family, Knitting, sweaters, Weaving on August 7th, 2013

The weather has cooled off to the extent that I can think about touching wool again and so I’ve been back to knitting and weaving. I’ve now finished the back and both sleeves, not as big a job as you might think because it’s a short sleeved cardigan and I think I had to knit less than four inches before I started decreasing. I had planned to knit both fronts at the same time because it would make keeping track of the waist shaping much easier but I thought it would be sensible to start with just one front until I’d got the hang of the pattern panel. The pattern is mirrored on the other front and I thought it might be asking too much of my overheated brain to start off knitting both. I’m struggling because the pattern is written rather than charted, I did think of looking for the graph paper but the stitch count changes and it was too hot to think about graphing anything with “no stitch” squares. I would like to say that I’ve now got the pattern nailed but that’s not yet the case.

This might look like a rug but it’s really a sample. I once bought two kilos of yarn on ebay that was poorly photographed and poorly described. Not surprisingly there was only me that was interested in buying it and I bought it for not much more than the cost of the postage. It is very rough and definitely came from a carpet sheep but that’s fine because every sheep has a purpose. This is my doubleweave experiment, the rug is about 29″ wide which is just a bit wider than my loom. I wanted to see whether I could weave two joined layers without making a total hash of it and whether I ended up with a very obvious fold line.

The first piece of good news was that I managed to not join one side of the V to the other except at the edge so it did unfold into one wide piece as it was supposed to. You can see in this photo that the fold was much more visible as the piece came off the loom and I did wonder whether the magic of wet finishing would work this time. Now that it’s been washed and dried it looks much better, the fold is running along the line of the knitting needle in the first photo and I can see it but I doubt that a man on a galloping horse would. I have enough wool left to make two more this size and sooner or later that’s what I’ll do with it, something in orange, ochre, dark brown and navy would look better under the dog because then I’d be able to see him.

My last post ended with my son being away from home for a week – it all went well, he came home with all the clothes he went with and he had a great time. The only thing that he was missing turned out to be a tennis racquet and to be honest that was never going to feature on my packing list for a music course even if he did actually own one.


Four years is long enough

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters, Weaving on June 11th, 2013

I was hoping to be able to show you a pointy hood to contrast it with the rounded one from last time but I’ve knitted and knitted and I’m still not there yet. This started as a big slab of garter stitch, knit 120, turn, knit 120 and that was as exciting as it got all the way up to the armholes. Thinking about it, that’s wrong – it was slip 1, knit 119 so marginally more entertaining if you think a slipped stitch is racy. I guessed at the sizing thinking that at five stitches to the inch it would be a 24″ chest or at six stitches to the inch a 20″ chest and I planned on working out the actual tension once it was big enough to measure from the piece. What I have here is another Tomten, enough time has passed since I knitted the last one for me to have forgetten how bored I was with that by the time I got onto the sleeves. I looked at my blog entries and I can read that I was bored but I don’t remember how that felt so I know that it’s been long enough for my feelings for the first one not to affect this one. The yarn is from the sack of acrylic that turned up on my doorstep, I like this one more than the pink because you might be able to see that it’s not quite solid. I was so confident that I had enough yarn that I knitted the hood first and this might yet prove to be a mistake. I’ll knit both sleeves at the same time and add stripes if I need them. I can graft in garter, there’s always the option of going back and adding a stripe to the body if I need to.

I don’t know why this warp is plodding rather than flying, it might mean that I’m getting to the end of this weaving phase and it’s moving round to spinning time or it could simply be that I’ve been spending all my odd minutes on knit 120, turn, knit 120. When a project isn’t moving it usually means that deep down I think there’s something wrong with it but with this I can’t think what that could be. Whatever the reason I’ve not woven two yards yet whereas with the last few warps I’ve woven the five yards off inside a week.

I know that a bucket of fleece doesn’t look that exciting but this is a good breed to be crossing off my list. This is one of the rare breeds that’s difficult to get hold of, it’s number one on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watchlist and as they used to say on tv “not available in the shops”. This is a bucket of Boreray and although it seems like overkill to buy a whole fleece to get the 20g sample that I wanted I’m pretty sure that I’ll have no trouble in getting rid of the rest of it. The very observant reader may have noticed that there is a decorative droplet effect around the rim of the bucket and the visible stonework looks as if it may be wet. Yet again I’ve looked at the weather forecast, confidently set my fleece to soak and then seen the sunshine been replaced by rain. I might have to dry it on a towel on the bedroom floor if the weather continues to not co-operate but seeing as the husband is in Paris all week that isn’t a problem. I have no issues with my bedroom smelling like a wet sheep, especially is it’s a rare wet sheep of a breed that I don’t already have.