Posted by caroline in Dyeing, Knitting on May 29th, 2012
This is Captain Jack Gibbon, master of the Black Banana. That’s as far as I got with his bio before passing that job over to the junior team because my role on this production is that of knitter, not writer. He is sporting a tricorn hat in aran bfl from the leftover pile, slightly fulled as it came out too big, with trim from the bag of sock leftovers. His jacket is handspun Hebridean (all the best sailors are wearing it this season), the naturally black fleece had sunbaked tips and I dyed the yarn green just to see what happened. I had imagined that I’d weave with it but as it turned out when held double it was just the job for a seafarer’s jacket and also an eye patch. He has a hint of a lace cuffed shirt under the jacket, I was also going to make a lace cravat but he didn’t need it and I’d had enough by then. I did originally imagine him with a cutlass but when it came down to it I couldn’t think of a way to make it work in wool so I ditched that too.
Why am I messing around with sock monkeys? It was an idea for a fund raiser for the charity that my son’s school is supporting, normal sock monkeys are fine at the pocket money level but dressed ones potentially raise more money. I started with the intention of knitting a hat and a scarf but for some reason I decided to make a three cornered hat and then one thing led to another. It remains to be seen whether Captain Jack will sell, I hope he does because I have ideas for Robin Hood, an athlete, Ludwig Van Beetgibbon and a ballet dancer. According to his bio he is not a pirate at all but a merchant sailor so he probably didn’t need the cutlass anyway. His favourite colour is
blood red purple and his hobbies are looting and pillaging stamp collecting and embroidery. I knew it was a good idea getting the junior team to do the bio (which also happens to have the care instructions and composition on the back). The senior team (aka my mother) is in charge of stuffing and assembly so I just get the fun bit of knitting.
My more serious knitting was another sample of the brown and orange combo that’s plaguing me at the moment. I drew another little picture and as that didn’t get it out of my system I cast on for a miniature version. I still can’t say whether I’m cured or smitten, only time and sleeves will tell. I’ve got a pair of socks somewhere but they’ve been thrown aside in my pursuit of the brown and orange. The hem may be coming off, I should have started with a provisional cast on because I couldn’t decide what it was I really wanted. At least now I have a clearer idea of what I don’t want.
I was certainly smitten with these, especially after I’d worked out how much wool went happily in a box. The first set I made was somewhat of a box-buster, after that one I got the hang of portion control. It was the week when the handle on the carder went round and round, all day long (yes, just like the wheels on the bus).
Posted by caroline in doubleweave, hats, Knitting, Stashbash, Weaving on May 23rd, 2012
I live with two musicians, it should be no surprise that I pick something up along the way. It’s nice that there is a phrase for when you’ve got to the end and then go back and start the whole thing again because that is exactly what I’ll be doing here. This is the first of the piano keyboards, sett at 12 epi and intended for a scarf. It finished at 78″ long, I’d estimated that it would be 79″ so I got that bang on target. The yarn is JC Rennie 2/11.3nm, it comes in big cones, oiled for machine knitters. I’ve picked up quite a few cones cheaply on Ebay so I already had a kilo of the white but I did have to buy the black.
The draft is from Handwoven of November/December 2011, it has a scarf in laceweight sett at 20epi for each layer and one in chenille sett at 15. I was reluctant to trim the pattern down to get the same size scarf at 12 epi because the gap between the keys is already as narrow as it can be. If I made the keys narrower and shorter to allow for the thicker yarn then the gaps would be proportionately bigger. I decided to just make a scarf that would be longer and wider than a piano keyboard but would have the right proportions. The second piece is destined to become part of a cover for a digital piano and with that I’m going to sett it at 15 epi and generate a keyboard that’s the right size and stiff as a board. It would have been nice to have woven the first piece at the right sett and got a scarf the same size as a keyboard but I’m all about using what I have where I can.
I’m still not knitting, this week while not knitting I’ve made another three hats and started a pair of socks. The four hats and the piano scarf weigh more than the cone of black I bought to make the scarf so I’m still on target with my stashbusting exercise. I also whipped up a little sleeveless number in blue, when I cast on it was going to be a sweater but the more I thought about it the more I realised that getting those long spindly arms into sleeves was going to be more trouble than it was worth. Having no shoulders and your chin lower than your arms does pose some interesting fitting challenges. He needs a hat and possibly a scarf but I can slack off for the moment as he’s nowhere to be seen and I can claim that I forgot all about him. At least the hat and scarf won’t be difficult to fit.
I might be on the brink of a return to the needles, we’re having some warm and sunny weather at the moment so why I should be thinking about cardigans is beyond me. I don’t know yet whether this is The One, the sign is when I start dreaming about it and I’m not there yet. It also depends on whether there’s enough of the Ryeland, the coloured bands can be larger but there’s a limit to how far you can stretch “not enough” yarn. I don’t know what colour the bands are or how they are worked, I’ve left that with my inner knitter to work out while I get on with other things. I haven’t thought about a collar or the bottom edges but just for once I know exactly what the buttons should look like. I’m not sure that buttons are the best place to start but I might well be building a cardigan around them.
Posted by caroline in doubleweave, Dyeing, hats, Knitting, socks, Spinning, Weaving on May 18th, 2012
You’re going to be looking at this for a while, I’m still totally enthralled by it which is good because I have just got to the halfway point on the first one. I’ve set myself a target of an octave a day, which isn’t very much, less than an hour’s weaving time. Some days I do two octaves, some days I do one and a half and some days I don’t put the loom up at all. At the moment there is a clear difference between the leading edge (bottom of the black key) and the trailing edge (top) on the keys but this yarn is oiled on the cone and I know when the wool hits water and blooms the nasty gap will disappear. I can be pretty confident about this because I’ve used the same yarn before for doubleweave and had the same effect on the loom. After washing, the gaps in the weaving will fill up and the white will look white because you’ll not be seeing the black layer through it. I’m not convinced that hot water will do anything at all for my edges but I can hope. In general the less I mess with them the better they get but I can’t help but fiddle.
Knitting is still blah but socks are pretty essential, especially if you have only one pair of hand knit socks. I made a pair for someone we know after she’d noticed that when the band was playing my husband didn’t get cold feet while she was freezing. Once she had her pair of socks she knew the reason why (“and they don’t fall down”). One pair isn’t enough to see you through the week so she asked me for another pair. These are Opal something or other from a Ravelry destash, which seems to be the source of all my sock yarn these days. I like them but my sock drawer is full and her need is greater.
I did also manage a hat this week. It’s Tychus again in a mixture of handspun yarns. One runs green-purple-grey and that was my first attempt at carding a three colour gradient. I wanted to see whether I could diz the batt off in one piece in a reasonable time and whether it spun into the yarn that I thought it would. The other is something that was sold to me as Whitefaced Woodland but wasn’t, it was very soft and wrong for the breed. I can’t sell it so it had to stop home and be play yarn. I need to catch up with some stashbashing this month because I bought a 500g cone of black yarn for the piano scarves and then immediately stopped knitting. The hat weighs 114g and there’s a chance that I’ll weigh in a piano scarf before the end of the month so I might yet end up level.
I’m still playing with colour changes. This yarn is Black Welsh Mountain, Manx Loaghtan and grey falkland. As it doesn’t have white in it that means that it would work with white as a contrast colour. My plan for this (if I had a loom free) would be to weave it in a nice simple log cabin with some white falkland. It’s not all shades of grey this week, I’m having an experiment with superwash and sparkle for socks. The main question was whether I could handle slippery superwash successfully because it wasn’t not going to behave the same way as nice grippy wool-from-sheep, it doesn’t hang together in the same way and I thought that it would be more difficult to diz off in one piece. It appears that I’m up to the job after all as exhibit A proves that I can take it off in one length and I have witnesses to the fact that there was no swearing involved.
Posted by caroline in doubleweave, Other fibre stuff, Spinning, Weaving on May 12th, 2012
I’ve been busy non stop all week but I don’t have a lot to show for it. Well, I do in that I have some sparkling windows, cobweb free ceilings and a few shiny door frames but spring cleaning is not exactly the most exciting subject matter for a blog post. It seems that everything woolly I do have to show is black, white or the colours in between.
I did warp the loom, I had to do it in the end as it was stubbornly refusing to thread itself. You don’t have to be a weaver to spot one of my errors in this picture because the two white threads showing in among the black are so obviously wrong. There’s another mistake – the gap in the middle is down to a crossed pair of threads, that one is more obvious if you peer in from the side. When it’s threaded properly I can weave a layer of black fabric and a separate layer of white which on the face of it doesn’t sound particularly thrilling as a project. In reality it is totally enthralling. Maybe doubleweave gets old after a while but I haven’t done enough of it yet for it to have lost its magic. It looks to be plain black but sometimes I’m weaving with white on the sneaky underneath layer. This bit doesn’t have to be exciting, its future is to be folded inwards and sewn because it’s a hem.
Once the layers start interchanging then the black and white layers resolve themselves into a piano keyboard. I’m working my way down from the top, four keys done and eighty four to go. The plan is that the first piece is a scarf for the piano teacher then I change the sett (knitting equivalent – change to smaller needles) and weave a piece of stiffer fabric that will become part of a cover for the digital piano. I’m not entirely sure how the wool I’m using will behave for the second piece at 15 epi, so far I’ve woven it at 10 and 12 for plain weave but I’ll look at that when the time comes. If I end up weaving it all at 12 epi it’s no big deal although the fabric keyboard will be bigger than the real one and I won’t need all eighty eight keys. The draft is from the December 2011 issue of Handwoven but I’m using different yarn and a different sett.
It’s not all black and white, I also have shades of grey. This is the other rabbit hole I fell down, if I hadn’t have run out of natural coloured wool after the second batch then there would have been no spring cleaning done this week because I would have spent every waking minute fastened to the carder or the wheel. I love these, natural sheep colours of black welsh at one end moving through grey falkland or shetland into white falkland. There’s some overlap between the colours so there’s not a clearly defined change between the three shades. If I had a loom free I would have woven it into a scarf that changed colour across the width and the length but I don’t so it will have to wait. When I made it I could think of so many things to do with the yarn, mittens, a multidirectional scarf or knitted alongside a mustard or red in a simple stranded pattern. That was last week though, this week I’m seeing it with a single colour change along the length, spun fine and knitted into a triangular shawl. The double knit yarn is so last week, so Etsy it is.
The postman has brought me a big batch of naturally coloured wool so between the carder, the wheel, the loom and spring cleaning I have a full couple of weeks ahead. The wool may not be colourful but it’s fun. The cleaning is not so fun but it needs to be done and if I keep slipping a bit in between the fun stuff it doesn’t seem so much of a chore. No, that didn’t sound convincing to me either.
Posted by caroline in doubleweave, Family, Weaving on May 4th, 2012
I think I may be starting my summer knitting slump even though it’s still the right weather for hats and gloves and I’m wearing socks every day. Nothing in my five page queue of projects really grabs me, there’s nothing that’s shouting “knit me now”, not even anything that is whispering “hello”. I’m not worried about this because I know it will pass and in the meantime there’s always lace to be knitted and given away.
I do have some non-wool interests although admittedly probably not as many as a well rounded individual should demonstrate. Exhibit A is my husband’s birthday cake from earlier in the week, there’s a fruit cake hiding under the icing that’s been maturing in greaseproof paper for the last two months. The little man would have been hammering the letters into place if we could have found a hammer, as it was a wrench had to do. I also found the time to use up some of the egg whites from the freezer and the first rhubarb from the garden by making some friands. The recipe would have you put some of the rhubarb in the middle and a bit on top which sounds delicious. The little problem with that is that the fruit layer made a fault line through the middle so when I turned them out the bottom part stuck in the pan. I had three whole friands out of the tray of eight, I won’t be doing that again. (Yes, I had brushed the tin with melted butter and yes, I did leave them to set a while in the tin before I attempted to get them out)
The purple and grey wool from last time spun itself and then threw itself onto the loom. I dyed the sock yarn that was left over from the run of baby jackets, it ended up a lovely rich aubergine with subtle shading that you can’t see now. It would have looked lovely as socks though and I’m telling myself that I can always make more. Some of the light part of the scarf is grey, some light purple and some purple/grey, the shrieking gold is happily not much in evidence. In a good light the light grey trilobal nylon makes the yarn look metallic silver but you’ll have to take my word for that because it’s raining and good light is in short supply. There is plenty of the pale yarn left for another scarf but very little of the sock yarn so the leftovers are going in the leftover bag and I’ve moved on to something else.
The something else is black and white and is currently stubbornly refusing to thread itself. I’ve counted out the heddles ready to go and I’m waiting to walk past it and find it sitting there, done. At some point I’ll pull up a chair and a cup of tea and see how many I can thread before I get so bored that I mess up counting to four.