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.