Sunday, April 13

A bit more weaving

Well, I've had the loom for 5 years, and after last month's very enjoyable two weekends at the Handweaver's Studio in London, I figured it was high time I got to grips with it. I wasn't expecting to have any time free today, but went to teach a student and couldn't make anyone hear (and of course, my mobile 'phone was at home) so had to come home again, after losing a quid in a payphone calling home to ask the Cog to call them for me (he'd gone to the supermarket, alas). The minimum payphone call is now 60p, so that was the end of my quid. Drat! 

I don't have a proper warping frame, but I did buy some warping pegs a while back so clamped them onto a spare knitting machine table and it worked ok once I figured out the best configuration. My first warp didn't go so well - I've left some two thirds of it hanging off the back of the loom because I somehow messed up the cross at the important end, and couldn't figure out how to untangle it. Also a warp thread snapped in that bunch - I'd put elastic bands on the raddle to secure everything and forgot to remove them when I started winding on. The second warp went a lot better and made it onto the loom. Then I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting any kind of shed - until I realised I'd completely left out the front beam when tying on at the front. Whoops. Cue some tricky reversing of the whole beater whilst leaving the reed in place (it didn't help) and a small hissy fit until I calmed down and realised what I'd done. Doh!

There are some loose warp threads, and owing to my awful first warp it's going to be narrower than I had planned, but it's not bad for a first attempt. I deliberately did the cream as an advancing twill (1-2-3-4 and 4-3-2-1) and the burgundy as a 1-2-3-4-3-2 repeat, to see what effects I would get.

Second warp in progress
All tied up and ready to go
In progress (the green was just some chunky yarn to get it started)

The only down-side of this loom apart from its not folding is that I have to stand to weave, so after a few hours it gets quite tiring. We don't have any bar stools here and even if we did, they'd not be tall enough. Another reason to trade it in for another model I think. The warping part is still pretty tedious but I suspect it'll get better with time and practice.  Oh, and I managed to get a splinter from one of my shuttles, so I need to dig out some sandpaper I think.

Friday, April 11

The rules

I had someone complain recently that I applied rules on an appropriate place to post her request - "I don't like rules!" was the whine, as she deleted the rest of her posts. My first thought was, well, the question couldn't have been that important then. I couldn't make head nor tail of her post myself but two folks had tried to answer already as it concerned a specific machine and I felt that the wider forum (not the sales forum) would get a better response. My second thought was, try running a few traffic lights on red and see how much you like rules then (assuming you don't kill yourself in the process). Even a hippy commune has a rota for whose turn it is to clean the toilets or milk the cow. Hey, I was an eighties rock chick myself, I'm not keen on rules - but without them there'd be chaos. My third thought was, ooh, a flounce!

This happened a few days back, but I was reminded of it today when I sat down and actually read the written instructions for the Crow Prints shawl. I just followed the chart, I get lost with written instructions, but my shawl is coming out upside down, or rather, it starts with a point where it should have a straight edge. Turns out the central pair of yarnovers aren't indicated on the chart - in fact, if you follow the written instructions, every pattern repeat seems to start and end with a yarn over, also not indicated. I didn't follow the rules, and got a different design entirely; and no I'm not going to frog it - I'll just finish the repeat I'm on and cast it off I think. I'm so DONE with this shawl!

But at least I've figured out why it's not coming out the same shape as everyone else's....

Monday, April 7

Nottingham MK Show

Well, I managed to make it to the Nottingham show this year - I made a family commitment I couldn't cancel last year which resulted in my being on the wrong side of the UK. The venue's not as big as the Harvey Haddon sports centre, but there were lots of lovely stalls nevertheless selling buttons, yarn, mk spares and showing some lovely samples.

This is a picture taken from Andeeknit's stall in the corner, so you can get an idea of size - it'd look bigger if it wasn't painted such a terrible colour I think! I got three sets of Brother mylars here, will be interesting to see if my naughty KH950i will read them or not. I managed to buy a second-hand copy of DAK 7 from Knits n' Bits, which had one "life" left - won't be able to use it for interactive knitting any time soon because (a) I have no cable (b) the PC it's installed on is in the wrong room and (c) I haven't read the instructions yet. I also picked up some sock yarn and some rainbow yarn (see below) just because. Oh, and a bracelet kit from Erica Thomson which looks like a DNA spiral but is actually a kumihimo braid in wire.

More photos from the show here.

Well, I just had to, didn't I? You know me and loud colours:

Also picked these up at the Handweaver's Studio the other week, again, because they're so pretty. No idea when/what I will use them with!

Managed to knit the back and one front of the mitred cardigan, and made a start on the second front. Finding time in front of the machine is very hard at the moment!

Tuesday, April 1

More weaving

Just a quick post to say I had a lovely two weekends weaving at the workshop in London - everyone was really nice and we got lots of samples done. I'll post a few of the highlights, the whole set of pictures is here (not bad shots for a mobile 'phone!). I have, of course, forgotten most people's names already...

Hard at work

Finished samples

A simple backstrap loom with rigid heddle

My samples

Since I got back sunday night I've managed to full and wash the samples and I've started getting the loom up to scratch. Last night I cut the string heddles apart and untwisted some that were twisted. My loom has nothing keeping the two halves of the shaft apart, apart from the heddles, so if you slide them all to one end (there's not an equal number on each shaft) then each shaft goes skew. Something to bear in mind. I need some more cord to tie up the rods at the end and there's one screw missing on the back beam. Then hopefully I can get warping up. Ordered a raddle from the Handweaver's Studio so hopefully that'll arrive soon. Excellent class and highly recommended. Dawn managed to show us various weaves (Huck, Attwater, Bronson) plus double weave although I think personally I love twill patterns - firm, balanced, reversible.

Tuesday, March 25


Finally posting this, even though it's awful:

Yes, it really is that big and no, I'm not that shape. Hey ho. Just shows you that despite having already made a perfectly good sweater for himself out of this yarn, it just didn't want to behave a second time.

This weekend I have mostly been doing this, on a course at the Handweaver's Studio in London:

A bit further along - the green bit is actually double weave, ie it is a pocket and on the other side it's blue.

Had some help from the tutor to figure out how to make the blue stand out like that. It was brain-bending on a sunday. Foolishly I didn't take pictures of all the samples I made, hopefully I will have something to show soon. I'm down there again this weekend without himself so there's more room in the suitcase. I bet some yarn and books jump in.

Wednesday, March 12

Switch Swatch

We're all delighted that one of our Rav members, Adriprints, is sharing her mitered detail cardigan with us as a MKAL on the big MK Ravelry group.  I've been swatching and washing on and off since Saturday trying to get gauge with the Kauni. Five swatches later, I finally managed to get 27.3 sts x 43 rows to 10cm - the pattern calls for 27 sts so I'm hoping that's close enough, I might have to add or subtract some rows if the row gauge isn't right. I'm well aware that the pretty swatches I made are unfroggable (Kauni is like a Shetland yarn) and thus the yarn is going down. As it's Kauni EQ I'm hoping if I do need another ball that the long colour changes of it will hide any dye lot mismatching. Here's hoping! 

I think in future I'll swatch three full numbers - eg T5, T6, T7 - and then fine tune from there. The pattern's written for Wollmeise but there's not a hope in h*ck of me getting hold of enough of that, and I'm not sure I want to - a friend brought some skeins to knit club once and I was underwhelmed by its rough texture. Of course, it might well improve when washed - I will keep an open mind should any fall serendipitously into my lap! :) I know it's prized amongst the knitterati.

Swatching is a tedious but necessary component of machine knitting (or indeed, any knitting/crochet where size is important). Just because you can knit it faster doesn't make it any less tedious, although in the past I've cheated by knitting either a front or a sleeve. Knitting a front means you can see straight away if the length/width is right and if the neck is decent or wider than the mouth of the Thames. You have the added complication that wide pieces might not be weighted proportionally as much as narrow pieces on the machine. In all cases, bigger is better swatch-wise. My usual trick of leaving needle 21 out of work was a bit fraught this time - it only really works on acrylics or non-slippy yarns but after washing it it's almost invisible in Kauni. Bearing in mind I've now made 5 swatches I've just tried plotting them in Excel to see if I could extrapolate whether 8. (8 dot) would be closer to 27sts than 8. The graph I got wasn't completely a straight line so I'm wondering whether one of the measurements is wrong. 

The boring grey jumper is finished. Going to Holland in the middle obviously obliterated some important brain cells, because Monday night I frantically knitted what I thought was the first sleeve, watching the yarn disappear and thinking there's no way I'll get a second sleeve out of that. Then I suddenly realised it's a raglan, and having completed the neck (THAT took several attempts!) the sleeves should already be part of the construction. Finally, I picked up the part-sewn jumper and realised the truth. The knitting is finished - I just need to sew it up and wash it. The Cog thinks this is all hilarious and is wondering when exactly I'm planning on growing a third arm?

I'm up to the armholes on the Quick Sweater. I was supposed to start them when the garment measured 12.5" from the hem. Which would be fine, except the garment is knitted in 1 row K2 P2 and 1 row K throughout, thus meaning I can stretch it. I'd much prefer a row count I think, because it looks like it might turn into a cropped top at the slightest provocation, and NOBODY needs to see that part of me! :/

Somebody told me this week that the garter carriage monitor can't possibly work because they don't have one. Well, I don't own a helicopter but I'm pretty sure they mostly work ok. Aren't people weird sometimes? It was a US invention and I have both sets of brackets (for main and ribber bed). I bought it to corral a naughty garter carriage I had at the time that would otherwise turn early just to cheek me - great if I wanted to knit bookmarks, but little else. Next garter carriage project I do I'll try and video it in use, and then there can be NO argument!

Someone chided me for trying a crochet project I was struggling on, too. "Why do that, it's too hard?!" Well, chimp work is fine sometimes, but sometimes I want to stretch myself. I learnt to spit-splice yarn last week. I remember my first major double-bed jacquard project, a banner for our knitting group (you can see it here at Godivafest). I was having no end of trouble getting a striped background, all I could produce was solid black, and I posted a query to that effect on one of the main Yahoo MK groups. The response, from one of the stalwart members, no less, was basically along the lines of "why are you doing this when you're a beginner?" To which my rude mental response was "not helpful, there's a deadline, just answer the effing question" and my polite response was, is - because otherwise I will ALWAYS just be a beginner. Without challenges, how can we grow? And I LIKE a challenge, even if I moan a bit when it gives me troubles. The only stupid question is the question never asked, and the only impossible task is the one not tried. 

Deep thoughts for a Wednesday! 

Monday, March 10

Swan sock experiments

Just a quick post to prove I did get one decent SWAN sock (it needs a mate and this was oddments so it's unlikely to happen in the correct colourway!)

Also I may have accidentally added some Kauni EQ to my stash, thanks to Fibreclaire (I already have plans for this, if I can only get gauge!):

Had a lovely MK meeting on Saturday where we played with sewing up methods and I learnt the "Bickford" seam. Very cool! Took five attempts to finish the neck of a v-neck jumper yesterday (we spent most of the day in the Cotswolds because the weather was unseasonably nice!). Not sure I have enough yarn even for one short sleeve, let alone two! I'm so OVER this jumper already, and I'm not even finished. Maybe I should frog it now?! :/