Category Archives: design

Happy as a Jay… Leno?

Leno weaving is gorgeous, in case you didn’t know.

That’s Lanaknits’ Hempton, and I luff it. I sort of regret not doing it on a smaller dent reed (I double-checked the sett, and it told me 9, so I used the 10 dent reed, but I think 12 would have been nicer) but still, its coming out pretty okay.

Leno lace is a lot like cabled knitting. You’re weaving the sheds out of order, and because of that, you get that lovely structured effect. I’m experimenting with 1×1 leno and 2×2 broken leno in the pictures above. I’m pretty pleased given that it’s my first leno project.

I’m weaving the ‘body’ of the scarf in plain weave. I like the simplicity of the light green weft against the dark green warp, and I have never really liked the idea of putting too much detail into a scarf. After all, the vast majority of the scarf is going to be scrunched up against your neck. The first and last seven inches or so will be lacey and the rest, plain. Should be quick and simple.

Right?

A Loom with a View

I actually took this picture (along with some others) a few days ago, but I still think it’s really pretty.  I haven’t taken the strap off of the loom either, so I feel it’s okay to post this picture.  Just imagine that there is more finished strap wrapped around that bottom bar and less warp left to weave, okay?

This project had a huge learning curve for me.  I misunderstood the differences between warp- and weft-faced weaving, and was under the impression that the darker green weft would be showing more than the lighter green warp.

Warp-faced weaves are stronger than balanced weaves.  It’s just true;  ask anybody.  (Actually, I’m no expert.  I read a bunch of books recently.  It seems like that’s the general consensus.)  So I was aspiring toward a warp-faced weave with a weft-faced weave in the back of my mind.  I knew that the finished object would shrink in width, so I warped it so there’d be about 3.5 inches on a 10 dent reed with a balanced weave (32 picks or so, I can’t quite recall).

I aspired toward a strap of 2 inches wide.  I’m getting about 1.7 inches, which is a bit of a problem when it comes to making a shiny new guitar strap.

I have a small instrument called a cuatro.  I got it when I lived in Venezuela in 2009, and it’s lovely, but it has no strap.  It also has no pegs for straps, but that’s beside the point at this juncture of my weaving career.  It’s a really pretty maple colour, and it was handmade by the famous guitar maker Navarro’s apprentice, Tovar.  It needs to be portable, and that is my only complaint.  I have a feeling that this strap would suit my cuatro right down to the ground.  Since the cuatro is about the same size as a half-size guitar, it doesn’t really matter that the strap isn’t at optimum warp-faced strength.

So!  Let’s review.  Because I had warp- and weft-faced weaves mixed up in my mind, I warped the loom with the wrong colour and didn’t pull the weft tightly enough, which is why the weft threads are more visible than they should be.  I have to say,  I  really like the colour effect.  I should also say that I’m glad I didn’t pull it that tightly because there’s not much I can do with a strap that’s only an inch wide.

For my next strap (and there will be a next strap) I’ll warp 60 picks.  I’ll use the darker green colour, and pull the weft tightly enough to get an appropriate finished product, and I may make it a bit longer depending on what this strap looks like when I’ve taken it off of the loom.

I think I’m going to varnish this lil’ Cricket.

Can’t Weave it Alone

Oooh, man.  I’m hooked.  I mean, I’ve totally warped my psyche and all I can think about is weaving.  See what I did there?

I done designed my own plaid.  It’s in Cascade Yarns’ Pima Tencel (50/50 Pima Cotton and Tencel blend), and it’s going to be my next wallet.  Now, I’m weaving much more than what I would possibly need for a wallet, but this stuff is so addictive.  I’m using a 10-dent reed, and I’m getting just under gauge.  I think I’m doomed forever to have a tight gauge.

I’m so enthused!  It’s so pretty!  And what’s more, my partner kept looking over and saying, “Ha, you’re making your own fabric.”  I am on top of the world.

Last night, we went to an open mic at Shaika, in Montreal.  (I was also on the radio yesterday morning:  check it out here.)  We had a really good time, but the most important part was that I saw a djembe strap that blew my mind:  weft-faced with long warp floats in crazy colours.

I think I have an idea.

I Can’t Be-weave it!

Look what I’ve got!

ignore the obvious error; ain't it grand?

Yes, I did manage to not tie the warp to the apron rod properly (hint:  it’s supposed to wrap around the top bar) but that is the first warping I’ve ever done all by myself.

Last Friday, I went to the marvelous Colette’s weaving studio, Interstitial Spaces.  Her studio is a magical playground with looms and spinning wheels galore in a formerly industrial space.  I highly recommend it – and I have to say that Colette is a really awesome person, and that hanging out with her was one of the highlights of my week.

Actually, I’m going to back up and tell you a bit about my week.  On Monday, I had my first day off in about two weeks – pyjamas were busted out, and I was cozy.  Tuesday, I was at Ariadne, which just happens to be one of the best places in the world.  Wednesday and Thursday, I worked – and I worked nights, which I hate.  I’m a sleepy kind of person and I need a regular schedule in order to keep going.  Once I’ve established a good schedule I have as much energy as the next person, but if I’m dithering around late at night I know I’ll sleep in way to late.  I hate working nights.  So, on Thursday, I got home at midnight and then got up early enough to visit Colette on Friday morning.  Friday afternoon, I went to work and when I got home (at frigging half past midnight) I assembled my brand new loom.  I even survived this obstacle:

Luckily, my partner had a similar screw to replace the one pictured above.  Isn’t that bizarre?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a screw borked that badly.

Regardless, I had to work again on Saturday, so I got up early and warped my loom.  I got everything wound up and cut properly so I could weave after work.  And then, again, after freaking midnight, I got home and decided to go crazy.

I wove a strip that Colette set up for me on Friday so I wasn’t a complete beginner.

I was pretty pleased with that mini-scarf.  It hasn’t been blocked (or fulled?) so it’s still not finished, but it does look mighty spiffy.  And yes, the colours aren’t my usual palate, but those are the colours that come free with the kit in Brown Sheep Nature Spun.  It’s 100% superwash wool.  My hypothesis is that the colours were chosen for contrast and so that beginner weavers won’t be shy in ‘wasting’ the yarn.  In terms of my first solo project, I’m anticipating that the scarf-like thing I wove will make the best cat blanket ever.

This is a picture of me weaving in action.  My partner took the picture, and I’m sort of glad that it highlights how I’m learning to change yarns.  See that big thick blue stripe smack dab in the middle?  That’s because I didn’t move the rigid heddle when I was packing the end of one length of blue yarn.

There it is!  It hasn’t been blocked (or fulled?) in these pictures.  It is dripping in my bathtub right now, but I wanted to get some before and after pictures.  I’m sorry that I didn’t get the snaps done in the bald light of day;  I was practicing the piano and got sidetracked.

I experimented a lot last night.  I don’t know if it was the exhaustion from working or the exhilaration of weaving, but I felt like a master of creation as I wove.  Of course, my edges are messy and my tension ain’t perfect, but I’m mighty pleased with the results.  Take the the picture above:  I wanted to replicate a pattern on a beautiful hemp scarf Colette had woven in silvery blue hemp.  I don’t know if I did it, but I really like the results.

I slipped some stitches as well.  Rather, I did something similar to slipping stitches;  I maneuvered the shuttle underneath the lower part of the shed so I could see what would happen.  Apparently, the warp gets longer and stripier.

This is when I maneuvered the shuttle over top the shed.  I also started playing with that haystack effect.  See how I wrapped smaller amounts of warp in the green part in the lower part of the picture?  It’s really cool, what you can do with this kind of medication.  I’m really excited to learn more about manipulating these effects.

And last but not least, some plain tabi weave.

Oh, dear.  I’m really tired and think I should rest up for tomorrow.  I’m going to rummage through my stash and find my next weaving project.  I see visions of plaid rumbling behind my eyes.

Sample Swatch

Yesterday (err, Tuesday) I knit a large gauge swatch for my dream 70s cardigan.  I knit it in the orange because I was headed to Ariadne regardless and needed to wind that enormous skein into a ball.

I cast on about 40 stitches and then knit about two inches each of stitch patterns that refuse to be forgotten.  That slipped stitch pattern?  My friend Lisa told me about it in 2007.  That star stitch?  I saw that last fall on ravelry.  That fisherman’s rib?  Mollyann from Ariadne told me about months ago.   The coolest aspect of all of this is that I haven’t ever really knit any of these stitch patterns.

And interestingly enough, the gauges are really different:  from 3 stitches per inch to 6.  But my friend Mitali can attest to that!  I certainly was having enough trouble getting the star stitch to behave.  I’m a notoriously tight knitter so any pattern that requires that I knit through anything three times is a bit above and beyond my capabilities.  I think I may have to find a charming (yet identical in every way) sort of alternative.  That saying, I’m not sure if using a substitute will get this bug out of my ear.

In other news, my cat Patrick Purrswayze fell yesterday and twisted one of his hind legs a bit.  I know it’s not too serious because he’s still jumping from the floor to the windowsill with no problems (and also, because he sometimes forgets that it hurts and runs around like a totally healthy pussy cat) but his expression is the most tragic thing I think I’ve ever seen.

Doesn’t he look disgusted, yet contemplative, yet very sorry for himself?  Poor fella.

And without further ado (and from a special request from Princess Sonya via Mitali)…

It’s perfect:  a cat sleeping on drying hand knit socks that have been well loved on a beautiful spring day.

Sunset on my Insteps

There it is, folks:  my gusset decreases.  By my (rough) calculations, I have about 8 rounds until I can stop decreasing and start knitting the rest of the foot.

I am (in my most secret of hearts) an enormous and fierce complainasaurus, and I’m not loving the pattern.  It’s kind of like that part in The Fighter when those over educated folks tell Amy Adams and Mark Wahlberg’s characters about the cinematography in Belle Epoque (1992); over my head and wildly fruitless.

It’s not that it’s complicated.  In fact, the pattern could fairly easily be changed into a 2 row repeat with a lil’ something extra every 8 rows.  It’s the thoughtless editing that kills me.  I get exactly what Morgan-Oakes was going for:  a nice faux cable with a bit of faggoting on ‘ere side with lots of 1×1 ribbing for stretchiness and fit.  I get it, and I do think that the finished product would look sweet if it were written out exactly the way I wanted it to be.  In all fairness, the pictures in the book do show the sock as written;  there are just some odd bits that, in a parallel universe, I would fix.

You see, I made a (futile) commitment to myself at the top of the year to start knitting other people’s patterns.  I have a square head, and I know that, and so, most of the time I make up what I’m doing.  I have many calculators for that reason.  I have a colouring book for that reason.  I even have lead pencils for that reason.  But in music, in knitting, and in life, sometimes you have to concede that there is a lot to learn from what other people are doing, so I elected to knit 11 patterns that I didn’t design.

I’ve cheated remorselessly on this commitment.  For instance, I’ve added 1×1 ribbing to this sock, and I’ve ignored gauge because I’m a maverick and sometimes mavericks can’t help but maverick.  But the cast on number of stitches needs to be right!  And by right, I mean that the stitch pattern shouldn’t require that there be a strip of two knit stitches on ‘ere side of the sock legs.  That’s right:  on both sides of each sock there is a strip of two knit stitches where there should be a 1×1 rib.  See that seam-like thing in the picture below?

The fastest way I can amend this problem is to cast on two fewer stitches per sock;  that way, the k1,p1 rib which is then followed by the p1,k1 rib will stay constant by ending with a purl stitch and everything would remain beautiful and perfect in the entire word.  The slightly slower way would be to add another stitch to the faux cable.  I can slip four stitches!  I can!  I swear I can!  I have lots of faults, but dishonesty isn’t one of them.  And again, the picture in the book does show the same seam.  I had just assumed that it was due to a tension issue.

I guess my biggest regret isn’t cheating on my commitment one more time.  This is causing me so much disatisfaction that I’m near to ripping the whole thing out and starting over.

One think that’s keeping me content is this yarn.  Why oh why was it discontinued?

100% wool… ah.

Insert Post Here

So, this Sunday before past, I came down with the lung infection that everyone in Montreal is coming down with.  I have never hacked so much in my life – and what’s more, my partner got sick at exactly the same time.

I’m one of those people that turns into an enormous baby when sick, but I did manage to take some pictures of my armbands which I sent off to Boston last Wednesday.  Unfortunately, my sneezing and coughing buddy managed to delete them by accident, so the post I was banking on sharing with you isn’t entirely feasible.  I feel kind of silly; I even got a ravelry message from mmeadow reminding me to post them on my ravelry projects page, and I can’t.

I did get an awesome email from the 146+ crew today telling me that they not only received but really liked my armbands, so hopefully I’ll be able to link to some of the pics on their reBlog once it’s updated.

I’m very nearly done all the knitting on my knitted neckerchief, and my friend Maddy is letting me borrow Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ book, 2-at-a-time Socks which is awesome!  I’m pretty excited about the cables in that book.  I’m really excited to get the neckerchief off of my superlong 2.5 mm needle so I can try this out.

And, because it’s kind of lame to have a post without pictures…