Category Archives: math

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.

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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.

Blocked

The glorious Mollyann at Ariadne blocked this neckerchief for me, and I think she’s a super star.  Not necessarily because she helped me;  I’m fairly certain she can fly.

Isn’t it pretty?  Golly.  Now I can rob all the banks I want, just like Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead.

That Crystal Palace Panda Silk in Forest tones is so crisp and lovely, this shawl reminds me of a really gorgeous and non-perishable leaf.

In other news, the microRevolt blog has posted images of the action they had commemorating people who died in factory fires: one this December past in Bangladesh and the Triangle Waist factory fire in 1911.

If you haven’t heard of the Triangle Waist factory fire, then I recommend watching this video from Democracy Now. It’s an excellent documentary that highlights how these tragedies are still relevant.

And also, I’m sorry that there are no pictures of socks. I’ve been having major issues with gauge. It turns out that I usually knit socks on 2.75 mm needles, but that my extra super long sock sized needles are actually 2.5 mm needles. Can you imagine? When I knit those show off stranded socks, I was wondering why they fit me so nicely.  I usually cast on 56 stitches for socks and (from what I can recall;  I’m far too lazy to look up the pattern again) I cast on 64 stitches for those socks.  Curses!  Well, not really.  Socks will be a lot easier to size from now on.  This is certainly a fascinating conundrum, though.  What socks to knit?  What will fit?  What happens next?!

Tea Cozy

Does anyone remember me talking about the wonderful housewarming gift we got when we moved into this apartment?  Long story short, an elderly woman who used to live in this neighborhood decided to take up spinning and dyeing yarn years ago.  The mother of the woman who used to rent here knew her, and when the old woman passed away, her estate gave her the old woman’s hand dyed, spun, and plied yarn.  The woman who received the yarn never knew what to do with it, so it sat in a bankers box for years.  She saw some stuff I knit when she was helping her daughter move out of this apartment, so I was given the yarn.

There were two marled skeins in the box.  One was  a pure black/white mix, and the other, chocolate/cream.  These skeins weren’t fully washed of lanolin, so they smell really strongly of sheep and they’re almost greasy.  I don’t think I want to make clothes out of them for that reason – the greasiness is useful for other things, and it’s unpleasant to wear rough, greasy cloth, waterproof though it may be.

But, in other news, we have recently acquired a tea pot chez nous, so I’m going to make a tea cozy.  But not just any tea cozy!  Nay, I will make a tea pot of epic proportions using a favourite website of mine.  Knit Pro 2.0 is just about the coolest website ever.

knitPro is a free web application that translates digital images into knit, crochet, needlepoint and cross-stitch patterns. Simply upload jpeg, gif or png images and knitPro will generate a graph sizable for any fiber project. knitPro digitally mimics the tradition of pre-industrial craft circles who freely shared patterns and passed them down from generation to generation.

from http://www.microrevolt.org/knitPro.htm

Isn’t that amazing?  Also, microRevolt is a really cool group.

microRevolt projects investigate the dawn of sweatshops in early industrial capitalism to inform the current crisis of global expansion and the feminization of labor.

microRevolt since 2003.

from http://www.microrevolt.org/mission.htm

I think they’re awesome, and have used their website on a number of occasions.  I have also signed up to participate in their 146+ campaign;  I’ll be knitting the 149th armband, in honor of Ms. Tania Sultana.  She died in a factory fire in Bangladesh making clothes for Wal-Mart, H&M, and JC Penny.  I encourage others to knit armbands.

I made an image from a Julia Child quote by typing the words into Paintbrush (a program similar to Microsoft Paint) and saving the file as a .jpeg.  I then uploaded it onto the knit pro 2.0 website, and whammo! A chart! But the problem with trusting a computer program to make a knitting chart is that computers aren’t as crafty as most knitters out there (see what I did there?) so I spent some time last night going over the chart with a black pen.

The best part about being a person and not a machine is that I can make mistakes and then fix them.  See that second ‘o’ in ‘blowtorch’?  I made a note that it needed to be moved over one stitch.  But there it is; one half of my colour chart.  I’m getting a pretty big gauge with 5 mm needles so I’m going to have to try with 4.5 mm and see how everything fits – not that you want a particularly small tea cozy or anything.

An overview on how I’m making this tea cozy.

  • Step 1: Acquire a tea pot.  Tea as well, if possible.  Measure a loose circumference around said pot.
  • Step 2: Choose a charming image; perhaps a quote, perhaps a graphic.  Make sure it’s in .jpg, .png, or .gif format.  Upload it onto microRevolt’s knit pro app 2.0.  Have realistic expectations about how many colours you want and the definition of the image – after all, you’re smarter than any computer.  Then, print off the resulting .pdf!

  • Step 3: Knit a gauge swatch.  Make sure that the number of stitches provided makes sense for your project.  As you can imagine, having a 154 stitch round tea cozy with a gauge of 3.75 sts/inch is pretty silly, so I’m going to end up doing some math tonight.
  • Step 4: Highlight the chart you’ve printed off using a bright pen.  I used black to clear up my quote because the font was teal.
  • Step 5: Knit cozy, making sure to decrease at some point.  Is there any purpose for a tea pot sized cowl?
  • Step 6: Put kettle on.
  • Step 7: Drink tea.
  • Step 8: Knit an armband in commemoration of a fellow textile worker who has passed away because of the western world’s desire  for cheap clothes.

Any questions?

You’re more than welcome to use the chart I made as is, by the way.  Best of luck!

Rebelle

Last night, I did a heck of a lot of math.  I whipped out my calculator and actually did some trigonometry to figure out how big I wanted this neckerchief to be.

Ultimately, I want to end up looking like Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead, but with less of an urge to kill.

 

borrowed from ripinfo.blogspot.com

I think she looks great.  I also really like that movie.

I did some math, and some guesstimations, and then I decided that the rounded edge of the original pattern was a good idea.  I plan on knitting on the lace edging, so the rounded edge seems pretty useful in that regard.  I managed to knit enough yardage last night to get back to knitting directly from the ball.

In order to maintain that rounded edge (and to avoid the finished object becoming too long) I cast on 25 stitches.  My gauge being 8.75 stitches to the inch, that ended up being a 3 inch cast on edge – nicely rounded.

I love this yarn (crystal palace panda silk in forest tones).  It ripped out so nicely, and has obliged every k2tog tbl I’ve put it through.  Bamboo and merino blends are lovely that way.  I’m hoping to knit until it’s about 7-8 inches long, and then to knit the lace edging that should be about 2.5 inches wide.

I’ve already knit 4 inches or so.  I may end up knitting more;  I don’t know.  I mostly just want it to make me look badass.

 

Collared by a Neckerchief

I was going to cast on for a snood, but I’m using the needles that I need to get proper gauge with the yarn I want to use, so that’s going to have to wait.

I started poking around ravelry, and I happened upon this pattern:  a free pattern for a knitted neckerchief from the 1800s.

I think it’s lovely.  I told Mollyann from Ariadne that I was going to knit it, and she looked at me skeptically and said, “That’s Shetland lace, hey?”

I looked back at her, tipped my jaw haughtily, and said that I was going to do it anyway.  But!  I would say that the main body of this neckerchief is actually lace knitting (with yarn overs only happening on the right side of the knitting) whereas the border is true knitted lace.  The distinction is, of course, a bit silly, but it somehow renders my attempt at this project valid.  (If you’re interested in learning more, Eunny Jang does a great job of discussing different kinds of lace here.)

I’m knitting it in Crystal Palace Panda Silk Print, colour way 4012 Forest Tones.

It’s a beautiful yarn.  It’s 52% bamboo, 43% superwash merino, and 5% combed silk.  Delicious – and I love that it’s superwash.  I like to pretend that I, someday, will wear this scarf to a picnic and end up delicately wiping my chin of a sticky sauce.

My gauge was 35 stitches to 4 inches/10 cm, so I cast on 91 stitches.  The pattern recommends that you cast on a multiple of 6 minus 1 (for a total of 89 stitches in my gauge), but I added two stitches at either end for selvage.

I really hope someone else casts on this project.  It’s gorgeous!  C’mon – knit a long!