Sunday, November 16, 2014

Loominaughty Weaver...

After I finished the cowl from the previous post, I wondered how wide a fabric I could I actually make with the loom.  It is 25 inches wide, but as the fabric draws in after the tension is removed, how wide would the actual fabric be?

I also wanted to know how many ends could I thread through the 12-dent reed.

The second question was easier to determine. I just counted the slots in the reed. There are 304.

Looking at my stash, I decided to put together some similar color yarns (more on that below), then warped 302 ends (300 for the actual weaving and one strand on each side for a floating selvage).

Using four shafts for a plain weave, it took me hours to dress the loom; however, with more experience, I am making fewer mistakes and my pace is picking up a bit.

I did have one "OMG" moment.  After I had completely warped the loom, I was winding the thread from the front onto the back beam, when one of the warps snapped. There was a weak spot in the ply and it broke.

Omitting it completely would have thrown an error into the fabric, so I wound all the warp back onto the front beam, tied on a new thread to the back beam, threaded it through the heddle and reed, and kept some tension on it while I re-wound the warp onto the back beam.  I then untied the group of threads, which lined up to the new one, pulled the broken one off, and tied the new one where the old one had been.


I was really kind of proud of myself!

In any event, the actual weaving took about as much time as it did to warp the whole loom.

Instead of just a plain scarf or shawl, I was actually shooting for a length of fabric about 60-inches long and 22-to-24-inches wide.

Without the fringe, the fabric is actually 55-inches long and 23.5-inches wide.  

I was hoping to seam a part of it together to create something between a wrap and a poncho.


Now about the yarn choices.

From left to right:  Jitterbug in Mango Lassi, Malabrigo sock in Arbol, and Arauncania Itata in Melon.  They are all fingering weight yarns.  The first two are wool, the last one is a wool/bamboo/silk blend.

Because the Itata has silk in it, was semi-solid, and I had more of it than the other two, I decided to use it for the weft.

It may look like an odd color combination, but I decided to use the Jitterbug and the Malabrigo as warp because the Itata looks good with both of them, not because the Jitterbug and Malabrigo looked good together.  Strange way of thinking, I know, but that was the thought process.

The next decision was how to warp with the two different colors (they are also slightly different in diameter, with the Malabrigo a light fingering).

Looking at my warping board, I decided to pull from both skeins at the same time to measure the lengths; however, when it came time to thread the loom, I used them singly (as in threaded one at a time).

I think the Malabrigo muted the brighter tones of the Jitterbug, but this did not make me unhappy.

Once everything was done, I pulled it off the loom and trimmed the fringe before twisting it.

After that was complete, I laid it out, wrong side up.  I took the top left hand corner and folded it over to where the fringed edge lined up with the bottom selvage.

Then, I pulled the fringe edge from the right side and brought it to the square line (which was formed from folding the other corner down).  Where the fringe met the folded down selvage, I slipped stitches down about 8-inches.

That is all I did.

Now, it is ready to wear!

As I am the Feisty Knitter when knitting, I thought it might be nice to have a weaving name, too. The title of the post is nothing more than an oblique reference to the Illuminati.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gaining Confidence

After I relinquished the Cricket looms borrowed from class, I turned to the 25" table loom and wondered what was next.

I knew I could warp it for another plain weave scarf or possibly a shawl, but I was itching to see how difficult it would be to dress it using four of the eight shafts.  So, I dove into the stash and came up with these fingering lovelies:

(Pagewood Farm Chugiak Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in Army Girl and George's Hat.)

With a draft (weaving pattern) in hand, I successfully warped over four shafts, and jumped right into the weaving.  Instead of a loose plain weave, I wanted something more fabric like and substantial, so the pattern I chose had lots of repeat weaves that did not require changing the harnesses after every pass.  I was also trying a new type of floating selvage.

Admittedly, my current set up is less than ideal with the loom on the coffee table and me sitting on a footstool, but until I can purchase or build a loom stand, the only alternative is to place it on a table and stand before it.  (There are plans afoot to rectify this situation.  Hopefully, this weekend!!)

In any event, in several small bursts of weaving, I ended up a piece of fabric 11-inches wide and 33-inches long, just right for cowl!

Once I had it off the loom, I used a sewing machine with a very wide zig-zag stitch to secure each of the ends before I did a closed seam to make it round.  In all, the finishing took about ten minutes, tops, and I had a finished hand-woven cowl!

While it has not been soaked or blocked yet, the fabric has a lovely silky feel.  This one is going into the gift pile for Christmas!

I could not be more pleased!

Now what?

Friday, November 14, 2014

There has been knitting

There has been quite a bit of knitting, in fact; however, the husband's Ranger has turned into quite a slog.  It's not the pattern, which is easy to read and follow, but the actual knitting of a sweater for the length and width of a man-sized man. 

Last week, I finally got to the point where I was able to join the sleeves.  In fact, I did a little mental happy dance because I knew the end was in sight...just a few short days away...

Except, that did not happen.

I knit on it daily and did the decreases every fourth row, but the progress just seemed to all, but stop...

So, this is where I have been for the last five days, knitting endlessly with very little progress.

One thing I can certainly share, this thing will be extremely warm, when it is eventually finished.  

God help him, if he doesn't wear it, when all is done.

Monday, November 3, 2014

More weaving!

Despite my best intentions to concentrate on other things, the weaving obsession continued.

On Saturday, I found a bag of stash belonging to the Wee One.  Actually, she had returned what stash she had acquired when she decided knitting was not for her, but I had not yet gone through it or incorporated it into my stash.

In it was three skeins of a brightly colored pink/blue/green yarn that found its way onto one of the Cricket looms.  A couple of hours later...we had another scarf!

While Wee had worked on her scarf from class, she has been covered up with homework and volleyball, so I asked her if I could finish it up for her.  She agreed.  

I love the riot of colors.  The yarn is Mountain Colors Twizzle, but I do not recall the color.  The ball band has been discarded...

Like the knitting, I think Wee had decided that weaving is not for her, either.

Once the Cricket looms were clear, a few friends came over yesterday to learn how to warp and/or weave on them.  

While fun and quick, I had been debating over the past week whether I wanted one, in addition to the big table loom I have.

My thought was I could have a big project on the table loom and quick and easy projects going on the Cricket.  Also, the Cricket was easily portable and made for comfortable weaving in my lap at the table or on the couch.  However, I ultimately decided not to buy one as anything I could make on the cricket, I could make on the big loom.

Once I made that decision, I realized I could buy two additional loom reeds in different dents for the price of the smaller Cricket.  The acquisition of additional reeds would give me greater versatility in what I could weave.

The reed on the table loom now is a 12 dent (which translates to 12 stitches an inch in knitter language).  The standard reed sizes for my Schacht are 6, 8, 10, 12, and 15. The higher the number the finer the thread needed. Conversely, the lower the number the thicker the thread/yarn needed.

The reeds I would be interested in would be the 10 and 15 dent ones.

Speaking of the table loom, I actually successfully warped it on Friday after a new raddle arrived!  I had 4 balls of Freia Ombre fingering weight yarn in Grapevine.  The colors shifted from deep purple to an acid yellow-green.

I used two of the balls to warp.  From outside to inside, I went from dark to light. When the first ball was exhausted, I used the second (beginning in the middle) to go from light to dark.  A third ball was used for the weft, and it also ran from dark to light.  The fourth ball went untouched.

The finished dimensions were 11 inches wide by 52 inches long.  I discovered there was a great deal more waste with the table loom, than with the Cricket.

While I love the finished project, I would have liked to have made it, at least, 72 inches long. However, I am not disappointed, as I think it turned out beautifully. 

With the borrowed Crickets gone, I have turned my full attention to the table loom.  On the warping pegs is the beginning of a shawl.  Several drafts (weaving patterns) have been downloaded.

The husband has also been put on notice that we are in dire need of a stand for the loom, too.  We could order the one from Schacht, but I have decided that I want it to be mobile. Thus, it needs castors.  I am in the early stages of designing one for him to build.  (I have a wonderful husband, by the way.)  He has not yet agreed to built it, but I think he will...

In other news, can you believe it is NOVEMBER?!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

That Weaving Bug...

is extremely contagious!

Weaving is something that I have had in the back of my mind for the last couple of years.  Every now and then, I would mention to a friend whenever the topic came up:  "One of these days, I am going to try that, but right now, I have too many projects I want to knit."

Over the last several months or so, one of my good friends, who has three looms, told me she had a table loom she wanted to sell.  She offered several times to bring it by for me to try out, but I resisted.

Well, I resisted until I saw that Maria was jumping into weaving in a big way.  Maria is the one who inspired me to try my hand at lace knitting a few years ago.  Maria is a knitter, quilter, and crafter extraordinaire. So, the next time my friend brought up the loom, I told her I would like to try it out.

She brought it over immediately and spent a long Saturday evening helping me sort out and install 500 flat steel heddles on a Schacht 25" 8-harness table loom.  There was not enough time that night to try to warp it, so the next day YouTube became my friend and I figured out to warp it front to back and back to front, although my initial weaving efforts, while perfunctory, were not stellar.

I decided I needed a class.

This past Sunday, Wee One and I participated in a beginning weavers class using 10" Schacht Cricket looms.  These are very basic rigid heddle looms, but superb for learning and cranking out quit projects.

How quick?

From Sunday to Tuesday night, I made four scarves...


Scarf numbers 1 and 2 were made using Mountain Colors Twizzle in Harmony Sweetgrass. The first one above was warped in class using just one skein  (250 yards).  It's dimensions are 8.25" x 50".

I liked it and had a second skein of the same yarn available, so I warped again, this time more narrowly with longer warps. The one below came out 5.5" wide and 70" long.  Perfect!

BOTH of these were started and finished in the same day.  In fact, all four were made in about four hours each.

In addition to the yarn Wee One selected to make her own scarf, she also picked up two skeins of Ella Rae Lace Merino dk in color #207.  

The loom she was using had a heddle that wrapped 8 stitches per inch, and the one loaned to me was 10 stitches per inch.  Because the Lace Merino dk is rather fine, I decided to warp it on my borrowed loom.  It came out 9" wide and 67" long.  The staggered knotted fringe was something I had seen and decided to try out on a whim.

I think it is stunning!

The fourth scarf (which is the top picture of this post) uses Noro Kureyon Sock. The color is S219.

What is interesting about the Noro scarf, is that it is a very fine yarn warped at 10 stitches per inch. This created a very loose and drapey fabric.

The other neat thing about the Noro scarf is the hemstitch finish I worked on the edge.  Tutorial here.

After I finished the Noro scarf last night, I thought I would give it a rest and knit for an hour or so before bedtime...

That did not happen, as I remembered a crazy Zauberball skein of sock yarn I had:

You know what happened, right?

This also contains an experiment.  That hemstitch from the Noro scarf?  The tutorial had me to do that on the far end when I finished weaving, then cut the edge from one end of the loom and unroll the scarf until I got back to the close end (or starting point).  Then, without tension, as half of it was already cut from the loom, work the hemstitch over the starting edge.  For me, and I may not have been doing it properly, the hemstitch on the starting edge was not as neat or pretty as it was on the far end.

Therefore, I decided to work the hemstitch after I worked an inch and a half from the very beginning of the scarf.  

What you do not see are the scrap pieces of yarn I used to draw the warps together before I started weaving with my proper weft yarn.  I pulled them out after I did the hemstitch.

Once the scarf is complete, we can compare hemstitch edges.

What about the massive table loom, you ask?

Good question!

I decided I needed a raddle to warp it properly. A new one should arrive in a few days...

In the meantime, the Cricket will continue to be put to good use!  So much so, I anticipate purchasing a 15" Cricket, just to have for those quick fixes.

One last thought, the cool thing about weaving:  The number of weaving works in progress is limited by the number of looms on hand.  Thus, you really must finish one before starting another!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

There is Brown...

and then there is brown.

Brown happens to be one of my favorite colors, although I am not quite sure what exactly that says about me or my personality.

I just like brown.

Below is a new design in its final stages of test-knitting, as this is one of three on various needles from Texas to Minnesota.  All I will say is that these are five different colors of Malabrigo's Rios in Coco, Teal Feather, Sunset, Ravelry Red, and Glazed Carrot.  Perfect for the fall season!

Below is the progress on the husband's Ranger in different shades of Madelinetosh's Vintage in Fig. More details on that knit here, but in a nutshell, I was short on yarn for this project. I had some skeins from a few years ago, the color has since been discontinued, but I was able to find two more at Jimmy Beans Wool.  When the new ones arrived, they were much darker than the old ones, so I decided to use the new, darker skeins for the cuffs, collar, and button band.  What I did not realize until I pulled out all of the old yarn to cast on for the second sleeve is that one of the old skeins was much lighter than the others.

There was a "what to do, what to do" moment or two upon that discovery, but ultimately, the best course of action appeared to use it for the second sleeve.  I could have alternated skeins for a stripy effect, but decided against it because the one skein was enough for the sleeve and I did not want to have to continue any kind of stripes onto the body. I hedged my bet knowing the heavy texture of the fabric design would help mask the difference.  Besides, how often are the right arm and left arm adjacent to one another (crossing arms, yes, but the husband does not often do that). 

Finally, I convinced myself that this was a casual sweater.  The only time he wears his other handknits is on the weekends when it is really cold and his typical t-shirt uniform is not quite enough to keep the chill at bay. I have yet to seem him venture forth in public with anything more than handknit socks.

Moreover, I even asked him, and he said it looked fine.

So, I have continued on. 

The yarn and fabric are lovely to the hand. The textured pattern is instantly memorized.  In all, this has been an easy and enjoyable knit.  It would probably be done by now, if I were not dividing my time between the day job, the household duties, my daily yoga routine, the new design above, and this contraption:

(Please forgive the mess that is currently my dining room!!)

This is a weaving loom. It is a Schacht 25-inch 8-harness table loom in dire need of a stand.  She's a bit naked at the moment and desires to be dressed.  I partially dressed her yesterday with a narrow bit of linen. She performed beautifully or as well as could be expected, as she was working with a total novice, but we were able to produce a whiff of fabric:

Please don't laugh.

I know it is a very sad little piece of fabric with embarrassingly poor selvedges, but with virtually no instruction (other than YouTube and a book for the warping), I am somewhat amazed I was able to produce anything.

On Sunday, Wee One and I are scheduled to take a Beginning Weaving class. Although it will be on a rigid heddle Cricket, it is a start.

In the meantime, I shall attempt to dress the lady again in Noro for a proper scarf.  

Oh, as I name most everything, she is Vanessa. 

Lady Vanessa Schacht.  

Intimidating as hell.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Christmas Knitting?

Knitting for others is always tricky.

Taste and fit are very personal, so, if it is not a beanie or a scarf, I usually inquire as to pattern and yarn choices.

Thus, there's very little surprise knitting going on at Casa del Feisty.

Input is very important.

In addition to the Ranger Sweater for the husband, I have the next couple of projects ready to go for the girls.

First up is Bedford for the older daughter in a yarn whose name I shall not mention, but note that I have 17 skeins that I no longer believe equal 1,700 yards, but 20% of that or 1,360 yards.  As the pattern calls for 1,245 yards, I think I will be fine.

Secondly, Winnie is a sweet little cardigan for the Wee One.  I love the stripes and the younger daughter chose lovely colors. However, I must note that it is knit on US 2 needles with fingering weight cotton yarn.  Hmmm... I do really like the swatch...  And, it needs buttons.

While my Breckon is not Christmas knitting as it is for me and I started it ages ago, back in March, I would like to get it done in time for the cooler weather. Both sleeves are complete, and I have about seven inches into the conjoined fronts and back, as they are all knitted at the same time to the armholes.  It *is* really lovely.

Never at a loss for projects, I swatched for the Highlander today.  It is a cardigan/jacket with a lovely textured pattern. I have no idea when I will ever get to it (there are three super secret new designs that I also have on the needles!) But, it is nice to dream, no?  I even found the most superb buttons to work with it!!

Speaking of buttons, I found the perfect Breckon buttons, too:

As they have a flat mirror-like surface, it is really hard to see their iridescence (for the wordsmiths out there it is also known as goniochromism).  They actually pick up the colors in the sweater beautifully.

For the keen eye, one might notice that the back (which is splayed across the top of the two sleeves) is more purple and less fuschia than the sleeves.  I bought four skeins of Yarn Carnival's High Wire in Amaranthine.  Three of the skeins were the darker purple and one was lighter with more pink.  I opted to knit the sleeves in lighter skein.  Once I cannibalized my swatch, I had just enough out of that one skein for both sleeves.

Looking at this now, I really want to pick it up and finish it...

But, I have oodles and scads of not-so-secret-Christmas knitting to accomplish, and it is already October!