Monday, October 27, 2014

Long weekends,

Long weekends are fantastic for catching up with all the things one should do, and all the things that one wants to do but can't quite find time for. This weekend past was Labour weekend, observed in New Zealand since 1890 to celebrate the 40 hour work week. I am always surprised that the 40 hour work week was recognized so early, and saddened that at some level it is not universal. I know I am fortunate to work in academia, where at long as the teaching is done, ones responsibilities are meet, one can sort ones own workweek. Once I worked in retail and I vividly remember that ones time was always mediated by the opening hours, and customers, breaks and time away from the counter were carefully negotiated and structured - there was no relocating to the library to work in peace. No ignoring emails until a task was complete, no scheduling a difficult task for a nominated time.

Because of Labour day this weekend was a long weekend. As well as Saturday Sunday we had Monday to play with. Saturday it was fine so little cub and I gardened, she has been anxious to get the garden under control, she wants to plant things. So we weeded and pruned. Sunday it rained - so I hauled out the drum carder and turned some odds and ends of fiber I had put aside to card into something I wanted to spin. I am always surprised at how much time carding takes. I processed 75 grams, 30 grams or so of bunny silk dyed Aqua, and 40 grams or so of merino silk dyed Lime and it took the entire afternoon,and into the early evening. The resulted batts are light fluffy and I am looking forward to spinning them. I took my time to pick out all the neps and weird bits I could, and while that was boring I think it paid off. And will pay of when I spin.

I finished the baby knit, it it's not been gifted ... so I can't really give away to much yet. I did knit a hat, I was thinking that I needed another present, and thumbing through Ply saw Woolly wormhead pattern for Wraped. I liked it but the handspun I wanted to use was too thin, weird as the hat as was designed for Handspun yarn and in a magazine for hand spinners. Still I guess if I had spun specially for the hat as the article suggested I wouldn't have that problem. The joys of retrospective choices. I also was not too fussed on the split brim on the design, Bear suggested it would be ideal for a male pony tail, - I thought the hat looked a little bonnet like - and I wasn't too sure it would read as boy hat if I was to knit in Red/Orange. The pattern uses short rows To tilt the crown backwards ...and I had to perform feats of knitterly trickery to make it work in my thinner yarn, I cast on 110 stitches on 3.25mm needles and worked out my own short row pattern based loosely on the pattern. When it came to the crown decreases I used the photo as a guide. I could see the short rows continued through the crown - so I mapped out what I thought would work, Place one set of markers to indicate where my short rows should be and another set to indicate decreases, and modified as I went. It worked but I don't know if I would get the same hat should I try it again. The yarn I used is the same as for the heart below - but for some reason (maybe it has more red in that section) won't photograph well at all, in real life it is more interesting and not so screamingly on fire and glowing with almost posterized effects.

Then being on a roll with quick fun projects I knit a cover for a heart, A bunch of local knitters are supporting a colleague who is unwell. We fabricate hearts - all a simillar shape, size and thickness cut from foam core, and decorate them in ways we hope will bring a smile. The co-ordinator, our local heart fairy, collects the hearts and stops by each day and makes sure there is one in the letter box of she who the hearts are for. As for the heart, I knit two sock toes, when they were big enough to cover the bumps of the heart I placed them side by side and knit th body of the heart, fudging first increases and then decreases as needed. At some point near the tip I slotted the heart into palce and knit it closed. Knitting around an inflexible shape is not the simplest thing I have ever done. And I was so glad when it was done. All this aside its made me wonder what the noun for a collective of knitters is? I'm thinking Tangle of knitters, feel free to offer a suggestion.

Bears sweater grows, it's now at 11 inches, pretty good progress alongside the distractions of other knitting and half days carding. And for boring stocking stitch round after round on small needles for a large sweater. I've not yet decided if I will add any texture to the chest area, I've 3 more inches to work before the gusset increases which is when I need to decide, I wasn't too fussed on how textured and bumpy the gansey patterns resulted when knit in this yarn, and the fabric spread so mucked up the gauge. I am tending towards plain, with maybe a garter ridge every so often ....but another 3" might leave me so bored I will be itching to do something interesting.

I did add bears initials (CDKB), he has four initials, whereas I have only two. My parents were so sure I was to be a boy that they didn't think of girls names ahead of time and were caught out, they came up with one, which is fine, but Bears parents were so organized they had three plus his surname! I suspect he has four because each represents a family member he was named after, whereas my family don't have that tradition of naming children after relatives. I think/hope the initials will be clearer after blocking. I added the initials as they mark the front quite nicely, and save the gansey being put on backwards, so it wasn't about legibility.

Anyway, ipad OS updated, Blogsy app reinstalled to stop the crashing and now able to blog again, it is looking like this blogging thing might become regular again.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hello again, FO and NP

With FO being equal to finished object, and NP being a new project.

Way back in July of 2013 I started a cardigan for myself, Slanted Sleeven by Ankestrick, in a beautiful rusty read fingering weight yarn, 100% blue faced leister. The cargigan is lovely and has a slanted shoulder line inspired by the cut of Italian (and older) traditions of tailoring. Somehow the cardigan slipped off the working pile into a no-mans land of nothing, occasionally I would haul out the project and begin to knit again,

Everytime I oicked up this to knit it took time to reposition myself with where I was and what was to be done. Finally I began to dream of new projects and knew that my slanted Sleeven was a gate, sure I could cast on something new, but I knew I wouldn't actually cast on a cardigan until my slanted Sleeven was done. I took Slanted away with me to Christchurch, the only project on the road and now it is done. Blocked, buttons and being worn.

Also done is little cubs new safety hat, in hindsight I could have made the hat longer as I feel the turn up is a tad mean, I like them to be oversized chunky, but little up is adamant it is perfect. There is a chart, the beginnings of a pattern, and I thought I was being all clever making a reversible chart, one that would do for knitting the crown of the hat, and the chart could be turned180degrees and be read for the decreases. I now see there is a flaw in my plan - and need to fix the chart ....but for those who have asked if there is a pattern for this - there soon will be. There is also discussion about making one with a pink inside and lime green outer. I do have some lime green in stash. I feel that little cub has been so well looked after at school that a warm hat would be a great gift to her teacher.

And the new object? Well two, the weaving progresses, officially class is Monday night, but with a table loom one ca weave or work outside of class hours. In the last class I tied the warp to the front beam, and began to weave. Yesterday I wove at home, and I'm pleased with the way it is turning out. What I love about being guided by experts is that they have experience to suggest solutions to the problems beginners create. I brought handspun to weave with, one skein chain plied so sections of straight colour, the other three skeins three plied and mostly barberpoled three shades of blue. Christine's suggestions was to weave a narrow scarf, with one inch stripes in the warp, and to use the barberpole for every second warp stripe, and also for the warp. She is clever - the warp stripes provide a linear focus. Beyond that Christine suggested a twill weave that shifted direction with the warp stripes - making my rookie yarn choices interesting in a good way. And yes - there is something odd at the point the weaving turns over the front beam, I've checked and checked in real life this dosnt show, but in a photo it shows. The plies of that one ice of yarn sit oddly in the weaving there. Time to stop and wait for Monday to check in with Christine.

'Tother new object is a gansey for Bear. Ages ago at the Bruce woolen mill he spotted a silver grey yarn that he liked and bought enough for a sweater. Seems timely to knit it for him now that Sleeven is off the needles, the yarn is pale silver Gotland fiber, and I've been swatching. I started on 3.25 mm needles, worked a garter band and a ribbed band, moved to 3mm, then 2.75 mm and finally swatched some gansey patterns in knit and purl combinations before ending with a garter rib and bind off. I don't think bear believed it was a swatch, he kept asking if it was a sleeve. The kind of swatching that occurs when planning and developing is totally different to the swatch that is worked before following a designers pattern.

The swatch went to knit night, and was passed around for feedback. The prefered gauge was on 2.75 and 3mm needles, 2.75 for the look of the fabric, and 3mm for the feel of the fabric. I decided edges and ending were to be 2.75mm and the body on 3mm needles. While at knit night I wound half the yarn into center pull balls on my nostephinne.

I washed the swatch, and dried it, and then I planned, using a schematic drawn from one of bears favorite sweaters, this provides the length, width, and other details so I don't have to guess what he wants. Yes I can use body measurements, but somehow that still involves guessing the amount of ease and where on the body things should sit.



And I've begun, the garter welts are done, and on to a small band of garter rib above the welts. This is to be a gansey with traditional shadeing gussets at the underarm, and his initials, but the yarn is a two ply wollen so the knit and purl patterns don't show up so well. The fabric fluffs, and I expect will continue to fluff, that fluffy haze will of secure fiddly texture knitting so I may as well avoid planning features that won't show. If I'm bored by the time I knit to the chest I will do fancy stuff - if not then garter welts separating garter rib will be enough. Simple is sometimes the best.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

The most exciting part of any project

is debatable, when I start a project I feel that finishing is the exciting bit, when I finish something I think starting is the most exciting. In the middle of the project starting something new and finishing both seem more exciting. Odd really, as I think of myself as a process knitter. But starting and finishing are key processes in a project, so maybe the emphasis shifts depending on where I am in the process.

The two scarves, woven from boy-sock remains are done, off the loom, hemstitched washed, and dried. The fringes are trimmed. Overall I had enough for one long scarf and a shorter piece of fabric, or two short scarves. Bear elected for two short scarves, at 132cm not including a fringe these will wrap around a neck and fold over across the chest.


Here are both scarves, one is for bear and one a gift to be put aside for when giving a scarf seems the right thing to do. I followed online advice and used a quilt makers rotary cutter to trim the fringes after washing and drying,

The next scarf is already on the loom, not the floor loom (Lesley) but the wee table loom. I am enrolled in a ten week weaving class on Monday nights. First week we prepared our warp, second week we put our warp on the loom, and threaded heddles, third week is this week we tie onto the front beam and I think begin weaving. The class is with Christine Keller, a local weaver who trained as a professional weaver in Germany. Her methods seem to contain many of the steps shown in books and online, but there are also lots of little special things that I've not seen mentioned before. Like using elastic to tie the warp threads in a bunch to the front beam to make picking them up from the cross on the lease sticks for threading the heddles easier, and putting a whip across the cross against the back beam. I'm not experienced - so these might be usual methods for many - but they were things I missed when I read books and looked online. The yarn is Handspun, I had one skein of chain ply with solid colours, and three skeins of barber pole three ply. The warp has seven one inch stripes, alternating between barberpole and chain ply. I've threaded up for a twill that changes direction with each stripe. As a newbie I think I know what that will give me - but seeing will confirm my thoughts.

Some time ago I knit both boys, bear and elder cub, a Hope they never need this hat, dark grey outside with a safety orange lining. The deal is if they ever got lost outdoors they could reverse the hat and be easier to spot by search parties. Why yes, I am a mother, how could you tell? For little cubs school camp she needed a warm hat, I vetoed taking the cashmere one, the Viking cable one, the Handspun tam, the Shetland tam ....pretty much any pretty hat, they wee either too lacy or too precious. So she borrowed one of the boy bears hats. While she was way I started to knit a girls version. All the safety orange is gone, so I chose bright pink sock yarn and paired it with an over dyed merino possum fingering. I also played with knitting the hat from the top, the previous hats were cast on and knit up, this one I wanted to knit from the top to other top in one go. This means no pesky pick up to do on a cast on edge ....seems to have worked, I will tidy up the chart and post it soon.

Little cub finished her Tardis socks in time for camp, I knit half of each up to the heel and both heels, she knit both legs and all the colour work. I am impressed - at twelve I don't think I was doing that, and especially not on socks at this gauge !

She loved the colour work, and talked about how the chart was only eight rows, and how exciting it was to see the windows and the words appear. We may have a convert to colour work.

During the past few weeks I didn't have much interest in knitting, a paper cut across the ball of one finger made holding needles and knitting weird. So I did other things, finished some long abandoned knit books, drew a little and sewed up the spare fish. The blanket now has 200 fish, and is much bigger. There are only a few fish left loose, and I need to knit another three to have enough to complete a row.


Paper cut is healed now, and I am thinking about knitting more fish. More than that I am thinking a bout the blanket, is it big enough, or shall I continue? At 90 cm square, it is a good lap blanket, not big enough to tuck around a sleeping or resting patient who lies ill on a couch, and not big enough for a cot. I don't know if in a more tepid about knitting more fish, or about weaving in all those ends and picking up and adding a garter broder, which means deciding what colour to knit it in. Being paralyzed about the decision - I declare it not finished and put it back in the work basket,

Somewhere along the line I remembered that I had been knitting a cardigan, it might have been after Shoebox Sally and I decided to knit Enchanted Mesa, by Stephen West as a KAL starting January the first 2015. We are nothing if not practicable about the timeline, that gives me time to finish Slanted Sleeven and find yarn to use and ShoeboxSally time to finish the Firth of fourth and find yarn. The Firth has us in Awe - being as it is pretty much two lace shawls back to back in that it uses lace weight yarn and is knit in lace, and needs two skeins ...the woman is mad in a way only knitters can admire.

That being organized I pulled out my slanted Sleeven, and finished a sleeve, only one more sleeve to go and the buttons to sew on. I have vintage glass buttons, almost beads, that don't quite match the red, reds are so tricky to work with, but are so pretty I have decided they will match. Anyway they are glass so the Sleeven colour will show through their translucency, I'm on leave this week so the sleeve is my travel project, we are away for a few days ....and if I only take Sleeven - then I will - have - to - knit- on - it - won't - I?

And I started my weeks leave by visiting the hard to find book shop ... They have things I must return for after our travel ....



Sunday, September 07, 2014

Knitting, stashing via remote acquisition, and workshops

Hello, today there is knitting, a sock, well two socks but only one photographed,and I have more stuff, acquired in a fun way. It's Sunday, after a weaving workshop Friday and Saturday, so I'm tired, and more knowledgeable at the same time as knowing I have a huge amount more to learn, before I can even begin to think I am in control of my weaving. Till then I feel like I'm careening around madly, enjoying myself, in true teen age style - I'm well past my teenage years, but there is a stage of any new hobby when one must be like a teenager, confident though lack of knowledge. And I'm reading, a newish book that makes me nod, and smile and go ahh!

Little cub and I continue to knit the pair of socks, she knits slightly slower than I and heads off to bed a few hours earlier so my progress is faster. She wanted me to point out the Tardis dress in the photo, with the right kind of blue. To even things out, she always picks up the longer sock, while I get to lengthen the shorter one. My plan was to work through the heel with her at my side, but the heel happened after her bedtime, so I knit both. She has done short rows before - it is a short row heel for speed and simplicity, so I am confident she could knit a heel if she had to. These are toe up, we are past the heels and onto the leg. We are only using the pattern for the tardish features, mostly the sock is FLK because it's easy and fits. The deadline is Friday - when school camp bags need to be dropped off at school and checked. The cubs don't leave till Monday so if we miss deadline one, we will aim at deadline two and she can wear them on the bus. It's lovely to see little cub knit a sock, I feel I've prepared her for the world.


This is the other shared project, last months knitters study group project was hyperbolic baby pants. I failed epic fail, the pattern calls for increases worked every 34 stitches or so and in such a way that markers can't be used, seems I can't reliably count to 34, having to stop and count again and again wore me out. I wanted my knitting to be more fun, so Zoomer took pity and offered to finish them for me. I totally took advantage of her offer, and last Thursday she delivered them back ready to work the waist and leg bands. These are quite fun, with a bulls eye (when worked in stripes) on the rear and horizontal stripes on the front. The pants used all of the 3x50g of yarn I'd put aside, so today I sorted a finer and coordinating grey green to work the bands in. I'm thinking a waist band with a fold over elastic channel, and leg cuffs as ribbing. If they are long they can fold up and be unfolded as the baby grows.

I wasn't able to get to KAN this year, that being Knit August Nights in Napier, small financial priority of elder cub being selected for an English and drama trip to NY and LA next year. We need to save, there is fundraising for the 'once landed costs' but we are to pay the airfare and accommodation so saving is in hand and that means no knitterly away trips for now. I realised that while I wasn't able to travel to KAN I could send my stash money with someone. M from Vintage Purls said she would happily shop for me, and home came with three skeins of merino alpaca fingering yarns, a tardish needle gauge, and this adorable owl kit. Love love love. Maybe I can find other knitters attending events I can't get to and give them spending $.

The weaving workshop went well, I apparently 'took on a lot' by warping my table loom in such fine thread, or so said many older and more experienced weavers in the class. I wanted to see detail and worried that by weaving with coarser thread the pattern would be scaled up and not in a good way. I guess I could have woven a narrower sample. I was the only one in the class who chose to warp up for monks belt - rosepath was the most popular. I had a slow start as being a complete beginner I hand misread the instructions and spent the first part of the class re threading. This was a day and a half of weaving, and five different lift plans - some which I love, others which I thought I would love - turned out meh when worked. I learned lots, about fixing broken warp yarns, weighting yarns, lashing on, and books that are now on my want list. Much of what I learned was from listening and talking, not what the class officially contained. There was a warping demonstration - which was good, as was the discussion around how others in the room did things and what was best for some types of yarn and want suited others. Underneath the drying sample is the spinning and plying from last week - also washed and drying. I'm still cold about the three ply with different shades of singles, preferring the cleaner look of the chain ply and wish I had chain plied it all - but I also know that knit (or woven) it will look very different.

Right now I'm reading this, after a review sparked my curiosity. I've always found people who are curious about their world the most interesting to be around. And further I've always been kind of bored by people who are not curious about anything at all. I really don't care what it is that people are curious about, mostly, but there is something about someone's curiosity that leads to excitement. I'm only part way through - but I love the way that curiousness and it's history, as well as how it is perceived has been explained. I teach in a design school - the students who's work is the most exciting seems to be fueled by curiosity - and I'd love to be able to foster more curiosity in my students. I also love the way he described a way of standing back and fostering curiosity as 'grandparent style', watching, keeping people safe, asking questions and saying mmm a lot, sort of acting like what is being learned is new and not already known, not demonstrating just letting learning happen in a set up environment.

Enough for now, it's Dr Who night here, so must go and join the other whovians, little cub tells me that is the official term for a Dr Who fan.