Saturday, December 31, 2005

Red, Red, Red

Company has departed, and things are settling back to normal, if normal means so much rain lately that my way out is blocked by a swollen creek! The bridge on our road out is almost inundated, and leaving would mean taking a chance that I couldn't get back. Ah well, there are worse fates than being housebound on a rainy day.

The second red scarf was finished, blocked and given away. I did get a picture, albeit on my kitchen table, with the red tablecloth. Not much contrast, but not much needed really:

red scarf2

This is Kiri from this blog. Her pattern is very clearly written, and the knitting just skipped along.

Here is a detail:

red scarf detail1

I had an interesting time trying to figure out how much yarn was left as I knit, and how much was needed for the edging. I was knitting straight from the knitted/dyed fabric (see this post), and really could not gauge the amount of yarn left. So, I started counting rows, to see how many were eaten up with each pattern repeat.

Once it was clear I would be running out of yarn, I naturally started knitting faster and faster. Well, hmmm, it didn't work. I ran out before I finished the edging.

So I needed more yarn. I thought of using some of the white angora from the Leaf scarf, which would make a nice, ermine-like edging, but decided that would limit the usefulness of the finished scarf, making it festive, rather than utilitarian. Since I expect its owner to travel with it, I hunted up some yarn from the stash, and overdyed it:

scarf yarn

The lighter colored ball is the *before* yarn, the dark is the newly dyed merino (*why* I didn't dye both skeins is anybody's guess: now I have the remains of the dark, and the *other* light, pish-tosh).

The skein weighed 100 grams, I had dyestock mixed up at 2%. Since the scarf yarn used was painted, at 2%, I did a 4% immersion ratio (200 ml of 2% stock) to get a darker shade, so the edge is a nice dark outline.

I was so anxious to finish the knitting on time, I could not wait for the yarn to be totally dry. I balled it up slightly damp, and knit away!

It, like its other red lace counterpart, went into a cloth bag for its new owner:

scarf bag

I love this fabric: I bought it to make a table runner. There was enough fabric to make these two bags too: they are lined with red silk (what else?).

I expect this will be a travel scarf, like the Leaf Lace scarf, and the cloth bag will protect the lace when being shoved into and pulled out of travel totes. The stuffed bags will also make good pillows, should the need arise, on a plane or train.

Both scarves are just large enough to provide some comfort if the plane is chilly, and nicely wrap a neck in drafty cathedrals, or on windswept beaches or moors.

I had so much fun making them. More lace is in my future, maybe even a travel scarf for me! Hmmm. Perhaps red?

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Joyful Noise

I've been weaving. Presents. I make a lot of noise weaving: not only is the loom a noisy one, but I turn up the volume on the radio so I can hear above my banging away. Add to this the fact that my studio is a glorified tent:

Feb 14 2005 yurt

With this last week's torrential rains, hail, thunder and lightning pounding loudly on the roof of said tent, and you could say that it's been a bit noisy lately here at Casa Lambster.

But it's a cheerful noise, musical and creative, and there are no neighbors within shouting distance, so I'm (at least) not inflicting this noise on anyone but myself (and the cat).

Here are this week's projects:

cotton warps

First the annual dishtowel/napkin warp. Details: cottons and rayons, a variety of yarns, all within the 2000 to 3000 ypp range. Two painted warps, and some solids to go with them. Sett at 20 epi, woven with one of the cotton flakes from the warp.

On the loom:

fabric detail

I am liking the yellow. I might do a variation of this fabric for kitchen curtains. Cheerful colors, eh?

Gayle's beads2

The colors? So like Gayle's beads! I'm nothing if not predictable. Yeah, consistent; that's the word most likely to spring unbidden to mind when my name comes up.

Here's a final shot of the finished fabric, after a wash and pressing:

fabric close up

Other knitting has been occurring too (I know, don't all fall over at once). These are wrist warmers, for a friend who is perpetually cold:

wrist warmers

I used a three ply merino, but had to double it, and use size 8 needles, to get a quick knit, yet a warm scrunchy fabric (note to self: when you make lists of gifts to be made, CHECK THE LIST, sooner than a week before Christmas).

There has also been some metal clay action:

spiral necklace

celtic knot necklace

Two necklaces, with little metal clay pendants. I'm so liking this metal clay play, and it is making some sense out of the gynormous amount of beads I have on hand.

And my Constant Companion?


For Cathy, yep, she's still around. She follows me back and forth from the house to the studio. When I'm in the yurt, she's underneath, when I'm in the house, she's waiting on the porch. She insists on head scratches, but resists coming inside of any building, and doesn't like being picked up. She has not learned to purr, either, but she does vocalize while being scratched. She is noisy, too, I've never had a cat that talks so much. Perhaps we were meant for each other!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Into the Red

OK, so I knit. I've knit for over thirty years. I have drawers full of sweaters, vests, and I've even given away handspun sweaters to make room for more.

But it's not my primary obsession. It's a diversion. I usually have something going on the needles, for evenings, travel, downtime, yadda yadda.

But often when I see someone else's lovely knitting, my mind is thinking *how can I weave that?* Like Claudia's lovely new hat, my first thought was: *would this make a nice border for my rug?* I don't know yet, but I ordered the pattern, and I'll rechart it for weaving. Someday soon, Claudia's head might match my floor (and I mean that in the very nicest way).

But this lace is different. I find myself sneaking time away from other things to go knit. Not filling in time with knitting, but stealing time to knit. Who knew?

The scarf is into the red:

lace scarf

The next real decision is how far to knit, before I have to stop and do the edging. I know the final rows take more yarn and time, I just have to figure out how much. I have enough yarn though, I think, for another few rounds of the pattern before I have to stop. We'll see (and you'll be the first to know, imaginary or not).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No Vacuum Here

Nothing is created in a vacuum. We are inspired by what is around us, and influenced by thoughts, comments and ideas of others, and other's work. I need all the help I can get, and I've gotten some really great help lately from my imaginary internet friends.

First, here's a shot of the finished, but not yet blocked, Leaf Lace Shawl:

leaf shawl2

Specs: angora/silk/merino handspun yarn, 2 ply, knit on size 5 needles. Interesting side note: I started on Bates brand needles, switched to Addi Turbos, influenced by the positive raves from other knitters, and didn't like them, for this project. I switched back to the Bates, because the tips are sharper, easier with which to *scoop* stitches. I'm as surprised as anybody that I even have an *opinion* about this, non-knitter that I am.

Well, knitting the Leaf Shawl was too fun, and I wanted to do more. I have the Flower Basket Shawl pattern, but had heard of Birch, and wanted to branch out (ha ha), so I went looking for the pattern. Now, Birch is a different orientation of lace: a shawl shape, with a lace pattern super-imposed over it (if that makes sense: the lace is not oriented to the shape of the garment). I like the architectural-ness of the Leaf Lace patterning.

But, aha! I found, yes, on the internet, someone unknown to me, who had taken the Birch pattern and re-oriented it in a manner similar to the Leaf Lace pattern (see the pattern here). She calls this shawl Kiri. I happily printed out this pattern, and hunted in the studio for a suitable yarn.

Kiri would also be a gift, and a scarf size rather than a full shawl, so it was not hard to find a skein of suitable yarn: a 2 ply merino. It was originally spun for weaving, so it's plied a little tighter than I would a knitting yarn, but *any port in the storm* of Christmas knitting: it would do.

Then, in an email conversation with Judy, she mentioned she wanted to try Nancy's dyeing technique (knit, dye then re-knit) in a shawl pattern. Woot! What a great idea. I sent a missive to Nancy, and she was willing to be a pieceworker this one time, and knit up the merino into a fabric so I could dye it:

dyed merino

Reds. Not so very surprising, eh? Graded from pink to dark red, pink at the neckline, and darks as we progress.

And now I've started on Kiri, using the merino straight from the dyed fabric. The little kinks in the yarn are actually helpful: the slippery yarn doesn't slide so easily off the needles when it is not wanted to slide, it acts like a little spring, wrapping itself around the needle:

kiri shawl1

Details? Size 7 needle this time, still the Bates, and the finished size will be whatever the dyed fabric will give me.

And last, I did block the Leaf Lace:

leaf lace shawl

Whoops, it must've fallen into the dyepot while I was blocking it. You knew didn't you? White? Maybe not so practical for a scarf that would travel, red is much better! And the dye just happened to be all mixed up and ready to go.

And that other kind of vacuum? Yeah, not so much of that going on around here, as I knit myself towards Christmas. Am I still scaring you Marcy?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Two Steps Backwards

Sometimes, ripping back is the better part of valor:


This is about 2" woven. I originally planned to do a 5" border of plain color around a central field.

Within an inch, I knew I could not weave so much plain color, unrelieved of pattern. Too *quiet* for me (there were several other word choices I could have used in place of quiet, suffice it to say, quiet is the least likely to offend). Too *zen* would be another way to put it, and me? not a zen person. I'm more the horror vacuui type. I plotted.

I like this silk bag:


So I did a quick sketch, approximating the colors of the rug:


It looked OK, so I forged on. Beware of forging. Sometimes *sleeping on it* is a better choice.

Bleah. I did not like it. I added some red (better) but still, not what I wanted in this rug. I slept on it (so to speak).

Today I took out 4 rows. That is 4 times 223 knots. I do not want to do the math. I am sure this is all worth it, and that I will like the finished rug better, and that the pain of ripping will subside:


Now we will move forward, this time with a series of borders. I spent some of my supposed sleeping time last night calculating, thinking numbers, fitting designs into the space allotted. I'm sure many of you do the same: counting picks, or warp ends, or stitches, instead of sheep.

On a much brighter note, I received these beads from Gayle:

gayle's beads1

She made them for me, thinking these were just my colors. And they are! Do they match this rug, or what??

Gayle's beads

Thanks Gayle!

Now, me? Back to work:


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Quick Pics

I finally blocked the shawl I've been wearing for several weeks: gee what a difference a little water makes!


I had difficulty convincing myself to block it, I just was so enjoying wearing it, hanging yarn ends notwithstanding.

Specs: knitted in the shape of the Irish Diamond Shawl by Cheryl Oberle, from her book Folk Shawls. But, obviously, no lace, garter stitch only.

I'm not much of a shawl person, but I wanted a warm, cushy morning wrap. The lace design conflicted with that concept, so I chose to just knit. Plus, it was easy mindless knitting for brain-dead evenings.

It was a pleasure to make, except I kept running out of yarn. I had to stop, spin and dye more. You can obviously see where: 4 skeins at the top, in reds, two next in wine, and 6 skeins in purple. I used the very last of the purple to crochet a firmer edge along the front opening and around the neckline. I think I ended up with a total of 16 inches of yarn left over, sheesh. The yarn is Polwarth, the first few skeins and the beginning of the shawl were pictured here.

Blocking consisted of a long soak in hot water, a spin out in the washer, and overnight spread out on towels. The blocking helped ease the transitions, all the yarn was (shocking!) just not exactly the same gauge. Blocking also made the fabric more supple, which is a good thing.

The shawl is performing morning warm up tasks beautifully, in both senses of the word. But shawls? so restricting of movement. So I guess I'll just have to sit, and maybe knit (or spin). Shucks.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Mopping Up

Our guild has Dye Days periodically, sometimes in an organized fashion, but occasionally just a get-together to dye. My friend Lindsey has a neat trick during these events: she puts a skein or warp chain on each work table, and asks people to use the yarn for mop-ups. So anytime there is a drip or spill, we pick up the skein and mop up the mess.

Lindsey knit this scarf from 4 mop-up skeins from our last dye day:

Lindsey's scarf

Fabulous, huh? What dye technique could be easier? I neglected to ask what brand the yarn was, but this is a soft and drapey scarf in wool. Lindsey steamed the skeins after the *dye was applied*.

Here's another view:

Lindsey's scarf2

It's just surprising how cohesive all the colors are, and how much green my guild likes to use!

I have often said the prettiest thing to come out of some dye sessions is my mop-up rag. Lindsey had the very bright idea of making that a reality.