Sunday, December 24, 2006

Under the Wire

A few last minute gifts, done just in time:


Fingerless gloves, man-size. Details: Cascade 220, size 5 needles, cast on 44 sts. Add 10 sts. for thumb gussets. Reduce sts. at the top, so the final ribbing is 40 sts. Then toss in the wash, and felt slightly, Bingo! (I think, that is. Bingo if they fit, heh).


Eileen's candles

Several days ago, I saw these beaded wire knitted votive covers at my LYS , knit from a pattern in this book. Eileen used 24 gauge wire, and size 8 needles, 8 stitches. I tried 28 gauge wire (because I had it), red and gold beads (well, I had them) and size 5 steel needles (um, had them), and CO 12 sts. to come up with these:


Sliding the beads was awkward at first, but became routine. Finishing the two edges into a circle was not as neat as I would have liked, but was easy to cover up with a length of wire threaded with a few extra beads. The only tough part was the handling the wire: it did not behave as nicely as yarn, and wore a little callus on one finger where it rubbed.

And for a little post-prandial holiday knitting:

red yarn

I've been dyeing yarn. The yarn is a little heavier than I usually spin, but it is soft, soft, soft. It was spun for a class from Nancy last January, and the machine-knitted fabric was made up then too, but never dyed. The yarn (BFL, 3ply) was too heavy to easily use on the knitting machine, so the rest was never knitted up.

The knit-dye-reknit piece will probably become a pair of fingerless gloves, I think, in feather and fan stitch, on size 7 needles. The skeins will probably be a multi-directional scarf, or a moebius. They should be fast holiday knits, while visiting and noshing, and not too distracting to work on amid holiday hub-bub.

Of course, the color is no surprise, and quite seasonal, but really I was inspired by Claudia's red roving and yarn. The color of her yarn is enchanting; I had to dye some of my own.

So Ha! Success. Yarn to knit, a few last minute gifts, and all done under the wire (heh) in time for Christmas.

May your holiday be joyous, whatever you celebrate, and may we all be successful someday, somewhere, somehow, in finding Peace on Earth.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's a Wrap

These are the gifts:

stocking gifts

And these are the wrappers:


Against all advice, I ran them once through the washer to firm them up and felt them a little bit (the better to hold up under the weight of gifts). They are stretched here on their custom-made sock blockers. I like them better after a wash, they are just a little firmer. I guess I knit loose (who knew?).

The toe-shape has caused much comment. I like them, stubby though they may be. The toes were inspired by Nancy Bush's Tallinn socks in Knitting on the Road:

stocking picture

(oddly oriented photo, I know, but I could not take it straight on: the flash obscured the page).

Details: Cascade 220, size 6 needles, cast on 80 st. and knit for 12", then insert a place holder yarn for afterthought heel. Heels and toes are the same: two decreases each side, every other round. Kitchener toes and heels (and may I say that I am good at the Kitchener? hee). Eileen, at my LYS, gave me the head start: her pattern is for size 7 needles, and 60 sts. but I followed her directions for the heel and toe construction, and some of her charts. Thanks Eileen!

The stockings and their gifts are winging their way to their recipients, so it is, indeed, a wrap.

Reagan Patrice: Blogger does not give me your email to return comments. If you'd like a quick reply on Horoscope scarves, email me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Birthdays and Weddings

December, already fraught with activity, has the added bonus of several birthdays in my family. Yes, two of which are my fault (well, I guess I cannot take full credit, but I had rights-of-first-refusal, which I did not exercise at the time).

Several days ago I noted Happy Birthday to Jesse, who responded by saying it was hard for him to believe he was 30. He can't be 30, because I am 35 and I am his mother. If I am 35, he is 10 (you may do the math here). He is a precocious 10; he drives, graduated from college, has a job, is married and owns a house. He travels alone by air, without a big tag around his neck. But he is 10 nonetheless.

His brother, therefore, cannot be even 10. He is 8. Happy Birthday Ben, 8 years old today! He, too, is accomplished, for an 8 year old. He drives, is a college graduate, has a job, and travels alone without a big tag. Amazing, isn't it?

Tomorrow we also have a winter wedding to celebrate, and there may be snow. It is raining here now, and temperatures are set to drop precipitously today and through the weekend. If there is any precipitation, we might just have the compleat winter wedding.

Lindsey's daughter Sarah is the bride. Lindsey wove horoscope scarves for each of the bridesmaids:

wedding shawls

Beautiful eh, and what a nice gift for each of Sarah's friends. The color order for each scarf is dictated by the recipients birth chart. Lindsey originally took a class from Bonnie Tarses, to learn this method of color selection, but she has adapted the colors and methods somewhat, and now has her own way of making these birth charts.

I have one of my own, from a class years ago with Bonnie:

horoscope scarf.2JPG

Working away here, mostly in the studio. What with Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, birthdays, and even a wedding, there is much yet to accomplish. But I am on the second-to-the-last CD (of 14) listening to The Thirteenth Tale, it is keeping me quite entertained. I may start it all over again as soon as it's done. It is a good listen, and there are miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Time and a Good Book

Lately I have spent a block of time in the studio, and progress has been made.

The place was a cat-fight. Mess everywhere, boxes unpacked and strewn, suitcase still packed from SOAR (no, not clothes, workshop stuff), and every surface covered.

Given time and a good book on tape (The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, well-read, and an engrossing story), I'm getting through the detritus, and warping looms:

warp dec 2006
(and beginning to weave the fabric)

Tieing heddles on the upright loom (see previous post):

heddles Dec 2006
(Charleen: they are tied from a continuous strand, not individual heddles like an inkle loom)

and setting up an experiment in pick-up weaving:

pickup experiment

Also, there has been some spinning:

silk dec 2006
silk, white, but soon to be (heh) red, because Claudia will not hand over the red Romney, harumph.

Order is beginning to prevail, surfaces have resurfaced, the floor is visible, navigating no longer requires leaps. Thanks to time and a story.

[And thanks to Lindsey!:-)]

Friday, December 08, 2006

Runs Home to Mama

Well, thanks for all of your thoughts on the process/product dilemma. I still have not decided on *what next* in the lace knitting arena, but I am leaning toward lace in red silk(yep, Marie, great minds think alike). This means dyeing, and I'm thinking dyeing before spinning. I'm still thinking though.

In the meantime, and as a part of the thinking process, I've warped the small upright loom for a new bag:

new bag Dec 2006

I still need to tie heddles, the weaving is a few days away.

This is a way of thinking for me, setting up a loom. I have the project planned, there are blocks of time needed, and they are good blocks of time to think about the next lace (or anything else, for that matter). Maybe this is one of the reasons I cannot ever imagine giving up weaving: setting up the loom is second nature now, part of my thinking process, and I enjoy the escape it provides.

This will be a new bag (like I needed one, heh), using some new-to-me yarns for the pile. Not handspun (darn, I'd like to do another) but a commercial yarn that Duke, my teacher, used to use. I need to have a sample, and see how it works: sett, finish, # of knots per yard, and see how it holds up to wear. I'd like to recommend the yarn to people who are new to knotted pile, but are not spinners. I can't do that until I've used it, until I know how it will behave. So the bag is a sample, but the sample will also be a bag (hmmm. see last post).

So a new bag soon. The front will be a spider web design, the back another labyrinth (I might even use this one again).

I am still thinking of knitting lace (sorry Marcy, hope your head does not explode). But, like an uncomfortable child, running home to mama in times of stress, I needed a familiar process to keep my hands busy while I ruminate.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I'm still musing on the next lace knitting project. I'm vacillating between knitting something just for the pleasure of the process, and finding something to knit that I might actually want: working toward the product. This is a variation on a theme, for me, because my weaving is generally all about the end product.

Once, long ago, on a warm Sunday afternoon, I had one of those memorable conversations with a group of spinners. Memorable, impromptu, unplanned, unbidden, all those things that make for an unexpected gift in one's life.

We were talking of spinning, and of weaving. Two of us were spinners and weavers, and we both happen to have an ethnic weaver's perspective on the craft: you make what you need. I need a new bag: I set up the loom with appropriate yarn, in an appropriate size, and weave away. If I need to spin for it, I now have the parameters: which fiber, what grist, what amount of twist. I need a new jacket: I start with the plan of the jacket and work backwards: how much yarn will I need, what size/color/fiber will I use, etc. Traditional people all over the world have woven that way forever: weaving as a process to obtain a needed item. While it can be fun, it is also very practical.

Spinners often do not think like that. Often it is: here's a nice fiber, fleece, color, (whatever), I think I'll spin some up. We often buy fiber that way, especially now, with all of the beautiful hand-dyed rovings calling their Siren call. Then that *what will I do with the yarn* process comes. Start with the fiber, and work toward the project: the reverse of the weaver's perspective. Often, not always.

I have the weaver-mind on: which project, then which fiber. I try to reverse my thinking: spin up some yarn, then decide. That gets me lost in the spinner-mind: oooh, this is a nice fiber, oooh, this is a nice color. Sort of crow-like, or kid-in-a-candy-shop behavior. Maybe it's time to just play a bit with some of the fibers, sample.

Play comes into both weaving and knitting too, of course, experimentation, fooling around, trying things out. Sometimes weavers do the swatch thing, as in trying out a new weave structure or fiber, but usually there's is an end product: a scarf, a shawl, a blanket. Weavers can weave just a sample, but I don't know many who do. Usually we are weaving a thing.

So this mental debate of mine is trying to come to grips with knitting something just because. Because, that's what my lace knitting is. It is not because I need or want more lace, it is because I enjoy the knitting of it, and want project to pick up, of an evening, to work on as I work through thoughts of my day, my week, my month. A pleasant activity that allows for rumination, that takes one away from the everyday world, if only for a few moments, like being in the cone of silence, but anywhere: in a coffee shop, on a commute train, in a busy living room, in a corner by oneself. Thus, my intentions are the process, not the product. A new way of looking at things.

I have given away more of the lace knitting than I have kept. I guess I am making gifts, a store of things for the future.

Luckily I have time: I'm working through the edging on Boundary Waters now. It will take me a month maybe, and I will ruminate on which project I spin for next. But(! you knew there was a but!), I have to get on it: I want the yarn spun and ready to go when I finish this knitting.

So I'm back to square one: what will it be? Slap me someone. I think I'll go spin :-).

(Happy Birthday Jesse!)