Deep sea swamp thing

February 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

deep sea swamp thing scarf

My WIP pile is getting out of control (well, more than usual), so I finally got around to tackling it, by adding fringe to a woven scarf. (Never mind the four WIP quilts and six WIP cardigans and jumpers…)

I called this scarf the Deep Sea Swamp Thing because that’s the name of both the colorways used. The yarn is a New England-spun and -bred Tunis intended for sock knitting, but I liked it woven. Dan, the owner of Gnomespun Yarn, helped me pick out colors at Rhinebeck this past fall, where the yarn debuted.

deep sea swamp thing scarf edges

Since I am not a sock knitter, the next project for the leftovers will probably be for a hat. I’m not particularly sensitive to wools, especially when it’s cold, so I think it’s perfect for many fingering/4 ply applications, but if you’re really sensitive do note that Tunis will never be as soft as Merino.

Here’s Deep Sea:

deep sea tunis yarn by gnomespun yarn

and Swamp Thing:

swamp thing tunis yarn by gnomespun yarn

I also particularly liked the reds so eventually I hope to get a skein or two of those colors for a similar scarf.

This one was woven on my Cricket loom with a 12 dent reed, using the teal as the warp and the forest green as the weft as I was inspired by some Oakshott shot cottons that I’ve been hoarding in my quilting fabric stash for quite a while.

I once read that there are two types of weavers: those who play with texture and those who play with color. In knitting I’m definitely more fascinated by texture, so I guess it makes sense that in weaving, where I often work with variegateds that are fussy knit up, I work more with color. It’s possible that one day, when wool mountain (a.k.a. my stash) has been conquered, I could become a texture weaver.

woven tunis scarf

A tree skirt

December 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

hexagonal tree skirt

I finished something before it was needed! Wooo! It’s a hexagonal quilted patchwork tree skirt for Christmas. We’ve never actually used a tree skirt before, we always used a gracefully wadded-up white sheet swathed around the base of the tree. It kind of looks like snow, especially when covered in presents.

This year, and from now on, we have a dedicated object for our presents to hang out on, which makes me feel very happy in the Martha Stewart portion of my brain.

hexagonal tree skirt

Anyway, so just before Thanksgiving I was reading Modern Patchwork from Interweave, designed by Angela Pingel, and saw the most darling tree skirt ever and I was like, “Self, I should MAKE THAT.” So self and I went shopping online and ordered a layer cake of Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake Christmas fabric, and then I stopped talking to myself in the third person and industriously sewed like crazy until it was finished.

I bought the binding and backing fabric from Hawthorne Threads, except then I realized how much I liked the backing fabric, and how much it made me sad to put it on the floor. So instead a green Ikea flat sheet took its place, and the gray scallop fabric can be used to back something else (that isn’t going on the floor).

quilting and fabric close-up

It was a lot of firsts for me:

  • cutting out fabric on the bias before sewing (I didn’t starch and it was fine)
  • using a layer cake (ok this was very easy, as I hoped, because I love pre-cuts)
  • using my new 1/4″ foot (it’s great!)
  • sewing non-90 degree angles on binding (surprisingly not much info on this online)
  • using the machine to sew on the binding (not too bad and very fast!)

quilting close-up

Overall the process went pretty smoothly. At first I planned on using my new walking foot to quilt the quilt sandwich, but by the time I got around to quilting this thing last week, my patience was sort of running out. So, after testing out my current fabrics in a mini baste-sandwich, I decided that it worked really well to do what I already knew, and thus I quilted this not with a walking foot nor with a free-motion foot. The quilting police did not show up.

The tree skirt did take longer to sew than anticipated (of course, it’s always that way), so it’s covered in presents now. Good thing we leave the tree up through Epiphany!

machine binding

Woven scarves

March 5, 2013 § 5 Comments

bfl scarf 1

So after a long time, I finally pulled my Cricket out from the basement and successfully wove a scarf on it. Our long standoff has come to an end, and a beautiful British wool scarf is complete. I have no idea why I thought making a plaid pattern was a good idea, but I’m pleased that my foolhardiness did work out in my favor, at least this one time.

I used almost two full skeins of DK weight BFL yarn, both dyed in Wales. The green wool was dyed by Squeaky Elliot on Etsy, and the orange Bonnie DK yarn was dyed by Posh Yarn. They’re quite possibly the same base; the Squeaky Elliot BFL felt a little thinner when weaving, but once I soaked the scarf and let everything sort of bloom fully, I can’t really see a difference. In any case it’s so soft, as one would expect from BFL. Plus it is perfect for the Knit Brit 2013 personal challenge thread on Ravelry, where you can also check out a lot of other wonderful projects using British wool. Currently I have a bulky cardi on the needles using Rowan Purelife British Breeds Chunky, which I’ll share there eventually when it’s finished.

bfl scarf 2

To make the plaid pattern, here’s how I warped the loom:

16 orange (8 slots), 6 green (3 slots), 16 orange, 6 green, 16 orange

90.5” of warp

Then when it was time to weave, I weighed out the remaining yarn for the weft and decided on a 7:3 ratio of green to orange.

Orange yarn remaining for weft: 43 grams (31.6%)
Green yarn remaining for weft: 93 grams (68.4%)

Striping pattern:

14 green 6 orange

Orange yarn remaining after scarf is complete: 21 grams
Green yarn remaining after scarf is complete: 40 grams

After finishing the scarf (soaking it for a half hour in Soak wool wash and then rinsing clear, and letting it air dry), the dimensions were 75” long, plus 4.5” of fringe at each end, and 6.5” wide. It turns out that our dining table, fully extended, is the perfect warping length for scarves for people of my height. Yay!

The total scarf weight is 136 grams.

bfl scarf 3 « Read the rest of this entry »

Is it November yet?

October 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

So so so ready for this month to be over. Not that it hasn’t had its highlights — my sister’s wedding was gorgeous! — but my goodness was it  a lot to get done. Working 11 hours a day for way too many days and then also madly knitting a shrug? WORST IDEA EVER.

(The picture above was taken a week after the wedding, because it was night and the pictures in the reception hall came out exceptionally dark with my poor little point-and-shoot.)

However, I was really pleased that I did manage to finish it, because it got quite cold in the reception area. Kidsilk Haze is warm, even with big lacy holes in it, which I added on Friday night when I was panicky by the end and switched to US 11s for the “lace” edging. It turned out really well I think, since as a general rule I don’t really wear lace, though I admire the skill that goes into it.

Still, I think I’ll be happy to never repeat this experiment again, because even with really slippery needles, Kidsilk Haze is just not very quick to knit. It wouldn’t hurt to not have major work and school deadlines at the same time too!

Woolsack: In support of British wool

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Woolsack is the wonderful project set up by Jane Cooper and Sue Blacker to support British wool in conjunction with the London Olympics and Paralympics this year. I won’t go into too much detail about the drama of the project, but suffice it to say that it has apparently been an adventure for all involved to distribute cushions. So many people have contributed though, making this a truly significant part of the Paralympic and Olympic 2012 experience. In fact, it is part of the Cultural Olympiad and will be recorded for future generations in the British Library.

I personally am still rather disgruntled at the whole LOCOG and USOC debacles, but despite the bureaucratic bizarreness I have, in support of the talented athletes, knit a cushion for a Paralympian (or possibly an Olympian, depending on what time my cushion arrives at the finishing station in North London — shoutout to the fabulous Finchley Finishers, who are stuffing and sewing up cushions in time for them to go home with their new owners).

My cushion is knit with stash yarn (YAY!!!) spun in the UK by Rowan. It is made from wool from Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) and Jacob wool, though I suspect that some Suffolk might be in the mix too. I knit the whole thing in the round because I hate seaming, and cast off while simultaneously joining the top seam. The aforementioned Finchley Finishers will then take over, stuffing the cushion with wool donated by The Natural Fibre Co./Blacker Yarns/Blacker Designs, and then seaming them up. I admit to being quite pleased that someone else is happy to seam my cushion for me, though slightly disappointed to realize that this is really the only time that’s ever going to happen.

JaneKAL mentioned on Ravelry that a lot of athletes are selecting cushions not just for their good looks but also based on the notes attached to the cushions. In a fit of competitiveness, I endeavored to design a fantastic tag (pardon my immodesty) so as to give my cushion an edge at cushion selection time.

The front of the tag shows the obligatory Woolsack logo, and then I also included the requested information, my name and local town. As I live in the US I named that town, and also the town my family is from in the UK, which is Penzance, Cornwall. I even included its distance from London in kilometers. To add that personal touch, I mentioned my favorite athletic activities, football (soccer), canoeing, and swimming. Of course, knitting with British wool merits a mention too, plus some good luck wishes!

The back of the tag includes a picture of each breed, taken from (and credited to) Wikipedia as per the Creative Commons license. Then for durability I hand-laminated it with packing tape, and affixed it to the front (well, I say front, but it is reversible) of the cushion with some scrap wool my aunt found in her attic, in Union Jack colors.

So, here’s my cushion as it will appear in the home of my Paralympian or Olympian. It is very nearly 16 inches (40.6 cm) square per the instructions from Woolsack HQ (though I later found out that it’s really more of a guide than a demand, so never fear, if your cushion is a bit off it will still be given to an athlete). I used a little over 3 skeins of Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK in the colorway Mid-Brown Jacob, or 406 yards (371 m), including extra yarn for sewing it up.

If you are interested in whipping up your own very last minute Woolsack cushion, please click “read the rest of this entry” below.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting WEBS

June 29, 2012 § 6 Comments

Even though I have enough yarn to outfit a flock of sheep (ok, perhaps a small flock of small sheep), I was SO excited to go to WEBS, America’s largest yarn store (or at least I think it is?) with my aunt and my mom three weekends ago. We didn’t make a trip specifically to go see WEBS, though, we’re not that crazy…yet. (We did have so much fun that we are planning next time we go visit my aunt to see the New Hampshire town of Harrisville, a national historic district, where Harrisville Mill is located.)

Anyway, after hanging out with my aunt, uncle, cousin, her husband, and their two kids on the first day, we took the second day to drive a few hours west to attend my mom’s high school reunion, located in the western part of Massachusetts. My mom attended a prep school about 45 minutes from Northampton, meaning after the luncheon for the alumnae we high-tailed it out of there, heading south to the yarn capital of North America. We got a little yarn crazy and even a bit yarn-dorky, since my aunt took my picture both in front of WEBS and in the warehouse. (Photos not shown due to massive embarrassment on the subject’s part.)

My mom and aunt both knit, but not really actively anymore. Despite that, they still were really excited to see the store due to its fame, size, and wide selection of yarns. I think actually they were a little surprised at how little I bought, since they kept saying, “Oooh, that’s cute! I bet you could make that!” « Read the rest of this entry »

Super swap part two

June 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

Finally I can now share the details of what I sent to my swap partner! Actually, to be completely honest I could’ve posted a few weeks ago, but I’ve gotten bogged down in other things, most notably schoolwork (ugh) and work work (ugh ugh).

Anyway, the package I sent over personally (as the first one was direct from Northboundknitting with Wensleydale spinning fiber in it) contained two different kinds of chocolates — one type filled with peanut butter and the other with mint cream — a copy of Crochet Today! magazine (I believe it was the March/April issue), a mix cd filled with some of my favorite songs, and this stuffed bunny.

The pattern I chose is from the book Small Animal Amigurumi 動物たちのちいさなあみぐるみ by Izumi Sasaki ささきいずみ. I used Lion Brand Organic Cotton because with very few exceptions I don’t like to use acrylic, and I had to choose a fiber that wasn’t animal-based, due to New Zealand’s strict rules to protect their islands’ ecosystems. While many on Ravelry disliked how the yarn is prone to shedding and pilling, I didn’t mind it so much because I was crocheting so tightly. The yarn did sort of fluff up a bit, but in a nice bunny-like way, so I hope it remains somewhat durable.

My swap partner mentioned in a message to me that her kids love the bunny, and she wanted to know if I had designed it myself, or if not, where I’d gotten the pattern, and I figure this might be good information for others, since most LYSes don’t tend to carry these books (Woven Art in East Lansing, Michigan has some, though not this one specifically). The book can be purchased online through amazon.co.jp, but to be honest it’s probably a lot easier to find it on Etsy through some of the craft book resellers there. The two resellers I’ve purchased from have been excellent, so hopefully if you’re also looking to track down a copy of this book you can locate it. Alternatively, if you live near a Japanese bookstore, such as Kinokinuya, they might have a copy in stock.

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