Thursday, August 21, 2014

Little Skulls All in a Row

I decided a while ago that something I need in my life is a set of fancy cloth napkins.  It's all because there was a cool project in a recent issue of Handwoven (Mar/Apr 2014) for some napkins with an allover mini-overshot design, and I really fell in love with them.  Of course I had to change everything about the project to make it more 'me' and thus the skully napkins were born.

For non-weavers, "overshot" is just a type of weaving where you weave a base cloth in plain weave (in this case, grey) while making a design within that fabric with another yarn (in this case, black.) The base cloth holds it all together, while the pattern makes it fancy.

I took this particular design from Bertha Gray Hayes' book of mini overshot designs.  She called this one "Gone With the Wind" but when I look at it, I see stacks and stacks of little skulls, like the catacombs of Paris.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hudson's Bay-by Surprise Jacket

As I was sitting there working on the HBC shawl a few weeks ago, one of my knitty girlfriends was working on a Baby Surprise Jacket.  I was thinking about all the leftover coloured yarn I would have from the shawl and then I had an epiphany: an HBC BSJ!

I was intending to wait until after the summer to start it, since I have a few time sensitive projects these days, but then I realized I have a bit of time before the August Camp Loopy project starts, and I couldn't bear to think of finishing the sweater I'm working on in this oppressive heat, and a BSJ only takes a few days...  So I cast it on and knit it up, squeeing all the way.

I thought about a few ways to incorporate the stripes, either right at the beginning (i.e. just after the sleeve cuffs) or through the main part of the body, but because the jacket itself is so wee, the stripes would have to be thin single ridges of colour to fit in most positions.  In the end, I decided to put them in the "work the middle 90 stitches for 10 ridges" part of the pattern so they would just be in the hem area around the bottom, but had to upsize that section to 14 ridges to accomodate all of the colours in a 2-ridge width.  The jacket ended up looking a bit long, but when I blocked it, I tugged it a bit wider and shorter and it turned out fine.

I was planning to get some little blonde wood buttons, but then I found these darker dyed wooden ones with little leaves on them, and they were so enchanting and perfect for a little outdoorsy baby that I bought them on the spot.

I still have tons of yarn left over, so I might just make this my new go-to baby gift.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The 80s Want Their Socks Back

I do love to have a stockingette sock on the go, ready to grab in an instant when a project is needed on the fly, or just around when I need some simple meat & potatoes knitting.  One of the simplest ways to jazz up a simple stockingette sock is to pick a couple of cool colours and make a little stripe.  My personal go-to stripe has been a 3:1 ratio, for a few years (that is, three rows of background colour to one row of accent colour.)  I find that this ratio will use the two colours up pretty evenly, if the accent colour is also used for toe and heel and cuff.  This time, I decided to keep that ratio but double everything, so I was doing six rows of background to two rows of accent.  That way the accent stripes were a little bolder, as if these socks weren't bold enough.

The yarn is from Knit Picks Neon Stroll collection (now nearly sold out, but hopefully they'll bring some back, soon.)  The green is the one that caught my eye, a true neon green that took me back 30 years or so, to the days of multicoloured rubber bangles and layered ripped sweatshirts, worn off the shoulder.  I thought the purple would be the best colour to accent that green and voila!  The brightest socks ever.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

HBC Shawl

Of course, the thing that prompted me to finally write a post about the June shawl yesterday was because I have another shawl to write about today!

Since I was a kid, I've always loved the iconic look of the Hudson's Bay Company point blankets: a simple off-white blanket with the four wide stripes of colour.  It's an instantly recognizable symbol of Canada (though admittedly not always a good one.)  As they cost hundreds of dollars, I've always relegated it to the "someday" pile.

Much to my happiness, the second project for Camp Loopy was to knit something up (using at least 600 yards of yarn) that is somehow reminiscent of a favourite place.  I instantly thought of the shawl Point, based on the concept of the classic HBC blanket.

The Loopy Ewe carries about a million colours of solid fingering weight yarn, in 200 yard skeins, which make it easy to stock up for striped projects.  I got one little skein each of the colours (and have just tons left over) and then three skeins of the Ivory.  The pattern only calls for two, but since that would give me essentially a one-skein sized shawl (like the one I posted yesterday) I elected to upsize it a bit.

The main body of the shawl is a little knit-purl pattern that adds just enough texture, particularly in a simple ivory colour, and then mindless garter stitch to make the stripes.  Because I'd upsized the shawl, I also decided to make each stripe three ridges of garter stitch instead of two (i.e. six rows of knitting instead of four.)  I really like it, since the stripes in the blankets are so fat and I didn't want these ones to be too thin.

Much to my dismay, the red yarn bled a bit into the ivory as it was washed.  I tried a second soak to minimize it, and while that did work to some extent, you can still see the little bit of red there, if you are looking for it.  I suppose I'd better wash the rest of the red before I make anything else with it, and keep that in mind in future.

Having pulled it up from drying on my bedroom floor, I couldn't wait even a moment to try it on for a selfie, without any makeup or even a sensible look on my face.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

By Any Other Name

While I might be quite tardy in blogging about Camp Loopy this summer, I've been pretty timely about getting my projects done.

The first project (the June project, that is) called for something smallish, only 400 yards, that reminds you of a favourite book/movie/tv series.  I scrolled through my Ravelry favourites list for inspiration, and quickly came upon a little shawlette that I've been wanting to make for ages.  It's named Henslowe, after Philip Henslowe, a real theatrical contemporary of Shakespeare, who was portrayed by Geoffrey Rush in one of my all-time favourite films, Shakespeare in Love.

I chose madelinetosh for this project - their fingering weight wool single called Tosh Merino Light - in a colourway they call Cherry, but I see as many shades of fragrant roses.

I went down a needle size to get the specified gauge for the project, but having done so, it seems to have turned out a bit small for my tastes.  It will work well as a scarf but isn't really sufficient for a shawl.  It looks so lovely in this yarn, though (go ahead and click on that photo for a close up and try to deny it) that I am tempted to make another in a different colour, this time with two skeins, and make it both wider and taller in the garter stitch portion before doing the lace edging.  Then again, there are so many things to make, that who ever has time to revisit something a second time?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Big Reveal

Not much more to say about this project - I finished the dukagang towel (but ran out of warp so it's one repeat shorter than the other towels) and had a minor disaster (or two) with the loom right at the end, while weaving the last hem, but it all turned out ok.  I just have to do a bit of loom maintenance and we're good to go.

I was really feeling a hand-sewing vibe, so rather than machine zig-zagging between towels, I hand stitched a blanket stitch at the end of all the hems, and then turned them twice and hand sewed them all down.  They look super tidy and I am really happy with them.

Then a quick toss in the washer and a few minutes in the dryer, followed by a final ironing to dry them out completely...  and they look great!  The threads all tightened up a bit and made the designs much clearer and they look so lovely.

Now for the weaving porn - showing both the light and dark faces that give the fabric its name.  They're all the same... but so different!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let Me Rock You, Dukagang

And so today I began the final treadling for the Summer & Winter towels - this one is a Swedish weaving design, called dukagang (doo-kah-gong), which leaves columns of colour, as you can see.

The vertical element of this particular treadling is very strong, since both the green and white blocks have a vertical stripe.  I feel like this takes away a bit from the overall radial symmetry of the design, but I still like it a lot, and I can't wait to see the other side, which will be mostly white with the design in green.

This is the fourth and final towel, so hopefully only a few more days and I'll have these ready for the wash and then we can see what they all really look like once they're finished!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Third Treadling

It's funny that, having done that bit of sampling at the beginning, I chose the pattern I liked best for the first towel.  Funny because I actually liked the pattern in the second towel better than the first, once I started weaving it.  It's even funnier that I like the third treadling (which I assumed would be my least favourite of the four) even more than I liked either of the first two.

I'm not sure if it's because the colours are more distinct (due to the different way the little contrast-colour-dots are laid out) or the way everything is tidy little squares, but I have been enjoying this treadling a lot.  The only unfortunate thing is how blurry it looks because of the alternating threads at the edges of the blocks.  Well, to be fair, the other unfortunate thing is that the picture is also just blurry.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A New Treadling

As I mentioned last time, I decided to try a different treadling for each towel, so it's time to show the beginning of the second towel and see if you can spot the difference that the different treadling order makes in the pattern on the cloth.

At the bottom of the photo is the original treadling on the first towel - looks like little white Os on a coloured background - and at the top is the new treadling for the second towel - now it looks like little white Xs on a coloured background, and you can see how the little Xs connect together at their legs to make a design more like a lattice.  Pretty!  You'll have to imagine the back side of the cloth, for now.  It will be a light background with green Xs and Os.

It's fun to start the second towel and see how different it looks, but a bit of a challenge to keep the new treadling straight, when the first one is so ingrained already.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beginning of Summer (& Winter)

In an attempt to break myself of my recent addiction to knitting nothing but a succession of quick and simple stockingette socks, I decided to start a new weaving project.  It's a set of dish towels in a weaving style called Summer & Winter.  The name is reflective of the light and dark contrasts in the cloth - one side of the towel will have a light pattern on a darker background, and the other side of the towel will have the reverse of the same pattern, this time in dark on a light background.

I did a bit of sampling before I started, since there are a few treadling variations in Summer & Winter.  I elected to use one of the variations on a so-called X-treadling.  The little Xs aren't totally apparent in this design, at the moment, but having done a couple of repeats of this pattern, I'm thinking that maybe I'll do a different treadling for each of the four towels.  Once I do another towel in a different treadling, it may be easier to see the differences that different treadlings make in the cloth.  Or maybe not.

The weave is a bit open right now, under tension on the loom (that's why the coloured spaces look like little green brick walls) but hopefully once it's not under tension and has been washed, the cotton will shrink a smidge and the weave will close up a bit.  Time will tell.