Friday, February 27, 2009

A Weaver is Born

So I spent an hour or so making a twisted fringe on my woven scarf, and then I wet-finished it (which is basically the same as blocking in knitting, but by a different name.) Now it is dry and lovely. As with knitting, the finishing makes all the difference. When it first comes off the loom, it is quite stiff from being made under so much tension. After it is soaked thoroughly, the fibers can all move around a bit and get comfortable with their neighbours. Now that it's dried, it is very soft and has a lot more movement. (Hard to explain, but if you felt it before and after, you'd know what I mean.) As I suspected, the camera doesn't really pick up the iridescent quality of the fabric. If you see it in person, it's quite something. (Click the photo for a ridiculously big image, where you can make out the pattern more clearly.)

Secondly, here is a little progress shot of my Jengu Woobu Aran.
I have just bound off a few stitches for the front neckline. A few more inches and it will be done and I can start the back. It's been a bit of a challenge to keep three different stitch patterns (which all have repeats of different lengths) straight, as well as adjusting the shaping of the thing to fit me. Hopefully it all pays off in the end.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ready for the Finish

Just so you know I haven't forgotten about it... here's the latest progress on the woven scarf:

Mmmm just look at that lovely roll of cloth winding around and around. The weave pattern is quite amazing when you look at it from different angles. Up close you can see the pattern, but further away, the shine of the bamboo gives it an iridescence -- it is so lovely. The teal and magenta combine to make a sort of maroon... Hopefully the camera will be able to catch it. After I do some finishing tonight in class, I can get this baby off the loom and wash it and start showing it off.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A New Hope

My yarn parcel from Blue Moon Fiber Arts finally arrived. It contained (among other things that we'll talk about another time) three big beautiful skeins of their Woobu yarn (a wool & bamboo blend) in the colour Jengu, which is one of their Spirit colours, thusly named because it is a sort of 'barely there' colour, just a pale pale tint. The idea came upon me a while back to use one of these colours to make an aran sweater, one that is almost but not quite the traditional natural colour of sheep's wool.

I wanted to make the chic little aran sweater (ravelry) designed by Michael Kors for Vogue Knitting Holiday '05 (yes I am four years behind in my knitting queue... what's your point?) I made a handful of generously sized swatches (very out of character for me, I know) because the gauge of my chosen yarn is different than the recommended, and because the size I'm making is one not included in the pattern. After a needle change and an extensive knitting/measuring of the various stitch patterns, I finally cast on for the front, yesterday morning.

I had to make charts for the three stitch patterns, since there are only written directions in VK. My chart cheat sheet is only in the photo so you can see how the yarn is just baaaarely blue. It is slightly variegated, but I'm not sure if it's apparent in the picture or if I'm just imagining it because I know it's there. The yarn itself is soft and sproingy. Enough bamboo to make it shine and give it some weight, but still a lovely soft and elastic wool. And the skeins are huge. I couldn't even use my ball winder, since they are so big. I wound one whole skein by hand the day they arrived, and was shocked at the size of the ball. Don't believe me? Here is a photo of it beside a well-known landmark, to give you some idea of the size:


I have dubbed the sweater the Jengu Woobu Aran, which I think is great mostly because it sounds like something George Lucas would come up with. (I may be a geek, but at least I'm consistent.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Do You Think About This, Then?

It's actually surpassing my own high hopes (and expectations)... I can't wait to have it finished and off the loom...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Good Day

Another project that never quite made it to the sidebar: a Habitat hat from brooklyn tweed (ravelry) that I made for my Dad. A while ago he mentioned offhandedly that he might need a toque, and I had a bit of time on my hands. Once I finished my Queen of Cups socks, I didn't have anything else ready to go, since I am waiting (impatiently) for an assortment of yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts to arrive. It only took a couple of days to knit this up, and the cables were lots of fun. It also reminded me that I've been toying with the idea of designing and knitting an aran afghan.

While I wait for my yarny ship to come in, I have plenty of other things to occupy my time: my loom is dressed and ready to weave my scarf, I started cutting out fabric for a wall quilt I have planned, and oh yeah, all those other in-progress projects laying around here... Today, however, I took a day off and played hooky with my mom. It was a good day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Queen of Cups

Friday morning before work, I finished my Rockin' Sock Club socks. The pattern is actually named Queen of Beads, but as I was knitting them, I was always reminded of the Queen of Cups from tarot decks. I suppose it's because of the colour (since Cups are the water suit) and the stitch pattern (since the lattice reminds me of royal garb) and also the beads (because a beaded sock seems so impractical and extravagant.)

The socks actually came together without a hitch -- the pattern was easy enough yet interesting; the beads are fun and flashy. The only anxiety came as I neared the finish and began to worry that I was going to run out of yarn. I finished them with about 13 metres left over. Yikes.

Whenever I see a photo of a completed project that isn't being modelled, I always worry that it fits poorly and that's why the knitter doesn't want to show it off while wearing it. Lest you think that about the socks, here is a half-arsed photo of my feet in them.
They are totally cozy and warm and squishy and fit very well. I used a needle one size up for the leg (i.e. US2) and then switched down (to US1) at the heel flap and foot. It worked perfectly: the leg isn't too tight and the foot is nice and snug.

Another happy knitter.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the Road to a Diamond Scarf

Warning: Weaving jargon abounds. Feel free to ask, if you really want to know.

I had two options I wanted to pursue for the personal project in my weaving class. One of them was a set of dishtowels using poppy red and sky blue cotton in a huck weave. The other was a scarf in teal and magenta bamboo. My instructor was hesitant at my colour selection for the towels -- they are a bit outside the norm for weavers, I think, and she was anxious about how they would play off one another, since they are a very pure red and blue. (Not to get, like, way into colour theory, but the teal and magenta are more greyed and thus won't make your eyes bleed when you look at them together.) While I do trust her judgement, since she has a lot more expertise with weaving than I do, I still think I'll make the towels for myself, once I get a loom all my own. It is, after all, the only way to learn which colours will work together when woven, and which won't.

In the meantime, I am going to make the bamboo scarf.
If you've never felt it, pure bamboo yarn tends to feel cool and slick and buttery in the hand, and is quite heavy. The scarf should drape like a dream, assuming I don't weave it too tight. Monday in class we did all the weaving math and made our warps. Tonight I finally took the plunge and sleyed the reed. Step One of dressing the loom is complete. I am doing the warp in teal and the weft in magenta. You can see, through the dents in the reed, the drawdown of the design I'm going to use. It is a weird little twill weave, that will repeat seven times across the width of the scarf and will ultimately make jaggedy little diamonds. Complex? Yes. But when have you ever known me to do something easy?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Socks that Really Rock

So this year I decided to treat myself and join the Rockin' Sock Club over at Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Basically what happens is that every two months, they send me some of their amazing yarn and a pattern by an amazing sock designer. It's all a mystery until it arrives. The yarn and pattern are exclusive to the sock club, and are unavailable to anyone else all year. For me, it's the surprise-package-in-the-mail aspect of it much more than the exclusivity. I have been wanting to join this club for ages, so this year I finally took the plunge.

My first package arrived just prior to the distraction of my Noro Silk Garden scarf, right as I was finishing up the sweater. Not only was there some incredible yarn inside (all shades of blues and teals and lavender) there was also a little bag of opalescent beads and a beautiful pattern by Sivia Harding to bring them all together. I dug a little deeper and found a sticker and a lapel pin and a keychain... honestly, this is the best sock club ever.

Having finished my other works in progress, I swatched and started the socks the other day. The yarn is gorgeous, variegated but solid enough to really let the pattern shine. It is lightweight sock yarn, but still very round and even. The pattern is simple but ingenious. Squishy and lovely and snuggly socks, coming right up.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Believe it or not, today is my one-year blogiversary -- a year ago today I started this little collection of thoughts about and pictures of my various crafty efforts. It's something I've really come to love; the best part is getting feedback from people who have seen my meager though eager efforts and enjoyed them, in one way or another.

Here are a couple more little projects for you to peruse, recently completed:

As I mentioned a week or so ago, a Koolhaas hat for my HLM. He wanted a hat and I gave him a couple of options from brooklyntweed's catalogue of hats. He chose this one. I made it in a lovely grey, to compliment everything else he owns, which is primarily black. I had to upsize the pattern a bit, since he has a large head (much like myself.) He seems to like it.

Secondly, the completed Impulse-Buy Scarf.
I loooove this. I hardly even registered how tedious k1p1 ribbing is, since the changing colours were so engaging. My only frustration was that the balls of Noro Silk Garden had several knots. I wouldn't even care about that, except that the colours on either side of the knot were always disparate. Every knot meant that I had to find a part of the remaining ball of yarn that was the same colour as where I ended off, to keep the colour transitions smooth, and it was a bit of a chore to restart and reorganize several times. Oh well, it's all said and done, now, and I love it enough that any birthing pains were worthwhile.

Next up: the oft aforementioned Socks that Rock socks... I am well into the first leg and I am in love.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Topographie Sweater: the Big Reveal

After a skirmish or two with my photographer, I was able to get some photos of my finished sweater this morning, in the bright blinding sun.

I am super happy with how well it turned out. After blocking, it's a little bit longer than I had planned, mostly because I didn't really bother with measuring it much after I blocked it out to dry (read: the measuring tape was in the next room.) The sleeves, however, remained the perfect length. As predicted, the stitch pattern did smooth out a lot, the kool-aid stayed fixed in the yarn, and it looks pretty cool, I think. And the thing fits like a handknitted glove.

I did a lot of short row shaping in this sweater -- the back has a couple of short rows, right above the bottom hem, to add some extra length to the back of the sweater. I hate it when shirts ride up in the back.
Then I did some decreases to the waistline -- I did three in back and only two in front, every two rows. This had the added bonus of making a subtle curve in the back, which is reminiscent of a bustle. It fits well over my also-curvy fanny. Then I did some short rows at the bustline to give some added length there, so the sweater won't ride up in front, either. It fits there just perfectly. Then near the top of the yoke, I added a few short rows in back, to raise the back neck a bit. In future, I would extend those short rows around the side of the neckline, to bring the sides up a smidgen more than the front, as well.

I agonized a bit over how to finish the neckline, but opted for a basic hem to match the sleeves and bottom hem. It is about half the width of the other hems, though. I was worried that it might stand up all weird, but it just barely stands up, and I really like it, actually. I had considered doing a rolled hem (the easy way out) but couldn't stand that it wouldn't match the other hems.

I am totally enamoured of this sweater, and love how it fits (and how easy it was to do.) I didn't entirely use Zimmermann's percentage system to make it, but used a lot of my own calculations and adjustments. That's the secret of a well-fitted knit, after all. I am really excited at the prospect of making another yoke sweater in the future, with some nice fair isle in the yoke. I will have to add one to my always-ridiculously-long To Do List.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Weavin' on Down the Road

I've been so busy with other projects that I almost didn't finish my weaving homework this week. Fortunately, it's much faster to weave than to knit, so in a few minutes this afternoon, I managed to whip up the last of the patterns, to get ready for tonight's class.

We're using lots of different colours and weaves, to see how they interact and get a feel for what possibilities there are. I deliberately chose some colours that clash with my warp, and some that harmonize, and paired them up with a bunch of different twills and broken twills, etc. Some of these are pretty cool, and they've given me a couple of ideas for my personal project. Unfortunately I still haven't decided exactly what to make. Maybe tonight's class discussion will give me an epiphany.

p.s. Topographie Yoke is out of her bath and verrrrry slowly drying on the floor. I will show you lots of photos soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Catching Up

I did manage to set aside the scarf long enough to make some progress on the sweater last night, and will likely finish it today (or tomorrow if I take my time.) But first I wanted to show off some little projects that I've made along the way but didn't show off until I could give them to the recipient.

One of my fabulous coworkers and her man are having their first baby very soon. We all got together and gifted her a bunch of handmade things and some other useful items, last night.

Firstly, a little Elizabeth Zimmermann bonnet that I made with some leftover Koigu KPPPM. It is very wee but so cute.

Then I made one of my requisite EZ Baby Surprise Jackets. This one used Socks that Rock Heavyweight in the colour Fire on the Mountain. My HLM refers to it as the technicolour dreamcoat and I can't say I disagree. I love this little jacket so much. Since my camera can't even handle the colours and pattern of this fabric at a distance, I am only giving you a close-up shot. (After all, you know what EZ's BSJ looks like, right?)

I found this little pattern for a Toadstool Baby Rattle on the Purl Bee, and once I stopped squealing, I grabbed some leftover yarn and whipped one up. Love.

Lastly, remember this little berry quilt? Well I didn't say so at the time, but that one was for her, too. I went for something with high contrast (for baby's developing eyesight) and wanted to incorporate food in the design, since daddy is a chef.

I honestly had a really hard time stopping. Once you start finding cute ideas for little baby things, it's hard to put the brakes on. Fortunately I got selfish and started making more things for myself. And on that note, it's back to the sweater...