Though I am nearing the end of the Red Ruffle shawl, it is pretty slow-going, now. The lace portion is completed, and I am working on the ruffle, which requires several intense increase rows to start it. Having finished the increases, I'm left with slightly over 2200 stitches per row. Yikes. And it isn't even mindless stockingette at this point, but more like a K15-P15 ribbing, which requires some attention to keep from screwing it up. Enough attention that I can't drag it to the pub for Knit Night. My progress has been steady, but slow, since each row takes something just short of two hours. And I have many more rows to go.
I haven't been posting much progress on other projects, since I have been concentrating on getting the shawl off the needles, but rest assured that I have other things on the go. I have cut out a cottony springtime skirt that I've been meaning to make for ages, and I cut out all the triangles for another hexagon quilt (but we'll talk about that later), and I've even measured out a couple of warps for my next stashbusting weaving project. Things are happening behind the scenes at Chez Crafty, and patience will be rewarded.
My fabric came off the loom yesterday, and man, was I excited to unroll it from the cloth beam of the loom. While it's all wound around and around, you can't really tell what you have, but once I cut the threads and unfurled it, I finally saw that I'd made fabric -- not just a little scarf or a sampler, but real fabric. So cool. It was about 21 inches wide and a couple of yards long. The final product was a slightly loosely woven fabric, quite stiff from being under tension on the loom. This photo shows what the fabric looked like, straight off the loom.
Being done the weaving doesn't make it done, though -- first I had to finish the loose warp ends, which I did by making a twisted fringe. Then I had to wash and dry it. Initially I thought I would hand wash it and hang it to dry. As I hung it, though, I thought about how cottons that have been tumble dried in a dryer are so much softer than ones that have been hung... So I threw it in the dryer, instead. Admittedly I was a little apprehensive about whether the whole thing would somehow fall apart in there, but I guess I wanted to prove to myself that my weaving is not a delicate fragile thing, but rather hardy like myself. I had it on low heat for a while, but I got impatient and turned the heat up at the end.
It shrunk a bit, between the wash and dry -- it lost about 5 percent of the length and near 10 percent of the width, so now I know to add that much to make up for shrinkage, in the future. The weave of the fabric isn't as loose after finishing, either -- the strands of yarn are all fattened and much softer, snugged up next to each other, rather than spaced apart. (Can you see the difference in the 'after' photo?) I suppose that will account for some of the shrinkage. It also makes the fabric a bit warmer; I wore it out yesterday, for the cloudy breezy weather, and it kept me surprisingly warm and comfortable.
The only downside to this wrap? It only used about half of the blue & red cotton yarn I have. Don't worry -- I have a really sweet idea for the rest.
It takes me about ten minutes to make an empty bobbin into a full bobbin, winding them by hand. It also takes me about ten minutes to make a full bobbin back into an empty bobbin, by weaving this cloth (since this piece is about 21 inches wide, so each pass back and forth takes up a much longer length of yarn than making a little five inch scarf would.)
As I've already been wearing it for several days (i.e. since the last Pub Knitting Night) it seems only fair that I finally show off some pictures of my finished Clapotis.
I made it from Blue Moon's Luscious Single Silk in the RSC exclusive colour My Blue Heaven, which is an amazing mix of blues and teals, with a dash of purple. The yarn is soft and silky (duh) and decadent. I loved knitting this thing. The weight of the yarn makes it a bit bulky to wear around the neck as a scarf (as you see in the original pattern photos) but not impossible.
I did one extra repeat of the straight rows, to add a smidgen of length to the wrap, but left the width as written. I had loads of yarn left over (like, half of the second skein) so I could have made it much bigger, but this way I have a little bit of the LSS left for a nice cowl or something.
I chose not to block this wrap, although I'd planned to all along. I thought it would help the dropped stitches to lose any kink that might be left in them, and also it would make the two ends of the wrap a little tidier and less pointy (since the natural shape of it is a parallelogram, not a rectangle.) After it was completed and I put it on the first time, though, I realized how great it is that the stockingette columns curl a little bit and give the whole thing some dimension. Also, all those little floats curve to the inside of the wrap, and are soft against the skin. I decided not to block it at all, even though the pointy ends bug me a bit.
I love this wrap. It is toasty warm and snuggly and beautiful. Now I know why ten thousand other knitters have made (at least) one.
To distract you from the fact that I haven't posted pics of my finished Clapotis, here are some photos of my latest weaving...
I had intended to use this red and blue cotton to make some dish towels, and bought loads of it so that I could make a whole set and have enough to give a few away. (Yes, this is the yarn that made my weaving teacher cringe inwardly somewhat.) Then I realized that the yarn was a mercerized cotton, which makes it pretty and shiny, but less absorbent than untreated cotton would be. So I rethought the project and decided to make a little cotton wrap for cool spring mornings. I am determined to start wearing more wraps and shawls, as a defiantly uncool fashion statement. I am using a huck weave draft, which I found in my book of weaving patterns. It is meant to be used on a finer thread, I'm sure, but I thought it would look cool with this. I am pretty happy with it, although the floats aren't as tight together as I'd imagined from the original pattern image, and I am having to beat it pretty firmly to get them as close as they are. As a beginner, I really don't have an idea of what I'll end up with until I do it. This can be fun or frustrating, depending on one's outlook. Personally I enjoy the surprise of it. You can't see the other side of the fabric, but there are vertical blue floats in the same spots that the front has horizontal red floats. When it's off the loom you will see its full glory.
On my way home from work on Monday, I told my coworkers I was going to dress my loom for an inaugural weaving project. I had a couple of days off and worked on it, off and on, in short spurts, between all my other projects. Yesterday I finished the weaving, and then soaked it and hung it to dry. Today when I go back to work, I will have a new scarf to wear.
The selvedges are not great -- I need to pay better attention to the tension, apparently. I like the purpley grey colour of the finished product, and how the short little fringe peeking out shows the original warp colours. It's quite drapey and plenty long enough for me. Basically, it is just as I'd hoped -- a fast and simple project with familiar yarn, doing a little stash busting and allowing me to get to know my loom.
After days and weeks and months of hand quilting, it is a real feeling of satisfaction to finally take the quilt off the frame and spend a few quiet evenings hand sewing the binding around the edge. It makes such a tidy and beautiful finish to what has been raw fabric and batting edges. The binding is a relatively quick task -- it takes only a handful of hours, all told -- and is, to me, really the cherry on top. Just look at how lovely that red edging is, and how it sets off the sandy backing... *sighs with satisfaction and pets it again*
If you've forgotten in the ensuing months what the completed quilt top looks like, see it (sadly a bit blurry) here. I mentioned, at one point, that I was trying to make the quilting look like stormy winds and tornadoes. Well, I quickly gave up on the tornado idea, since the one I attempted was pretty wobbly and awkward, but I think that I really got the hang of the swirly windy lines (and even managed some nice smooth curves) by the end. Hopefully you can make out the windy quilting lines in this photo, to see what I mean. (Click it to see it larger, if you can't.) As someone who generally plans things out to the Nth degree, it was a very freeing exercise in creativity, to just go with the flow and let the lines fall where they may. I think it ended up looking pretty good, and certainly will do the job of keeping my HLM warm through a chilly spring.
Actually, I sleyed the reed. Which is just weavery language to say that today I finally dressed Miss Bennet with her inagural warp, to make a simple little plain weave scarf. I'm using some leftover bamboo I had laying around (from making a hat and a scarf) -- yay for stash busting!
I did a sort of graduated colour change in the warp, from burgundy to light rose and back to burgundy, and I'm weaving it with the teal as weft. Yes, it would have been lovelier and brighter and purer colours if I had enough burgundy to just use that for the weft, but this way I can use the teal up, too, and I don't have to buy any more yarn for the project.
It's sort of interesting how the colours are very greyed out by the combination. Until you look closer, you almost don't register what the different colours are. Another great lesson in the way colours interact in weaving, right?
And can I just say what a real pleasure it is to weave on this loom? No clunky crashy wire sounds, no carpal tunnel, and the action is so smooth and rhythmic. Now, if only I could tidy up those selvedges...
When I brought home a jar of baby food, it elicited a raised eyebrow from my HLM. Nothing to fear, it was only because the current issue of Cook's Country magazine has a recipe for carrot cake that uses strained carrots in place of some of the oil, to make it a bit healthier, but retain the desired light and cakey texture and carrot flavour. I looked up a few other similar carrot cake recipes online, but was dismayed to see that most of them use the carrot baby food to eliminate using any shredded carrot. While I will admit that grating carrots is the most tedious part of making a carrot cake, I really hate to think of giving up that textural aspect of the cake.
This afternoon I threw this little baby together, and it's totally living up to expectations: light and carroty and spicy... I made my usual cream cheese icing (from the Company's Coming Cakes book) because the one from Cook's Country uses marshmallow cream, and that's not exactly something I keep around the house. (Huge blocks of cream cheese, on the other hand...)
In the meantime, I have been making slow and steady progress both on the quilt and on the shawl (Clapotis is being saved for Pub Knitting, at the moment.) I am into the fourth chart of the shawl -- it's hard to estimate a percentage complete on this one, not only because it is growing in a triangle shape, but also because the ruffle will have a disproportionate number of stitches compared to the shawl. Suffice to say that I have used maybe half of a 500 yard ball of yarn, and the pattern calls for nearly 2000 yards. Fortunately I am enjoying it a lot -- it's reminding me of all the other lace projects I have in my queue.
Living life somewhere in the grey area between Liz Lemon and Nancy Botwin. I live with my beloved Heterosexual Life Mate (HLM), no kids, two beautiful feline ladies, and what I can only assume are self-replenishing stacks of fabric and yarn.
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