Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wibbly Wobbly Doctor Donna Socks

When someone has many passions, it is always fun to find little ways to overlap them.  A while ago, I found a great little yarn dyer called Nerd Girl Yarns, who dyes skeins of yarn in lovely nerdy themes, like Firefly and Sherlock and one of my newfound passions, Doctor Who.  Even the hard heart of a girl trying not to buy more variegated sock yarn has to be softened by such delightful fare.

One of the Doctor Who themed skeins was called Doctor Donna, the name of which will bring a tear to the eye of many a Whovian.  After putting it in my shopping cart and mulling it over for a week or two, I finally gave in to my baser urges and decided it was best just to buy it (along with another skein which we'll talk about another day.)

Doctor Donna has lovely portions of both a nice brown from Tenth's suit, as well as a beautiful deep Tardis blue and a deep auburn reminiscent of Donna's hair.  I was hoping for the best as I began at the cuff, where the blue and brown seemed destined to make a nice path around and around the sock.

By the time I was done the leg, I knew I was in trouble.  The blue pooled at the back of the leg, and didn't make much of an appearance at the front.  I shrugged it off because I knew things would change up at the heel flap and gusset.

The blue appeared, making several stripey rounds of different sizes as the sock circumference changed.  Then I got to the foot and realized that it was no good, the blue would somehow stay on the sole for the entire foot of the sock.  As you can see in the photo (with a cat paw included not so much for a size comparison but because my cat is determined to become one of those viral internet cats) the blue only reappeared again at the toe.

There is a second sock, though, I thought.  Well, you can see what came of that.  Somehow it turned out almost exactly the same.

At some point I remembered a moment from one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes, The Doctor's Wife, and although it was the Eleventh Doctor in that episode, and not Donna's Doctor, it certainly applies here:
The Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.

The Tardis: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.
I guess the yarn took me where I needed to go.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fire & Water

I started just playing around with different colour combinations, since I have a lot of colours to work with, this year, so I made a scarf with a combination of red/orange/yellow in the warp.  I was going to do the whole weft in a lighter yellow (as you see in the bottom right of the photo) but decided that the light colour was washing out all of the vibrancy of the warp.  I plopped some orange stripes in there, and that helped, so then I switched to some darker paprika stripes and liked that too.  For the darkest colour, I also shrunk the width of the stripe, just to keep things interesting.  I think the way it changes looks pretty cool.

Then I decided to try something with a greenier tone, so I put a couple of pale greens and a yellow in the next warp and wove it with a light blue and a darker blue/green, in an unequal ratio.  The combination of colours makes me think of Aquaman, though I'm sure no kids today would even know who that is.

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's Time to Light the Lights

Two more scarves for the kids:

I was looking at an example of the clasped weft technique in one of my old weaving magazines, a while ago, and had an epiphany, that I could use it to make a cool zig-zag scarf.  It didn't take long to get from there to the idea of a Kermit the Frog scarf, emulating the little green pointy collar he has around his neck.  The technique worked perfectly and was so easy!  Maybe I'll use it again sometime to do something more harlequin-y.

Having done a Kermie scarf, I thought the pink and purple one I followed up with might suit Miss Piggy, since it made me think of her purple opera gloves.  I chose a bunch of colours for evenly spaced stripes in the warp and then did a two-colour stripe for the weft.  It's nicer than this, in person, I just couldn't get the colours right in the photo.

More to come!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Season for Scarves

So it's that time of year again, where I occupy my weaving loom (Miss Bennet) with a whole series of quick and fun and colourful scarves for donation.  This year I inadvertently started out with a bit of a Disney theme, since my first inspiration was to weave a scarf for all the little girls who want to be Elsa, from Frozen.  I just picked a handful of representative colours and did the warp randomly, and the weft in little stripes of two colours.

Then my next thought was of a recent favourite Disney lady of mine, Merida, from Brave.  I did a tartan-ish design (she's Scottish, so duh) and used the colours of her dress and hair to weave it.  I really love how it turned out, particularly since I was lazy about it and just used two of the colours for weft, when there were so many more in the warp.

My third inspiration was Maleficent, from the recent movie version with Angelina Jolie.  I used a bunch of darker colours in the warp (and again two in stripes in the weft) but this time did an inlay technique with a couple of shades of green (like green misty magic.)  Well, the two shades of green turned out to be a bit too close, since they look pretty much like the same yarn, and the mist might look more like PacMan, but I still think it's really cool how it turned out.

I have another scarf on the loom right now, but am always looking for inspiration, if you have any ideas...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ariel Socks

Even though I put a great deal of effort into knitting up my whole variegated sock yarn stash, last year, there are still times when seeing a particularly beautiful skein makes me weak in the knees.  When I saw this yarn at the Loopy Ewe, a fuzzy warm BFL called Willow, from Huckleberry Knits, I noticed not only the amazing colours but that the colourway was named Little Mermaid.  How could I resist that?

I started out using a 2.25 mm birch circular, on the first sock, but somewhere around the heel of that sock, the needle tip broke off (ugh) so I transferred everything to a 2.25 mm steel circular.  Being as the needles were the same measurement, I never imagined that the two socks would turn out so different!  You can clearly see the different ways the colours stack on each foot, and somehow it even looks like there's a limey green in the right foot (there isn't.)  It turns out that my stitches are a wee bit snugger and tidier on a steel circular.  This may change everything.

I have another variegated sock yarn on the needles right now, and it's doing something even crazier, but that will be a topic for another day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jollyoly Hat

A couple of weeks ago, my HLM realized it's autumn.  Soon after, he realized that his Opie Hat has gone missing, and requested another one.  I told him that I'd get around to knitting him one, soon, and then, as I was motoring through the mall on the way to an appointment, I came upon a little craft store that had some yarn in the window.  I popped in and grabbed a ball of some nice-ish acrylic to make his Opie Hat.  Then I spotted a ball of lovely soft silvery nylon/acrylic sportweight and fell in love with it.

I decided it needed to be a hat, and once I got home I started scrolling through the patterns on Ravelry to find something great.  I found the Jollyoly hat and thought that it would marry up well with this particular yarn, so I started it as soon as I was done the Opie Hat.

I got gauge right away and began to knit, only to discover after a few inches that it seemed a bit tight.  Now, if you look at the original pattern photos, they show a loose, slouchy, chic hat.  I scrolled through some of the finished projects and found a lot of snug toques.  Not exactly what I wanted.  So I improvised.  I ripped it all back to naught and cast on again, this time for one size bigger, using a size bigger needles, as well.  This time, the hat seemed loose enough for the fit I wanted.  I added an extra repeat of the design, as well, to add some length, and was mostly happy with how it fit.  Then I added the pom pom (made from a bunch of leftover madtosh tosh merino light, a pretty posh pom pom for an acrylic hat) and the weight of it helps the hat to hang just right.

Ready for autumn.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Porthos Socks

There's this great designer on Ravelry that goes by the name "Caoua Coffee" - this person cranks out beautiful patterns, mostly for socks and little accessories, and gives them all away for free!  As someone always on the hunt for fabulous and fun things to make, I certainly won't even try to resist a whole flock of well-designed patterns that are free for me to enjoy.

This time I chose a simple knit/purl design, no cables or lace or anything fancy at all.  I matched it up with a lovely shade of Knit Picks Stroll sock.  The photos really don't do this colour justice - it's called Jackrabbit Heather, and it's the prettiest grey brown heather.

The socks were a lot of fun to knit, and looked really cool on the needles, the way the knit columns sway back and forth, based on the tension of the ribbing/garter stitch surrounding them.  Once they're on the foot, the swaying is less pronounced, but they do make a nice manly lattice.  Yep, they're for gifting, to one lucky dude.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Snowflakes in Red

Every serious crafter knows you'd better have your holiday ducks in a row by the time the leaves start changing, or you'll be caught in a mad panic, come December.

I'm pretty well on top of things this year (it helps that I don't really participate much in exchanging gifts at the holidays) and am just enjoying this cute set of striped towels before I get serious about working on my charity weaving.

Don't you just love 'em?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fair Isle Hood

Throughout my years of making things, people have sometimes called me an artist, and I balk at the term, as I've usually considered myself a crafter, not an artist.  It is something that has dogged me, actually - the dividing line between art and craft - and there are only a couple of times that I've made something that I might actually consider art.

This is one of those times.

I had an idea spark in my mind one day, and the more I thought about it, the more I was amused and entertained by that idea.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought of little details (fair isle, buttons, short row shaping) that would make it perfect.  And the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to make it.

It's wool, it's not really practical, and the button is purely decorative, since it doesn't even have a buttonhole under there, so it's not really a useful object in the end (is that what makes it art?)  But it's awesome and I love it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Celebratory Towels

So it's just another photo-heavy post to show off the completed, washed & dried & ironed towels, because I'm so delighted with how they look, both individually and as a set.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More Twill Towels

For the fourth towel, I changed to a different set of weft colours.  This one had less contrast again, with a blue and black weft.  What a change in tone from the previous three towels!  All the colours are still there, but much more muted.

Then I brought in the brightest colour of them all, the light green, and made the fifth towel with all the contrast, in black and green.

Then I did the last one in green and blue, a little less contrast and tonally more similar.

But wait!  I finished the sixth and final towel only to realize I had tons of warp left on the loom.  When I initially planned out the pattern, I thought the magazine allowed for an unnecessarily long warp, and upon getting to this point in the weaving, I realized that I easily had room for another towel.  My first thought was to use the last of each colour to do a really variegated stripey weft, but I was sort of done with swapping shuttles and winding bobbins.  I couldn't bear to waste such a pretty warp, though, all ready to go.  I decided I'd use some spare 10/2 cotton I had, in white, without any stripes at all.  This made something completely different and a bit unexpected and I really really like it.  The colours are softened a bit, and the blocks look like changing transparencies of glass over the stripes of colours.

Now to finish them up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Set of Twill Towels

I don't know if it's just because of the change in the weather, but I got a real case of startitis this week, and began a second pair of socks for gifting, an out-of-the-blue artsy knitting concept, and I really have my eye on a new slouchy hat for fall... maybe some fingerless mitts... not to mention this baby from the new BrooklynTweed collection.

But before I get to any of that, I should catch you up on my weaving.  I did get the skully napkins off the loom (seemed like they took forever) but I haven't gotten to hemming and finishing them yet.  Instead, I got really distracted with these babies, a set of dishtowels using a bit of colour and an irregular twill weave to add interest.

There are six colours in the warp, and I chose two of those for the weft of each towel.

The first towel had a red and pink weft.  The two colours didn't have much contrast, but it still looks quite nice:

Then came a towel with an orange and red weft:

Then one with a pink and orange weft.  It looks quite similar to the last one, again since there isn't much difference between the red and pink, but there is still a different tone to it:

That last shot shows the design most clearly, since it's nice and close.  There are warp stripes in six colours, weft stripes in two, and the overall pattern is an alternating 3:1 and 1:3 twill.  The places where the twill changes is offset from the colour stripe changes, which makes the whole thing much more interesting and gives more colours to the eye.  I can't wait to see how much better they all look, once they're washed and ironed.

Next time I'll show you the other weft combinations!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Doppler Socks

It's hard to follow up on those fluorescent green socks, but I had a couple more balls of the bright sock yarn from Knit Picks, and decided to knit it up, too.  These ones were blue and orange, which is another crazy colour combination (unless you're an Oilers fan.)  I decided to mix things up a bit with the stripes, and went from one row of orange to two rows to three rows and back again, keeping six rows of blue between.  It doesn't look as dramatic as I thought it might - perhaps varying the blue stripes would help, as well.  No worries, they are still cozy and fun socks, and my sock drawer is starting to look pretty wild!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Catching Up

I've actually been working on so many projects lately that I don't even know where to begin.

I finished my third Camp Loopy project on time, last month - this one was a lovely garter stitch wrap called Edge (Ravelry), which uses short rows to make little wedges of colour.  I used the Loopy Ewe's solid series yarn, incorporating a couple of neutral browns with a lovely clear blue for the accent colour.

It took a fair bit of yarn and a good chunk of my August knitting time, but since it's garter stitch, it went pretty fast.  The colour changes and short rows helped to keep it interesting enough, too, that it seemed to go fairly quickly, even if it took a few weeks.

The pattern specified a particular type of bind-off, to allow lots of stretch for blocking, but I found that the bind-off was a bit too stretchy, since when I blocked it (and I stretched it out beyond the recommended dimensions) the edges still ended up a bit ruffly.  Next time, I'd use a regular bind-off, probably.  Yes, there will probably be a next time, since this one is intended to be a gift, and I would really love to make myself one in a different colour scheme.  Lord knows I have plenty of sock yarn to make up something pretty for myself.

Overall, I really like the wrap - it's nice and big, and the garter stitch is so squishy and comfy.  I think it will be really perfect for cozying up in for a night of reading in the dark of winter.

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.