Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Done and done

This Memorial Day weekend, after a whole lot of hard physical labor, I also managed to finish both of my projects. First up, the alpaca scarf. I probably could have squeezed one more repeat out of the warp, but it was 85 degrees in the cabin and working with animal fiber was making me hot and cranky. It's manmade fiber for me until fall, I think.

Hot off the loom, and hot in the sunshine. I'll post better pix once it's been properly finished.
But the big news is that I finished my other sock. Loads of photos follow because I'm ridiculously pleased with myself.

So pretty! Even in the extreme heat!
I might have worn them with these shoes, if it wasn't ungodly hot out.
I still can't quite believe I did this.

My lovely heels that fit.
 And just for fun, here are a couple of other pix.

Here we have my copy of the pattern and all my OCD counting. The second sock went a lot faster because I knew exactly how many repeats I needed to do, which eliminated all the measuring and trying on of the first sock.

And finally, although I managed not to break a single bamboo needle, one of them is badly bent, and another split at one point and nearly impaled me with the sliver. Good times!

Monday, May 23, 2011


So although I was SURE I was going to be able to finish the alpaca weaving project this weekend, it didn't happen.  Two things happened that were very frustrating and caused me to throw my hands up and walk away after suffering through one repeat:

1. My table loom's shafts are tensioned by rubber bands. And it turns out that if you don't pay attention, after a winter of cold weather, followed by a whole lot of up and down movement, sometimes those rubber bands will break, and if they don't break they will certainly stretch. About halfway through my one repeat yesterday, I glanced at the floor and saw that a rubber band had broken on shaft 1. I called in Tech Support (aka the Husband) who fixed it for me. I then noticed that the rubber band on the other side, all the way in the back on shaft 4, was also broken. Hmm...could this be why I've had such a dreadful time getting a good shed? Tech Support went ahead and replaced all the rubber bands, but then we noticed that shaft 4 was now crooked, so knots had to be undone and retied. *heavy dramatic sigh*

Post-replacement Nice even tension!
2. Now I have a really nice shed (the space where the shuttle goes through) and I'm weaving along, when I notice that one of the warp threads is looking a little loose. When I was winding the warp there was one point where someone had broken the yarn and retied it. I ignored it and kept winding. Well, that knot was causing problems, and about two inches behind it, things had gotten really stretched and finally broke. I don't have any tools at the cabin to fix this kind of thing, so I just knotted on some fresh yarn, then knotted it together at the other end, then weighted the whole thing with some washers. Hopefully it won't cause any more problems. I'm thisclose to being done, so with any luck I won't break any more threads. I was worried that this would happen a lot more with this yarn.

It ain't pretty, but hopefully it will hold.
But look! If you squint at it you can see the pattern!

So after all that drama I went back to my sock.  I made tremendous progress this week.

So pretty
Getting tired of looking at these same two damn projects? Yeah, me too. With any luck, though, they'll both be done in the next week and I can move on to other things. Maybe the beautiful Babette blanket, which I've been wanted desperately to make for about five years now?

Some day I WILL make this. I love it so.
And finally, here are some pretty flowers to look at, currently blooming in Lost River, WV.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not much to share this week

This is what happens when you work on time-consuming projects. Not much of interest happens from day to day, until suddenly you find yourself finished and ready to move on to the next thing.

However, yesterday I did do some more weaving on the alpaca cabin project.

More fabric building up
You can see that there are just a few layers of paper left to unroll. I might be able to get this project finished next weekend!
Here's the pattern I'm working from and why one repeat takes an hour.
I'm also plugging away on sock number 2! I'm getting a little cocky as well. I forgot to yarn over during one repeat, realized it too late, and was all, whatevs. I'll just make a new stitch on the next round. I think my fear of knitting is behind me.
And for a little added variety, behold my herb garden, 2011.

The sides are falling down, so we have plans to use real wood from a store to make it more sturdy. Eventually.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Grinding halt

I did nothing this past week, apart from go to the gym, work, and watch tv. I just couldn't work up the energy to start my second sock or continue with my new weaving project.

Until this weekend, when I was faced with crushing boredom. I started the second sock on Saturday morning, but I'm not going to bore you with another blow-by-blow on that. Once is enough!

And then Sunday I was still unbelievably bored, so I did a whole bunch of work on the loom.

I threaded all the heddles, which took several hours and left me with a very sore back (you have to reach over and through the loom to get the next thread and put it through the heddle, and I don't have a great chair for my loom ... it's not at the right height so I have to hunch way over).

Here we are about a third of the way done. I had to stop and stretch and do other things between each repeat of the pattern or my back would probably have seized up.
And here we are, all 329 ends threaded through and shoved over to the right. On to the next step!
After that I took a brief break to eat some lunch and stretch out my poor back, then it was back to the loom to sley the reed. I don't know what it is about tencel, but I really love working with it and rarely have a problem with the projects I make with it. And it's eco-friendly, and made from wood pulp!

That's what I like to see: order out of chaos.
Here it is from the top, looking all nice and orderly.
Finally, I fixed the treadles so that when they're pressed down they'll raise up the correct shafts.

So. Very. Dusty.
And that's about as far as I'm able to get on this project until I make it back out to the cabin. I only have two shuttles, and they're both in use on the alpaca project on the cabin loom, plus I only have one bobbin winder, and it's also at the cabin.

What else did I do this weekend to try to alleviate the boredom? I washed the windows, gave the stove top a deep clean, read a book from start to finish, watched one bad movie and one good movie, and busted out the nail polish. It's spring now so it's time to release the toes!

Monday, May 02, 2011

All kinds of goodies to share

First and foremost: I finished the sock!

And it is a beauty
I'm really quite pleased with myself
Super closeup of the toeses
Did I start on sock #2? I did not. I needed a break.

Instead, I restarted the baby alpaca cardigan from a million years ago. This time I am keeping track of where I am, but hopefully that won't be an issue because I WILL NOT put it aside for another five years.

After the sock, it's weird to (a) be crocheting something, and (b) be using such huge yarn.
And, because I had a few hours to myself yesterday, and therefore could start something that required concentration, without being constantly interrupted, I wound a warp!

In three bundles.

And dragged my poor neglected Baby Wolf out into the light.

Unfolded it...

And got out my weaver's bible.

Honestly, anyone who's thinking about weaving should get this book. I never start a project without it at my side.
I got the warp attached to the back beam and got it spread in the raddle.

And then wound it onto the back beam and inserted the lease sticks into the cross.

Usually I try to do all these steps where the loom lives, in a corner in my bedroom. Never again! It was so much easier to drag the loom into the living room where I had room to maneuver. Next up: threading the heddles and sleying the reed. I won't be able to start weaving until my cabin project is done though. I only have two shuttles and they're both in use at the moment.

All in all, not a bad week, craft-wise.