Monday, June 27, 2011

The verdict is in

I officially love pineapples.

One center motif with my very first pineapple attached. Turns out it's super easy.
Time for a close-up, lovely little pineapple!
Ok, so I might have become just slightly pineapple obsessed this week.
In fact I couldn't stop myself.
But look how pretty! All I have to do now is several rows of chain edging and a couple of joining motifs in the middle. Then I need to figure out how to block and starch, something I've never bothered to do before.
I took a break here and there from my pineapple frenzy to fix my damn tencel warp. After a close inspection, I realized that my problem wasn't a mere threading error. I had simply skipped over one thread. Twice. (Instead of one thread grouping of 17 threads, I only did 16.) So rather than making a temporary heddle for two threads, I had to untie the warp, unweave the plain weave and header weave I'd done, and take all the threads out of the reed and heddles. GAH!!!

But before I did any of that I inserted the lease sticks back behind the heddles, because to do otherwise would have been madness.

I think even a non-weaver can look at this photo and see the problem. Right there in the middle the black thread goes over two blue threads in a row instead of over and under. This is not something that you can ignore, really.
Luckily, though, I managed to do the first repeat of the pattern correctly, so I only had to re-do two thirds of it. If you can call that luck.
After about three hours of hunching over like a hag and saying bad words when my makeshift reed hook (a smallish steel crochet hook) kept breaking threads, I am now nearly back where I started. Maybe one day I'll even be able to start weaving!
And in the middle of all this nonsense, I also kept plugging away on my sock.

This yarn is definitely too big. I took a close look at the photos in the book the other day, and my stitch definition just isn't where it should be. I'm tempted to get some smaller yarn and start over. Maybe.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bits and bobs

Many things were accomplished this weekend. Amazing what constant rain can propel you to do.

First off, Technical Support came through in a big way. The cabin loom appears to be back in fighting trim. And it's now decked out in festive orange!

Here we see the old system on the left and the new, hopefully more sturdy system on the right.
Another view. Is the orange lurid or funky? Depends on my mood I think.
In celebration of a new working loom, I wound a new warp. I'm going to do the same pattern I did with the alpaca scarf, only using the fiber that's called for in the pattern. If all goes according to plan it'll look remarkably different.

This is a warp using some of the sixteen tons of chenille that came with the loom.
I'm not exaggerating by much here. If anyone has a genius idea for using up multiple pounds of chenille, I'm all ears.
I also started a new sock! I'm pretty excited about this one ... it has cables. AND I read ahead in the pattern (which you should always do to avoid unhappy surprises) and discovered that this sock will have a pattern that continues into the heel. Every other sock I've ever made has had a plain heel, so this will be a new and probably unnerving experience. So far I'm really digging the pattern, which is repeated over 25 stitches. A full pattern repeat is 28 rows...I'm only halfway through the first of two repeats. It's not boring, that's for sure.

Not bad for a day and half of work. I think the yarn I'm using is a little big, and this sock is one size fits all ... it might end up being too big even for my giant man-feet.
And I've done scary things with this sock! For example, "pass third stitch on left needle over first two stitches and off needle, knit 1, yarn over, knit 1."  There are some instructions coming that are causing me some anxiety, but I'll figure it out. I hope.

Finally, I got some new crochet thread in the mail! I ordered some size 20 and size 30 thread. Size 30 is about as small as you can get. I'm going to attempt my first pineapple doily. I'm stupidly excited at the prospect of working with thread again because I'm a bit of a Thread Addict.

And even though it was late and I was tired, I couldn't resist getting started. Here are the first four rounds.
For comparison purposes. It's pretty tiny thread, and a pretty tiny hook (size 10 steel). Here's hoping my old eyes can cope!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Too damn hot

Last Thursday we saw the hottest June day in DC in 137 years. I believe the actual temperature hit 102, and the heat index was around 110. When it's that hot out all I want to do is watch mindless tv and drink gin and tonics. What I don't want to do is fiddle around with fiber, especially animal fiber.

So needless to say, I didn't get much done this past week on any project.

I did manage to get the tencel project tied on, and the header woven.

And I got a bobbin of weft thread wound on. That doesn't take a lot of effort.
It's gonna be pretty, I think.
However. And isn't there always a however? When I was weaving the first few picks of plain weave, I noticed two places that appear to have been threaded wrong. I was not happy. I fled to the living room and promptly ignored the problem for the rest of the week. I think I should be able to unweave the few picks I wove, undo the two bad threads, and attach a temporary heddle to the correct shaft. We'll see if I feel brave enough to try that this week. It sounds only slightly less ominous than undoing all the threading and starting over.

The good news: weather forecasted to be in the low 80s all week, and I just bought a Groupon at my yarn store, so new socks, here I come. I also finally found a source for size 20 and size 30 crochet thread, which is on its way, so yay new thread projects!!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Whole lotta nuffink

Last week was incredibly hot. On Wednesday as I was at the dentist's office waiting for my appointment, the temperature readout on the local news hit 100. And for days the heat index was around 105. Added to that, over Memorial Day weekend I was very very stupid and stayed out in the sun way too long doing heavy yard work and got a pretty bad sunburn. Added to all THAT, the air conditioning in my building was only working at about half capacity. All this added up to one cranky crafty girl who did nada on any project.

On Sunday I rectified that a little bit.

My cabin loom is apparently pretty old. I have no idea how old, but the strings that hold it all together look like they come from the 18th Century. Last year those strings started to break, and Tech Support and I fixed them as they broke. It was a pain in the rear. So we decided that when I was done with my last weaving project we'd just suck it up and fix the whole thing at once.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Shafts 1 and 4 were already done, leaving the two in the middle with the crappy string. We got the shafts out, figured out the byzantine route of the string, restrung the thing, and were in the process of tying off the last eyelet when shaft 4 suddenly went SNAP! With the old string, it went down one side, under a peg-like thing, then there was a huge knot on underside, and then it went back up the other side. I know that's not the most descriptive description.

We thought we were being super clever by securing it at the bottom with a washer instead of a huge ungainly knot. But it turns out that the cord we were using is really quite slippery, and so it slipped the confines of the washer and suddenly the tension and distance of the two sides were totally different.

So we threw our hands in the air and gave up until we can find some more suitable cord, and a better way to secure it in the middle. Grrrrrr.

So when you depress the levers at the right, the shaft raises. Each shaft is attached to the top at either side by those things with the string running through.
The system is possibly a little clearer here. Each shaft is attached on the left and the right, so that string has to be even and evenly tensioned.
Here's the difference between the crap-ass string in the middle and the slippery cord on the outside. It goes down from one side, is knotted underneath, and then goes up to the other side.
And here's a close-up of the ancient string. It also feels like it's been waxed. Really odd stuff.
I also did a nice twisted fringe on the alpaca scarf, but I haven't wet finished it yet. I'm telling you, I was cranky.

And I made another attempt at the double-ended Tunisian crochet project, but when I got to the end of round 1, I realized that I needed a ton of stitch markers, and I'd forgotten to pack them for the weekend. *sigh*

My plans for this week include starting on the Tencel weaving project and ordering a crapload of new yarn and thread for new projects. It's possible I also might accidentally find myself in my LYS on Tuesday for some new sock yarn, assuming it's not a thousand degrees out.