Thursday, July 31, 2014

Frost Flowers Bloom!

I've released my first pattern! Fully written up and available in my ravelry store with a 20% discount from now until August 8 23:59 EST to celebrate the release!

With this, I have at last completed one of my new year's resolutions for 2014! Hurrah! I've already strayed completely off the road for another one of those resolutions (it was bound to happen, really...), so I'm pretty excited that I have kept to something.

I have also finished my disastrous blanket, so just need to get that photographed along with the first scarf I have been neglecting to document. I have worn it out and about though, and the colour has - rather magically - fit with everything so far! It crinkles pretty easily, but I think that just gives it character.
The blanket is actually now not quite so disastrous as it seemed to me then (mostly because I'm finished with it and will no longer need to work another one of them again), and I quite like the end result. I couldn't stuff one last thin clasped-weft section at the end, but that's fine. It looks fine as is, and I'm happy with the results, especially considering all the trials I had to pass to get to it! I counted all the broken warp threads afterwards and they totalled 23. 5 of which were all within centimetres of each other. So I wove them all in, and now it's done! I've given it to my father, and it's lying across the couch now, waiting for winter to settle in...

Monday, July 28, 2014

7 Months Along...

It's getting close. Really close.

And it's looking good!

There's still a bit left to do before I let it out into the world, but it's coming along, and I'm so incredibly excited! This is my first one, and I've already learned so much from the experience (and it hasn't even come out yet!), but I really hope the future is bright for this one. And any others to come, of course! But let's focus on this one first. I'll get to the others when I get to them.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shedding Don't Get You No Shed.

Don't let its innocent fa├žade fool you.
Feeling totally empowered (read: cocky) from the success of my first successful woven fabric, I decided to weave something a little more challenging: a clasped-weft plaid blanket. Sounded challenging enough to keep me interested, but not too hard (no colour changes in the same row or anything like that, no lace... just simple plain-ish weave).

The warping process went... well, I got all the threads on the back beam in any case. A couple of them - I actually mean practically all of the wine threads - were lost along the way and I had to fix them (fixing warp threads. Before I even started weaving. I can't believe I didn't notice the signs, honestly) but I got all the threads in order enough to thread the eyes. Tied all of them onto the front, and went for the up shed. A couple of loose threads, but that's fine, I said. I'd manage. Went for the down shed. Uhhh....

That's narrow. Already weighted and all, too.
 So I cleared it and forged on ahead. After a couple inches of inching the shuttle across hoping it didn't catch stray threads, I decided to start weighting some of the threads. It started with one little glass jam jar. One of those sample sizes. Put a thread around the offending warp thread or two, shoved the thread into the jar, and shut them in, dangling the jar off the back beam. So alright, I'm learning something new: weighting warp threads. Hurrah for problem solving!

Then I ran into some other troubles. Both of my warp threads are singles. One of which (the grey one) is a soft, stretchy singles (note: don't use stretchy threads as a warp!) while the other is a rather tightly spun singles that is relatively tough in comparison. Now I'm pretty sure there's something somewhere saying that if you're going to use two rather different yarns in your warp, you should use two back beams, but I've just got my humble AKL, so I went ahead with it. You don't know if you don't try, right? (And to be honest, differences in tension has been the least of my problems.) So what I'm trying to say is this: the constant friction against the yarns by the rigid heddle (beating, changing sheds) caused a not very modest amount of shedding fibers: it was pilling. And fast.
I know you're all buddies, but give each other some space!
I shrugged it off, though. Pilling? No worries. I'll just advance the warp every couple of inches so the place of friction changes often enough for that to not be a problem. It kind of worked? But I'm really not sure if it's because of that, or because I clear the shed in the back and front of the reed with my hand after changing sheds before passing my shuttle through, or maybe because of all the miscellaneous items curiously dangling off the back of my table:

Wrenches, jewellery, film canisters, mini jam jars, you name it.
There are actually more issues (I had a lot of trouble keeping the selvedge even at first with clasped-weft, since both yarns were crazy sticky and resulted in a lot of pulling in when I just tried to pull everything into place; breaking warp threads did not stop at the beaming on stage: there are currently 6 broken warp threads in the section I'm working on right now, and that's not counting the thread that somehow got lost from the very start (I found that I had somehow missed a thread while threading the holes), or all the threads I've had to fix before this point, as well as the ones I will most likely have to fix from now on till the end), but it's a bit painful, so I'm going to stop. No amount of shedding (tears at this point, really) is going to get me a proper shed, after all.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Learning Curve

Disaster falls.

That's the first full width warp I tried to wind onto my new 28" Ashford Knitter's Loom. Let me just say that there is absolutely nothing - nothing - wrong with the AKL itself. It's very easy to set up and learn, and the mechanism for how it works is even easier to understand. I absolutely adore it now that I have been able to weave on it, and I think it has found a forever home with me. There are a couple of little things I'm a bit iffy about (the clamps seem kind of... eh. Even when the knobs are as tight as I can make them, I can still sort of move the pieces with a bit of a pull or push, but if I'm not trying to test it, it stays in place just fine. And the down position of the reed is difficult to "get", but once you actually have the warp on, it clicks into place. That's all.), but I would definitely recommend this to a friend! As a bonus: it comes with its own bag! A very sturdy bag, might I add.

That being said, I still screwed up for my first full project.

You mean I can't wind it back and forth?
The problems from what I understand were relatively numerous:

  • I chose for my warp a loose 2-ply cotton/acrylic slub. It stuck to itself, it shed EVERYWHERE, it broke apart at the slightest provocation; it wasn't the best choice of warp thread.
  • I was winding the warp on solo, and following the Ashford pdf instructions on how to do that. It looked like the person had twisted the bunch of warp threads to keep it tight, so I did that, even as I wondered whether that would create some problems (one side would definitely be tighter than the other, right?). And I had no idea how hard I had to pull, so I yanked it so hard the clamp went free and I had to Mulan it with one foot keeping the loom from falling onto the floor as I pulled the threads back. It didn't work very well.
  • Wrong knot. I used the entire bunch of threads (in bouts of 8) to tie a knot, which made it uneven.
  • To remedy the problem, I tried to wind it all onto the front and rewind the whole thing - it didn't work.

So I ended up just cutting and tossing, which saved me a bunch of time, effort, and tears. Look below at the close up of what I was dealing with. A snarled bunch of sticky threads that were shedding everywhere. Everywhere.
A close up. And you haven't even seen the detritus.
And then I put on a new one several days later using a much less stickier yarn (also cotton/acrylic, I think) that also happened to be much smoother. And I tried not pulling as though my life depended on it and just enough to keep the threads from going slack. From the front instead of the back (which killed my back, so maybe I'll have to try the yank & crank method next time). I still had some trouble keeping even tension while winding on, since the middle was looser than the sides; I ended up pushing my thumb down on the middle portion to increase the pressure on it and that worked fine for me.

Then something miraculous happened: the sheds actually opened! I could finally weave!
Even (enough) tension across to actually weave!
 To be honest, I've finished this scarf already - it's a bit rough, but that's just the yarn. I will have to take pictures of it later, but it only took me 4 days! Whoa. If I were knitting a piece that big, in stockinette, it'd probably take me at least a couple of weeks if not a month or so! I'm pretty excited about all the possibilities!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recipe for Silver Linings

So I recently received a message on ravelry asking me for help regarding the Tucked Woollen Dress pattern from Vogue. Now, even if you have a copy of the pattern it probably wouldn't do you much good. It's only sized up to ages 4-5, after all. So I decided to write up a basic outline for anyone who wants to try to recreate my dress!

Seeing that my written notes are kind of a disaster, especially for this dress since so many things had to be ripped back and re-knit, I decided to type up a really rough recipe complete with diagram to try to help out anyone who might want to knit up my version of this dress!

Follow these links for the outline and the full-sized diagram respectively (since the diagram in the word document may be a bit small). Enjoy (or suffer endlessly trying to figure it out)! And feel free to ask me if you don't understand what's going on: I will do my best to help you out.