Thursday, December 31, 2015

12.31.15.

Thank goodness for student pricing.
Gangnam Star, Earl Grey Flute, and Bacon Epi + stellar ROM visit
Spent the day roaming the ROM since I had a coupon for the Pompeii exhibit, and today was the last day I would have been able to go (it closes January 3, so if you can make it, I would encourage you to visit!). The carved busts & figures, the metal figurines, and pretty much everything else I saw - super detailed mosaic portrait that from afar looked like a painting because of how tiny the mosaic tiles were! The coins which were tiny but looked to be way more detailed than ours! - were amazing! Having done stone carving once (on limestone, much easier than marble), I was in absolute awe seeing those marble carvings.
Then on the fourth floor, there was a Mexican clothing & culture exhibit, which was mind-blowing. One of the many ikat-dyed pieces had lettering on it that was created during the ikat dyeing process. My jaw must have dislocated and fallen onto the floor, but it was totally worth it. And I got to chat with an older lady who marvelled at everything with me and shared my enthusiasm for textiles. I’m very glad I went. The only thing I’d like to comment on with respect to that was that the lighting was rather dim, and when you pulled out the drawers to look at more textiles, your shadow would fall on the glass and block the light, so it was rather difficult to view those pieces up close.
And then I tried out Bake Code on the way back. No regrets.
Have a happy new year, everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Perpetual Progress

black dress
On the way to becoming overbaked brioche

I'm not quite sure what it is about finishing a project, really. No sooner did Timberline come off my needles (the sleeves are currently blocking and the body & button/neckbands are awaiting seaming) did I suddenly feel like I didn't have enough projects going on. Nevermind that the Sherwood and the Sheep Vest/Sweater have (still!) yet to be finished - they don't count, really... I mean, they don't count anymore, do they? - I needed to fill that hole in my life that needs a million projects going on at once to ensure I can never have finished everything! And so that pile of black yarn above, Elsebeth Lavold Eucool (which I've used for my notched hem tank), has started on its long journey to becoming a dress. A long dress with full turtleneck, in brioche. Which will also hopefully be accompanied by a not-so-long full pattern.

madelinetosh tosh dk
If you only knew me through this blog, you'd probably think I loved pink.

Then I swatched for a Chevron Cardigan with my madtosh tosh dk (in Torchere, which I am starting to think of as meaning "torturous pink" although I do adore it so). I think I'm going to go down a couple of needle sizes - one full millimetre, in fact, which sounds like I'm making it out to be something small, but for knitting, it's actually quite a bit of difference - so that I'll have a denser fabric. I don't want to have to go down to 3mm needles, which is what's preventing me from getting a fully dense & plush fabric that won't let quite as much wind through, so I'm settling for 3.5mm. The silhouette looks vaguely bomber-jacket like, so I'm going to run with it and play it by ear. Possibly lower the neckline a bit to make it more of a crew-neck, and do ribbing at the neck as well, before doing the buttonband (or after?). And in the meanwhile I can but hope I have enough yarn to get me through without having to play around with different dk weight yarns in my stash to supplement it as a contrast colour (hello sugarplum tosh dk!).

Swatched
Einband, swatched the dark teal

Did I also mention that I've finally torn into the Einband my brother brought back... last year, was it? Or the year before? Just to swatch, but I've swatched, at least! And now I'm not sure I want to use it for the dress I was swatching it for... which was an adult version of this children's dress.

Cotton slip for wearing under dresses, possibly?
And then there's this pale pink cotton lace yarn I got from the Knitter's Frolic. I know what I was thinking - $20 for 2 of these! That's really good! - but I don't know what I was thinking: pale colours don't become me very well. But I have been thinking about maybe getting a slip to wear under my dresses so they don't keep going between my legs while I'm walking, so maybe I can just knit one out of this? I'm thinking of a Cosy Vest.


So the unfortunate thing is that none of these projects will be making it into the TCK12sweater2015 challenge, but at least once the top two are done, I'll have an addition of two very wearable items in my wardrobe (the pink is arguable, but it's such a glaring pink I might just wear it all the time), as well as two sweater-quantity spaces freed from my stash bins. And if I make the slip as well, then that's probably almost one full skein of these cotton lace yarns gone from my stash, which is a bonus. All of this is a win for me. Of course, that's after/if I finish these projects. And there's still the Romni's Boxing Day sale this Monday*.



* I was so disappointed (and very relieved for reasons I'm sure you can divine) when I thought it was going to be on the Sunday because I knew I'd be working the entire day for sure and wouldn't be able to make it, so imagine my surprise when they announced it'd be on the Monday! I'm going to be knitting a dress for a dear friend of mine, and she's specified black as the colour, so I will be prowling. Otherwise, I'm thinking about purchasing Miss Babs' Katahdin or Kilimanjaro in a black or purple-black to make it for her. If all else fails, I've got a sweater-ish quantity of black cottolin I can use.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Year End Review

I see a lot of 2015 in review posts floating about, so here goes mine.

Remember how I took account of all the yarn in my stash earlier this year? I figured I would tally it all up once again now that the year is almost done. (I know, there's still a couple of weeks left to actually do some really bad damage and change all these numbers, but let's just assume I'll recover some semblance of self-control.)

So how'd I do?

Scary-looking huge numbers, but...
I know those numbers look huge. And to be fair, I did purchase quite a lot of yarn in 2015, so I can't even offer any defence for myself. At least I have yet to buy the remaining madtosh lace at Romni's (I'm thinking 3-4 skeins of Maple Leaf, which is a really weird colour to be thinking about in terms of my wardrobe... although maybe not too odd given I made the Frost Flowers Dress, which is a kind of close but not as blinding and offensive colour). Yet.

But.

Look at what these numbers were before (sometime in June or July?):

Halfway through 2015

Also look at how much yardage I used up this year so far!

Yardage used up in 2015 so far.
So what does this all mean?

  • Total Yardage in Stash: 97,934.4 - 81,753.5 = 16,180.9 yards less (total) than halfway through 2015!
  • Yards Acquired in 2015 (remaining): 39,528.5/97,934.4 ~ 0.4 = 40% of my stash was acquired in 2015, which makes sense, because of the following reasons:
    • I've been purchasing less cone yarn, which doesn't register any yardage at all on ravelry, and purchasing more in skein format
    • I've been making more and using up sweater quantities, which means more free space, which of course = buy more to fill it all up = horrible purchasing habits I need to revise
  • Yardage Used in 2015 compared to that added to stash: 26,974/39,528.5 ~ 0.68 = 68% of what I purchased, I used this year (kind of, since I didn't really use all the yarn I stashed this year like that, using up some older yarn for projects, but this is more straightforward)
  • Yardage Used in 2015 compared to Yardage Used from all time: 26,974/44,826 ~ 0.6 = 60% of all the yarn I have ever used that could be documented (i.e. not cone yarn) came from 2015 knitting & weaving projects. That's pretty good, if you ask me.
The verdict?

I definitely could have brought home way less yarn; there was never any question of that, ever. But in my (meagre) defence, a yarn store did close up, and I tried to exchange as much yarn as I could at Romni's whenever I went, instead of pouring in a new flow of funds. I also used a fair bit of the yarn I brought home, or at least cleared out those bins, which gave me the room to go and fill them back up again. So it's been a pretty productive year, even if it doesn't really feel like it (hello, 8 out of 12 sweaters I was supposed to knit for the TinCanKnits challenge! And one of them - Timberline - isn't even really done! About 97%, so close enough, really, but not done!). There are things I'd like to aim for, next year, though, with respect to textiles:

  • Write up & publish at least one pattern, again. I mean, I have to make the pattern in my size anyway whenever I knit something (because I'm the type to do all the calculations and everything before knitting), so I might as well make it in a bunch of other sizes as well while I'm at it!
  • Slash down that queue! My queue grows like weeds, and sometimes I go through it and see all these items I know I queued, and I know why, but that I also cannot for the life of me see myself ever making. So either knit down my queue, or simply cull a good half of it.
  • Weave, weave, weave. Way more than I did this year. Make scarves for sale & use up those odd remnants I have lying around. Weave up a huge swathe of twill and make clothing (or a collection of clothing based on what I had in my solo show?) either for myself or for sale. I have a couple of gaps in my wardrobe that need filling, and my wallet is also eternally in need of filling.
  • I'd really like to actually knit more. I know I accomplished a lot in terms of FOs this year and all, but I want to knit more dresses for myself, as well as comfy cardigans that I know I'll get a lot of wear out of. I'm discovering that although I really like most of the sweaters I've knit, I have trouble fitting them into my daily routine unless I'm feeling adventurous that day. So cardigans might be the new thing. Buttonholes & zippers, here I come!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Camera Eyes vs. Human Eyes

Alternative post title: On the Importance of Paying Attention to Dye Lots

Miss Babs
I hope you can't tell how heavily photoshopped this is. If you can't, please admire that.
I guess it might be difficult to see what it is I'm talking about if you didn't know what to look out for, but if you ignore the heavy photoshopping in the white background there (and the fact that the entire image has been skewed in order to make it look straight), and direct your attention towards the area just where the armhole shaping starts, you'll see what I'm talking about. I noticed it even as a human being, but figured it wasn't that bad and continued (what was I thinking though?). And truly, it isn't that bad in real life, so I guess being lazy was fine this time. But the camera picks up everything that is wrong with reality (see this warp at the bottom of the post? It's off the loom now and nobody can tell it was ever crooked. Not that I've asked. But I know nobody would think it was. Not that I'll be testing that anytime soon either.) and shoves it into your face for you to see! So there's the lesson, everyone who doesn't already know better than to alternate dye lots. Especially ones purchased a year apart. No one? Just me? Figured. It's a pretty good match, though, as I mentioned last time, so I'm not as bothered as I maybe should be.

Anyway, this is the Timberline WIP, sans sleeves even though those are finished (I followed the instructions and finished those first since I was scared my puny little gauge swatch might have lied to me). I'm pretty stoked for this to be done and on my person. You wouldn't know it by my lack of progress since finishing the entire body and everything except for the button/neckband. I don't know why I'm waffling so bad. This is the easiest part. I also started knitting those adorable kitten mittens (for humans) though, so that's probably the main culprit. I'm hoping I'll have this one finished before 2016 starts up. And of course, insert the usual statement about the same hope for my sheep vest/sweater & the sherwood for my brother. Except those are less probable futures and this one's foreseeable, so I'll invest my hope (and effort) in the Timberline instead. Sorry, sheep. Sorry, brother (although I did knit a couple more inches of body into your sweater this year!).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Livin' the Print Life

Well not really. I mean, much less than I had expected at the beginning of the (school) year. I also have no photographic evidence to show for it, so I suppose it never happened. Or at least, it has yet to have happened until I get the project back come the new year and I get to take a million pictures of the book & quilt I made. Did I mention how that was the first time I had ever made a quilt? And that I hand-dyed some Saldahna, hand-wove, and hand-sewed (or at least hand-quilted all the layers & hand-sewed the borders because it just wouldn't go through the machine properly) the entire thing? Oh, and by the way, I made the loom I used to weave the fabric while I was at it. I also pulled an all-nighter for the first time in my academic career to finish hand-quilting. Three of those, actually. In a row. Then proceeded to attend the crit. First time for everything, my friends.

8 underweight in stash + 2 more full weight
Miss Babs Heartland in Beachglass, all these skeins have been knitted up & 2 new ones are continuing their cause

On the above note, none of my WIPs exist either, unfortunately. One Timberline is almost done (I ended up purchasing 2 more skeins of Heartland in Beachglass because I had at least 2 underweight skeins in my stash, although now I think one skein might have been enough. I really have to commend them on their consistency with dyeing! The two skeins match pretty well. I forgot to alternate for the fronts and I mean, it's kind of noticeable since the green is just slightly different, but it's pretty darn close.) and I've started knitting a pair of kitten mittens (Moggies - can we talk about how adorable these are?) for my Secret Child (see last year's).

I also went shopping a couple of days ago and saw a couple of things that I really liked but didn't want to buy for reasons (below)! I sketched these out to see how they might look from what I remember:

quilted yoke!
Quilted yoke salopette/shirt-dress?
So I saw this really adorable dress shirt at Kind Exchange, but it was kind of ratty-looking and I knew I wouldn't wear it for sure even if I had gotten it, so I put it down and tucked the image of it in my mind. The yoke was a contrasting colour, I think subtly patterned, and it looked as though it was quilted? It had matching quilted/contrasting pockets, and white contrasting cuffs (and I think collar & buttonband, since that would only make sense). It was really cute. And definitely not my style. (I don't think I have any pants that go with it.) But I would totally make it and wear it around everywhere as a dress!

And O-Wool went and put Legacy DK on sale, so I've been eyeing the Lake Erie (all 13 skeins of it that are left!), either Pomegranate or Bee Balm, and the Natural or Oyster Mushroom for the contrasting colours. My self-restraint is collapsing in on itself big time. I already let 16 skeins of Coal slip through my fingers (I was debating it while they were in my cart, and by the time I went back to look, they were gone, gone, and gone). Someone please take the decision out of my faltering hands and just buy up all those colours please. Or at least all the Lake Erie. And the Oyster Mushroom. And maybe the Natural. And the remainder of the Pomegranate. I don't have the guts to wear something solely Bee Balm, so that one's fine. But honestly, O-Wool's one of those companies I really want to try out, so this has been straining my self-control so much these past weeks (or week, I don't really know anymore).


Club Monaco dress - new collection I think?

Then there was this dress at Club Monaco that I thought was too shapeless, but couldn't get out of my mind after I left with another really cute white dress. (The moment I put it on, I was so smitten I knew I was going to get it, so. It felt good to buy something I thought I could make, but decided it was more worth it to simply get what was in front of me.) This grey one is such a classic silhouette though - I mean, long-sleeved turtleneck dress? - that I probably can't go wrong with it. And I think I could make it with the same yarn I used for my funnel-neck sweater.

Then there's this adorable children's dress (why do the cutest dresses have to be for children?) and decided I absolutely must have one in my size:
Which one do I cast on?

Not sure which style I'd like to make, yet, but I'm very much veering towards number 1 there on the left side. And I like the thought of using my Einband to make it, so that's probably what's going to happen. I'm just not sure whether I have enough of the grey.

The only take-away from this post, really, is that I have too many things I want to make for the timeline within which I want all those things.

And those are the reasons for which there have been no posts here since forever ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

woven into fine print

hand-knitted & hand-sewn clothing, from woven into fine print (2015)

I never know whether I should keep this blog completely separate from my online art portfolio, especially when there's considerable overlap in the material, but here's a shot from my first solo exhibition that featured the 4 linen & linen blend pieces I made for my line'n'form series.

I'm primarily a printmaker - I work in intaglio and woodcut relief - but I'm finding that there are so many parallels to be drawn between the processes with which I engage; that there are many similarities to be found between the printmaking and the textile work I do, whether I think of it in terms of "fine art" or as making myself something I would like to have. I hesitate to say "craft" because that carries so much weight, and also because it sounds to me almost inferior by definition to "art", which is something I do not want to endorse, as I think craft exists in its own right apart from art, rather than along a hierarchical continuum, if you will, with it.

On that note, I'm currently reading A Theory of Craft by Howard Risatti. I also really want to read Thinking Through Craft by Glenn Adamson, but it's always borrowed whenever I go to the library. I could put it on hold, but I also have about 10 other books out already, all on the subjects of textiles, art, and craft, so it seems like it'd be in bad taste for me to simply hold onto it when others want to read it also. I recently finished The Craft of Zeus, which talks about the role weaving takes in ancient Greece (and Rome). It explores the way the actual process of weaving was used as a metaphor for politics, how weaving existed within language, both poetic and lay, and other topics I can't remember off the top of my head. There's quite a number of pages that have been marked for revisiting and note-taking before I return it to the library, and I'm now patting myself on the back for getting those book darts on impulse.

One of the things I really want to know is: from what I understand, the Fates spin the weft thread that determines your life (your fate/destiny/whatever you may), weaves it through the (white) warp, and cuts it to finish off your life - whence do the warp threads come? what are they made of/spun from? on that matter, what is the weft spun from? why white? It almost feels as though the warp is determined, beyond the Fates, and represents the web of existence as it is - even the Fates cannot lay their hands on that. What they can do, then, is determine how each person is woven into the fabric of the world, how they are affected by it, how the warp is effected by the person, and how much of those interactions to allow. Hence the weft. I have to do a lot more research on the topic before I can draw any real conclusion about this though. If anyone is knowledgeable about this subject, I would appreciate it a lot if you would guide me in the right direction in terms of reading material (or if anyone has the answer, with or without the research references, that'd be cool too!).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Loom (Fairy) Dust


Lots and lots
 I found these pictures in my folders. Taken very recently, right after I took my Nilec off the table to take pictures using the table. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I get an incredible amount of dust under the loom no matter what I'm weaving with. Even the really smooth cone yarns shed to create this dust-footprint under both my looms whenever I weave for a while. And this isn't just my Nilec, it's also my AKL and Sandy (the floor loom). I didn't realize weaving generated so much detritus.

It kind of forms a pattern, doesn't it?
I wonder, if I collected all the remains and carded and spun them back into yarn, how much I would get back?

And just in case the dust in the above two photos is a little difficult to discern, here's one that's been auto-contrast adjusted on Photoshop:

Somewhat disturbing higher contrast version of the loom dus

Spooky.

Monday, October 12, 2015

(Because I forgot)

Just Sandy. On her pedestal.
The one thing I wanted to say in the last post but forgot right after I started detailing stuff, was a huge thank you to Travis Meinolf for releasing his loom plans onto the interwebs! Despite all my grumbling, I really appreciate that it was available for me to use - and for free! - or I might not have even tried to build my own loom and thus make my first foray into woodworking!

Friday, October 9, 2015

First Woodworking Project Looming Over Me

Yes, I am sitting on a table with my loom in the printmaking studio.

Or rather, it was looming over me up until I got it to work just yesterday! I ran into so many issues because I've never set up a floor loom before, and as you might be able to see, the lams and pedals don't all hang at the same height, so I'm obviously still no expert.

I followed Travis Meinolf's Loom Plans (as I discussed here), which I must stress is in beta mode; what I'm trying to get at, more specifically, is that if you follow the materials list to the T, you will not be able to build a loom as per the instructions. Make sure to read through everything two or three times and make sure you know why he's telling you to drill a hole somewhere, or when to affix things to the frame, because you'll have the lam pivot in the frame before putting the lams on, as well as have 6 lams for a 4-harness counterbalance loom. Oh, and you'll be missing 4 pieces of 75cm long wood. You'll also run out of 4mm screws. This is definitely not to try to discourage anyone from building their own loom using his plans - it's actually pretty easy, all things considered! - but just a cautionary note so you don't end up having 6 lams and missing a couple of wood pieces. If I can make this as my first ever woodworking project, I can assure anyone that they can most likely do it too. Probably better.

I got all of the wood cut down to size at Home Depot, which is where I purchased all the lumber. I went to Home Hardware for the nuts/bolts, etc. and got the threaded rod cut at school. I cannot stress enough that you should get threaded rod for the front and back beams! Or at least the front one, because that's where I sat to thread my heddles. It's a bit awkward sitting from the front and leaning over, as well as being very damaging for the back, so when I finally gave in and sat inside the loom on the front beam, I was surprised to find that it held my weight quite well. I'm not sure if that's the design feature or if it just happened that way, but there's a good reason for using threaded rod and not a dowel or something weaker.

Her name's Sandy. Not that she's been sanded.

My loom wobbles a bit from side to side because I didn't follow one of the instructions (drilling two holes/side into the front and back beams instead of one/side, in order to make the frame not sway from side to side - not a huge issue, but something to do differently). I had so. much. trouble. trying to get the pedals to actually bring the harnesses down using lobster claw clips (of the jewellery variety, so it's not like the instructions were the issue) that I ended up just taking them all out and tying string to connect the lams and the pedals. Works like a dream. Did I also mention that while I was trying to test out pedals, the s-hooks popped out twice? Let me explain that a bit: the s-hooks hold up the top two dowels. If they pop out, all the harnesses drop down. Somehow my warp made it through more or less fine though, so I guess all is well!


A look from below

As you can see, my tension is pretty all over the place, in part because I lashed on and couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get even tension by adjusting the string all around, and in part because after I introduced the clasped-weft at the red part, one side became thicker than the other. That being said: it weaves!

From above

I swear it doesn't look quite this bad in real life, the tension issues! Also, I think they reflect more on the poor quality of my ability to lash on to the front rod than on the loom, so. I would recommend making this if you're thinking about it and sitting on the fence a bit. I have never built anything like this before - like I said, it's my first woodworking project - so the fact that my loom can weave at all is a miracle. I'm sure anyone else can do a whole lot better. Even still, I'm incredibly happy with my new loom! I've named her Sandy.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Twirl

laceweight skirt in the makings
Experimenting with lace
So I've been swatching, playing around with a combination of a couple of lace patterns from Knittingfool, a free online lace directory. Thinking of twirly skirts, but I'm not sure whether lace-weight is a touch too sheer. If there's enough volume, it should be fine, though, so it'll just have to be the twirliest of twirly skirts. I don't think anyone will mind.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Summer Roundup (final part)

madtosh tosh dk in "sugarplum"
Super fluffy sugarplum brioche
Now that summer is officially over, this summer roundup is, I suppose, a bit late. But, here are the FOs! All of them are now finished, although I don't have photos of all of them as FOs. Also, despite these 3 FOs, I think I've just about given up all hope on finishing the TCK12sweater2015 challenge. That being said, I'd like to see how well/terribly I do at the end of the year anyway, so I'm still tagging these posts and projects (on ravelry) as such.

I mentioned the Orne Cardigan (here) and set about casting on more or less right away because I had to have it in my wardrobe, and I'm happy to say that I did not make a mistake! I am extremely satisfied with the result (despite several mistakes - don't look too hard)! The only thing I wish I did differently is to move the pockets up a couple of inches so that I can reach into them more comfortably. I'm not bothered enough by it to rip out those couple of inches and reknit though, so just keep in mind for next time I work with brioche: it grows a ton vertically. Note that this is one of only two (intentional) changes I made to the pattern, the other change being not to change to 1x1 ribbing at the front bottom hems. Keeping it as brioche at the fronts resulted in the fronts being slightly shorter than the back even after blocking, but that's okay. I prefer that to it shrinking in and pulling towards the back.

The finished cardigan is super comfy to live in, and madtosh tosh dk is a dream (as might be deduced by the fact that I purchased more). I still have about 1.5 skeins left, so perhaps a hat is in the future?

almost finished!
I missed one!
I followed the Classic Shirt pattern by Sally Melville for the most part, making it longer in the body and tapering the top collar button placket a bit so it didn't end in such an angular edge. I just want to say, though, now that I have the buttons (see below; they're beautiful!) in: my gauge lied. I knit a large enough swatch and soaked and blocked it as I did the sweater and the sweater is still a couple inches smaller than I expected it to be! It fits like a glove, with about -1" ease or so, which would otherwise be fine were the buttons at the bust not straining a bit. It was supposed to fit with about 2-4" positive ease. The only reasons I can think of are that I knit my gauge months ago, so perhaps my own knitting just changed, combined with the unevenly spun yarn: some skeins were much more tightly spun than others.

Lovely thrift store buttons - shell?
The pattern itself was a little confusing for me personally, though I could follow along just fine and make my own adjustments here and there (namely body length). I love the little details, such as the ones at the cuffs and the collar, though, and would contemplate making this again in the size that I had originally wanted this to be, or just following the instructions for a size or two larger.

I would definitely, definitely, use another yarn though: this stuff is a pain to work with! It's alright during knitting - not the best: it sheds like nothing else, with the exception of maybe the cotton I used for my Beatnik - but it's a horror for seaming! I think I had 5 or more broken ends per sleeve, not counting the sides, when I seamed up the sides and sleeves in what was supposed to be one go. This resulted, of course, in a very long day of weaving in ends: one of my least favourite activities, and one that I put off for a couple of days, if not a week or more. I even missed one (see above photo). It's ridiculous! Pull a little too hard and it breaks. Kitchener stitch more than 3 or 4 sts and tighten it? It breaks. Look at it wrong and it trembles, shedding everywhere before breaking right in half! Definitely returning the one unused skein I have to Romni's for store credit (unless anyone wants to buy it off me, even after this horrid review of it, in which case, send me an email or PM on ravelry!).

Another linen cardigan, now finished.
And here's the last one, finished not too long ago. It's missing a sleeve; no, that wasn't the style I was going for - I'm not quite that avant garde. I tried it on right after finishing the body and thought it was a complete and utter failure, but carried on anyway because I really needed to have this done for my show, in addition to some other textile pieces I've been plugging away at in the meantime. Now that both sleeves are done, I think it actually looks fine. There's a bit too much swing at the back for my comfort, especially considering the waterfall front, but otherwise, it fits pretty well and I think it could grow on me (not literally, though that's also a possibility, considering it's 100% linen...).

Now, the slightly disappointing news. A picture is worth a thousand words:


Mirasol Nuna & Diamond Luxury Collection Pima Lino Lace
Mirasol Nuna & Diamond Luxury Collection Pima Lino Lace
I got them prior to the Lettuce Knit splurge. Also, everything still fits into the bins I have. so it's OK, right? Right?

So in sum: I used up yarn I purchased for the purpose I got it for (madtosh tosh dk for Orne Cardigan), used up stash yarn (Elsebeth Lavold LinSilk & LitYarn 100% Linen) for two pieces I had to have for an upcoming show, in addition to using up a bunch of buttons from my stash (because I have a stash of buttons too). Not too bad, all in all!

Friday, September 18, 2015

egg

lightweight, durable, warm, and thin
Still one of my favourites: thin, warm, lightweight, and surprisingly durable.
Can we just take a minute (or two, or three, or maybe sixty) to appreciate literally everything that is egg? The pieces, the styling, the whimsical poses, everything? Even the website itself? Including the fact that this stool - and what a lovely stool it is - has a page of its own but is not for sale? I haven't included any pictures because I don't want to use images without permission, so I urge any and everyone to go take a look. Might I recommend feasting your eyes upon this incredibly lovely coat? Or perhaps this sara lanzi jumper and dress? Those baby gathers (or soft pleats, not sure) tug at my heartstrings like nothing else. And the felted wool makes both of them look as though you'd want to live in them. Or this oversized shirt-dress variation? Also this entire page (as well as this one, also this one, along with all the other pages, not least of all this one)? Did I miss anything? Because if I did, that was an oversight.

There is a sweater in the collection that looks similar to something I've knitted before, which tickles me with delight to no end. It is much more oversized than mine, and has even less shaping (if that's possible) with its dolman sleeve from what it looks like, but I'd just like to point out that my saddle-shoulder funnel-neck lightweight sweater (above) gets plenty of wear during the colder months. Which, by the looks of it, everything from egg would too, all year round.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Summer Roundup (pt.2)

BLINDING PINK YARN
Whaddya mean I never wear pink?
So due to the uncooperative weather conditions that were this past weekend (gloomy, overcast skies that prevented me from doing self-portraits in my room), I decided to push the WIPs/FOs/almost FOs roundup post to the third instalment instead. In their stead will be future WIPs/FOs/almost FOs! Also, a list of and small discussion about the titles I've been reading and the movies I've been watching.

Just a little forward to this stash enhancement. I think I can justify myself: if any of you live around town and are up-to-date with the LYS happenings hereabouts, you'll have heard the news that Lettuce Knit is closing. Not moving, like Eweknit and Knit-O-Matic, but closing. They'll still be around as a brand, which I'm glad to hear, as I've noticed them over the years through projects like their gay sweater and the fact that they addressed body image issues by actively started stocking larger quantities of yarn in the same lot. Now. While I'm sad to see them go, I'm also perfectly willing to help them clear their shelves a bit in the closing weeks (see their site for details). Which leads me to this little stash update.

The shockingly pink yarn above is madtosh tosh dk (having just finished the Orne Cardigan, I am pretty pleased with the thought of having more tosh dk in my stash) in "torchere", a scorching shade of pinkish red that borders on profanity. Just my type of pink. No moderate baby pinks for me, no. (I don't even wear pink! At all! I cannot properly recall the last time I wore pink... except for those overalls/jumpsuit I used to love as a child, which was either bright pink or bright orange. I don't remember. But does it really matter? There will be pink in my wardrobe once again, in the near-ish future!) I'm seeing it as a boxy cardigan or jacket without much shaping. Cables or some sort of texture, and dropped sleeves, perhaps? Definitely positive ease. I only have the 6 skeins, though, so I'll have to think hard about how to make them work into a positive ease cardigan/jacket with possible yarn-eating cables!

undyed bulky wool yarn
Endless potential.
On the other hand, I snatched 3 skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool to knit myself a Maple Shade Coat, apparently errata-laden as it is, but now that I've looked through my queue and library, I'm wondering whether this might be the time to knit up a Belfast Hoodie for myself (it's been in my queue and Patternfish cart for years). Or even, in the event I can't do cables due to yardage restraints with my hot pink SQ above, an Aidez. The possibilities are endless! And as for motivation, in case I needed it, I know whatever I choose to knit will practically knit itself, considering the bulky/aran weight of this yarn.


So so luxurious.
I forget how many blue-gray/blue-brown combos I have in my stash.
And as for these two lovelies... I'll admit I kind of went on automatic and put them into my basket without much thought as to what they'd become. I'd be more than happy to use them singly for maybe shawls (or a Hitofude Cardigan, as I see someone has made one out of one skein), but I did get these two thinking of stripes or colourwork of some sort. Forgetting entirely, of course, that I have also the blue/grey pair of Americo Sedoso, as well as the blue/grey pair of SMC Select Highland Alpaca Fino. Oh, and, to some extent if I so chose to use it like that, the blue/grey/other grey pair/trio of madtosh lace. Am I overdoing it a bit?

Now as for the reading list, since I don't have any pictures of these books - I've returned them to the library, which I'm finally making good use of, despite having worked there for years - it'll just have to be a list. I tried to get my act together in July, when I figured my lack of general motivation was getting a little too far ahead of where I could feasibly control it, so I turned to books. I'll list them in order of the month.

July
  1. Thermopylae: the battle that changed the world (Paul Cartledge)
  2. Thermopylae: the battle for the West (Ernle Bradford)
  3. The First Clash (Jim Lacey)
  4. First Love (Turgenev)
  5. Dracula Untold (movie)
  6. Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: why the Greeks matter (Thomas Cahill)
  7. Mr. Selden's Map of China (Timothy Brook)
  8. Olive Kitteridge (BBC miniseries)
  9. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Solzhenitsyn)
  10. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)
  11. A Student of Weather (Elizabeth Hay)

Some burgeoning interest in classical times.

August
  1. A Fraction of the Whole (Steve Toltz)
  2. Goodnight Mommy (movie)
  3. What Maisie Knew (movie)
  4. The Iceman (movie)
  5. Compliance (movie)
  6. Deadfall (movie)
  7. House in the Sky (Amanda Lindhout)
  8. Alone in the Classroom (Elizabeth Hay)
  9. The Greeks: portrait of self and others (Paul Cartledge)
  10. Beyond Good & Evil (Nietzsche)
Nietzsche was a pain to get through, I must admit. I read a quarter of the way through Thus Spoke Zarathustra and gave up after finishing BGE, which was infinitely more readable. I'll pick it up again someday. A lot of movies.


September (so far)
  1. Night Film (Marisha Pessl)
  2. God Against the Gods  (Jonathan Kirsch)
  3. Ernest & Celestine (children's movie - I would recommend it* edited to add that I find the attitude towards atonement for their crime towards that family, whom they did in fact harm financially if not bodily, is rather ambivalent and sends somewhat mixed messages. Somewhat like the way Jack and the Beanstalk doesn't really teach any lessons in morality. I do find it odd that there was that loose end though, in this case.)
  4. Mommy (movie)
  5. Into the Woods (movie)
  6. The Spartans (Paul Cartledge)
  7. A Short History of Myth (Karen Armstrong)
  8. Late Nights on Air (Elizabeth Hay)
I feel as though Into the Woods could have been so much better! So incredibly much better! I've got no idea how, exactly, but the beginning was very promising. As for the books, you can see I'm slowly making my way through Cartledge's books. I think I'm very lucky in having chosen to read his Thermopylae first, to get myself started back into reading: he has a very easy-to-read style of writing, almost casual and very amusing, and one of the things I really look for is whether I get along with the author in terms of the style of writing. If I can get into a good rhythm reading a book, regardless of whether I like what they're saying, I'll probably finish it. On the other hand, even if you make a perfectly good argument, if it's written horribly and I can't make head nor tails of it, or even if it's simply not engaging due to its style, I'm sorry to say that I would put it down. As I did Nietzsche, from whom I know I have so incredibly much to learn. It'll happen someday.

And here's a list of books I'm working my way through as of right now:
  1. Hiero the Tyrant and Other Treatises (Xenophon)
  2. Scaramouche (Sabatini) - haven't really made much of a dent in this or the ones below just yet, but I've borrowed them, so it's just a matter of time.
  3. The Rise of the Greeks (Michael Grant)
  4. Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things (Randy O. Frost) - is it of any significance that this is making it into the post about adding to my stash? Oh, and see also my hunt for a loom.
  5. The Rome that did not Fall (Stephen Williams) - have not yet borrowed this due to the number of items I have out already, but again, on my list.
That's all for now. I think I'm keeping along at a good pace, yeah?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Summer Roundup (pt.1)

It blooms!
Moon cactus flowering!
I feel as though I haven't really posted much at all over the summer - I haven't posted any in-progress updates of my WIPs (of which there seems to be a never-ending perpetuity), for one - so I decided to round up a couple of those things that had gone on thus far without making it onto the blog. To be honest, though, I haven't done much this summer. Certainly nowhere near as much as I had originally planned on accomplishing. Not that I felt I would, from the beginning, to be fair: I burned out last September-December (most likely from being a little too ambitious in all my printmaking adventures) and have basically been trying to recover motivation for doing anything since. I think I'm ready for the new semester now. (Well it's going to start either way, so thank goodness for that.)

One of our two moon cacti flowered this summer, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn't even know they flowered! They also don't seem to perish even if you don't water them for half a year, so they're pretty low maintenance. (Nobody really knew who was watering them when, so nobody watered them for that time for fear they would drown, thinking someone else was taking care of them, until Mom finally took them under her wing - they blossomed soon after.) That being said, one of them hasn't moved or otherwise changed in appearance even after the watering resumed, so perhaps they do. Or maybe this one just doesn't flower? I really don't know.

Once in a while, Value Village has some gems.
Treasure hunting at the thrift store
In textile-related (not-so-new) news, I found a wooden umbrella swift at the thrift store for 7.99! Apart from the missing bottom peg, it was in perfectly serviceable condition, so I got it, went to Home Depot to get a nut and bolt to replace the peg, and now it sits merrily atop surfaces while I wind in my room. The verdict? I actually like winding from my knees over using the swift! I could totally understand using it for slippery yarn - silk, maybe? - but for regular ol' wool, knees are the bees' knees, so to speak.

On the subject of yarn, I tried out dyeing over the summer months, very enthusiastically at the beginning (although I have no photo evidence of all the little mini skeins I've dyed with food colouring), and producing some success, even going as far as to purchase Greener Shades dyes from Knit Picks when it went on sale a couple months ago because I realized that food colouring was incredibly inexact and presented numerous difficulties when trying to reproduce the same colour in the mini skein in a full skein, but I have nothing to show for it at this moment, still. I used the Greener Shades dyes to dye up 3 mini skeins a beautiful deep red-purple colour at 5% dos, but I have yet to take the plunge and dye up a full skein of anything. As dyed fibre is one of my proposed goals for the fall/winter semester, that will have to change. Sooner rather than later.

I haven't a clue, but I'll continue weaving them!
Pile of woven pieces, waiting to be cut & sewn.
There's a pile of woven fabric that's starting to look as though it has the potential to loom over me in the future unless I actually go about using it up or otherwise getting it out of the house (takers, anyone? I would gladly sell the red-and-white one! It's a lovely check pattern, but I haven't a clue what to make with it.). The mouse and champagne were supposed to become a simple a-line dress, but now that mouse has been finished and washed, I'm just not feeling it. Maybe a top? I'm thinking maybe striping them together or something to make it a bit more interesting. The red-and-white check? I can't imagine it as anything other than a flat piece of fabric! Besides, how many patterns do I wear on the regular? I can count them with one hand. Two fingers, really.

The black one I have no excuse. The pattern has been drafted (although it needs to be pieced together) and I know how to lay them out on the fabric to use the most fabric possible and finish the least possible seams. I wove it specifically for this purpose, and it has been languishing beneath those other pieces. In other words: I've just been procrastinating.

In other weaving news though:

un coccodrillo vero
New project on the Nilec - sampling.
I'm using my Nilec as a sampling loom! Just like I said it was perfect for! And guess what yarn I'm using for it? It's some undyed BFL I purchased for the dyeing venture! Just knowing my dyeing experiment fizzled out (died, perhaps?) over the summer despite all my forced enthusiasm gets to me. After some reflection, I've realized more or less that I actually really like the look of undyed yarn. I also like the dye jobs other people do. Apart from wanting to have tried it out, I don't see much reason to continue doing it. Maybe that will change when I have more solid plans in terms of dyeing.

Despite everything though, like I said, I'll have to produce some sort of dyed yarn to use in my weaving this coming semester. Perhaps this more directed approach will be more enjoyable? I was rather aimless in my attempt to dye, my goal simply being to learn how to dye yarn and fibre.

Go get yourself a 0.25mm pen!
New notebooks, and my favourite pen.
Ending on a completely unrelated note: I got two new notebooks! My brother gave me a moleskine for my birthday last year, and much to my own surprise, I've already filled up half of it or so! So I figured maybe I would benefit from having some thinner notebooks to do more focused studies or notes and scribbles of things. Instead of doodling possible knitting designs and ideas, loom building plans, thoughts, school stuff, etc. all in one notebook, in other words, I would separate those all out to make some more sense of everything. This works in theory. Well, there might also have been a back-to-school sale at Aboveground, and you can never have enough notebooks, right? These Fabriano Ecoqua notebooks have blank pages (yay!) that are slightly thicker than those in the moleskine, and have a bit more tooth to them as well (boo!). They feel pretty nice though, so I'll probably get used to them.

Part 2 will be a roundup of my knitting. There's the Orne Cardigan and two linen cardigans that have somehow not been finished over the summer, and the pair of finished linen stitch/linen weave blankets, which have been finished for a while but have remained unblocked for no good reason really, as well as possibly additions to my stash that have happened? (I know, I know.) Also, I've been doing a lot of reading, to get me back to actually doing. It worked, I think. So, note to self: even if you can't get yourself to do anything else, read. A list might be forthcoming.

Monday, August 31, 2015

On the Hunt

For a loom. This is going to be a long, word-heavy post, so beware.

I want to be able to weave twill. Without having to fiddle around with two heddles, having a very limited upper limit for the sett (which is kind of something I don't appreciate too much about the rigid heddle loom: with my Nilec, I can add as many heddles as I want, limited only by the physical inability to put more heddles into the harness), and also the much smaller shed created by the use of two heddles.

2-shaft weaving
Beloved Nilec, I am not hoping to replace you, per se...
In hindsight (although also, to be honest, in retrospect), I probably should have waited around for a 4-shaft loom to pop up in the used loom market instead of hastily calling dibs on the 2-shaft Nilec. Which is not to say I don't love the Nilec, because I do, and I enjoy weaving on it, but it does have its drawbacks:

  • It only has 15" of weaving width. Not including shrinkage, of course. Which means around 12" or so of finished fabric?
  • 2 shafts. While there are plenty of combinations I can do using just 2 shafts, and while I have not yet exhausted them by any means (in fact I haven't really gotten started on them with the Nilec, having only woven champagne on it! I have warped on a sampler though, for a bunch of different 2-shaft drafts), I'm really hankering after twill.
  • The beater doesn't line up straight. When pushed back against the castle, the left side touches the wood, but the right side doesn't. I haven't noticed any detrimental effect this might have had on weaving, but it bothers me. I'm thinking of taking everything apart once and putting it back together.
  • I also have some trouble moving the lever from left to right - there's resistance on the right side preventing smooth transitions. Not all the time, but I haven't quite figured out the magic trick to make it go smoothly.
  • It's a lot louder and squeakier than I thought it would be. This was my own fault for neglecting to read reviews on the Dorothy (or any other Leclerc loom, really). It's not actually an issue, but something to keep in mind.
Despite all the above though, the Nilec does fill one of the spheres of my weaving needs: it's a great little sampler loom, as well as being quick and easy to use. It's also light, and it's small enough to fit on both of the tables I have set up for weaving. No worrying about tie-ups, and if I make a mistake threading, at least there's only so many threads I have to undo to get to the error, given that the entire loom is only 15" across! (I'm speaking from experience.)

And so this time, I think I've narrowed down some of my criteria:
  • It has to fold up. Or be otherwise compact.
  • 4 or more shafts. 8 would be optimal, I think, but I would definitely consider a 12 or 16 (although it would probably violate the first condition: space).
  • Anywhere between 20-36", although I'm starting to think 36" might be too big to fit anywhere. 24-30" is most likely what I'm looking for.
  • Floor loom if possible, but I will of course consider table looms.
  • Consider texsolv or string heddles: quieter.
  • Under 100 lbs. Preferably under 60 lbs.
I've seen two Harrisville 22/4s for sale that fit the bill. A 24" Dorset popped up in my feed, but by the time I got to it, it had already disappeared.

And then I dug up the research I had been doing on building my own loom. The most favourable contender was Travis Meinolf's 4-shaft counterbalance collapsible floor loom. It looks very promising, and I had even made some calculations as to how much everything would cost from Home Depot. Under $100 if I use the cheapest wood (and assuming I can get all the cuts for free), but no more than $350 even if I get maple. It fits all my criteria.

Then I did some more research and happened upon this free pdf on how to build a 2 harness table loom. The photo is misleading, but it does list out all the parts you need. But here's the goldmine right here: Weaving with Small Appliances. While it doesn't lay out step by step how to build a table loom, it describes all of the parts and the mechanisms I need to know in order to build one (in theory). The University of Arizona actually has a bunch of resources on looms, including loom plans with teeny tiny diagrams, so I would recommend a visit. The only thing that would make the potential future 24" 8-shaft table loom (of the Small Appliances) better is if it could collapse as well, with warp in place. I can probably figure something out. Maybe just use wingnuts to secure the castle, so I can loosen them and push the castle down for storage.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Orne Cardigan (and Stash Enhancement)

Soft, plush, sugarplum madtosh!
madtosh tosh dk in "sugarplum" - incredibly beautiful colourway (as per ushe)!
Has anyone seen the Orne Cardigan design from the new Knitscene issue? It came out a little while ago, but the moment I laid my eyes on it, I knew I wanted to knit it, so I got the issue, which features many other lovely designs I'm interested in (the Allotrope Pullover,  Canted Pullover, Caldwell PulloverMaduri Sweater, and Williams Cloche, to name a few. What do you mean I've listed just about half the designs?), and then did something that didn't make much sense given it was just after I posted about how I was maybe in danger of actually achieving SABLE: I went to a LYS that was having a sale at the time to 1)satisfy my desire to go because I knew about the sale and have that little self-restraint, and 2)find yarn for this cardigan. At least I went with a goal in mind. I also went on the last day of the sale because I figured it would have been scoured by all the other knitters in town and there wouldn't be much that would appeal to me by then (this part of the plan failed miserably: there were about 4 sets of sweater quantities I wanted to get). Also to give myself some time to think over my plans walking into the store (so that I would have some goals and not get those 4 sweater quantities, which I didn't).

Superwash Mushroom
Riverside Studio Merino Singles Lace (Superwash) in "Mushroom"

I walked out with the above madtosh tosh dk in Sugarplum, as well as 4 skeins of Riverside Studio Merino Singles Lace (Superwash) in "Mushroom". Ever since I saw this yarn a couple years ago, I've been wanting to try it out (Canadian company!), so even though it wasn't on sale, I went for it. I was originally thinking of using it for mokoshi, but after much swatching, I do believe I like the look of it knitted singly on 2.5mm needles better. Possibly I'll make a dress after the style of mokoshi?

Louet Euroflax Lace in "Goldenrod" & Misti Alpaca Lace
One more thing. Prior to the two aforementioned additions to my stash, and also after the post about SABLE - in fact I think it may have been the day immediately following that post - I went to Romni's to pick up some extra wire heddles for my Nilec, bringing along with me some stash yarn that had been sitting around forever, just in case. I may have gotten three more sweater quantities of yarn (the last one, not shown, is a dress quantity of more Elsebeth Lavold Eucool, in black this time). Just possibly. In my defence though, the yardage in my stash went down after this acquisition expedition, as I returned a set of alpaca lace (8 skeins) as well as 5 skeins of Araucania Botany Lace that had, like I said, been sitting around unused for years. So I'm actually further along in reducing stash than I was before! That's the way it works, right? Right?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Skin Spun


SweetGeorgia merino braid
Finally finished spinning this SweetGeorgia merino braid (colourway "Summer Skin": how appropriate)!

Finally! Just short of a full 2 years later and I have finally (finally!) finished spinning this SweetGeorgia merino braid! That feels good. (For the time being, let's just forget about the other braid I got at the time, which remains quite unspun.)

This colourway is beautiful, and I'm really wondering why it took me this long to finish it up. Everything spun up very easily, and any globs that stuck together were very likely my own fault. I had a very short learning curve with this on the Lendrum after the coopworth - thank goodness - so that probably contributed to how little time it took me to spin up this half of the braid. Very little colour came out in the finishing soak (very glad, after what happened with the shawl).

Lendrum spinning
Spun on my new-ish Lendrum!

I divided the remaining fibre (I spun about half of it on my drop spindles last year) into three parts, then plied the 3 strands together. The larger skein (36g) is the result of that; it's much more balanced, hanging straight down even before soaking. Then there's the mini skein on the left, which was navajo-plied using the leftovers from the two other bobbins. I really need to work on my n-plying skills. I don't know if you can see, but I can't seem to get the hang of coordinating my speed of making those loops (quite slow) and my speed of treadling (much faster) to get an even yarn. Before soaking, snapping, whacking, and hanging it with a couple of hanger weights, it kinked in on itself a lot right after removing it from the chair (my makeshift niddy-noddy). It should be interesting to see how it knits or weaves up though!

And just to wrap up, here are the skeins I spun up last year or so using my spindles:

Laceweight 3-ply
Handspun on Houndesign spindles (Dali laceweight)
These two are going to a dear friend of mine who has just started knitting. I said I'd knit her gloves (many moons ago) using this and some of the silver SweetGeorgia, but given how long it took me to spin this braid and the fact that she took up knitting, I think it's a safer decision to just give her the handspun.