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.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Test: Under the Same Sky

Test for Nadia Crétin-Léchenne (ittybitty)
First knit-on edging!
 That knitted border felt like forever! And it ate up so so much yarn (I actually ran out and had to improvise a bit to be able to finish it off unnoticed)! But the finished product is well worth the effort. Another lovely lace shawl from Nadia, Under the Same Sky is well-written and features easy to memorize stitches (garter stitch, a lace stitch, and the wave edging) that come together to form a beautiful wrap.

I'm not sure how apparent it is in these photos, but one thing I am a little unsatisfied with is that the Love Spun bled. It's a beautiful colour, and I will definitely use the other Love Spun I have (except for the Fresh Moss, which I am offering for sale at $21/skein or $40 for both, plus shipping! PM me if you're interested), but maybe soak the skeins before knitting with them? In hindsight, I should probably have expected it to bleed: it's a pretty saturated colour, one; I keep reading comments on other yarn pages that blues are pretty prone to bleeding, two; and three, it crocked on my fingers whenever I knit for extended periods of time. So maybe I should have gotten a dye magnet or something. Well I didn't. And it bled. Right into that beautiful ivory Shibui Sock. It's not too too bad, but something to learn from.

4/12 tops done for the year! I'm not going to make it in time...
Did you also notice that tank top under the same sky shawl (see what I did there? Eh?)? It's the free Notched Hem Tank by Purl Soho! A really quick and simple knit that is very satisfying. I knitted it up in Elsebeth Lavold Eucool, which I thoroughly enjoyed working with. Pity it's discontinued. Or not, since I got to snatch some up at a discounted price? (Another post related to that, later, though. And right after I posted about the possibility of SABLE, too...) Anyway, the fit of this tank top is perfect, though I did lengthen it a little bit to 17" total from the armholes. I also changed the decreases so they pointed toward the edges rather than following the contour of the edges, since I like the look of that better. The notched bits are just right at the spot where pockets would go, so you don't have to hitch up your shirt any to put your hands in your pockets! So convenient. I would love to make this again!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Coopworth on the Lendrum

Navajo-plied and ready to knit
Lendrum-spun Louet dark Coopworth, navajo-plied.
It's my first Lendrum-spun yarn! Note that I got my Lendrum in March. Note that it has also not yet made an appearance on the blog. Which is not to say that I don't love and that I don't enjoy spinning on it - I do! - but I haven't been spinning as much as I should have, given that it's new equipment in the house and also given that I had so much time when I purchased it (strike! no class!). I blame the fibre. It's a 1/2lb bag of Louet dark Coopworth.

There's technically nothing wrong with the fibre. I just didn't enjoy spinning with it as much as I expected. And disappointed expectations are so much worse than simply having a sort of meh experience with something because you thought it was going to be the sort of amazing that makes you fall in love with it. It's much rougher than the merino I'm used to spinning with, for one, and I knew that going in, but the staple length was also much shorter than I thought it was going to be. I compared it against some merino and it was pretty similar! Which explained why the singles kept breaking while I was spinning at first: I was using the largest whorl and treadling really slowly because I was scared of going fast. Once I caught on to that, everything spun fine save for some knots I created in the fibre because of the way I handled it as I spun.

I didn't want to spin any more of this after I filled a bobbin to about 1/2 - 3/4 full, so I navajo-plied what I had, skeined it up, soaked it in water and beat it against the bathtub (so satisfying!) and hung it to dry with some hangers to weight it down. I feel like it softened up a bit after all that, so maybe I'll have the motivation to spin the rest of the bag sometime down the road?

As for right now, the rest of my SweetGeorgia fibre in Summer Skin (here and here) is being spun. Two out of three bobbins done. Much more enjoyable. Which means it should be done in much quicker fashion.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bring Out the Champagne!

My new Coccodrillo!
Beautiful new (to me) Leclerc Nilec!
Sometime last week, a lovely package arrived on my doorstep: a Leclerc Nilec. It's a beautiful little table loom with 2 shafts (plenty enough for me, as I do mostly plain weave anyway) with a 15" weaving width. The lady who sold it to me also generously included in the package a collapsible warping board, two boat shuttles, and an extra 8dpi reed so I could get started right away.

Unwind the champagne!
30/2 cone yarn in colour "champagne"
I knew I wanted to weave at finer setts than I could get with the 250 heddles it came with, so I cleared out the 400 wire heddles from Romni's at a highly discounted price ($6/100) since that was the last of their stock. The new heddles are significantly easier to work with and get caught on each other much less, so I'm really tempted to just replace all of them, but that would require me to make another purchase of 100 heddles (at a higher price + shipping, most likely), so I'll just use what I've got for now. I wanted to weave 15" using the champagne cone at 30epi, so I needed 450 heddles, which meant 225 per harness. That came out to 2 threads per slot in the 15dpi reed.

The three musketeers. Cut down.
3 warp chains, cut before their time. The three musketeers, if you will.
Warping on the board went fine, more or less, though it did end up taking me a couple of days to get around to actually doing it. Beaming, on the other hand, did not have me beaming, but rather wanting to sob in a corner. I had no raddle, and didn't want to have to pull all the threads through the reed to beam the warp on, then have to sley the reed again, so I kind of just went at it. A couple of issues came up:
  1. The warp wasn't spaced properly. Duh. I really should have waited a bit to go to Home Depot and just make myself a raddle, which I ended up doing... two days ago. I was already threading the heddles at that time.
  2. For some reason, the first warp chain got very very tangled. That might be because I warped it up over the course of several days? The other two warp chains were more or less problem-free, and I had done those both in one day.
  3. The cross wouldn't let the lease sticks slide along the warp! I had to keep tugging at the warp chains to straighten everything out so that the lease sticks would be able to slide along the chain. I'm not sure if I just did something wrong or what. I tied two t-shirt strips from the front to the back of the loom and made the cross using them to hold the lease sticks in place. I think I'll try tying them to the front of the loom next time? I really don't know what I did wrong here. It might have had to do with issue#2 though, since the bulk of the tangles that interfered with the lease sticks at the cross occurred at the first chain.
  4. Due to tangles and threads starting to stick to each other making a mess of the cross that I could not brave with the lease sticks, I cut the warp before I reached the end. I'm guessing I only got half the warp on. Oops.
I think that was it for the beaming process.

Rocky beginnings
What's happening with this harnesses over yonder? Also, see that broken warp thread? Fixed.
A couple of other things though:
  • The paper covering the top and bottom of the 15dpi reed is coming off more and more with every beat of the beater. Maybe I can just rip it all off and tape it over?
  • The harnesses don't lie completely evenly with one another. I don't think that's too much of an issue though. I've also had to put a magnet on top of both sides so the lever would stay up in position. I'm not sure if that is more due to issues with tension in my warp or if that's just the loom. Again, not a big issue.
  • I feel like the shed isn't actually big enough for the boat shuttles. If the loom was any wider, the shuttles might just get stuck halfway, but it works since it's only 15" across. Actually the shed is plenty big for the boat shuttle, as long as I don't weave too close to the reed. The shed shrinks with each pass of the shuttle, the closer the woven cloth gets to the reed, so I have to advance the warp pretty often.
That's all so far? They're all pretty inconsequential, I think, and I'm really enjoying weaving on the Nilec despite those issues (plus a couple of snapped warp threads)! It's so much quicker than weaving on the AKL (especially since I'm doing mostly double sett with two rigid heddles on my AKL). And besides, now I know what not to do next time! I think this quote sums it up really nicely*:

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." (Samuel Beckett)

*I have a confession to make: I've never actually read any Beckett. I have seen this quote everywhere though. And for good reason, I think!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Scarlett's Garden Test

Love this lacey shawl! Hand-knit using my own hand-dyed yarn!

It's been pretty hard keeping this one secret! I'm in love with this shawl! The pattern, Scarlett's Garden, is well-written and easy to follow - perfect for a beginner lace pattern, I think. The crescent shape is also very versatile, allowing you to drape it over your shoulders on chilly spring days and summer evenings, or to wrap it around your neck during the cold winter months.

I knit this one up in Fleece Artist 2/6 Merino that I hand-dyed. Can I just say this yarn is incredibly luscious? The entire knitting process was heavenly. And the yarn relaxed during the blocking and became even softer than before (if possible). Definitely going to be dyeing up more of this. And maybe there will be some left to put into my store after I set aside all the projects I'll have to make with this beautiful yarn?

This particular shawl has gone to a good friend of mine, Shirley, a fellow printmaker. The colour reminded me of her first space woodcut, and I thought it was very fitting. I have also been promising to knit her a shawl for about a year or so now, so I hope she likes it! And of course, now that this has been gifted away, I suppose I'll just have to make one for myself, right? I do have so much fingering-weight yarn lying around...