Monday, June 18, 2012

Finished Products!

This weekend was a productive one--I lucked out and had four days off in a row, and the fun activities I'd planned (a trip to the beach, etc.) got canceled due to unforeseen circumstances (a sick spouse and a very old dog with severe issues). This meant I could work on my crafting a lot.

First, on Friday I finished the chenille washcloths I was weaving. That poor project was really, really a learning experience.
Washcloths taken off the loom on the railing in front of Yarnorama
When I was "finished" I discovered that, in addition to the mistakes I already knew I'd made, I had use the cotton that was supposed to be the warp as the hem and the yarn for the hem as the warp. Oops. And I had totally forgotten to put a row of a contrasting color between cloths to make for easy application of Fray Check and subsequent hemming. And to top THAT off, I had mis-remembered the instructions and not woven enough picks of the hem.


I took the loom and cloths off to Yarnorama (which is looking great after remodeling) to make sure I finished it right. I am sure Susan laughed at me internally when she saw how much I had been oblivious to her carefully written-out instructions. Then I went ahead and cut the cloth you see above into separate washcloths. However, since I didn't have the convenient contrasting color to mark the part with Fray Check on it, I missed, causing much of the fabric to unravel. Sigh.

So I stuck the poor li'l washcloths (one of which is a hand towel, because I made it longer on purpose) in my bag, and decided to move on to the next thing. Perhaps I'd be more successful warping the loom if I had help. There were a couple of other people at the yarn shop with their Cricket looms, so I knew there was back-up (though one other woman was only on her second project, too). I found some nice red sport-weight wool that I thought would make a great warp for placemats for our kitchen. I wanted to warp it to use with sock yarn, so I got the 10 heddle out.

First, I brilliantly WATCHED Susan warp her loom. That helped me do mine. I did it right this time, and Susan helped me with the tension.

Correctly warped loom, or "dressed" as they say
The other thing I did at Yarnorama was to get more yarn to finish my little silky cardigan. I needed nearly all of an additional skein to finish it, even though I was making the smallest size! I worked on the last arm a bit while I was at the yarn shop, then came home and did more.

And Then Came Sunday

On Sunday, Lee and I went to see his dad for Father's Day. Since there was a lot going on there that I wasn't supposed to be involved in, I had a lot of time to knit, both in the car and in Yorktown. In rhe car, I patiently and with great difficulty finished off the washcloths. They do not have the hem they are supposed to, but they won't be unraveling. Since I took this photo I washed them and trimmed the ends where I changed the yarn, and they look fine. They will certainly make nice soft things to dry off with or clean up with. And I learned a lot from the project!

Washcloths and the little towel (the one on the left).
  When I got to Lee's dad's house and was chatting with the old fellow (just turned 89 and doing much better after his bladder cancer bout), I finished the cardigan. Adding the neck edging really made it look better.
Before the neck edging was added.

After adding the finishing edgings. And smiling because people told me the previous photo was a bit scary.
There is also a slip-stitch crochet edging around the sides and bottom of the cardigan. It's quite small--I might have needed yet another skein of Heichi if I had made the medium size.

After finishing up with the Heichi/Silk Cloud cardigan, I went back and worked on the beaded Hitchhiker and got a few more points done on it. I am getting close to the end of the first skein of yarn on that one, but I am going to add a few more, then I think another pointed edge on the cast-off side. What the heck.

When I got back I was pretty stressed out, but I used my lovely new Soak washing liquid to wash up both the washcloths and the cardigan. The lovely scent helped with the stress. The cardigan is still sitting on the dining room table drying. I sure wish I could find those darned blocking squares (so I can finish the drape front sweater!).

Today Is Monday!

Today was full of worry about our dog--we didn't know if we'd need to euthanize him today or not. Much of the day was spent waiting for a mobile vet (the part not spent taking the daughter of an old online friend from the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization out to lunch). I started on the sock yarn plac emats to distract myself. I think these will be a lot of fun. The plan is to use the red warp on each of four mats, but use a different one of my MANY self-striping sock yarns as the weft for each of them. I started our with an extremely yellow ball of Opal with lots of little stripes, along with some green. Here's the very beginning:

Beginning of place mat
You can see the sock yarn, and a bit of how it is working out with the red. I've done about 11 inches of it now, and the colors look really interesting. Some of it looks like tapestry weaving. I am doing a fairly loose weave, but am pretty sure it will fill out more once I wash it. I don't want very thick mats--I might do that later.

If you look at the bottom edge of the weaving you can see I tried a new skill for me, which is hem stitching. I think that will look great. That way I won't have to knot the fabric at the end, and the fringe can be nice and smooth on each one. I do hope I was able to follow THESE instructions correctly. I used a book called Weaving Made Simple for nice clear instructions.

I'm feeling a bit better about weaving. At least even the icky things I made are useful. And they don't have to be perfect.

On the other hand, I can still knit, at least simple things. Next on the list is another garment made from Heichi, this time in a rust color. It's a cool vest called Shadow. I will really enjoy wearing it, I think! I have a feeling I will enjoy the yarn more when I use smaller needles.Those huge needles and the loose gauge on the previous cardigan were not easy on my little hands!

WELL, glad I finished some stuff at last. I honestly feel better about many things. I also know I have so much still to learn. Those people who are good spinners and weavers are really amazing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Challenging Weaving, Happy Knitting

Announcement: I have a huge sense of empathy for all the people I have taught to knit or crochet who have been frustrated at how often they wrap the wrong way, drop stitches, accidentally increase, or whatever. It had been so long since I learned the basics of these crafts that I forgot how challenging it can be to start out.

Starting out with weaving has taught me a lot! I do think now I will have to work hard to find a new wrong way to warp a project, but it won't surprise me in the least if I do something weird again next time!

In the good news department, I did finish weaving a starter scarf. I did go out to Yarnorama in Paige again, where the ever-patient Susan did NOT laugh at how I had the warp winding the wrong way, which explained why the ratchet dogs weren't ratcheting. She got me wound the right way, and even gave me some cut-up plastic mini-blind blades to make the tension good. Hooray for her! Here's the project in progress. By the way, this worsted weight wool comes with the Cricket loom. I didn't want you to think I chose the colors.

My first weaving project. Extreme close-up
I did not do too swell of a job on the selvedges, but I got better as I went along. I also missed a couple of warp threads, even though I tried to fix them when I saw them. I guess it's a learning process. One good thing is that weaving goes pretty quickly, so I got this out of the way in just a few days. It's also fascinating to cattle, which I discovered while weaving in the pasture at the ranch.

After I finished off and washed the project  I realized a couple of rows (picks) had gotten pulled in tightly somehow. I'm not sure how that happened, but it does not enhance the final product. It's also very long, because I mis-measured the warp. Oh well, it will serve as a scarf. Some people even say it looks pretty good.

Finished scarf. I think this is before washing and ironing it.
Of course, I wanted to start a second project right away, but I dawdled a bit and waited until last weekend.  I wanted to make the project I'd gotten the yarn and instructions for when I bought the loom. It's a collection of chenille washcloths, and both Susan and Deana said they were great beginner projects, because the chenille is forgiving. A couple of other customers at the shop (really GOOD weavers) said they had enjoyed doing the project--they came back for more!

This is when the comedy of errors commenced. My biggest issue is that I refuse to put a set of large photos of how to warp a loom next to me while warping. Well, make that a past refusal. I will from now on. The PDF of the Cricket manual was on my computer, so I kept walking back and forth to and from that, being too lazy to go find the nice book I had gotten, The Weaver's Idea Book (go buy it if you want to get a Cricket loom and make stuff!), which has nice, big photos and clear instructions.

First mistake: I got a nice cheap vinyl mini-blind and measured it against the heddle (the thing that you use to move warps up and down so weaving is easy, and that you also use to "beat" or press down your weft). I cut about half of them before realizing that the part of the heddle (see below, thanks to the blog of Spinninglizzy for the image)...

Rigid heddles
...that is 15 inches is the white part, not the wooden part. So I got to cut most of them twice. Lots of little pieces of plastic all around. Why the mini blinds? Susan says they work better than stiff paper or anything else she has found to insert in the wound-up warp and keep the threads nice and tight. Anyway, eventually those were all good.

Second mistake: I wound the warp around the large back beam, not just the little bitty apron rod. I discovered this after winding a whole bunch of it, and sticking a whole bunch of pieces of mini blind in there. This meant I had to enlist my patient spouse's help to unscrew the back bean so I could slip off all the loops and put them around the apron rod instead. Of course I twisted some of the loops, which added to the fun. And I totally missed a couple the first time. But eventually, I persevered and got the warp attached to the correct thing. I managed to attach the other end fairly successfully, and wound it all up.
Parts of the loom, from Cricket Loom Assembly and Weaving, by Schacht

Third mistake: After all that winding, I realized that I had strung the whole thing backwards. The end that should be on the "front" of the loom was on the "back." If I had looked at the picture, I would have known. As it is, I didn't realize it until I tried to weave. There was no space to insert the shuttle. Sigh. Luckily I realized that all I had to do was wind the WHOLE thing again, the other way. I didn't have to take anything off the loom. So, in the end, what should have taken about a half hour, warping the loom, took an hour and a half. I did not weave at all on Sunday, but the dang warp was ready!

I did successfully pull threads through the central holes with only one or two small glitches. Oh, I rock.

I came home last night and finally was able to weave. I got the waste yarn on, which took care of some of my weirdly twisted warp loops, then I survived a recalcitrant yarn winder and got the hem yarn wound into a ball and then onto a shuttle. I made a hem! And the selvedge is not horrible! Then, gasp, I wove some of the chenille! Here it is:
washcloth, in progress at last


I have not stopped knitting.  However, I don't have any great photo of the Heichi #5 cardigan in progress. I think it's going to be a good one, though. I made it through the underarms and got the left front done. I am over 50% through the back. It looks like another good spate of knitting (perhaps I will be stranded at an RV repair place for a couple of hours like I was last weekend!) and I will be finished with the body. The sleeves are 3/4 and knit by picking up from around the armholes, so they won't be hard to do at all or take long. There's a crochet border that doesn't look like rocket science, either. So, maybe I will have this project to wear at the office when it gets chilly--soon!

I'm also continuing to work on the second Hitchhiker shawlette. It's my "portable" project, and I carry it in a cute Lantern Moon bag. Here's what the shawlette looks like:

Hitchhiker with beads, and my office chair
The colors really mix up nicely. Not too much pooling at all. And the beads really are perfect, though hard to see in this photo.

I probably have something else to say, but need to work now. Lunch is over! Oh, if you get a chance, look at the latest Interweave Crochet. The modern Irish lace photos in it are just stunning.