Another Hobby Blog

Friday, June 24, 2005

Black Sheep Gathering

Black Sheep Gathering fiber and spinning festival is this weekend! I get to go! It should be a lot of fun...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Secret Pal!

A gift box from my Secret Pal arrived!

The candles will bring a touch of homey warmth to this drab evening.
(Here it is, Summer Solstice, and we're having a thunderstorm!)

And I especially adore the stitch markers! Aren't they the cutest?!

Thank You!!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Works in Progress

Today I sent out a box filled with wonderful goodies to my Secret Pal. I hope she likes them!

And in today's mail, a box came with the fiber for my NWRSA Fiber Exchange project. Several weeks back, I sent off 8 ounces of prepped spinning fiber (some Finn roving that I dyed and carded. Alas, no pictures.) Which has gone off somewhere in the world to be lovingly spun and made into something. By whom, I have no clue. I must wait a year before I see it again in its completed state.

In exchange, I got someone else's 8 ounces of prepped spinning fiber (a black silk-merino blend) which I get to spin and make something out of over the next year. I am excited to begin, and have no idea whatsoever what I'll be making.

I finally got around to buying my own spinning wheel. I decided on a Lendrum double-treadle because it is reasonably priced, easy to travel with, and was quite enjoyable to use during the short test-runs I got to spend with it.

That means I'll get to return the spinning wheel I've been borrowing as soon as I finish the project it's currently set for. I am spinning some New Zealand wool that I carded. The batts are quite colorful, and I am getting a nice fingering weight yarn which I plan to weave (using it for both warp and weft), perhaps to make bags from. I'm not entirely sure yet.

I also got Clue 2 today for the Mystery Stole I'm working on!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Current Project: Inkle

A friend of mine gave me some beautiful pewter-grey merino-silk roving and a drop spindle for my birthday in January.

By March I had spun it up into a lovely, lofty, 2-ply fingering-weight yarn.

Now I've decided that what I'd really like to do with it is make it into a "thank-you for giving me this wonderful project" gift for him.He

He enjoys the SCA recreationism, so I decided to make an inkle-woven band for trimming a costume piece.

It's coming along surprisingly well, considering the mistakes I'm realizing that I've made!

1. the wool yarn I'm using for a warp likes to stick together and doesn't open a nice clean shed. Weaving is slow, and somewhat stressful to the yarn. Sizing the warp has helped somewhat, but not enough. Next time I am going to use a smoother yarn for the warp! (cotton, linen, or silk, perhaps)

2. The handspun that I am using for the pattern-weft is being frayed by the passage through the shed. I am seriously considering rewinding the yarn onto a boat shuttle which should help protect the yarn from abrasion.

3. I've already simplified the pattern once. Counting the threads for pickup by hand is a little faster and more uniform when the pattern is simple enough to memorize.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Eastern Uncrossed Knitting

I am an “Eastern Uncrossed” knitter. At least, I think I am. I’m fairly new to the term, actually. … and really, I’m fairly new to the technique.
I used to do all of my knitting (knit stitches and purl stitches) “backward,” which is to say that I wrapped my yarn around my needle clockwise instead of counter-clockwise. (It’s easiest to tell which way I’m wrapping the yarn if I look at the point of the needle dead-on as I pick up the new stitch.)
This resulted in the “leading edge” of my stitches on the back side of my needles instead of the front side of my needles.
(I learned to avoid crossed stitches by paying attention to the leading edge, and always knitting through it unless I wanted my stitches to cross!)

And then one day I realized what was happening to my yarn. My poor, store-bought, standardized, S-twist yarn!! Each “Backward” stitch that I made took a little bit of the twist out of the yarn instead of putting a little bit of twist into it! This isn’t a problem at the beginning of a project, but half-a-skein into it, the yarn is so loose that the tip of my needle gets caught between the strands of the ply, and affects my tension measurably.

So I tried to learn Continental.
And I re-discovered that the reason I adopted/invented my “backward” knitting method in the first place. After only a few rows of Continental purl stitches my wrists, elbow, and shoulder begin to ache, grate, and stiffen.

Fortunately, about this time I stumbled across an explanation of the “Eastern Uncrossed” or “Combination” knitting method. If I understand correctly, the Eastern Uncrossed method loops the knit stitches counter-clockwise around the needle so that the leading edges are in front, and the purl stitches clockwise around the needle so that the leading edges are in the back. There may be more to it than that, but that’s the part that resonates with me.

By making my knit stitches in the standard style, I can help keep my store-bought S-twist yarn from unspinning! And my joints hold up reasonably well. (They do fatigue a bit quicker than if I were also doing my knit stitches “backward,” but only subtly so, and they recover pretty quickly with brief rest breaks.)

By making my purl stitches “backward,” I can keep my joints from seizing up on me, which would force me to lay aside all knitting for weeks or months on end! (made the mistake once. Not doing it again!)

Voila. Eastern Uncrossed.

(Unless I’m working with my own hand-spun which is by default a Z-twist yarn.)

The challenge comes in interpreting standard patterns. For me, shaping stitches depend upon the row beneath them. If an SSK is being formed on top of a knit row, then it’s an SSK. If it’s being formed on top of a purl row, then it’s basically a K2Tog since my leading edges are already in the back!

Hence, the fascination I currently indulge in the Structure of knitting, especially lace patterns. I look at my own knitting swatch and see that it turns out differently (subtle, but noticeable) than Gipsieee’s. …and then I try to figure out why.

At the moment, I’m still working on the first clue for my Mystery Stole. After getting a few rows into my lace yarn and realizing my result was measurably different from Gipsieee’s, I decided I’d better do a test swatch to examine the different possibilities and make an educated, informed decision about the end result I want.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


In January, we got a dog. I'd been looking for a Pomeranian, but after having spent all of October interviewing breeders, decided that for right now, we would be better off with a somewhat larger and more resilient dog. (The pomeranian breed standard calls for a range from 3 pounds to 7 pounds, and most of the breeders we spoke with were aiming for the lower end of that scale.)

I hadn't expected to find a dog at the humane society. Most of the dogs that wind up there are little wiry terrier mixes that love to jump and bark, or huge cumbersome short-hair drooling dogs that love to bark.

Being the fiber-aholic that I am, I really had my heart set on a long-fur, double-coat, soft-to-pet, happy dog that loves loathes to be brushed.

Zhenya doesn't love to be brushed. He loves to shed. Everywhere. All the time. My dog sheds, my carpet gets brushed. One way or another, I get the fur. When we first got him, he was blowing his undercoat, and I could pull the soft downy fur off of him by the handful. Now that it's summer, he doesn't have much undercoat, but that doesn't stop him from shedding!

His very favorite game is one we call "puppyfishing." Gipsieee knitted up and felted a fish-shaped toy from green Lamb's Pride wool. We tie it to a long lunge-whip and whirl it around, up, down, flipping about madly, while Z chases it with reckless abandon until he drops, out of breath.

ice show

Yesterday's ice show exhibition went well. Some of our friends came to see the performance. It was a lot of fun. We skated to the song "April Showers" from the Disney movie, Bambi. We ordered the skating dresses, and then we dyed the parasols to match.
(This is my roommate Gipsieee!)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Template ugliness

Well, I'm in the middle of modifying the style of my template to better reflect my personality, and I am learning as I go.

Right now, it's time to sleep. (actually, I've stayed up too late already. I have an ice skating exhibition tomorrow, and should have gotten to sleep earlier.)

in the meantime, the template is under construction. I hope this doesn't cause any inconvenience!

Friday, June 03, 2005

I just started this blog, so please forgive the lack of posting! I have great plans for it over the next couple of weeks, in which I start to introduce myself and my projects. In the meantime, I hope the questionaire that I wrote for the Secret Pals exchange is helpful. I am planning to add a couple of pictures and some extra information soon!