Another Hobby Blog

Monday, July 25, 2005

Wrist Pain

My wrists still ache. It's amazing in how many ways the pain interferes with daily life.


Can you tell me what's wrong with this picture?

I mean aside from the fact that I'm wearing no makeup in a picture posted for the entire world to see, and that maybe I'm deluding myself into thinking that my arms are as toned as they were back in high school....

Maybe a different picture would help.

Well, yes, the color pooling of the varigated yarn is a little unfortunate, now that you mention it, but that's not what's bothering me today.

You see, I simply adore this top, and I'm completely willing to overlook the teeny bit of randomness introduced by the varigated yarn. Yes, yes, even though the dark blotches do fall right at the bust line.

It was, after all, the first garment* I ever knitted, and it taught me a lot.

*For purposes of this post, "garment" excludes hats, scarves, and socks. Hats and scarves don't have to be particularly fitted, you see, and I have had good success with socks. Socks and I get along. (Except that they need to be knitted on such small needles that they make my wrists ache and my fingers get blisters...)

The pattern is "Smooch" from Rowan's All Seasons Cotton Collection.

To complete "Smooch," I had to learn how to become competent at:
1. ...shaping
2. ...seaming
3. ...binding off with a comfortable level of elasticity
4. (and this is the crucial one) ... following someone else's written instructions. Exactly.

I was already off on the wrong foot with my yarn choice. It wasn't All Season's Cotton. It was Fantasy Naturale. I'd found it on sale.

I did a lot of ripping before I figured out the instructions, but eventually I learned, and the knitting progressed swiftly.

To the astute among you who have noticed the rather "quirky" finishing technique on the shoulder seams: that's a design feature, not a flaw. (The distinction between the two is that I made a decision when I put the thing together that I could deal with lumpy, bulky, obvious seams better than I could deal with trying to figure out how to sew the bloody things together properly. It stays on, doesn't it?)

One more illustration should do...

In the year and some odd months since Smooch was completed, it and I have grown close. I have worn it many times. I have hand-washed it with loving care, and have laid it out with reverent appreciation each time to dry flat.

This time should have been no different.

And yet... something unfathomable occurred. An error of such magnitude caught my attention that never again will I be able to look at this top without seeing this glaring anomaly. Never again will I wear this triumph of worksmanship without wondering how many of the people I meet are struck dumb by the realization that there is something Just Not Right about the garment that I am wearing.

You see, one of the eyelets on the neckline is not in line.

I think it thought I wouldn't notice. That it could be rebellious and no one would care. It must have switched places with it's neighboring stitch some time between the last wearing and this wash.

It's simply not possible that I formed it in the wrong position! Look at the rest of the worksmanship, after all! The "v"s at the waist all line up like they should. The V neck lays properly! The shaping is accurate! This PROVES I can follow directions, doesn't it?! It simply COULDN'T have been my fault! I would have ripped back and fixed it!! ARGH!

Eyelets are devious.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Inkle 0723

The inkle weaving proves to be so much easier with a cotton warp and no weft design! The threads slide past each other without tangling! The pattern develops itself! It's even FUN!

I made another ribbon for my SCA friend from some yarns I had in stash. I was able to warp and weave the entire design in one evening while we conversed and watched TiVo.

I have a wonderful weaving-design program for my pc, and I used it to work up some ideas for the pattern, but ended up threading one that isn't on the sheet. Still, I was pretty amused at how similar the actual threads came to the colors on my printout! In the woven band, the green is hand-dyed (from a leftover art-school weaving project), so the color actually varigates somewhat, but it is so subtle as to be almost unnoticable unless you're really looking closely.

Then I spent some time organizing my yarn stash, and I realized: the inkle loom might be a great way to use up some of those leftover yarn thrums I can't bear to part with! I have plenty of them, after all... I've been keeping them around for draw-cords and tassels and yarn stitch-markers and other fun stuff. This is perfect!

The threads I decided to use for this week's inkle project are leftover from one of my very first weaving projects ever: a striped warp project from my Intro to Weaving class in September, 2000. Since they're loom-waste, they are all pretty close to the same length: 4 yards in each butterfly (which translates into two threads around my 2-yard inkle.)

Mystery Stole 0723

I've finally completed one full repeat of the lace center panel for my mystery stole (which is no longer a mystery, really, since all the clues have been posted and the name "Leda's Dream" has been given).

I have at least four more full repeats to complete before starting the next clue. It isn't really a take-along project, so work progresses slowly--mostly when I have trouble sleeping.

I've also figured out that it takes me about 20 minutes to knit one pair of rows (one pattern row and its corresponding purl return row). I could be working on this project for a very long time.

Guilty Pleasure

I was a child prodigy, and my parents expected nothing less. I was taught to always try the most difficult problems that I could comprehend, and was expected to always get the Right Answer.

So I suppose it's not surprising that I've internalized that expectation. Why make an omelette when a souffle will do? Why use cascade 220 when I could spin and dye my own yarn? Why start with a simple one-color tam when I could try an intricate colorwork instead?

I find myself feeling quite guilty over the simpler pleasures I periodically indulge. putting down Kirkegaard to read Harry Potter. ...or knitting this fabulous 2-ball Noro Silk Garden scarf.

Finished size (blocked) : 6" x 74"

A project completed in a weekend! It's exhilarating! ...yet I'm somewhat embarrassed by it, like getting caught singing in the shower, or playing with coloring books. It seems a little immature; something I've grown out of and shouldn't be indulging in. (Not when I could be tackling a fanciful intarsia instead, after all... or teaching myself nalbindung...)

Movie Review: CCF

Should I be embarrassed to admit that one of the outstanding pleasures of watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was in analyzing the the fabulous knitted garments and afghans throughout the movie?

Of course, Johnny Depp was fun to watch too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Crochet Scarf Finished!

Completed the last couple rows of the purple Zephyr crochet scarf! Got it wet, and pinned out in the hallway for blocking. I think it's growing on me...

Blocked size: 18" x 99"

Crochet Projects

Although knitting has been put (almost) completely aside for the past two weeks, I've managed to get a bit of crochet in.

I've been working on the purple Zephyr crochet scarf, of course, for several weeks now, and I've finally got it nearly finished! Only a few more rows, blocking, and (if I can figure out what to do with it) some sort of treatment for the anomalous center holes where I joined to work in the opposite direction.
I had thought that this was going to be a quick and simple project! It was neither. I hope that I adore it once it's blocked, because right now I'm rather ambivalent about it.

The other crochet project that I managed to complete had been started in February and more-or-less completed in March.
The problem was, I hated it.
It's a bag, but it was the wrong size and proportion to hold anything useful. I could fit my fist into it, but without much wiggle room. And if I made it tall enough to hold anything particularly useful, I wouldn't be able to reach into it far enough to get the things back out comfortably. So I called it done and left it alone, never quite figuring out what it was for.

Until this week when someone got the bright idea to shove a Nalgene bottle into it. The diameter was perfect!! All it needed was a few extra rows of height so that it could close completely over the top of the bottle, disguising the fact that Nalgene is not an appropriate drinking container for 17th century Europe.
It will be a water-bottle bag for Rennaisance Faires! ( 1 ) ( 2 )And the cotton, if wetted, should help keep the drinking water cool through evaporation. Yay!

Bonus points for the fact that all the cotton is dyed with Natural Dyes (most of them from my own backyard or neighborhood). Minus a few points, I suppose, if you're being super-particular, for the fact that it is cotton instead of linen, and for the fact that the plants I've used may not have been native to Europe (England in particular) in the early 1600s. (Not to mention that there is a general lack of documentation supporting any idea that structural crochet was being used as a needlework art at that time and location...)
I don't care, I love it!

Now I need to make two more just like it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Purple Cabbage

We got some purple cabbage from the farm share a few weeks ago. ... it simply amazes me how long cabbage takes to spoil!

Since I'm not easily convinced of the edibility of cabbage (and since the farm share provides us with plenty of other, tastier vegetables) I used the cabbage for a dye pot. I was hoping that the color would come out similar to the batch I got the last time (an unexplainable robin's egg blue), but this time it came out with a much more reddish purple hue, and very pale. Another curiosity is that the color took better on the cotton yarn than it did on the wool! For it to do so is always a bit of a surprise.

Filling Time

It's simply amazing how much impact a sore wrist has on my daily habits.
It's astonishing how many things (like knitting) are put on hold.
..and what little things end up taking place instead.

At this week's Tuesday stitch-n-bitch, since I couldn't do the knitting that I wanted to, I spent the time fluffing and attenuating some Finn roving that I'd dyed in March.

I didn't get started with the spinning of it yet. Perhaps I can find some time for that this week. I'm enthralled with the colors, though, and excited to see how it will spin up!

Alpaca-wool Skein

Since my wrists were hurting anyway, and I really couldn't knit as much as I wanted, I shifted a good measure of my attention to other pursuits instead, among them spinning and dyeing.

Back in April, my roommate and I went to the local Spring Fair. I got quite a few things while I was there, including a good deal of roving which I've managed to not start working with yet. But since I'd been short-sighted enough to leave my spinning supplies and knitting at home, and wasn't carrying anything easy to work on while I walked about the fair and talked with people, I alsp picked up a new drop spindle and two smaller handfuls of roving, weighing in at somewhere near one ounce each. Both the rovings were multi-colored, very similar in color spectrum. One is a wool-alpaca blend, the other a wool-silk blend. Originally, I thought that I would spin up seperately and then ply together.

As I walked around the fair, chatting with members of the local spinning guilds, artisans, merchants, etc., my spindle started to fill. I really enjoyed the smoothness of the wool-alpaca blend as I drafted and spun it. I spoke with one lady on the virtues of Z-twist yarn. It's better for the way that I knit, after all, and apparently it is better for the way that she crochets! I hadn't ever noticed any effect of twist-direction in my crochet before, so now I will start looking more closely.

The weeks progressed. I finished spinning the alpaca-wool blend on May 1, at a friend's party. By the end of it, the spindle had gotten very heavy and the yarn kept slipping apart if I wasn't extremely careful. But since I had A Plan, and very little roving to finish spinning, I perservered, finally managing to spin all the alpaca-wool onto the one spindle.

Since I had A Plan, I then wound that single off onto a chopstick so that I could set it aside while I spun the second roving.

Then my drop spindle and roving got misplaced.

I simply hate that.

I despise being disorganized.

I really want to throw a fit when I cannot find the simple little things.
Like my wallet.
Or my car keys.
Or my drop spindle.

Sometimes it's even my fault that it's been misplaced.
Usually my fault, really...
But that doesn't make it any better, really. I still want to throw a fit.

This past week I found it again. It doesn't matter where.

By now the twist has set in the single that has already been spun.
By now the weather has turned, and I am not really eager to spin a wool-silk blend.
By now I have other projects clamoring for my attention.
By now I have learned, through experience, that plying one type of fiber against another can yield very unexpected and potentially unpleasant results.

So I gave up on The Plan, and decided to ply the single back on itself.

Let it be known that I am a sucker for center-pull balls.
I KNOW that it is unwise to try to ply from one. I have experienced the tragic results myself.
Many times.
And yet, if I have the opportunity, I will always try again.
I am a sucker for center-pull balls.

Since I'd wound the single off onto a chopstick the way I'd wind it off onto a nostepinne, I was dead in the water already. There was nothing that could have been done to save me. I simply slipped the ball off of the chopstick and had a ready-made center-pull ball.
With a very small center-pull hole. Much smaller than a nostepinne would have given. This might have been a mistake...

The tangle that ensued cannot be described. It was not quite the Gordian Knot of legend, but so close to same as to almost be indistinguishable. Lacking a sword, I did my best to untangle the mess one unforgiving inch at a time.

Many hours later, I finished plying the yarn. It has a lovely hand and weighs in at 1.25 ounces. It's 98 yards in length, and approximately a fingering weight.

It is soft and springy and lovely. If you look really closely, you can still see the rainbow of colors from which it is comprised, but from an arm's length away, it is somewhere between a light chocolate brown and a soft burgundy.

I love it!
I have absolutely no idea what I will do with it.

Inkle Update

The cotton warp is so much easier to weave than the wool warp with the supplemental weft!

Since my wrists have been sore, I spent extra time weaving. I chipped away some more at the large inkle loom with the supplemental weft project, and it's creeping along, growing a tedious inch at a time. I still may never do another project like it again, but I might actually get through the one that's on the loom...

As for the second, smaller inkle loom, I got the weaving completely finished. The end result is about one and one half yards of ribbon. The width of the ribbon varies by as much as 0ne-eighth inch from widest to narrowest, and the edges aren't as tidy as I would like, but I am sure that both will improve with more practice. The friend for whom this ribbon is a gift is pretty thrilled with it, though, and that's what really matters in the end, yes?

I'm already thinking of new designs to put on the looms. More contrast next time.

bruise fading

My wrists are aching less, so I've started knitting again. This may be a bad idea, and I may end up regretting it if the pain resurges.
I hope not, though! I have projects underway!

My knee is also feeling better (although it still hurts to kneel on it, or when it gets bumped), but that only interferes with regular-type activities like walking up and down stairs, cuddling on the couch near someone, walking the dog, dancing, kneeling, skating... it doesn't interfere with my knitting, after all, so how important can it be??...

And my elbows (which I seriously bruised back in late May (another ice skating owwie)) only hurt now when I try to prop myself up on them to read,
or bump them into things,
or forget that they hurt in any way.

At least it's all minimal enough that I don't need advil anymore.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

My Wrists Ache

Not much knitting for the past couple of days. Should have been none at all. My wrists are indescribably sore. This does not bode well for the Stripey Socks.
There are two possible reasons for my aching wrists:
1- knitting on needles that are too small.
2- trying to match gauge on the Stripey Socks.

Last time I knitted on needles smaller than size 3, my wrists, elbow, and shoulder all threw a fit, causing me to give up all knitting for a while. .. but that was back when my gauge was 10 stitches to the inch on size 1 1/2.

If I am lucky, it is simply a matter of trying to match gauge on the socks. If not, then I guess I use my sock yarn for weaving?

Which all leaves me frustrated and sore today and with no knitting to temper my frustration.

Bruise update -knee

Looking worse but feeling better.
... a little, anyway.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

WIP 07-07-05

The Fleece:
I got a little bit flicked and combed this week. I'll keep chipping away at it as I sit with family in front of a movie.

Inkle Loom:
I need to know whether the frustration I'm having with this inkle project is because of the equipment, method, or materials.

So: I set up a new warp on my smaller inkle loom. This warp is of burgundy and black 20/2 cotton- a smooth and snug yarn which I have used for warps before with great success. This ribbon is designed to be an entirely warp-faced design: no pick-up needed. The warping itself was fraught with frustration, and after threading it wrong twice, I nearly had it finished when I realized that one of the earliest warp threads wasn't following the right path. I had to take the entire warp off, re-ball it, and start over. That took the better part of a day!

But the weaving is significantly easier! So much easier, in fact, that I spent some time drawing up new ideas for future warp-controlled designs.

As for the first inkle, I'm still trying to get along with it. The new draw method for the pick-up pattern is helping a lot, but even though I have more than doubled my speed, it is still a slow process. What it has really done for me is to make the pick-up process a lot easier, less frustrating, less painful, and less prone to mistake. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the improvement, but possibly not happy enough to ever try this again!

Mystery Stole:
No progress. Didn't have a good span of time to sit and focus on following the chart. In theory, the new clue got posted, but I am not sure because I am very far behind in reading the posts. It's possible that she decided not to post clue 4 since not very many people were ready for it yet.

Crochet Scarf:
It's growing. Slowly. A few stitches at a time.

Stripey Socks:
Wow. My gauge has really changed since the last time I knitted on this project!

RF Bag:
No spinning this week. I wanted to spin on Sunday evening. Unfortunately, my bruised and swollen kneecap had other plans.

Another fish got finished this week! It'd been knitted a while back, snuck into a drawer, and got lost. This week it went in to a felting wash, dried, and got stuffed.

Alpaca Feather and Fan:
No progress.

No measurable progress. Getting started still scares me because once I've started, I'm committed to a particular course of action. I did read, though: Spin-Off's A Handspindle Treasury, Knitter's Magazine's Shawls and Scarves, and Gossamer Webs: the History and Techniques of Orenburg Lace Shawls by Galina Khmeleva of Skaska. The books are a great inspiration and hopefully will help me get an idea of what I want to create, how long it will take to knit, and how much yarn I will need.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Slammed my knee hard on the ice today. Ice packs and advil for me for a while!

Friday, July 01, 2005

WIP 6-30-05

Weeks Progress June 30, 2005

The Fleece: carded some.

Inkle Loom:
gave up on hand-picking chevron pattern. Tried boxy pattern. Gave up on boxy pattern. Trying draw method for chevron pattern.

Mystery Stole:
It's about 12" long now, relaxed.

Crochet scarf:
growing. Ran out of yarn. Decided to work new yarn outward from the foundation chain. Will need to figure out how to treat the reversal of direction spaces.

Alpaca Feather and Fan: didn't work on it this week.

Stripey Socks: back together again.

Spin-Off: canine yarn

NWRSA exchange: bought some merino-silk blends to spin samples.

RF bag: spun some. Almost finished third skein.

BSG: overbudget.

BSG 2005

Black Sheep Gathering was a den of iniquitous temptation: Gluttony, Greed, and Envy were all definitely seen in attendance. At every corner, riotously bright sock yarns clamored for attention, and drop spindles lurked stealthily, determined to unobtrusively coax cash out of pocket.

The budget-hemorrhage began with an innocent and demure toy-wheel spindle. It wasn’t fair! I was embodying all that was pure and virtuous! Selflessness, Charity, Generosity! The spindle wasn’t even for me! It was a gift! How could one act of selflessness and sacrifice lead to such a torrent of egregious consumption?

This is how the weekend went: I valiantly stood my ground against the most obvious of temptations. I resisted the siren-calls of (nearly all of) the yarn, roving, and fleece. And I must say, in my own defense, that I did manage to resist buying anything “just because it’s pretty” (except the Nepal silk thrums. I don’t know quite what I was thinking…). The sock yarn I have a plan for! (and a back-up plan in case the first plan goes wrong.) The 8oz bag of Targhee roving will yield two projects: the brighter end of the skein will be a pair of socks. The more muted end will be a shawl. The Blackberry Patch yarn was purchased altruistically: it’s a gift.

Carolina Homespun got most of my money. The wool combs whispered convincingly that I couldn’t live happily without them. (Of course, it was the devious little dizes that got the foot in the door.) And the bobbin-winding adaptor for my spinning wheel may have been an impulse buy, but I doubt that I’ll regret it. All that would have been budgetary trauma enough! (Wool combs are pricey little buggers!) But on the way to the register, I saw the Grail--Woodchuck Products weaving shuttles. I fell in love with them last summer in the fabulous Lakeside Fibers yarn shop in Madison, Wisconsin while travelling for a friend’s wedding. I brought home several from that trip, and my adoration for them has only deepened through my current inkle loom project. In the past few weeks I have been trying to find more of them to order, and have received the unfortunate news that Rod Stevens of Woodchuck Products is no longer offering the shuttles wholesale to the vendors! Spurred by this realization, I bought what might in some circles be considered Too Many, but was still somewhat fewer than All That They Had.

The second place recognition for dollars spent goes to Skaska. Galina Khmeleva is a very sweet and knowledgeable woman, and spent the time to show Gipsieee and I how laceweight yarn is spun, Orenburg style, on the Russian supported spindles. I fell in love and bought the kit, a book, and some assorted extras. That evening, Gipsieee and I spent a couple of hours getting the feel for the spindles, and eventually ended up with something that looked not too completely unlike laceweight yarn. On Sunday, Galina showed us some extra tips that will surely help our lace-spinning improve!

The only other place that even approached a swallow-the-lump-in-your-throat total was Blue Moon Fiber Arts. They offer absolutely scrumptious space-dyed sock yarns! To die for! But by the time I caved in on Sunday afternoon, the colors I remembered from Saturday morning had all but vanished. I was spared the full impact of my frivolity by the simple factor of scarcity.

Blackberry Patch was worth noting -- They’re wonderful people, and the color sense for their fiber was delightful. Gipsieee bought dyed wool locks from them. I got a skein of handspun yarn.

The rest was all nickel-and-dimeing, and I am ashamed at how it adds up.

I stopped acquiring when it became evident that the only way to bring anything more home was to leave either the dog or the husband behind.

Other high points:

We watched a free demo on spinning silk hankies by presenter Janis Thompson of Dyelots! Fiber shop in Eugene, OR. She has a brilliant color sense, and I would have been sorely tempted had anything remained on Sunday afternoon to be tempted by.
We also listened to a presentation by Diane Bentley Baker on Preparing Skeins for Judging. Both lectures were informative, and Thompson’s was particularly enjoyable.

We enjoyed seeing the results of the Sheep-to-Shawl competition that had taken place Friday, and the entries in the Gallery, many of which were quite beautiful. We also enjoyed watching the Spinner’s Lead.

We stopped in at the fleece show, but left quickly before they started taking money, as we had very little left to spend, and no space in the car to stuff it. Instead, we arranged a trade agreement with Shonnon’s friend Fran for sample bundles off the fleeces that she purchased so that we could try spinning with a variety of fibers without the expense, storage space, and processing time of whole fleeces. She sent us home with 8oz each of 2 Romedale-CVM, 1 Border Leichester-Corriedale, and 1 Mohair kid fleeces. In addition, she’s got some previous fleeces from last year’s BSG that she’ll send samples from next time we get together. Thank you, Fran!!

The dog, Zhenya, traveled well. He curled up in the footwell at Gipsieee’s feet for the entire drive (more than six hours each direction with short walks every time we had to stop), thrilled to be along for the ride.

…and low points:

The dog (Z) slept badly. He didn’t like his folding travel kennel. He wanted his REAL kennel with the hard sides and the comfort of knowing that nothing can look in and watch him sleep. He whined for two hours the first night, alternately pacing and clawing at the despised and obviously imitation kennel before Gipsieee, in desperation, made the sacrifice of sleeping in his pen with him, feet sticking into the folding kennel, so that he’d know he was loved and that his pen and kennel were good and comfortable places to sleep. It worked. His fussing quieted, and the second night he slept alone without whining.

The drive down was awful. We’d hoped to leave at 3pm and get an early start ahead of rush-hour traffic, enabling us to stop and rest for the worst of traffic and the low sun on the horizon, and maybe get in to the hotel around 9 or 10 pm. Instead Shonnon got caught at work and we didn’t get on the road until 6:30pm. The advantage of that is that most of the rush-hour traffic was already past, but we still had to drive into the light of the setting sun, and that was painful. The weather had nasty spots, and we ended up arriving at midnight. (After unloading and setting things up, it was 1am. That was when the dog started whining, for those of you doing the math…)

The drive back was even worse. We left Eugene at 3pm, but due to torrential rain and the ensuing major accidents, didn’t make it to Portland for dinner until 7pm. We spent most of the drive in brake-and-creep traffic or clipping along at a heart-stopping 45mph (because the kick-up from the semis killed what little visibility the torrential rain didn’t), thanking the fates that we weren’t at the start-point of any of the accidents, and praying that those who had been recovered.

Now we’re home. The house is still here, and I’ve nearly got us unpacked. Life is good.