I present to you today my longest spinning project ever, as measured in years. Four years and 3 months (sheesh!), not counting the 17 months it took me to get around to measuring the skein and writing up my notes.

2016-09-19_Spinning-red-merino-Tausendschoen

The fiber is merino wool from Tausenschön, a nice vacation souvenir.

The bottom (lumpier and more uneven) skein is what took ages. It is 97 yards (50g) of 2-ply that I spun over the fold on my 18g spindle. I started it in June 2012 on a trip to Oregon. Making this has good memories because I taught my grandmother and uncle and aunt about spinning, and my uncle even had a go at it. The day after that discussion, we went to the woolen mill museum which had spinning machines and looms, so all I showed the day before had context. But I digress… spinning over the fold is what killed this project for me. It was a technique I wanted to try, but I found it fiddly and unpleasant. I worked on this off and on and finally plied the yarn on 9/18/2016 at 15:1 on my Lendrum wheel. I read in the intervening years that merino is typically considered to have too short a staple to spin over the fold, although I know some spinners do so successfully. Perhaps I should have tried with my 35g spindle instead of 18g.

The top skein is 200 yards (90g) of 2-ply that I spun worsted on my 35g Cascade Bay spindle, and that zoomed along much faster from 5/23 to 9/10/2016. At first, I didn’t want to spin with a different technique because I knew it would not be matching yarn, but the thought of 90g more to go decided that one! Plied 9/19/2016 also at 15:1 on my Lendrum wheel.

Have you had success at over the fold with merino?

 

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My local newspaper’s report is correct — it’s unusually warm for early February. What does this mean for a knitter/spinner? It’s washing day! Things will dry quickly! They will dry before they can mildew! Huzzah! Well, OK, I’m not that ecstatic about it, but I am motivated to get recently-plied yarn off the bobbins and I washed Revontuli and a few new-ish projects that haven’t had ideal blocking conditions yet. You have to take advantage of these things.

What knitters do on warm days

I also went out for a long walk in the park, enjoying the lovely breeze and all the happy bird noises. Now it’s gotten a bit too warm for exercise so I’m off to knit in the library’s windowless cave of a conference room.

I learned today you can get a lot more exercise while weaving if you warp your 10-dent rigid heddle reed with a yarn that’s too fat for it. It’s hard to open the sheds and hard to slide the reed to beat the picks. My legs are getting a workout, too — I have to hold the loom stand down with my feet when I lift the reed.

Scarf in progress

It’s slow going but turning out OK. This color combination is from Mr. MmmYarn’s stash, which still has a ways to go before I work through it.

Because the Force is present in all living things, it must be present in Stormtroopers, although it isn’t necessarily with them. It must be with me because I managed at last to finish this little guy:

2018-01-07_Stormtrooper

Pattern: Stormtrooper by Lucy Collin, as published in “Star Wars Crochet”
Yarn: acrylic, about 35 yards
Hook: 3.5mm
Started 11/3/2017 and finished 1/7/2018

I am happy with him! He is going to accompany a wedding greeting card for a co-worker who got married and has several Stromtrooper adornments at his desk. The pattern is well-written in my opinion. I am a novice crocheter and had no troubles once I learned to single crochet properly (see my 11/4 post). The book is sold only as part of a kit that comes with yarn, a hook, and needed notions.

Another type of force was present on New Year’s Eve and I sent the year out with an inadvertent bang. Pressurized, bubbly force did this to my champagne bottle when I tried to open it:

Why I had a beer for New Year's Eve

No, I didn’t shake it, nor did I drop it or try to cut off the top of the bottle with a sword (apparently this is a thing; add that to the list of stuff I never heard of). All I did was tug the cork which, incidentally, was still in the bottle top when I found that piece. I am grateful it exploded away from my body and I wasn’t injured, although it did take an hour to clean up the kitchen (glass bits everywhere, including the ceiling!) and I had to discard the dinner I cooked and make another. It was early enough that I could have bought another bottle at the corner store, but am now leery of ever trying to pop a cork again, so greeted the new year with a beer. Prost 2018!

Before gobbling with the family, my mom and I took a long walk on the beach. It was hazy, but comfortably warm and just pretty as always with lots of birds:

2017-11-23_Morro-Bay-beach

Sand dollar exoskeletons were abundant, including this example in which its internal structure was visible:

2017-11-23_Sand-dollar

If you celebrate(d) today, Happy Thanksgiving!

Apparently I was right on track with my thoughts on how to use the tensioning paddle on the Hansen inkle loom because I turned out my first inkle band in an hour last night.

2017-11-18_First-inkle-band

Pattern: Offset Bars (one repeat only) from The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon
Yarn: Bockens Mattlin Nel 4/6, 100% linen, 74g (12 yards) of black (color 522) and 31g (5 yards) of dark teal (color 588)
Size: 1.25″ wide at its best and 1.5″ at its worst, 90″ (2.5 yards) long
Started and finished 11/18/2017

Those first couple of strands I warped on yesterday snapped as I experimented with the paddle, so I looked for something stronger than the 2-ply wool I had immediately next to me. I found this Mattlin Nel in Mr. MmmYarn’s stash and, boy howdy, is this strong stuff. It’s linen and almost unpleasantly thick, and I couldn’t break it if I were a weightlifter. The scissors had a hard time. I figured it would hold up to a paddling. After I wove the first few sheds, I thought “hmm” and went to find the failed rug he made years ago, and this is the stuff he used in that warp. He complained the whole time how hard it was to keep the tension even.

Had I remembered that discussion during yarn selection, I would not have used this for my first project. Tension problems plagued me, too, resulting in some pretty wonky edges. Not that my plain weave edges are beautiful yet when I’m on the Flip, but they are presentable. Still, I learned to warp and learned the hand motions to make the sheds. There is some thin Cottolin in his stash that I haven’t known what to do with; I believe the next test band will be much more satisfactory.

In keeping with this year’s personal goal to learn new stuff, I bought an inkle loom in September. Today I tried to warp it. Here’s this afternoon’s adventure:

2017-11-18_Inkle-loom-first-warp

Well, I’m not sure. All the YouTube videos and blog posts I found use a loom with a tensioning peg, a peg that’s screwed in and you slide back and forth as needed to keep the warp under tension. My loom has a tensioning paddle, that flap thing you see on the right edge of the photo. What in blazes am I supposed to do with that? I played with it a bit while I had only 2 strands warped and finally decided the three-quarters-of-the-way-back position is best to be starting with, figuring I can rotate it further back if I need more tension at the outset and still have enough play to rotate forward as needed when the warp tightens. We’ll see.

What else have I tried this year, you might wonder? Bohus knitting, kumihimo braiding, wire knitting, block printing with a hand-carved vinyl tile, indigo dyeing, and now inkle weaving. Plus my single crochet revelation a few weeks ago. It has been a busy crafting year.

After 5 failed attempts, I am finally making satisfying progress on a wee amigurumi Stormtrooper (from “Star Wars Crochet”):

2017-11-04_StormtrooperWIP

Each previous try ended with a mutant, giant Stormtrooper head, looking nothing like the picture in the book. I finally figured out I have been single-crocheting incorrectly since about 1983. See the tan partially-made potholder underneath the white helmet? That stitch is half double crochet, that I’ve been blithely hooking as single crochet my entire yarn-loving life. It makes a nice potholder, but a strangely-formed amigurumi. Onward with real single crochet!

You saw the Emerald cardigan here a long time ago. I made it in a rush February 2014 so I could wear it to Stitches West. And I wore it, even though I goofed the collar and it had no buttons, because better to have no buttons than to have ones that don’t complement your knitted work.

Cardigan_2014_02_Emerald_Noro-Iro_WIP

Locating appropriate buttons took ages. I shopped button booths at festivals and went to a bunch of sewing/craft/notions stores, keeping an eye out, and wore Emerald pinned shut in the meantime. In August, at last, button success! Next time, I plan to start my quest at Britex Fabrics instead of ending it there.

2016-12-08_Emerald-Cardigan_Noro-Iro

Pattern: Emerald by Amy Swenson, published on Knitty in Winter 2006
Yarn: 7.3 skeins Noro Iro, 75% wool, 25% silk, color 112
Needles: US size 10, plus 10.5 for the collar at the back of the neck
Started 2/1/2014, finished knitting 2/21/2014; re-did the collar 12/2016; buttons 8/15/2017

To match the colors on the Noro yarn, I fussily wrote down the sequence of colors on a slip of paper I pinned to each skein as I wound it into a ball. To make the front band match on both sides, I used two balls of yarn, one for each half of the band and twisted them at the back of the neck on the public side of the cardigan so that the twist is hidden under the folded-down collar. When I re-knit the band, I used size 10 needles for the fronts and size 10.5 needles for the wider collar bit to make it a bit more floppy. It lies better this way.

Behold, the buttons!

2016-12-08_Emerald-Cardigan_Noro-Iro_ buttons

I had to dig through the box to find the streaky ones.

 

Tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday are the last two days of the traveling Latvian mitten show in San Francisco. If you’re local, go take a peek before they move on!

2017-10-15_a_Latvian-Mittens-poster

About half are from the Latvian Ethnographic Museum in New Jersey and the rest from folks local to northern California. I went on Sunday and, as the only visitor for a brief period, got a personal tour from the woman who organized the exhibition and met a woman who knitted one of the displayed mittens as a child during her, ahem, stay at a relocation camp in Germany for “about 5 years” after World War II. I had no idea I was so ignorant of Latvian history; relocation never came up in any history class I took.

The mittens were beautiful, hanging around the room on strings. Here we have braided cuffs, entrelac cuffs, and fringed cuffs:

2017-10-15_h_Latvian-Mittens

I took a few photos of a few I especially liked. This color combination caught my eye:

2017-10-15_k_Latvian-Mittens

This pattern did, too:

2017-10-15_j_Latvian-Mittens

It was inspiring for this knitter. I feel like dropping everything and making mittens.

 

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