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:


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:


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


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.


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:


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”):


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.


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.


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!


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:


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


This pattern did, too:


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


Whee, washed and dried — properly finished — yarn to show off! I’m happy with my Spinzilla results.

The purple is an unknown I pulled from Mr. MmmYarn’s fiber stash. It’s from Carolina Homespun and feels like it might be BFL. Here it is in its pre-spun streaky glory:


I found it easy to spin thinly and got a gorgeous 3-ply out of it. I’m a little disappointed that I had 66 yards of 2-ply because it means I didn’t do even work in 2 of the plies. Granted, I did the bulk of those plies on the bus and it’s harder to draft evenly when you and your spindle are lurching all over creation as the bus stops and starts, spindle banging on your knees or the seat in front of you, and you have to keep your elbows glued to your sides. You’re supposed to set yourself a challenge during Spinzilla; I didn’t, but in retrospect, I say this counted.


Fiber: 4 ounces of unknown purple streaky, feels like BFL, from Carolina Homespun
Spun 9/19-10/8/2017 (2 of the plies from 10/2-10/8 during Spinzilla) on Cascade Bay spindle
Plied 10/9/2017 at 12:1 on Lendrum wheel
Finished yarn is 237 yards of 3-ply and 66 yards of 2-ply

I meant for the 10 ounces of Jacob to end up about the thickness of Cascade 220, but it had so many slubby bits that it wasn’t possible. I left the slubs in as a feature and got a beautiful, squashy, and heavier-than-worsted yarn out of my 4 bobbins:


Fiber: 10 ounces Jacob from Meridian Jacobs
Color: natural, a blend of dark and light wools
Spun 10/3-10/08/2017 at 15:1 on a Lendrum wheel
Finished yarn is 267 yards of 4-ply (plied at 9:1), 2.4 yards of 3-ply (at 9:1), 56 yards of 2-ply (at 15:1)

As usual, all finished yarn goes into my large sack of handspun, waiting for the day a project speaks to me.

And because you read to the end, you get to see a green-and-purple crab waving its claws in an attempt to ward off being immortalized in a portrait. I had to hang upside down over the edge of a rocky tidepool to get this shot.



This will be boring for anyone who didn’t participate in Spinzilla, but I have to record it for posterity. My total yards spun for the week is 1639.29. It’s more than I thought, but when I estimate how many hours I spent on it, the number seems small.

I spun 2 plies of the purple and 4 plies of the gray Jacob during Spinzilla and plied after the event was over (soooo much easier to count yardage once it’s plied than wrestling with singles) so I can’t count the yards of plying. Here’s the non-glamour photo of the plied yarn, resting on bobbins:


Math time!

66.05 yards of 2-ply purple –> 132.1
237.25 yards of 3-ply purple, of which I can count only 2 plies, so 158.16*2 –> 316.32
56.38 yards of 2-ply Jacob –> 112.76
2.41 yards of 3-ply Jacob –> 7.23
267.72 yards of 4-ply Jacob –> 1070.88

See those rather long stretches of 2-ply? Apparently, I spin more evenly when I space it out over weeks and months instead of cramming it into a week. Or perhaps I didn’t split the fiber evenly at the outset.


Flickr Photos