Friday, November 11, 2016

Pigs will fly

When the Cubs won the World Series, I had a premonition about the election. Sadly, my fears came true. I don't remember ever bursting into tears over election results before. My one consolation is voter turnout was low, so we are not so much a nation full of hate but one of apathy and/or frustration. Let's hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

To distract ourselves last Tuesday, my SO and I took a road trip to the Toledo area. At the recommendation of a friend, we stopped at Grand Rapids OH along the way. Despite the Trump signs, we enjoyed our visit there. We ate pie at Miss Lily's Restaurant, strolled along the Maumee River, and made some fiber and decor purchases at the Natural Fiber and Yarn Co.

This store was a delightful surprise, chock full of alpaca and merino products, finished and otherwise. But what really caught my attention was the "barn loom". They estimate it to be about 200 years old, and had to disassemble it to get it out of the previous owner's basement, meticulously labeling the parts to assure correct reassembly.

Look, Ma, no nails!

The weaver sits on the bench at the right of this photo. The beater bar swings from above (like a swing!) and is worn smooth by decades of use.

The brake for the back beam looks like a ship's wheel.

Setup is not complete, as the shop owners are not sure how to get the harnesses hung correctly. (They asked me if I was a weaver, but I was not any help.) They also want to move it to a part of the store where there will be room for demos.

Our fiber day was not over. We continued our daytrip to the Toledo Museum of Art. Besides enjoying a large and diverse collection and some interesting exhibits, we were mesmerized by Plexus no. 35, a thread installation by Gabriel Dawe. These photos do not do it justice - it needs to be seen in person.

In simple terms, literally miles of thread were strung from floor to ceiling, then backlit from above. While the piece looks curved, each thread is actually straight.

The result is a rainbow of vibrant color.

This video shows how the colors appear to move, drifting up and down as one moves around the piece. It is as static as can be, though. What a wonderful visual display!

(The man in the background holding a purse is my SO. And it is *my* purse, although he is manly enough to carry a "man bag".)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Only 55 days until xmas

Another hat completed. While I have knit this pattern before, I didn't remember it being quite so long, but I guess I was wrong.

Pattern: Graham, by Jennifer Adams
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in 'Blaze' (1952)
Needles: US6 and US8
Modifications: none

The pattern is well written and easy to follow, with the exception of the needle sizes: the pair of sizes for the circular needles is different than the pair for DPNs. Not sure what that is all about. I used a ribbed cast on.

More hats are in the queue, most of them in 'Blaze'. The idea is to provide bright headwear for family members who like to hike in the woods during hunting season. A much better idea than wearing a raccoon skin cap (TRUE STORY!)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Only 62 days until xmas

Another hat, same yarn, same pattern as the previous one but the k2p2 ribbing version.

Pattern: Ribbed Cap, by Judy Gibson, k2p2 ribbing option
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in Navy and Desert Sun
Needles: US7
Modifications: none.

Even though I tried to follow the pattern exactly this time, I still think the crown is wonky. Anyway, having a warm head is what is most important.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Only 66 days until xmas

Usually I knit socks for xmas, but this year that seemed like a bit much. I don't want to work that hard! So it will be hats all around instead.

Pattern: Ribbed Cap, by Judy Gibson, as a beanie with garter rib stitch option
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in Navy and Desert Sun
Needles: US7
Modifications: After the 1x1 band, I was supposed to switch to 2x2 but didn't (brain fart)

I don't know why I had so much trouble getting this simple project underway, but I started it at least three times, switched needles twice, and still goofed it up (see modifications above). Since I didn't realize my ribbing mistake until I reached the crown (and was NOT about to start over at that point), the crown is a bit wonky. Sometimes good enough is perfect.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dishcloth resurrected

Handknit cotton dishcloths last forever, or so it seems. Unless, of course, one is careless with a knife or there is a weak spot in the yarn. I'm not sure which happened, but the dishcloth in current rotation incurred a serious injury. My first instinct was to toss it, but decided to try to fix it instead.

Thanks to the miracle of blogging, the original post regarding this dishcloth may be found here. This one is the "ridge and rib" pattern. Even though the cotton yarn had nearly felted from long use, I was able to tink back one pattern repeat. The only Sugar 'n Cream yarn I have is this stinky one, but it worked fine.

The old green yarn feels somewhat fragile, so we'll see how long this poor dishcloth lasts. Executing the repair was a good exercise, though, something that would not be possible with a store-bought dishcloth. Next I would like to learn to darn socks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Vintage Kitchen socks are DONE

Socks are my go-to portable project, although sometimes I work on them at home, too. Especially toes and heels and bind offs. Still, it took me a while to finish these. Almost three months, in fact.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Knitterly Things Vesper Sock with Nylon, in 'Vintage Kitchen', and Simply Sock Yarn, in 'Natural'
Needles: US1
Modifications: None but for the contrasting toe, heel, and cuff

The Vintage Kitchen colorway came in one of the anniversary kits offered by Simply Socks Yarn Co. I don't usually purchase kits like these - my idea of a project bag is a clear ZipLoc - but I really liked the fabric pattern AND the yarn colorway.

And I am really enjoying self-striping yarn. Whether the stripes are narrow or not-so-narrow, the color combinations are very satisfying. No fancy sock pattern for these babies. The stripes say it all.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Pickin' and grinnin'

Yesterday I attended a workshop billed as From Animal to Product at the Big Red Barn near St. Joe. My goal was to get some hands-on experience with picking and washing fleece, then carding the result. The reality was heavy on the picking and washing, light on the carding.

No pics at the event itself because our hands were busy. We each received two small bags of fleece, sheep in one, alpaca in the other. We picked the sheep wool, washed it about four times, then rinsed it and laid it out in the sun to dry. We also picked the alpaca. The two fleeces were very different to work with, the former denser. We didn't wash the alpaca there - running short on time - but we were able to take it home to continue the lesson on our own.

We used a drum carder on some already carded alpaca, blending in colors as desired. Since I had to be somewhere, I worked a little orange wool into the undyed alpaca, just to say I had done it. I have some experience with drum carding already and was hoping for more practice with hand carding, mainly because I do not have $$$ to spend on a drum carder of my own. The Big Red Barn "rents" time on their drum carders, so I do have access, but I still want to learn to work with hand carders.

Just looking at the chubby rolag makes me itchy to get back to spinning. So much fiber, so little time!