Monday, August 25, 2014

Projects of questionable value

I finished my very first adult-sized sweater, and I hate how it looks:

Seriously, it looks great laying on the table, and that's all you're going to see of it, because I refuse to be photographed in it. All the knitters I have shown it to tell me to wear it with a shawl pin, or a button, to keep it closed. Sure, I can do that, but I'm not sure I want to spend a penny on anything like that for something I am unlikely to wear out of the house.  This might be the second-most ridiculous thing I have ever knit, because there would be no need for me to have a short-sleeved sweater in the house if I get "chilly" - we don't have central air, so if it's cold enough for me to be looking for something to put on, it's going to be something with sleeves.  I am going to chalk this up to a learning experience, and a victory in the finished project category.

I call the shrug the second-most ridiculous thing I have ever knit, because this is the most ridiculous:

In process - photographed outside Halcyon yarns, Bath, ME
 "What are those?"  you may be asking yourself.  Patriotic chaps, made with wool and fun fur.  "Why on earth would you knit patriotic chaps to begin with, and then out of those materials?!" Well, let me tell you.  A few months ago, my favorite local yarn shop had a "Wine and Pointy Sticks" party.  People were asked to bring the worst fiber-based item they had in their collection.  There were some doozies - a traffic-cone orange sweater in a nubby yarn, a potholder knit by a great-aunt who ran out of yarn so just stuffed another color into the middle of it - and somehow the conversation evolved into a discussion about bad projects with the theme, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."  Somehow, I piped up with the idea for chaps.  I forget who suggested making them out of fun fur (doubly funny because one of my fellow Wicked Weavers believes fun fur should be banished from the earth), and the shop owner volunteered that she had some patriotic stuff on clearance, so off we went to look at it.  I quickly realized that just using the fun fir would require a really small needle and take forever, so I pared it with a navy-blue wool so I could use large needles.  Carrie (the shop owner) gave me a great discount on all of it.

The result is the ugliest, itchiest thing I have ever knit.  I looked for a chaps pattern on Ravelry and guess what, no pattern!  I cannot be the only knitter who has ever wasted her time on a chaps project, but I bet you could count all of us on one hand.  Also, who's going to admit to knitting such a thing by publishing a pattern?  Adding insult to injury, the patriotic fun fur sheds so there's physical evidence of where I have been with these things.  Also, they're kind of heavy.  But they'll be ready for the next Wine & Pointy Sticks party!

I may have even ordered a sparkly cowboy hat with light-up brim.  Go big or go home, partner.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Something besides socks

Ok, admittedly I am currently working on a pair of socks, because I am pretty sure I must have one going at all times:

This pattern is called Winter Wheat Socks and this is the men's version.  I knit a pair of the women's version for my mother for her birthday this year.  I intended to knit this pair for my dad, who has no hand-knit socks from me, for Christmas this year.  Husband expressed delight in the socks.  This pair is for the husband.  Which means that I now have to knit this pattern again.  There's nothing really wrong with it; it's the (boring, BORING) yarn that makes me unenthusiastic about knitting it.

I am also making use of the 1800 yards of Madeline Tosh lace-weight I bought back in April to knit Viajante:

I love it, it's gorgeous, it's taking forever.  Dorothy says lace weight shawls take about three years (argh) which has burst my dream balloon that I would have this shawl done for an upcoming late-September trip to Philadelphia.  Maybe I will have it for a late-September trip in 2016, if I am lucky.

Meanwhile, I took a trip last weekend up to Halcyon Yarn in Bath, ME with my Wicked Weavers group.  I was delighted to discover that Halcyon sells mini-cones of weaving yarn - 600 yards to a normal one-pound cone of 3,200 yards (or more!)  So I bought a bunch of mini-cones of unmercerized cotton, to make dish towels:

Mostly mini-cones, with 2 large in the back

I have several patterns in mind - at least one or two to be done on my rigid heddle loom, which has the advantage of being in the family room and thus more accessible and more frequently used.  My first project is a set of place mats for the kitchen:

Cascade Luna Paints, Cascade Ultra Pima , 3/2 unmercerized cotton

Place mats in progress!

I have a strange affection for purple these days and picked some lighter shades of it to blend with the blue in the Cascade Paints that makes up the foundation of the multi-color in this placemat pattern.  This is a plain-weave pattern, making it less likely I will screw up this weaving.  Unless I did the yardage wrong.....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A weaving project redeemed

So I have been working here and there on a couple of weaving projects.  Most recently on my rigid heddle I decided to try the Log Cabin pattern described in Jane Patrick's The Weaver's Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom.  The pattern is derived using two contrasting colors from the warp and weft crosses.  I thought it would be simple.  It was not.

My first mistake was the way I threaded it.  I miscounted the number of threads in each color block, and then I sleyed the reed entirely wrong - instead of alternating light-dark (or vice-versa) in the slot and holes, I grouped the colors together by two (one slot and one hole both the same color) which gave me a lovely houndstooth-style cloth.  So, lovely, but not the original aim.  I decided to completely re-sley the reed to try and get the pattern I had hoped.  Success!  Except that the back of the reed looked like this:

 Messier than I would have liked, for sure, but it all straightened out in the weaving:

Because I had to rearrange the threads at the back, pulling some out of the warp and tying them together, a few of the remaining warp threads did not get caught around the back beam.  Which was fine until I got near the end, and they grew so loose I could not get the yarn to lay smooth when I beat it down.  In the end, I opted to cut it off and tag it as a learning experience.

Here's the finished piece, which is less of a table runner and more of an oversized placemat:

My selveges are a little messy but I will stitch them under before displaying it on a table.  Given that I thought this was going to be a total loss when I first started it and it was not, and that I got this yarn on sale and will be able to do another similar project with it, I am not at all unhappy with how this turned out.  True, it would be great if these things turned out right the first time, but Rome wasn't built in a day.  Hell, sometimes I can't even get the loom threaded in a day.