Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I did finish one thing, however!

Along with the aborted weaving project, I was working on something for me to wear. I had this yarn that I had dyed years and years ago, which seredipitously matched the dress I was wearing to the wedding. I had two large balls of it, and it's a 50/50 blend of wool and silk. I thought it would be great in lace. You may remember the attempt to make a mitered chart (here) for a triangular shawl. I used the same edging but straight, not mitered. More on the charts later (warning, rant ahead). When I blocked that sample, it was wonderfully crisp, but drapey.

I had originally decided to make a shawl, but part way through thought that I could make a tunic, if I knit two halves and grafted them at the shoulder. But, of course! So that's what I did.

I finished knitting the night before last. I grafted it last night, but was too tired and my eyes were shot from all the smoke in the air, so I blocked it today.

On the blocking table (love blocking wires...):
Though it looks like there's no place for my head, it's a boat/slit opening, and it's being blocked closed to make the lace the same.

A close up of the body lace:
And the edging:

Ok, here's the rant: Both of these charts are in Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush. I purchased this book because I love knitting lace, and cables, and... ok, I just love knitting. But this one had been highly touted, and I bought it. Later, when I tried to knit one of the patterns, it wouldn't work, despite many tries. I'm not a beginner knitter - I know how to balance decreased with yo's and to count stitches - these didn't line up. I looked online, and there was errata for almost half of the patterns in this book. In knitting this project, I found 1 glaring one, and one minor one. The glaring one is is the edging. On row 25, you can't have the double decrease and 4 r/l decreases with only 4 yo's. You're losing more stitches than you're making. I just left out two of the opposing r/l decreases, and it worked fine. When working the body, after having found the previous error, I was confused as to why there were 3 right-leaning decreases and only 1 left-leaning. I looked at the picture with the chart (on page 125, if you care). It's UPSIDE DOWN! Now how would a newbie know to turn the book over? They wouldn't.

Understand that I don't in any way, shape or form blame Nancy Bush for this. It's purely Interweave Press's fault. This is not the first time I've discovered errors in their knitting patterns. After several condescending emails about another, I finally reamed the person on the other end a new one. They don't realize what a disservice they're doing to their readers. If they intend to keep promoting knitting, weaving, spinning, etc., they'd better get their patterns right. Otherwise, people will think that it's them, and that they just can't knit lace, or weave placemats, or whatever.

End of Rant.

I'm really please with how this turned out. Of course, I still have to seam the sides, but I'll do that Friday when I'm in Reno, staying at Mim's. The wedding isn't until Saturday, so I have plenty of time.  Right...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

There will be no completion before the wedding...

After I broke a warp thread adjusting the lease sticks (I haven't used them for years, and now I know why!!), and then broke the cords holding the rod to the warp beam, I gave up. Add to those things, the warp is a snarled mess, and there's 9 yards of it. I will fix my loom after I get home, and try again.

I may not use the valet, though I like the concept, I'm wondering if it just won't work for my 8/2 cotton - it's too fragile. With linen or wool, I'll give it a try.

Having made that decision has been enormously freeing - I was a basket case yesterday (mini-meltdowns all day long), because I had FAILED... Interesting that Laura's blog yesterday covered just this topic.

So. Deeply breathing (and trying not to cough in the smokey air), I'm getting other things done, and I'll be ready to leave on Thursday morning.

It's not the end of the world, it's an opportunity to try something else.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Work in progress.

I have been having tension problems in the last few warps that I've put on. So, in an effort to mitigate this, I am trying something new. I met Laura Fry years ago (Fibervisions, Cool, CA), and we had a wonderful time talking about life, the universe and everything, including weaving. She was so gracious and kind, and listened to me ramble on, I'm sure!

I follow her blog (Weaving a Life), and many times, she's mentioned her warping "valet." It sounded like what I needed. I finally watched the video of her beaming a 9m (10 yards +/-) warp. The video was 9 minutes long and at the end of it, it was on. WOW!

So, since I live in an old mobile home, and I'm renting, I really can't attach anything to the ceiling. Being the queen of PVC, and having a number of 2" pvc lengths and fittings, I set out to make one. The nice thing (if it works - haven't actually tried it yet) is that it can be disassembled and put away when I'm not using it. This is huge, because my loom room is 14 x 14, and space is at a premium. If you watch Laura's video (linked above), you will see, however, that she has less space than I do...

My valet:
When I actually tie weights onto the warp, I'll have 50# sacks of feed on the feet to hold it in place.

This warp is knotty naughty. The 8/2 cotton wants to twist all over itself. I've managed to straighten out the warp up over the top and about midway to the floor. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to continue straightening...

There are differences between Laura's method and what I'm trying here: a) I have a sectional beam, and I need to build a raddle to clamp onto the back beam to space the warp enough that I don't have to run back and forth a lot; b) she sleys through the reed only (doesn't thread the heddles until after the warp is on) - I have threaded the heddles already. If I had looked at the video first, I probably wouldn't have.

She uses flat lease sticks, taped together with masking tape. I have 5/8" dowels, which have been sanded with 400 grit sandpaper to make them very smooth. I made these cool holders (they bungie onto the breast beam when I'm sleying/threading). I figured I could MacGyver something to use them here as well:
She slides the lease sticks up to the top of the valet and as she winds on, they follow the warp down. This helps, as I understand, to keep any inconsistencies in the warp tension on the valet side of them (away from the loom). Mine slide very well, but they might be a little too heavy with the holders to passively follow the warp. Time will tell.

And here's a picture of what the whole set up looks like.
My loom is a Murphy Loom, built by Charlie Murphy of Seattle, WA. It's No. 428. I know of only 5 others. It's made of rock maple and takes 2 men and a boy, or 2 farm girls to move it. It's a 4-shaft counterbalance, and the mechanism is bike sprockets on ball bearing races and bike chain. It's very smooth. At some point in its life (before I got it), the metal heddles that I've seen on others were replaced with Texsolv. This makes it very quiet. It is truly a joy to weave on this loom.

Hiding in the right side of the picture above is my other loom, a 4-shaft Dorset. It's similar in size and structure to a Baby Wolf, but is direct tie-up. I mucked about with it and screwed up the apron rod and back beam rod - they're not parallel to the beams. Before I can weave on it again, I have to fix that.

Anyway, I have a week to finish this 9 yard warp, including sewing. I need to make a raddle (not hard, just need to do it). Then I'll wind this on.

I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck that it works!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It was bare and now it's not.

I have a week to get this project done. Last time I tried this, I didn't get done in time, but I only gave myself 4 days. This time it'll be a piece of cake (massive knocking on wood here...).

I can't really say a lot about it because it's s surprise, but give me a week, and I'll post pictures.

Suffice it to say that it involves weaving, and I'm shamelessly copying Sharon... I appreciate all her help and encouragement over the phone while looking at her computer at the picture I sent.

Isn't technology wonderful!