Monday, August 28, 2006

Finishing Frenzy

After months of dragging my feet (ha ha) on the gift for my SP8 spoilee, I've finally finished them! Posh Yarn's cashmere/merino blend in Pillar Box, knit on 2.5mm needles. I found the yarn a bit of a pain to knit with because it was splitty but I loved the fabric it produced. Now they are washed and OMG! they are to-die-for soft. Go out and buy this yarn now! You won't regret it and your feet will love you forever.This seems to have triggered a finishing frenzy similar to a great white shark's feeding frenzy. Well, okay, maybe I exaggerate slightly... I've finished two other projects. :-)

Meg's gloves! Finito!! Just in time for the Aussie summer!!! Oh well, like she said there'll be another winter next year. Sorry Meg! The hat is next on my list of things to do. I've got plenty of yarn left. I love knitting with my handspun. There is something very special and satisfying knowing that I've made something completely from scratch. Dyed, spun and knit all by me. :-)

I've also finished and felted my French Market bag. Yarn courtesy of my SP8 spoiler. It took three trips through the washing machine and ended up slightly smaller than I wanted but was too floppy (technical term) before the third wash. The two pics are before and after felting. Before felting the bag was 58cm long (just below the handles) and 40 cm deep (from the middle of the bottom to just below the handles.) The ruler in the 'unfelted' picture is 40cm long. After felting the bag is 28cm deep (from middle of bottom to lip excluding handles) and 39cm wide just below the handles. Its still wet at the moment and has the indignity of having a stock pot stuck in its innards to help with shaping. (Pot removed for pics of course!)

So, I'm feeling smug! Its been sooooo long since I finished anything. I'm thinking of knitting something substantial. Something like a sweater. Possibly from Alice Starmore's Fishermans Sweaters. Hmmmmm....

I'm going to the Knitting and Stitching show at the NEC on Thursday 14th September. Anyone else going that day?

I appear to be channeling Homer Simpson. Read the comments on my most recent Saturday Sky post. Doh!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

No Longer A Secret

I've decided to show off the SP8 gifty I'm knitting. Its only 2 weeks to go to the reveal so I'm not really giving away the secret! I'm knitting a pair of socks (surprise!) in Posh Yarn's merino/cashmere blend in Pillar Box red. Gorgeous yarn and colour. Fortunately they are a bit big for me otherwise I'd be tempted to keep them. The pattern is garter rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. If these arrive in your letterbox you'll know I'm your pal!

I've also joined a stitchmarker swap on Swapbot. Here they are and they'll be winging their way to the US tomorrow.




Finally, my Great Bookmark Exchange parcel arrived on Friday. Poor Juli has been harrassing USPS for weeks trying to find out where it got to because its taken 5 weeks to get here! No indication on the package why it was held up. Its here and that's the important thing. It was a great gift, really lovely crocheted bookmark, some interesting teas and a book I've wanted to read for a while. How did she know? Spooky!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mid-Week Photo

This week's photo is of Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire, once again taken in 1986 with the Canon AE1 Program.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hmmmm...

Its 8.30 on Sunday evening and I just realised that I hadn't posted today. The reason? Nothing to show!

Yes, I've been working on my SP8's secret gift but I can't show you that. I've decided to spin and dye some yarn for my pal too but I can't show you that either.

Boring!

Ah! I know. The art of distraction! Oh look, a cute puppy!





And a close-up.








Ooooooh! Pretty flowers!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday Sky


This next one is actually Tuesday's sky but the sunbeams shining through the clouds are so pretty.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

An Idea

Because I'm such a slacker and don't do an awful lot during the week, I'm always stuck for a mid week post. So I've decided to scan and post some of my old photos. I've always loved photography and while I wouldn't dare say I'm an accomplished photographer (!) I don't lack in quantity what I might lack in quality!

The first picture I want to share is one of my all time favourites. I took it at Sudeley Castle in 1986 shortly before I went back to Australia after my first 6 month visit to the UK. I had just missed the falconry display and only managed to catch the very end of the question and answer session. To take the photo I literally stepped between two people, pointed, quick focus and click! I love the way the falcon is looking straight at the camera and the man, looking down, appears very pensive. Add in the misty, atmospheric background and, to me, its the best picture I've ever taken. At the time I had a Canon AE1 Program, I adored that camera!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Amazon - Gotta Love 'Em!

I got a marketing email from Amazon.co.uk today that said:
"Dear Amazon.co.uk Customer, We've noticed that customers who have purchased Spin It: Making Yarn from Scratch by Lee Raven have also ordered Poncho a La Carte by Sue Palmer. For this reason, you might like to know that this book is now available. You can order your copy for just 9.89 ( 34% off the RRP) by following the link below."

EXCUSE ME! I am a poncho-free zone! I wouldn't want the book even if it was free!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Inkle Weaving

I've had a few comments about the inkle loom and I thought I may as well do a little blogumentary about it. :-)

Firstly, for everyone who hasn't devoured every weaving book and website within reach, a few weaving terms. A woven piece is made up of basically two threads at right angles to each other. The vertical threads are called the warp and the horizontal threads are called the weft. The warp sits on the loom and the weft sits on the shuttle. To create the piece of weaving, you lift alternate warp threads and pass the weft threads through the gap created. This gap is called the shed. This is a very simplified description! I know there are lots of variations but that, very basically stated, is the process.

The way all this works depends on your loom. On an inkle loom, the warp threads are wrapped around the loom's pegs in a continuous length. If you want to change colours, you tie the new colour onto the existing threads where they go around the very front peg. To make the longest possible fabric you wrap around every peg, for shorter lengths you wrap around less pegs. The fabric produced on an inkle loom is called a warp-faced fabric because the only threads you see in the finished piece are the warp threads. Once again there are variations but I'll stick to the simple! So, any fancy colour changes need to be on the warp threads to be seen.

One other thing needs to be in place for the loom to work and these are the heddles. On my inkle loom, and I imagine most others, the first thing I had to do after putting the loom together was make my heddles. Sounds scary! Its actually quite simple but time consuming. I used no. 5 DMC perle cotton because that's what I had. The idea is to create loops that you hook over alternate warp threads. The pictures show it far better than I can write it!

Once the loom is set up you're good to go! To weave, you lift the warp threads that aren't held by the heddles and pass the shuttle through. You then lower the threads, pass the shuttle partway through, beat (this isn't as violent as it sounds!) the previous weft thread with the edge of the shuttle and then finish passing the shuttle through. That's it! You just repeat the process until you have the length you want. Simple, quick and quite effective.

I'll put some links in the sidebar later.

The loom fully warped to give the greatest possible length. If you wanted a shorter length you would wind around less pegs. The first two warps I used only went around the outer pegs. The tensioning device is at the top right of the picture. As you weave the warp shortens so you need a way of releasing the tension to allow you to keep going.

A heddle made from DMC perle cotton. If you look at the picture above, you can see the heddles on the loom. When you warp it, you wrap one thread over the top peg and then around the tensioning device followed by the other pegs. The next thread goes between the top peg and the next one down. The threads that go over the peg are the ones you attach the heddles to and the others are the ones you raise and lower to create the shed.

The heddle is folded in half and looped over the warp thread.







Then its hooked around the heddle peg.







Ready to weave!







Here it is. The loom is warped with some acrylic DK knitting yarn I bought because I like the colours and then couldn't find anything to knit with it! Stash... see its a good thing! I'm using the same yarn as the weft. If you click and have a close look at the larger picture, you'll notice that you can't see the weft.

Here's one I made earlier! Its DMC Perle Cotton no. 5. The perle cotton is very nice to weave with. The fringe is made from the warp threads. The pattern is from Helene Bress' Inkle Weaving.


If you're tempted to have a go, I say do it! My inkle loom is made by Ashford and cost £40.00 from P&M Woolcraft (see Shopping Links in sidebar) plus £5.00 p&p. They also sell a smaller inkle loom called an Inklette which, if memory serves, is £24.00. The woman who collaborated with Ashford to design the Inklette was interviewed in the episode 5 of Weavecast.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday Sky

is grey and drizzly.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm Warped

The loom is warped.







First attempt at inkle weaving.













Close up of beginning - very dodgy selvedges and the actual weaving is too open. The warp threads are the only ones supposed to be showing except on the selvedges. If you look closely you can see the weft threads. Its quite obvious in 'real' life.





A bit further on and things are improving. The selvedges are firmer and I've got the hang of beating just enough to cover the weft.









One word: Addiction! :-)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Spendies Have Landed

In order they appeared on my door step. :-)

Books: Inkle weaving by Helene Bress, Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Davenport and Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler. The first two are fairly self explanatory - they teach how to use the looms they're named after. The Chandler book teaches how to weave on a four shaft loom. So I think I have all my bases covered there.

Next we have threads. I bought some undyed 2 ply laceweight wool, two small skeins of undyed silk and some dyed 4ply cotton from Texere. I also bought some DMC Perle Cotton no. 5 in my lunch break today. You'll be seeing my attempts to weave with these threads sometime soon.

Finally, just arrived today we have the inkle loom. In all it's flat packed glory. My job tonight is to put it together and make some heddles out of cotton. I don't think I'll be able to actually weave on it until tomorrow because I'll have to wait for the glue to dry.

Stay tuned, this could be... interesting!