Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Note to Self

Warp the two colors like any other warp, just put 3 in a slot and 1 in the hole-one heddle at a time! See those two heddle being warped together? Wrong!
This blog post is not intended for anyone other than me. I am writing myself a tutorial on how to set my loom up for double weaving because apparently I can't remember anything anymore.

Check to see you actually did this. It is too easy to confuse the slots.
 I sat down to warp another double weave to see if it would look better if I used a fuzzy yarn but I couldn't figure out how I did it. I knew I had done it, but how?

Roll it up as usual.
I got out my book and read the same chapter and followed the same directions but this time ended up with different (wrong) results. I watched the You Tube tutorial about a million times-also with no luck.

As I said before, don't be an idiot and try to warp both heddles at the same time-it doesn't work!

So I decided to chronicle my efforts while figuring this out in order to spare myself from going through this again.

It is very fiddly getting behind the first heddle to pull stuff through. Deal with it.
 I was in tears when I could not get this to work after I had been so smug about figuring it out in the first place.

This is what happens if the yarn twists when you tie it off. Check it before you set up the pick up sticks.

 I was starting to question my own sanity.

When all else fails get someone else to look at what you did.
In desperation, I even got The Mister involved. It helped to talk my way through the process with someone who knew nothing about what I was trying to do. Every suggestion he made was dumb as hell but it got me thinking.

The bottom line is that you want the pick up sticks to work the slots. Heddle 1 threads are on top and 2 on the bottom.
I figured out that just following directions blindly doesn't work if you don't really understand what is happening and so many books and videos leave out the "why". Without the "why" you can't problem solve when things go wrong. I sat there redoing and undoing the same thing for hours until I figured out what I was really trying to do-which was actually very simple.
Check those edges often! The one on the left is really the middle so pull it tight.
All's well that ends well I suppose. I've got it working but whether it works still remains to be seen. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rookie Mistake

I spent 6 hours yesterday looking at this and trying to figure out how to make 168 out of 110 stitches. Logic would tell you that you need to make a lot more stitches but no matter how hard I tried I was always missing about 20.

It couldn't be my fault. It was probably a pattern error but a quick search didn't turn up a single errata or complaint. It must be me. I drew out the directions on paper making lots of little stitches and could finally see that K2 M1 really means  K KM1 Not K K KM1. I was knitting in the front and back of the third stitch thinking I needed 2 whole stitches in between.  As soon as I realized this everything went along just fine.

I put it away for the night and finished Chart A during the women's bike race the next morning. It is turning out as rough and rustic as I suspected but I like the authentic sheepiness of it. Knitting with Cormo is my idea of heaven so no matter how this thing looks, I am going to love it.

Oh...and I've been totally crazy tweeting my displeasure with the canned version of the Olympics that NBC has once again forced us to make do with. If you follow me on Twitter, I apologize. #nbcfail

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Let the Knitting Begin

Friday morning I remembered I had not balled up my mini skeins in preparation for the night's big cast on. Suddenly I had a lot of work to do.

I was happy to discover that my raggedy handspun Cormo looked much better in balls than it did in skeins.

As soon as we were given the go ahead by the Ravelry PTB, I cast on. I was very grateful that it was still daylight here as the dark needles and dark yarn were hard to see.

I was more than ticked off that we had to wait to see the Opening Ceremony after it was over and done with in London so I followed it live on several websites using my Kindle as I put on a few more rows.

By the time they lit the torch, I had the ribbing done on my Sheep Heid. I could have done more but I was too busy stuffing my face and writing snarky tweets. I thought NBC's coverage was terrible. There were too many commercials and too much mindless commentary. The whole emotion of the night was ruined by all the gabbing. I ended up turning down the sound and just watching while doing some spinning. The Mister thought it was hilarious but it was either that or I was going to start throwing things at the TV.

 The next morning I got up to watch the bike race and managed to get through Chart A. I thought.

Here is my all too familiar frogging ceremony when I discovered, while starting Chart B, that I was missing at least 20 stitches. It seems that my idea of k1 m1 is very different than what was intended by the designer. Even worse, I'm not proud of the fact that  it took me at least 6 hours to figure this all out. It's a good thing there is still a couple of weeks to go. I'm going to need every minute.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

With Gratitude

Yesterday I was boo hooing about the too rapidly changing landscape of Blogland when I received a very special delivery. Inside this envelope was a surprise that went a long way in restoring my faith in human nature. It seems that after commenting on someone's blog post, I caught the eye of Donna Atkins, the creator of An Enchanted Cottage. She is not only an incredibly creative blogger but an artist as well. If you want to see what I have this envelope, go to her Etsy shop and prepare to be awed. I received not one but two of her charming sheep prints and a lovely card along with a very sweet note of encouragement. I can't say thank you enough to her for her kindness.

 As soon as I get these beauties framed my itty bitty (and very messy) craft room is going to be positively covered in sheepies!

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Rose is a Rose

This is a hard post to write. I have had the bejeezus scared out of me all summer by lawyers so I have to be careful about what I say. I also have to be careful about what photos I use as I certainly don't want to infringe on anyone's rights here. That's me up there. I took that photo in 2008 during the opening ceremony in Beijing. It's mine but those circular objects are not. I can't use the r-word. Apparently they own that too.  I don't want to pay anyone a million dollars for the use of it but I am still going to take a chance that I can get away with it. If this post disappears, you will know I didn't.

We all know what tonight is. We are all casting on once again but this time around it doesn't feel quite so good. I used to be an Olympic junkie. I cried my way through the whole thing totally awash in the spirit of good will. Not anymore. Right now I am sitting here wondering if Casey is going to sue me for using his logo. That's where the world is now.

This is what happened to my 2008 Ravel-you-know-what project. It came unraveled and that is pretty much how I feel about the whole thing right now. I have no idea how I am going to blog about this event when I can't even use any images of those shiny things on ribbons that some people get to put around their necks. They own the rights to those images and the words too. Golly. It's going to be a depressing couple of weeks here in Blogland. Can I say Blogland or does someone already own that word too?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Let me explain......

It was a lovely, cool morning so I went out to take a good look at my new Jacob fleece. It was a good day for washing.

There was a lot to look at. There was lots of fleecy stuff happening.

There were several different colors to take into consideration.

There were even blends of different colors to think about.

 There was texture to consider.

I also had to assess the many staple lengths.

Last but not least, I wanted simply to admire it.

 After bagging some up and carrying the pot back into the kitchen, I realized I had left the water on in the sink that was already full of soapy water. On the bright side the kitchen counters have never been cleaner and I was going to scrub the floor anyway. Someday.

After the big and rather hilarious cleanup, the fleece eventually got washed.

The bright sun, cool breeze and low humidity made it dry in a flash.

I guess I'll be combing tomorrow-no water involved.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yet Another Prodigy

A month or so ago, Little Sister came for a visit and I gave her a knitting lesson. I handed her a ball of cotton and some circular needles, taught her the garter stitch and then hoped for the best. When I heard nothing more about it, I thought for sure that she had given up.

Surprise, surprise. She not only finished the washcloth but made another by differentiating the pattern a bit.

 I would be thrilled but honestly, I hate the fact that her garter stitch is so much better than mine. Just look at the perfection of those stitches-and these cloths have yet to be blocked.
I would be seriously bummed if she hadn't gifted me the beige cloth along with a yummy bar of Sweet Tea Goat Milk Soap.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Turkish Delight

All through the Tour I said some pretty bad things about my Turkish spindle. It was too heavy and wobbly. I was definitely not feeling the love.

In a fit of frustration one night, I pulled it apart and went ahead a plied it just to get it over with. After all, I had started this project in August of 2010 and I was pretty much over it.

As soon as I started to ply, I remembered why I wanted one of these in the first place. I am holding the camera with one hand and trying to ply with the other here-but you get the idea. It all rolls off like magic. With two hands going, you can really fly though it. In case you are wondering, that's not me in the background talking. I was watching 4 Weddings and forgot to turn the sound down.

Unbelievably, I got to the very end of the ball without a snag or a tangle.

 Here is the cute little skein's official Day 21 mugshot along with the other FOs of the day. I am not anxious to start spinning anything else on it as the Russian is so much easier and can hold so much more, but whenever I need a small skein of something plied in a hurry, I know what I am going to use from now on.

Monday, July 23, 2012

TdF 2012: Lessons Learned

Here is the giant heap of yarn I made during this year's Tour de Fleece. If you think this is a lot, you should see how much is all over the floor and under the furniture.

I spun everyday while watching the live event from 8-11:30 am and then spent an equal amount of time taking photos, editing photos and then posting, tweeting and blogging about my progress. As a result, my house is a flaming disaster. It was totally worth the total mayhem however, because this year I pushed my limits to the max and came out much the wiser for it.

My 2010 MDSW Cormo Fleece
 Lesson Number 1: The amount of dye you add to the water makes all the difference in the outcome. I was adding more water to get a lighter color and failing over and over. I now have all the colors I need for the Sheep Heid hat I intended to knit during that event that starts with an O that I am still on the fence about. The more I read about the greedy SOB's the madder I get but that's another post. The TdF is a class act and I am not going to ruin my afterglow thinking about the stinking USOC.

My 2011 Corridale Fleece
 Lesson Number 2: The different sized ends of bobbins are not just for decoration. They determine the size yarn you end up with when you spin. I am still not clear on how this works but I found out that if I use the smaller end everything spins and plies tighter.When spinning for socks you want a firmer yarn so it will wear better. I switched the ratio on the final ball (yellow) so I have high hopes for these particular socks.

Red Barn Farm Corriedale
Lesson Number 3: I discovered I totally hate spinning on my Turkish spindle but it plies like a dream. I have a whole post about this coming up.

Pucker Brush Farms Merino
Lesson Number 4: Russian support spindles are amazing. I am still not getting that consistently super thin single I had hoped for but for speed and quantity it can't be beat.

Merino singles from the Russian Support Spindle
 Lesson Number 5: I also learned that plying those spindle spun singles on the wheel is the way to go. I had always used a spindle to do this but never again. I just put the singles onto real bobbins, stuck them on the tensioned Lazy Kate and had them finished in no time. I even figured out how to add to the singles on the bobbin so that I could even out the amount on each.

My 2011 Corriedale Fleece, Merino and Tencel Blend
Lesson Number 6: Blend. Blend. Blend. I happened to be spinning my Loop bump and looking at the tag that was attached to the bag when I noticed that I was spinning something made of lots of different fibers. In fact, I was spinning a Merino and Corriedale blend. I have Corridale (coming out my ears) and I had Merino so why not put them together and make something different than the same old, same old I had been spinning for what seems like forever. I was hoping for an improvement in color but what I got instead was a texture that was so much nicer than plain Corriedale. You can't see it in the photo but it also has a lovely sheen thanks to the tencel. Now I need a fun pattern to show off my artsy creation.

Loop Bullseye Bump, November Night Colorway
 Lesson Number 7: I learned that I won't die if I have something unfinished. I decided not to try and finish this in the mad rush of the Tour because I didn't want to ruin it. Underneath the black is an explosion of raspberry and orange that deserves better. I will take my time and finish this when I have a clearer head and healthier fingers. I also learned that spinning a commercially prepared product is a real ego booster. Every year I have spun my own prepared fleeces and then felt bad when I compared what others were doing to my rustic homespun. I still have a lot to learn and much to aspire to when it comes to spinning and dyeing but I'll compare my Bump singles to anyone else's Bump singles anytime. I probably won't be saying that after I ply it but for now, I'm pretty proud of it. I also learned that the Ladybug bobbins will hold an entire 4.4 ounces of fiber. That is pretty amazing.

Finally, here is the last photo montage I made to post on Raverly of my progress just as the 2012 Tour de France was ending. Getting my Joan of Arc and podium live shots are important to me for some strange reason and this year, after underestimating how long it would take to ply these two skeins, I had to really sweat it out on the beautiful Champs d'Elysee. This morning seems so sad and empty without those glorious views of the French countryside.Vivement l'année prochaine!