Monday, November 11, 2013

Skirting my Baggage (Prequel to Part 2)

I said I would be making a strap for my "skirt purse" and I'm excited to report that I have it started.

I ordered some cotton "Curio" from Knit Picks, the giant online supplier of yarnie goodies. It's a lace-weight Mercerized cotton that was recommended by someone on the Ravelry tablet weaver forum.

I took a look at the website and thought three of the colours were exactly the brown, yellow, and green that I was looking for. It's hard to be sure on a screen, but I got lucky and they are great. Being Mercerized, the cotton has a beautiful sheen to it. I think it has a much nicer look than the "common" crochet cotton I've been using so far.

I've worn the purse a little since making it, even though the strap is a little short. I put a magnetic closure on it, which helps the purse from falling open and I've decided that the purse does need only one strap (not two as I was thinking) and should be worn crosswise over the body. I measured a bag I have and like and loaded up the loom.
I've made a few mistakes. (In fact you can spot a little one in the picture above if you look closely. No, I'm not going to point it out specifically.) The worst was one that I didn't notice for a few repeats of the pattern and it caused the cards to be turned in the wrong position. Long story short, the design still looks like diamonds and chevrons but the colours aren't in the right position. Once I figured out that something was wrong and discovered the cause, I was way too far to back out of it. Just not worth it. (No one is going to be looking at my purse that closely.) The only really sad part is that shortly after the mistake, I looked at my band and something didn't look right. But I didn't pursue it any further. Well, lesson learned.

I feel very much like the beginner knitters I watch. Slow and not really sure what's going on even as my fingers go through the motions! One specific example is that I put down the shuttle before I turn the cards, every time. It's like a knitter who drops the yarn before moving the needle for the next stitch. But that's what I need to do right now. (It really doesn't bother me--these thoughts come because it's a slow hobby and I have lots of time to think!)

I got the pattern from the same website I've used before. Click here to see the specific pattern. I changed the colours and then added an extra V going in each direction. You can't make those modifications online, but it's easy to do by printing two copies of the pattern and cutting and pasting. (I mean literal cutting and pasting with scissors and tape, not CTRL-X and CTRL-V!) I thought the strap was long enough that it could use a longer repeat.
This pattern is easy to keep track of. I'm sure even though you can't read the pattern in the picture above, you can see that it is very symmetric and repetitious. I keep a paperclip at the side of the paper to keep track of which section I'm on, and that's all I've needed.

One thing I did for the first time was add a border on each side. (You can easily see the solid brown border in the first two pictures above.) The neatest border requires you to always turn those cards the same direction no matter what the pattern cards are doing next to them. This causes those strings to twist up, making those warp threads shorter and shorter. To deal with this, I cut separate strands for those border cards (as opposed to a continuous loop). That way you can periodically untwist the strands.

But then you're stuck with how to tension those strands. If they're not wrapped in a loop, you have loose ends. Enter the highly specialized tool of a water bottle:
I tied a loop around the neck and just tie the strands from the right border to the strands from the left border through the loop. The full water bottle is a little too heavy, but obviously not that big of a problem since I haven't bothered to empty any of the water out.

Here's a shot of the twisting threads:
The ones in front (on the right) have been untwisted, but you can see how snarled the ones in back (left) are. Some people do this with the strands of every card so that they can untwist them. So far, I prefer to continuous loop and just make it longer than I need so I have room to "push" the twist into. (And in this pattern, the twisting that happens in one repeat is "untwisted" in the next so, except for the border cards, it's not really an issue.)

(Some take it one step further and attach each set of strands to a fishing swivel and that removes the need to manually untwist the strands. But it doesn't work with my loom so I'd have to use a different set up. I'm still tempted. The swivels are cheap so there's not a lot of cost in trying it. I'll do it some time when I have a pattern that requires it.)

I do have one other problem I may have to face soon. My border warp threads are much shorter than the rest. I thought I cut them all the same, so all I can guess right now is that constantly turning in one direction uses up more length. A second, less likely (I think) possibility is that it's because of the tighter tension from the heavy water bottle. But I would think that would make it use less, not more. I just don't know.
The blue line highlights the border threads hanging
down the back (without the water bottle for the
moment) and the pink highlights what is left of
the rest of the warp threads.
My band is pretty long. About 43 inches stretches down and left from the cards, down to the bottom, all the way across to the other side, left to the tension peg, up again, and down to the far peg, which is where the weaving starts. As I recall, I need 50 inches. And that's a generous measurement. So far I am thinking I'm going to end up tying the border warp threads to a waste string so I can weave right up to their ends. We'll see.

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