Sunday, June 30, 2013

Scarpetta Progress (Don't Finish Too Soon Please)

I've been making good progress on the Scarpetta. It went with me to Squam and back. After the first sleeve, I made it through the first shoulder, then across the front with the neck shaping. Then the front gets put aside and you work across the back including neck shaping.

Once the back is done to the second shoulder, you start working on the front and back all in one piece again. That's where I am now.

Once the shoulder was joined on the left side, it was a good time to try it on and see if there are any problems going on.

And the verdict is...I think it will fit well, but I have the same concern about it being too short.

I think you can see that it just hits my waist band. It may "grow" during blocking, but knitting usually grows in the direction it was knit, and on this shirt that means side to side, not up and down. But it's not bad enough that I'm going to rip it out.
If blocking doesn't fix it, my plan B is to knit a "fake undershirt hem" or ruffle from underneath the hem. I think I'll do it in the brown multi colour. I'll certainly have plenty of yarn for it. I'm still working on the first two balls, and probably will just barely use any from the second two balls I have (one of each colour).

I'm also considering a matching cowl to make for the shirt. I really like the "detachable collars" or coordinating cowls that I've seen with several designs over the last year or two. (Noticed after I did the Truffle Tunic with its detached turtleneck.)

When I was done all the shaping on the back and realized that all I had left to do was 36 rows of the shoulder and the last sleeve, I started to feel regretful that it was almost done. I know this is a little silly, but it's a bit like wishing you weren't getting to the end of a good book.

So I put it aside and started something new. I was at a fabric store the other day and was browsing their magazine rack while waiting. The latest Interweave Knits (Summer 2013) had some designs I was immediately smitten with. They used cotton and just cried out to be made! Although the cover one was the one that really caught my eye, after looking at what cotton I had available in my stash (from raveled sweaters), I ended up casting on for this one:
I'm not usually crazy about "kerchief" hems, but I really like this piece. And I had just the right cotton for it:
It used to be a Croft and Barrow "sweatshirt" style sweater. I think it will be happier as a lace tunic.

I started with one of the square shapes that are used to make the kerchief hem as a gauge swatch. The stitch gauge was good, but the row gauge was a little short. I also learned that I should not have slipped the first stitch of each row like I normally do. I ripped back the square and started again. I purled the first stitch on each row so the edge stitch is in stocking stitch. I find it a lot easier to seam than garter stitch edges. (Always thinking ahead!)

I added a couple extra repeats to the pattern and got a 15" square, or it will be after a block the crap out of it!
I started the back next. I've done a couple repeats of the lace pattern. I figure when I'm done the back, I'll be half way and I can weigh my yarn and pieces and see whether I'll have enough to finish...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Troy Proves Himself Useful and My First Weaving Project (or is it a Swatch?)

One week after I had my first weaving class, Troy made me a loom of my very own. We combined pictures from the internet and my memory to come up with a plan. I wrote on some measurements for Troy and we revised a bit for what supplies Troy had on hand. And this is the result:
Super duper, right?! (Isn't Troy awesome!) I put on the weaving I didn't finish in class and was able to continue. The pegs aren't glued in yet and I don't have a proper wing nut to loosen and tighten the adjustable peg and it needs some sanding, but really it works! And fits comfortably on my lap. Troy kept wanting to go bigger, but I wanted to make sure it fit nicely and wasn't so long that I had to reach too far.

Once I had it set up, I did some "free style" weaving to make sure I hadn't forgotten everything I knew:
Here's the total that I did:
I am still completely obsessed once I get started and there have been some late nights! (Can't stop now...just a little more...)

A couple days later, I decided to try a pattern from the book I bought (A Tablet Weaver's Pattern Book). This would be in the other style of card weaving where all the work is done in the set up and the cards always turn together. Although that sounds like a "no-brainer" you have to keep track of whether you're supposed to turn forward or backward. (There may have been a few "re-dos" on my part. Not quite as easy as tinking, but you can do it!)

Quarter for scale
What I had in mind was to do a narrow band for a bracelet of some kind. I chose a 16-card pattern (#12.1 if you're really curious) and picked out some embroidery floss colours. It was written for three colours, but I used four. I was aiming for 7" long. I went to cut the embroidery floss and thought to check I had enough of all the colours first. Well, I ended up using all of the dark gold, and so that determined how long each piece could be (20"). Not really long enough, but I worked with it. And after one night of set up and one night of turning, I had a little band.

It ended up being 6.5" long, plus two 2-inch fringes, and 11-13 mm wide. 2 mm isn't very much and I wouldn't think it would be very noticeable, but I can see that it's wider in some places than other. But overall I'm happy with how even it is and how it came out.
So it turned out a little shorter than I planned and I'm not sure what I'll do with it (if anything) now. I'll have a look through my fasteners and maybe I'll still be able to wear it around my wrist. The woven part is long enough, but I probably will need further length to attach the fastener. So maybe it'll make a nice bookmark. (Anyone use those?)
Front
Meanwhile it's pretty!

The dark blue may have been a different brand because it was much thinner that the other colours. I actually used all six strands of it, while using only three strands of the other colours. This made the blue a touch thicker than the others, but I went with it. I did finish the band with a good soaking and then some aggressive ironing to set the strands.
Back
I have to give a shout out to my sister who passed on all her embroidery floss when she was ready to give it up. I have two boxes of embroidery floss, most of it nicely organized on those little cards. It's fantastic!

Now I'm thinking of the next project with some red cotton I remember getting at a re-sale. I have to find it first...

PS: Oh wow, I wrote this whole post forgetting that I actually finished a project before this. The day I got back from Squam and was telling Troy all about the weaving I was going to do, he pulled on his shoelace, and--POP--it broke! So my first project was a basic weave on three cards with a brown cotton I bought somewhere sometime. It was variegated and a little bit "think and thin" so that added some unneeded "interest" to the project. (It was for his grubby shoes, so we didn't really care about how they looked.) I strung up the loom as long as I could (and then longer--I double looped some paths between some pegs) and got 90" total length. I was aiming for a 60" finished lace. I got it done in a couple days (again--obsessed) and then we realized it didn't easily fit through the lace holes! But with a little thinking, and then some tape I got it laced up and it is working nicely. (It is raveling at the ends though.)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Agate Socks: Captured in the Wild

I finished my Agate socks in plenty of time to wear them to Squam. And that was about the first time I had a good chance to photograph them.

I have belaboured the details in previous posts but will sum them up again here.

The socks were knit from Schoppel-Wolle's Fliegende Untertasse, which is a sturdy German wool/nylon blend. Two strands of the yarn are wrapped around a spool before being dyed. This will yield two identical socks. Some people are bothered by "fraternal twin" socks. I am not, but this was fun to try.

After a long false start (I got past the heel on both socks, since I was doing them two-at-a-time), I redid the socks and ended up with a pair that fit very, very well. :D That makes me happy.

*"unvent" as in invent or discover something on your own that has been done by countless other people already.The socks are very plain, as far as the knitting goes. The colours are happy, though, and they were fun to knit. (And the point was to try to get the pooling shown on the label.) I did get to unvent* a new short-row toe that is more rounded and avoids the sharp 45^ angles of my previous toes.

I did a heel flap heel with a small short-row area to round out the bottom shape.
The socks have several distinct pattern areas obeying the whim of the yarns's dye. Twirling candy cane stripes, narrow stripes, lightning pooling, and whatever you want to call the "agate" pooling.
Of course I can't finish without mentioning again that the dye didn't reach the center of the spool, and the cuffs are obviously lighter. They look like the colour has faded out. But really, that part is generally covered by pants and it's not really a big deal. Really. (One more time--really--and now you'll believe me.)
The wool was purchased on a family trip to the Lake Superior shores in the U.P. (Michigan) last summer--my sister insisted because the pooling looked like agates, which she is always looking for on the beaches there. Wearing these will be a lovely souvenir of the trip!

Project Stats
Started
: 10 Sep '12
Finished: 1 May '13
Pattern: Plain stocking stitch sock from my own brain
Materials: Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse (colour Sonnenfleck 2116), 1 skein ($23)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Post Card from Squam: Day 4

Saturday, June 8

Hello! How are you? This was an exciting day. The weather cleared up and warmed up. They're saying it will get back up to about 70 today. That will be a welcome change.

After waking up early each morning, this morning was a lot harder. It was cold enough both my roommate and I didn't sleep very well. The blankets were put on the bed for short people and we both found ourselves burrowing deeper and lower into the bed! Tonight I'll have to untuck the bottom so I can pull things up higher. I did manage to have a shower in the morning since most in the cabin are evening shower-ers, so that helped improve my disposition. The shower room is on the backside of the fireplace chimney so it is warm--very clever design.

After breakfast and some tea, I went off again to the weaving class. I know I didn't walk the most direct route, but I found my way there. We started by practising more letters (I started working on the digits of pi), but then John told us about a different way of working with the same set up and we worked on some geometric shapes:
This involved paying attention to the twist you put into the yarn and using it to your advantage. Like in the piece above, the weaving lines angle with the diamond shape so you get nice smooth edges instead of blocky or jagged ones. You may also notice that the background weaving looks a little different too. I just got those two shapes done and then John started talking about finishing the pieces. You block them (sort of like knitting) and hit them with some tension and an iron while wet.

And apparently the stuff doesn't ravel. I can't get my head around it. (I mean I believe John, so I know he's right, but my gut says "That's just crazy pants.") I must have asked him three different ways in class the same basic question, but he assured me there is nothing special you need to do to the ends. He brought out a sample of something that was pretty much worn to death, but it wasn't raveling. And he mentioned he has a pair of shoe laces that have outlived two pair of shoes but are barely 1/8th inch more raveled than when they were first made. Like I said, Crazy Pants. They used to use things woven like this for horse reins and cinches, and it's why they find very old samples of it--it just lasts forever.

Then it was time for lunch and then a little time to kill before the Ravelry Revelry (a party, in case that's not clear). This year they were offering something called "A Taste of Squam" so we were expecting a lot more people for the afternoon and evening. I got dressed for the party by adding my lace coat to my morning outfit:
More people had been asking me about it at lunch so I knew they were looking out for it!

The Ravelry Revelry was your basic party with beer (served by Casey, my weaving buddy), people, goodie bags, and games. We were given another tote filled with goodies from sponsors.
Goodies like a pre-release copy of The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes, discount coupons from stores, and I got my first Ravelry name button. I had seen them online and think they are very clever. It's your standard, "Hello, my name is..." but you write in your Ravelry name instead of your given name because that's the name people know you by. I think it's very clever and useful. You can buy them from their online store, but they give them out at all their events too.

We signed up for the race to knit a square for Warm Up America and then waited around for our heat to start while talking to people and enjoying the sunshine that had come out again. I was fielding a lot of compliments for my coat and it was fun. What a great way to get to talk to a lot of people (who themselves were usually wearing great knitted things)! It was interesting to hear whether they themselves had seen the coat on Ravelry and were expecting it, whether friends or cabin mates had told them to watch for it, or if it was just something they saw unexpectedly at the party.

While we were waiting, we caught the final round of the knitting "relay," the 25-yd dash. (It was originally billed as the 100-yd dash but I am assuming they found out that took too long.) The goal? To knit 25 yards of yarn quicker than anyone else. My car mate (below right) won her first heat and made it to the finals. (We saw her first heat and commented that she was talking away to the people beside her and that it didn't seem like a smart idea. But we quickly saw that she had no trouble knitting and talking, but whenever someone responded to her, they stopped knitting--very tricky!!)

We came in in time to catch the final minutes of the final round, and I caught the finish in a sort of stop-time movie... (watch the two women who are circled):
Things are getting tense.
Ooooo...it's really exciting!
A winner...knitter on the right can't believe it!
"Oh, I've been beat!"
Crushing disappointment.
(Or that's what it looks like. She was a good sport, of course.)
The winner won a shawl. A real, ready-to-wear shawl--not a kit she had to knit! Then it was time to report for our own knitted race, only to find out that they had run out of yarn to use! I couldn't resist asking what the fastest time was so far, and she told me that no one had finished yet! Since the heats were running every hour, that means it was taking them more than an hour. I think I'm glad we didn't get involved with that one. (I mean knitting's all good, but I wasn't in the mood to invest that much party time to it. :) ) The important thing is that we did get the raffle tickets we were going to earn by knitting a square. (The one lady wasn't going to give them to us, but the other lady offered and we did not say no!)

And wouldn't you know it, when it came time for the raffle, my roommate won one of the major prizes:
She looks pretty stoked, doesn't she! Two totes, lots of yarn and patterns, and a complete set of interchangeable cable needles. Nice!! That about wrapped up the party so we headed back to the cabin and  dropped off her loot before heading for dinner. Then a little more down time in the cabin and we headed to the evening art fair. Lots more loot to be had (only now you had to pay for it).

Everyone in the cabin walked as a group and took a shortcut through the woods. It was on the map but no one had been able to find it. One cabin mate found a way through the day before and we just followed her. The first part really wasn't a path, but once we crossed the stream the path was more well-trod. I might have said that I would hold her responsible for anything that happened to my lace coat, but fortunately we made it through just fine. (Of course.)

When we got to the building where they were holding the fair, the doors weren't open yet and the line up was long. Hearing rumours of beer and cake in another nearby cabin, we slipped up there to let the line proceed without us. That's also where the main sponsors happened to be so we still got to peruse knitted sundries. And I got to meet Jess (Casey's other half), a genius for coming up with the idea of Ravelry. (She also liked my coat!) But soon it was time to make our own way along the lantern-lit path to the fair.
Candles in blocks of lake ice light the way.
There were many pretty things, but it was hot and crowded and then even more crowded! I have never been so happy to have a cold beer (and I am not a beer drinker). I did manage to worm my way to one table that I was determined to visit: AWC Designs. I had seen the company on the website and I was pretty determined to get me a leather belt with one of her lovely buckles.
Ok, so I may have gotten a leather belt and two lovely buckles. But hey! I can weave now and will be cranking out my own belts, I'm sure. I will need buckles for them!! And they're so pretty.

Once that purchase was accomplished, it was time to take a break outside, finish my beer, and catch up with friends who were doing their own "one necessary purchase" before getting outside.
From the space and comfort of outside, it actually
looks cosy inside. But I needed a few more minutes
before I could go back in!
But I soon felt the need to dive back into the building even though the crowds hadn't thinned much. I made my way to John's table because I knew I wanted to pick up some weaving supplies.
I bought a couple extra packs of cards (which double as his business card--clever Trevor that he is); an extra shuttle in case I work on multiple projects or ever want to do a button hole in a band (yes I can do that!); and a pattern book. It contains patterns for the other style of tablet weaving (from the first class I didn't take), but I think I can figure it out. Or learn it online. It was the last copy of the book and if I had put it on the table for a second, there was someone ready to buy it! John also sold out of the wooden tensioners, but I am happy I didn't have to fly it home. I'll either order one or work something out with Troy. :)

When I went to pay, however, I realized I left my main cash stash at the cabin and couldn't pay for it!! John agreed to hold the stuff while I went and got it and not to sell the book to the other buyer who was still hoping! I made my way to the cabin the long way (no shortcut through the woods), picked up my money and then headed back. By then it was feeling late and apparently I was feeling adventurous, so I took the shortcut through the woods, all by myself with no leader. I know I didn't follow whatever path there was for the first half, but when I hit the water, I knew to take a left and follow it to where I could cross the stream, and then I was home free. I just draped the skirt of my lace coat over my arm and made sure I didn't fall! Fortunately the woods were kept very "clean" and there was no underbrush to speak of.

By the time I got back, the building was practically empty--or that's what it felt like in comparison. After I paid for my weaving purchases, I found a table of vintage, used, and surplus items. Right up my alley! I fell in love with this piece of fabric:
It's 60" wide and about 2 yards. The seller bought it at some point for something, but hasn't used it and just wants to get rid of it. $5. I love $5! It's definitely not hand knit and I've never seen fabric like this available on a bolt. (I've later learned it's called "sweater knits," as opposed to jersey knits, or other types.) With a 12" border of something, it will make a nice summer blanket. It certainly is cheery. I think it's acrylic (horror!) but it feels really nice, so I went with it.

At the same table I found these adorable sheep Christmas cards:
$2. I love a bargain!

And then I was done purchasing. I did look through all of the dresses at Folk Couture (or Flickr account here for more pictures of outfits). I didn't find anything I had to have, but it was so much fun to look at her crazy inventive pairings of previously loved shirts and skirts into dresses. They also looked like such easy dresses to wear. Great for summer. I see on her website that she also does Recycle Your Closet Workshop Parties. Wouldn't that be a fun night? Taking clothes you love and can't get rid of and reinventing them. Or trading pieces with friends as you all make a crazy new dress. Sounds great to me...let me know if you're up for it!

A little glance at many more vendors with beautiful wares and I was done for the night. I walked back to the cabin alone (the long way as it was truly dark by then) and met up with my friends at the cabin. We talked and laughed as we packed up to leave tomorrow. :(

It was a jammed-packed couple of days, but never rushed or harried. Filled with doing things that you wanted to do for the sake of doing them. (The freedom from cooking didn't hurt either!) I met some great people and hope to keep up with them.

Tomorrow it's home, where I hope to carve out a little Squam time on my own. Create because you are enjoying what you're doing. No fear, no judgment, no self-doubt. Try it!

Here's one last look at Squam Lake I got before getting into the car and travelling to the airport at 6:00 am Sunday morning...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Post Card from Squam: Day 3

Friday, June 7

Hello! How are you doing? I'm feeling good, but it was good timing to have a break from highly structured activities this morning. So classes went all day yesterday, but today there are only classes in the afternoon. (They'll be continued tomorrow morning.) So although we still had to get to breakfast on time, we didn't have to be worried about being ready with supplies, etc.

Everyone's been talking about the weather. Although Wednesday and Thursday were pretty nice, it was obvious something was moving in. It rained Thursday night and threatened to continue to rain all Friday (which it pretty much did). So much for renting a canoe for the morning! It also got a lot colder over the day. So I started like this:
Day 3's outfit includes the Zig Zag skirt and
Spring Sprout socks.
(My shirt says "I'll Grow on You.")
but added more layers throughout the day and ended it like this:
Added for warmth, the Mariah hoodie and
Bias Asymmetric Scarf.
That's a lot of knit wear to be wearing all at once!! The skirt was well received and I tried to convince them all that it was less work than a sweater. They weren't buying it. I also got a lot more people today asking about the lace coat. Now they are reporting that they were looking it up on Ravelry or that others in their cabin are showing it to them. What a lot of fun!!

The teacher, Christine Mauersberger, demonstrating
how to fold a Blizzard Book.
There were two optional sessions Friday morning, one on crochet and one on intarsia design. But the crochet teacher got stopped at the border (coming from Canada) and Elizabeth managed to find someone to pull together a class at the last minute. The class was on paper folding a "blizzard book." Now there's something I can get into!

Here's the story behind the book:
The Blizzard Book is made of one sheet of paper which is folded in such a way that it creates multiple pages, each of which have a pocket. According to Hedi Kyle, back in the mid-nineties snow began falling in Philadelphia one January morning. Soon, everyone on the east coast was staying home as the predictions for a major storm came true. This, the Blizzard of 1996, became a perfect day for Hedi to work in her studio. As the hours passed snow accumulated outside of her studio while folds accumulated inside. Towards the end of the day it occurred to her to manipulate some folds a certain way. This resulted in the creation of a structure which more or less bound itself. Months later when Hedi heard talk of "Blizzard Babies" conceived during the storm, she began to think of her own creation on this day as the Blizzard Book.
Doesn't that sound like a great project!? The one that we made was sized to fit business or credit cards.
Project in process
The teacher demonstrated the whole process (there were about seven steps) and then we started in on it.
There were no tables set up (they didn't need them for
the crochet class that was planned) so we pulled out
some benches to use.
Between the four of us sitting at the same bench, we made it right through and finished at least two books each. We also got a hand out for how to size the starting piece of paper to fit any final dimensions.
Those are my own business cards inserted. I happened
to have some on me so I could try the book out right away.
It's a really neat project. (If you google "Blizzard book" you can find instructions and videos if you're interested in making your own.) My mind immediately went to making one out of two sided paper and making some out of fabric and, and, and... But don't do it outside on a rainy day. The paper was so damp it wouldn't even fold properly! It kind of just bent. But we managed, and it was a lot of fun. The class was only an hour long, so we had a nice break before lunch. A little time to knit and relax with a fire going before jumping into the afternoon class:
I took the picture above all sneaky like, or at least no one noticed it even though I was making no secret of it. A couple minutes after I took it, someone said, "Hey, let's take a picture of us knitting!" I laughed and said, "Done!" But I offered them a second chance to look at the camera and give us a smile:
We're missing two people who were staying in the cabin; they were probably at the talk about intarsia design. I'm not sure we ever had a time we were all there and could take a picture.

After lunch, I had to find my way to the opposite end of camp. It was through the woods and along the lake and up the hill, but then I found the "classroom":
Isn't this a great setting to learn the ancient art of tablet weaving?

There were only six of us in the class (compared to 10 in the previous class) and I thought it was a good size. John [Mullarkey, the teacher] started with some lecture about what we were going to do and alternated lecture and hands-on portions throughout the class. It was really good, although I have to admit by the end of the first lecture, I was really ready to get my hands moving!

We started by threading the tensioner. We worked in pairs so that while one beginning weaver managed the cards and wrapping the threads, their partner could manage all the threads coming off of four cones simultaneously. My partner? Casey, rock-star coder of Ravelry. I, of course, had to mention the only other Casey I knew (the puppet from Mr. Dressup), but of course he had heard of him before. Then it was enough talk and time to get busy.
See how one strand is looped around an extra peg?
That's not how it's supposed to be... :/
I guess I did too much talking while working, because I ended up doing John a favour by making not one mistake but two so that he could demonstrate how to fix them! Oops. I made the one pictured above and I also made an extra loop without a card. Both of them are fixed with scissors and an extra knot. (I was "fortunate" to go around an extra loop so I had extra length to use. If I had missed a peg, that would have been a lot harder fix.)

But we got that all sorted out and "finally" got to some weaving. By the end of class, I had some practice stripes and the start of the alphabet.
John graciously let us take the looms back to our cabins for the night when the class broke up for dinner. Although he said it shouldn't be done when other stuff is going on (he turns off the TV, music, and anything else while he does this method), I boldly attempted it while we were all hanging out in the living room that night.
I managed to get to the letter U before I ran out of room. I also learned to "unweave" as I messed up the letter R the first time around. But I managed to fix it (yay!) and kept going. The strap is 34" long and I put it out at breakfast the next morning where it garnered some attention. (Later, John thanked me for doing that and I know he sold all his looms at the Fair so I may have had something to do with that!! Or John could just be really nice (which he is).)

Once I took off the first sample, I restrung the cards so I would ready for class the next day:
This time I did it right. ;)
A little bog with the lake in the background. This scene
caught my eye every time I walked by as I went to and from
the dining room.
A couple people in the cabin went to the evening's talk. It was a fiber artist who embroidered and stitched on fabric, but I just couldn't leave the warm cosy cabin! We had a fun night talking and knitting. And it was a late one!
Part of the Squam garden. Pompom alliums and a
little mouse popping up to say Hi!

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