Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ravellenic Games 2014 Report: Day 13

Last time I summarized my Ravellenic projects progress, there was only one left to do: the woven band. I was eager to weave.

I was not so eager to figure out the font. I was surprised to find nothing online. (I did find some embroidery fonts I tried to convert, but it wasn't very successful.) I thought I found a book of woven fonts to order which would solve it for me, but the book only included capital letters in the font I liked. So I realized I would have to draft my own. :sigh: :work:

Neither was I eager to wrap the warp threads on the loom. I only had one ball of one colour so I knew I would have to either cut and wrap the threads for each card separately (yuck) or figure out how much I needed and pull that much off the one ball to make a second ball. Plus I had to consider how to deal with the twisting threads. When you do fonts, it seems to always work out that some warp threads twist in one direction more than another and a lot of twist builds up. You can use fishing swivels to solve this (none of which I own yet) or you can just warp extra length and just "push" the twist out of the way. :sigh: :decisions: :work: (These are the types of decisions that can put me into complete project paralysis.)

I bought some time by asking Troy to complete the loom he made for me by gluing the pegs. When I used the loom in the summer, the pegs stayed in place. Now that it's winter and much drier, the pegs were loose enough in the holes that they weren't sitting perpendicular to the frame (which will cause uneven tension on the band) and slipping out of the holes completely (hopefully why that is a problem is obvious enough I don't have to explain it). While he cheerfully took care of it, I was off the hook for a couple days.

I used the time to graph out the letters in Excel. My first version was very blocky, working off the alphabet provided by my teacher (John Mullarkey) at Squam. His were all capitals, however, so I made up lower case letters. Then I edited them so that they were more rounded and I was happier with the result.

Wednesday evening I decided it was time to bite the bullet, make the decisions for better or worse, and get started. I made some guesstimates about length so I could figure out what path to warp my loom and pull off enough string from the one ball to do a continuous warp. The second colour was some cotton I had purchased in a big bag at the last Red Purl "Green Sale." I had two balls of it so I was set there. One had less on it than the other, but it had enough to finish this project without cutting it so close I had to worry about it.

When it came to the actual weaving, it was very uneventful and I was surprised to have it half done the first evening and finished in the second! I can't decide if weaving is more agonizing than a knitting project for me because there actually are more decisions to be made, or if I'm just used to making the knitting decisions and so they're easier. (Hopefully the latter so I can have the hope that weaving will become easier too.)
It's double faced weaving so you can see the letters on the "right side" (light letters on a burgundy background) and you can see reversed letters on the "wrong side" below.

Here is just some of the twist that builds up on the warp threads.
It was worst on the center cards where every letter has a brush stroke (so to speak).

When it was done, I had a band about 1-1/8" wide and 28" long.
I was particularly happy with my curvy "s"
and fancy "a."
In both cases I smoothed out the curves by borrowing cards from the block above and below. Next time I'll do that on more of the letters with curves. (But one lesson at a time...reminding myself that I'm just starting out.)

And what does it actually say?
These were the admonitions heard from my Oma (grandmother) the most often. They were used as a good-bye and almost any other time she was searching for what to say or how to end a conversation. They summarize her basic philosophy of how one ought to live and it was her hope for all of her grandchildren. And I still hear them often in my mind in her strong Dutch accent.

I am planning to use this band in a "Dream Catcher" like these ones I saw on the Squam website. I think they are beautiful and when I looked closer, I realized they used a doily for the center. The dream catchers I've seen before are woven and look like spider webs (to me). But when I saw doilies I got excited. I have a few that my Oma made and I was never sure what to do with them. I wanted to keep them, but I don't really decorate with them, putting them out on side tables or the backs of recliners. But I thought this was a project I could work with. So this woven ribbon is the first piece I've put together to hang off the bottom. I thought capturing Oma's perennial advice would be fitting.

She was a brave woman. Not courageous, because I think she was afraid or nervous all the time. But she braved her way through what needed to be done. For example, she had a terrible sense of direction and once got off a Greyhound bus in the town she had been living in for decades and got turned around and couldn't find her way to the person meeting her. (Fortunately it was a small town and they found her before too long.) But this is the same woman who emigrated from her war-torn country after WWII to Canada (a land where she didn't even know the language) with her husband, five young boys and my mother (aged 9 to 0). It's crazy if you think about it.

She was never mean, but she could be "direct." Comments that might confront you, but never belittle. But she once told my sister that she really didn't like saying things to confront people and was shy to say them, but they would be important things on her mind and she knew if she didn't say them, she would regret it and feel like she had not fulfilled her duty of helping to raise us kids. So she swallowed her fear and said them. Conviction.

These are some of the reasons I chose her words to weave into a band.

Once the band itself was done, I cut it off of the loom and had all these lovely twisted ends.
I kind of wanted to keep them, but I had to straighten them all out in order to get the cards off. But it planted an idea and so I braided or twisted the strands once the cards were removed. Here are a few examples:
From left, three-strand braid, two-ply twist of
four strands each, two-ply of two strands each,
and four-strand braid.
Then I started to think of beads and looked through my bead box. I found these wooden ones I had picked up who knows where:
The colours, weight, and size were perfect. I have loved them, but never knew what to do with them. I added them to some of the strands:
Then I found a few other beads:
I had a lot of fun working on these ends. At Squam, John Mullarkey summarized weaving as "string management" as a funny punchline, but it has stuck in my brain. I do really like string management. Whether it's knitting, weaving, braiding, or undoing knots! I spent a happy time working on simple braids and twisted strands. If they didn't come out the way I liked, I just undid them and tried another option. I should consider this on some evenings when I'm not up to a capital P, Project. Some people doodle; I could braid. It's not like I don't have the string for it! :)

In the end, it came out a bit of a jumbled mess, but I like it.
The longer strings on the sides are from the selvedge warp threads. I cut them quite a bit longer and weighted them instead of including them with the continuous warp. The selvedge cards are twisted the same way all the time to give a neater edge, but it means a lot of twist builds up. Warping them separately means I can get rid of the twist. And on my last band, the selvedge warp threads were "used up" a lot quicker than the rest of the warp so I thought I would need to make them longer to start. Apparently not in this case! Anyway, I decided to leave those strands long and have just knotted the beads in place. When the whole project is done and I have more bands/ribbons/whatever hanging from the dream catcher, I can always decide to cut them.

And to the left you see the entire band. The fringe is 27" so that gives a total length of 55".

That means medals in Alpine Abode Enhancement (since it will hang on a wall), Labyrinth Weaving, Nordic Colourwork Combined, and Stash Skeleton.

Games Update, Thursday, Feb 20:
1. Rainbow Cowl DONE!
2. Rainbow Hat DONE!
3. & 4. Ravel Sweater 1 and Sweater 2 DONE! DONE!
5. Dye Green Yarn DONE!
6. Spinning DONE!
7. Woven Band DONE!
8. Baby Bib DONE!

And that is the end of my Ravellenics projects. Maybe not as ambitious as my Whistler sweater in 2010, but I really can't believe I got all of them done. In part because knitting is easy (for me) so the only challenge in the Whistler project was the sheer volume of knitting it represented.

This year there were different projects and the weaving and dyeing especially present "mental paralysis" problems for me. But I pushed and got them done. And they were, by and large, successful. And I had fun. I hope you enjoyed reading along.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ravellenic Games 2014 Report: Day 7

So I was home Friday because I wasn't feeling great. I felt bad for the new guy who was at the office alone and then especially bad when he called and said that there was water in the basement, but I was also glad I didn't go in because I sure wasn't up to dealing with all of that.

All this is to say that I got more progress done on some Ravellenic projects, even though it wasn't nearly as productive (or enjoyable) a day as Wednesday was.

But between watching mens figure skating live, mens curling (Canada over Norway with an exciting 4-ender), and napping, I finished this bib:
A true quick project as I just started it the day before, and had to ravel the first try when it was half done. (Too small.)

The reverse side. Not quite as nice, but not so bad.
I had the idea to make a chevron bib, since zig zags are still a going craze and I thought the shape lent itself rather nicely to the function.

It's a really simple project and when I have a few minutes, I will jot down a "pattern recipe" so you can use my notes to make your own, if you would like. (In the meantime, notes on the Rav page would give you a pretty good start.)

So that's medals in Free Dance, Junior Ravellenics, Nordic Colorwork Combined and Stash Skeleton. More importantly, it's one bib done for that baby shower!
But wait! There's more...

While I'm talking about bibs, I'll show you the other one I finished on Thursday:
I believe I could have technically entered it in the Ravellenic Games as a WIP, but I didn't bother.

The center section is double knit so you can see the reverse colours here:
I had thought the all-blue side would be the "right" side but now I kind of like the white side better. Of course that is the point of double knitting it--both sides look good even with a colourwork motif.
The elephant is from the Elephant Sock pattern that I used recently. A nice little elephant.

Games Update, Friday, Feb 14:
1. Rainbow Cowl DONE!
2. Rainbow Hat DONE!
3. & 4. Ravel Sweater 1 and Sweater 2 DONE! DONE!
5. Dye Green Yarn DONE!
6. Spinning DONE!
7. Woven Band
8. Baby Bib DONE!

Not a lot of choices of what to do next, is there! We'll see if I can push through one more event.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ravellenic Games 2014 Report: Day 5

Wednesday I was home from work and determined to 1. get some quick Ravellenic Games projects done and 2. watch a lot of Olympic coverage.

Well check and check.

First I tackled this sweater:
It's cotton and a really great bright kelly green colour (in case that's not apparent). I think it will be great for some kids items. Long story short:
That's 334 grams/1,530 meters of potential right there.
While I was doing that (and watching Canadian/US womens hockey), I got the next project going. I took this ball of wool/angora mix (the same stuff I used for my Elephant Socks):
and put it on my niddy noddy so that I would have a nice big hank to work with.
I tied it in lots of places (like six) and made sure to not do them too tight this time so that the dye would be able to get to the yarn there. Then a good soak to get the fibers ready for dyeing.
While it was soaking (20 minutes will do it), I mixed the Koolaid colour. I was going for a shamrock green. Looking at the webpage on (coolest website ever for cataloging all those Koolaid combinations!) I decided I needed a lot of Lemon Lime and a little of blue or orange. I ended up not being able to get the right blue at my local store, so I went with orange.

Here are two jars with three packs of Lemon Lime each:
The one on the left also has one pack of orange. What a difference! And just in case you think it is a trick of the light (which I thought it might be), here they are in reverse positions:
I added the second pack of orange to the left jar before adding it to the yarn. I shake the Koolaid in these jars first so the powder is dissolved and the colour won't clump when it hits the yarn. I wanted a consistent and even colour.

Once the yarn had soaked long enough, it was time to add the colour:
I stirred it around so that it was well distributed, and then brought the pot onto the heat,
In this case, the oil heat stove we run in the kitchen. I added the thermometer because I was curious how hot it was going to get and to be able to tell if it was getting close to boiling territory. After partially felting one of the last batches, I did not want to do that again. (And angora will felt if you look at it wrong, so I wanted to play it careful.)
While it was heating, I did occasionally stir it to make sure that no unevenness developed. (I also switched to a stainless steel spoon to stir because no matter how smooth a wooden spoon feels, it will catch your yarn!) You can see that the above pictures is in the early stages because the yarn still looks pretty white and the water is very green. But by the end the wool is all green and the water is clear:
That's how you know you are done! (Although I did let it simmer about 10 more minutes to "make sure" that the colour was set. Was this necessary? I don't know. Did it hurt? No.) Then I took it off the heat and let it cool on its own. Then dump it out, squeeze out the water, roll it in a towel and squeeze some more and then hang to dry. (I did get to do that "thwacking" thing against the side of the tub again to straighten out the yarn. Very fun.)

When it's dry, you have this:
53 grams of green wool for a future project. (Sorry, no hints!)
Oh let's have one more picture, just because I am enjoying this yarn:
I think I can see a hint of the orange coming through when I look at it. But I don't think it needs an overdye.

While that was finishing up I switched to the Canada/Russia mens curling game and set to work on this:
Once again, long story short:
That's 450 grams/1,470 meters of delightful mustard yellow cotton. ("Tumeric" Troy yells from the other room.) Also good for kids stuff, I think.
Can I tell you how much I love having a "half weekend" in the middle of the week? A lot!!

Games Update, Wednesday, Feb 12:
1. Rainbow Cowl DONE!
2. Rainbow Hat DONE!
3. & 4. Ravel Sweater 1 and Sweater 2 DONE!
5. Dye Green Yarn DONE!
6. Spinning DONE!
7. Woven Band
8. Baby Bib (shower now postponed until Mar 2 from Feb 15, so not quite as urgent)

My list is getting short! Looks like I'll be setting up my woven band on Saturday. Meanwhile, I'm going to get back to watching the women's downhill.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ravellenic Games 2014 Report: Day 4

Still no medals showing up on Ravelry, so I will share progress without showing off the bling.

I started the rainbow hat to match my cowl on Sunday. I cast on an extra repeat to make it wider than the cowl; that made it 96 stitches instead of 84.

I ran out of the purple before I expected so I only did one "cross over" row with it. But since I used it for the band, the colour stripes all evened out. From there I progressed through the same colours as the cowl, doing three repeats of the stitch pattern instead of two. I really didn't want a short hat.
When I got to the red, I realized I was in danger of making the hat too long, so I only did one cross-over row and started into some garter ridges:
I started the decreases on the last orange row and hurried them along, decreasing eight stitches on every row through the red (instead of the usual every second row). Before blocking it didn't look pretty as the fabric was gathered in rather quickly, but in this case it did actually "block out."
Probably how I will wear the hat--pulled
down way low. Because I'm always looking
for a little bit warmer!
That will garner me medals in the Hat Half-Pipe, Cable Cross-Country, Nordic Colourwork Combined, and Stash Skeleton.
I really enjoy the names Malabrigo gives its yarns, and if you use them this rainbow is not ROY G BIV, but
     Ravelry Red
     Glazed Carrot
     Blue Surf
     Holly Hock

Sounds yummy to me!

Games Update Tuesday, Feb 11:
1. Rainbow Cowl DONE!
2. Rainbow Hat DONE!
3. & 4. Ravel Sweater 1 and Sweater 2
5. Dye Green Yarn (purchased Koolaid packs needed)
6. Spinning DONE!
7. Woven Band
8. Baby Bib (shower now postponed until Mar 3 from Feb 15, so not quite as urgent)

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...