Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's all the ducky's fault (I think)

Tuesday (of last week): While shopping for buttons for my handwoven vest, I caved to my almost 4-year-old's desire for "ducky" buttons. There were three of them on the button card. They were cute. They were yellow with orange beaks. And, they had entertained her for the 20+ minutes while I debate over my buttons. How could I not say "yes"?

Tuesday night, trying desperately to make use of this frivolous purchase (they were purchased with the caveat that they would be used on her birthday cake, but really...what does one do with ducky buttons?), I decided to make a handwoven jacket.

It would be perfect! A use for the buttons, a use for some stash yarns, and to top it all off, the girl needs a new jacket! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday: Calculations-check. Warp measured-check. Ten inch sample woven-check. Things are going great-opps! I started to get distracted. I tossed the sample into the wash without measuring it first. I didn't like the look of the stripes, so I swapped them out for a different yarn. The new yarn was too bumpy to go through the reed. Removed new yarn. Resleyed the reed to try a tighter sett. Noticed a threading error in the newly resleyed warp. Forget it! At this point it's just a sampler. I can deal with a threading error.

The sampler is ugly. It feels like cardboard (even wet finished). The color combos don't do anything pretty. It visited my weaving guilds on both Friday and Saturday because it was so awful!

Saturday night: Inspiration (or desperation--the child's birthday is Wed!) hits! I'll weave this thing as a twill shadow weave piece. If I'm careful with my packing, I can avoid the cardboard effects of the sampler. Worst case scenario, it will end up like my sampler! Also, it's not going to be a real coat. It's going to be a play cloak. Now I don't have to worry about it playing in the sand box or in the mud. Whew!

300 ends, half pale yellow, half shiny white, measured and threaded on the loom. I wouldn't have made it without my husband who read the threading to me. It was slow going, but we only were 1/2 an hour late to bed.

Sunday: my day of rest. Really. I looked at the loom. I woke up knowing how to fix a problem from the night before, but I waited.

Monday: Let the weaving begin. I fixed the threading problem--the right hand threads were running into unused heddles. I shifted the reed to the left about 1". Problem solved! The warp got tied onto the front apron, and I wove like the wind! I probably got a solid two hours of weaving done before lunch. (Many thanks to the electronic babysitter!) After lunch, I got to weave in 30 min. bursts. Even so, the piece was off the loom and wet finished by 2pm.

The cloak was cut out and ready to sew before I went to bed that night (and I wasn't even late for bedtime! :)

Tuesday: I sewed the hood first. It turned out to be too small. I cut a new hood (in a different style than the original) and continued on. The cloak was all together and on the hanger by 2pm. I let it rest and stretch overnight.

Wednesday (the birthday-day): Took down a load of laundry. Snuck off to iron the hem. The birthday girl requested a movie. Brought the cloak with me and handsewed the hem and attached the "ducky" buttons as closure at the neck. Tried making a crocheted loop for the buttons. Didn't like it. Got out the kumihimo stand I had made. Took it with me to play group. Made my braid and the button loop while the kids played. Came home. Sewed the loop on to the cloak. Gently, but quickly, folded the cloak and put it in a gift bag. Taped it shut. Breathed a sigh of relief!

Why do I do this to myself?!?

For the record, I am pleased as all get-out with the fabric. My stiff-as-a-board sampler is only 5" wide. My fabric was 30" wide on the loom. What a difference! I knew I wouldn't be able to pack it as tightly as the sampler, and I didn't want it to be like the sampler...but who knew that it would turn out so nicely!

The shadow weave pattern I used is from Strickler's 8-Shaft Pattern book (I think it's #301) and makes me think of leaves. Even though the contrast of the yarns I used isn't great, I can still see the undulating lines that look leafy to me.

And better yet, my now 4-year-old daughter likes her "Hobbit" cloak.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Buttoned Vest

My local vacuum supply/sewing store sells buttons, so I stopped in and picked out these hexagonal, decorated buttons with shanks.

I used an old "simflex folding measure" to determine the position of the buttons (it's an expanding can evenly space up to 8 buttons).

The buttonhole loops were a bit challenging. I ended up crocheting them out of some 100%wool sock yarn. I'm curious to see how they will last!

--I got to wear my vest all day today. The temperatures got into the mid-40's and the wool/acrylic vest was just the right second layer. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010


My striped fabric has turned into a vest! I'm really excited about this, even though it still needs buttons!

Most of my original plans got de-railed when I discovered the fabric was narrower than my pattern. Dooh! In some ways, that's the way it goes when you use rough calculations to plan your fabric! I will have to try the pattern from One Skein another time!

The pattern I ended up using is a modified commercial vest pattern. I'd quote you pattern and number, but really any commercial vest pattern can be used! It is two front pieces and a single back piece. The back piece is solid tan (no stripes) and the front has the stripes that I wanted.

Now, to figure out what sort of closure/buttons/clasps to use!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Knitting Content

I've been knitting more mittens. This pair is for my oldest. Her hands are as wide as mine, but her fingers are still short. It was amazing to make almost-full-sized mittens for seems that it was just a few days ago that I was making little things for her!

The yarn is all handspun. The purple may be Cotswold wool;I think the green is Romney. The green was left over from the last pair of mittens I made and it just looked really nice with the purple.

These were knit with 2 strands together, at 4 sts/inch on US5 or 6 dpn's.

Just for kicks and giggles, here's a peak in my knitting box. My favorite dpn's are there on top. They are a purple, plastic needle made by Lion Brand (I think). They are size us5 or6 and I use them often for my worsted weight projects.

I recently added the orange handled scissors (I got tired of walking to the loom to borrow the pair that hangs there!). And the short tape measure --it's only about 25" long--is really nice. I also have a box of smaller dpn's in there for when I am making socks with fine yarn.

Let's see...also in the box are all sorts of left over yarns: from the upper right corner, light blue handspun wool--my socks; marron/pink handspun..the last of some fiber my mom gave me early in my spinning career; under the handle of the scissors is a swatch from the latest mittens;the purple handspun the the bottom left corner is from this last pair of mittens; the coiled piece in the upper left is a hat band with a cable up the middle. It's knit in the maroon/pink from the opposite corner. It's really pretty...but I don't have enough yarn left to make it into a hat, and it's too loose to wear as a head band, so it just lives here in my knitting box until I come up with something better for it!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Train of thought / 2010 Goal

The train of thought in creating cloth is pretty amazing sometimes! This piece of striped fabric started it's mental journey as a One Skein, knit Tank Top. The basic idea is to knit two identical pieces and seam them together with the seams in center front and center back. One side is seamed with the knit side showing; the other with the purl side showing. Cool idea by Leigh Radford!

The first change in the mental road was the realization that I weave faster than I knit and I'd like to work on making handwoven clothing this year (I'm still 3/4 of the way done making a muslin of the vest that I eventually want to have in handwoven fabric). Ah-ha! Two or three pages of calculations later, I had an idea of what I would need in terms of finished fabric, and I headed off to to search their archives for interesting weave structures. I found one or two (or eight or ten!) patterns I liked and the rest, they say, is history.

Except, that history has a way of being written and re-written even as it is happening. What I thought would be an ideal warp yarn turned out to be chock full of knots and thin (moth eaten?) spots. This yarn came from my grandmother, so I think the damage was inherent in the yarn before I received it (I hope!)....there were too many thin spots deep inside the cones of yarn for me to think it was recent damage. At any rate, I had to pause winding the warp, take the yarn to the ball winder and wind it into usable balls. Deep breaths help at moments like this!

My calculations showed that I might be able to squeak the entire piece out with my one ball of colorful weft, but reality sunk in after 4 or 5 inches of weaving...I was packing the weft in one thread tighter than my calculations. There was no way I would be able to finish the piece. I tested my two weft yarn patterning ('s one shot of colored weft and one of the tan warp yarn as weft), and un-wove it all. Gulp.

It was a good thing I un-wove...I discovered that my stretchy weft yarn was pulling my selvages in significantly! Funny how I couldn't see it as I wove, but un-weaving it was really obvious! Once back to weaving I made sure to let the stretchy yarn relax or bounce back before I packed it in.

What a long story for a single photo! It will be fun to see what clothing I can create this year. I have high hopes of doing a stellar job of beginning! (Which translates to lots of beginning stuff that may or may not be very useful! :)

Best wishes for 2010!