Sunday, November 24, 2013

Projects--a collection

Blocking lace.  I love the effect of blocking pieces of knit lace.  The yarn over holes open up and the stockingette stitch areas become smooth...  I love it!
 Fixing mistakes.  Sooner or later I usually fix my mistakes.  It wasn't until I began to weave that I finally understood that if I could see a mistake then I would always be able to see the mistake.  More often then not, there is no effective cover-up for a mistake.  This one was a denting error, ten threads in from the edge on a warp that had already given me fits.  I tried to brush it off..."It will never show with the thick weft..."  It showed.  So, I stopped weaving, pulled out the weft, fixed the denting error and began to weave again.  It looks much better without the error!

Sewing.  My daughter decided that she needed a new dress.  She did some shopping and came home empty handed.  She went through my pattern books and found a dress design she liked.  I slowly began to work on it.  This pattern is from a collection by "The Golden Rule".  Each pattern is printed in miniature and the seamstress enlarges it based on the measurements of the wearer.  So I measured.  I drafted.  I made a muslin (I knew I would need it!  The pattern was older and I was sure the fit would be different from my daughter's preferred style....) I modified the pattern and finally made the dress.  I had to promise to not put her head in the final picture, but here it is.  The collar is gathered at the neck and comes down to a point at the center front and back.  The purple is amazing with her reddish-blond hair!

Knitting, frogging, and knitting again.  I would like to knit shawls.  I have a little "shawlette" that is wonderful to wear around the house.  It's just enough to warm my back and shoulders, but not enough to get in the way of doing things.  I have a new shawl book, so I found a pattern I liked and cast on.  Of course I modified it...and in the end, I didn't like it.  This is a traditional triangle shawl with a point at the center back.  I'm not fond of the style (why did I cast on?) and I didn't like how stiff the finished fabric felt.  I kept going, hoping that things would get better, but they didn't.  In this photo, the shawl is off the needles and on a string so I could wrap it around me and see how it worked.  It didn't.  It got to sit on the table for a few hours while I did some research and chose a new shawl design.  Then it got frogged.

This was one of the reasons I frogged the shawl.  I knit a sample with an extra ball of the same batch of yarn on bigger needles.  It was so much softer and had much better drape.  I tried one more needle size after this picture.  Swatching is really helpful!
In my research to save my shawl, I discovered a new webpage:  Laylock Knitwear Design.  The shawls are fun, but scroll down and look on the right hand side for the "Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet".  Wow!  It's a single page pdf with instructions for make five different shapes of shawls all from the same three stitch cast-on!  I've decided to make a "heart-shaped" or crescent shawl because it will have longer ends for tying.  And, I made some swatches:
Neither of these have been blocked, but they are here anyway!  On the right is the pattern as written by Laylock Knitwear.  On the left is my modified version--no yarn-over holes and a three stitch garter edge.  The knitting is progressing.  I hope there will be another shawlette in my drawer soon!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fabric Crayon Tests

 One of the things I inherited from my grandmother was this package of fabric crayons.  They mostly hang out in one of the drawers in my craft room.  Every now and then, they come out to play!    (The first time I ever used them was to color on a white t-shirt that we picked up at a garage sale.  The colors washed right out!  It was terrible, especially with a young child looking over my shoulder!  Then I re-read the instructions, re-colored the shirt, and set the color with an iron.  The shirt is still colorful today!)
Recently, the crayons got to come out and play with some dark fabric.  First I had to do  burn test to identify the fiber content.  Interpreting burn tests (hold small bit of fabric in tweezers or tongs over the flame of a candle.  How does it burn?  What does it smell like?  How does the ash behave?--Do a google search if you need more details.) is not my strong suit, but I learned enough to trust that there is some synthetic component to this dark fabric.  Whew!  The crayons need 50% or more polyester in the fabric to adhere well.    Time for a coloring test.  

I had two tests to run.  Test #1 was determining what color the crayons would be on the dark fabric.  Orange on white is definitely orange, but on a dark color it's harder to know how it will look.  So I drew letters with each crayon and colored them in.  Orange was "o", yellow was "y", etc.  "bs" is burnt sienna and "?" is a color that had no wrapper/label.  Test #2 was a color transfer test.  The instructions for the crayons indicate that you can color on paper, turn the paper colored side to the fabric, and iron it onto the fabric.  So I tried it--and it worked!  Go figure!  The transferred images are not as dark as the ones where I colored directly on the fabric, but they weren't bad at all!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feedback on my Handspinning Skills

Some time ago I purchased the handbook for the "Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning" from the Handweavers' Guild of America.  The first time I read through it, I set it aside on a shelf.  It was way too much work for me at the time.  A few years later, my youngest child went to school, and I pulled the handbook off the shelf again.  This time, I was familiar with spinning almost all of the fiber types required, and was much more comfortable with my spinning abilities.  So, I decided to go through the work.

The work consists of 40  one ounce skeins of yarn, spun from specified fiber types and spun to specified parameters, as well as written work.  There was a group of wool fibers--starting from the dirty fleece, doing the prep work, and then spinning the yarn; a group of cotton, silk, flax...Forty skeins!  I was amazed at how quickly the thick skeins spun and how long (forever for some!) it took to spin some of the extra fine fibers.

Eventually, I got to the point where I had to decide once and for all if I was going to submit my work for evaluation.  I did a lot of hemming and hawing.  Some of the arguments included "but it's expensive!" and "what if they tell me I'm terrible!", but finally it came down to the value of having someone else critique my work so that I would know how to improve.  And so, I finished the written work and sent off my skeins.

And I thought that I didn't care whether or not I passed the evaluation and received the certificate.  But I was wrong.  I didn't pass--I was in the 82nd percentile and needed to be in the 85th to pass--and I was depressed about that.  I think the hardest aspect was that three of my skeins failed to meet criteria and received zero points.  Those failures are still very frustrating!  My hope had been to have no zeroes, but to earn at least some points in every category and that didn't happen.

The positive side of those failed skeins is that dealing with failure, pushed me to read the comments of the reviewers over and over again.  I don't think I would have looked so closely at the comments if I had succeeded in earning the certificate.  I was very pleased with the feedback and evaluations I received on my spinning.  Most of the skeins were scored out of 54 points.  If I earned anything less that 52 points the examiners made sure to provide comments so that I could know where the problems were and what could make the yarn better.  That was worth every penny of the cost of the evaluation.

Would I do this again?  Maybe.  Maybe in a few years I'll decide to see if my skills have improved and repeat the process.  I think I would start fresh, rather than resubmit these skeins. I think it would be nice if I could do well enough to earn the certificate at that time.  Until then, I'll keep spinning.  There's merino wool on one wheel; a bit of a horned dorset fleece to wash up and spin; some Cormo for the Russian spindles...I may be busy for a while just spinning the things I want to spin!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Coptic Bound Book

Check it out!  I bound a book!  It's not the first one I've ever done, but it is definitely the best!  I followed an on-line tutorial for a double needle coptic binding, used signatures that I folded at the Athens Art brown bag lunch lecture on book binding, and felted my own cover decoration (the cardboard covers were first covered with a cream, linen-like fabric, then the felted decoration was sewn to the cream cover).  After all was said and done, I discovered that the book was so nice, I was hesitant to write in it!  So I gave it to a friend.  She was thrilled to get a new journal book!

Just so I remember, the decorations on the felt are all crocheted.  Anita Mayer in her DVD "Creative Cloth" describes using crochet chains as embroidered embellishments as well as yarn wound rings.  My rings are 100% yarn--no plastic inside.  I started with a sliding loop and crocheted over that.