Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

I really enjoyed posting this last year. So here are this year's projects!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I wasn't gonna ... but ...


I wasn't going to get into weaving. Really. I wasn't!

I didn't think it was right for me. It's a touch expensive, getting the starting equipment (although, really, haven't I spent about that much on knitting needles, crochet hooks, bags, cases, measuring devices, needles, etc...). But then I got this really nice gift certificate for Christmas, AND the store where I needed to spend said Certificate was having an ultra-rare 10% off everything (including looms!!) sale, AND I already got a bunch of lovely fiber and yarn for Christmas, so...

I have a loom!

I have a 20" Schacht Flip Loom that folds and slides right under my bed. It came today in the mail and I most maturely restrained myself from squeeling with glee, ripping open the box and playing with it all afternoon. Instead I let out a tiny happy yelp and put the box aside for a couple of hours to get other things done. Then, with restraint, I had my daughter come and assist me in unwrapping and assembling the few parts that needed to be put together.

This evening, after dinner when everyone was happy, I gave it a go at warping. It was easy! Of course, a lot of things are easy when you throw math to the wind and just give it a try. I figured I didn't care what I got out of my first project and I'd just warp it willy-nilly (but following the instructions) and see what happened.

Here it is!

Schacht 20" Flip Rigid Heddle Loom
I used yarn I had no intention of ever knitting. I bought the white yarn for.. Um. I don't know what I bought the white yarn for. The brown yarn was for the "Hilton of Cadbol" pillow, and would have been horrible for it. But I held onto it long enough I couldn't really return the ball and it has been sitting in my shelf every since, lonely and sad.

Now the two are taking shape as a.. um. A table runner. Or a placemat. Or maybe a bag. Really, it's probably a rag or trash. But it's learning!

Some of the things I've learned already:

  • Warping is not as hard as it sounded
  • A "pick" (one pass through the warp) is not like a row of knitting. If you miss a strand, you just back up. If you don't like the way the selvedge is, you just back and pull it through again. If you don't like the way you beat it into the cloth, you do it again. This takes no time at all and far less effort than it takes to tink a row of knitting.
  • Within 30 rows, my selvedges were visibly more even, and so was my beating. In fact, there is obvious improvement in the 30min I played at weaving.
  • There is nothing to fear about getting complicated. See the white stripe in the warp? It wasn't hard. Seriously. How long do you think I've been doing this? I'll give you three guesses. The first two don't count.
  • I can't wait to cut this off the loom (OMG, CUTTING YARN, AIEEE) and start a new project
  • Unlike a handspinner and knitter, I must overcome my fear of cutting yarn. I'm gonna have to cut yarn. A lot.

So all in all, this is pretty cool. I'll keep you updated when I start something new. Of course, since this is an at-home activity, and I still have lots of knitting to do, I can't say I'll be doing a ton. But I'm sure Weaving is about to sneak its way firmly into my blog.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Under my Christmas Tree

Christmas 2010
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
This year I found sock yarn.. from my daughter.. for me.. to knit my daughter's new socks. (She requested socks before Christmas, and then went shopping with Daddy and picked out the pink yarn herself. Can't you tell? Only it was worsted weight Lamb's Pride wool/mohair blend. This yarn is the exact same shade. Only it will actually make socks. So will the Merino-cashmere-nylon yarn. But those will be mine.)

I also found a gift certificate to Paradise Fibers from my mother-in-law (which has now been turned into a super secret surprise I may unveil at a later date when I get over the glee).

Christmas 2010
And fiber from my husband in the form of four ounces of deliciously sparkly batts and six ounces of yummy merino-silk-yak blend. (He's a keeper.)

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year. May it be filled with fabulous fibery goodness!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Christmas Gift Bags
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
This year, I gave bags for Christmas.

In all honesty, each of those bags is also filled with a hand-made gift for four of my lovely family members. But you don't really expect me to tell you what is in them before the 25th, right?


I've been wanting to do gift bags for a while. This year I hit JoAnne's and found 50% off Christmas-theme fabric. Perfect! And then I went pattern hunting on the 'net. How hard can bags be, right?


But I found patterns! A lot of them. And I finally settled on this lined drawstring bag. The series of blog posts has several options, and in the end I modified even the plan laid out by "happythings" (but thank you "happythings" for giving me a great starting point!). If you read it and understand what she's doing, then my modifications will make sense. If not, then you'll just have to trust me that what I changed made it much easier to make a bunch of bags!

First off, my sewing skills are iffy. My seams are usually serpentine and let's not even get into me cutting a straight line in the first place. In addition, I hate hand-sewing up the hole where you turn a bag or pillow or whatever to be right-side-out again (I can never get it to look like the machine-sewed seam and that irks me to no end). So I didn't. I sewed the whole thing as per the directions leaving only the spot where the drawstring would go through and then pulled it through that hole. VIOLA! And after making a couple, I didn't see why I needed to make the liner out of two squares--because that's just one more place I can cut things unevenly. So I left the liner as a slightly-shorter-than-the-outside-material rectangle and sure enough, that works just fine!

Hopefully these bags will be unpacked tomorrow, and the contents appreciated on Saturday. And hopefully some gifts can be given in them again, next year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kitten Mittens

Kitten Mittens
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Three little kittens,
                   they lost their mittens,
    And they began to cry,

Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear
    That we have lost our mittens.

What! Lost your mittens,
                   you naughty kittens!

    Then you shall have no pie.
    Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.
    You shall have no pie.


I had a wonderful time this year preparing handmade gifts for family. These cute little things were knit with my nephew and niece in mind (four and two, respectively). Three mismatched mittens means that you never have to worry about finding an exact pair. And if one goes missing (as it likely will). Then.. Oh, well!

I had fun with them. Each was cast on using DPNs, but then I moved all the knitting over to a long circular needle and worked on all three at the same time. It's a bit fiddly keeping all the yarn balls straight, but after a while it becomes obvious how to flip your work back and forth so that after each row, everything is back in line again. The benefit is that you're always working the same row and it's easier to keep track of where you are in the pattern. And, when you're done, you're really done!

More Kitten Mittens
They are knit from the pattern I created for my daughter, working from Interweave Knits' article "Progressive Gloves" (no longer available online). I'm really glad I was able to download it and the related article on gussets for gloves and mittens back when a large number of these types of articles were available from Interweave's site. I had just begun to knit and went on a downloading rampage on all of their technique-based articles. It's a real shame they finally had to come down off the internet, because many of those articles were extremely useful. I love having them now, and know that if I had started just a year later I would have missed out on a huge amount of really useful information! Now I just feel lucky to have a nice library of PDF files carefully backed up so I won't ever loose them!