Thursday, January 26, 2012

Knit wise... the handspun vest... almost completed

Almost completed. All that's left is sewing on this single button and an I-cord loop to secure it:
I spent more on that button than I ever imagined I'd spend for 1 button. But it's Victorian and bird themed. How could I resist?

I just came up from practicing the cello (I practice in the cellar if it's after 7:30 pm... it's a long story... maybe another post) and will sew the button on while enjoying a glass of red to celebrate. (To be honest, I celebrate every evening. And why not!?)

Here is the front and back of the vest before I had all the ends woven in:
And here are the same views with me in it. The pained expression on my face in the frontal view is due to the fact that I'm sucking it in! I wanted to show off the vest to best advantage so those few extra pounds had to tuck themselves in for this one. ;) This vest may be just the motivation I need to do something about those hangers on. (But I won't bank on it! We'll see... summer's coming and that's more motivation.):
This has been a fun and very exciting project.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Knit wise... a brief time out...

I've knit the collar onto the vest--and I like it. Small quandry, the wearer (that will be me) would like another inch or two on the collar so it can be worn clasped. But I'm not sure that another inch of "parfait" (on each side) is going to look OK. I'm afraid it may distort the lines. But it may not, and could work just fine. So I'm going to let it hang up there on the door so I can look at it every time I pass by to get a sense of how to proceed. I have the stiches on a piece of yarn. Of course if I simply (ha!) lost a few pounds, quandry would go away! So much easier said than done.

I'll make the decision about it sometime this evening...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fiber wise... a few quick updates...

The tablet woven band I was weaving was cut short yesterday due to a broken warp thread. Yes, I could have repaired it but decided to cut where I was. It was the right decision as now I can see that a few problems I was having with the warp (a few loose threads on the left side) were manifesting themselves in the weaving. Not a total disaster, but I'll lose a little bit of this band. I need to get warping down... my next weaving project will be a study in warping!

At any rate I left the unwoven warp on the warp beam so I can continue with a second piece of band so as not to waste what's there.

Here's the woven part. I turned over the end to make the back side visible. IMO it's almost as nice as the front side...

A quick update on the vest... the panels are all done. Now it's just a matter of weaving in loose ends, assembly, and knitting the collar. Pretty exciting! It knit up real fast, and all those colors were like jewels passing through my fingers...

Music wise...

I'm working on a Beethoven Sonata at the moment. An early one, Op. 2, No. 3. I love Beethoven. The little motifs that wind their way from movement to movement. I always found him a little awkward to play. There is no question his music is not as "pianistic" as Chopin's, for instance. But gorgeous.

The cello is coming along. I should have another recording or two to post in a week or so. My teacher told me we'd be moving into Suzuki Book 3 pretty soon. He says he wants to go through one more unit to cover 3rd positon and then we can start working on repertoire. Yes, I am excited!

I finally had a technician look at the harpsichord I purchased last year. He worked on it for a few hours and got the 8 foot register up to snuff. The 4 foot needs more work but Since re-reading the construction manual that came with the harpsichord (it was built from a kit from Zukermann in 1974), I think I'm going to try to tackle it myself. I can see that some of the plectra need replacing, it obviously needs tuning, and a few strings need replacing. Since the technician was here I have in fact shaved one of the plectra from the 8 foot register to match the sound of those around it. None of the work seems terribly technically demanding... it's just that the gauge of it all is very fine. Just a little shaving will make a difference.

Speaking of tweeking, I need to tune it almost every day that I play it. Well! The first day I went about tuning the 5ths. All very close to perfect.... so that when I came back around to C again (that's where I started), it was OFF! Of course! That's why we use temperament. It took me a while and did not feel it reached the stage of being "in tune" enough to play. The difference between sounding good and sounding not so good can be just the minutest turn of the wrench. Yes, a fine gauge.

My second attempt was a little better. Didn't take as long and I was able to play some Bach even though I wasn't pleased with all the pitches.

Today was even better. I got it tuned in about 15 minutes! And it was quite playable. I am starting to see that eventually it won't take but 5 or 10 minutes to get it up to snuff.

I can tell I'll be developing quite an intimate relationship with this pretty little harpsichord. We're going to be good friends.

At least for the time being I need to play it after I've practiced piano. Reason being that the touch is so light and different. If I play the harpsichord then mosey over to the piano, it's keys feel very heavy! I've discovered that if I practice piano as I would normally, then spend a half hour or so on the harpsichord I'm fine. By the time my next piano practice comes around (the following day) the memory of the harpsichord is gone and it feels very natural, and as usual. There really is a big difference between the two.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Knitwise... hand spun vest...

It's knitting up fast on size 8 needles. The 2 front panels were finished yesterday and I started the back at tonight's Knit & Schmooze at the Center. I expect to have it finished some time next week. I'm pretty fond of it all ready.

I adjusted the stitch count of the pattern to fit my gauge and also changed the measurements to suit me, making it wider over all and adjusting the depth of the arm hole.

I made one slight alteration to the order of the colors from my sample, moving the peachy Eucalyptus dyed corriedale over to the edge next to the white Shetland. This groups all the pale colors to the edges where they will have the greatest 'slimming' effect.

I think the 'parfait' and 'pumkins' I spun last summer stand out quite well...
In case there is any wonder what's going into the vest, here is (what will probably be a very hard to read) legend. The colors are mirrored on both sides and will so be on the back also.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Knit wise... hand spuns... vest

I saw a pretty vest in the recent issue of Spin Off magazine called "A Color-Block Vest".

As I got to thinking about it, my stash of hand spun yarns got my attention. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. So I took out several hanks of yarn I've spun over the past few years and laid them out in a pleasing sequence of colors. I'll go for it!

So I knit up this swatch this evening to see if the colors will work in this order. I'll leave it be for a few days to see if I want to rearrange anything. The stripes will be vertical.

It's all my own hand spun and about a third of it is my own dyeing. I like that aspect of it. In fact, my very first hand spun yarn--which I did in class--is in this swatch and will be in the sweater. It feels nice to have found a home for those 70 odd yards at last. It is singles Corriedale and was naturally dyed in our last class. Wouldn't you know I can't remember the dye stuff used! But that's because we didn't prepare the dye baths, the owner of the shop did.... all we had do was plop our skeins in the bath and go sit at the wheels for an hour while the wool soaked up color. Ya know... I think it was Eucalyptus. At any rate it's the "peachy" color (pretty much in the middle of the swatch) between the "Parfait" (the silk/wool which I dyed and spun last summer) and the "Pumpkins" (also silk/wool that I dyed and spun last summer)...

Knit wise... warm fingers!

Just finished this pair of gloves late last week. Given the weather we're having they're desperately needed one day and way over kill the next! I tell ya! 20-something degrees to 60 degrees in 24 hours... how confusing.

I got the pattern from a Paton's pamphlet called "Next Steps Seven, Mittens and Gloves". There are several pretty patterns in the booklet.

I started out making the man's size only to frog after the cuff and go with the ladies size. It fits well.

I can't say the directions in the book are all that great. They are clear and fine up to a point then they get all wishy washy. Like so many printed patterns. A great big "WHY"? Maybe the directions aren't wrong, but they're confusing and in my opinion that needn't be so.

Nonetheless, it's only a pair of gloves so I was able to figure out what to do... I'm ready for the next day the temps decide to drop:
Fit's like a glove!... (Actually, next time I'm going to make a small modification to the pattern for the pinky, but they're pretty comforable as is.)

Happy New Year!

For something new I finally unwrapped the tablet weaving cards I purchased 14 months ago. Despite the excitement of obtaining them and their enticing potential, I never got around to warping them up. I did so last weekend. For my first foray, I warped some black spool wool--a thrift store find--along with some parti-colored cotton chenile. I used the black wool for weft also, but since table weave is warp-faced (the long front to back threads), the weft (the side-to-side threads) doesn't matter that much.

Being my first adventure with the cards I didn't wind a long warp and I ended up with about 2 feet of usable band. The chenile is shiny and rather has the look of inlay--against the matt black of the wool. So I'm going to go to Paradise Beads (a touch of heaven in midtown) this week to get some bracelet clasps and make a few bracelets out of this:

The pattern is the first one given in "Card Weaving" by Russell E. Groff. It requires 18 cards and is called a "threaded in" design because the design is achieved by the way the cards are threaded with color. There are 4 holes in each card--one in each corner. Each hole can be a different color or not and each card is threaded with the yarn flowing through the holes from the top (printed) side to the bottom or vice versa. These are called "S" and "Z" threadings. "S" and "Z" being terms also used in spinning to denote direction of twist! I like this little connection between the two crafts.

New sheds (a space created by moving some warp threads down and others up; a space through which the shuttle carrying weft thread is passed) are created in the weaving by turning the cards forwards or backwards. The combination of colors threaded "S" or "Z" through certain holes, and the direction and amount of turns of the cards creates a pattern in the weave. For the above pattern the cards were turned forwards by a quarter turn 4 times, then backwards by the same amount 4 times. If the turning sequence were changed, the same threading of these cards would produce a different pattern.

The hardest part of this is warping (setting up the long threads which go from front to back on a loom)... only to keep the threads from getting all tangled up! There is an art to warping and the rules that have evolved for it have done so for a good reason!

Tablet weaving is very nifty and ancient. Do some Googling to discover the astoundingly beautiful weaves obtainable with cards. It can achieve writing... something that will most undoubtably find it's way into my adventure at some point.

There are a handful of different techniques used with tablets. "Threaded in" where the pattern arises from the threading of the cards and the combination of turns. "Double Face" where each card is threaded exactly the same (with 2 colors) and threaded alternately "S" and "Z". In double face weaving, not all the cards are turned in the same direction for every shed--some turn forward and some turn backward. With double face it's possible to "draw" animals, plants, leaves, everything! and letters. There is also "Brocade" which uses a supplemental and ornate weft to create highly decorative patterns on top of the foundation weft. There is "Egyptian Brocade" where the cards are all threaded the same but the sequence of turns creates diagonals, in and out, approaching and diverting, etc.

There's a lot in store for exploration!

Currently warped on my Kromski Harp is this pretty pattern called "Bow Knot", also a threaded-in design (from the same pamphlet mentioned above). I warped 8 feet or so, so I should get a good 2.5 yards of band. It's 2/20 cotton (thread!). It has been a lesson in warping--I learned a lot about those why's. Next time should go a little easier. It's weaving up fine though and it's quite a relaxing pleasure to sit by the plants in the front window creating new sheds and tossing my shuttle back and forth, giving due diligence to the selvedge, which in my opinion has improved a little since this photo....
Here's a view of the warp threaded through the cards. You can see how rotating the cards creates a new shed. Ingenious isn't it!? ...