Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spinning wise... a new wheel...

Neither flyer, great, walking, castle, nor saxon! An Indian Charkha it is. I have wanted one for quite some time and I recently found a model--made in India--with a reasonable price tag. It arrived yesterday.

Charkhas are for spinning cotton. You may recall some time back I was showing some cotton I had spun on a tahkli--a supported spindle made specifically for cotton. Working the tahkli is challenging. In fact, I made it my Tour de Fleece challenge a few years ago. Well! The charkha changes the game! As seen in the picture above, the drive wheel on the right drives an intermediate wheel near the center, which in turn drives the spindle. The combined effect of these wheels makes the ratio of rotation 1:125 from the large wheel to the spindle. That's fast, and it's just what cotton needs: lots of spin. Cotton needs all this spin because it's fibers are so short. Without enough spin, it simply falls apart.

Charkhas were developed in India, and the design had input even from Ghandi who was a major promoter of household spinning in his country.

My model is called a "book" charkha because all the components have their own little storage compartment inside the box, and the box closes up to about the size of a book. How neat!

It also has it's own built-in skein winder. Some wonderful ingenuity went into this design.

I am looking--somewhat down the line--to spin enough cotton to weave enough material to make a rustic over shirt. I think that would be absolutely fantastic and really cool.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

This week's spinning...

207 yards of wool/silk blend. These yarns I'm currently spinning are for another woven throw which I hope to have finished before fall...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Granny squares... who would have thought?...

As it turns out, my next project is a granny square afghan. It's a surprise to me! The idea really did take shape on a spur-of-the-moment whim. I was sitting on the sofa looking across to the newly completed sunflower lap blanket and noting that I really like granny squares, a lot. Comfort craft. Then I remembered a bag of yarn in multiple colors I had purchased for a different project, one which never came to be. So why not crochet a granny square afghan? Why not? I made two of them in my teen years. Maybe that's why I'm so fond of them. Still, their aesthetic appeals to me: simple and functional yet visually satisfying. Nostalgia or aesthetic appreciation? Both, no doubt. Who would have thought I'd be crocheting a granny square afghan? Not me!

Eleven squares down, how many to go? I'm not sure yet.

You'll notice that I'm aiming for cohesion by always working the 3rd round and outside round in the same color. Orange for the 3rd, a heathered brown for the outside. It's a ton of fun swirling my vision about the pile of yarns deciding which ones I'll use for the next square. A blast!

Also, this week I came up with an idea for my next weaving project. It's going to be a bit bigger in scope than my previous projects and I'm really excited about it. It will be done in a techique called Summer & Winter pick-up. Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Crochet... an FO...

This one was a long while in the making! Not that I spent all that much time actually working on it, but it sat for many months just waiting for me to get back to it. Funny how projects go. Some go straight from start to finish with no interruption, some go in fits and starts, some go--as this one did--from a flurry of activity to a long period of dormancy before they are finished in another flurry of activity. Go figure.

I love this little lap blanket. It is 27" x 33.5" and if you ask me it's a pretty cheerful little piece. Perfect for these frigid temps that have descended upon us this week. Brrrr.

It was crocheted with leftover yarns. I had just enough yellow and brown but had to use 2 shades of green and 3 shades of blue. All of it is Harrisville's New England Highland.

This is a free pattern from Debbie Smith and it can be found on Ravelry. It's called "Sunflower Lap-Ghan". I love granny squares!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weaving... an FO...

It's been quite a week! I had to report for jury duty last Monday and it had me worried. I was afraid of serving on a never-ending case. There is so much I must get done in the next two months I dreaded having to cope with being a juror.

I was very lucky the last time I was called for duty and ended up going down to the courthouse for only 3 days--and spent the entire time in the jury pool room, not being called once to shuffle off to a courtroom for voir dire.

So I schlepped myself downtown for 8:30 am (!!) on Monday. Groups of 80 to 100 people were called from the pool off and on during the day with a scattering of smaller groups also called. The same luck that keeps me from winning the lottery followed me to the pool room because my name was not called once. At 3:30 a court officer took the microphone and announced to those of us left in the room that we were not needed and would be released as soon as we turned in the last bit of our summons papers. Yippee! Jury duty lasted all of 8 hours. It can't get much better than that.

That was good. Not so good is that I had caught a cold on Sunday the day before and it ended up knocking me out of commission for most of the week. I worked from home every day but Friday. Much better now.

Jury duty behind me. Cold behind me. Christmas tree came down this afternoon. The holidays are behind me. Sad. I love/hate to take the tree down. I love having the space back, but I hate to see the beauty of it go back in boxes. But next year's Christmas will be in the country. I'm imagining how wonderful that will be!

Also behind me is my most recent FO. I finished weaving the table scarf this morning, hemstitched the end, washed, dried and ironed it. Much pleased.

Taken with flash:

Taken without flash:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Hampshire... an update...

It's been a busy few weeks. Last weekend I reviewed the NY State Driver's Manual then went down to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles on Monday to take the exam for my learner's permit. I was surprised how quickly I made it to the exam room--no line! It was not an indication of how the rest of the visit was going to go.

I passed the exam and was sent to an intermediate processing area--again no line--was this for real?--where my picture was taken and my John Hancock forged over twice. How could this be going so smoothly? It was, after all, the DMV!

I was subsequently sent to the cashiers. So that's where everybody was. Indeed there was a line in front of me. Luckily I snatched a seat where I patiently waited for my number to come up. And waited. And waited some more.

Most licensees in front of me were taking about 4-5 minutes each to be processed, but there came an interminable wait at one point. No new numbers were being called. How long was this going to last? An announcement eventually came over the PA system informing us that the computer system was down--state wide--and there was no knowledge of when it would be back. Oh good. Just my luck.

Well wouldn't you know! No more than 5 minutes later the computers were back. Then up went one fellow who took almost half an hour to check out. I was so curious to know why it took sooooo long to process his papers when everyone else was averaging 4 minutes?

I finally made it out of DMV with my learner's permit. Yay!

Yesterday morning I went down to the local driver's ed school and signed up for the day's 5-hour class and 5 45-minute driving lessons which I will receive on the streets of my neighborhood. Oh boy! Driving in a crowded, zanny environment. Yay! If I can make it here... well you know the rest.

Going the driving school route is convenient as they will schedule my road test, let me use their car, and guide me through all the steps. My test won't be until the first week of March so that gives me almost 6 weeks to practice.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book wise... latest acquisition...

My most recent wander over to that store of wonder The Strand (oh, what a NYC treasure!) reaped a new book for my shelf: Handicrafts of New England by Allen H.Eaton.
This book is a first edition, from 1949. It has the soul of cast metal typesetting, a bygone art. The text in this book is beautiful, each letter a miniature 3 dimensional work of art. Can you tell I used to be a typesetter? Albeit, I worked in typesetting during the phototype days, but even then typography was given great care. The text in this book is set in Linotype Caledonia. Gorgeous.

Chuckle... FULLY ILLUSTRATED is written on the cover. Didn't mean the same thing then as it does now! Still, it has some wonderful photographs in it and all but one are black & white.

It's an exciting find for me seeing how I'll be living in New England again soon. I'm only up to page 31 (374 pgs total) but enjoying it very much. The author drops a lot of names. In fact it appears most of the book is about specific artists living in New England during the time he authored it.

Wonderful quote:
"We have lately become convinced that accurate work with carpenter's tools, or lathe, or hammer and anvil, or violin, or piano, or pencil, or crayon, or camel's hair brush trains well the same nerves and ganglia with which we do what is ordinarily called thinking." -- Charles Eliot


Friday, January 4, 2013

Weaving wise... the shuttle is flying...

Well not exactly flying but it is now making passes through my warp. Each new project is so full of excitement. There are so many types of weave that I can see several years of potential excitement at the prospect of something new to try out.

As I previously mentioned, this project is my first "overshot" project, and boy-oh-boy is it exciting! It's a thrill to see the pattern--latent in the threading and tie-up--manifest itself in the cloth.

Just a few pics to show progress. The view in these pics is the back side of the fabric. Yes, my tie-ups are reversed. But I learned something new this week, that's exciting in itself! I learned that an "O" in a draft's tie-up diagram indicates the tie-up is meant for a rising-shed loom, whereas an "X" is taken to mean tie-ups for a sinking-shed loom. The draft of the pattern I'm weaving--it's called "Lee's Surrender"--has "O"s and I do in fact have a rising-shed loom. Unfortunately, at the time I checked my tie-up I did not know about "O"s and "X"s. So I left my tie-up reversed thinking that the draft was probably written for a sinking-shed loom. I was wrong.

It simply means the right side of the fabric is on the bottom as I weave. But I'll have a nice Ooh! Aah! moment when I take it off the loom, no!? :) Of course, the right side looks very similar to the back side, just that the shades of blue are reversed.


...for the new year. I only have 2 but the second is a whopper and I'm not sure how well I'll do at keeping it.

1. Finish with Wave Stole. I think I can manage that.

2. Be more active. This is the challenge I'm setting for myself. It seems that everything I do requires that I sit: weaving, knitting, spinning, programming, piano, cello. The seat of all these activites is literally, my seat.

So far so good. Since the new year began I've walked almost a mile each day. I fit this in by walking all the way down to the "L" station at Bedford & Seventh on my way to work. I made this walk every day for years but fell out of it when we moved offices. Now that we're in lower Manhattan it is more convenient to take the bus from my neighborhood to get to the "J" train.

Since Sandy, though, the "J" has not been able to complete it's run all the way to Broad St. so I've started taking the "L" again and transfering to the "4" to get downtown. So, really, there's not a whole lot of excuse for not walking down to Bedford & 7th every day. True, when I'm in a rush (frequently? ;) ) it's tempting to hop on the bus to take me to the "L", but I'm determined. I'll just keep in mind the wonderful impromptu experience I had a few years back when a very cute and attractive Irishman stopped to admire my spinning (spindle) at B&7th while I was waiting, and gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek. The thought of a recurrence will keep me motivated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Weaving wise... I won the struggle...

It's a good thing too, seeing how it's the first day of the new year!

It was the rod which saved the day; the one I put in place as I was threading the heddles, ensuring that every other thread went over the rod yet the others under.

I was able to transfer this crossing of the threads to the front of the reed. This is accomplished by lifting the rod 3-4" while close to the reed's back side creating a shed on the front side. Insert a rod through this shed and voila! the cross is now in front. Had it not been for this rod I fear I would have had to start over and you'll see why in the next picture. Why not illustrate the struggle, see the bad as well as the good!?

All this because I inadvertently removed the porrey cross I had wound into the warp.

This picture shows what we strive to avoid. Pretty bad, huh? It shows several nests of crossed threads in the part of the warp that is not yet wound on. Obviously it cannot wind on in this tangled mess. The thought of failure crosses the mind, but I was able to keep pushing the derailed threads towards the front of the warp as I proceeded; it wasn't easy. In this picture I haven't much warp left to wind on, thank heavens! (You can see the rod up near the bottom of the reed)

As I was near the end I untied the remaining warp and was able to comb out the tangles. After a half an hour the exact same warp looked like this:

Oh [with an exasperated sigh!], so much better!

Tada! The warp is wound and I had only 1 broken thread, and it broke before the end of the warp had reached the warp beam so I was able to replace it without having an extra spool dangling off the warp beam. My loom is no longer naked. Yay!