Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sampler off the loom...

I just finished weaving the sample for the blanket and have cut it from the loom. I left some warp on the loom, all sleyed and threaded so I can readily tie on a new warp without having to re-do all the work of threading. I will have several yards to weave for the actual blanket. It doesn't seem possible that I could be more excited by this project than by previous ones because they were all so exciting, but I am. I'm totally excited. This view of the fabric is the other side of what I showed earlier:

I love the way this sample looks. This weave structure has a wonder old-fashioned look to it; warm and comforting. I think I will finish off the sample and either hang it on the wall, or use it as a table mat. Pretty in it's own right, IMO.

I came up with a palette for the project and ordered the yarn from Harrisville this week. While I wait for the delivery to arrive I'll work on putting more warp on the loom. I also want to try to square up the pattern a little bit. I can live with it the way it is, but it's a tiny bit squat I think. Not sure what I will do to square it up; it was woven in a 12-dent reed. If I had a 15-dent reed I would give that a try. I could order one I suppose but, boy, money has been flying out of my hands lately and it would make me a little nervous to lay out some $ for a new reed just before the big move. I'm not crazy about trying to fit 15 epi in my 10- or 12- dent reeds. I also have an 8-dent and if that were sleyed 2 threads per dent it would come out to 16 per inch--pretty close to 15. But I'm afraid that might be too tight. The other option is to beat it looser. Grrrr. Maybe I'll leave it as is! Note to self: More thought required here.

Here is a general idea of the palette. These colors are not exact but just a general ballpark estimate. They are in the 'general vicinity' of the true colors. When the yarns arrive I'll post a pic. Funny thing is neither of my sample colors are going to be in the final blanket! Ha.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Projects on hold?... Nah...

Hee hee, I mentioned all projects but the granny square afghan were on hold. Not!

Yesterday I warped my loom for a sample piece to check yarns and guage for a blanket I want to weave. At only 160 warp threads it seemed a snap compared to the last few warps of several hundred threads. Had it finished by end of day. Today I started weaving and the little sample is almost done at this hour.

The blanket is going to be animal themed. I'm using a series of filet crochet patterns. Multi-colored. Oooh, it's going to be nice I think.

The structure of this weave is called 'summer and winter' and I'm using a technique called 'summer and winter pick-up'. The fabric is reversible. It's absolutely awesome and exciting. In order to weave this sample without a pick-up stick my loom would require over 30 shafts! The pick-up stick allows me to weave it with only 4. So cool! It's a bit of work but like many things, a rhythm develops.

It's exciting!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five rows...

Five rows down and I like the way it looks. Very happy with this palette. What's more, it's building up bigger than I thought so it just may turn out that I'll need only 15 to 18 rows. 150 to 180 squares instead of 200.

So much fun to pick colors for a square. I have several approaches now. Sometimes I'll look for 2 colors that are complimentary and go from there, sometimes I may opt for 2 colors in the same family as a starting point. Sometimes I'll pick 3 colors that I think look good together. Other times I'll go for a subdued look, bold look, monochrome look... Whatever idea comes to mind I give it a try seeing how I have so many squares to experiment with. More excitement is generated as the square is built because the orange in the 3rd row of every square modifies the overall look, as does the outside edge of heathered brown. Color. Color. Color. Fun. Fun. Fun.

Other projects on hold for the moment. Swamped with work, driving lessons, cello, piano and my students. Getting quotes from moving companies (ugh! $) and fretting over a car. I really want to keep the car expense as low as possible yet still have something that actually moves without being in for repairs every week. Many have told me to get a Subaru Outback because it's so very good in winter weather and apparently lasts forever. This advice was contradicted today by a friend at work who told me they are now over-priced. Oh, well. I won't rush into anything.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Behind the wheel...

Beep beep.

Preparations for the big move are picking up. Several milestones have been met, more to come! On Wednesday this week I got behind the wheel of a car for the first time in 35 years. Oh my, that is a long time! Let me simply say right off that I am not a car person. On a list of most to least favorite aspects of moving to the country, having to drive is at the bottom of the list. (Almost everything else is at the top of the list--I am so excited by so many aspects of this move.) I suspect I will be driving only when necessary. I would call it a necessary evil, but that's an exaggeration. I just don't want to think about having a car, or maintaining a car, or driving a car. But I'm glad I'll have a car at my disposal, if that makes any sense!

I noticed a strong psychological impact from "having wheels" right away that afternoon after my lesson. Part liberation, some apprehension. Certainly some relief because I must have a car in NH. No question. So I am much closer to reaching that milestone.

As for the lesson and driving around the neighborhood it went well. I made a 3-point turn twice, parallel parked once, and ended by driving down our busiest thoroughfare--which turned out to be a lot less hectic than I had imagined. From behind the wheel it doesn't seem so frantic. So I was well pleased with my first hour on the road. It wasn't, after all, totally foreign to me. I drove for 4-5 years in my late teens, early twenties. A lot. My instructor is fabulous. She (how sexist of me to assume it was going to be a man!) gave me some wonderful tips for parallel parking that pactically has the car parking itself.

Between now and the 28th I will have 4 more lessons in the neighborhood. If all goes well on the 28th I will have met another milestone. Next up: getting a car (the dreaded event! ;) ) and there is some question as to whether I should shop and buy here or in NH. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Square dance...

I am making headway on the granny square afghan, producing several squares over the course of the week. A quarter of them crocheted and I have started assembling them. I don't want to wait until all the squares are completed--much rather spread the task over time, a little now a little later.

I have made a big effort to reduce the number of loose ends to sew in with some success. I have it down to 1 loose end per square--even though I change color on every row--and I will have 1 loose end at the end of every column and row in the afghan. This is a major savings over the sunflower lap-ghan where I had several loose ends per square and many from assembly.

I will try to find time to video my method for making a square without loose ends. Maybe this week. For assembly, I measured out and wound enough yarn for each column of the afghan. When attaching new squares I use this pre-measured yarn for each column, and then I do the long seam with a separate length--long enough to go across the afghan. Nice, neat, and nifty!

In this picture, my pre-measured "warp" yarns are visible at the top. I'm on the 4th row and these yarns are long enough to go the length of the afghan (I hope):

Another skein of yarn was wound off the wheel this evening. 282 yards, 2-ply for weaving. Yippee!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A hodgepodge...

Not what I'd call blizzard conditions, but nice wintery conditions. I do love a snow storm, so pretty! Just snapped this from the front door in the midst of our Northeaster.

I don't believe I've ever written about a night out, so this will be a first. A week ago Thursday I went to Carnegie Hall to hear Radu Lupu play. Sigh. Sigh. Some of the most beautiful music ever written heard in one of the most beautiful halls in existence played by one of the most beautiful pianists alive. It was so good! Radu Lupu is a very sensitive player and brings exquisite nuance to his music making. I remember the first time I heard him play Shubert. I knew pretty much then that he'd probably be my favorite Schubert interpreter. On the program that night he played Schubert, Franck, and Debussy. All of it sublime. While waiting for the concert to start I snapped a pic of the stage with the beautiful 9' Steinway. I still cannot believe that Carnegie Hall came sooooo close to being demolished. Bless Isaac Stern for saving it.

Here is a video of Radu Lupu playing some Schubert. Perfect for this peaceful, snowy evening. Long sigh.... doesn't this music just make you cry? It does me.

And finally, a status pic. Where it stands at the end of this week.

l to r:

* I wound the rainbow yarn (pictured here: Rainbow skein) into a ball so I can start knitting it into a scarf.
* The large spool of red wool is ready for plying. That's the last of that roving so the spool is a little short.
* Not too much progress on the silk hanky spinning, but a bit more has been added to the spindle.
* The granny square stack is growing!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Beginning of February... status check...

Well, here we are. 1/12th of the year has passed already. Not quite 3 months to go before the big move.

I've had a busy fiber week. The number of projects I'm working on has peaked, and I love the productive feeling it gives me to move from task to task. Also, it's nice to be able to choose from several projects according to my current mood.

The granny square afghan is proceeding well. I like making these. Took this picture yesterday morning and I have since made 4 or 5 more squares. It's looking like 200 squares will be needed, but perhaps only 150 or 180 will work too. Will have to see once I start connecting the squares.

The silk hankies I purchased at last fall's NY Sheep & Wool festival are now making their way on to my spindle. I started drafting the hankies and giving them a spin last evening. Such a riot of shimmery color. I can't wait to see what the plied yarn will look like--it'll be 2-ply. These hankies are a snap to spin, all the drafting is done before hand so at the spindle the task is simply one of adding twist. Plus, drafting the hankies is therapeutic: tear, pull apart, tug, stretch, elongate, repeat.

I'm practicing on the Charkha and I'm thrilled by the results. It is so much easier to spin cotton on this clever wheel than it is on a tahkli (supported spindle).

As I was practicing earlier this week it occurred to me I never wrote up my experience with the kick wheel I purchased last summer. I have to admit being a little disappointed on my first attempts with it. Keeping the wheel in motion seemed quite the labor and it felt--well--just too awkward. So it sat on the floor for several months. New techniques sometimes need this incubation period. In the meantime I was thinking it was best suited for heavy weight yarn. Perhaps.

I took it out again recently to give it another whirl and it started to click, I started to "get it". For me it works best with the spindle pointing left so I can flick the wheel with my foot by simply swinging my leg down. Also--I discovered--a light touch makes a big difference. I think I was being "heavy footed" in my first attempts. Now I understand it better, can see it's usefulness, and am glad I own one. I did some practicing yesterday with some old top I was going to toss because it had a little moth damage. I literally pulled it out of the waste bin to use as practice material.

Regular spinning continues and I get lots of joy out of it. Another skein will be finished in a few days.