Friday, June 25, 2010


What a week it's been! Getting back to work after a nice, long break is always hard, and splitting my time between teaching and administrating only makes it that much harder.

I must admit, I'm a reluctant administrator. I'm organized and competent, but I'd much rather be teaching than shuffling through student records or trying to match room capacity to class size. I do the admin because it suits my schedule...for now. I teach because I love it.

The nice thing about going back to work, aside from the fact that I love my colleagues, is that I gain massive amounts of knitting time. Traveling 2 hours one-way does that.

Lately, though, I'm devoting my knitting time to crochet. Check this out:

There's my Marigold Wrap, all squiggly-looking because it's not blocked (nor even finished), but still pretty cool nonetheless. I'm following my own path on the placement of the rows of flower petals, and I haven't yet decided if I like how it looks with the wide, open spaces between petal rows or whether I want to fill the whole shawl in with a riot of petals, one row per row of double-treble crochet.

The only thing putting a damper on my fun is this:

I've got a matching one on the other hand, and I don't think my lingering carpal tunnel is being helped by the hours I've spent crocheting this week.

At least I started warping up Dorothy last night, so getting all my threads onto the warping board without screwing anything up should keep my hands busy while (hopefully!) not subjecting them to more damaging repetitive motion. typing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

Have you ever had a project assume such mythic proportions in your head that you couldn't even bear to pick it up? The fear that it would be too hard, take too much time, prove too daunting just kept you away indefinitely?

Well, for me, that project was my mom's 80th birthday present: a blanket woven out of 400 4" Weave It squares and painstakingly seamed together.

I seamed it halfway, then -- completely undone by the thought of weaving in all those ends -- set it aside for the better part of a year. There it sat, still in the fancy gift bag I'd set aside for it, taunting me from the bottom of my closet of shame.

It was the shame, mainly, of making mom wait so very long for her gift that finally made me pick up that blanket again last week.

And guess what?

I finished it.

That's right, the blanket-without-end is finally finished.Mind you, I finished weaving the last of the ends in during the car ride to Mom's house on Saturday, but still it's done, done, done, and I couldn't be happier.

Here's how she looks in situ:

And from another angle:

And just because I can't seem to stop bragging on this:

Isn't she luuuuurvely???

So, that's the end. And as for the beginning?

Check this out:

Meet Dorothy, graciously lent to me by Joe, a weaver friend who is off to bigger and better looms. Along with Dorothy, Joe lent me his copy of Learning to Weave, by Debbie Chandler, and I've been reading it nonstop for the past week. I've already picked out the sock yarn -- two skeins of Araucania Ranco, one in grey and one in mauve -- to use on my first sample. Now all I have to do is actually sit down with the book on one side and the loom on the other and get started.

There are so many things I've never done before! Using a rigid heddle loom up till now has allowed me to skip past a bunch of the basic skills that a weaver has to develop, like winding a warp on a warping board (I've only direct warped). But, I just can't wait to play with my 4 independently-operating sheds! I've been eagerly poring over the drafts in Learning to Weave, trying my best to understand them (again, something I've completely managed to avoid up till now), anticipating playing with plain weave and twills and all the other beautiful designs I've seen for a 4-shed loom.

If only work weren't busy getting in the way. I went back today for the first time since the beginning of May, and while it was good to be back and even somewhat fun prepping for the start of the new semester, this whole "job" thing seriously cuts into my fiber time. If only I didn't need the "money" that said "job" brings in.

In any event, my time over the next couple of weeks will be quite limited, so I doubt I'll even manage to warp my new baby until things taper off in early- to mid-July. Till then, I suppose I'll have to satisfy myself with looking at Dorothy, reading Debbie and dreaming of warping day.

Oh, and crocheting my Marigold Wrap in -- what else? -- vibrant shades of orange, yellow and deep brick red Wollmeise.

But that's a project for another post.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Perils of Having Children

Up at 5am with a sick child, I'm sooo wide awake and yet I know that if I don't get back to bed before the little one wakes up I'm going to be a wreck all day. So what do I do? Post, of course.

What I really should do, if I'm not going to go back to bed, is keep working on Mom's Birthday Spread. I'm so close to finishing I can almost taste it: 18.5 rows of blocks sewn together, only 1.5 rows more to go. Then about a bajillion ends to weave in. Ugh.

We go to visit Mom on Saturday, and how I would love it if I could bring the finished project with me to give her. We'll see how close I get.

Then I can start the next project that's tugging at my attention: a sock yarn scarf on my borrowed Dorothy LeClerc.

Maybe I'll try to get a few more minutes' sleep first.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Just a quick post before bed to announce some amazing, pie-in-the-sky news. I'm going to be borrowing a 15" 4-shaft LeClerc table loom for the summer!

I'll be picking her up on Monday from the friend who is lending her to me. After a crash course on using her, I'll be taking her home and figuring out where to set her up. This is a try-before-buy situation, so I'll have the whole summer to decide whether I'd like to own this little loom before committing.

I'm so excited! Since weaving my Lorna's Scarf, I've been trying to figure out what else I can do on my rigid heddle loom besides plain weave. I know that a lot is possible, but it just seems like multiple-harness looms make more complex stuff that much easier. I guess I'll find out firsthand in a few days....

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hand Woven

Every year, we host a giant BBQ at my house. We invite all our friends and relatives, everyone brings something for the cooler or the grill, and the party goes until the last people decide to call it quits.

This year, my college-aged cousin happened to notice my cute little Flower Power face cloths hanging in the shower. "There is no way," she said to me, "that you use those as washcloths. They're too pretty!"

And so, of course, I gave her one with specific instructions that she use it, not put it in the shrine of stuff-that's-too-pretty-to-use. I said, "When it gets too old and gross and used up, let me know and I'll make you another."

This got me thinking, though, about all the things I have here at home in my own shrine of stuff-that's-too-pretty-to-use. One of those things is a hand woven kitchen towel. Made for me as a Christmas gift by a friend several years back, I still have the towel folded neatly in my linen closet, untouched save for the occasional time when I'll open it up, sigh over its cleverness, then fold it back up and put it away.

If I can't make one for myself once this one is all used up, my thinking goes, I'm just going to make darn sure that this one never gets used up.

Problem is, I also make sure it never gets used at all. And that's a sad, sad fate for a lovingly hand-crafted item of any sort.

Which is just one of the reasons I'm so very chuffed with myself. Not only did I finally break out my rigid heddle loom after way too many years of studiously ignoring it, but I finished my first project in all that time.


There she is, in all her glory: my Lorna's Woven Scarf. Lorna's because she's made from two colorways of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn; and woven scarf because I frickin wove this all by my very own self! Who knew I would be so proud of something so very simple as a plain weave scarf?

Honestly, I love how it turned out. Oh, the selvedges could be better, but then again, can't they always be? (OK, I'll amend that: Can't they always be for me?) The colors worked so well together, and the hand is just right: not too stiff, but not too loose. A definite winner.

Which brings me to the question of what to warp up for next. I'm thinking kitchen towels, if for no other reason than it will finally allow me to pull my friend's gift out of the closet and let it see the light of day and a bit of good use. But, I want to try something other than plain weave. Trouble is, I know next to nothing about weaving, to the point where I don't even know where to search for weaving drafts for a rigid heddle loom.

Ideas, anyone?

A big shout-out to gibknitty of the Urban Muser blog for tagging me with a Beautiful Blogger award! So, now it's my turn to share 10 things that I think people in the blogosphere might not know about me.

Here goes:

  1. I can play the violin. I studied from age 7 to age 15, and even today could scratch out a bit of Vivaldi or Bach if I needed to. But the instrument I really, really wanted to learn to play as a kid was the harp.
  2. I've seen more of the rest of the world than I've seen of my own country. Aside from a single trip to visit a friend in Boulder, CO, the farthest west I've ever been is Philly.
  3. I bellydance.
  4. I have an entire 3-drawer dresser crammed full of nothing but sock yarn, yet I still stalk the updates of dyers I like and check the swap boards on rav for special sock yarns that I might want to trade for.
  5. Some of the best things in my life, I found online. My husband is one of these.
  6. I was on the back of an elephant when it panicked and stampeded in the jungle of northern Thailand. It was the most terrifying 60 seconds of my entire life.
  7. I've always wanted a cool nickname.
  8. I've had an old circular sock machine for years now and still can't make a decent sock with it.
  9. I consider myself very lucky that my husband's hobby, blacksmithing, costs more money and takes up more space than my fibery pursuits. This way, he doesn't bat an eyelash when I mention buying more yarn.
  10. Just tonight, I finished my first-ever weaving project using sock yarn! Photos to follow....
Also to follow, my 10 nominees for Beautiful Blogger awards. I've already stayed up way past my bedtime, so forgive me for simply heading off to sleep...with a quick detour to scoop tonight's FO out of its soapy bath and lay it out dry, of course. I can't wait to share what it looks like!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

What happens when you take 2 sick kids, mix them with massive amounts of crocheting, and toss in a dash of swap stalking?

Carpel tunnel, that's what.

No fear, though. The fibery goodness just does not stop, pain be damned. Since knitting with wrist braces on is dicey and even the thought of crocheting makes me wince, I've pulled out an old and sadly neglected friend.

Blog, meet Beka.

Beka is a 36" rigid heddle loom from the 1980s. I think they're long out of production; the largest Beka made today, I believe, is 32".

I got a great deal on my loom a few years back, but I never wove a whole lot on her. A couple of throws, a scarf or two, and then an ill-fated project that so disappointed me that poor Beka sat, unused and unloved, in the basement for so long that I thought I'd never go back to weaving again.

And then, wrists out of commission and a basement clean-up in progress, I finally decided to just cut the stupid, hateful warp off my nice little loom and give it another go.

And you know what?

I'm having a great time.

I warped her up at 12 epi (or is it dpi? I can never remember), which simply means there are 12 warp threads per inch. I used nearly every single inch of two full skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the colorway Woodlawn, which is a somewhat unimpressive mix of muted, subtle golds and browns. The weft is the knockout colorway Irving Park in the same yarn. I'm even using a boat shuttle for the first time and loving it, though honestly, it's a real pain in the ass to have to work with such little yarn on the bobbin. If I have a couple of hundred yarns in a skein, I want to weave up all of it without having to cut it up to fit into my shuttle, yanno?

But, I digress.

The weaving is coming along nicely. I'm not terribly delighted with my selvedges, but this will be a good practice piece. I love how the two colorways are working together, and I'm looking forward to having yet another finished scarf in my wardrobe. I'm already contemplating whether I should weave up some dishtowels out of kitchen cotton once the scarf is finished.

Now, if only I could figure out how to do something on the rh besides simple plain weave....