Category Archives: Carolyn

Weaving Part III: My first ‘Real’ scarf

I found 100% cotton fingering weight yarn on etsy that I fell in love with. I knew it had to be woven, it sort of ‘told me’ that it needed to be woven, not knit. (all of you fiber artists out there, I KNOW you have had a similar experience) I decided to jump right in to weaving a fingering weight scarf as my second project so I pulled out my 10 dent heddle and went to work warping! This time though I had the help of my trusty assistant, The Boy, who was so sweet and helpful as I wrapped what seemed to be a thousand strands of yarn and wound them on to my loom….

2 hours later my loom was warped…

It took me about a week of obsessively weaving and checking my edges to created a very very long scarf, that I LOVE!

I purposefully chose a yarn that made it’s own stripes. It worked for me! I will definitely be doing this again 🙂 I used every bit of yarn! There was maybe a foot left afterwards.

scarf

I think my OCD tendencies really helped with the edges this time. I was very careful to check after each strand was woven to make sure there was no pulling or extra yarn. It took me a bit longer but it was worth it. Who wants to start weaving now!?!?

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The Gateway Drug to Weaving Part 2

Now when the box containing my new Cricket arrived it was HUGE! I mean they could have fit 3 looms in there if they wanted to and I briefly panicked about having ordered the wrong size. Thank goodness they just felt like shipping it in a much larger box. The Boy was in a bit of a snit until I opened it and a small little loom was inside all lonely looking.

Here are all the parts of my cricket all laid out and ready to be put together!

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I spent a while going back and forth about whether or not to stain/paint or seal my cricket before putting it together. However as I was considering this the polymer chemist in me kicked in (and I am going to go all super nerdy on you here for a bit so feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you don’t care). In order to stain my cricket I would most certainly get some on the heddle portion. The plastic in the heddle is ABS – acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – and while this is a very good and strong plastic, it has absolutely ZERO resistance to oils. This means that the oils can weaken the plastic and cause it to crack at any stress points… which for a rigid heddle is basically everywhere… so after fretting for a while I just decided to skip that step and thus my Cricket is naked and probably will be until I get up the courage to dress it up. However after doing lots of ABS failure tests involving stress and oil where the ABS fails in under an hour, this may take a while for me! Also a naked Cricket isn’t a big deal. I don’t leave it out in the sun or pour water on it… at least not on a daily basis.

So I was able to very easily assemble the loom. The instructions were clear and I had a working Rigid Heddle in about 20 minutes. However, that is the easy part! After staring at it for a while willing it to tell me all of its secrets, I gave up and I ordered a class on Craftsy that would hopefully enlighten me as to how to get a warp on to my Rigid Heddle. The warp consists of the strings that run through your heddle so that you actually have something to weave on… and without that, I just had a very cute little piece of wooden art. After watching the course (it isn’t that long and is super informative) I decided I was good to try and I could of course warp all by myself! Who needs a second person??? That would only limit my weaving time right? Wrong! I REALLY REALLY did need my second person but I was seriously too pig-headed to stop after I had started and wait for The Boy to come home and help me.

So I plowed on alone… (and oh how I wish I had photos of this!)

After a few hours of cursing and working tirelessly I did in fact, finally have a WARP! It seemed okay…? I really had no idea though, but I certainly wasn’t going to re-do it! I wanted to weave right then! So I did…. and I wove for a few days and ended up with a beautiful acrylic scarf (who wants to waste the good stuff?) that curves to the left… and really isn’t all the beautiful… but I love it anyways

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Lesson learned – I need help to warp. I NEED help to warp. Other people may be able to do it on their own, but they are superhuman. I swallowed my pride and asked The Boy to help me warp my cricket for the next attempt – on which I decided to use BEAUTIFUL cotton yarn on… because I have several crazy bones in my body.

To be continued. .. Soon!

Scarves – The Gateway Drug to Weaving Part 1

I have always loved scarves.

I really do mean LOVE. When I go on vacation, I don’t buy knick-knacks or post-cards to remember where I was – I buy scarves… and I have a ton of them! My fiancé thinks I’m a bit strange and I am now banned from purchasing more (except souvenirs)  as I have plenty of yarn to make my own with (he doesn’t get it)

Now, I love knitting and knitted items. Don’t get me wrong. However, for some reason, I do not wear my knitting scarves like I do my fabric scarves. My two all-time favorites are hand-woven summer scarves that I bought in Belgium while I was working overseas a few years back.

Here is one of them (and isn’t it gorgeous!):

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While browsing Ravelry one day I came across the Weaver’s Marketplace group and did a little bit of research and found out about Rigid Heddle weaving. This meant that I could use my beautiful yarn to make my favorite type of accessory!!! Hand woven scarves and pashminas and shawls! After a little bit of scrimping and saving I found a great sale on a small Rigid Heddle loom – a 10” Schacht Cricket and snapped one up! As I hit pay I had just the slightest negative thought that went something like “What the heck are you doing!? You don’t know how to weave! And there is no one nearby you that weaves and would be willing to help when you inevitably make a giant mistake. Why are you doing this!?!”

But at that point it was too late and I had already started my way down the slippery slope of weaving.

To be continued soon…

Sisterhood of the Stashdown Scarf – Part 2!

After several weeks of impatiently waiting, I FINALLY got my chance to knit on the now famous stashdown scarf, more commonly (and lovingly!) known as the Frankenscarf. I was the fourth lucky recipient, so we have a little catching up to do:

First our Scarf traveled to Christy in Maryland where she spun up several yards off gorgeous purple to add to Maura’s basketweave beginning.

Then after Christy’s lightning fast spinning and knitting, the scarf traveled on to Sylvia in Utah! Sylvia quickly added on a gorgeous blue lace section and again sent the scarf off a travelin’.

California was the next stop and Michelle’s daughter wanted in on the action and chose a beautiful gradient brown yarn for the next addition.

After Michelle was finished the scarf was on its way to ME!!!! All the way from California to New York! I impatiently waited for the package and was so excited when the post office surprised me by delivering it in just a few days (I take back every mean thing I have said about the USPS).

Now the hard part of my job came, I actually had to decide on a yarn to use and what pattern to knit. Since it was a stashdown scarf I wanted to use some of my leftovers if possible but I wasn’t sure which leftovers would be the best… I was also set on doing cables because the scarf had two lace sections in a row and I wanted to break that up, but that was all I had figured out. After much hemming and hawing (and finally having mean moderator Kelly step in and tell me the scarf was due elsewhere quite soon) I decided that the leftovers from my most recent project (Susan B. Anderson’s Quaker Ridge Shawl) would be perfect!! I still had some leftover beads and could add them here and there as accents. On Halloween night I sat down to knit in between children knocking on my door and came up with this after a couple of hours:

I was really hoping to take a picture of the scarf in a beautiful location (because the Fingerlakes are known for some very scenic areas but Hurricane Sandy had other ideas so.. no gorgeous outdoor photos from me)

Tomorrow the scarf again begins its journey onward to Meghan in D.C. I hope she enjoys the scarf as much as I did! It was so much fun to see everyone’s knitting in person and to actually get to feel some of Christy’s gorgeous handspun (seriously, her stuff is amazing!).

Safe Travels!

Process or product

Reading Maura’s last lovely post about the joys of yarn potential got me thinking about product knitting vs process knitting. Is the joy in knitting having a beautiful finished object, that’s just as you envisaged it, and that you (or the recipient) will treasure ? Or is it in the act of creating; the meditative nature of knitting; the thrill of learning? Or is both?

So which are we? Product knitters? Or Process knitters? And which are YOU?

Rachel
I’m a process knitter. I love learning new things and I love the physical act of knitting. It’s not that I don’t love having finished objects, but they’re not the sole motivation.  Here’s an example. I finished a lace shawl a couple of years ago. It was the most complicated thing I’d ever knitted, and I was ridiculously, crazily, unrepentantly proud of it.  Here it is:

Well, not that long after I’d finished it, my daughter, then aged about 5, was playing with it in the dining room.  She laid it out on the floor, and then she put a chair with thin metal legs on top of it.  And then she sat on the chair, and tried to pull the shawl up over her knees…  You can guess the rest!
I surprised myself by how NOT upset I was: I’d enjoyed knitting it, I’d learnt a lot, and I could live without the shawl.   So now I don’t fret too much about how many WIPs I have; I don’t despair if I have to frog something; and I don’t cry when the kids lose or destroy the things I make. I still love me a pretty FO but it’s not the be all and end all!

Carolyn

I’m still so new to knitting that I haven’t quite made up my mind about this, but I probably lean more towards the Product Knitter side. I feel like whether you’re a Process or Product knitter can better be described as which shade of grey are you? Where do you fit on the Process vs Product scale because to some extent we have to be a little bit of both right? (even 5% Product and 95% Process) if you’re as obsessed with knitting as we are, it would seem like that might be the only way you would stick with it for so long. Originally I was a 99% Product knitter. I took up knitting specifically to make myself a pair of gloves (seems innocent enough) but I have slowly transitioned to being about 60% Product and 40% Process. I really enjoy the process of knitting, obviously, and it has gotten a lot more fun as I have become more proficient at it. However, that being said, I LOVE finishing things. I never cast off an item and let it sit around for days  (let alone weeks or months) without the ends woven, and I HAVE to get it blocking as soon as the weather permits. Making things out of balls and strings and actually having them be loved and be useful is what it’s about for me. Being able to say I made that, Me! really makes it special.

Maura

I have to stick with the fact that I am pretty much in the process knitter group.  I remember being in college and my professor of Art, who was married to my professor of Drawing (a whole different story…), spoke frequently at great length about process versus product.  Are you creating Art for art’s sake or for Art for the audience?  Are you being true to the art and to yourself by making art to sell to someone who asks you to make something specific?  As you can imagine, I come to knitting (or quilting or home decor) as an art form.  I do it for myself – I am extremely selfish.  I only do that which brings me joy, that which feeds my soul.  Most of my finished objects are sent out to someone else and I usually don’t know who it will be until the item is finished.  Many times, I make something just as an experiment – to see how the pattern works, how a stitch works, how easily I can do it.  Then in the middle, the pattern and the yarn start telling me who needs to receive this object.  If the object has no home, it stays with me and I look at it with a sense of nostalgia – Wasn’t that fun to make?

Kelly

Well, I guess my little evil, greedy comes out again.  I am so far down the product scale it is scary.

I. Want. The. Thing.

I choose patterns because I think they are pretty/comfy/fun/cute/wearable/useful/gorgeous/popular.  I can’t think of even once where I have chosen a pattern to learn a skill…  Oh, that is sad.  This should have been immediately apparent to anyone who knows me, and how hard it is to give FOs (finished objects) away.  Only the truly knitworthy…

Genevieve

I adore the process of knitting but I think ultimately I’m a product girl.  Sometimes it’s only knowing what is awaiting me at the end of all the hard work that really keeps me going when I’d rather just stash the item somewhere and forget its very existence.  Like Kelly, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a pattern simply to learn a new skill, learning new skills is simply a result of having to have that particular item. Now.

What can I say, I’m a little bit of a material girl! (see what I did there? Ahem)

Breaking Black (Bad) – Upstate NY

Over the same weekend, four of us, in four different places (Chicago, San Francisco, Upstate NY, and New Zealand), experimented with breaking black food coloring to dye yarn. Here’s how it worked out in Upstate New York. The experiment has since been referred to by all as the great Breaking Bad experiment.

I used a full skein (436 yards) of Wool2Dye4 Platinum Sock, which is a superwash merino fingering weight yarn. I soaked the yarn overnight in water to prepare it for dyeing.

I don’t plan out what I’m doing before I start, I usually just add dye willy nilly until I like the results but in this case I actually DID take notes, shocking really! Just for everyone reading the blog. I started out by gently spreading the yarn out in a crock pot and covering it with just enough water that they yarn could be fully submerged but not allow the dye to move freely.

I turned the heat on the crock pot to high and gave the water just a few minutes to start heating up. I then took approximately 1/8th tsp of Wilton’s black concentrated gel icing and added it to 1 cup of hot water and mixed very well until all of the color had dissolved (water turned a dark green).  I then poured the dye over the yarn in a pattern that I liked, making sure to concentrate it in a couple of places

I did this twice more to get a saturated color

I then added ¾ cup of vinegar to set the dye, and let it sit until it hit 170°F to allow the dye set and fully absorb.  The crock pot and yarn was then allowed to cool to room temperature, and after drying it looked like this:

So I decided to fix it with 2 packets of Mixed Berry Kool-Aid (no sugar) added to yarn that had been soaked over night and heated to 170F again (basic difference is that no vinegar is added to the crock pot because KA already has citric acid). I chose Mixed Berry because I thought that blue would compliment the green and purple that I got from breaking bad and help intensify the colors. I was sort of right, and sort of wrong, but the result speaks for itself.

I ended up with this beauty, which I love knit up! The KA seemed to mute the green and intensify the purple all at once, plus it added patches of intense blue. I may add even more blue to it later but I’m leaving it for now.

I blame my grandmother and YouTube

My name is Carolyn, and yes, I was once kicked off of the school bus for several months for being too sarcastic to my bus-driver. I’m hoping he has gotten a little bit better at taking sass and sarcasm from a 3rd grader, thanks to me.

“Me and my pup Reese doing some knitting photography”

About a year ago I innocently told my partner “I think I’m going to take up knitting as a hobby, what do you think?” His naïve response, “That sounds great!” — He had no idea what was in store for him and our small 1,000 square foot house. On the bright side? He always knows what I want for Christmas, birthdays and our anniversary.

My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 12, but it didn’t really stick. I thought it was interesting but truthfully getting me to sit still for a couple of hours was impossible. Plus, I just thought a garter stitch scarf was a bit… ugly… and had no idea you could make anything else.

THANKFULLY, I was enlightened approximately a year ago to the possibilities that knitting offers when I found Ravelry and decided to take up this new hobby. At first my partner thought it was funny seeing me cursing at the two wooden sticks in my hands that just kept making tangles, despite the awesome help that YouTube videos offer, but then he saw a change… and a little bit of fear crept in to his eyes.

The spare bedroom is now my knitting room, I have a closet filled with yarn instead of clothing, and the coffee table is home to at least one project at all times which means no feet on the knitting! (This is the boy’s least favorite change)

PLUS! I found people to enable my knitting! (Like I really needed that…) I met this group of fantastic individuals from all over the world that Oooooh and Aaaaaah over your successes and wince with each rip that you have to make. It’s a family of sorts (or a very good group of friends that you hang out with at the bar – perfect metaphor Kelly).

Support, sarcasm, walking the line at all times; that’s what we are about at the Back of the Bus Full of Yarn!

Enjoy-

Carolyn