Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Another Woven Item

I recently finished weaving a table runner for my Mom. . .



I still need to block it and trim the fringe, but it's officially off the loom, and I'm very excited about it, as it's the largest thing I've woven yet!



For this project, Mom expressed an interest in learning a bit more about weaving. So, I put her to work! She came over one afternoon after I was done with work, and together, we wound the warp and dressed the loom with it. Then, she did the first handful of picks. (Woody supervised, like he always does when anything with string is involved!) The result is that my Mom is now thoroughly bitten with the weaving bug, and is now waiting for a loom of her own to arrive in the mail! Exciting!

Also exciting is the fact that I bought myself a second set of heddles and heddle blocks! This allows me to do a lot of fun and complicated things with my rigid heddle loom. I decided to start by setting it up to do plain weave using two heddles (and therefore, a much finer thread can be used). It took me a while to wrap my brain around how this would work, but I got it figured out!



The yarns I'm using are nothing special; just some sort of mystery fiber (very acrylic, I'd guess) weaving yarn that I got for free, and so wasn't worried about "wasting" it. For starters, I just did a handful of picks with first the white, and then the pink yarn. . .



Next up, I'll be playing with alternating the order of the heddles, as well as trying out some techniques with a pickup stick. I've also been looking at some drafting patterns that are intended for floor looms, but I think might be able to be modified to work on the rigid heddle loom if I do some experimenting with dressing the loom for that.

I'm very excited about all of this, because I really feel like the sky is pretty much the limit with my rigid heddling now!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Second Pair of Woven Towels

I made another set of towels!

Finished rigid heddle woven white and blue twist kitchen towels for Granny

For this set, I again used the Lily Sugar 'n Cream cottons, this time in white and then a blue twist ("denim"). I wanted them to match my Granny's new white-and-blue color scheme for her kitchen (including these pretty canisters that Mom and I got her for her birthday).

Warping the loom for these towels turned into a bit of a fiasco. I tried to recycle paper that I used for my last towels, and I think the paper was weakened, so it kept bunching up and tearing. Long story short, I ended up unrolling the back beam entirely, and basically direct warping the loom. Live and learn!

Managing a rigid heddle loom warping fiasco

As you can imagine, I definitely had to keep the cats out of the room during this phase! But my most string-obsessed cat, Woody, always enjoys supervising the actual weaving process. . .

Woody supervising the weaving of the tea towels

I once again used hemstitching to finish the ends of the towels. I'm obsessed with this technique! I just think it's beautiful and neat.

Hemstitching the woven dish towels

Hilariously, before I started really getting into weaving, when I bought my first cone of white Sugar 'n Cream, I remember thinking, I will NEVER use all of this! Well, that first cone is on the right, and on the left is the second cone that I had to order with Amazon prime so that I could finish Granny's towels!

Cones of Lily Sugar 'n Cream that I am using up like crazy

And since this photo, I've already taken a significant bite out of the second cone, because my Mom asked me for a table runner like the towels! I'm already more than halfway done with the table runner, so hopefully I'll be posting about that soon!

Monday, July 27, 2015

OAL 2015 Fail

Sometimes, a knitting project is just not meant to be. That was apparently the case with Vianne. All my knitting lately tends to be done during my commute (which involves me being a passenger in a car, then getting on a subway, and then a shuttle bus - with waiting in between) so it has to be very portable. This one, because it is knit seamlessly, was very awkward to knit standing up because of the weight of the back dangling from the tiny, 15-stitch wide front. Also, I kept having to pull the pattern out and check the lace pattern, and keeping the lace row # to row # mapping straight was an added thing to think about. . . Basically, I kept making mistakes and having to rip back.

Additionally, I had a million changes to make to this pattern, some for preference, some for fit. My body is very different from this designer's, so I knew there would be a lot of tweaking. And, I hated the mesh back, because I thought the sagginess it causes looks like a mistake, and it would drive me crazy. So, I drafted my own back panel, and what I should have done is just drafted the rest of it myself too, but I liked the look of the lace pattern at the front, so I went with it. As I was working the fronts, I was thinking it seemed like a lot of armhole room was being built. And then when you join the fronts and backs under the arm, you add a ton more stitches. I should have trusted my instinct at that point and ommitted the extra stitches, because I think it would have been perfect, but instead. . .

Monster armhole fail on Vianne cardigan

Monster armholes. If I ever become a body builder, these are the armholes for me, ha ha ha! But since I'm not, and since I wasn't interested in making big, baggy sleeves. . . I knew I'd have to rip back the work I'd done since adding those underarm stitches, and probably most of both fronts at all.

At this point, I felt frustrated with how many times I'd ripped things back, and having to take out two days worth of work was going to cause me to miss the OAL deadline anyway, so I decided to call it quits. Vianne and I just aren't meant to be! Took one final picture before ripping it all to bits. . .

Final picture of Vianne cardigan before giving up on it

However, even when a project fails, there's usually always something that you get out of it. In this case, there were two things. . . First, I really like this yarn! It's "Longmeadow" by Valley Yarns, and it's making me re-think my feelings on knitting cotton. This one is a blend, and it obviously makes all the difference. I'll definitely be using this yarn for something else in the future!

The other thing I got out of this project, I already mentioned in my last post, but as it's a huge deal to me, I'll say it again: The realization that I can totally draft my own knitting patterns from scratch! I'm still all excited about this! I think my next move in the knitting department will be to finish some UFO's, and then to try patterning one of my own designs. Very exiting!

So there were good things to come out of it, but I was still so sad to give up on this project because it meant I don't get to participate in OAL 2015. This is disappointing because I've already spent so much time working on the dress (not to mention on this fiasco of a cardigan!) and it's disappointing to then not get to enjoy being a part of it. . . But hey, at least I'll end up with a cute dress!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Weaving Adventures

I don't think I've mentioned this here, but I am a serious Craftsy fan! I'm a very visual learner, but live in an area where I can't always get access to a teacher for the things I want to learn, so Craftsy has been a dream come true. If you haven't heard of it, it's basically a web site that offers classes in a wide variety of crafty pursuits. Each class consists of a series of videos that you have lifetime access to once you've purchased, and can watch any time, as many times as you need to. Additionally, you can ask questions and interact with the teacher of the class, as well as fellow students. There's also a gallery feature, where you can share pictures of your finished work, and share comments on other students' projects. Basically, it's an awesome resource! I've taken quite a few classes there, and I've been at least satisfied, if not completely impressed, with all of them. Go check it out!

Anyhow. . . Craftsy's classes on weaving are what gave me the courage to purchase a rigid heddle loom, even though I didn't know of any local weaving teachers. I started with the Rigid Heddle Weaving class, and made the scarf I posted about a while back, and just recently, I did the second half the of the class, and made these tea/dish towels:

rigid heddle woven tea or dish towels in red and white lily sugar 'n cream cotton from Angela Tong Craftsy class pattern

If you're curious about the process, here are some progress shot of my first towels. . .

First, I wound the warp. The Kromski Harp loom has this awesome feature where you just flip the loom over, insert pegs into the holes, and boom! You have a warping board! Such a cool feature! winding the warp

Next, all that yarn goes through the slots in the heddle and over the back rod. I like to call this part "wrangling the yarn spaghetti."

wrangling yarn spaghetti, or, dressing the loom

Then comes this process of rolling the yarn onto the back beam, all the while creating a nice tension. Finally, you tie the ends onto the front rod, and you are ready to begin weaving!

kromski harp rigid heddle loom all dressed and ready to weave

When I knit the scarf, I finished the ends by doing a knotted fridge after the weaving was done. This time, I got to try a new technique for finishing the ends. This is hemstitching, and it's similar to the buttonhole stitch in sewing/embroidering. When you've used this method, after the weaving is done, you pull out your header (that's the black yarn you see in the picture; it's temporary rows of weaving you do at the start to even out the warp, which gets drawn into bunches when it is knotted to the front rod) and just cut your fringe to the desired length, and that's it! It makes a very clean finish, and I think it's something I'll be using frequently!

hemstitched edge on my rigid heddle woven dish towels

From then on, it's just about going back and forth, and moving the heddle up and down as you go. Easy as pie, and very rhythmic/relaxing!

rigid heddle woven tea towels being worked on the kromski harp loom

The instructions had you warp the loom with enough yarn to make two towels, so when I got to the end of the first one, I did the hemstitch, left enough space for the fringe on each towel, and started right in on the next towel.

one woven tea towel finished, and the next one started

I was so happy with the way these towels turned out that I decided to make another pair! This pair will be for my Granny. She just recently changed her kitchen to a white and blue color palette, so I'm using some blue & white "twist" yarn (Sugar 'n Cream, by Lily) as the accent color. (The black yarn is just temporarily holding all the yarn in place, until I'm ready to dress the loom with it).

Lily Sugar 'n Cream in denim twist and white, all ready to dress the loom

As much fun as I've been having with the rigid heddle loom, I'd also been itching to see what using a floor loom would be like. Floor looms are very expensive, and take up more space than I have available in my sewing room right now, so it seemed like it wouldn't be a possibility in the near future. However, a few weeks back, my good friend took me with her on an adventure to Strawberry Banke, in Portsmouth, NH. If you haven't been to Strawberry Banke, I highly recommend it! It's a museum made up of some really amazing historic houses from the 17th through early 20th century. Some of the houses are furnished true to the period, and others have themed exhibits or craft demonstrations going on.

Without a doubt, my favorite house was the Cotton Tenant House. This is because I came through the door and discovered a room that was full of floor looms! On one of them, a beautiful, compliated pattern was being worked in shades of blue. This was the demo loom, and I got to see it being worked. But, the rest of the looms in the room? They were set up for anyone to sit down and try out! So of course, I had a go!

trying out weaving on a floor loom at the Strawberry Banke museum Cotton Tenant house

I loved working with the floor loom! Everything about it appealed to me: the feel of it, the sounds, the beautiful fabric it was creating. . . I just plain loved it! Weaving on a rigid heddle loom is a blast, but I could see that it would be much easier to get into a rhythm with a floor loom, and of course, the variety of designs you can create is pretty much infinite! Also, boat shuttles are amazing, and I definitely want one now!

Here is my friend, Sarah, trying out another loom. . .

Sarah weaving at the Cotton Tenant House at Strawberry Banke
At the gift shop, you can purchase things made with the demonstration fabrics woven by the expert weavers at Strawberry Banke. I purchased a case for my sunglasses, as well as this little bag, which has turned out to be the perfect bag to use for knitting while commuting around on the train and shuttle bus!

small bag made my expert weavers at Strawberry Banke

A few weeks later, I was back in Portsmouth again for a costumed tea in one of their historic buildings. My husband tagged along for this trip, and this time, even he tried the weaving!

Glenn trying out the floor loom at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth NH

I don't think trying the loom caused Glenn to become as obsessed as me, but I am always appreciative when he takes an interest in any of my textile-related obsessions! ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

OAL2015 Progress, and Knitting Revelations

I'm definitely a bit behind on my OAL2015 ensemble, but I'm still fairly certain I can pull it off! I'm definitely using the official pattern, McCall's 6887, because the first draft was already closer on the first try than pretty much any other Big 4 pattern I've ever used! I think I'm in love with these multiple-cup-sizes patterns! Here is the first draft:

First fitting of McCall's 6887 for OAL2015

Obviously I still have a bit more fitting to do in the bust area, and I'll lengthen it just a bit, but other than that, the only thing I had to do was shorten the bodice (which you can see pinned in this pic)! That's amazing, because usually I'm having to pretty much re-draft everything. I got so excited that I all but ran to my pattern stash and pulled out McCall's 6696 because as soon as the OAL2015 dress is done, I think that will be my next project!

With the fittings almost done for the dress, and the fabric pre-washed and ready to go, I know I'll have no problem getting this dress done by the end of the month! The cardigan, on the other hand. . .

I procrastinated starting this! The thing is, I love Vianne from the front, but not so much from the back. I thought, I'll just knit a stockinette back instead, but I had no confidance in my ability to make that alteration, so I kept putting it off. . .

Last weekend, my husband and I had an antiquing & relaxation weekend away in Maine, and I used the car ride to finally bite the bullet and start the cardigan. . .

Beginning the cardigan for OAL2015, Andi Satterlund Vianne with alterations

In the process of doing this, I had a complete revelation: I think I'm able to draft my own knitting patterns! I had no idea my knitting had reached this point, but it turns out, I was able to make all kinds of changes, and in fact, there is nothing that I've knitted on this so far that matches the pattern! Now I'm not sure if I'll go ahead and knit the fronts following the Vianne pattern, or if I'll just make up my own thing for that, too! And in the meantime, my sketch book is filling up with ideas for knitted garments. So exciting!

Also, I'm finding that my knitting is picking up speed and the tension becoming a bit more even, now that I've been doing more knitting in the still-fairly-new-to-me continental method. I love the additional speed the continental style allows for, as well as the greater ease of switching between knit and purl stitches, but I think my favorite feature has been the ability to knit standing up! I'm often standing around waiting for the T or the shuttle bus, or not able to get a seat on the train, and with the throwing style of knitting, I couldn't really knit because I felt like I was dropping needles and such. Now I can knit everywhere I go!

knitting while waiting for the red line T

And in other exciting knitting-related news. . .

My not-such-a-kitten-any-more, Woody, has finally decided to let me knit! It used to be that if I even so much as gently touched one needle against each other, he'd hear it from anywhere in the house and come flying into the room, and begin relentlessly pursuing my yarn, rendering it virtually impossible to knit in the same building as him. But the other night, I decided to give it another shot, and as usual, he came racing into the room. . . But then he just hopped up on the couch and watched me, and never once tried to snag or bite the yarn! Hooray!!!

Woody the cat has decided to let me knit at home, at last!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Outfit Along 2015 Plans

I've decided to give the 2015 OAL a shot! If you're unfamiliar with the concept, you can read all about it here, but to sum it up, you basically have two months to sew a thing and knit another thing, and in the end, you have an outfit, and as a bonus, a chance to win a prize.

I already had the pattern in my stash, and have been really wanting to try out one of McCall's patterns with the sizing by bust cup built in, so I just had to convince myself that I should set aside my current knitting project and start Vianne (or at least, something that can be finished in the two month time period; my current project is Kate Davies' Foxglove, which is not going to happen in two months - especially when factoring in full time work, school, and life in general!) I'm not sold on Vianne as is, because from the front, it's a knock out, but then the back? I'm not especially in love with the look of the mesh, but more importantly, I don't like the sagging-in-back detail. I read on the OAL2015 Ravelry thread that she's considering publishing info on how to do away with the mesh, but I'm not sure how soon that will take place. . . If it's quite soon, that would sell me on Vianne, because again, from the front, it's gorgeous!

McCall's 6887, Andi Satterlund Vianne cardigan, Valley Yarns Longmeadow in 08 Coral, sailboat cotton popin, for OAL 2015

I've selected some navy poplin with a white sailboat print, and I'm currently thinking of combining views of the pattern so that I end up with the flared skirt, the non-cut-out bodice back, and the sleeve option. . . Well, that one is up in the air! I initially thought sleeveless, but then I rather like the cap sleeves of view D.

For the cardigan, I wanted to make something that was appropriate for warmer weather. I've had coral on the brain lately so I knew that was the color I wanted, and that I wanted to try working with cotton or linen. I also needed it to be the right weight of yarn, and to be affordable. The yarn I found that fit all my needs is Valley Yarns "Londmeadow," in color #08. And again, for the pattern, I'm considering Vianne, but it will depend on what I can do about altering the back. . . I'll also want to deviate from the pattern a bit more by shortening the sleeves, to keep with my plan for a warmer-weather cardigan. So here's what PhotoShop and I came up with:

Outfit Along 2015 plans, coral cardigan and sailboat poplin dress

This plan makes me really happy! I can definitely see this being an outfit I will get a ton of wear out of, especially since I have shoes this exact color already. And apparently, I accidentally matched my Kindle cover as well. . .

OAL 2015 accidental matching of coral kindle case to yarn

As I said, I have coral on the brain right now! ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Deer & Doe Aubepine Dress

I was (very belatedly!) looking over my 2014 projects and doing sort of a wrap-up and realized that I had never blogged my last two completed non-historic sewing project of 2014! There was a Washi dress (which I think I never blogged about because the neckline turned out badly, and I might yet unpick things and deal with that before posting), and a Deer & Doe Aubepine dress, which I'm so happy with!

Deer and Doe Aubepine Dress

I am one of those unlucky people who can typically never use a pattern straight out of the envelope. Everything has to be tested and adjusted for my chest-to-frame ratio, among other things. I caught wind that Deer & Doe patterns are sized for a C cup and thought that maybe I'd have less re-patterning work to do, so I gave Aubepine a shot. . . And it was a wild success! The only alteration I did for size was to lengthen the sleeves for my monkey-ish arms. To do this, I simply left out the tucks, and it was perfect. Also, I didn't want the tucks in the bodice, so I just used the bodice front lining instead of the bodice front, and that worked out perfectly. The final change I made was that I didn't want the annoyance of a drawstring that would be likely to come undone all day and/or attract cats (I've got two that are wild for string!) and/or come out in the wash and need to be fed back in again, so I used a bit of elastic instead. Oh, and I fully lined the dress, enclosing all seam allowances within the lining, because I think a fully lined dress just hangs better, and because I love a dress that is as beautiful inside as out!

Deer & Doe Aubepine

The fabric is a cotton homespun that I chose in part because I've had plaid on the brain lately, and part because I "didn't care about it" and so wasn't worried if the dress turned out to not be flattering on me, (as I was a bit concerned about this style looking a little maternity-like!) Once the dress was done, not only did I not think it looked maternity-like, but I absolutely fell in love with this fabric/pattern combo!

So, my conclusion about Deer & Doe? WINNING! I already have another Aubepine cut out and partially assembled, and have invested in a small army of the other Deer & Doe designs (Reglisse, Belladone, Sureau, Bluet, and Chardon). I think I have a new favorite pattern line!