Thursday, December 31, 2009

Which path will you choose?

Backstrap Weaving: a lesson in how. NOT.

So just before Christmas I dusted off Dorothy and brought her out from her storage room once again. I had recently read blogs about weaving with sock yarn and felt a burning desire to weave something. I wound warp from 3 left-over balls of yarn (last of 2 skeins Sara gifted me from her trip to Germany) and since there was not enough for a very wide scarf, contemplated which other left-overs to add to the mix. And then there was the question of which weft to weave with. I was thinking something to tone down the reds.

I day dreamed of a quick trip to our only local yarn store (LYS) for another skein of "the good stuff". AcMoore's limited choice of sock yarns was hit pretty hard by holiday shoppers. My biggest obstacle was the fact that my jeep was in Orono with Steph. Said yarn shop's location coincidentally. But I was not. No wheels, stormy driving conditions and holiday chaos* all conspired against me & Dorothy.

So Dorothy waits patiently. Out in plain sight in the living room; petted often and promised soon.

I explored many "weaving" websites in the process of waiting patiently and came across a Backstrap Weaving site, complete with tutorials and how-to-videos, done so well anyone happening upon them might easily be convinced: I CAN DO THAT! Might even lead to playing with power tools and an unexplainable compulsion to hunt & gather assorted supplies. Most of which promised might actually be readily available in the basement.

For days I poked around, looking for wooden dowels, rulers and rope. Rope turned out to be the most allusive actually but finally all things needed were gathered, measured, cut, drilled and ready to TRY. (I should preface this by stating I had a good time trying and there will be an attempt 2. What follows is how my Wednesday went...)
Backstrap weaving attempt 1:


My former girl scout knot tying skills need a refresher course. Also, very old ginormous wooden knitting needle did not prove to be a good choice to use as the back shed rod. Rolled around and was too heavy and tipped from side to side.

Not weighty enough! I thought our rustic coffee table along with some heavy books would anchor the back end in place. It did not.

Had trouble opening the back shed. Strings used to open the front shed DO NOT belong way down in the section marked off with cardboard for fringe braids later.
(I knew that.) I just couldn't figure out how to open the back half at first. I had my laptop down on the floor of the living room in my sunny warm spot - all ready to watch the helpful video on how to string the heddles once more. EXCEPT that sunny warm spot made seeing the laptop screen IMPOSSIBLE.

Yarn choice sucked. Piling & matting fiber beneath the heddle strings made opening the back shed a nightmare. But I can tell you the first time I actually got it to open was JOYOUS! They had been strung correctly, but with the wrong choice of yarn was clearly a setback.

Why is the shuttle yarn wrapped around my leg?
Once I actually had some weaving going on, I put down the shuttle at some point. (Answered the phone, let out the dog, let in the dog, took laptop to kitchen where I could see it in order to find out if the heddle strings were tied right, etc.)
Number of times I accidentally wrapped the shuttle yarn around my leg: 5!

No amount of fiddling can overcome this sorry first effort and I don't think I will continue struggling with bad yarn choice. Will TRY AGAIN using different threads, rather than torture myself with this and become so frustrated I quit.

And I have the jeep for the morning!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Does this cable make my hand look fat?

So I STILL hate making thumbs.

I've finished another pair of mittens and this time they fit me. I used Caron Simply Soft that was left over from a project that got frogged (ripped out and shoved aside...ribbit!) and I suspect they'll stretch out of shape big enough to put both hands into one mitten, judging by socks I once made from the stuff.

But they are warm.
And soft.

I used all but about 20 inches of yarn for the first pair. I wish the thumbs had been longer but maybe they'll fit a 12 year old. We don't have any 12 year old's around to shove them onto. I'm thinking someone with freakishly short thumbs with long fingers?

I ripped out the top of the hand on the first pair as the fingers were too pointy. I'm still not loving the decrease methods I've tried so far.

So far. Did you catch that? Likely to be more. Mom helped me write out her basic recipe for mittens last week but I've lost it already. Should probably quit experimenting stick to mom knows best method.

Still making it up as I go along. The cables need to be ended in a less abrupt manner and tapered off so they don't look like they're designed for a platypus!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I can't explain this.
It goes against everything I've believed until now. I am knitting MITTENS. 

I got out my Barbara Walker Treasury Books 1 & 2, inspired by this picture of mittens, chose 3 stitch patterns from Book 2 and for some reason felt compelled beyond all understanding to rip out 18 rows of ankle knitting and make mittens instead. There's thumbs in mittens
(we don't likes thumbs!)

They started out as socks.
Really they did! A one Goodwill skein of yarn I hoped to use up from stash to make a pair of socks.

I cast on Saturday morning for some grocery store knitting-while-waiting (for mom) and by Sunday morning I was ready to do the heel flap. I hoped to repeat a recent triumph in optimal skein usage and knit up as much as possible from the single skein of yarn. There was no label, not that those are much help to me. I grabbed up some size 5 needles and cast on a random number and hoped for the best. They would be whatever size they wanted.
I knit until the voices in my head said to change direction.

Knit both at the same time and tried to guess how long the yarn would last. That little scrid of yarn next to the brown flecked socks is all that is left from that skein of yarn!  

BEGIN RANT: Dear SOCK YARN people: put enough in a damn skein of yarn to knit a damn pair of average (small even) socks. Most of us have 2 feet and this gimmick of "you need 2 skeins to make a pair of socks" is unacceptable. END RANT.

I've been knitting under the radar since the middle of October. My sister-in-law's grandmother mentioned her church was hanging items on a tree instead of ornaments and I thought I would Knit Unto Others a bit. Use up some stash yarn.

In between socks I started doing some more Fetching fingerless gloves. This probably explains how the thumb thing happened. It occurred to me that knitting the WHOLE THUMB might actually be easier than binding off a hobo half-thumb.
PLEASE NOTE: I seem to have conquered (for now) my lack of LEFT/RIGHT sense. There's going to be one of each!! These do not fit me however. The do fit one of my offspring, who points out she has a brown coat. I may have to buy a special skein for myself to justify the next attempt.
We'll see if this thumb business sticks.