Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hex Jacket Info.

I seem to be forgetting a heck of a lot around here... I'm gonna blame it on being tired. (It can't possibly be due to losing my mind.) Several people have tried to find the hex jacket on Ravelry... unfortunately, it's not really named that. I suck.

Anyway.

Pattern page for Russian Coat, on Ravelry, here. (This jacket is about as Russian as I am, hence calling it the hex jacket.)

MY Russian Coat page on Ravelry, here.

Right now I'm spinning, in an attempt to quit knitting long enough to regain the feeling in my fingers. Somehow I doubt it's gonna work.

Remember red?

(I forgot to post this with the other stuff, so here you go.)

Remember, when I wrote about the color red, and how freaking toxic a lot of the red paints in history were, what with the mercury and sulfur contents? (If not, the post is available on the sidebar, under "Color".) Well. It appears that red paint probably claimed the lives of a few monks over the years, who used it for illuminated manuscripts.

Information here.

Food color is looking better and better, all the time.

So. Knitting.


I finished the bodice of the hex jacket. There was some tweaking done with the cuffs; thanks to Ravelry, I knew that the sleeves, as the pattern is written, were too long. So I tried something... other. If it works, I'll make sure to put the directions in my Ravelry description. (Basically, instead of the I module at the cuff, I knit a G module in garter stitch. This makes sense if you know the pattern. Honest.)

While the in-laws were here, I worked on this. My father-in-law doesn't really 'get' knitting, in terms of how it works, but he did get it when I shrieked in annoyance that I'd knit a module in the wrong place. I unraveled it and did it again, and he asked "Did you plug it into the right place, this time?" Good to know I'm entertaining.

Now I need to darn in the ends, overdye the bodice (I'll document that process, it should be total insanity) and finish the skirt portion. The bodice needs blocked to within an inch of its life to smooth out the hexagons. I fear an iron may be involved. For clothing, I rarely get out the blocking boards and pins, but this is going to be one of those occasions. Thankfully, the skirt portion should block with minimal fuss.

The skirt (I've got a photo of it in progress, but I'm too damn tired to download it from the bloody camera) is knit like one of the hexagons of the bodice, only much, much, MUCH larger, with one wedge/triangle of the hex missing. The directions for it start with 'cast on 412 stitches', to give you an idea. I've been knitting like a fiend for days, and have decreased down to about 210 stitches, but it's slow going, decreasing ten stitches every third row. It is EATING yarn; it's already sucked up about 300 yards. My fingers went numb earlier today, and I've decided, to hell with it, I'll keep knitting. Babying my hand doesn't seem to do a damn bit of good (at least in terms of knitting; it does help to not smack it into door frames and like that) so I'm gonna knit what I want.

Otherwise, we're all still exhausted. Sekhmet's been asleep for three days (yet another photo I'm too tired to get off the camera), the Goober is laying next to me in a Zen state, watching Blue's Clues, and the husbeast is out in the living room, swearing at a car race on TV.

The Goob has asked to go back to the park. We will never, ever, in a million years get out of there without another half-hour run through the water section.

I want another nap.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wasted.

The in-laws left yesterday morning, on leg two of their planned trip; they are off to visit their other grandchild, for more doting, playing, and running about. I sincerely do not know how they do it; I am ready to drop, still, and that's after a couple naps and a power breakfast of Tim-Tams and Bushells tea. (The Tim-Tams are all gone now. I am going to keep it that way.)

For those who requested Goober photos, well, we took her to the park, where she had a good time.



The husbeast also played, of course:


Then, we took the Goober over to the water portion of the park, to cool off.

...we know she had a really good time, because she threw a screaming tantrum fit when we decided it was time to leave.


Oh, and the grandparents also took her clothes shopping. Here's a photo of her in her pirate dinosaur pajamas (I so want a pair):



I've been knitting. Really. I've mostly finished up the bodice of the hex jacket, and have put a goodly dent in the skirt of it. Plus I measured my father-in-law while he was here, so I can continue with the cable-knit.

Tomorrow I might actually discuss, and show photos.

But for now I'm gonna go take another nap.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Relatives.

Can't live with 'em, can't duct-tape them to the couch and forbid them to ever go shopping again as long as they live.

Last night, as we plowed through the Tim-Tams that Bells sent (for the uninitiated, Tim-Tams are two chocolate wavers, with chocolate cream between, dipped in chocolate), I admitted that I knew where to get them here on the mainland, but I never did, because I didn't want to weigh eight hundred pounds. The Goob had the last of Bells cookies this morning. "Oooo, chokat fo bweafast!"

Today, the husbeast and his father went out to run some errands. Next thing I knew?

Maybe I'll try locking them in the yarn closet next time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Still alive.

Just not much to report. I spent the weekend cleaning. My in-laws arrived last night, and we're hanging around the house today. Tomorrow the husbeast is taking off work and we'll be hauling the Goober to the water park.


Remember the package that Bells sent me from Australia? From her, to her brother-in-law, to my in-laws, to me?

IT CONTAINS OVER A POUND OF THE MOST GLORIOUS MERINO ROVING EVER. I will be dyeing it something fairly sane (I think salmon/coral) spinning it, and knitting a zen sweater for MEMEMEMEMEME.

Plus she sent the Goober a Wiggles outfit. And some really nice tea -- Bushell's? Is that a fancy tea, or your version of Lipton's? Anybody?

Oh, and a pack of Tim-Tams. I ate some for breafast. Arnott's may be the source of all evil on this planet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Goober gloating.

Since folks seemed impressed, yesterday, that the Goob knows what a triangle is, I am going to take a moment or three to gloat.

I have always believed that since it's impossible to guess what a child will understand or remember, it's best to dump all the information you can on them, and hope for the best. Better too much than not enough. Plus we talk to her with real words instead of the 'oogoo geegee' stuff that many folks use with babies.

So. The Goob knows her colors, and her shapes (including exotics like pentagons and diamonds). She can count to twenty, backward from ten (usually during rocket launches), and seems to 'get' what numbers are for. We're gradually working on recognizing written numbers, and learning the alphabet. She can sing the ABC song when she feels like it. Lately she's been into learning opposites; open/close, up/down, etc.

I would love to think she inherited this intelligence from us, but my hand feels like someone's hammering a knitting needle into it after weeks of doing things I knew I shouldn't. And the husbeast just cut through an extension cord with a hedge trimmer.

Must be luck.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ahahahahaha.


This thing is practically knitting itself. (It is the hexagonal jacket, #5, from the Vogue Knitting 2007 holiday issue.) All the stitches are picked up off previous hexagons, so there are only three seams in the whole damn jacket. (Underarms and joining bodice and skirt.) The yarn is way too freaking bright and will be getting a dunk in more blue dye, soon as the bodice is done. Eight more bits to knit on, none of them full hexagons.

And this?

This is my totally brilliant child saying "Dere a twiandl mittin inda mittew, Mumma." [There's a triangle missing in the middle, mumma.]

For those of you who asked what she did to be declared a poo head yesterday, well, she's two. Isn't that reason enough?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stuff.

First off, in yesterday's Kiwi review, I forgot to add that there are add ons for lace and jumbo yarns. A different whorl (to make the bobbin spin faster or slower), and a different flyer specific to each purpose. So with some extra money, you really can get the Kiwi to do anything. Looking at pricing, you can get the Kiwi AND both specialty kits for less than the cost of most other wheels.

Second, my child is a poo head.

Last, a meme from Louiz: Find the nearest book. Open on page 123. Find the fifth sentence. Post the next three sentences. Tag five people,and acknowledge who tagged you.

For once, luck is on my side and the nearest book isn't some silly romance novel. It is "World History, the definitive visual guide" from Dorling Kindersley. (Nice book, great photos, still slanted toward western civ.)

Page 123 is a full-page photo of Takht-e Solalman, a fortress of the Sassanid Persians on the Iranian plateau. So, going to page 122 for some text...

"Under their king Mithridates I, Parthians overpowered Mesopotamia to control all lands from India to the Tigris River. Mithridates recognized the value of the Greek-Persian culture he was inheriting, so he allowed the defeated cities to retain their administrative systems, trading ties, and languages, while placing Parthian governors to oversee them. The Romans defeated and annexed the Seleucid kingdom, thus becoming neighbors of the Parthians."

So, there you go, more to convince you I'm totally nuts. If anyone wants to play, consider yourselves tagged.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm a baaaad monkey.

Got to the arm pits on the cable-knit for my father-in-law. Since he's going to be here next week, I've put it aside until I can measure him and make some more detailed plans. Pretty sure I'm doing it the hard way, when I do it; shoulder straps and grafted-in sleeves. Being a perfectionist is such a pain in the ass.

With the cable-knit set aside, I have returned to working on the Hex Jacket, from VK's holiday 2007 issue. (Yes, yes. Me knitting something from Vogue Knitting is a sign of the apocalypse. Plagues of locusts and rivers of blood, up next.) I LOVE the way the pattern is written, and love watching the colors of my hand-spun move through my fingers, and, well, long story short, I've been knitting like a fiend.

My hands are killing me, I've just taken some painkillers, and I fully intend to go right back to knitting as soon as I'm done with this blog post. I will rue the day. Fuck it. Every once in a while, I rebel against the whole hand problem thing and knowingly do stupid stuff, out of frustration. This is one of those times. Ah, for the good old days, when rebellion meant staying stoned for a weekend, or getting a tattoo.

Actually, I intend to get a tat for my fortieth birthday, so things aren't too far gone.

Anyway. Babbling. Bet the painkillers are kicking in.

Ahem.

I had a request, for a review of my spinning wheel. So here you go.

I have an Ashford Kiwi, purchased new in February from the Woolery (where I also got my swift; nice folks, and they do free shipping on a lot of stuff if you're in the lower 48). It is the unfinished model. I could go on a long riff about the Arts and Crafts movement and wood in its natural state and blah blah, but bottom line is, I like unfinished wood, and it's cheaper. So I got it that way. They do sell a finished/varnished version, and you can certainly buy the unfinished and finish it yourself. (Which I haven't ruled out. The husbeast has many off-the-wall ideas for paint, mostly involving things that will make your eyes cross, as the wheel spins.)

Ashford bills this wheel as their beginner wheel, both in structure, function, and cost. At the time of purchase, I had no idea what I was doing (other than knowing drop spindles screwed with my hand and weren't going to be possible for me). Figuring (rightly) that Ashford knew a hell of a lot more about spinning wheels than I do/did, I took their word for it and bought it. I'm very, very glad that I took them at their word, because that's exactly what this is; an excellent beginner wheel.

The dual drive (the two foot pedals) is more comfortable, especially for people with ankle and knee problems like me; it spreads the work out over both feet (am I the only one amused by my footprints on those foot pedals?) The 'castle' setup (everything in a nice, vertical line, from pedals to wheel to orifice and bobbin) is also fantastic for beginners - until you try it, there's no way to know if you spin right or left handed, and this type of wheel will work easily, either way. It is a single-drive, with a band transferring spin from the main wheel to the whorl with no fancy gearing/reduction/increase. In other words, the function of the wheel is easily understood. You look at it, and you understand immediately how it works. (I'm not saying that as an engineering geek, either. It really is VERY simple. Honest.) Which of course means any needed adjustments and fixes are easily accomplished.

My one complaint about the wheel isn't really anyone's fault. It creaks and squeaks when I spin. Drives me kind of nuts. Partly that's because it is new and still needs broken in (I don't consider a spinning wheel broken in until it's spun about a thousand miles of yarn/thread). We keep oiling it occasionally, and I've found that the main squeakyness, from the hinges the pedals are screwed to, can be avoided if I move my feet around on the pedals and slightly shift the force of the movement.

It does come unassembled if you buy it new, but it's easy to put together. Really. Pre-drilled guide holes for the screws and everything. All you need is a screwdriver and a hammer.

So, bottom line, two big thumbs up for the Ashford Kiwi. I'd say it's even a fine wheel for intermediate to expert spinners, if they want an all-purpose wheel that is adaptable, for spinning fairly simple yarns of medium weight. Oh, and spare parts are affordable. That's nice, too. I recently got two more bobbins for less than twenty bucks.

If I may comment on another beginner wheel, I think the Scachat Ladybug is horrendously overpriced for what it is, and not as good a wheel as the Kiwi. It costs almost twice what the Kiwi does, and is made from inferior materials. (Plywood and plastic.) Not to mention, the wheel itself is supposed to act as a flywheel to even out the start/stop of your treadling; for that, weight is good, the heavier the better. The Kiwi has a fairly heavy wheel. The Ladybug's is made out of lightweight plastic. So. Food for thought.

What's really funny is, when I got this wheel, I did it with plying in mind; I never really intended to make yarn from scratch, I wanted to ply together lace-weight yarns into heavier stuff, making marled yarns that way. But I got some wool with the wheel and spun it up just as an educational exercise, and found I really enjoyed it. It's also good for my hands - my grip strength has probably doubled since I started spinning, and plying alone wouldn't have done that much good.

Now that I know what I like, I want one of these.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wha? Huh?

Snapping out of it... I got "Kushiel's Mercy" by Jacqueline Carey the other day and have been in the zone ever since. It is book six of the Kushiel series and wraps up a lot of plot lines, so there was nothing for it but to read like a madwoman. So I did. Excellent book. Too many authors don't know how to end things, but Carey is a plotting genius. If you like fantasy/alternate history, check out the series. The first is Kushiel's Dart.

The good news is, while I was reading like a fiend, I was knitting, and am almost to the arm pits on the cable-knit. Which is excellent timing because my in-laws will be here in a week, and I will be able to measure my father-in-law for stage two, which will be armhole shaping. I've faced the fact that I need to do this right and put in shoulder straps. No cutting corners. Or shoulders, as the case may be.

Otherwise, here are a few things I've been thinking of, when I surface from alternate reality.


The Goob:

Thanks to all who commented. She's driving me nuts, yes, but I see the big picture. Which is, my happy and healthy child is smart and curious and secure enough to ask twenty million questions a day and stick up for herself. Truly, I wish all parents and children have this as their biggest problem. (I had a cousin with major health issues as a child - several surgeries before age ten. I always remember that when the Goob is running around screaming. You gotta be healthy to run around screaming. That alone is a huge blessing. So let her scream.)

So, thanks again for the sympathy, and I hope I continue to have problems just like this for a long, long time.


History:

A year or two ago, I realized I didn't know much of anything much about Asian history, thanks to my biased-toward-Western-Civ education. So I got some books on Eastern civ and started reading. Once I had a pretty good idea of how things shook out in Asia (the continuity of the Chinese culture boggles my mind), I decided to read some world history books, to get an idea of the big picture. You know, to fit it into the history I already knew.

And I landed back at the reason I'd started this whole quest; everything's slanted toward western civ, even in the world history books. I've got several now that would be fine as western civ textbooks, but are so horrendously slanted the title of "World History" is a joke.

So. Anyone got a suggestion for a real world history book? Preferably of less than a thousand pages?



Last, researchers in New Zealand have figured out a way to dye wool with 'nanoparticles' of gold and silver, producing a lot of unexpected colors. They hope to sell the idea to the high-fashion folks. The gods only know what the retail cost would be, but I doubt we'll be knitting with it soon. Article here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick test dye.

**Please remember, I dye with food coloring that is, obviously, food safe. So I can use my water glasses, my regular cooking utensils, and my microwave for dyeing. If you use regular acid dyes, DO NOT USE ANY UTENSILS FOR BOTH DYE AND FOOD.**

Usually I'm willing to chuck wool or yarn into the dye pot and see what happens. So I don't do much, if any, test-dyes on a regular basis. But this time, I've got my handspun, already-dyed-once yarn that I'm knitting the hex jacket with, and it's too damn bright.

What I wanted to know was, if I could overdye it with a good bit of blue, but still retain the striping effect that makes the hexagons so interesting. After all, why do crazy, multi-directional knitting if you can't tell, later? So, I knit up a little swatch with the tail end of my ball of homespun and put it in some water to soak. I left it there overnight, then chucked in some vinegar and blue dye:

If I wanted to replicate this exactly, I would measure the water, the weight of the (dry) wool, the vinegar, and the dye. But I didn't really care about that, I just wanted to know if I could overdye it with blue and not lose the stripeyness. So I chucked it in the microwave for a minute and a half, until the water was steaming, but not bubbling.

Then I let it sit for about half an hour. There was still blue dye in the water, so I put it back in the microwave for another minute and a half. I did the back and forth thing until the dye was all soaked up, then fished out the swatch and let it dry.

Hooray!

Still stripey, but not blinding!!

Normally I don't use the microwave to dye, because I'm convinced it's bad for the fiber. (Has to do with microwaves, and how they screw with molecules as part of how they work.) But for this, I don't really care if it falls apart in two days, it was all about the color. You could do this on the stove top, too, in a small sauce pan, but it's hotter than a summer in hell, here, and I didn't want to turn on the stove.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The internet; it's a strange place.

Particularly when you mix in real life.

For those of you who read Bells' blog, remember about two weeks ago, when she talked about how her brother-in-law is working near where I grew up? And my in-laws still live there? Well.

Last night they all went out to dinner. In Ohio. While I sat in South Carolina, and Bells sat in Canberra, wishing we were there. Apparently they all had a fine time. Bells' brother-in-law passed off some packages to my in-laws, who will be driving down here in a week (a week? A WEEK! HOLY FUCK! CODE RED! Wait. No. Two weeks. Still. AAAAH!) Then I shall send some things back, and the next time Bells' brother-in-law is in Ohio, they will pass MY packages along to him, and he'll take them home to Bells.

As far as I can see, the only thing that sucks about all this is, I REALLY WANNA MEET BELLS.

Kinda funny, how small the world is.



Oh. And Sekhmet, you fucker.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Two year old, attitude-having little shit.

The Goober's attitude has officially arrived. Below, find a series of conversations we've had with her in the last few days. I've put translations in brackets.


GOOB: WAAAAAAAAAH!
ME: As long as you're screaming, the answer is no.
GOOB: WAAAAAAAAAH!
ME: Still no.
GOOB: WAAAAAAAAAH!
ME: Okay, okay. Calm down. How about... no.
GOOB: WAAAAAAAAAH!
At this point she was chucked in her crib.


ME: Get over it, kid.
GOOB: NO. I NOT GET OVER. [Fuck off, Mum.]


ME: STOP THAT RIGHT NOW OR YOU'RE GOING TO GET SPANKED!
GOOB: Calm down, Mumma. [Fuck off, Mum.]
Alternately, she will give a sarcastic "Oh dear."


ME: No throwing things in the house.
GOOB: Meybee noh. [Maybe not.]
ME: Definitely not.
GOOB: Meybee.


ME: Big girls use the potty.
GOOB: I no yike potty. I wan didy. [I don't like the potty, I want a diaper.]


GOOB: I huny. [I'm hungry.]
ME: You just refused to eat dinner.
GOOB: Chokat? [Chocolate?]


HUSBEAST, pointing to a foot print on the couch: What is this?
GOOB: A poom pwin! [A puma print!]


GOOB: Shoo, titty! [Shoo, kitty!]
SEKHMET: Oh, you did NOT just tell me what to do, little kitten. Go eat hairballs.


GOOB: I a manter. Rawr. [I'm a monster. Roar.]
ME: Eeeek!
GOOB, scared by my shriek: WAAAAAAAAH!


ME: Its nap time.
GOOB: No, no nap. I busy.


I keep telling myself that to talk back like this, she's gotta be pretty smart and have a pretty good vocabulary. And that when she's older, I want her to stand up for herself just like this.

But if she doesn't knock it off, I'm getting the duct tape.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Design: starting out

Several people expressed interest in how I come up with my own patterns, so here we go. I'll try to provide information as I work through the Christmas knitting, and also whenever I do anything original.

For now, we're going to discuss the cable-knit sweater I'm knitting for my father-in-law for Christmas. Here's the swatch:


First thing you need to decide, and this sounds silly, is what you're going to knit, and what size. Sounds kind of silly, but yarn choice has a major impact on how your project turns out later. (Over on Ravelry, haunting the Ugh! section, I've noticed that a great deal of angst is due to bad yarn choice when substituting.) Originally the plan was to knit Morrigan, so I needed yarn suitable for cable knitting. That means something smooth, to show the cables with lots of definition, and something sturdy, to survive the cabling process in the first place. There's lots of pulling and stretching that goes on in cable knitting.

Yardage requirements are always a guess, but cable knits need more yarn than a regular stockinette. I figured my yardage needed by looking at similar cable-knit sweaters, checking the yardage needed, and then adding some extra to be on the safe side. What I got was Bengido Woolen Mills' 8-ply in "Midnight Tweed". (Aussies, if I lived where you do and could get this stuff as cheaply as you do, I would knit with nothing else.)

Next up is swatching. This can take a while (if done properly) but as I see it, the longer it takes to swatch, the less fuss there is during the knitting-up, and the happier you are with the finished product. I started off with a swatch for Morrigan, got, oh, three rounds in, and decided there was no way in hell I was going to manage knitting it with a two-year-old in the house, and started looking around for plan B. I made a nice little list for plan B:
-cable knit, because I already had the yarn.
-an all-over pattern because to do a cable-knit gauge swatch properly, you should really knit every single cable pattern and measure each one, and I did not want to swatch on to doomsday (besides, non-knitting people think they're really complicated and impressive and I'm not going to be the one to admit they're easier than the traditional vertical stripes of cables).
-preferably what I call a 'back and forth' cable; one designed to be knit flat, with a row of cabling, and then a row 'plain' where you knit the knits and purl the purls. Even though I was planning to knit in the round, a 'rest' round sounded like a nice idea. Plus, cabling, like lace, is easier if there's a 'reset' row of nice plain stitches in between the action.
-some kind of second cable that contrasted the all-over; something more traditionally vertical, that I could run up the sleeve and across the shoulder strap.
-cables that weren't too tightly braided; those are harder to knit and make the sweater extremely warm, and I was shooting for something that could be worn indoors.
-something I was willing to knit while chasing the Goober.

With all that in mind, I started swatching. I used needles larger than suggested for the yarn; cables can double and triple the thickness of the fabric, and unless you really want something water and wind proof, a looser stitch gives a more liveable fabric. I knit three or four swatches before deciding on the one above. (It is the "Ornate Lattice" from the third Barbara Walker treasury.) With all-over patterns, you need at least two repeats to get some idea of gauge. Unlike my normal methods, this time I measured the swatch before and after washing. I'm really glad I did, because there's a 1.25cm/half inch difference in before and after washing, PER PATTERN REPEAT. That means this thing is going to grow by about 20cm/9in when I wash it. So it looks way too small now as I knit it up, but thanks to my pre-wash measure, I know so far it's the right size.

Then I figured my gauge by pattern repeat (one pattern repeat is 7.5cm, so how many do I need for the size I want?) described in more detail here. There is also discussion about figuring pattern placement here.

So I cast on, uh, 276? stitches (sixteen pattern repeats - eight front and eight back - plus a few plain on the sides), and started knitting the body. Still not sure how I'm going to do the arm/shoulder seams. I SHOULD do a set-in sleeve with a shoulder strap up to the neckline, but those are a pain in the ass and I don't want to. I'll make up my mind once I get to the arm pits.

Then I'll write another post, I'm sure.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A spot of history.

Everyone seemed to think I was terribly clever to think of using a chopstick as a shuttle, but really, through most of weaving's history, the shuttles really were sticks wrapped with yarn or fabric. Check it out:


This is a copy of a painting on a Greek vase from about 500BCE. You can see they're using what's called a warp-weighted loom, and the shuttle is, yup, a stick wrapped with thread. It was this picture - and the chopsticks I use in my hair - that made me think to use one. I'm not that clever; I just read a lot.

To entertain y'all, I looked up some dates about spinning, since it's far more ancient and widespread than knitting is. The problem is the same with dating knitting, only moreso; no one saved their everyday clothes for posterity, and weather and circumstance cause textiles of all kinds, and many of the tools used to make them, to rot into the ground. But still. There's some interesting stuff.

The oldest spindles I could find a record of, specifically, were these, from Egypt, dating back to about 1550BCE. They spun and wove linen, of course (their religion stated that sheep were 'unclean'), so there was no need to wait for the domestication of any wool animals, or the breeding of animals that bear spinnable wool. Everyone's fairly certain spinning goes back a lot further, but those are some of the oldest spindles recovered so far. I think the tool at the bottom is some kind of bobbin or niddy-noddy; no one can agree on it.

Of course, you don't really need a spindle or anything else to spin, depending on what you plan to do with the string you produce. It's thought that basket weavers far back into the stone age would twist bits of fiber together and use them to secure their materials before the weaving started to stablize them.







Then there are the string skirts. This one is from Denmark, from about 1300BCE. I suspect it could be produced without a spindle or anything except maybe a simple stick to wind twisted fibers onto. It is made of wool. This one is from the bronze age, but there are statuettes going all the way back to over 20,000 years ago, depicting women wearing these string skirts. (The Willendorf Venus is probably the most famous of these.) Textile experts claim that some of the carvings imply that the strings they're made from are spun - frayed ends on the skirt fringe.

I betcha spinning is WAY older than weaving.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Give me about five years.


That's about how long it took for me to really get the hang of knitting. I know I'm screwing up the selveges . And the yarn's probably wrong for the warp.

But check out my authentic replica of an ancient Greek shuttle. (Okay, okay, it's a chop stick. Same difference.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

I think I like it.


This is the start of the next Zen project. Specifically, the hexagon jacket by Norah Gaughan in Vogue Knitting's 2007 Holiday issue. (Yes, yes, I'm knitting something from VK. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.) The yarns are hand dyed Knit Picks Bare for the sort-of-solid dark blue, and a hand-dyed and hand spun for the tweedy stuff. It's the tweed I'm not too sure about. I like that the striping effect is there but not really screamingly obvious, but I'm not wild about the speckling. The plan is to knit the jacket and judge the effect on a whole garment; generally these things look darker in big swathes. If I'm still iffy, I might chuck the whole jacket back into the dye pot with more blue dye to further tone down the tweed.

At the least, I'm enjoying it and wondering if I need to knit my way through everything Norah G. has designed that involves hexagons. And wondering if I need to buy her Berrocco books (to knit with other yarns... I confess I'm a snob about Berrocco.)

My father-in-law's Christmas sweater is still in progress, or at least the swatch is. This time, I think I've got it. (Famous last words.) The swatch is actually going to be finished and washed this time. (Then I'll babble at you guys about what to do with it.)

As for the loom, and other knitting and spinning projects, well... I'm really on fire with the knitting right now, and I'm not going to fight it. And until the Christmas knitting is done (at least, the two sweaters and shawl I want to do; I'm not counting hats and scarves), I'm not going to start any new knitting or spinning projects. I'd like to vow no new knitting projects, for the rest of the year, but come on. It's me. It'll never happen. I do intend to play with the loom on breaks, but I'm gonna cling to this knitting mojo for as long as it lasts.

So I'm gonna go knit.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The day in photos.

Photos guranteed to convince you that I've gone off the deep end. But what the hell, I've gotta stay busy with SOMETHING, and textiles are certainly more productive than a lot of other things I could do, like sleeping 20 hours a day.

Anyway.

First thing this morning I got up and admired my new LOOM, from Historic Stitcher.

We did a swap; I hope she's as happy with her end of it (when it gets there), as I am with mine. At this stage I'm re-arranging my office so that once I set it up, I won't have to move it around much. For now I've got it in my line of sight, grinning at it once in a while.

Then, if that weren't enough, she also sent me some specially-bred llama roving. No guard hairs!

Mmmmmm, yummy.


At the moment I'm spinning madly to finish the yarn for the next zen project:

I got the first small bit done for a test knit. Call me crazy, but I fear I'm going to wind up dunking it all back in the dye pot before I knit it up.

It's a bit... MORE, than I expected. But I'll do a test knit first, to see how it looks knit up. If it's one thing I've learned over the years, it's how different yarn can look in the skein vs. knit up. So we'll see.

I am also still working on gauge swatches (I've quit counting; it's depressing) for my father-in-law's cable knit. There was some interest, back a while, in seeing the design process as I do it, so once the swatch is done, I'll drag you guys through the process.

Now I'm gonna go clean my office so I can set up my loom and weave SILK BROCADE FOR EVERYBODY!!!! (Okay. This may have gone to my head. I'm going to start out with plain cotton even weave.)