Category Archives: not knitting

Lessons

I have finished my weaving project, and I’m pleased to report that everything went a lot more smoothly once I had my loom warped correctly (and the 2-year-old was napping).

I’m pretty pleased with how the fabric turned out.  I used a mystery teal wool (maybe Cascade 220?) for the warp and some beige-y Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud DK for the weft.  The finished project (I guess it’s a scarf) is lovely and drape-y and soft.  It’s probably not the color combo I would have reached for in an ideal world, but it’s pretty enough, and used up yarn that has been sitting in my stash since (probably) the last decade.

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However, this process had taught me a few things:

  1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Still kicking myself about the warp situation.  (I’m not going to read the instructions next time.)
  2. Weaving goes so much faster than knitting!  I made a whole scarf in, like 2 days.
  3. Weaving burns through yarn so much faster than knitting!  I used up 3 whole skeins (sure, 2 of them were fairly small, but still!).  Definitely something to think about when trying to downsize my stash!
  4. I really like the edging stitch/tassel combo on this one.  I’ve never done an edging stitch before, and like how it turned out.  It was real satisfying, and made the scarf look nice and professional (unlike the rest of the piece).IMG_2888
  5. I’m not great at weaving.  Like, I know the basics and was able to make a chunk of fabric, but it’s certainly not even row-to-row, and it has a weird curve to the left.  My current guess is that I did something funky (obviously) when warping, and made the yarn too tight on one side.IMG_2897
  6. I realized that I don’t really know what to do with woven fabric (other than make scarves).  I mean… table runners (scarves for furniture), place mats (short scarves for furniture), coasters (tiny scarves for furniture), and bookmarks (even tinier scarves, but for books), but other than that… I’m not sure.  Can you cut this kind of woven fabric and sew it?  Would it fall apart?  Any ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

Well, it was a fun little project, and definitely something I need more practice with.  I should go digging in my stash to find more forgotten yarn.  Maybe everyone gets woven scarves for Christmas this year…

Have you tried any new projects during lockdown?

And now for something completely different

I’ve reached the part of quarantine where I decide that warping a loom with the “help” of a 2-year-old is a good idea.

It is not a good idea.

Especially when the last time you warped a loom was maybe 4 years ago (I’m honestly not sure).

I thought I had the right idea, kind of glanced at the pictures in the instruction book, and barreled ahead while the kid was being as non-destructive as possible.

Anyway, here’s “Warping a Loom: A photo essay.”

  1.  I was feeling cocky- I had done it!  I remembered what to do, and had managed to do it with my toddler in the room with me!  Isn’t he cute!  Isn’t the loom lovely!IMG_2857
  2. Oh no!  I just realized the yarn on the left side of the loom (in the picture) is supposed to go over the big bar, not under it.  (Note: I’m sure there’s a name for the bar on the left side of the loom, but as has been established, I didn’t read the instructions, so I have no idea what the name is.)IMG_2858
  3. Panic.  I really don’t want to undo all the knots and threading each bit of yarn through the heddle again, so I decide that the easier thing to do will be to literally take the loom apart and put it back together around the yarn, instead of the other way around.  I dig out this weirdly patriotic screwdriver.IMG_2859
  4. I take the loom apart carefully, with “help” from the kid.  He’s very interested in tools.IMG_2860
  5. I put the loom back together, with more help.  He’s very helpful.IMG_2863
  6. It looks good!  The kid tests it for strength.  Seems OK.IMG_2864
  7. Victory! (Hubris!)IMG_2868
  8. Oh wait…  The yarn is all supposed to be even, now that I fixed the loom!  Why aren’t they even??IMG_2873
  9. Oh.  The warp is supposed to go over the bar on this side too.   Good thing I haven’t put away the screwdriver yet…IMG_2874
  10. Fixed (part 2).  And I’m pretty sure it’s fixed for certain, this time.IMG_2876
  11. Oh yeah… look at those lovely lined-up threads.  And it only took me twice as long as it should have!IMG_2878

The moral of the story: Read the directions, even if you’re sure you know what you’re doing.  (You don’t know what you’re doing.)

Oof.

And I thought last week was wild…

Well, we’re now “Sheltering in Place,” and I haven’t been out of the house (other than daily walks with my kiddo around the block) in a couple weeks.  Social media is stressing me out, but it’s also the only way I can keep in touch with everyone, so I feel like I can’t just ignore it.  It’s not been great.  (Though, again, we’re safe and healthy, we haven’t lost our jobs, and we are in a really good place to weather this storm.)

When we first went into quarantine, I thought “Sweet!  I’ll get so much knitting done!  I”ll make a new sweater for the kid, and for me, and for my husband.  I’ll do some designing, and maybe self-publish a pattern or two.” But to be honest, I haven’t done any of that.  I have barely even picked up my needles.

IMG_2725.JPGNot to say I haven’t been productive, in other ways.  I’ve done a ton of yard work, I’ve constructed a tent in the living room from our neighbor’s bamboo, string and blankets, and I’ve built more LEGO houses, tunnels and trains than I could count. But, I haven’t really been knitting.

I think it’s the quiet, meditative, part of knitting that makes it hard for me to sit down with my needles right now.  I don’t want to be still and quiet.  I want to be out in the back yard with a saw and a pickax and a shovel.

But, I know this will pass, and soon enough I will want to pick up my needles again and finish up that pair of socks I started as a “fun” project right before this whole thing went down.  The day will come when sitting quietly on the couch with a cup of tea sounds calming, and not anxiety-provoking.  And it will probably come soon.  I just have to be OK with it taking a little time.

After all, the socks will be there waiting whenever I’m ready.

What are you doing during all this at-home time?

 

Spun Out

It’s been more than 4 years, but I’ve actually finished!  I finally finished spinning some yarn!

Actually, I finally finished spinning a LOT of yarn. (I think it was about 300 yards of worsted, though I can’t find where I wrote down the yardage…  I guess I’ll have to measure it again… ugh!  Suffice it to say, it’s a good amount.  All skeined up, it’s the size of a large loaf of bread.)

And, y’all, it’s SO pretty!IMG_2685

It’s all sorts of beautiful shades of purple, teal, turquoise and blue, with variations in shininess and depth of color.  I managed to do a 3-ply, which means that (mostly) every part of the yarn has 3 different-colored plies.  So fun!  And not something that you can find easily in shops.IMG_2698

The yarn is soft and squishy, a nice thick worsted (ish).  I’ll be honest, it’s not perfect (it’s not perfectly even, and it’s a little over-spun).  But it’s hand-made!  Isn’t that the point?

Now I gotta admit- I’m thinking about getting another hank of fiber and spending the next 3-5 years making it into yarn.

Also, now I have to decide what to make with this yarn…. choices, choices!

Better Late Than Never

It’s been a week.  Between the kid teething, skipping naps, starting potty training, and generally stretching his “toddler” legs, I’m exhausted.  I had plans to rip back my Stonecroft Shawl and get it finished, but I just couldn’t get it together.

Instead, I pulled out a project that hasn’t been touched in literally years.  I busted out my spinning wheel.

(To be fair, the spinning wheel sees a lot of action when we have playdates- there’s nothing toddlers loves more than large, slightly dangerous machinery, especially if there’s a wheel involved.)

I pulled out the roving I purchased and started spinning in (Are you ready?) 2016!  That’s 4 years ago.  I got two-thirds of the way through the roving (and it wasn’t a big chunk of roving either!) and just stopped.  I couldn’t tell you why- must have just gotten bored or something.

Anyway, I pulled it out again, and got spinning.  It’s looking good, I think, and the actual spinning seems to be coming back faster than I expected.  I guess it’s like riding a bike!

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I’ll be curious to see what the yarn looks like when I’m done (since I don’t really have a plan for it), and if I can see a difference between the freshly-spun yarn and the sitting-on-the-shelf-since-the-Obama-administration yarn.

What projects have you resurrected after a long hibernation?

Kitchen Reno

I’ve never been one to do home repair.  I know I’ve got plenty of DIY skills, but I also know that I don’t have the kind of skills to, say, lay tile or re-hang a door or renovate a kitchen.

I do, however, have the skills to renovate a play kitchen!

(FYI, this is going to be a long one.  And there isn’t going to be any knitting involved.  You have been warned.)

Anyway, we had been thinking that our kid would appreciate a play kitchen for a while.  After all, one of his favorite things to do is to pull out pots and pans from our cupboards, pretend to stir something (usually puzzle pieces or pompoms) with a wooden spoon.  He’ll then repeatedly say “Cook!  Cook!” until someone acknowledges what he’s doing and takes a “taste.”  It’s very sweet.

Now, as you know, I’m an elaborator.  I could just buy a play kitchen, but no!  I had to do something fancy.  I started my search for a used play kitchen that needed a makeover.  I tried the kid’s consignment shops, Goodwill, I even looked on Craigslist.  And I didn’t find anything that really spoke to me.

But, then, driving home from a playdate, I saw it- on the side of the road.  A really nice home-made play kitchen that needed a little TLC!  It was fate!  A free kitchen!  Right there, less than a half a block from my house!

I hopped out and tried to shove it in the back of my car before the kid realized I wasn’t going to let him out of his car seat.  I couldn’t close the trunk, but it was only a half a block, and my kid was losing it, so I figured I could make it to the house if I just drove carefully.

Well, I immediately hit a pothole and the kitchen fell out the back of my car and busted into about fifteen pieces.

The kid was completely beyond reason at this point, I had smashed a play kitchen across the street (right in front of the previous owner’s house, I might add), and several neighbors had definitely seen what I had done.  Not my best moment.  Luckily, a neighbor stepped up and helped me load the pieces back in my trunk (and let me borrow some bungee cords).

Long story short, I got everything home and got the baby calmed down.  And, now I had a bigger project than I had expected.

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Clearly this play kitchen had started life as a TV stand and some extra lumber, and someone’s very talented grandparent had converted it into a kitchen.

I got to work, taking off the hardware, removing the DVD “burners”, and sanding all the pieces.  I bought a new faucet, paint and some nails and came up with a plan.

First thing, I reassembled the shelves and put the counter top back in place.  (I thought about waiting until after the pieces were painted, but I’m glad I didn’t.  Turns out I’m very bad at driving nails, and I would have totally ruined the paint if I’d done it the other way around.)

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Then a few coats of paint.  (The green looks distinctly more avocado than I had envisioned.  It took a while, but it’s growing on me.)

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Then I broke out the painter’s tape and added in green details on the shelves, cook top and the side.  It really was starting to look good!

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Then I installed the new faucet (which was definitely easier than installing a real faucet), put back the doors (which was more difficult than I had imagined- one of the hinges must have gotten bent in accident, and didn’t want to shut all the way), and cut a piece of plastic for the oven door (that I installed with some truly toxic-smelling glue).

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Then it was time for the last few details- burners made from painted wood circles and cut-up tongue depressors, some chalkboard paint for the “menu,” a new sink, and a hook to hold a kid-sized apron.  Then the grandparents supplied the kitchen with lots of adorable pots and pans, baby cookbooks, and my mom sewed a huge basket of felt food

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Then all that was left was a big red bow on top, and we were ready for Christmas morning!

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I’m happy to say, he loved it!

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I think it was the big winner this year (well, at least until he opened up the beeping, flashing trucks from his great-grandpa).

It was a really fun, and something so different from my usual projects.  I really enjoyed putting it together!

Did you do any Christmas crafting?