Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Random Bits and Pieces

My attempt at something called Flake yarn.  Actually, it is my second attempt.  The first was so ugly that I couldn't in all honestly use it for homework.   I'm limited as to the size of the flakes or tufty bits because of the size of my spinning wheel orifice.   It's pretty yarn though I'm going to have to get creative to figure out some sort of valid use for yarn like this.

I finally finished the toe on this sock and grafted it together yesterday afternoon.  Now to cast on the second sock.  Last hip check up I had, I'd forgotten to bring my knitting bag and had to sit around twiddling my thumbs for a bit until I remembered I had put a game on my phone.  It was my least desired waiting room activity.  I don't think I will forget to bring a project or a book along next time.   My sweetie suggested I just leave a project bag with a pair of socks in the truck, so it is there when I need it, which isn't a bad idea actually.

I spent 45 minutes this morning sanding this simple boot jack.   It was a quickie project that my sweetie made for me last night, out of a scrap of wood.  It isn't horribly pretty, but it works just fine.  With something like a boot jack, function is really what is important.   Many years ago I had a pretty little blue one that my uncle made me when I was a kid, to help me haul off my riding boots.   This one is needed so I can get my new boots off without mucking up the heels too much.

The deal was if I got my hip done, my sweetie would get me new boots.  Love the boots.  They are super comfortable.  A bit ticked off that they cost $100 more in Canada than in the US, but we're used to that.  On the other hand, the service and selection from Keleher's Western Wear was pretty awesome.  Awesome service is hard to come by at a lot of stores these days.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Pin Weaving

One of the Master Spinner 5 homework assignments is to spin a warp yarn and a weft yarn, and then weave a 5 in sample, showing how they work.    For the warp, I spun a worsted yarn, though not a true worsted, using sliver and a short forward draw.    I wasn't sure what piece of equipment I'd use to weave with, so I spun 2 different wefts.  One was a slighter larger grist yarn using a point of contact long draw.  The other was pretty similar to the warp yarn, short forward draw from sliver.  

I can't use my floor loom yet and besides, the amount of loom waste for a sample of this size would be  huge.  I'd have to use a dummy warp and until I have clearance to bend, twist and fold myself into the loom, that just isn't going to happen.   I did think of borrowing one of the guild table looms, but then the message came out from the President, that the table looms were dressed for the next scarf workshop.  My friend Maureen had offered to loan me her granddaughter's rigid heddle loom, but it has a project on it, albeit a stalled project and there was no way I was going to take a child's work off the loom for this.   I was going to borrow my girlfriend's table loom for a few months.  Arrangements had been made back in the autumn, but I forgot to remind her to bring it to an SCA event in November and she forgot to bring it.  That would have been the best solution.

The last time I had to weave a small sample, I'd used a cardboard, makeshift pin loom, which really didn't make the grade.  It bent and I couldn't get a decent sett for the silk yarn I was supposed to use.  So, what to do?  I asked my sweetie to make me a wooden pin loom.  It didn't have to stand the test of time, just survive through one project.  I figured some scrap wood and finishing nails.

This is what he made me.  It is assembled with 2 wood screws at each corner and nicely squared.   The frame will not fall apart.   I lost one of the finishing nails when I was trying to figure out how to remove the woven piece from it.   It was easy once I realized I needed to use my little bodkin needle to flip each yarn loop over the nail head. Someplace hidden in the folds of a pile of fibre, is a lone finishing nail, either happy to have escaped, or mourning,  missing his spot in the upper left corner of the loom.

Because I had requested the nails be set at 5 per inch, which gave me a sett of 10, each nail holding 2 theads, I used the weft yarn which was similar or pretty much the same as the warp.  It is my preferred weaving materials anyway.    I decided to do a straight twill instead of a tabby weave.  That was interesting.  I highly recommend manual weaving like this to truly understand a weave structure.   It is one thing to set the loom up according to a diagram and another to have to pick each row up with a needle.

What I notice the most was how long it took.  It thought easy, peasy, it would be done in no time.  It took a couple of minutes to wind the warp on the loom and 4 hours or so to weave it off.    I only had to unweave a couple of rows and I caught them right away, so that was good.  The bad part was that it was a Ground Hog Day mistake.  Like the movie, I made the mistake 3 or 5 times in a row, after picking out the error each time, before I realized that it was time to take a break.

A couple of hours later I was back weaving. The last few rows were easier than I'd thought.   I knew not to let the warp get too tight while winding it on, so I had enough play in the threads at the end.  I'd used a bodkin, for threading cords, rather than a sharp needle.  This turned out to work really well, as I didn't ever catch the warp on the needle.  When it was off the loom, I wet finished it with a bit of agitation in some warm soapy water.  After rinsing, I was going to give it a hard press, but not only can I not bend enough to  access the outlet to plug in the iron, but Kevin kept trying to sleep on the wet sample.  I decided to let it dry au natural, up high, where Kevin can't reach it.

 I really dislike the selvedges.  They are a little loopy and look sloppy.  I don't know if it is my technique or just a result of the pin loom itself.    However the weaving is fine.  I caught all my mistakes and it is nice enough for my homework sample.   It would have been better if it were hard pressed, but maybe I'll remember it before my homework is ready to ship and can re-finish it then, if I really think it needs it.

I can't imagine doing a large project with this method of weaving though. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Healing Update

Holy Cow! I cannot believe it's been almost a month.  It's been a month of mainly healing time, with a bit of activity, mainly physiotherapy.  In the last week though, especially the past couple of days, the mobility has been growing noticeably.   I find out next week if I can start slowly transitioning to normal activities, rather than being bound by the fairly rigid limitations that I have right now.  Fingers Crossed!

Just finished piecing and started the embroidery.
I did start a handwork project, not knowing how long it would be before I could get back to my spinning wheel.  I started this to use as a possible class sample.  I could do it sitting at a table, by hand, using 19th century period techniques, since I couldn't get to or use my electric or treadle sewing machines.  However, when I offered to teach the 2 classes to a local historic teaching event, it came with a caveat that I wouldn't be cleared to drive for a couple more weeks at least.  I'm guessing that the event coordinator didn't want to risk my having to back out, since they didn't ever get back to me.  Their loss, but now I have to figure out a way to entice me to finish the samples and put them to use.

I have done a bit of this too.  Actually, I've knitted 2 socks, just different yarns.  Both were started before the surgery and I am ready to finish off the toes of each sock.  However until I can actually check the fit, I'm having a bit of a personal issue finishing them up.  I shouldn't really.  I can do this all with math but there is something quite satisfying about trying on the sock and knowing that it fits.

I had great expectations about how much I'd get to knit during this time.  I had not 1 but 3 sock projects with me at the hospital and knit exactly 2 rows, since I really kept just falling asleep.  It felt like I slept for 3 days solid, which I pretty much did.  At home, it hasn't materialized as the fun, gotta finish up activity that I'd hoped for.

Mainly because of my spinning wheel.  At the 3 week check up with the surgeon, I asked about spinning.  He delighted me in the fact that he actually knew what a spinning wheel was and what the physical movements/motions were needed to use one.  I got the all clear to start spinning.  It took me a few more days to actually get the right chair and wheel in place.  I had to switch from the Sonata, which has the flyer at the rear, which would have required me to bend in one of those prohibited ways, back to the Minstrel.  It has the flyer at the front, ergo no bending to reach it and the treadle angle also allowed me to maintain that necessary less than 90° angle. 

 What amazed me is that while I hadn't been able to sit and spin for more than a few minutes at a time since last summer, I was suddenly having to remind myself to take breaks.  I could really spin again, which has been so wonderful!  I've been pounding out the homework samples for level 5.  I still need to mount them, but once I am allowed to bend and stretch a bit more, (fingers crossed for next week's appointment),  I'll be able to access the printer and other needed materials, to get that done.   Right now, spinning is feeling wonderful.

Of course after having someone around home with me for several weeks, I've needed voices on during the day, so have been having a Buffy film fest while spinning.  I can spin all morning and into the afternoon, until my cat decides I've had enough.  He tugs on my arm, gets cranky and whiney, until I lie down with him for a bit, while he stretches out on my healing leg and sleeps, forcing me to slow down.  I chock it up to necessary healing time.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Guardian Cat to the Rescue

Cat snuggled against the hip incision
Soooooo, my cat does not like to sit on people.  His idea of a good cuddle, is to sit near you, but not touching.  He will sit on the back of a comfy chair while you sit on the chair, or he'll sit on the cushion at one end of the couch, while you sit on the other end.   But sit on your lap for a nice pet and a snuggle, nope, not ever.

Yet.......... if I am not feeling well, and not a I have a cold unwell, but really unwell, he is right there checking up on me.    When I got home from the hospital, we couldn't keep Cat away.  He normally asks me to feed him as soon as I'm up, but he didn't once mew pitifully as if he would waste away without his morning tablespoon of wet, gushy food.    Instead, he spent his days and afternoons cuddling up to me.  Either right beside my incision or trying to get on top of it.  As long as he could be touching my right leg in some rather overt fashion, he would make himself at home and cuddle up.

Cat snuggled up on my right leg
Yesterday he was still finding ways to perch on top of my leg.    This morning however, he decided that perhaps it was time for me to begin feeding him again, although it will be a little bit longer before I can actually access the kitchen for his food and manipulate the tins to his dish.   He has also decided to take his morning nap someplace other than on my leg.

 That can only be good news. It can only speak of good things for the awesomeness of kitty healing powers.

Cat snuggled up on top of my right leg.
Cat migrated to a more comfortable position

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

On Floors and Cats

The kitchen floor is wonky.  In a previous life, the kitchen had basement stairs in the far corner.  When the entrance to the basement was moved, they just went over the opening, without adding support.  To top that, the original floor was built on a slope to begin with.  When we first moved in, hubby put new beams in the kitchen because they are over a hundred years old and probably needed it anyway.   It helped a little, but the time has come to actually fix the floor.  I will need the stability of an even floor for the next couple of months.  I can avoid the other uneven floors, but not the kitchen.

It turns out that there are only 3 layers of flooring and a subfloor put down over one of the linoleum layers.   However, nobody actually bothered to repair the slope in any of those times and one included putting in a set of cupboards, such as they are.   That would have been the perfect time to level the floor.

It started with ripping off the trim and finding out that the original lathe and plaster has simply been covered with old paneling and then wallpaper over that.   I would love to replace the walls but it is so not the time for that right now.   Hubby had hoped that the flooring hadn't been glued down, so it could be reused for now because it is in reasonably good shape.   However, it was well glued down so the floor is just going over it.   The first efforts had full 2x4's used to level things, but it was too uneven, so 4 foot lengths were used instead.   It's been slow and painstaking to get it even, but slowly it is happening.  

The plan had been to bring it up the the cupboards and just lose the few inches of height, which for me would be fine.  However, it turns out the slope is such that it won't work, so all the cupboards will be coming out, to be temporarily replaced with shelving until we find bottom cupboards.  It's not going to be a huge loss, because they were so badly designed that almost half the bottom cupboard space is actually inacessible.  Good planning there!

Will it be done before I get home from the hip replacement?  I doubt it, however I have hopes that it will be finished or at least even when I start getting my mobility back.

It turns out that Kevin isn't the only cat to get into trouble.  My kitty, Cat is so well behaved it's silly.  He never gets into trouble, is polite yet full of personality.  He is getting on in age, but once in a while he is still playful.   After batting puzzle pieces around for a bit he did what he has always loved to do when a project is left in the open.   He got comfortable for his evening nap.

gratuitous cat picture

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 Final Project Wrap up

 One night just before Christmas, the sky looked like it was on fire.  It was a totally awesome sunset!  I was glad I looked up when I did as I had time to grab my camera and get outside for a few shots.  I couldn't go far because I didn't have my coat, my mittens or time.   It had faded after a couple of minutes, but was glorious while it lasted.

 I finished one quilt but not the second one.  I just did straight stitching along the blocks, but I did a large stipple on the black border.  The backing is a green print that isn't related to the blocks in any way other than some of the greens are similar.   It was well received.   I wrapped up the second quilt top and gave it anyway.  It is sitting on my sewing machine, waiting for me to finish it up.  I have all the supplies except thread. 

I finally found the rest of the alpaca/superwash merino yarn.  I knit the second mitten and finished it the evening of Dec. 31st.   They are soft, pretty and very warm.   I was glad to have gotten that project finished before the new year.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Fibre Processing Comparison

Way back in October, I had a bunch of Merino and some lovely fawn alpaca.  I was playing with the blending board and pulled off a bunch of rolags.  Because the Merino and Alpaca were of similar staple lengths and about 3-4 inches long, I decided to practice the long draw.   
The last skein in the photo is the first that I spun.   I used a traditional English type long draw or double drafting.  The rolags spun easily though you can see the uneveness in the blending.  It was a really nice skein and relatively consistent. 

 However, I realized then that I had more than enough fibre to do a bit of an experiment.  I divided up the rest of the rolags.  I ran one set through the drum carder a single time and the second set through the drum carder twice.   I rolled up each batt and attenuated the fibres from the centre.   I then spun the resulting roving with a similar long draw technique to the first skein.  

The first skein, directly from the blending board rolags is fairly consistent in grist and there are distinct areas of Alpaca and Merino.   The skein made from the drum carded batt carded only once, was much more difficult to keep consistent in grist.  There were still patchy areas which just wouldn't behave the way I wanted them too.  The third skein, which was from the twice drumcarded fibre, was much more consistent win grist, well blended and uniform.  

The skeins are all nice.  They are all close enough in grist to be used in a single project.  There are differences though, which show that you really do need to take fibre preparation into consideration as one of the factors in spinning yarn.  It was a fun little experiment.

I started knitting a pair of mittens with the fibre.  It knit up easily and is very soft.   I just got the tails sewn into this mitten.   I went to grab the second skein and I can't find it anywhere.  It seems that in the pre-holiday rush, my skeins were put in a safe place.   Now I have a single mitten that I cannot wet finish or block because I need it for a pattern for it's mate, whenever I find the missing skeins.