Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

NH S&W – What I Got

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Special Events,Weaving — folkcat at 1:31 pm on Tuesday, May 15, 2007

As I hinted yesterday, I did come home with something from the Festival. Tools, rather than fiber. They’re called Weavette Looms. They’re a direct descendant of Weave-It Looms, which were introduced in the 1930’s, and a cousin to the many brands of handheld looms that have existed in the decades since.

Weavettes Looms

Weavettes are currently made in six sizes – 2″, 4″, and 6″ squares, and three different sizes and proportions of rectangles. I bought the 2″ and 6″ square looms. There was a book of weave patterns as well, but where I had the funds to get two looms, I didn’t have enough to get a book along with them. Besides, I figured the book would be easier to turn up than the looms, which I had only seen at online sources.

I’ve actually got a small background in weaving. I own two different rigid heddle looms (though they’re buried somewhere in our storage locker), and have woven shawls and scarves on them. I also own, though I’ve never used it, a large floor loom. It was a freebie given to me by a sheltered workshop group in Syracuse – they couldn’t use it anymore because it needs repairs, and it was going to be thrown out. I’ve never since had an apartment with sufficient space to set it up, so it’s still in need of repairs. And, like the rigid heddle looms, it’s buried in the storage locker.

As a child, I also had a Weave Easy loom – a tiny loom which actually had a rigid heddle to open the shed for you. My original is lost in the decades, but some years back I found another at a rummage sale.

It, too, is buried in the storage locker, somewhere in a box of craft supplies.

As you might guess, I haven’t woven in a while. But I’ve been seeing the Weavettes in ads over the last several years, and have been hankering to try a little, handheld version of weaving again. When I found these at a vendor at NH S&W, I knew for sure they were what I wanted to take home.

When we got home Saturday afternoon, I didn’t waste any time getting started.

Pile of Weavettes Squares

Most of the squares you see, the pinkish ones, are woven from that variegated red/pink/orange handspun that is my first wheel-spun yarn. This is the same stuff that I tried to knit with, and hated how it looked.

Weavette Square in Progress

Woven, however, it’s looking great. Nice, heathery tweed.

The variegations in color throughout the yarn are making for good variety in the squares, too.

Color Variation in "Red" Handspun Yarn

I’m thinking I will make a combination of large and small squares and make another throw pillow. I’m aiming for a huge, luxurious, pile of decorative throw pillows on my bed. This would be pillow number two, to add to the quilted one I made before.

I’ve solved the issue of the weave pattern book, too. While I still want the one currently published by the Buxton Brook people (who make the Weavettes), I found an online source dedicated to all these little handheld looms over the Twentieth Century – eLoomaNation. Along with great resources about the types of looms available, and projects to make with them, they’ve collected vintage instruction books and put them up as free PDF downloads. Since most of the different loom brands were actually compatible – usually they wove a 4″ square – even the books for looms other than the Weave-It/Weavette are useful to me. I’ve begun playing with some of the textured weaves – sorry, no pictures yet since I’ve only done a couple small squares – and will probably incorporate them into the pillow woven from my handspun.

Gryphon and I are both impressed with how quick and easy these are to use, and are coming up with stash-busting ideas for my yarn collection. Curtains are a possibility – we don’t have proper ones for Gryphon’s windows. Gryphon allows as how he might actually be persuaded to weave his own – he made this little square on the 2″ loom the other night, in no time flat.

Gryphon's Weavette Square

I’ve done a couple of test squares with Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn as well, and you know what? It may inspire me to frog my In-Progress Log Cabin Blanket, and start over as a woven piece. I like the weight and texture of the woven Sugar ‘n Cream much better than the garter stitch knitting, and the yarn will go a lot further. Which means the blanket won’t be as heavy in the end, either.

There you have it, then. Yet Another Way To Spend My Time. ‘Cuz I didn’t have enough crafts already, right?

Coming Tomorrow:

Maybe not a step-by-step how-to, but at least a general guide to how you, too, can cover a rock with freeform embroidery.

NH S&W

Filed under: Blogfriends,Craft Shopping,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:26 pm on Monday, May 14, 2007

One of the big reasons for going to NH S&W this year was Claudia. We’ve become good friends via our blogs, exchanging small gifts, always there with a supportive comment or a giggle. When I heard she was going to be a vendor at the Festival this year with her Heal My Hands products, I had to go!

Me and Claudia

So here we are, together at last. Unfortunately, since Claudia was working, we only had the briefest of encounters. We were left wanting for more – a chance to just hang out, knitting and crocheting together, talking, sharing good food and drink, maybe some shopping adventures. I have a feeling we’re going to make an effort to bring our paths together again for a more extended visit.

BTW, over my left shoulder you can see some of Claudia’s awesome freeform crochet. The sidebar of her blog has a link to a gallery of photos, too. Inspired by Claudia, I tried to wrap my brains around freeform crochet – I’m as good a crocheter as I am anything else – but just can’t seem to feel the changes.

So I fell back on the freeform fiber art I do indulge in, and made a gift that I presented to Claudia when I saw her – a little piece of New Hampshire to keep in memory of our first meeting.

A Freeform Embroidered Rock for Claudia
Freeform Embroidered Rock

Yes, that’s embroidery. The rock is a piece of granite that spontaneously appeared in our driveway a week ago Sunday – we went out for errands and it wasn’t there, we came back and it was. Why one gets these ideas, who knows, but I decided to pick it up and make this little object as a gift. I’d done this freeform embroidery before (pre-blogging) to make pendants out of a couple of carved or tumbled gemstones. This was the first time I did an object this large.

I’d tell you just how I did it right now, but there are other places I need to go with this post and it will get too long. Tell you what, though – I promise, by the end of the week I’ll put up as much of a how-to as is possible, okay?

Bloggers’ Meet-up

My first ever, you know, even though I’ve been blogging for over two years now. I got to meet so many of you, and I’m afraid I won’t remember everyone. Gryphon was a good do-be with the camera, though, and did his best to get a picture. It’s like herding cats, you know, so we didn’t manage to get everyone. But he did capture a number of the group in this frame!

Blogger Meet-up, NH S&W 2007

I just noticed – we’re almost exclusively wearing blue, aren’t we? That’s a little freaky!

Somewhere in there you may, or may not, see JessaLu, Wanda (in red), Cynthia, Laurie, Helen, Habetrot, MamaCate, Lynne, Lucia and more. If I missed you on this list, my apologies – please do drop me a note to say hello!

It was actually a little intimidating for me. It quickly became obvious that almost everyone already knew everyone else, and had many shared experiences to draw from for easy conversation. Me, not so much. This was only my second wool festival (third, if the Wool Arts Tour counts), and my first blogger meet-up. I didn’t have much to contribute as everyone reminisced about previous festivals, events they went to together. Hopefully, I can start to change that as I get to know some of you better. Maybe even, dare I say, meet off-blog now and then?

JessaLu made my day, I have to say. She was the one who looked over at me, said “Are you Jen?”, then said, “I’m JessaLu!” and gave me a big hug. Thank you so much, JessaLu!

Jen’s Purchases?

I did buy something, yes I did. Two somethings, even. But I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to tell you what. Suffice it to say, it’s something I’ve been wanting for a while; it’s durable goods (tools) rather than expendable (fiber); it introduces a new variant on fibercraft into my repertoire; I started playing with them almost as soon as we got home; Gryphon even did a little; I already have big plans for big projects with them.

More tomorrow! 😉

Things to Come, and Things Nearly Done

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Craft Shopping,Crafting Miscellany,Knitting — folkcat at 3:28 pm on Friday, March 23, 2007

My energy levels seem to be picking up a little as we get closer to the weekend again. I’m still having trouble getting out of ruts – for instance, if I sit and knit, I’m not likely to ever stop to do anything else unless I force myself. Which I really have to do, because my legs get cramped if I sit in one spot too long. Plus, you know, the food doesn’t bring itself in from the kitchen. That’s how bad the inertia is – it takes extreme effort to make myself spend the energy to get food. Sheesh!

Still, things are managing to progress a little. I had a small influx of cash that’s for my crafting, so there’s been a little crafty purchasing recently. For instance, I picked up this yarn today:

WIP: Mystery Project Yarn

That’s three balls of Plymouth’s aptly-named Oh My! yarn, in colors 13, 54, and 12. What’s it for? That part, I can’t tell you yet, since there are certain readers on this blog who aren’t supposed to know. Suffice it to say it’s soft, Easter-y, and fun, as well as knit from a free pattern online that I’ll link to when the gifting has reached its full course.

Then there are these beads:

BIP: Mystery Project Beads

Silk-finished copper Czech 11/o’s, and assorted Swarovski crystals. These are some of the beads for the mystery beading project I’m working on. I can tell you that it’s a design I’m creating for a book my friend Judith is letting me help her with, and that full details will be forthcoming when we get closer to the publication date.

A few other purchases are on their way via mail-order; a kit for a double knit afghan that I’ve been wanting for some time, another kit that will get me into yet-another-craft, some sock yarn at an incredible bargain from Knit Happens. (Regia Brasil Sock, normally $15.10, for only $6.80! Thanks for the tip, Lynne!)

As for Gryphon’s socks, I did make good progress last night at Panera, though I didn’t quite finish. That’s certain to happen tonight, though, when my friend Bea comes over for our weekly television night. I’ve only got a couple more pattern rows to go, then an inch and a half or so of plain 3×2 ribbing. Hooray!

WIP: Gryphon's Socks, Almost There

So that’s the state-of-the-craft at the end of the week Chez Folkcat & Gryphon. Hope you’re having a great day, and have an even better weekend!

NH Wool Arts Tour, Conclusion: The Wheel Deal

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 2:24 pm on Thursday, October 12, 2006

The final two stops on the Wool Arts Tour were hardly picture worthy. Western View Farm had several vendors under tents in the back yard of a farmhouse; The Fiber Studio had a few vendors selling hand-dyed yarns and personal care items like lotion and soap.

The only story left to tell about took place at The Fiber Studio. Gryphon and I had already examined multiple spinning wheels at Mirage Alpacas, and were beginning to get a feel for what I wanted. At the Fiber Studio, Gryphon decided to stay in the car and rest while I took a look around.

I headed for the wheels on display, and began treadling. And conclusions were reached.

I recognize that every wheel does its job reasonably well, and that wheels that don’t suit me are probably perfect for someone else. The following opinions are purely based on the suitability of the wheels for me, so please don’t take them as a blanket generalization.

There were Kromski wheels. There were Ashford wheels.There was a Louet.

I put my feet to the Kromski treadles. Each Kromski wheel struck me as relatively noisy as it spun. There was a persistent rattle and hum. While many would not be bothered by the low level of noise, I am easily disturbed by extraneous noises in my environment, and I already live in a downtown apartment location with lots of traffic sounds, and fairly noisy neighbors. So Kromski went off my personal list, as I couldn’t tolerate the noise.

I tried the Louet. It was – okay. The footman attached to the wheel so close to the hub that getting it started took a lot of effort. So beginning to treadle tended to be jerky, and getting it to go in the direction of your choice was a little tricky. I’m looking for smooth, easy to operate action – strike the Louet.

I had seen most of the Ashford wheels at Mirage Alpacas, and found treadling them to be a little jerky. Several had treadles small enough to be an uncomfortable fit for my size 10 extra-wide feet. But there was an Ashford Traveller on display at The Fiber Studio, so to be fair, I gave it a try. It seemed to treadle smoothly enough, even changing directions fairly well. But even through my heavy walking shoe soles, I could feel a little *click* in my feet with every step. That would drive me insane as it was – and in use at home, it would be worse, since I’d almost certainly be treadling barefoot 99% of the time. That was the final nail in the coffin for Ashfords for me.

At last, I turned to the remaining wheel in the room – a Lendrum Double Treadle (DT). At a glance, it was apparent this was a well-built piece of woodwork. You know how it is when you’re looking at two nearly identical pieces, same materials, same pattern – yet you can tell immediately which was made by a master of the craft? That’s how it was when I looked at the Lendrum.

I put my feet to the treadles. Good size. Began pumping. Smooth action, the best of any wheel I’d tried that day. Direction changed easily. I listened – only a mere whisper of sound as the wheel whipped around.

The Lendrum also met my criteria for appearance – clean lines, not overly frilly, yet not so Modern Art-ish that you felt it should be in the Guggenheim instead of your living room. Kromski’s had always looked to me like they had too much gingerbread; there are certain Louet models that are so stark as to be outright ugly. I wanted a wheel that would be a pleasure to look at as I worked, since I’d be looking at it a lot.

But did the Lendrum have the features I needed? My desire to spin laceweight demands those capabilities, and my budget insists that whatever wheel I settle on be able to fill my needs for a long, long time. I asked the owner for some documentation I could look at, and she pulled out some pages listing the specifications and the optional add-ons.

The Lendrum as purchased (in the regular package) does not include the Fast Flyer that gives laceweight ratios. The Complete package for $115 more adds both that and the plying head, but doesn’t give a break on the price when you buy the bundle. Since the Fast Flyer only costs about $30, it’s easy for me to add that now, and worry about the plying head later.

I got Gryphon from the car and told him what I’d found – and that I was as sure as I could be that this was the one. He came in with me, and we talked to the owners of the shop.

They said that they had two Lendrum DT’s in stock, and that if they needed to order one from the manufacturer for me it could take six months or longer to come in. But they didn’t want me to lock in my decision until I’ve taken the spinning class at their store at the end of the month. So how do we deal with this – what if it happened that the class confirmed my conviction that the Lendrum is the wheel for me, but they’ve sold both of their stock wheels in the meantime? Not likely to happen, perhaps, but it was still a possibility.

I couldn’t swear that they’d do this for everyone, so please don’t try to make them offer you the same plan. The Fiber Studio does do layaways as a regular policy. But in this case, they insisted that they would let me put money down on the Lendrum, and they’d hold one for me – but that I could change my mind and get a different wheel if, after the class, I felt differently.

How cool is that?

So we plopped a down payment on the counter, and made the Wheel Deal. I have a Lendrum DT in reserve, to be confirmed or not when I take the spinning class, and to be paid in full no later than when Gryphon gets his Christmas bonus at the beginning of December.

There WILL be a wheel in this house before the end of the year.

It gets worse – she’s already got a name. Dizzy Lizzy Lendrum.

I think this spinning thing just might take.

NH Sheep & Wool, Part Three: The Search for the Wheel Truth

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 1:31 pm on Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On to Stop #2 on the Wool Arts Tour, Chauncey Farm in Antrim, NH.

Chauncey Farm Stand

Among the things that caught Gryphon’s eye:

A 700-pound pumpkin;

700 pound Pumpkin

Me, watching a very hungry alpaca;

Hungry Alpaca

The hungry alpaca’s shy, two-tone penmate.

Shy Alpaca

Lots of great vendors at this stop. Great yarn, lovely rovings, fun t-shirts. I don’t recall seeing a spinner sitting and spinning anywhere, though I may be mistaken.

I resisted all the fiber. I was on a mission at this point, after all. I had acquired my drop spindle, and now I wanted to see spinning wheels and talk to their owners. I admired the offerings available at Chauncey Farm, and came away with only a jar of homemade apple jelly (delicious!) and a bumper sticker that says Spin Free or Dye.

Next Stop: Mirage Alpacas

Over the river and through the woods, driving over hill and dale…it takes a while to get to Mirage Alpacas, but it’s worth it.

The only pictures Gryphon took here were of the field of alpacas one passes on the way from your parking spot w-a-a-a-a-y down the road to the entrance. Here’s the best one:

Field of Alpacas

After this, Gryphon got as lost as I did in the examination of spinning wheels and the (friendly) interrogation of their spinners. Mirage Alpacas is a distributor of a few makes of wheel, including Ashfords, and they have a room where many models are set up for test runs. While I didn’t actually spin anything on them, I did get a feel for the true size of each model, how it would sit in relation to my body as I spun at it, and I tried how the treadling felt and how easily one could make the wheel spin in either direction.

Adjacent to this was another large room with many vendors, and almost everyone seemed to be spinning. Almost all of our time at Mirage was spent talking to everyone about their wheels, getting their opinions about the different models.

One vendor had us each sit down at her Majacraft Rose and try the treadling. Amusingly, this was just as a reporter from the Hillsborough Villager newspaper came around taking pictures. He got some good shots of Gryphon pretending that he was actually spinning on the Majacraft. Then I pulled out my Lucite-shaft CD drop spindle and he photographed me spining on that. I think they publish later in the week; he told us that even if they don’t get into the paper, they put additional photos in the gallery at the website.

Other wheels I got to see included the Hitchhiker. It’s a cute little wheel, but not for me. I’m so set on spinning lace weight that there’s no point in my even considering a wheel that isn’t equipped to do that easily.

The one disappointment at Mirage was that the flyer for the Tour had listed demonstrations of a sock-knitting machine, and that wasn’t to be found anywhere. We did, at least, learn why – the woman who would do the demonstrations has been stuck running the Mirage Gift Shop for the last two years, and the sock machine demonstration isn’t supposed to even be listed in the flyer anymore. Ah, well.

Tomorrow:

The last two stops, and the resolution of the quest for the wheel!

NH Wool Arts Tour – Part Two: Children Rule at The Wool Room at Meadow Brook Farm

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 12:31 pm on Tuesday, October 10, 2006

As I mentioned yesterday, I turned Gryphon loose with the camera during the Wool Arts Tour. His picture taking tapered off as the day wore on, but I still think he took the best shots there were to take.

I decided we would do the Wool Arts Tour “forwards”, from stop #1 to stop #5, because I knew there was a vendor at the first stop that would have the laceweight spindles I wanted. (I showed my purchase yesterday.)

Wool Room Sign

The Wool Room hosted many very interesting vendors and demonstrations.

Spinning Buffalo

This woman, for instance, was spinning buffalo hair. She had baskets of the stuff for touch-and-feel, and brother, was it ever soft! It has a very short staple and may not be the best for a beginner spinner to work with, though she told me that it was what she began with. Apparently, she took up spinning because her family has a buffalo farm. They collect the fur from fences and shrubbery. Not that I can imagine shearing a buffalo – can you?

Walking Wheel

This was one of a couple of great wheels we saw in use on Saturday.

Diagonal Weave Rectangle Shawl Loom

The Spinning Bunny had this interesting loom set up. It’s adjustable in size, and weaves rectangular pieces. A continuous yarn is wound from nail to nail around the frame, somewhat like 70’s style string art, and where it crosses itself it’s woven over-and-under. I imagine this must be fascinating to work with!

Folkcat Learns About Crockpot Dyeing

When we first walked into the site, we thought this was a refreshment stand. After all, there were beverage bottles with colored liquids lined up along one side, and a crockpot on the other! But no, it turned out to be a demonstration of crockpot dye techniques. I’ve been wanting to try that as my next dyeing experiment, though I may still use my Kool-Aid and Wilton food colors where “real” wool dyes were being used here. I got copies of the how-to handouts and paid close attention as she explained how to layer the roving and dye in the pot.

One of the most striking features of the exhibitors at The Wool Room was how many of them were fairly young children.

Triangle Shawl Loom

This young lady was doing a very skilled job of weaving on a triangular loom. She’s making a ruana. What you can see is actually the second layer of weaving that’s on the loom. She completed one layer, than another layer on top of that. Before removing the work, she’ll sew two edges together while it’s still on the loom. How clever is that?

Young Spinner

Here we have a demonstration of just how easy spinning is to learn. You don’t even have to be this high or anything. Heck, she’s barely any taller than the wheel when she’s sitting! She’s doing a great job, though – and look at the concentration on her face!

The Wool Room opened up an extra back room to display an assortment of small looms with equally small operators.

Structo 4-Harness Loom

Gryphon was fascinated by the work being done here. The loom is a 4-harness one made of metal, but even more interesting is the fact that it was made by the Structo company – better known for making metal construction toys. Not sure when this one was actually manufactured, but it obviously still works well.

Inkle Weaving

And this young lady was nearly finished with a length of orange and cream ribbon on an inkle loom. When asked about her work she was very articulate about how the loom was warped, how the weaving works, and what her next steps were. I wish I had a close-up of her weaving, her selvedge edges were perfection!

Coming Next

Off to Mirage Alpacas, and what will Folkcat do about a wheel?

NH Wool Arts Tour – Part One

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 12:46 pm on Monday, October 9, 2006

The big event of the weekend was the annual Wool Arts Tour. Gryphon drove, and we picked up my friend Bea for the adventure as well. I assigned Gryphon to camera duty for the day, which not only gave him something to do and a good excuse for talking to all the interesting exhibitors, but provided me with good photographs while still leaving me free to shop.

I had a few specific goals for the day:

  1. Bring home a laceweight drop spindle
  2. Have fun
  3. Advance the cause of Folkcat’s A Spinning Wheel Before ’07 project.

It’s going to take me a couple of days to share with you all the photographs and tell you everything that happened.

I can assure you, however – all three goals were met.

Allow me to present Exhibit A:

Tom Forrester Drop Spindle
Tom Forrester Drop Spindle, Wild Cherry and Maple

Total weight: .62 oz. Spins like a dream.

The purchase was made from The Spinning Bunny, at the very first stop on the Tour – the Wool Room in Antrim, NH. They were a planned target in my shopping day, because they listed on the Tour flyer that they would offer both Bosworth and Tabachek drop spindles.

I made a beeline for their booth, and saw a table full of assorted spindles. They were all beautiful, but this was the one that caught my eye. Even before I read the tag to confirm that it was in the weight range I desired, the slender shaft, the wisp of a whorl, the graceful curves told me I was holding a work of art. And a tool that would be a delight to use.

And it’s a Tom Forrester spindle, a maker that hadn’t been specifically listed. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! Nancy Benda, the owner of The Spinning Bunny, said that the Forrester’s weren’t easy to get in. I’m not surprised – given how many times this year I’ve read on someone’s blog, “And look at what I was lucky enough to find – a Tom Forrester spindle!”, I imagine that the demand for these beauties is pretty high. And rightly so.

Now I just have to decide what fiber is going to be the first to enjoy this delicate piece of wonder.

Coming Soon

Photos of exhibitors at The Wool Room; of alpacas at Mirage Alpacas; and the results of Goal #3!

Good News, Good News, (Mildly) Bad News, Good News!

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Craft Shopping,Daily Life,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 12:07 pm on Friday, October 6, 2006

The Good News:

I was counting up the change from my Mrs. Potts piggy bank, to see how much more I’ll have to shop with on the Wool Arts Tour on Saturday. Just by only spending paper money, and throwing my excess coins into the bank each day, I have accumulated an extra $30.

The Good News:

I’ve picked up even a little more cash than that by taking on a Bead Fairy job for a friend.

The Bad News:

The Bead Fairy work is in the category of “things I can’t show on the blog” – which means even less opportunity to share pictures of my crafting with you for the next month or so.

The Good News:

My efforts to save money for fiber-related purchases are going so well, I am feeling confident I’ll be able to get a spinning wheel before the end of the year. So my shopping focus for the Wool Arts Tour is going to shift.

My primary goal had been to buy at least two laceweight spindles. I will probably still buy one, just so I can get working more on that thin, thin spinning I want to do. But I’m going to take every opportunity this Saturday to try out spinning wheels that I can, so I can eventually make a decision just which one I want.

And if there is a clear winner by the time I get to Stop Five on the tour – The Fiber Studio – who knows? I might even put a down payment on a wheel before the end of the day!

Even if that doesn’t happen, I will still be test-driving a number of wheels when I take the spinning class at The Fiber Studio on Oct. 28th. And come hell or high water, Gryphon and I have figured out that (touch wood) we’ll be able to get me a spinning wheel when he gets his Christmas Bonus later this year.

So my predictions that there will be a spinning wheel in the house by the end of 2006 seem to be holding up.

Hip, hip, hooray for so much Good News!

What a Blogger Will Do

Filed under: Craft Shopping,Knitting,Knitting Groups,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 12:34 pm on Friday, September 29, 2006

We had quite the cheerful crowd at Knitting Around at Panera last night! When I walked in with my friend Anne, there were already four happy, chatty knitters sitting by the fire – Bea, Judy, Lucille, and Kathy (all blogless). The needles flew as fast as the conversation, and we had a grand old time!

In Which I Go The Extra Mile For My Readers

Oh, the things a blogger will do just for something different to write about. Yesterday, it was time once again to cast on for socks.

Now mind you, I’ve been perfectly content with my sock knitting technique. I knit one at a time, and I can switch at will between 5 dpns, Magic Loop, and 2 circs. And I’ve never been bothered by the so-called second sock syndrome – I just accept repeating the entire process as a natural part of sock knitting.

So what approach did I take last night as I began a new pair? Well, any of the above would have been boring, because you’ve seen me knit socks in each method before. And there was no novelty factor to be found in either my pattern (my own Barefoot Diva Socks) or the yarn (Knit Picks’ discontinued Essential Stripes in Sunset, which you’ve all seen a million times on many blogs and in the catalog, I’m sure.)

How, then, did I make a new pair of socks worthy of blogging? By teaching myself a new knitting parlor trick!

And so, without further ado, I present to you my first

Two Socks on Two Circulars

Two Socks on Two Circulars
Two, Two, Two Socks in One

Yuppers – last night I bulled my way through the mental gymnastics of figuring out how to get this cast on, and how to manipulate the needles, balls of yarn, and the knitting itself. All so that I would have something new and different to show you.

The things I do for you!

The Truth

Okay, it’s not entirely that I did this for the blog and my readers. I’ve been meaning to try this out anyhow, just to see what the fuss was about. You, my readers, provided a handy excuse for going after it sooner rather than later. Thank you!

What do I think of it? Well, it’s a bit of a trick keeping things straight. I’m working on two 40″ Addi Turbo size 1’s, and while the length has never been an issue when working a single sock on two needles, I’m wondering if shorter cables might simplify the maneuvering as I switch between socks. Still, it’s clearly doable with what I’ve got, so I don’t think I’ll go to the approximately $30 expense that getting two sets with shorter cables would entail.

As a knitter used to whipping out single socks fairly quickly, it is a little discouraging to see what feels like only half the progress for the same amount of knitting time. The mind’s eye has trouble making the leap to realize that the half amount of progress should be multiplied by two for a true measure of accomplishment.

Since I’ve only managed around an inch of each sock so far, I think it’s too early to really pass judgment on the 2 socks/2 circs technique. So I’m going to continue to evaluate this as my work progresses.

Coming soon!

A week from tomorrow (Sat., Oct. 7), I’ll be making the rounds of the 2006 NH Wool Arts Tour. Gryphon will drive, and I’m hoping to bring a couple of my friends along for the adventure. I’ll try to remember to take pictures, but I’ll also be shopping – I’m hoping to come away with one or two nice laceweight spindles.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday Mish-Mash

Filed under: Blogfriends,Craft Shopping,Daily Life,Rats!,Spinning — folkcat at 3:50 pm on Monday, September 18, 2006

Item the First:

Went out bumping around on Saturday with my friend Bea. We visited the Dublin General Store, where Michelle sells a nice selection of yarns from Rowan, Gedifra, and others, along with knitting and felting books of all sorts (at least one title from Japan!), and Michelle’s own handpainted yarns and rovings (under the name Delicious Yarn).

I was completely unable to resist this 6-oz. ball of Merino Top roving. I just had to unwind it for the picture so you can see all its colorful goodness.

Delicious Roving
Delicious Roving by Michelle

The colors in real life are a little less intense than the photo shows, but they’re still gorgeous.

And I picked up some Snow Pea Crisps snacks that turned out to be OH! so yummy! I may have to go back for more of those even before I need more of her yarn and roving…

Secunda:

A little while back I mentioned I was doing a little bead crochet work for hire, and I promised to reveal all when it was legit to do so. Well, the project has gone live, so here it is!

My good friend Judith is a talented beadwork designer and instructor. It was from her that I learned to bead crochet, and she’s the author of two books on the subject: Bead Crochet Ropes and Patterns & Graphing for Bead Crochet Ropes.

The bead crochet work I did was for Judith, for her latest venture: kits for bead crochet rope bracelets! Bea and I were hired to crochet the samples that were photographed for the website. Here are a couple that I did (photos borrowed from Judith’s Bead Line Bracelet Kits page Thanks to Judith for the higher-res pics!):

Marcie's Blue Raised Spiral Bracelet
Marcie’s Blue

Rainbow Earth Bead Crochet Bracelet
Rainbow Earth

The kits for the simple ropes (like the Rainbow Earth at the bottom) include all the instructions for how to do Bead Crochet, as well as all the beads and thread you’ll need, and a special Big Eye needle that makes stringing the beads a breeze. If you’ve ever wanted to try Bead Crochet, Judith’s kits are an ideal place to start!

You can find the kits, along with easy online ordering, here: Bead Line Bracelet Kits.

Once, Twice, Thrice:

No knitting happened this week. I am in a fairly perpetual state of exhaustion, caused by the asthma that continues to plague me in spite of the new inhaler.

The simultaneously good and bad news is that even that is better than it was in previous weeks. Bad news because it reminds me how bad the coughing spasms had gotten. Good because it means that things are, however slowly, improving.

And Last, but never Least:

For anyone who wonders how easy rats are to care for as pets, take notice.

A Little Water Dripped from Mom’s Water Bottle into Her Hand, so that Ratties may Lick it, is considered a Great Treat!

Sable and Star Dash to Drink Water
Water? For Moi? Yippee!