Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Catching Up With Monday

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Braiding,Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Knitting,Movies,Rats! — folkcat at 3:05 pm on Monday, April 14, 2008

I know, I didn’t post on Friday! Sorry about that, but you know how somedays you just don’t wanna? And I mean, don’t wanna anything? Friday was one of those days.

So, let’s get caught up. I didn’t wanna anything on Friday, but I’ve been keeping busy enough every other day! My apologies to anyone on dial-up, there are a lot of pictures in this post. And that’s even after putting several after a page break!

Lucet Work:

Thursday night at Panera, I spent my time frogging some eight to ten of my earliest prototype socks. Yes, that’s a lot of time I spent knitting them. But none of them came out fitting well, some of them are knit from Sockotta, which I have learned I don’t like the feel of on my feet, and I just wasn’t wearing any of them. Better to reclaim the yarn and put it to other uses than have space taken up in the sock drawer with dead weight!

I’ll be working on turning most of those yarns into lucet braids rather than new socks. Maybe some of them will wind up like this:

Silk/Angora Beaded Lucet Necklace

That’s a necklace I made on the lucet on Wednesday. The yarn is the same thrifted silk/angora that I showed a cord of the other day. The beads are Japanese 6/o seed beads, white with a pearl finish. I pre-strung the beads on the yarn before braiding. I wasn’t sure how many I’d need, so I just counted out a hundred and went from there.

I began the cord with an inch and a half of plain braid. Then I began introducing the beads, one every fifth stitch. The bead would be slid down after pulling the right hand loop to tighten the previous stitch, but before placing the right hand loop over the horn of the lucet. Once the bead is in place, you must hold it with the fingers of your left hand (if working right handed) so that it doesn’t get caught in the loop you’re picking up over the horn. You want it staying right next to the braided cord at the center.

When you turn the lucet to do the next stitch, pulling the right hand loop to tighten the stitch you just made will lock the bead in place. It’s not going anywhere now.

By working a bead in every fifth stitch – with four plain stitches in between – each bead is placed on the opposite side of the cord from the previous one.

When I had the length I desired, I worked another inch and a half of plain braid, then finished off the cord. I added some lace end crimps (used to attach a clasp to a thicker cord, like a leather or waxed cotton lace – or a lucet braid!). Then, just a matter of a jumpring or two on either side, and a spring ring clasp. (I chose a spring ring because that’s what I had. I would have preferred a lobster claw.)

Silk/Angora Beaded Necklace Close-up

The resulting necklace is pretty, lightweight, and makes very economical use of beads. In the end, I think there were only about 80 to 90 in the finished necklace – the “gauge,” if you will, was about four beads to an inch of cord.

The current lucet braid in progress is made from a sportweight cotton yarn. Red Heart, to be exact. I have had this one skein in stash for, oh, at least twenty years, with absolutely no memory of where it came from. It’s making a nice cord, almost like a heavy cotton twine or small rope.

Sportweight Cotton Lucet Cord In Progress

I’ll be working to as long a length as I can. The purpose of this cord is for an experiment – can I cut lengths from a longer cord, and make finished ends on them just as if I’d braided to that length to begin with? I think it should be possible, with an understanding of the structure of the cord and how the cut ends will behave.

EverQuest 2

Lots of fun! My Ratonga assassin, Lolah, completed her betrayal of Freeport and endeared herself to her new home city of Qeynos. As part of the process, she had to leave her evil career as an assassin, and take a job as a ranger. That’s okay – the skill sets are much the same!

I’ve also been experimenting with new characters – a gnome defiler in Gorowyn, and an Arasai troubador in Neriak (Arasai = evil fairy). Both are evil characters, technically.

In the Kitchen

Mostly ordinary white bread coming out the machine, our utilitarian daily loaves. I’m also looking into some vegetarian slow-cooker recipes, with the intent of making more healthful foods for us to eat. And this weekend, Gryphon made another amazing pizza. Our toppings this time were fresh slices of plum tomato, strips of baby spinach leaves, and pepperoni. Yum!

Movies

I had the opportunity this weekend to see Across The Universe. Amazon Unbox was offering a 99-cent special to rent the download on your TiVo, and I’d heard such good things about it. They were all true! If you have the opportunity to see this movie, please do. Julie Taymor, the director (who was also responsible for the stage production of The Lion King, among other brilliant achievements), is an amazing artist.

On Ruffled Rattie Nests

Probably the only one that exists, I imagine. It’s finished! I worked on it while watching Across The Universe on Saturday.

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Finished!

It’s a little hard to see the real structure. It came out a little bit like a knitted version of a strawberry pot – you know, with a big round belly and extra openings on the side for more strawberry plants? My Ruffled Rattie Nest structure has two such side openings.

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Side Portal

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Two Side Openings, One Top

The picture on my hand shows the through-and-through nature of the openings, as well as giving some idea of scale.

If you’re thinking of asking for a pattern – sorry, there isn’t likely to ever be one. I knit this so much as a make-it-up-as-I-go project, with most of the decisions I made being reactions to how the shape was building. The best I can do is offer some guidelines to those decisions.

Ruffied Rattie Nest - The Bottom

The base of this project was a roughly oval piece that I’d begun some time ago. Shaped like a toe for a very large sock, it was always intended for a rat nest. Then I saw someone’s hyperbolic knitting project, and got ideas.

I began increasing a stitch on a K3, M1 pattern. Every four stitches became five – that’s a 25% increase with every round of knitting. The nest got larger very quickly, until it only fit on a 60 inch cable needle with a lot of crowding.

At that point, I began decreasing with a K8, K2Tog. This reduced 10% of stitches every round. It took longer to get small, but eventually I moved the stitches down to a 32 inch needle. I then worked even for a while.

I needed to somehow make a more bowl- or bag-like structure out of this heavily ruffled oval piece. I eyeballed a section along either of the straight edges of the oval, trying to make them roughly equal. On the nest round, I knit around the first curved end, bound off along the first striaght section, then repeated that for the other end and straight side.

After knitting across the first curved end again, I then joined the two ends of live stitches and worked in the round. I decreased a bit through the first few rounds – I think it was K4, K2Tog at this point, but I can’t be sure. Then when I decided this top opening was small enough, I worked even until I ran out of yarn. Well, I left enough to bind off the edge loosely.

At that point, it was finished. But how would the Ratties like it? You’ll find those pictures after the break!
(Read on …)

Luceteering

Filed under: Braiding — folkcat at 3:15 pm on Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Knitting? What’s that? I’ve been busy braiding!

Three braided cords
l. to r.: 13 gms of KnitPicks Simple Stripes; 8 gms of Plymouth Sockotta; approx. 2.5 gms of thrifted silk/angora

I’m having a grand time getting familiar with how the braids work. I’ve developed a good rhythm and speed. I’ve learned that every now and then, a mistake happens (loop lifts over without catching the working thread, stitch gets improperly tensioned), and I’m learning how to fix them. I can even ravel a section back to before a mistake, get the loops back on the horns of the lucet, and continue seamlessly.

My next experiments will include tests to see if I can cut a shorter length from these long ones, then take the cut tails and weave them in to make finished ends. That would be handy, because I could then make long pieces of braid, then cut them to length for specific projects.

I also want to experiment with beads on the yarn. I have a notion I might be able to graft the starting end and the finish together and make a continuous, seamless loop with beads on it that could be a necklace.

Don’t worry about the neglected knitting. I’ll get back to it. I want the Ratties to have their Ruffled Nest, and I want my Adult Surprise Jacket.

But I am having so much fun with the lucet! I’m experimenting with different fibers, learning what they do. The use of the silk/angora yarn recycled from a thrift store sweater was a nice turn of events, the cord it makes is soft and supple. I could see these braids use for so much more than merely drawstrings – imagine the pink silk/angora stitched on a sweater or pillow as an embellishment!

Event Notes:

As far as things look right now, I will not be attending NH Sheep & Wool this year. The budget just isn’t there to allow it. I’m bummed, because I just learned that there is such a beast as a Golding lucet – nicely hand-carved and everything. Plus, I’m sure with my new awareness of lucets, I’d be spotting them everywhere. And that’s not even considering the fibers I could be trying – linen, cotton, silk, who knows.

Ah, well…maybe next year! Until then, I’ll work with what I have.

Blog Notes:

I’ve re-organized the categories a little bit. All the crafting sub-categories are now filed under a parent category of Crafts. It’s my hope to eventually make similar changes to the rest of the category list.