Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter...

If you watch, please watch all the way through:



And don't eat too many marshmallow peeps!  Happy Easter!

If you're interested in the story behind the creation of this video, it is here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Having a fit....

Two posts in two days!!  I have been silent lately.  Usually silence means I can't think of anything to write about.  But this time around the fact is that I have been pretty productive and haven't been able to find the time to post about everything.  So I'll try to take it one bite at a time.

This bite will be about fit.  When spring starts threatening to appear, I tend to get frustrated about the way clothes fit.  I suspect it has a lot to do with shedding winter layers and the fact that warm weather clothes really show the lack of fit in garment lines.  This year I decided to be pro-active and signed up to take a sloper class at Haberman's.  So every Monday morning for the past 3 weeks, and the coming 5 weeks, I drive over to Royal Oak and spend 3 hours with 8 other classmates working on my sloper. 
This is my homework for Monday.  We are starting on the sleeve pattern. 

It has been a very enlightening experience.  For years I've been unhappy with the way most commercial jackets fit me.  The front looks fine, but when I look at the back in the mirror there are these folds of fabric hanging down from my shoulder blades.  The commercial jackets that fit me best have princess seams plus waistline darts in the back.  I always thought it was because I have broad shoulders.....NOT!  It turns out that I have a narrow back.  Who knew?!  I'd never even heard that someone could have a narrow back until last week.  This week Gwen, the instructor, helped me take out the 1 5/8" from the back bodice (multiply that by 2 for what had to come out of the whole back!)
 So this is my chopped up back pattern.  Gwen tells me that we will have to work out the back armhole in the muslin.  Stay tuned.

My long term objective is to weave yardage and make some vests and jackets that fit well.  (You'll have to stay tuned even longer for that!)

Who knows when the "narrow back" situation has presented itself.  I suspect that it has something to do with years of yoga ("slide your shoulder blades down your back and lift your chest"...an oft heard yoga cue)  All of the other pattern alterations I can attribute to time....and gravity.  But the fact that so many of our clothes are knits certainly make it possible to ignore the problem.  Even so knits look better if they fit well too, hence this new addition (edition?) to my library:


I have a lot of knitting books (check my library on Ravelry to verify) and several how to design knitwear books.  I love Montse Stanley and Deborah Newton's works on this topic.  But this is the first book I've seen for hand knitters that thoroughly covers the topic of drafting a knitting pattern to fit and flatter.  Melissa Leapman has a new book titled Knitting the Perfect Fit that is nice, but not nearly as comprehensive as Sally's new book.

Armed with my new information about my fit issues, a sloper pattern, and the information from Sally's book I should be able to create a new wardrobe for the top half of myself!

I'm not making any commitments to take the pants fitting class......yet.  (I'm pretty sure that the narrow back issue does not extend below the waist...ahem.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Minding my P's & Q's with M's & O's

Another great niece is on the way, so it was time to come up with another handmade baby gift.  The M's&O's woven baby blanket has been making the rounds on Ravelry.  I think it's because Jean Scorgie featured it in a recent Weaver's Craft (yes, it's on the cover of issue 27).   But I think her instructions call for a 40" loom.  My floor looms are 32" and 24", but they have 12 and 8 shafts respectively.  So, why not see if I could weave a double width as double cloth?  It worked:
The yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima, color 3776 Pink Rose.  I bought 10 skeins of the yarn at a lys that is closing this spring.  The yarn wpi was about 18 epi, so I chose a sett of 12 EPI for a single layer, thus 24 epi for a double thickness.  I used 12 dent reed with 2 ends per dent. 

If you're interested in trying this, here's the draft:




Remember you are weaving double weave so it takes two picks for one complete pass.  It's also why the draw down on the photo looks nothing like M's & O's.

Start throwing the shuttle from the left hand side.  Your center fold is your right hand selvedge.  I used a temple and used a "floating selvedge" style thread with the 4 end threads on the right hand edge of the weaving.  They were two colors of 8/2 cotton and went through the heddles and reed with the threads, but were weighted separately.  Those threads were pulled out of the web when the cloth came off the loom.

Above is a picture of that right hand selvedge from the underside.
It's wise to check periodically to make sure you are getting two distinct layers. At the beginning of weaving,  I used a large stick shuttle to slide between the layers when I advanced the warp.  I also used a mirror set up at the left side of the loom to make sure my shed was clear for the bottom layer:

The mirror was set up so this was my view when I was ready to pass the shuttle for the lower layer.

On the loom the blanket measured 38" wide and 46" long.  After washing it is 35" wide and 43.75" long.

Here's a trick that I picked up from Jason Collingwood, though I think he does this for different reasons.  At the beginning of weaving, I hate that my weft yarn slips down and gets caught on the tie-on rods and sometimes even the brake handle while I am trying to establish a rhythm with my treadling sequence.
Like this:  
See the loop of weft caught down there left of center on the photo?  Grrr...
More opportunities for the same on the right side of the loom.  Double grrr....

The answer to the problem:
Simply drape an old bath towel or pillow case under the web and over the ends of the rods that can catch the weft.  Yay!!!  Now I can get a rhythm established. 
It's embarrassing how many years of weaving it took for me to figure that out.

And yes there were two threading errors.  Can  you spot one of them in the above photo?  Neither of them interfered with the two layers of cloth.   I found and fixed one threading error about 18" into the weaving.  The one above I decided to wait and mend when the cloth came off the loom.  One advantage to working with heavier, smooth yarns is that it's pretty easy to needle weave to correct such errors.
There were just under two skeins of yarn left at the end of the project.  So I'm knitting this little top to go with the blanket.  I really don't have much use for two skeins of this yarn in the stash, so best to use it up.

When  you really look closely at the blanket (as in hold it up to a backlight), you can tell where the center of the weaving is....the sett is just a little bit less dense.  If I were to do this again, I would adjust the temple about 1/2" narrower and that might remedy the problem. 
So here's a parting shot, from a slightly different angle:
The center is right there for you to see in both photo's...I've not obscured it.
And wasn't it lucky that I found a polyester binding that matched the yarn?

Oh...btw, I'm told they are expecting a girl.  But you probably figured that out by now.