Gryphon Tapestry–done!

We finished the tapestry this weekend! We’re still pretty obsessed with it, and want to share.

We finished weaving on Thursday night, closing in the last bit of wing around the shoulder.
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For the most part, I had been working top to bottom while esqg worked bottom to top; however, for this last part, we divided it into horizontal sections (the arms; the belly; the horizontal wing feathers; the feather tips) and coordinated the closing of the gap for each. The constraints of space, in combination with the coordination task, entailed various extreme measures, including esqg’s stitch-by-stitch plan of the lower claws, and my schematization of the wings in rows 1-12 (with my 1 equal to esqg’s 12, for added excitement).

And then the last stitches were set in place (cramped in some places and loose in others, despite our continuing efforts to keep the lines straight) and we had before us a completed double tapestry!

It’s amazing, really, how different a tapestry looks when it’s done than when there’s even a little bit left to be woven. All the mistakes you remember making fade into insignificance before the perfection of the whole. And despite the many compromises and rash judgements made in production, there’s a sort of magical determinism about it–as though it could never have been any other way. Esqg interjects: we always joke about how the creature is going to come to life when we finish weaving.

Then came the Ordeal of the Paranoid Knots. We had to cut the tapestry in half along the space we’d left for it, and although spare string was generously allotted in the middle, as the curve grew steeper at the top and bottom the space between the two tapestries shrank to millimeters. Hence: Paranoid Knots. We tied off every raw edge in the middle of the tapestry before cutting it out. I’m not going to describe the process–I don’t want to write about it any more than you’d want to read about it. Fortunately, our experience with the Dragon Tapestry had taught us that similar precautions were unnecessary at the edges where the warp threads ran through the frame.

esqg was moving out this weekend, and her sewing kit had gone back to Princeton. Fortunately, silkspinner was in town to help her move, and she had brought a pair of tiny embroidery scissors. With those, along with some sharp kitchen knives, we hacked our tapestries out of the frame and separated them.
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After that, it remained only to line the tapestry (with green cloth) and edge it with (very green) ribbon. Fortunately, we were able to call upon the benevolent assistance of the costuming guru of the UtenEva LARP–silkspinner, once again. We sewed a couple of ribbon loops to the top, and the project was complete!
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Baby stuff!

I have a friend who has a friend who is having twins. When she asked for recommendations for baby gifts, I offered to do baby hats and booties on commission for her.

She wanted the softest yarn possible, and pastel colors. I had some light blue merino wool spun up which was about the softest substance in the universe (not necessarily all merino wool in general, but this specific wool top). It wasn’t plied yet, so I plied it. I spun it rather largely (it had originally been intended for another project) so I used size 10.5 needles. The hats took me approximately 2 hours each. Maybe even less than that (I finished the first and made the entirety of the second during a game of Dogs in the Vineyard).

The large yarn, however, was not going to work for the booties. So I spun up the rest of the wool at a much smaller weight. The booties took surprisingly little time and yarn; I finished them in about 2 days. (Of course, it took a while for me to get to those 2 days, being in the midst of giant term papers, but once I started it was 2 days.)

I also needed to do some pink and purple trim and flowers, to distinguish the sets, and because blue was probably not a “girly” enough color for the mother of the babies. The pink was also handspun merino from a bunch of small rovings with assorted colors that I pulled the pink parts out of. Actually, maybe we should call it an approximation of pink.

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The purple was actually baby llama left over from a hat and scarf I had made last year. It was just as soft as the blue merino, and probably softer than the pink.

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The trim was a crocheted border around each of the booties. The flowers were the beginning of this pattern: Flowers!

(I only did the inside flower.) The hats and booties were my own pattern (or non-pattern).

I’m impressed that I managed to do all the crocheting without hurting myself. In the summer of 2007 I injured my wrist whilst doing archaeology. It was the repetitive motion of scraping the balks which did it, because it pinched a nerve in my wrist. That same nerve is pinched when I crochet. Luckily, knitting and spinning have different motions that do not strain my wrist. I can crochet for short periods of time, but if I do it for too long my hand starts to tingle and go numb, and this is even worse when I use tiny hooks and thread, as is the case with my kippot.*
So I decided to give up crocheting for at least a year. This bit of crocheting is the exception; I’m not sure if I can actually go back. Kippot are probably impossible since now it hurts after I do even 10 stitches, and those things take hundreds of stitches.

But I don’t really miss crocheting that much. The kippot I did were shiny, but they took forever, and I couldn’t charge more than $30 (or $36, which is a nice, Jewish number since it is a multiple of 18) for them, which would never make them worth it. Commissions in general are never enough that I would be making minimum wage, but kippot are probably the least economical. Say I could do two scarves in the time it takes to make a kippah. Each scarf is made with $40 yarn, and I charge $80 for each, leaving me an $80 profit. (Or even more if I buy raw wool and spin it myself.) One kippah, yarn costs me $2 (I use so little that I can make a ton of them) I sell it for $36, giving me a $34 profit, which is much less than $80.

The other type of project I would crochet was blankets, which are large, and I used acrylic yarn for them. At this point I pretty much only knit with natural fibers. Thus, I like my knitting projects better.

Though now if I were to crochet a blanket I would use nice scrap yarn and bamboo hooks. Maybe some day…

*This also happened while I was archaeologizing, but I just continued working. I was with a bunch of Montanans, mostly guys, who would work through their pain, and I wasn’t about to be the weak one when I could still physically work. Except in this case I was only further injuring myself. Had I not been stupid I might have just had to take a couple of days off rather than having to leave the dig. It also didn’t help that off dig I was crocheting kippot, since they are small and portable and easy to bring to Israel. Had I had a knitting project instead, I might have fared better.