Happy Yarn is Happy

I’ve spun up most of the sad rovings at this point. The only ones I made into batts were the red, orange, and yellow ones. The rest I just infinitely pre-drafted. Here are some pictures.

February Princess:

Anger Management Rainbow (yes, I actually named it that):

Harlequin Circus:

Not on Fire (this is the one from the batt in my last post):

I have one more bag of pre-drafted sad roving to get through, and then I’m done. Though right now I’m taking a break to spin alpaca.

Overall, it wasn’t as bad an experience as I thought it would be. The pre-drafting was annoying, but it spun up just fine. But I’m happy to be moving back to nice fiber.

Sad roving becomes happy batt

(xposted from my blog, slightly modified for redundancy’s sake.)

So an update. I found out two things since my previous post on the sad roving:

1. The felting wasn’t really my fault. Our house has 2 washing machines, and apparently they leak heat from one to the other. Someone was washing a load of laundry while I was spin-cycling my roving. The heat is what did it, and not my stupidity.

2. There’s a better solution for dealing with the wool. At least for me. I have a drum carder! It can deal with stuff like this. So last night I tried feeding the wool to the drum carder. I learned the hard way that you still need to pre-draft it a bit before the carder will accept the wool. However, once you do, it works really well.

So here’s what you do.

1. Do some predrafting. Yeah, it still has to happen.

2. Feed the stuff into the carder. Be sure to adhere to the safety warnings it comes with. Like keeping your hands clear. Look at me, choosing wisely!

3. Once you feed it in, start cranking. The small drum will take up the stuff and put it onto the big drum.

Whee, your carder is starting to fill up. Yay!

4. Take it off the carder. You could end here, and have a batt that looks like this:


Or you could

5. put it through again for more blended colors and get this:

So I have one of each now so I can compare how they spin. I think I like the less carded one better, but if the other spins dramatically better, I’ll have more blended batts in the future. Also, my batts go really well with Dominion Seaside:

So the reason why this is so exciting is that now I can sell them as batts instead of having to spin them all. They probably won’t all be done in time for the show (where I should focus on getting as much yarn spun as I can) but could later go on Etsy. And if I do spin them, they’ll be much easier to deal with than just a big bag of pre-drafted roving. Plus, I can draft from the fold, which I like a lot better.

Sad roving is sad, but fixable

For once, I’m posting about something I made that is less than awesome.

As you may or may not know, I’m selling my wool and yarn at a craft fair on June 27. (If you’re in the Boston area, you should totally come!) As such, I’ve been spinning up a storm. My 3 boxes of alpaca fleece finally arrived mid-May, and since I returned from Europe, I’ve been doing a bunch of carding. I also have been dyeing a bunch of merino rovings, most of which are up on my Etsy store.

I also bought 16 drop spindles, so I could sell them to people interested in spinning:

Last night I went on a dyeing spree. The first batch came out lovely. The second batch not so much. It was my own fault. Usually I’ll send the wool through the spin cycle of my washing machine to get out the excess water, and it works just fine. But I did it a second time for these rovings, and they felted:

There were 8 total that suffered this fate. I was pretty upset. They’re salvageable as yarn, but I can’t sell them as roving, unless it was to someone who knew what they were getting into and at a heavily discounted price; just enough to recoup my losses. Better to have it be yarn, where no one will know I messed up.

How does one salvage sad, sad wool?

By pre-drafting!

Drafting is the process of drawing out fibers in order to spin them. Usually I’ll do this as I’m spinning. But when wool is felted or otherwise uncooperative, I’ll pre-draft. It’s also useful if you want to keep the repeats of colors.

I pull off strips of the felted wool, separating it until I have strips that are small enough to spin and are no longer felted. Here is me splitting some wool

(As you can sorta see, my fingers are still discolored from the dyeing spree.)

In the end, you get a pile of small strips, and you can no longer tell that they were originally felted:

Yay!

And it helps to have housemates who like pulling things apart. This way I don’t need to do all the pre-drafting myself.

Shawl!

There’s this shawl that I was working on since November. I finished it last weekend.
And then I blocked it.

Shawl, soaking in water:

Shawl, out for blocking, next to my housemate’s shawl, which was the same pattern as mine:

Close up:


I also have a very empty yarn desk right now. Instead, there’s a laundry rack full of wool, which is currently living in the Vericon art show. Which is nice, since it means I get to show it off to everyone, and it looks very pretty there. And I’m coming home with less yarn & wool than I came with, which means less carrying. (Which is definitely a good thing when you are a hobbit.)
Though the yarn desk is sad in its emptiness.

Laundry rack of shiny:


Also, I finally ran out of undyed wool, so I went ahead and ordered the 27 lbs of wool on the internets, and it came on Thursday (while I was out doing stuff for aforementioned Vericon). 27lbs! This is a LOT of wool. I had to unwind some of it and wind it into smaller balls in order to be able to fit the darn thing in the craft cabinet, but it’s there now. I’ll post a picture of that after I take it.

And I’m also getting a bunch of alpaca fleece next weekend when I go and visit my friend’s alpaca farm.

Yay, wool!

Yarn Desk

I have a yarn desk. Or perhaps I should call it a yarn/roving desk:

(More pictures here.)

It started out innocently enough. I have a very small bedroom with no space for a desk. The people who lived in this unit before me had a big desk that they left. It was intended to be my workspace for desk-y things.

And then I started leaving yarn on it. First a few skeins, then more. Then I started dyeing the rovings, and I started keeping them there, too. It created a really nice rainbow effect, so I decided that this desk is meant to be a yarn desk and not a work desk, unless you consider my dyeing “work.”

Also, I dyed a few more rovings a few weeks ago. The pictures are big so I’ll just link them (this is just a selection):
Treasure Map
Sunshine and Lollipops
Cotton Candy

Now that I’ve started school again, I have less time for dyeing. But even if I did have time, I’d probably hold off on another dyeing spree until I sold/used some of the roving I currently have.

And I’m almost out of wool to dye! I’ve used up more than 6 of the 7lbs I had ordered in August/September/a long time ago and I forget exactly when. 7lbs of wool is a lot of wool. Though it’s not as much as 27lbs (which is the amount I’d need to order if I wanted free shipping).

Sierpinski shawl

My mother gave me a book called “Making Mathematics with Needlework” last Christmas, and I fell in love with the idea of making a Sierpinski fractal shawl. Here’s a nice picture and explanation of the Sierpinski triangle”. Basically you take a triangle, bisect the sides to cut out a smaller triangle, and then you have three triangles; keep doing it. My shawl has 5 iterations, and I crocheted it from the bottom tip up. It’s not equilateral! But it still works.

The basic pattern is this: each row increases by 1 arch. The row starts and finishes with 2 arches, which are made by chaining 5 stitches and then attaching it to the arch (or filled fan) below it by a single-crochet. The filled pieces (fans) are made by triple-crocheting thrice into the same stitch and then attaching in a similar way. I don’t like this pattern all that much because it ultimately doesn’t make triangles so much as curvy diamonds, but it worked well overall. It took me forever, though, because each row just kept getting longer! I used a variegated baby yarn of sport weight and a size G hook.

An overall view. It's about 3 feet from base to tip, but the base stretches to about 5 feet.

A closer up view. It's upside-down from the way I actually crocheted it, though.

I also learned something about the Sierpinski triangle that I didn’t know: it’s the mod 2 Pascal’s triangle. That is, it looks like this:
      1
     1 1
   1 2 1
  1 3 3 1
1 4 6 4 1

so you always add the two numbers in one row to get the number in the next row, except that you put a 0 (a hole) whenever the number is even and a 1 (filled space) when it’s odd. That way you get
         1
       1 1
      1 0 1
     1 1 1 1
    1 0 0 0 1
   1 1 0 0 1 1
  1 0 1 0 1 0 1
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

and so on. So you can build it from the ground up instead of cutting pieces out. Whee, math geekiness!

More Leaves!!!

Once upon a time, my housemate Riv and I painted a mural on my wall. It looks likes this:

From hobbit room

and this:

From hobbit room

and also this:

From hobbit room

This was the beginning of August, and I completely forgot to blog about it. Probably because I was then moving into the new room, and that took a lot of time and energy.

Anyways, as we were painting the mural, we decided that if we messed up, say, the trunk or branches, we could always put more leaves over it. “More Leaves!!!” we said, and this was the solution to everything, clearly.

A couple of months later, or rather last week, I dyed a bunch more roving in fall colors. And of course, I had to name the colorway after the mural, “More Leaves!”

Here’s all of them hanging out:

From roving

Here’s a close-up of the roving, pre-braiding:

From roving

The braided roving looks like this:

From roving

Also, the batch previous to this one that I put in the Etsy shop is dry and braided and looks pretty. I even named one of them after HRSFA, since it was purple and green:

From roving

So yay for roving. Now I just need to learn how to not get my hands dyed in the process.

Also, yay for having a cool mural on my wall. It made the room infinitely cooler than it had been (it had sad fake wood paneling on the side and the slanty roof, and the walls were white and boring, and the room is small, so this makes it look bigger). Also, it’s a show piece for when I have people over. And I get to say that I live in a forest!

And I dyed a bunch of roving for myself on Thursday, so I might post those when I take photographs of them. They are green and blue and purple, and are very pretty and soft.

Experimental Knitting

…in which curiousity kills the silkspinner.

I recently found some interesting variegated gold yarn and made an extremely simple scarf for my grandmother, pictured below.

littlegoldscarfUpon finishing, I was left with an impractical skein and a half extra of the yarn, not enough to really do anything with. However, I also had a tiny amount of some purple flax yarn my sister had recently brought me, and the two looked fairly nice together.  Clearly a bicolored project was in order.

At this point it occurred to me that, while I’d been learning about cabled knitting for the past year, I hadn’t seen many projects featuring multiple yarn colors and cables.  I wasn’t sure if this was because a) mixing colors in a cabled project and producing a nice effect is difficult or impossible, b) sane people reasonably think that you shouldn’t distract attention from intricate patterns with unneeded complexity, c) said projects existed and I merely hadn’t seen them, d) that sort of thing makes a project awfully hard to block, or e) other.  Ergo I decided to find out if I could knit a small scarf with gold cables but purple background.

The answer to this question turned out to be yes, I could, but only if I was clever in my choice of pattern. My first attempt turned out to be wrong in every respect — the pattern had the cable strands staying in one place and twining around each other, such that the large stretches of unbroken background tended to clump displeasingly and it was hard to tell the crossings of the gold strands apart from the color changes in the yarn. I switched patterns to one that had lots of cable strands moving rapidly over the background  (found here, originally sent to me by hobbitknitter: http://thestormmoon.blogspot.com/2008/03/free-pattern-celtic-cable-neckwarmer.html). This attempt went rather better, although it was still troublesome that the background yarn was slightly thicker than the cable yarn. The other way around might have been better.  Finally I wound up with the following.

DSCN0031experimental scarf

I’m fairly pleased with it. I think eventually I might try a larger project of the same kind, although of course that would require a good deal more planning.

Coffee stirrers are meant to stir coffee, not to be made into baskets.

Bored on a coffee break between playing sessions at Bennington, I was irritated at how bendy the wooden coffee stirrers became when they got wet. And I thought, “you know, I bet I could make a basket out of these.” Somehow, I convinced esqg that this was actually a good idea (note: as you will surely soon see for yourself, neither of us knows the least bit about basket-making). Anyway, we found a bowl, got some hot water from the tea urn, and soaked a bunch of coffee stirrers. Soon we had a nice little 2″ x 4″ section of woven basket, no problem. Of course, coffee stirrers don’t get any longer than 4″. But what to do with it?

basketoutsideOn the theory that if we staggered the stirrers (which we hadn’t) we could weave more stirrers in and thus enlarge the project, we took it apart and started over. This time we left some room on the edges of the “warp” stirrers, and managed to weave in another set in, and another. By this time, some of the stirrers, perhaps insufficiently soaked, perhaps just faulty (they were only coffee stirrers, after all), were starting to fray where they’d been bent. But we pressed on, and managed to complete a circle, four stirrers deep and 18 around.

basket bottom
But baskets have bottoms, so we set to work trying to connect the free ends of the 18 stirrers to make a bottom. We ended up taking groups of three evenly spaced around and interlocking them so as they’d hold together. This at least gave the basket a bottom, if not a particularly nice looking one.

basketinside Then we wanted to add more substance to the bottom. Since coffee stirrers don’t bend widthwise too well, we broke some in half and stuck them in–rather haphazardly. At this point, our hands were getting wrinkly, and the basket was starting to fall apart as much as it was being put together, so we decided to leave it at that. Not bad, for a first attempt, given coffee stirrers as materials? Well, pretty bad.

But it was fun and, perhaps more importantly, disabused me of the notion that making a basket out of coffee stirrers would be a good idea.

Topological Knitting: featuring the HRSFA Klein Bottle Hat!

Apologies: this post has been very long in coming but I’ve finally gotten around to writing it up.   I did a bunch of knitting last fall and winter, partly spurred on by the HRSFA yarn that the awesome hobbitknitter gave me last summer.  (And general thanks to hobbitknitter for encouragement, yarn, loan of needles when I went in for jury duty, etc.)  At the beginning of last fall it occurred to me that a Klein bottle would be a befittingly awesome thing to turn HRSFA yarn into.

But before we get to that: my Mobius strip, which was sort of a warm-up project for the hat.


There are a number of ways of knitting a Mobius strip:  the one I used was the “inside-out” method, basically the one explained here.   The idea behind this is the following: if you cut a Mobius strip in half you get a single strip with two full twists in it.  Now, knitting a strip with two full twists is easy — you just put two twists in the row of stitches before you join the ends in circular knitting.  So the hard part here is “undoing the cut” by grafting (sewing with yarn) the unfinished edge of the double-twisted self to itself — the first time I tried to make a Mobius strip I had the wrong number of twists in my original strip, and the strip ended up getting internal twists when I tried to join it up.  (Some people thing grafting is cheating, but I think it’s cool.  Also it was a fun challenge, and I had to learn how to do it for the Klein bottle anyway.)

I knitted the strip in k1p1 to make both sides look the same (I needed an odd number of stitiches around for the grafting, so the strip came out as seed stitch rather than rib stitch).  As it turns out, k1p1 is not perfectly symmetric with respect to turning it upside down, and the grafting produced a half-stitch offset, so things didn’t exactly match up where I joined, but I managed to join things in a way that made the seam as unnoticeable as possible.  (I also think seed stitch is just generally pretty good at hiding grafting seams.)

OK: now for the Klein Bottle:

The construction of this was a lot simpler topologically: I just knitted a tube with a slit in it, fed the narrow end of the tube through the slit, and joined it to the other end of the tube. The only tricky thing here was doing all the increases and decreases in k2p2 rib, which I think I managed fairly nicely.

More pictures of the hat in various configurations can be found in my Knitting album on Google here along with the Mobius pictures and a couple pictures of my hyperbolic scrunchie (which didn’t turn out as well as the others; I might post on hyperbolic knitting later if future projects turn out better). Here’s one last one (this is a bit of an in-joke among recent Fusion High Ladies; read the alt-text or click through and read the caption on the link):