Sunday, 1 March 2015

Weaving -- Tea Towels

Yes, I know it sounds a bit daft, weaving your own tea towels, but I'm still practising and thought something functional would be a good second weaving project.

Armed with some King Cole Cottonsoft DK yarn (a very nice cotton that comes in a decent range of colours), I warped up my loom.  I went with two colours; white and khaki (which is more of a toffee/dark beige than greeny-brown).

I warped the loom so it was mostly white, with a stripe of about two inches in the khaki on either side.  I also put on a warp that was long enough to make two tea towels, so I didn't have to go through the warping process twice (it takes quite a lot of time).

The first tea towel I made, I just used the white cotton for the weft, so the towel's white, with a stripe at either side.

I was a bit more ambitious with the second towel and put in three weft stripes of the khaki as well.

After I'd finished the weaving, I did a hem-stitch along each end (it's a bit like blanket stitch and stops the weaving from unravelling), then cut the fabric off the loom, carefully turned over a hem at each end and used my sewing machine to stitch the hems (I actually did two rows of machined straight stitch - I wasn't taking any chances).  I put the towels in the washing machine, put them through a quick cycle and then threw them in the tumble dryer on the hotter setting.  They shrank a little bit (about an inch in both length and width), but I expected that.

Here they are, folded into quarters:

Overall, I'm pleased with them and am thinking of making some more to give to my Mum for her Mothering Sunday present (although it dawned on me yesterday that that's only a fortnight away, so I'd better get cracking).  Even my husband commented that he likes them, although they did leave a bit of fluff on his fingers after he used one, but I get that with the tea towels I buy from Dunelm anyway, until they've been washed a couple of times, so I'm hoping it'll be same with these home-made ones.

As requested, here's a photo of my loom in action:

My loom is 32" wide, which is more than I needed for the tea towels, so I didn't warp the whole width.  I've been reading various threads and comments on Ravelry about using a wider loom for a narrower piece of weaving and how the heddle (the bit with the slots and holes) can wobble when being used for a narrower piece of fabric, and how to overcome that wobble (by putting in some warp threads at the edges of the heddle, but making sure they're not woven into the fabric).

My plans for my next weaving projects are tea towels for Mum, then a scarf using a self-patterning/striping yarn.  After that, I might have a go at weaving something with a bit of a pattern in it!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Simple Scarf

I had a couple of 100g balls of James C Brett Marble DK in a nice, bright, red/orange/yellow/green combo colourway in my stash of yarn.  I didn't remember buying it with any purpose in mind, so as I was in the mood to use some bright yarn in the post-festivity drabness of January, I got out a crochet hook (5mm), made a chain wide enough for a scarf and off I went, backwards and forwards, making treble (US double) after treble stitches, going between the stitches, much like the Vintage Vertical Stripe blanket pattern.  At the end of each row, I did something a little bit different to the blanket pattern, which gave a bit of a wavy edge to the scarf.

It didn't take long - just under three weeks and I was getting to grips with my weaving loom as well as knitting a hat as well.  I even added a fringe to the scarf -- something I've never (surprisingly, considering I've been knitting/crocheting for over 40 years) done before.

I quite like it.  Not that I'll be wearing it as I'm going to add it to my knitting group's box of items to be donated to various organisations for those who need them.

I've been doing some more weaving and have finished some tea-towels, so once I've washed and dried them (and probably ironed them so the photos will look better --- I'm not in a habit of ironing tea-towels, I promise!) I'll show them off to you.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

First Weaving Project

Having watched lots (and lots) of videos on YouTube, borrowed a book from the library, read through various weaving group threads on Ravelry (some of the weavers there are scarily good - not just techniques, but in the way they can select colours to use as well) and read other articles and blog posts I'd found on the Internet, it was time to warp my loom for the first time.

The loom I've got has drilled holes on the back of it.  Now, when I was putting the loom together, I did use the instructions that came with it and, whilst it was very useful having life-sized pictures of the various screws, nuts and bolts that were required for the assembly (such a good idea, that - other manufacturers of self-assembly things please take note!), the actual written notes were a bit lacking in places and I think in some places were a direct translation from Polish (that's where the Kromski company is based).  I'd got the loom together, but had 'bits' left over.  There were about 15 pegs/dowels 5"-6" in length and no instructions as to what they were for.  Looking on the Internet, all became clear though - if you turn the loom over and put the pegs/dowels into the holes, the back of the loom can be used as a warping board!  So, that's what I started doing, choosing yarns from my DK acrylic stash because I didn't want to use more expensive yarns for a first project.

Oh my word - not my finest hour.  I must have wound the yarn too tightly because one of the pegs pinged out and then there was a puddle of yarn sitting there, laughing at me, which then had to be balled up.  The dog retreated to the safety of the sofa and gave me "please tell me it's not me you're cross with" looks (so a couple of treats were given, plus some ear-fondling and belly-rubs) and then I sat back, went back onto the Internet and had a re-think.  Using a warping board seemed like Quite a Lot of Work.  However, the loom also came with a warping peg, so I looked at how to warp using that and set to and it was much, much easier.  A couple of hours later, I had my loom warped.  Not quite evenly as I mis-calculated how much pink I had so had to substitute a slightly lighter shade, but it was Done!

By that time, the girls were back from school and dinner needed to be made, so no weaving was done until the next day.  Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I sat at the loom and away I went, weaving various colours backwards and forwards, adding in a new colour when the previous one ran out, so no real planning.  When I couldn't wind the warp onto the shed (the area where the weaving's done - hark at me learning weaving terminology already!), that was it.  I did a hem-stitch at each end to stop everything unravelling in, cut the fabric off the loom and then turned in a hem at each end and sewed it because I decided I didn't want a fringe.  After a quick cycle in the washing machine and a short time in the tumble dryer, there it was --- a blanket.

It's approx 65cm x 135cm, so is a good size for putting round shoulders or over legs when it's a bit chilly.

I can definitely tell which end I started with because I can see how I improved the more I wove.  There are quite a few 'floats' where the warp threads weren't aligned properly so the shuttle went over instead of under.  This is the beginning:

The floats are those nubbly bits where the 'stitch' is longer than it should be.

Here's the end of it:

Much better and more even.

The edges are a bit wonky as well, but I'm sure those will get better the more things I make.

Overall, I'm rather proud of this - it came out better than I thought it would.  Even hubby was impressed, which is saying something!

Last week I warped the loom up again with some cotton DK yarn that I'd bought and I'm now making some tea-towels (because those will be good practice for my edges).  I put enough warp on the loom to make two and I'm halfway up the second one already.

I've already warned DD1 that any friends to whom she wants to give a birthday/Christmas present will probably get a home-woven scarf!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A new time-eater...

Back around October, hubby and I started talking about Christmas and the talk got around to what presents to buy each other.  To be honest, there was nothing that immediately sprang to mind for me.  My yarn stash is, erm, extensive.  I have a spinning wheel.  I have enough knitting needles and crochet hooks.  There was nothing on the craft front that I really, really wanted.  We'd already said that we weren't going to go silly and buy each other extravagent presents (not least because DD1 needed a new laptop -- which ended up being a joint birthday and Christmas present from us, plus part of a present from Granny because the one that was decided would suit her best was a bit more expensive than we'd budgeted for).  In the end, I decided that I'd like a new purse (I was thinking Cath Kidston) and a new pair of Crocs.  I wear my Crocs a lot as they're very easy to slip on to pop out to the shops, nip down to the station to collect or drop off DD1 and they're very easy to clean after dog-walking in the autumn/spring seasons.  I am, however, a bit fussy about my Crocs!  I like the ones they call Crocband, which aren't quite a holey as the traditional ones.  As it turns out, I did buy a new pair of Crocs in Amazon's Black Friday sales, because they were considerably reduced, but my thinking was that two pairs are better than one pair that are very close to developing a hole in the sole.

On Christmas morning, we were up early (I'm blaming hubby for that one - I'm sure that DD2 had every intention of going back to sleep for a while after she'd gone downstairs to check Father Christmas hadn't forgotten to stop at our house during the night, but he then went into her room and talked to her, which meant she was now properly awake) and went downstairs.  By 7.30am, presents had been opened, there was a pile of gaily-wrapped paper in a heap on the carpet and I was nearly ready for a second mug of tea (I should point out here that I'd received neither new purse nor Crocs).  And then.... hubby went into the hallway and came back with two sizeable boxes, wrapped very festively and told me they were for me.  I may have mentioned before that when it comes to presents, my husband can go a bit overboard and, despite what he may have said about setting a budget and sticking to it, that rule goes out of the window if the mood takes him and he sees something he thinks I'll like.  I unwrapped the first box (I was told which one I had to open first) and.....


A Kromski Harp weaving loom - 32" wide.

To say I was taken aback was a bit of an understatement.  I looked at him with an "why did you think of getting this?" expression and he said that he'd remembered a while back (at least a year) I'd mentioned that a loom was something I'd quite like "at some point".  In the other box was a stand for the loom.

The loom was put together a few days later once life had calmed down a little bit after the busy-ness of Christmas and Boxing Days and then I started reading... and reading... and reading... and watching lots of videos.

It wasn't until a couple of weeks later, once normal service had been resumed and the girls were back at school that I actually got round to putting yarn on the loom and warping it.

This is what it looks like:

Photo from

I shall talk about my first weaving project in my next entry. 

Craftwise, I'm trying to decide what to knit next as I'm getting close to finishing my stripey scarf of many colours -- the one I started over a year ago.  I decided it was time to Get It Done!

Friday, 30 January 2015

A shared hat

I've had the Norby hat pattern in my Ravelry library for a while now; two years in fact.

Last year, in this post I talked about how I'd spun two braids of fibre that were dyed in the same way, to make them different.  I also said then that I was planning on making a Norby hat with one of the skeins.

A couple of weekends ago, I wound the yarn into a ball, got out my needles and off I went.

Two days later, I cast off.  I know.  Two days and there it was, a hat.  I also had a very messy downstairs, because this was one of those patterns that really grab your attention meaning that "just one more round" turns into a complete pattern repeat, dinner is late and a hastily-put-together affair and the carpet still hasn't been vacuumed.

The photo doesn't do the yarn justice - it's a bit brighter than that.  A lobstery/coral pinky orange semi-solid yarn.

The only problem I've got now is that DD2 rather likes it, so I might have to look through my yarn stash and make another one.

We had a flurry of snow yesterday afternoon.  It was more like hailstones/sleet when DD2 got home from school, but by the time her sister sent a message to say which train she was getting, it had turned into proper snowflakes which were settling on the paths, lawn and road so, as we live up a hill, I dislike driving in snowy/icy conditions (I only have a small car - a Fiesta - which is a bit pants in such conditions), I decided to walk to the station to meet DD1 rather than driving down.  So, out came DD2's wellington boots, we got into our coats, I picked up my Norby to put it on my head --- and then DD2 insisted that she was going to wear it (so I wore my Sheep Heid hat instead).  It looks like this is going to be a shared hat, at least until I knit myself another one.

It was when we got home from the station that the benefit of wearing wool struck me.  Once our coats had had the snow shaken off them, they were still a bit damp.  After I'd shaken the snow off our hats though, they were practically dry and just needed ten or so minutes on a radiator to finish them off.

So there you go - a quick hat from a pattern I'd recommend.

Next time, I'll be showing off something that means I'll have to work out how to change the title line of my blog....

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Catching Up

Gosh - I don't know where the last six weeks have gone.

Well, I do, because there was the run-up to Christmas, then the festivities, then the getting ready for the start of the new school term, the start of DD1's new term at music school, plus a school trip for DD2 (her class went to see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical in London yesterday) and, well, with all the other mundane day-to-day 'things' that go on round here, it's nearly February already and I realised that I never got round to doing an FO post for my Relax sweater.

So,  here it is:

One of the reasons I haven't got round to showing this off is because I've been wearing it a lot.

I love it and it ticks so many boxes:

- it's made from Regia sock yarn, so is easy care as it goes in the washing machine on a 40C, lowish spin cycle and then into the tumble dryer on the low-heat setting.

- it's light, so gives an extra bit of warmth, but not too much;

- the shape; it's easy-fitting so doesn't restrict movement.

The only thing I'd change if (probably when) I make another one is to make sure I've got enough yarn to make the sleeves longer (oh, and I might do more increases below the arms, but I think that's because I used a tighter tension/gauge than the pattern stated).  As they are, they reach just below my elbows.  But even that's fine because I've got a couple of long-sleeved t-shirts I can wear it with (and I might buy a couple more if I can find some that are long enough in the body - I really dislike t-shirts that ride up at the back leaving a gaps where drafts can get in).

All in all, a success, especially as I know I bought this yarn from Kemps when they were having a clearance sale.  I can't remember how much I paid per ball, but it wasn't a great deal (I don't think it was more than £1.50 a ball).  This means the sweater cost me a maximum of £12 for the yarn.

I have other things to show you, so I'll be back soon --- I promise!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Preparations

I had last Sunday off as annual leave from work, so it was decided that we'd put up our Christmas tree and decorations on that day.  It was either last Sunday or this coming Saturday, but DD2 didn't want to wait another week, so after breakfast, we moved furniture from the usual Christmas Tree Corner, got out the stepladder and pulled down the boxes from the loft.

It always surprises me how long it takes to put up the tree (we put up and artificial tree - it's 7ft tall and fairly slimline, so fits better in our lounge).  First, the three sections of the tree and the base have to be taken out of the box.  Next comes fitting the bottom section in to the base so it doesn't wobble.  Then, the branches and twigs of the bottom section have to be fanned out.... then the middle section.... then the top section.  After that, the lights go on.  We use two sets -- I'm not sure why.  I think we had one set, decided there weren't enough and rather than buy a bigger set with more bulbs, went out and bought a second set.  After the lights comes the tinsel and strings of shiny beads and then on go the baubles.  The angel (which DD2 and I made from a kit I bought very cheaply in the supermarket) goes on last.

Once the tree had been put up and pushed into position, DD2 and I turned our attention to the other decorations.  We have four pop-up small Christmas trees which we put next to the big tree and there are two hanging tinsel trees which are pinned onto the ceiling.  There are also foil decorations that have to be carefully pulled round into position from flat and secured, before they're pinned up as well (I do the pinning - DD2 is Director of Operations and tells me where each one should go).  There's big tinsel across the dresser in the dining room, on the gate between the lounge and kitchen and on the TV stand.  Hubby had gone out while DD2 and I were decorating and we waited for him to get home before putting some lights up the stair bannister and around two walls of the lounge.

It's all very gaudy, bright and starting to look festive.  Each morning when she comes downstairs, DD2 turns on the all the lights (and then I switch them all off when we walk down to the train station with DD1 approx 40 mins later).  I don't have the lights on during the day when DD2's at school because, well, having a bit of a break from then is quite nice, truth be told.

Hanging decorations and new lights!
They're certainly bright!

Our Festive Forest!
On Monday, we did have a bit of an Embarrassing Moment though.  DD2 came home from school, dumped her shoes and coat on the hall floor and, while I was putting them away, grabbed her school bag and rushed into the lounge.  When I got in there, I noticed this:

Do you see that nice, glittery star at the top of the little tree?  I'm friends on Facebook with one of her classroom assistants, so I sent her a message with that photo and asked if she knew where the star was from and she said it looked like the one from the classroom Christmas tree!!!!  DD2 was told that she'd done the wrong thing and that it would have to go back to school in the morning (with a note of apology).  She wasn't happy, but accepted it and hasn't brought it home since.

Festive activities start tomorrow.  I'm out for lunch with my Friday morning knitting ladies at the pub where we meet.  It's our Christmas buffet lunch at Monday's knitting group (having been disappointed with Christmas lunches at a couple of venues we've been to, we decided to do it ourselves at the hall where we meet).  I need to check what I need to buy as my contribution for that (sandwiches/rolls I think).  Tuesday and Wednesday DD1 has her school's Christmas music concert, Tuesday is also the day I'm going to watch DD2's school Christmas production* and then on Friday it's the last day of term for both girls.  DD1's last day is one of no lessons - instead, the whole school goes to the cinema in the morning and then go back to school for Christmas lunch.  I'm not sure what they do in the afternoon, but I think it's spending time with classmates in their form room and exchanging their Secret Santa gifts.

*a note came home from school yesterday with costume requests.  DD2 is going to be dressing up as an angel.  She wants to be a pink angel, but that may not happen!  I'm going to sew some tinsel on a white t-shirt and she can wear it with a sparkly skirt she's got and some white leggings.  I've no idea what to do about wings though.  Cardboard and tissue paper may be involved, but I haven't got a great deal of time left to make them.

In the meantime, I'm still knitting away on my Relax sweater and will post a progress report on that soon.