Thursday, 26 March 2015

2015 - the Year of the Scarf perhaps?

It's not as though I planned it, but this year seems to be shaping up to be a Scarf Year.  First off, I finished the simple, crocheted orangey-red scarf from James C Brett Marble DK (a very nice, soft acrylic yarn).

Then, hubby asked me if I'd knit him a scarf.  A bit of deliberation looking at patterns, some frustration when he was looking online at the sort of thing he wanted until I more or less told him that if he wanted me to knit him a scarf, it would be a Double Bump scarf as that was the closest pattern I could think of that would match his requirement of "not plain" (but he didn't want cables).  Discussion then followed because when I showed him the scarf on Ravelry he declared it "not wide enough" so I had to patiently explain that I would just cast on more stitches and "yes, before you say anything, that will work - trust me"!  He decided he wanted burgundy.  And he wanted something that "wasn't thin", so I went to the yarn shop and bought 4 x 100g balls of Sirdar Wool-Rich Aran.  I didn't think I'd need all four balls, but he wanted a long scarf so he could fold it in half, wind it around his neck and pull the ends through it and still have enough length to dangle down his front.  Awkward?  Fussy?  Him?  Why on earth would you think that? :D

So, I cast on and started knitting.  And continued knitting, and knitting, and knitting.  It got to a decent-looking length and I showed it to him.  "It looks good - but it needs to be longer".  On I knitted and then showed it to him again; "still not long enough".  After about four weeks, I decided to stop asking him what he thought of the progress, made a fringe for one end (yes, he wanted a fringe as well), attached it, cut the yarn for the fringe at the other end and then just knitted until I'd finished the fourth ball of yarn, cast off and attached the fringe.

Now, I should say here that I did warn him that once I'd finished the yarn and it had a wash and was laid out to dry it would probably get longer because the pattern's a type of waffle stitch, but I don't think he believed me.

Anyway, I hung it over a coat hanger and he said he liked it.  I went off to work and came home five hours later to be told "my scarf's got longer" (because - obviously - it had expanded under its own weight).  I didn't know whether to laugh or bang my head on the wall.  In fact, just draped around the back of his neck and left to hang, the ends of the fringe reach nearly to his ankles.

So, one scarf for my husband, which he probably won't wear until next autumn, but at least it's done and out of the way (and I'm not knitting anything in burgundy for a while - it's not my favourite colour at the best of times).

Here it is:

A much easier make was my latest weaving project.  I warped my loom with some yellowy-cream, light pink and light blue DK acrylic, wound a ball of James C Brett Baby Marble DK onto a shuttle and off I went.  I'm really pleased with the result --- except --- I beat it (that's using the reed/heddle to push the weft/across yarn down onto the woven fabric) a bit too hard, so the fabric's stiffer than it should/could have been.  I think it's a fairly common beginner weaver thing.  However, all is not lost because, being acrylic, a quick wash cycle and drying it on the hotter setting of my tumble dryer has softened it up a bit, so it's still useable as a scarf.

This is destined for our knitting group's box of "items to be donated".  Last year, we knitted and crocheted ornaments for a Christmas tree to be displayed in the church local to the village hall where we meet each week.  This year, we've decided that our 'tree' will be decorated with accessories (hats, scarves, mittens, etc) which will then be donated to the Salvation Army and other charities, so our knitting has a purpose, so this scarf will be going into that box along with the orangey-red crocheted one I showed off a couple of posts ago,

Last week, I cast on two new knitting projects.  My first socks of the year are on the needles and I've also started a new jumper.  I'd planned on taking photos of them today, but.....

What a dreary day.  It's been raining since first thing this morning, the sky is drab and my house doesn't get enough natural light to take very good photos, especially as there's red involved in both projects (always difficult to photograph indoors).  I've also got another scarf on my loom - weaving is so much quicker than knitting or crocheting.

Hopefully the weather will brighten up tomorrow so I can get some decent shots.

In the meantime, I'm bracing myself for the Easter holidays.  DD2 has a non-pupil day tomorrow, so she'll be at home with me and I'm trying to think of something we can do to get her away from spending the entire day either playing on the Wii or using my laptop.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Mothering Sunday

It's always been a bit of an unwritten rule in my family that presents for my Mum are not to be of the household/useful variety, but I'm hoping that she'll make an exception for this year's gift.

I've woven her three tea towels.  Actually, two tea towels and one small towel/large dishcloth (I had an issue with my loom and had to stop early - one of the strings that keeps everything tight against the back of the loom snapped, so the warp went wobbly).

I used King Cole Cottonsoft DK, as I did with the tea towels I made for myself, this time using blue and white.  I put a fairly long warp on the loom, using the weft to create a different pattern effect for each of the tea towels.

Each of the tea towels is photographed folded in half, so is double the length.

Quite traditional in pattern
Wider stripes

Blue only for the weft

Here are the three cloths, next to each other:

See how the plainer blue one is smaller than the other two?!

I hope Mum likes them but, because they're a 'household' present, I've also bought her two bars of Montezuma plain chocolate: Orange & Geranium and Sea Dog (lime & sea salt) flavours.

I finished weaving these on Tuesday and yesterday I hemmed them, which didn't go quite as smoothly as I'd expected as I had issues with my sewing machine.  I'm not sure if it's because it's not used that much, or if it simply needs a good clean out, but it wouldn't move forward in a straight line.  Oh well, I got there in the end and that's the main thing.

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!