Monday, April 25, 2005

Life Lessons Learned Too Late

the lesson: Dogs like the smell of sheep just as much as my cats.

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This is a reenactment of the scene of crime in Lynn, MA on Sunday April 24th, 2004 at approximately 11 am.

lets start from the beginning.
Last week, i ordered 1 lb of roving that was grown by a sheep named Sydney at Skylines Farm. By thursday i was in posession of this:
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I couldn't resist. By friday night i had spun and plied a few bobbins worth, and by saturday morning i had one washed and set skein of my new yarn, destined to be a lace shawl.
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Saturday afternoon i balled it up and cast on for the Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl. Saturday night i went to my friend Irene's house for a "girls night in" of movies and wine (and knitting). Irene has a 6 month old malamute puppy named Theia. It never occured to me that Theia might take an interest in my natural sheepy yarn. She's a pulling dog, not a herding dog, right? wrong.

Sunday morning, irene and i were looking at things on her computer and she said "hrm, Theia's being a little too quiet, maybe i should check on her". Just then, we looked up to see her trotting by the office door with something brown in her mouth. Something brown and knitted... and trailing yarn! In the living room we found bits of yarn, my needles, and stitch markers all over the floor (luckily she didn't hurt herself or swallow a stitch marker!). Apparently, she had decided to reach her muzzle INTO my knititng bag, pull out the skein and shred it. Theia then pulled the 6" of shawl that i had knit off the needles and was NOT about to give it up. "Bad Dog! No Theia, Drop IT!" was met with "GRRRRRRRRRRR". If only i'd had my digital camera with me! I could've snapped a picture of Irene, sitting on top of Theia, holding her muzzle, and trying to get her to release the shawl from clenched jaws. (a 6 month old malamute is still a fairly big dog!) Irene was so apologetic, but i don't mind. I've learned my lesson.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Big, Fat, Warping Disaster

(Alternate title: i cannot teach myself everything. lessons in humility)

AGES ago, i found a cheap table loom being sold on craigslist. I bought it, brought it home, did some research. I read all of "Warping all by yourself" by Cay Garrett and "Learning to weave" by Deborah Chandler. I happily ordered some 8/2 cotton and used the legs of my dining chairs as a warping board. Diving right in, I sleyed the reed, and the heddles. The project got put on hold for a bit... but last weekend i decided to go ahead and try to finish warping the loom. Unfortunately, after hours of working on it, the results were nothing but disaster:
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The loom itself looks very similar to a Leclerc Dorothy, but there are absolutely no marks on it anywhere. The woman who sold it said that it came from a high school, and i believe that it was probably home made by someone for that school. The physical problem that i'm having is with the weird sectional warping reels (or something - white things) on the back of the loom. They don't spin freely around the back beam, but because there is no tie on rod, the knots aren't securely attached to the white plastic and they spin around as i wind on and then i get uneven winding. when i tried to tighten from the front, they slip in the back. i can't get the whole thing under even tension. i am probably not making sense, because i don't know enough of the terminology to explain the problem. ugh.
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the mental problem is that (as usual) i'm trying to teach myself a craft in a void, with only books and the internet as teacher. This usually works for me, but not this time. I would love to take a class, but can't afford it. I don't know what i'm doing and i don't have any friends who are weavers who can show me what i'm doing wrong. I've wanted a "real loom" since using the Inkle Loom in the art studio in 5th grade! i was so excited about this loom, and now i'm just flustered and frustrated. what should i do?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

(NQC)FO* and the new Science Knits webring

Are you a scientist by trade, but a fiber artist by hobby? Do you sneak your knitting into the lab? Have you ever spent a boring seminar dissecting the cable pattern of the person sitting in front of you? I've started a new webring just for us: Science Knits. I have quite a few knitting friends at my current job, and i know there are many others out there. I was inspired by Theresa's blog poll, where she found that nearly 14% of her readers identify as Knitters and Scientists. Its sort of a fun experiment. Do other scientists treat their crafting in an orderly, scientific manner? i certainly don't. my crafting is usually unplanned, spontaneous, and not very well documented. but then again, my boss might say the same thing about my experiments. ha!

In honor of starting the Knitting Scientists webring, i decided it was about time to finish up my own personal DNA scarf (started almost two years ago). Here is the *(Not Quite Completely) Finished object.
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i haven't had a finished object in so long that I couldn't wait until the ends were sewn and blocked to show the picture! I chose not to make the ribbed neck portion, like a true fisherman's scarf, and stayed in helix pattern all the way through. The yarn was a super soft alpaca purchased on clearance at the LYS. It was actually a laceweight yarn, and i used smaller needles and more yarn than the pattern called for. Its very light and airy (but still super warm from the alpaca). Why am i finishing up warm alpaca scarves now, when the weather is finally getting nice? i'm also itching to knit socks right now. my seasonal knitting clock is totally screwy.

You know how you always read that your gauge can change over time? well here's proof positive:
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i'm hoping to mask it with a little aggressive blocking. but if that doesn't work i might rip back and finish that wobbly end on a smaller needle. Its unlike me to do that, but i think it will bother me if i leave it. I intend to keep this scarf for myself to wear with my lightweight fall/winter/spring coat.

Monday, April 11, 2005

spring is anti-crafting.

I (finally!!) mailed off the socks that i made for my mother out of Socks that Rock purchased at Rhinebeck. I cannot say enough good things about this yarn. There is only one place to buy it online that i know of, but i think they travel to all the major sheep&wool shows. If you are a fan of sock yarn, i highly suggest picking up some of this. anyway, the socks have been done since before christmas, but i just needed to sew in the few ends and get them in the stinkin' mailbox. Of course, i forgot to take a picture before i sent them!

sudden spring in new england has made the idea of wool in my lap... uninspiring. i really want to get projects finished, but have been distracted by other things. scooting. bikram yoga. my newest little project:
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I adore danish modern / mid-century modern furniture. i pick up these lonely little chairs that need some TLC at flea markets (this is the 3rd one to come home with me). I have every intention of re-upholstering or refinishing them, but somehow it hasn't happened. as with most of my projects, i get paralyzed by the idea that i'm "not doing it right". well i'm just going for it now, and decided to treat myself to some powertools to make the job easier. it was called the "corner cat"! i couldn't resist. The chair has now lost its padding and about 80% of its old varnish. i'm having so much fun that "Powertools are cheaper than therapy" might just be my new motto.
now, which fabric? top 3 choices right now are: Felix Punch, Lux Funky, or alfie barkcloth

i have "misplaced" the charger for the battery of my digital camera. ugh. once i find it, i will post an update on the chair.

On saturday i went to a "Spin-in" at the American Textiles History Museum in Lowell. Even thought i didn't find the people i was supposed to be meeting/looking for, i met all kinds of cool spinning people! I have never spun in the group before. i walked through the spinning room at SPA weekend but didn't have my wheel with me. This was really fun, inspiring, and educational! almost everyone there was cranking along on a double-treadle ashford Joy, and made me realize that my Traditional needs a few upgrades!! I also met Caroline, who was SO nice and taught me how to properly use my hand carders! she also tried to teach me to spin lace weight yarn on her Majacraft, but that was a disaster. i need to find a spinning group closer to home.

Friday, April 01, 2005

fiber Road Trip

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka Yarn Harlot, will be at Circles in Boston signing her new book on April 29th. She's a hilarious writer; i am regularly in stitches reading her daily blog. I would love to make an outing of it if any other fiber nuts want to go with me!