Monday, April 26, 2021

Moving On

The small cowl took half a day, and it's a perfect size, with a lovely texture, in the same color as the big piece. But what was I thinking aiming for a "subtle" cabling?? I know; I wanted to contrast it against the big piece, but still... I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it or undo/redo, or repurpose the yarn, but not a big deal because it needed only one ball. If I decide to keep it, I am thinking of unravelling the earlier yellow cashmere version, with a fabulous hand but a circumference too large and texture too floppy it does nothing as a neck warmer.  
I thought about what to do next all day, but came evening and I was so keen to keep knitting I started an orange scarf on a whim. I have six balls left, so without unravelling the new cowl, I should be able to get a good length. The sample came in handy-ish in that I found the wavy bits attractive but I couldn't figure out exactly what I did; the progression in the sample wasn't consistent; I wanted the diagonal lines to go the other way, (I find it easier to "rest" (??) the stitches in front rather than the back;) and the orange yarn is slightly fatter and recommends using #5 while the teal, slightly thinner and #4. Anyway, I still like the teal patter much better, but as a scarf, the orange will be soft and warm. Probably. Hopefully. 
 
I am now thinking seriously about a sample with notes, but not with either of these yarns as they are too nice.
Sunflower: I got tired of the bad tension so I cut off after about 65m and unwound/rewound. Theoretically there is still enough warp for one scarf. You can see I'm limiting the hues; true colors are somewhere between these two pics.
The darker blue parts show where I put in two pattern wefts in slightly different sheds to every tabby pick.
I'm sticking to similar hues but the warp tension is only slightly better so Sunflower is destined to be a scarf for me or fabric scrap. 
 
I have two important things to consider regarding weaving on this loom. The first is, as much as I love being able to walk into the stash room and weave any time, the room has terrible light, natural and artificial. While the latter can be improved, yarn colors are accurate only from when the sun hits the window, (mid-morning this time of year and much later, later,) for a couple of hours at best. I often notice while weaving later in the afternoon that I am not looking at the colors on the loom, but weaving from what I remember, and not exactly how I like to work. Although it has produced some unexpected combos in the sample. The second issue is tension while putting on the warp. I can't remember what I did a decade ago, but recently putting the loom on the floor and dragging the warp on the carpet under books has been the default; it doesn't seem to work the way I'd like, in part possibly because the loom can move easily while I wind. A third issue, lower on priority but possibly a worthwhile investment, is to swap heavy metal heddles with large eyes to texolv so as to possibly reduce cotton fiber rubbing against metal. I haven't been able to gauge exactly how much damage occurs at the moment, but there is a lot of fuzzy bits under the loom, caused both from the heddles and the reed, I presume. 
Sunflower was supposed to be such a fabulous project but it's turning to be a pain. (Although if it turns out to be a teaching warp, that's good, too.) I decided I'm not putting on a new warp anywhere until I finish the purple warp on the big loom after this, and revised the warp colors.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Free Range or Joy Knitting

Remembering I had intended, in the not too distant past, to experiment with knitting, (initially I envisioned small 3D objects,) I started this experimental scarf for Ben on July 23. I've been posting pictures and thoughts on Facebook, but I'd like to leave a revised (polished??) record here for future reference.
 V1, sample, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side)
V1, sample, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side)

Much editing with a crochet hook took place while I designed on the fly. Designing on the odd numbered rows only as a general rule would make things easier and the knitting faster. This is 60 stitches wide - perhaps the real deal will be 48, which would makes it easier because there is less scope of horizontal movement. I'll keep practicing tonight, but may start the proper piece with a little more regular look.
V2, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side)
V2, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side)
I kept the width about the same, 57-stiches wide, because 48 was much too narrow. It's moving along quicker than the sample. I've not planned or calculated anything, but picked up a few techniques to create certain patterns. Pity I haven't counted so I can't replicate. I can't tell if this is better, or something I'll like, or irredeemably unattractive.  I'm weighing the expected softness of the finished fabric against the visual interest when placing the ... cable switcheroos. (What's the right term anyway?) Even numbered B-side I like better. But with knitting, I'm not aiming to make both sides pretty.
V3, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side) First version
V3, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side) After reworking.
V3, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side) After reworking
V2 was such a disappointment I needed a few day's break.
a. I think of the knit-side as A-side, so I made one side mostly knit, intending it to be the 'good' side.
b. This is a scarf and I wanted to make it "pretty" ish, (it's Ben's, so not overloading on pretty, though,) with a comfortable touch. V3 is better than the previous two in both respects.
c. It's a scarf, meaning it's narrow and long. While switching designs often has been interesting, I run out of ideas quickly, so I'm elongating/diluting the trajectory/idea, so I last the distance; but,
d. fewer changes in each row make the knitting quicker, though with repeated do-overs the speed is obviously not a big issue.

Though I like this, I might start on V4. I undid about 20 rows and added 6 between the two versions; but mixing cabling and movement means I can't use regular numbers/progression, (I don't know how else to express this,) and I'm not crazy the left side of the curves when the chain moves. I'm happy with 56 stitches wide, however. 
 V4, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side)
V4, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side)
I knew I was on to something I like with V3, but I couldn't just copy it, so I tried this. But I still prefer V3, so now the question is, do I return to V3 or start V5? 

No V5 picture. I knitted a couple of dozen rows last night, a cheap imitation of V3, hated it, and undid it immediately. I have started V6, which I hope will be an improved V3; my attention is on the curve as the cables start to move, rather than counting and repeating mathematically. Fingers and toes crossed.
V3, A-side.
V3, B-side. I thought I had posted process pics, but apparently not. The lower needle, (not the bottom,) shows approximately where I resumed work on V3 ten days ago; the higher, (not the top,) where I picked up last night.

The middle one-third so far took a heck of a long time, often knitting at night and unravelling quite a lot in the morning, then reworking that night, over several sittings. Then, as the main cable neared the right edge, I wasn't sure what to do next and for about a week I looked at it every night without knowing how to proceed. Last night I looked at it as an evening ritual and it appeared the next few cm was a no-brainer, so the last one-third was done in a couple of hours.

Am I right in assuming, because there's more cabling (??) happening on the right side and looser stitches on the left, the right edge is shorter, making the whole piece "lean" or approach fan-shaped? If that's the issue, I'm hoping to balance it later, to see if the piece will be more rectangular.

I've also unravelled all but sample V2, which still has visually interesting/useful bits. Sometimes the most simple, unassuming contrast can be the most stunning; I saw another possibility as I was taking these pics. I'm enjoying this project again after a week of no discernible progress and waning interest. :-D
V3, A-side. This pic shows approximately the portion I worked on last night, which we'll call... Sitting Seven. The process is interesting, but I wonder if this is going to be usable aesthetically, i.e. acceptably eccentric but not overly strange/ugly/yucky. The process of knitting/unravelling/reworking is engaging; I am enjoying it. The whole process/project is an allegory of how I deal with lockdown; obsessed with details without understanding or the desire to examine, the virtue of what I'm doing.
V3, A-side. Sitting Eight. And I was right, as I do more cabling, the length of the fabric is taken away, so now it leans towards the left. As the line was moving from right to left, for a while it was quite "true".
And I'm resigned, but not in a bad way, to the realization this may be my Plague Project. If it's too ugly at the end, I can so easily unravel and reuse the yarn, much easier than weaving.
V3, A-side. Sittings Nine and Ten. This is a Plague project now, and I'm not worried about the look or the feel. (The braids on the left is really stiff.) I'm just doing this because I can and at the end if it ens up horrible, I'll think of what to do then. It's just fun to design by ear, on my feet, out of thin air.

I'm now approaching halfway point.
V3, A-side. Sittings Eleven and Twelve. Between the two sittings, I found a mistake and undid 20 or so rows, only to find out it wasn't a mistake.
V3, A-side. Sittings Thirteen and Fourteen. Thirteen was a short sitting quite a while ago. Fourteen, however, was "exciting"; it went really quickly, then I could figure out if I had made a mistake, so I undid almost all I did and restarted. I still couldn't tell if I had made a mistake, but the left edge improved, so worth it. Interesting how knit areas look like negative space, while when used in combination with purling, both knit and purled stitches can be positive/negative depending on the context.

I find myself now calling this a "sampler". Some patterns are easy and effective, while others are surprisingly not even if I have to count and be vigilant. "Sampler" is in quotes because I am not keeping records so... I may or may not be able to recreate, but onward!
V3, A-side. Sittings Fifteen. Quite a lot of knitting and unravelling in one day, from here to the start of Seventeen.
V3, A-side. After unravelling Sitting Fifteen and most of Fourteen.
V3, A-side. During Sitting Sixteen, I noticed a big bump very near where I had unravelled earlier today. (Just above the bottom needle.) At first I thought it was my uneven hand and a loose loop, but it's actually a twist in the cable switcharoo. I tried to convince myself it's "cute", but... nah...
V3, A-side. Sitting Seventeen after another unravelling; I'm about the same place as the end of Sixteen, but behind Fifteen. And the bump about 10cm below, that's not a mistake but a loose stitch. Trust me when I say, I've looked at, scrutinized, and pulled in all directions gazillion times. B-side looks normal. 
V3, A-side. Sittings Eighteen, Nineteen and Twenty, believe it or not, and proof these simple tasks are good for a troubled mind. 
V3, A-side. Sittings 21-24 with one ball to go. 
V3, A-side. Sitting 25 proceeded at break neck speed and I got through 1/3 of the last ball, and then decided I didn't like the look so I'm back where I was between 23 and 24. Ben was home after work, but I feel like Penelope.
V3, A-side, Sittings 26 and 27 after a ten-week gap, during which I debated the merit of continuing for the remaining 1.5 balls. Opinion "for" was the loveliness of this evening pursuit, helping me survive bad telly nights. Opinions "against" were too numerous to recall. "For" won because it is enjoyable, once I remembered what I was doing ten weeks ago, and how I was working overall. It will be a good sampler, and then one day I shall recycle the yarn to knit something else. But, ooops, identical pattern repeated nearby. 
I knew for months I was going to abandon this project, but maybe I didn't want to because it'd be another project I abandoned. Or it was so low on my list I couldn't be bothered to "officially" abandon it, which is not a bad thing because I've been thinking weaving, weaving, weaving. Whatever, life's too short to stick with unpromising projects. It's getting cooler and I'd like knitting after dinner, so I'm moving on to a saner project. It will be undone either when I think of a project to knit with this yarn, or when I need even more Number 5 bamboo needles. 
 
It was an interesting attempt, though, and had I kept a record of stitches and numbers, it would have been worth saving a while longer. I might even attempt something like this with records. It was interesting to discover some visually attractive parts are stiff as a badly-washed sweater, while some lovely textures didn't look as appealing. I learned a little about proportion, in that one column of purling between cable ropes don't really show up, and often puckering shows/hides contrast of knitting vs purling in ways I didn't foresee, more so than in weaving. And I love making fat cables but columns of polite skinny ones are also handsome. (Also, I don't weave with regular skinny striped warps often enough.) Knitting can be used as a slow, deliberate design tool; I enjoyed the portability, spontaneity and changeability compared to weaving. Also, I prefer knitting with two and three strands of fine weaving yarns.

It's been... well it  has been, and I'm moving on to making a smaller cowl. The big orange one was meant to go over my shoulder, and it does, but it leaves the neck area a little breezy, so the next will have a smaller circumference, and I've already commenced the sampling stage experimenting with widths of cables, and undoing them. :-D

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Weavely Week

I had a weaverly week, in that weaving is all I did. 
 
"Sunflower" is progressing in spite of a few problematic warp ends on the right breaking. On a good day, I can weave 20cm. My south-facing stash room hasn't got the best light except for a short while in the morning, but I persevere. I'm just thrilled I can weave on two looms anytime in this wee space as long as I don't trip over the non-weaving stuff piled up in the middle of the floor, which I do.
Last week I wondered what would happen if I wove two shots of pattern wefts between each tabby, and then Deborah Silver mentioned that's what she thought years ago, which apparently started her path to studying split shed. My first thought: this increases the color possibilities exponentially. 
Ah, "Chocolates" warp:
1) Mom's handspun 2-ply "white" was too sticky I took it out from the left side of the warp; 
2) Although my notes said these two brown warps were 210cm on the warping board, which were supposed to allow 150cm pieces, they were in fact shorter after resting for a year or two. I wove only 144cm on "Milky Tea", 142cm on this;
3) Although all 100% cashmere from the same source, there were two or three different sizes in the warp, and different colors stretch at different rates;
4) Likewise I mixed all sorts in the weft, so it's a wild ride - who knows how it will wet-finish; 
5) The warp was wider than I pictured so I wove weft-wise rectangles; 
6) Although some look indistinguishable even in daylight, I inadvertently wove one section using two similar but different browns. Between the two warps I counted 12 different yarns; 
7) I don't enjoy browns, so I'm cranky; 
8) "Chocolates" in particular is not to my taste, but I see these colors in fabrics. Perhaps I'll make it into a cowl and give to charity;
9) I have to be more innovative in sash-busting Mom's yarns so I enjoy the weaving rather than just weaving quick projects. I know I have enough browns to for two more short pieces, but I'd better mix other hues.  
The Ashford table loom is ever so suited for cashmere warps, though. I feel I'm learning to control and vary the tension and the beat better than on any other loom. But now that the two short browns are finished, I must make up my mind about the teal warp downstairs. I'll keep weaving on it in the immediate future because Ben likes it. 
Interesting observation on the way my brain seems to work. Ashford's levers are linear, so it's easy to see the progression of simple lifting order. For e.g. the 3:3:1:1 twill I used in "Milky Tea", I only had to move the whole pattern one position to the right at a time. "Chocolates" was two blocks of 4-shafts, so likewise I could see the tiny patterns moving within the four shafts as if it's on paper.
The ex-Polytechnic loom is a little different. I mentioned before, my brain sees the lever layout as geometric, and other than the tie-down scheme, I draw shapes while lifting. For example, tie-down shaft plus 4-6, then 6-8, then 8-7, 7-5, 5-3, and finally 3-4. 
 
I'm right handed, although Mom could never remember I was a leftie to start with; (never mind I'm the eldest and her only kid for 6.5 years;) she and my brother were and were "corrected"; my sister wasn't. The most interesting part is, while weaving on this loom, my left hand moves automatically and knows faster where to go, so lifting odd-numbered shafts is automatic, while the right hand and even-numbered shafts, I have to think about it. Isn't it intriguing? I'm keeping an eye on this phenomena.
 
* * * * * 
A year ago today we went into Level 4 lockdown. One year on, it feels both such a long time ago, and the virus is still ever present, just far away from us. Meanwhile, parts of Japan is in the middle of the cherry blossom season, although I understand, sans cherry-viewing parties outdoors.