CSM Ribbing Help

Flat Bent Tip NeedleI was working on a ribbed sock for my son today, and made a couple of videos to help other CSMers.

First, my new favorite tool, the flat, bent tip needle (Bodkin needle).

I would really like one about 2 inches longer, but haven’t found it yet.  This one is almost three inches long.  I use it to help when I am switching to my working yarn with the ribber in place on the my circular sock machine.  You need to thread the yarn into the machine and get it down into the cylinder to knit with it.  This needle is much easier for me to use than a latch hook tool that is fished up from below.  Check out my little video below.

 

Next is a video to show you how I latch up or “pick up” a dropped ribber stitch.   I had a lot of experience latching them up until I got my ribber correctly timed to the machine and the yarn guide placement adjusted correctly.  The only other videos I found about picking up stitches showed how to latch up a dropped cylinder stitch.  So this morning when I dropped a rib stitch when transferring it to the cylinder needle, I knew I would have a dropped stitch to fix when I took the ribber off.  So here it is.

Sock Hop

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I have started cranking out some socks again. Above is a pair I knit for me out of Berocco Sox Corib. Now I am working with my warm German sock yarns that you can see pictured below.  I bought some some collections, so they will have similar patterns within the collections, but different colorways. Some are very bright and some are more subdued and conservative. (Plus I have a new colorful collection of Opal Potpourri yarn on the way and will post those pics as soon as they arrive.)   If you want a particular size and colorway, let me know and you can choose from the sets below.  Normally $28 a pair but friends and family can order a pair for $25 (if paid by cash or check (ladies sizes) until the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday November 25.  I can usually have them ready within a week but will let you know if they will take longer. Shipping is not included. Men’s sizes will take longer since I want to get the ladies sizes knit first. I need to switch out cylinders re-set the machine for a larger foot size. That all takes time and I prefer to knit as many as I can on one cylinder before switching it out.) Extra large men’s feet (above size 12) may cost more if I have to use more than one ball of yarn (in that case heels, toes and perhaps cuffs will need to be knit in a solid coordinating color which I have to buy). Send me a message through the contact form here or on my Measured Threads Facebook page if you want some. 

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Over the Rainbow Collection (numbered from the top row left to right as #1  to #4 &  bottom left to right as #5 to #8)

   

Hot Socks

Hot Socks Collection (numbered from the top row left to right as #1  to #3 &  bottom left to right as #4 to #6)

 

Morning Dew

Morning Dew Collection (numbered from the top row left to right as #1  to #4 &  bottom left to right as #5 to #8)

 

Back to School

Cricket Loom with Tweed ScarfThe fall season of classes has begun at the Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati. Our registration/payments are now online at Eventbrite. I currently have two beginning rigid heddle weaving classes scheduled.  The first is September 12 and the second is October 17.

Rigid Heddle weaving is a great way to get started weaving in a simple way. Rigid heddle looms are inexpensive, portable and quick to warp. You will learn to direct warp a rigid heddle loom with easy to find knitting yarn, learn the basics of weaving, and create a beautiful plain weave scarf in 6 hours. Looms will be provided for class.  No previous weaving experience needed.

Linen and Lace

lace sample I am currently working on a weaving sample for a class. This is woven with Juniper Moon Farm Zooey a linen and cotton blend yarn. It has a real nice feel to it. In this end of the sample I am using the same yarn for warp and weft. There is leno lace and Spanish lace. I have some blue Hemapathy yarn that I will use for weft when I sample at the other end to see what difference it makes in how much the lace shows up. I think it can be a real nice table runner or if made wider, a placemat. It might even be nice for a summery scarf if I beat a little lighter to have more of a warp dominant fabric.

Cotton Club

2015-07-01 16.42.31I have ordered a nice variety of colors in 8/2 cotton for weaving towels. I don’t have any specific structure in mind yet. A good twill is always nice, but there were some bumberet towels recently in Handwoven magazine that I really like. Bumberet is a new structure for me and I love playing with colors.  I can put a real variety of color in the warp, and weave with one color, changing for each towel.  One shuttle weave make that part go much faster.  I really need to make sure I don’t get carried away with too many colors in one warp though.

I will have to sit and play with the drafting software and will try to post some of my planning process as I go.  Hopefully I can get some woven and up for sale soon.

That reminds me I need to hem up the last towels I wove in cotton and linen and get them up for sale too.  I just need to find a place to set up the sewing machine and leave it out for a couple of days.

Dyeing to Knit Socks

Here is a little photo essay.  I had a ball of the merino/bamboo blend sock yarn in cream that I wanted to dye and knit up for a teacher gift. I used a sprinkle dye method with dry Kool-Aid and bottles of food coloring. You need a bit of acid provided by vinegar and heat provided by microwaving during the process to set the colors.  Since the dyes are food, they are safe in your everyday pans.

Skein up the yarn and tie around it in different places to keep the tangling down.

Soak the skein in warm water for a while in a microwave safe dish.
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Pour off most of the water and add a glug of vinegar. Swish it around.

Start with the lighter colors and sprinkle them on dry (Kool-Aid) or drip them (food color).
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Let the colors saturate the skein for a while move it gently around to expose undyed areas and add more sprinkles. Microwave in bursts of 1-2 minutes between colors.
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After coloring to your satisfaction (be careful not to overdo it the first time).  Give it a final trip on the microwave carousel to fully set all the dyes for another 1-2 minutes.

Let cool a bit, then rinse fully in lukewarm water.

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Hang the skein to let it dry.

Twist it up and keep or sell.

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Wind it into a ball when you are ready to use it.

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I then put it on my CSM bobbin to knit it from.
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Finished socks are ready to give or sell.
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Measured Steps Socks

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Treat your feet & buy yourself a pair today!

Do you know how hard it is to take a good picture of your own feet?  I have gotten better at it over the years since I have always loved handknit socks and enjoyed documenting my creations on Ravelry, Facebook and my blog. Now I am selling my own line of handmade socks.

These short Measured Steps socks are fun and funky sport socks of a machine washable and dryable, 50% merino wool, 25% rayon from bamboo and 25% nylon blend yarn. They are soft and comfortable and handmade on my circular sock knitting machine. You. can read more about that here.  They are made with the ideal yarn for summer socks, wool for moisture control and softness, bamboo for coolness, and nylon for durability.

Because I got the yarn at a good price, I am just getting started in the business and want you all to know the joy of handmade socks, I am currently taking orders for women’s sizes 6-9 and offering them for a special introductory price of $14 a pair to my readers and friends (paid in cash and picked up). If you want them mailed to you, it will be an extra $2 to cover Paypal fees and postage. There is a limit of one pair per person at this special price and you must order by Friday, May 22. If you are local, use the “contact” form in the right sidebar (or below if you are on mobile) to let me know. If you are out of town, please place your order through my store.  In either case, I will contact you for color and sizing details and let you know how long it will be before I can get them made.

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The colors available right now are below.  Your computer screen may render the colors slightly different than the actual color, but they are very close on my screen.

Yarn #s 1 & 2 on the right will produce a “Fairisle” look like the pair above.

yarn choices

click for bigger picture

 

The yarns on the left (#s 3,4 & 5) will produce a striped pattern similar to this.

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Again, send me a note using the contact form to order or use my store if you are out of town.

 

Star Pupil!

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Here is one of my star pupils, Sharon, in her lovely sweater!  She finished it in just 4 weeks of class and learned a bunch of new skills in the making: swatching, increases, mirrored decreases, picking up stitches, ribbing, pattern reading and problem solving. The yarn is Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine a wool, alpaca and silk blend, and is the perfect color for her.  My two other students are well on their way to finishing and I will hopefully show you their pictures in a couple of weeks.

One Ball, Minimal Math

Rigid heddle loom weavers often have stashes of gorgeous knitting yarns laying around.  If you need a quick present and want to weave a scarf from a ball of sock yarn, here is a quick method that requires almost no math.  You must have a digital kitchen scale that weighs in grams.  (This is one of the most valuable tools I own for knitting and weaving-make sure it weighs to the nearest gram, not the nearest even number of grams for the best accuracy).  You probably need around 80-100 grams if you want to weave a decent scarf.

  1. Determine the appropriate sett for your yarn. For sock yarn used as both warp and weft I use a 10 dent heddle.   If your sock yarn is especially thin, you may want a 12.  Remember you want the scarf to be drapey, not stiff.  The scarf shrinks when taken off the loom and the yarn blooms when wet finished.
  2. Begin by weighing your ball of yarn.  You want to work with the actual weight, not what is stated on the ball band.  Divide this number of grams in half and add 2 (3 if using a larger RH loom that has more loom waste than a Cricket).  This is about how much you need for warp.  Example 102 / 2 + 3 = 54 grams.    Then 102-54 = 48.  48 grams is about what you need to reserve for weft.
  3. Make a ball of yarn that equals the amount needed for weft (the smaller number; in the example it is 48 grams).  To do this, put the whole ball of yarn on the scale.  Wind off yarn until the scale says the larger number needed for warp (in the example, 54 grams)  what you have in the ball is the weft (in the example, 48 grams).  Double check both balls before cutting yarn between.  Set the smaller ball aside for weft (the example is 48 grams).
  4. Divide the larger ball of warp yarn in half by grams. Using the same method with the scale as you did above.  (example 54/2=27 grams).
  5. Take one ball of the 2 balls of warp to your prepared loom.  Decide how long to make your warp (remember to add loom waste to desired scarf length plus a couple of inches for take up and shrinkage).  An 8 or 9 foot warp makes a nice long scarf.  For a shorter scarf to tuck into a coat, you probably want 6.5 to 7 foot warp.  Fasten the peg that far away.
  6. Find the center of your heddle and tie one of the warp balls to the apron rod behind the center.  Warp your slots from the center out and stop when you run out of yarn or the scarf is more than half the width you would like.   Tie off at the apron rod or the peg.  Repeat with the second ball of warp, sleying the slots from the center out the other direction.  Again, tie the end of the warp to the slot or the peg.  Save 2 lengths of yarn for a repair in case a warp breaks.  You can save one from this ball and one from the other.
  7. Wind on to the back, sley the holes and weave as usual.  Remember in a  balanced weave  your Ends Per Inch or Dents per inch (e.p.i) = Picks Per Inch (p.p.i.)  Look for squares of light between warp and weft.  Do not beat your weft in too hard, use a light touch and place the weft with the heddle.

Hopefully this method has reserved enough yarn to weave the scarf with little to none left over.  You will never get it exact and you will have to be happy with the width you got with your balls of warp yarn.

This may work with other weights of yarn, but I have only used it with sock yarn.  Here is a chart for suggested heddle sizes with yarns.  If you yarn is slick, you would choose the closer sett if the yarn falls into 2 categories

Yarn Categories

Sock/ Fingering 1 Sport 2 DK,
Lt. Worsted  3
Worsted,
Aran 4
Recommended
Rigid Heddle Sizes
10 or 12 dent 10 dent 8 or 10 dent

8 dent

I am working on a little spreadsheet to do calculations for you if you want to figure out ahead of time how wide your scarf will be.  I will post it when it is ready, so check back soon.

Students’ Scarves

I have been having quite a busy month teaching classes at Silk Road Textiles and at the WGGC.  This post is to show is the work of some of my students in progress.

This is from my houndstooth scarf class at Silk Road Textiles.  I forgot to take other pictures, but there were four in the class.  Some of the other color combinations were light and dark brown and blue and black.
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One of my favorite combinations is a purple green,

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or red and black

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Next is a set of photos from my class on faux ikat.  In this class we use handpainted yarns that are dyed in a particular way.  These yarns have to be dyed across the skein or “palindrome dyed” where the dyer paints the yarn across the oval of the skein.

Pooling Yarn

I show them how to make the colors “pool” for a faux ikat effect in their scarves.  You have to be willing to work with the yarn and let it determine the length of the scarf.

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Mistaken Wisdom

Fixing feather and fan

A good quote came up in my Facebook news feed today.

Don’t cling to mistakes just because you spent a lot of time making them.

It’s attributed to Dr. Laura the radio psychologist, so I don’t think she was referring to weaving and knitting, but the words do sum up my philosophy a bit when it comes to crafting.  I discussed it a little the other day in my post on User Error.  I often come across people who embrace their mistakes and call them design elements even when they catch the errors before the work is finished. I just can’t adopt that viewpoint. Try to fix the mistakes when you can and as soon as you notice them and that will help you produce a better product. The time you have invested is wasted if the finished item makes you unhappy or you can’t sell it.

There is an oft repeated bit of folklore people use in defense of flaws that the Amish (or the Native Americans or the other artisan of the culture/ancient civilization) made a deliberate mistake in their work so as not to be prideful and offend God.  I think this is only a myth. It’s not often that we achieve perfection in our craft, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it or fix it when we can.  Yes, you can probably find mistakes in my work, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t try to eliminate them. I will fix what I can when I can, even if that sometime involves starting over.

I once read in one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books (I am paraphrasing since I can’t find the exact quote) “admire your work often, that is when you will find the mistakes while they are still easier to fix.” If we persist in clinging to and excusing mistakes just because we have already spent a lot of time on the project, we won’t become better at our craft.

When I teach knitting or weaving, I tell my students how well they are doing and how much they are improving and other good and truthful things about their work. But I also point out mistakes and discuss how they might have happened and how they can be fixed. I wouldn’t be a good teacher if I didn’t. I do assure them that the reason I am good at fixing things is that I make a lot of mistakes and I do my best to figure out how to fix them. Sometimes when trying to fix a knitting mistake, you can make it worse, and then have to rip out.  (Sometimes the only fix is to rip.) But if you never try to fix the mistakes you will never learn how to. Finding and fixing mistakes is a skill in and of its own that should be embraced as much as the craft.  By the way, I didn’t have to rip out the project for the mistake I am fixing above. I fixed it, and the afghan came out perfect.

Simply Gorgeous

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I think that this is one of the most beautiful things I have woven.  It is a simple plain weave scarf, made quickly on my 10 inch Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom.  Rigid heddle looms are such an easy way to get started weaving.  With beautiful hand dyed yarns from indie dyers like Robin Edmundson you don’t need to make something complicated on an 8 shaft loom.  A simple plain weave is enough for the yarn to be the star of the scarf.  In this scarf, I used a 12 dent heddle and warped with Robin’s Rayon Spiral yarn in Vineyard and wove with Warbler Cotton Boucle in Aurora.  The colorways had similar enough colors that they went together extremely well.  The rayon spiral gave a bit of shine peeking out between the textured cotton boucle.  It’s and ideal spring scarf.  Here’s a couple of more pictures of it.

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Have You Any Wool?

wire sheep

I found this sheepish little fellow when I was wandering about TJ Maxx today.  He will make nice decorative storage for all those leftover balls of wool I have stashed around my studio.  He is quite charming when he’s been fed, don’t you think?

User Error

1 thread in dent

Yes the auto reed hook kept me from skipping a dent yesterday, but it didn’t prevent user error. You can see in the picture above slightly left of center what the problem is.  I got my whole warp sleyed and tied on, then it was time to check for issues. I treadled some plain weave sheds and I examined the sheds from the front of the loom. Each dent should have two threads and when treadling the plain weave shed, one in each should move up and the other stay down. But, I saw an empty dent when I treadled the sheds. With the shed closed and flat, I hadn’t noticed it, but two of the dents only had one thread in each instead of two. When I raised a shed, the thread in one of the dents that only had one thread stayed down and there was a one dent gap. Fortunately the dents with one thread each were right next to each other. I contemplated leaving it, but it could leave a reed mark in the finished cloth. Since it was only about 4 inches away from the left selvedge, I fixed it and  resleyed those 4 inches.  If it had been in the middle, I probably still would have fixed it and resleyed 11 inches of warp.

I also looked into the sheds from the side and found 2 threads in the middle of the shed. I had twisted them between the heddles and reed. So I marked the threads with a piece of red string from a thrum and located the bout and untied it. I traced the threads back and sorted them out, resleyed them and retied the bout.

I  always look for problems before I start weaving.  That is the best time to fix things.  I don’t want to go through all the work that it takes to weave something only to have a flaw in the finished product that I was too lazy to fix.

I am like this with my knitting too. If I can fix it, I do.  I have been know to rip out almost completed knitting projects.  My philosoply is that if the mistake will bother me, I won’t want to wear it or give it to the person it is intended for.  I like knitting and I like weaving so ripping out or unweaving may take me a little longer to get that particular project finished, but I still get to knit or weave and will like the sock or the towel better.

DownhillSee this sock , it was a project I started last year during the winter Olympics. Shortly after this picture was taken, I ripped it out even though there were no errors in the knitting. I tried it on, and it was really tight. I didn’t take into consideration how the twisted stitches would affect the stretch of finished sock leg and they were intended for me. My daughter who has thinner legs said she probably would not wear them. I still had one sock to go, so I ripped. I want something that fits.

I will restart them on dpns (2.25 mm) for the leg with the same number of stitches. That will give a little more stretch. Then when I get to the foot, I will switch to two circular needles, one for the top of the foot in size 2.5 mm needles and stick with my usual 2 mm(US size 0) for the bottom of the foot. That should do the trick.

Meanwhile, I do have other socks on the needles.  I am trying to weave during the day and knit in the evenings, but have instead been working on weaving into the evenings since my days have been interrupted here and there by normal life.

Well, now its back to the loom to finish the last inch of resleying and hopefully to start weaving.

 

Dressed For Action

reed being sleyed

The warp has been beamed onto the warp beam and I have threaded the heddles.  I had a bit of a setback on Monday, I got the warp on the loom, spread it out to 22 inches and beamed it on only to look at it and think, “something is not right”.  I had only wound half of the number of threads needed. So, I carefully unwound the warp from the beam, scooted everything closer together onto one side, and wound more warp.  I then put that on the apron rod with the rest of the warp and beamed it all again.

I got most of the heddles threaded into the pattern yesterday and finished up this morning.  I started to sley the reed with the normal reed hook, but it was sooo slow.  I have gotten used to the auto reed hook, so I had to look for it in my unorganized studio (I promise to work on organizing) and am now sleying faster.  No it doesn’t automatically sley the reed for me, it just moves from dent to dent on its own, while I pick the threads, catch them with the hook and pull. I can leave it in a dent and do something else with my hands, and it doesn’t fall out, and most importantly,  I don’t accidentally skip a dent while sleying.
Here’s a short video to show how I use it. It works best if the reed is laying flat, not standing up in the beater.

After I run a few errands, I should be able to finish that up quickly and get to the real action of the day, weaving!

New Beginnings

This is going to be my new place to document my fiber crafts, cooking and life in general.  I may try to import some of my old blog if I can locate the backup files on my computer.christmas Tree Hat

One of my last creations of the year, a hat for my new nephew George, another new beginning. The red socks were knit by my friend Susan.  Upon seeing the nearly completed hat, she promptly finished the socks and generously gave them to me to give to George with the hat.