Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fish hat! Fish Hat! Roly-poly Fish Hat!

I finished this Fish Hat yesterday:

From Knitting and stuff

The pattern is from Knitty

The colours are those of the Northern Army of the SCA and the eyes are the Northern Army emblem sewn onto white felt. It's a gift for the 2-yo daughter of some friends of mine -- the dad is a member of the Northern Army and the daughter already has a Northern Army blanket and a battleaxe -- both crocheted by a mutual friend.

I used Lion Brand Vanna's Choice yarn for this as the mom has a wool allergy. And toddler stuff needs to be machine washable.

I'm very happy with the way it came out. So are some of my friends -- I posted it to FB and have had two requests to knit it. The first will be in burgundy and gold -- the SCA arms colours of the recipient. The other one will be pretty random. Both of them will be in my go-to yarn: Cascade 220 as I have a lot of it.
 I also finished a hat for myself over the weekend. Just a basic ribbed watchcap in Noro Silk Garden:
From Knitting and stuff

From Knitting and stuff

I was a bit disappointed that I only got the one purple stripe in the hat, but it fits nicely and is beautifully warm.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trucks and Sheep and Wool and Stuff

I've spent an inordinate amount of money on getting a water leak fixed in my Land Rover. This ruined my plan to spend a lot of money at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool show. However, it's worth it not to have moldy carpets or fried (or should that be boiled?) electrics in my Rolling Living Room. According to the Weather Underground, we've had a little over 1.5" of rain since the Rolling Living Room was declared fixed. Most of that in 2 days. The carpets are still dry. I have hope.

But that's not what this post is about. It's about Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Show.

Friday night I slept appallingly badly. So when the alarm went off at 6:00am, I'd only had about 3 hours sleep. Still I leapt gaily out of bed, showered, shaved, dressed, and hustled out the door to go meet up with Ken (of The K is Silent). Then we drove to Rhinebeck. A lovely day for a drive, pretty weather, pretty foliage, even the traffic wasn't too ugly (at least not by MassPike standards) and we were making very good time.

Then we turned off I87 to go over the bridge and take the local roads and everything came to a screeching halt. It took us well over an hour to go the last five miles. We thought about parking the truck and walking the last mile or so to the showground, but decided against it as we'd be doing plenty of walking when we got there. So we arrived hungry and in need of restrooms well after noon, instead of 10:30 as we'd intended.

Neither of us had been to Rhinebeck before and Ken had never been to a sheep and wool show at all. So we made a couple of mistakes (other than not knowing about the traffic issue). The first was day-tripping. The second was not looking at the map and planning a route, but just randomly wandering into the barns. My 3rd mistake was not having enough cash (for which I blame LR Hanover). Still we saw about 1/3 of the show before it closed.

Ken did very well on the loot front. I bought a skein of sock yarn and a 7oz bag of gorgeous fawn alpaca roving which was so inexpensive I couldn't leave it there. We both collected as many business cards as we could for both online purchases and next year's raid visit.

Our random barn tour led us through several of the animal barns. We had a great time admiring the various alpacas, llamas, (no dalai lamas though), sheep, and goats. Ken is having his first spinning lesson this week, so we spent quite a lot of time comparing the different breed fleeces, and talking to the shepherds. It was great fun to talk to the shepherds about their breeds (and in my case why I like to spin their breed's fleeces). The shepherds certainly seemed to appreciate talking to people who knew a little bit about sheep and wool too.

The show closed at 5:00pm, but it was a good bit after that by the time we got back in the Rolling Living Room and headed out. Getting out was not too bad -- much, much easier than getting in. I decided to ignore James (my GPS) who wanted me to go back to I87, and take the Taconic back to I90. This was a good idea. Not a lot of traffic, and a prettier route. We saw several deer grazing in the twilight beside the road. Fortunately none of them were the least bit interested in suicide by Land Rover.

We'd decided that we should have a proper dinner as lunch was show food and so stopped in Northampton at the Northampton Brewery. A very fine place to dine, with good vegetarian choices for Ken, and excellent beer. I had a dark IPA called Black Mamba which was wonderful. Stopping for dinner took a little longer than I'd hoped, and a nasty-looking accident on I91 after dinner slowed us down some. As a result it was about 12:30am by the time I got home. With about 10 miles worth of gas in the tank!

However, both of us had a wonderful time. It was a glorious fall day. The driving was easy (and dry inside the RLR!). Dinner was excellent. There was lots of good loot. And several hours of good conversation on a wide range of topics.

The plan for next year is to find a nice place to stay within an hour's drive (under normal circumstances) of the showground. Get there Friday night, leave for the show early Saturday morning. Find a nice local place for dinner, stay over Saturday night and do the rest of the show on Sunday. That will give us time to see the whole thing and possibly even go to some of the workshops and demos. This necessitates saving some money -- both for accommodation and food, and more importantly LOOT! There was a lot of stuff I didn't buy because I couldn't justify the purchase.

One thing I didn't buy, but really wish I had, was a hat. It was a Cossack-style hat with a black fur brim and a red/black felted crown. Had it not been $178, I might have sprung for it. It was a great fit and made me look very much like a Russian politician. I've been thinking about it and I'm pretty sure I can adapt a basic watchcap pattern so that with the addition of some good quality fake fur, it'll give me a similar look for a lot less. I'd like a nice warm winter hat. I have a nice grey fedora, but can't wear it when I'm driving because the brim hits the headrest and annoys me.

So yea: Rhinebeck -- definitely worth the trip.

In other news, I've finished 2 pairs of socks recently. The first, a lovely brown/navy/purple self-striping yarn from Fire Lizard Studios, which sat on the needles for a while because between other things and arthritis, I didn't do much knitting. The second some blue/tan cheap inexpensive commercial sock yarn (I think perhaps Lion Brand) which didn't take nearly as long as I spent a very pleasant day at an SCA event when I had time to knit and my fingers weren't aching.

Of course I've got a fresh pair on the needles now. These are Trekking Hand Painted yarn in the blue/red colourway they call Atlantic. They are very spiffy and have Celtic knot cables running up the sides of the leg. I' halfway up the first leg.

What I should be doing, though, is tablet weaving. I have a couple of projects on hold. I haven't had a nice fat block of time to do the warping lately though. Soon though...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Maunche Medallion Cord

Camera phone photos:
From 08/09/2011

And a closeup:
From 08/09/2011

Tubular tablet weaving. 60/2 silk. 12 cards threaded alternately S and Z. The dark longitudinal stripes are a dark purple, commercial dye, as is the gold. The brownish specks are well, brown. They're some of the silk and I dyed with black walnuts last year.

I stuck a lobster claw on it as a fastener. Don't know if it'll be needed, but I had it so I did it. I'm very pleased with it. I can see more of this in my future -- for a variety of purposes. It's a fun technique and once it's warped the weaving itself goes very quickly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

A story...

See Hugh.

See Hugh knit.

Knit Hugh! knit!

Hugh likes to knit. It makes him happy! We like Hugh to be happy. We like everyone to be happy!

Hugh is knitting a sock. It is a black sock with complicated cables. It is for a lady. The lady will like the sock. She will be happy! Her feet will be happy! This will make Hugh happy too!

Hugh is knitting fast. See the sock growing on the needles. It is getting quite big.

Wait! What is happening?

Hugh is not knitting. Hugh is staring at the sock. No, he is peering very closely because it is a black sock and it is hard to see the stitches.

Now Hugh is saying bad words. Lots of bad words. Lots of very bad words! Quick children! Cover your ears! You do not want to hear these bad words.

See Hugh frog. 

The sock is getting smaller. Hugh is undoing all his hard work. There is a mistake near the beginning of the sock. 

Rippit Hugh! Rippit!

Now Hugh has no sock to knit. 

Hugh is sad. Sad. Sad. Sad.

But not for long! Hugh can knit the sock again. This time he will not make mistakes. This time the sock will be beautiful.

See Hugh.

See Hugh knit!

Knit Hugh! Knit!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I like Pi(e)

Pi is a nice function. Pie is frequently delicious.

Today's Pi is the Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl, which I am knitting out of Cherry Tree Hill superwash sock yarn. I have about 1,500 yards in a lovely purple/blue/green colourway. Here -- take a look:
From Knitting and stuff

From Knitting and stuff

Pretty isn't it?

The actual colours are a bit lighter than the top picture, but not as light as the bottom one. Last time I knit a pi shawl, I knit it from my own handspun. About 10 years ago. I still have it, it's huge -- almost 6' in diameter and I used up every last scrap of the handspun yarn. There's actually a couple of inches of the border that have been knit up using a totally different yarn because I ran out!. I don't have any good pictures of it, but one of these days.

So why, am I suddenly knitting a shawl (as well as the perpetual socks and the other projects on hand)? Well, I just spent a few days incarcerated in the cardiac ward of my local large community hospital. They do that when you show up in the ER at 6:00am with chest pains and a blood pressure composed of irrational numbers (not pi, much more irrational than that!). Being an inpatient is hard work. Especially if you're naturally impatient (as I am) so suspecting I'd be admitted, I grabbed a skein of sock yarn, dpns and the pattern for a pi shawl before I headed off to the ER.  II also took the socks I was working on for my dear son and which needed only an inch or so of leg and the cuff finishing. Once I was admitted and they'd finished hooking me up to machinery, taking blood and X-rays, I settled in and started knitting.

Better than any blood pressure medication is knitting!

They could find nothing wrong and my BP responded to the enforced rest, knitting and quite possibly also to the medication. So after 3 days, during which I had a 24/7 EKG hookup, an echocardiogram, and a nuclear stress test -- which involves 2 CAT scans, a treadmill and radioactive isotopes, TPTB decided to send me home. I took the weekend off, but I'm back at work now.

My BP seems to be settling down at a fairly acceptable number. I'm certainly feeling much more relaxed and rested. And I have the beginnings of a very pretty shawl as well.

During my incarceration, I got a visit from the chaplain's office. The lady who visited me saw me knitting away happily and although she didn't come out and say so, was hinting very heavily that I should either donate it to their prayer shawl collection, or join their prayer shawl knitters. I think not. It will be a gift I'm sure -- after all I don't really wear shawls all that often -- but it'll be my gift to a recipient of my choice.

Now, can someone please tell me where I put the Anoukh baby dress and the Herbivore scarf I was knitting a while ago? I can't find either of them and I really need to get them finished!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sprang has sprung!

No, that's not a typo and this is not a post about the changing of the seasons.

On Saturday I attended the Stonebridge Schola, a very pleasant event at a very lovely location in the Barony of the Bridge. (Or, if you're not a member of the SCA, Rhode Island.) There were classes on a number of topics including how to measure a body for a pattern -- which was something I really needed to learn and the class was not only informative and hands on -- the instructor had us taking measurements on each other -- but we came away with a detailed handout giving us the measurements to take and diagrams of from where to where each measurement is taken.

The other Really Cool class I took was an introduction to Sprang. There was also an intermediate class, but as I'd never spranged before, I decided discretion is the better part of valour and I should get comfortable with the beginning aspects of it before I dive in deeper.  See -- I can learn from my mistakes! I can be taught!

Sprang is kinda sorta like netting, but knot quite, and it's almost like weaving, but has no weft and it's not really braiding either. There are some pictures on Phiala's String Page and a good detailed description of the craft as well.

It is however a very neat way to play with twisted string and while a beginner can turn out a simple pouch or bag in an hour or two, an expert can produce absolutely gorgeous lacy concoctions. It's a very old craft -- because in its essence it is so simple -- all you need is a frame (or at least some way of anchoring both ends of the piece while you're working on it), a couple of sticks and some string. I suspect it was "unvented" (to use Elizabeth Zimmerman's term) by a number of different cultures quite independently.  Mind you, I suspect the same of most of the basic fiber arts -- because whoever you are and where and whenever you are, you need clothing, shelter, and bags to carry stuff in and all these can be produced by making and manipulating string and there are only so many ways you can manipulate string.

Our ancestors were very smart and practical people. They didn't always have time or resources to waste, so they needed things that worked. Bags were one of the really early essentials -- because putting the stuff you have to carry in a bag leaves your hands free while keeping all the stuff together. And by "really early" I mean pretty much as soon as we started walking upright and carrying stuff -- think paleolithic or neolithic. A good bag is light and expandable. You don't want to have to carry a whole bunch of extra weight if you can avoid it -- there's only so much weight you can carry anyway and if your bags are 1/2 or even 1/4 of that weight, that's  a lot less food, trade goods, or personal stuff you can carry. It's also a good idea to have a bag which is flexible about capacity. At the beginning of a day of gathering, you're not going to have a lot of stuff in the bag, but at the end of the day it'll be full (or so you hope). With trading the reverse is likely. A string mesh bag meets both these needs -- it's light and adapts to its contents. It's also easy to repair if it gets a hole in it -- another important consideration when you're short on resources. For these reasons, it's not surprising that the oldest sprang items found are bags and that they date from around 1400BC.  Sprang is a technique that's as old as string itself, and I suspect that if we haven't found any that are as old as some of the spindle whorls that have been found, then it's only because they haven't survived.

 So now I have yet another fiber technique to play with. This is a Good Thing. And one of these days I will wrap my brain around naalbinding. SRSLY. But now instead of slaving away over a hot computer in the data mines, I want to be sitting outside enjoying the spring weather and making stuff with Sprang. When I have finished something Sprangy there will be pictures. Honest!