Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On my loom (the new one)

My new loom and I have finally settled in.  Harnesses are heddled and hung.  For the most part, every little piece of loom that was disassembled has been found and put in place.  After a bit of travel I have finally found some time to weave.  My first project will be a set of curtains for the Weavers Guild of Minnesota 75th Anniversary book and my bedroom.  I wove a sampler a few months back and now I am excited to see the pattern unfold on a larger scale.  It is a varied sett in 20/2s with some raised ticking stripes in a heavier silk.  I am so pleased with the outcome so far and super happy about the extra 7" of width I will get on these.  Happy looming!
In other news, I sold my old loom!!  I had lugged it to the living room where is sat for a few weeks until I posted an ad at the guild.  I didn't really think it would sell as quickly as it did and I was sad to see my first loom go, but happy that it went to a good home.  Because I am a sentimental nerd I ran inside and took pictures of my old loom getting loaded up and swept away.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I've finally come to terms with the fact that winter never really came.  For January and most of February, I foolishly hoped that a good snow would come.  The Monday following the Birkie I still, optimistically, joined my friend Eliz for a ski, despite the high temps and lack of snow.  We arrived to ice and an ever narrowing trail.  The ski was so miserable that I was almost tempted to sit in the chalet for the rest of the evening.  But perseverance got the better of me and I told myself that I would have to ski 6 laps before quitting, so I did.  After the 6th lap, I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to take one more (overachieving that I am). And that's when I fell (FELL!).  Thankfully, I didn't fly off the trail (that's usually how I roll)   Instead, on the last (LAST!) hill,  one ski got stuck in a rut of ice and the other ski decided to get stuck in a different rut.  I watched in horror as my legs diverged and then fell face first.  The first thing I did that night was put my skis, poles, sorrels and Uggs into storage.  Winter was over, for me anyway.

And now I can't and won't complain.  Winter had one last pitiful effort in redemption and failed.... again.  Once all the snow melted, and the extraordinarily warm weather set in, I joined the crowd of believers that winter was gone.  

Now that the ice has melted, the greenway is so much more enjoyable.  I have been taking the long way home and reveling in the warmth.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Off my Needles: More Mint

I've only recently joined the cowl bandwagon.  Previously I had tried knitting the moebius cowl, the infinity cowl and even a cowl that was more like a neck warmer and it never really looked quite least on me.  After developing this hat pattern a few weeks ago I realized that I needed a cowl that was malleable and soft, something a little taller and closer to my neck with enough pliability to fold in on itself creating those soft curves.  Again, most chunky yarn doesn't need stuffy stitches.  In this case a 2x2 rib was fancy enough to give it some textural interest but humble enough to really show off the variation in the yarn.  Plus it is quick.  I whipped up two in one evening.  Try it for yourself with the pattern below.

Yarn: Chunky 200gms
Needles: size 17 Circulars or 15 Circulars knit very loosely

WPI: 5.5 stitches=4" in 2x2 Rib

Finished Measurements
~29" around x 11" tall 

Additional Notes
This is a quick knit.  The trick is to keep your tension fairly loose.  If you have problems maintaining a loose tension on your own then I suggest sizing up.  This cowl was knit on loose tension on a size 15 circular needle.

Cast on 40 stitches loosely.  Join in the round.

Knit in 2x2 rib until desired length is reached or yarn runs out.

Cast off loosely.  A 3 needle bind off may be used if you have problems maintaing tension.

Break yarn and weave in ends.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


3 years ago my mom gave me a loom for Christmas.  I had always wanted to learn to weave and the most experience I had was on a mini table top loom in a class I took ages ago.   I decided to research some local weaving classes to get a better idea of what type of loom would best fit me, before making the investment.  Along the way I found the Weavers Guild and took my first beginning weaving class.  After speaking with my instructor I found out that there was a donated 8 shaft Macomber loom for sale at the guild and the price was a fifth of what I would pay for a new one.  I snagged it right away and stuffed it into the living room of my 1 bedroom apartment.  I continued to take classes at the guild, including one of my favorites, with Lou French, called Terrific Towels.  It is in this class that I wove my first 8 shaft pattern in huck lace.  The one limitation on this pattern was that the selvedges are never perfectly neat.  Lou pointed out that a 10 shaft loom would have enabled me to end each selvedge in a ribbon of plain weave.  At show and tell, for the last class, I brought up my disappointement in the selvedges and how I really wished that I had a 10 shaft loom.  Lou laughed, looked me right in the eye and said.  “Oh, Kim, You are much to young to have shaft envy”.  And she was right.  Over the years I have been able to do so much on my loom.  I made curtains and towels and rugs and placemats and runners.  I could probably do so much more if given more time but...

it just so happened that another Macomber loom was donated to the guild. One with more than double my shafts, a wider weaving width, a proper bench and a real raddle (nothing like my pitiful hunk of wood with nails haphazardly clunked in.  I thought “how nice would that be?”  and then pushed it out of my mind for about a month.  Later I thought, “why not”  I have been wanting to weave more complex patterns, perhaps I have outgrown this 8 shaft loom of mine.  I decided to just take a look.  No harm in looking.  And then it happened I bought another loom and then dreaded moving it.  Unlike my previous loom, this beast of a loom had to be almost completely taken apart.  It won’t fit through a doorway without doing so and the monstrous bolts holding it together need to be literally hammered out with brute force.  You can imagine my distress.  So many parts seemed to be floating around, but after 2 hours it was in my house taking up space.  Busy travel and work has kept me from really getting to it.  So far Muffin has been enjoying the bench.  Last weekend the warp for my curtains went on and I am obsessing over putting some new heddles on.  The loom really does take up the entire room, so ideas are in works for better space usage.  It has barely moved in and I am already stressed about the day it will have to move out.  Perhaps it will just come with the condo. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Off my needles: Seeing Mint

Like many fiberholics, I have, or shall I say had, an affinity for hoarding, stashing and investing in yarn.   2 years ago, I made a New Years Resolution to 1) finish knitting all my sock yarn,  2) not buy any new yarn unless I had a very specific project in mind and 3) not buy any new yarn until the yarn from my last purchase was completely used up.  But lately, I have been aching to clean up even more.  I recently combed through my stash and donated a decent chunk to goodwill, then I recombed and took out any of the good stuff that I knew I would never work with and sent it off to sell on commission at the Weavers Guild.  Anything I couldn’t bear to part with needed to be re-evaluated.  

For example, this gorgeous minty roving, hand spun and hand dyed giving it an ethereal effect was purchased on a whim for a “good deal” at the Weaver’s Guild annual garage sale.  At the time, I  envisisoned a chunky pointelle sweater and eagerly snatched up 15 hanks.  3 years later a chunky mint sweater although uber trendy in theory is possibly the worst idea I have ever had.  Why I thought, even fractionally, that it was a good idea can only be blamed on those yarn purchasing endorphins that invade ones brain cells turning perfectly beautiful yarn into heinous projects.  Don’t laugh-you’ve been there too.  Not everything can be good, can it?   So the yarn sat in my stash waiting, occasionally being imagined into a cat bed, until one day I decided that it would either have to be redonated, sold or actually made into something.  

At one point I tried convincing Adam that it would make a very lovely pouf to which he marched into my craft room and came back with an armload of this minty goodness which he unceremonioulsly dumped onto the floor (a necessary step, according to Adam, to help him better envision the project) before deciding that he actually really didn’t want to buy it off me.  So, there it sat, a pile in the middle of the floor, until one day it narrowly escaped being vomited on by the cat, rescued only as I came running into the room upon hearing the tell tale signs of a cat about to puke.  I saw Box Spring hunched over that yarn so I screamed, yelled and flailed my arms (the best way to approach any situation-right?) until he darted away to finish up somewhere else.  I gathered the rest into my arms and wound each hank into 15 balls and decided that accessories would be the best resource for this yarn.  I finally imagined something good. Chunky hats with earflaps and large poms and maybe a cowl or two.

  At first, I wanted the earflaps to be long enough to tie a  floppy bow under the chin.  I later rethought the design as the ties would have to be ridiculously long to tie that bow.  The yarn is so soft and plush and lovely.  The variation in colors so slight and understated that these pieces need not have a fancy stitch.  A good ole stockinette  is never too humble when the fiber is that good.  The nicest part about chunky, besides the fact that it knits up so quickly, is that the edges don’t have an affinity to roll, so no need to brim it or rim it; the stitches can just float off the bottom.  3 rows of an elongated stitch give the piece a little more interest and silver shine in the poms a special touch.  Check out my original pattern below!

Yarn: Chunky 180gms
Needles: size 15 DPN

WPI: 7 stitches=4"

Finished Measurements
~18" around x 8" tall 

Knit from the top down makes this pattern easier to add the ear flaps.

Cast on 6 stitches.  Divide evenly on 3 needles (2 stitches per needle) Join in the round
Row 1  Knit
Row 2 Knit 1, Increase 1 using bar method, Repeat around (you will now have 12 stitches)
Row 3 Knit
Row 4 Knit 2, Increase 1(18)
Row 5 Knit
Row 6 Knit 3 Increase 1 (24)
Row 7 Knit
Row 8 Knit 4 Increase 1 (30)
Row 9 Knit
Row 10 YO, Knit 1, Repeat around (60)
Row 11 Drop YO, Knit 1, Repeat around (30)
Row 12-14 Knit
Row 15-24 Repeat  row 10-14 two times
Row 25 Cast off 2 stitches (this is the back), Knit 9 stitches and put these on a stitch holder.  This will be earflap #1.  Cast off 10 stitches.  Knit remaining 9 stitches.  This is earflap #2.  Do not break yarn.  Turn to begin earflap #2.

Earflap #2 Continuing to use DPNS
With purl side facing knit in stockinette stitch
Row 1-5 beginning with a purl row work in stockinette stitch slipping the first stitch at the beginning of each row, ending on a purl row
Row 6 Sl1 SSK knit to last 3 stitches P2tog P1 (7)
Row 7 Knit
Row 8 Sl1 SSK knit to last 3 stitches P2tog P1 (5)
Row 9 Knit
Row 10 S1, K1, K2tog, K1 (4)
With remaining stitches work in I-cord until desired length is reached.  Mine are 9”.

Beginning with a purl row, add yarn and complete earflap as per directions for earflap #2.

Break yarn, tie in ends and make pom poms if desired.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Off my needles: A hat with a bow

One of my most recent designs.  A 1x1 tuck rib hat made out of 100% baby llama.  The tuck stitch gives the illusion of a loftier yarn.  It is snug, cozy and slightly tapered at the top.  The oversized bow gives the grey palette a feminine touch.  I am working on a few more of these to sell in the 2012 Finch Holiday Boutique.   Pattern coming to Ravelry soon.  I promise. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend fun: At the Birkie

Last weekend I participated in my third ever Birkie fever and first ever Korteloppet (I did the full Birkie last year).    The weekend was sunny and bright and thankfully full of snow.  I should have brought my snow shoes!  Last weekend I....
 Started the off the day right with some good old fashioned cheering on main street. 
 Spectated the most spectacular race; the Birkie Giant Ski.  Don't you love those ladies coordinating outfits?  By the way, the group in front completely lost control and these slow and steady gals won that heat!  
 Check out those skis being portaged back to the start.
 Later, warmed up at the Famous Moccasin Bar and contemplated a name for our Giant Ski group for next year.  I was partial to "The Muskies".  Coordinating hats would be entirely appropriate as well. 
 Have you ever seen a diorama as comical as boozing chipmunks?  If I weren't laughing so hard I would almost feel bad for the poor things.  This diorama, among many others was featured at the Moccasin Bar, along with the worlds largest Musky! Whoa!
 Chatted up the locals.  Notice the Birkie Sweater and our awesome hats?
 Birkie jitters on the bus. 
 Waiting for our respective waves to start. 
 Celebrated our endeavors with drinks and dinner at the Angry Minnow, the local brewery. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2 new hats for 2 good friends

Participating in my 2nd annual American Birkiebeiner not only inspired me to update my own fair isle head wear from this to this, but also got me thinking about the heads of  my close friends and supporters.  Heading to Hayward with 3 skiers and 3 supporters I was internally insistent that all Birkie Fever Participants, whether they skied or cheered,  should have their very own fair isle hat.  To do this, I was more than willing to make that happen.   And thus was born 2 new hats for 2 good friends.  The one on the right was for Danielle; I adjusted it from the Talkeetna pattern on Ravelry.  The one on the left was for Emily.  I adjusted the pattern from the Endless Rose Hat found on Ravelry.
I gave each lady their respective hats on their birthday/almost half birthday, both of which happened to fall mid February, just in time for Birkie Fever.
I loved seeing my work on my good friends.  Notice the middle hat?  It's my Birkie 2011 hat.  I am starting to think if I should start a new Birkie hat tradition.