Sunday, March 13, 2022

Color-and-weave twill scarf

The winter WAL with Liz Gipson over at Yarnworker is this gorgeous color-and-weave twill scarf. For those who appreciate a fiber vocabulary lesson, the "color-and-weave" part means that more than one color is used in the weft. The weaver has to juggle multiple shuttles, but it also means you can get some really cool effects. The "twill" part refers to the structure of the fabric. Most of the fabric I weave uses the most basic structure possible, which is called "plain weave." If you've ever made one of those potholders on a square loom, you've done plain weave - it's just under-over-under-over. With a rigid heddle loom like I have, you can place the heddle in an up shed or a down shed to get half of your warp threads up (or down) while you insert a weft thread. 

A twill fabric is different, though. This project is a 1/2 twill, meaning the weft goes under 1 thread and over 2 threads...and the pattern sort of travels. There are 3 steps:

  1. Weft goes under thread 1, over 2, and over 3
  2. Weft goes over 1, under 2, and over 3
  3. Weft goes over 1, over 2, and under 3

This is possible on a rigid heddle loom if you use 2 heddles. I really appreciate the Weave-alongs that Liz does because she provides video support for every step of the project, making something new and conceptually challenging become completely doable.  

I started this project by stash diving... I am keenly aware that the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is coming, and I want to reserve any fiber purchases for the festival! I tried several yarns on my sett checker. I originally intended to use this Jaggerspun sport, but it is a bit too thin... plus the two colors I have aren't high contrast, which I wanted for this:

Back to the stash looking for DK yarn. I was hopeful about this HipStrings Buoy DK and the contrast between blue and green was acceptable, but I realized I didn't have enough yardage for the project:
Like Goldilocks, I got it right on the 3rd try. This is Nashua Handknits Julia from deep stash (I got it when The Mannings went out of business in 2015) and though it's worsted weight, it just seems to work right sett at 8 (on the right). I only have 2 heddles in size 8 and 5 (not 10 or 12) so this was important. And the dark brown and grungy green have great contrast! Julia is 50% Wool, 25% Alpaca, 25% Mohair and it's a delicious yarn:

Liz encouraged us to warp with the indirect technique. I can warp directly without thinking much at all, but indirect is still a bit shaky for me. I decided to embrace the challenge and pulled out my warping board. I also wound one dark end and one light end at the same time, which cut down on winding time by 50% and looked pretty to boot:
The next step required my full wits, so I waited until Sunday morning when the light was good and my brain was rested. I took my loom off the stand and put it on the table, over a yoga mat to keep it from sliding (this is a new improvement). Not having a "cross keeper," I put my potholder loom down as a way to sort of grab the threads when they are not in my hand. I felt I needed both hands free to deal with the threading hook and two heddles. This was the setup right before I cut the ends and released the cross:
And here we are, all threaded for twill!

I tied on to the back beam and then packed it before tying on to the front beam. Then I was ready to weave. 

I chose to weave 6" with a single color at each end (one end light, one end dark). The main part of the scarf uses both weft colors and alternates one pick light, one pick dark, in the twill pattern. Here is how it looked as I wove - so pretty!

The register tape is a guide that helps me keep track of length. 

I carefully inspected my cloth after it came off the loom. I was thrilled to find only one float, and it was a warp thread float (which is easier to fix) and only a couple inches away from the end (also nice and easy). You can see it here. The purple thread is the header...just waste yarn:

For twill, Liz advised us to correct the mistake on the back of the fabric and to weave in a contrasting color of scrap yarn to keep track of the placement of the warp end we are replacing. I used pink:

Then I picked out the problematic brown warp thread, and needle wove it again next to the pink thread - like this:

 Then I pulled out the pink thread. Problem solved and you can't even see it!

Now let's check on the front side:
All good! 
Here you can really see all 3 patterns in this project: 

My finished scarf is about 66" long, including fringe, and 7.5" wide.
I learned a lot and am completely thrilled with the result. Hooray!

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Two more hats

Hats are still happening.

And hats can still be humbling.

I've decided to go for the WoollyDozen challenge again in 2022, so that means a hat design by Woolly Wormhead each month. It seemed to take me FOREVER to knit the Get Garter Beret in January out of light fingering weight yarn, so I wanted to pick something out of bigger yarn this time. 

I chose Mirallat, a sideways knit hat. I've knit all 5 sideways knit hats in the Elemental collection, and I mistakenly assumed this was written for the same gauge. I hastily chose two colors of Silky Wool from stash (Wasabi and Blue Spruce), noted my preferred needle size for this yarn (3.0 mm), and cast on. It begins like this:

I've heard people say that a hat IS a gauge swatch - have you heard that? Maybe hats knit from the brim up can be gauge swatches, but this one can't (at least, not as compared to a human head). Still, I knit on. This is how it looked partway through:

I really should have known that things were rather "off" at this point, but I forged ahead anyway. This is how the hat looked when it was time to do the final sideways graft to close it up:
It's hard to tell how big it really is, though. How about putting another hat on top for scale? This is a lovely hat (Rav link) that fits an adult head:

At this point, I considered ripping it out. But people convinced me that every hat finds its head. This might fit someone with a large head and/or a lot of hair, especially long dreads or braids. Another knitter said her local hospital requests larger hats that fit over bandages without adding pressure. So perhaps there is a head out there somewhere for this hat. I'll let you know if I find one! I went ahead and did the graft and wove in the ends. It's now in the DONE pile:
Cool design, but I should have used fingering weight yarn. I heard from one knitter that this design even came out on the large side in fingering weight, so she removed a few rows. I'll keep that in mind in case I knit it again.

I cranked out another easy hat last month, too. One night, I realized that I needed something knittable for an evening lecture the next day. I wanted something in a larger yarn and a light color, in case the lighting wasn't great (it never is). I chose an old ball of Nashua Handknit Julia in a beautiful shade of light blue ("aqua fog") and cast on so that I could work on the ribbing during the lecture. The rest of the hat was very meeting-friendly to knit, too, so I had it finished pretty quickly. This is the Sea Spray Hat. It has a little slouch if you don't cuff the brim:

...and it fits closely like a watch cap if you fold the brim:
Boy 2, who is home for spring break, immediately commented on this hat. It reminded me that he requested "a light blue hat with a pom" when he was 5. He doesn't want a pom pom, but he still loves light blue - and it looks very handsome on him.
According to Ravelry, I bought this Julia yarn at 40% off when The Mannings closed in 2015. It is a delicious blend of 50% Wool, 25% Alpaca, and 25% Mohair. I wish they hadn't discontinued this yarn, because it's lovely. It makes great hats!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

A new lease on life

Last weekend I tackled this hat repair project. As a reminder, this is what Patti's adorable dachshund did to her favorite wool hat:

I combed through my stash and found a very promising match. This yarn (the color name is Pampas Heather ) is sport weight and I wish it were worsted, but it worked pretty well:
I carefully reviewed the video and started by catching the loose stitches. I decided there were 4 columns missing over 8 rows:

I worked some stabilizing stitches to provide some scaffolding over which the repair was worked (this is a super important step - do not skip!):

Then I got busy working 8 lengths of yarn to replace the 8 missing rows. You start at the bottom, and then use a crochet hook to build each row on top. That part went fairly well, though I had a hard time figuring out how to NOT twist the stitches. Some of the replacement stitches are still twisted. I decided not to sweat it, because Patti won't care and besides, I was already thinking about covering up the mended area. Here is the mended area before I finished weaving in the ends: 
Yikes, so many ends! I thought things would look much better after weaving them in. I guess they look a bit better, but this is still quite rough:
I have officially requested that if the dog must take another bite, that it be a long, horizontal bite rather than a long vertical one. 8 rows is a lot! 

I ended up covering this whole area with an embroidered flower. I didn't have any purple that was as faded as the original colors, but I decided this would do. I also had a harder time with the embroidery than I expected. This hat was made by artisans in Nepal and their skills are superior! Patti okayed the hat, so I tacked the lining down and gave it a bath. This hat repair is DONE!

I learned some new things and extended the life of a beloved garment. I'm good with that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Hats hats hats

I'm still on the hat train over here. I recently finished a delightful stranded colorwork design called Hat and Peak (Rav link):

I made this for my friend Jeff, whom I was able to visit in Austin in December - a brief, but joyful, visit! Naturally, Steven and I had to go to his LYS, Hill Country Weavers. 

Before we left for the store, I asked Jeff if he wanted me to knit anything. He seemed interested in a hat, so I showed him some things I had tagged in my favorites. He liked this one. I still need to make and add the pom pom before it is truly done.

The design uses 4 colors. I have 4 colors, but the two light neutrals (Ash and Bone) are very close and don't work together very well. Here is how the yarns look together in the skein:

The pattern calls for sport weight yarn, which is hard to find! I ended up seeing this Shibui Echo in the sale section. It is 52% silk noil and 48% fine merino, so it will feel very nice on the head. I wasn't sure if I could make the hat with only one skein of the main color (the dark gray, Tar), so I grabbed two. Then I added a third, thinking I could definitely make two hats if I had enough of the main color. I've already cast on for a second one. The beginning is plain ribbing for 5", so it's perfect for social or zoom knitting. 

In other hat news, I am going to try for the Woolly Dozen again this year. If I make one Woolly Wormhead design per month, I'll stay on track. I made the Get Garter Beret in January, and I wanted to knit a design with larger yarn this time. I picked Mirallat, which is another sideways design ... but with a twist (of course!). The hat starts with a tight U shape and then expands out, like you're adding more and more stripes on the top side of a rainbow. Here are the first few rows - it's a mind bender!

I'm using my Silky Wool stash for this. You can see that it's basically a magic loop situation right now... but as the rainbow grows, it will lay flat. Stay tuned for progress shots. 

My final hat update is a challenge. My friend Patti's dog had a run-in with her favorite hat, and this is the result:

I responded to the Knitwear 911 call. I've watched a video about how to repair a hole in stockinette stitch that looks very smooth. I think I can do it. But first, I need to figure out if I can detach the fleece lining of the hat, as I'll need to access the back side of the knitted part. It is not immediately clear to me how the lining is sewn in, so I need to get some excellent light and explore more. Hopefully I can undo the lining, make the repair to the wool layer, and then resew the lining. It's a challenge for sure, but it's Patti's favorite warm hat and I'm up for it.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

First hat of 2022 - Get Garter Beret


I'm pleased to report that I squeezed one hat across the finish line this month (so close!). This is another Woolly Wormhead design from her Get Garter collection, the beret. I actually cast on in November, but I had to set this aside because the yarn was too skinny for me to see it well around my eye surgeries, and then I didn't trust my brain to stay on track in December. Most of this was knit in January.

Like other sideways hats, this one is worked in panels - 6 panels. This photo doesn't show exactly one panel, but you can start to understand the construction. The brim is 13 stitches and then there's a sharp increase that sends the garter ridges off at a diagonal. There are short rows that create a swirl at the top, like on a soft serve ice cream cone. Here is the side view:

And here's the bird's eye view:

This skein of yarn is fairly aged, as I bought it at Sock Summit in 2009. It was a special show colorway dyed by Wool Candy called "Microbrew," but the skeins in the booth were all superwash merino. The owner kindly offered to dye me one in superwash BFL, so I ordered it. When it arrived in the mail weeks later, the dye job looked less "semi-solid" to me and more "extreme value variation that will result in pooling." So, it sat. I thought maybe the value variation would help accentuate the swirl. I think it does this somewhat, though the effect could be stronger. If you browse the completed projects on Ravelry, you can see how some yarns obfuscate the swirl while others enhance it. I'd say mine is in the middle somewhere.

It's neat to see a hat grow from something that starts like this, with a provisional cast-on, to a three-dimensional hat!

I already have another hat on the needles, but it's not a WW design.

Monday, January 24, 2022

20 hats in 2021

Long time no blog. Honestly, fall 2021 was kind of a blur. On top of this endless pandemic, my mother passed away in December. I'm just starting to come out of the haze in some ways, while simultaneously realizing that this emergence has been and will be anything but linear. 

I had a goal to knit 21 hats in 2021, and I almost made it! I feel certain that I would have if I hadn't had corrective eye surgery (elective, don't worry!) in November. Oh yeah, another thing that made last fall very strange!

Anyway, I though I'd take you on a tour of the hats of 2021. 

My hat obsession was strongly influenced by Woolly Wormhead, whose ingenious designs are downright addictive. 12 of my 20 hats are hers, making me a finisher of the annual Woolly Dozen challenge (woo hoo!). I made 3 of the 5 designs in the Imperceptions collection, and I definitely plan to make the other 2 this year. They are Daedalus, Circe, and Echo. I was able to make all of these stranded colorwork designs from sock weight yarn in my stash:


The collection that really captivated me, though, was Elemental. There are 5 designs in it. I made them all, and worked 3 of them twice, so 8 Elemental hats in all - ! These are worked from DK yarn and are knit sideways, meaning they are knit flat and then grafted at the end. They use short rows for shaping. I love these designs so much. I knit a lot of them from Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, which I think provides excellent drape in the slouch. I also used handspun in a couple of them - handspun FTW!


I made one other Woolly Wormhead hat, the Waffle Slouch (Rav link), which was a very quick project that calls for worsted yarn. I used handspun from my stash, which felt good.

I also knit two hats from Shetland yarns. The first is the official 2021 Shetland Wool Week hat, Da Crofters Kep, and I used "real" Shetland yarn from Shetland for it (Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift, to be precise). The next one is the Butterflies and Bees Cap, a design from Sweet Tree Hill Farm in Virginia - it uses their own Shetland farm yarn from domestic sheep. Both hats are for Sharon, who chooses which one to wear based on the current length of her hair and how windy it is. Like the Imperceptions hats, these stranded colorwork designs are worked with fingering weight yarns.

 Finally, I have some "easy" hats that were largely completed in meetings, in the car, during concerts, etc. I started the year making two "Double Felici" hats, which use two different colorways for the inside and outside, making them double thick and reversible. 

 I also cranked out a couple of Sockhead Slouch hats (#10 and #11, if you're counting, which obviously I am). The first is completely garish and I hate it, but the yarn is now out of my stash and I donated the hat. The second is from a special colorway called Fair Fight dyed by Neighborhood Fiber Co in honor of Stacey Abrams. It is for my sister, who lives in Atlanta - we are both huge fans of Stacey.

And finally, I got on the Musselburgh bandwagon and banged out a couple of these. The first one is for someone with a really big head and/or really big hair - you can see it's a bit large on my model! I call this one my "low vision hat," because I cast it on between my eye surgeries so I'd have something to work on after eye #2 was done (aran weight yarn was perfect for this situation). And the second one is from a pretty skein of speckled sock yarn - I think it looks like funfetti cake. I put the final stitches into this one on January 1, 2022, but I'm counting it with my 2021 hats. 

I have really enjoyed my exploration of hats, and I don't see any reason to stop making them now. They are so easy to find owners for. Of the 20 hats, I made only 3 for specific people - and 9 more have already gone to warm someone else's head. I have quite a few in a bag marked "Hats that Need Heads," and I've no doubt that their owners will find them. They always do.