One of the great things about this pattern is that the sleeves are up first. This means you get them out of the way before you get the chance to feel too terribly stuck on sweater island. The sleeves do look a little stumpy when you knit them on their own, but remember, you will be adding length in the shoulder as you knit them into your sweater. (These sleeves have live stitches that you pick up when you get to the armpit of your sweater.)
I chose to use the recommended Shelter for this project. It's no secret I love Brooklyn Tweed. (Have I told you how much I love Brooklyn Tweed?) I did choose a different color- this sweater was knit in cast iron, which is pretty much black with little flecks of color throughout. This yarn is a woolen yarn, which is great for sweaters as it is super warm but not heavy. However, be mindful, the yarn is easy to break. You don't want to put too much tension on your thread as you knit, a truly woolen yarn can pull apart quite easily. My grabby baby's hands broke quite a number of working yarns in this project. Do note, the fabric, when knit, is strong- so don't feel like you should avoid the woolens lest your sleeves fall off your sweater or some other crazy calamity. (Woolen yarns do tend to pill, though, so make sure you treat your sweaters kindly and give them a little shave when they need.).
I was really happy with the results of this pattern and I am so glad I was able to make something so special for my dad. I think it really looks nice on him, too. Even the shawl collar is lovely yet still very masculine, especially with the addition of the toggle buttons. I would definitely recommend this sweater for anyone looking for a nice, clean men's sweater that has a few special touches but isn't fussy. It is also a great design for dressing up or down. So if your recipient is a jeans person or a slacks person, this sweater would be a nice addition to their wardrobe.
Feeling quite proud of myself, I was creating a lovely Huck lace Brooks bouquet combo inspired by curtains. Once I got the hang of the yarn and stopped kicking myself for picking something so persnickety when I had absolutely no time for mess ups, things sailed fairly smoothly. Sneaking in between Christmas festivities, cookies and waiting until the baby was sleeping, progress was being made! A true Christmas miracle! But then...disaster struck!!! Somehow I had mis-measured my warp. That has NEVER happened to me before. I usually do the math, measure, remeasure, do the math again. Of course this was the project, though. My warp was about ten inches too short! It messed up the whole symmetry of the wrap I was trying to create. There was no going back, either, and trying to adjust the symmetry. That is difficult to do with cooperative thread, but it is near impossible with sticky thread. I cried. Not gonna lie. I was hanging by a proverbial thread.
After I was done crying, I tried to figure out what to do next. Change the pattern, right? That was the only logical thing. So, instead of making a large wrap, I'd made a small poncho that did not require the same symmetry. Presto change-o, the project was saved! Granted, it wasn't what I really wanted, but like I said, the end result was still quite pleasing.
If you are interested in making your own version of this woven lace poncho, or perhaps creating the intended wrap version of this project, the pattern is available in the most recent issue of Handwoven; the 40th Anniversary September/October 2019 issue.
The scarf itself was a combination of plain weave clasped weft and overshot. The clasped weft was between the dark green and dark brown cotton colors, as you can see in both the picture of the warp threads and the weaving. I did not want such a stark straight line of color down the side of the scarf, so I tried keeping the blend of clasped weft organic, never passing more than an inch on either side of the color change in the warp, but allowing the clasped weft to fall in different places as the scarf progressed. Perhaps a straight color line would have been better? I like the back and forth play, but I can see peoples' tastes leaning for a cleaner line, too.
The overshot was throughout the solid green portion of the scarf, creating subtle diamonds in the scarf body. The scarf was finished with a twisted fringe (which looked AMAZING with the American Maid cotton).
If you are interested in the pattern for this scarf, is is available in the Loom Theory scarf collection for rigid heddle looms linked earlier in this post. The ebook clocks in at $12.99, which is not bad considering the number of quality patterns it contains. There are a total of seven different scarf patterns. And even if this scarf does not strike your fancy, if you enjoy rigid heddle weaving, you should check out this book. Every scarf in the collection is designed with a specific, curated yarn by a different artist and the end result is a beautiful and diverse collection of both aesthetics and skills. I think there actually might be something in there for every type of rigid heddle weaver. I'm going to try my hand at Tammy Bast's "Rambling Rosepath." I had no idea you could do that on a rigid heddle loom!
This project was woven on an Ashford, 32" rigid heddle using two 12.5-dent reeds to create a fine gauge cloth. I used the wonderful Vale yarn from Brooklyn Tweed...I love Brooklyn Tweed. Vale is their lace weight yarn.
The wrap itself features a lovely Spanish lace, which adds the slightest texture to either end. You have to be dedicated to hand-manipulated techniques to tackle Spanish lace in lace weight yarn. It takes a long time. Also, while I absolutely love Brooklyn Tweed, they create yarns with the knitter in mind, not the weaver. Vale is lovely, but it is sticky and stretchy. Sticky and stretchy are not your friends when you are weaving. Particularly when you are weaving persnickety little lace waves with over 400 ends to contend with. Perhaps a different yarn choice would have been wise, but, as I've mentioned, I just love Brooklyn Tweed. In fact, I think the yarn of this piece deserves its own photo. Here it is.
Such nice yarn. How could I say no? I couldn't.
I was nine months pregnant when I started this project and my baby was born the day the project and pattern were due. Ha! But I saw that one coming, so I got it done a little early. You can see my rather sizable belly intruding on the loom in one of the photos below. However, even with my let's-get-ahead-of-this-baby-being-born planning, it was a definite crunch to get finished. Not only was there the delicate lacework, but I also did a twisted fringe. I really like the look of a twisted fringe, I think it keeps the wrap looking very clean and neat, even after a few uses. I guess it has a more formal looking finish to me that is not inherently fragile. The down side to a twisted fringe is that it, too, takes a while to complete. And I did little bundles. Why did I do little bundles? I thought I was going to lose my mind by the end of it.
At the end of the day, though, I was really very pleased with how this project turned out. And while it was not the first project to hit the presses, it was the first project I had submitted that was accepted to a major publication. It will always have a special place in my heart because of that. I still feel like a sloppy amateur trying to keep up with great fiber artists, but this project got me one step closer to believing that one day I will be able to count myself among the inspiring in the fiber world. I really hope people like the wrap and that perhaps someone out there is crazy enough to create their own version of my vision. That would be the greatest honor of all.
And just for fun, I thought I would share with you some of the work that went in to the pattern that found its way into Spin Off. This project started with fluff. I spun three different yarns to create, what I hoped to be a tweedy look for the cowl. It was fun, I used three different preps of fiber, as well. There was a beautiful art batt with a mix of fiber from Purple Lamb, there was combed top, and there was roving. The color palette was warm, with a lot of orange. To give it a little punch, I used some blue.
This project was designed for a rigid heddle. It is a plain weave, so it is very friendly for even the most novice weaver. I like using rigid heddle looms with my handspun yarn, it is much more forgiving. There is less tension and the the plastic reed is less abrasive.
I used my Ashford, 32" loom, but I certainly did not need so much room. To be honest, I just really like that loom. I find the reed size is really nice, it gives me a really even beat. My 15" loom is more practical in size for a lot of my projects, but for some reason, with that loom, I always have one hand that wants to pull the reed more than the other one. Using two hands to pull my reed always feels a little more natural to me, but I have to switch to a one hand pull when I use my smaller loom to remedy my own fault of unevenness.
I really liked the look and feel of then final cloth. It was fun to create the cowl, which has its own secret pocket to stash cash when traveling. I hope, if you have a chance, you can take a look at the project in Spin Off. Maybe even create your own Traveler's Cowl. I would love to hear your thoughts or see your own projects!
Right now, I have one pullover that I have finished knitting and am now seaming together. (That is an awesome "almost done" that just hasn't finished yet.) I also am working on a few garments from Alabama Chanin's Build a Wardrobe 2018 line. (Alabama Chanin and The School of Making- check it out if you haven't heard of it. AWESOME.) There is a lovely tunic top from Purl Soho I have finished sewing and am now working on embellishing with some hand stitching. And that is pretty much the long and short of it. Pretty good start, I just need to get in gear and complete some things- otherwise my me-made wardrobe is woefully unwearable.
I have a lot of big plans for 2019. Both personal goals and ambitions for my website and contributions to the fiber community. I am playing it fairly close to the chest until I am a little closer to reaching some of my goals. The last thing I want to do is fall short on you, my lovely reader. But I will say I want to have some fun and have decided, among other things, that 2019 will be the year of socks! Hold me to it. They belong in a me-made wardrobe, too. I want a pair of socks a month. Of course that won't happen, but I'm going to try!
Someone very near and dear to me struggles with severe anxiety. This post is not about that, though we should all speak up more for mental illness. This post is about a blanket I made to help my loved one transition away from pharmaceuticals. (This transition away from medication was guided by a physician and not something I would advocate without first talking with a medical professional/therapist before attempting. It was the right move for us, it is not the right move for everyone.)
When the decision was made that a natural approach was going to be attempted to battle somewhat severe, sometimes debilitating anxiety, we knew that it was going to be a difficult journey. However, tackling it together and finding different means to ease panic and anxiety has made all the difference. One of the things we discovered were weighted blankets. These blankets were originally conceived, I believe, to help children with autism. The weight of the blanket, which is significantly heavier than a normal blanket, helps your body release natural, calming chemicals...sort of like a hug...and assists a person who is feeling a large amount of stress and anxiety find their way back. Well, if that is what it does, it makes sense that even more people have found aid in a weighted blanket than just those with autism.
My sons and I decided to call our weighted blanket the "Feel Good Blanket." Seemed better than "Weighted Blanket." These blankets can help people with anxiety and depression as well as help people who have trouble sleeping at night. Really, something like a hug could probably help a whole lot of people with a whole lot of stuff. They are available commercially, but can be a little pricey when you get to the larger sizes. Because I was looking for a feel better blanket for an adult male, I was looking at upward of $100. With a little internet research, I figured I'd just make one myself.
This type of blanket should weigh 10% of the body weight of the person using it. (I believe it is 5% for small children.) That meant I needed to create a blanket that weighed 20 lbs. I wasn't kidding when I said it was heavier than a normal blanket. I might go so far as to say significantly heavier than a normal blanket. It is also narrower than a normal blanket, as it needs to fit just over the person. If it hangs down, it will likely keep slipping off because of the weight. Also, you want 20% of their weight on them, not swallowing them up all around them on a bed. I decided to add batting to my blanket, as well, just to help with the noise the beads filling the blanket make. Then, like the scattered, silly person I am, I sandwiched it together like a quilt when sewing the edge borders, meaning I could not simply flip the blanket like a pillow case and sew the channels, which is how most of these blankets are constructed. However, there were a lot of stitches that would have needed to be picked out, so I decided to trudge forward and just keep making it like a quilt. The only really significant difference was that I had a raw edge that I had to add a binding to after I finished the blanket. (This was harder than it might at first sound...try sewing on a 20lb blanket. It's intense.)
I used the recommended poly-beads, which were the most expensive part of the blanket, but I think worth it. I chose two fabric colors, a dark blue and a grey, one on the topside color the other for the under-side color. I wanted to keep it masculine looking, a little sleek, and still calming. There are a number of YouTube videos available that show how to construct the blanket- sewing the channels, filling, and seaming each column shut as you move up the blanket. I used a kitchen balance so that I had exactly the right amount of fill in each of my squares in the blanket's grid, though I have seen some people use a pre-measured mark on a cup. I will not go too much into the details of construction here, this post is already long enough, but I will say those little beads get everywhere- I recommend a funnel and patient hands.
The blanket was easy to construct, but did take a bit of time. (Some of the time came from my error in construction. In the end, I really liked the binding, though.) It has been a helpful tool in our arsenal of coping with anxiety.
*We do not let our children use this blanket. It is very heavy and not intended for little people. Every feel good blanket should be tailored to the individual who needs it.*
I am currently 38 weeks pregnant and feeling...well, 38 weeks pregnant. I am really excited I got these receiving blankets finished, though! They were my own design- and by "design" I mean the were more or less an experiment in waffle weave on my rigid heddle loom. I used a 60/40 cotton/hemp blend in 8/2. Turns out 8/2 is pretty darn fine, so I held it double and used my 12-dent reed on my 32" Ashford for 24 epi (sort of) but warped as a 12 epi project. This was all good and well except I had to measure out 400 ends for this warp! I don't know about you, but I usually do not think of rigid heddle projects as having 400 warp ends. Obviously they can and do.
I also held the weft double to keep everything matchy matchy. This created 12 picks per inch as I wove. I'm glad I held the weft double, I really like the way the burp cloths feel, they washed very well with a lot of texture and are very soft. Hemp is supposed to get even softer with use, so I think these are going to be really baby friendly. I cloth diaper, as well, and know a lot of the cloth diaper inserts also use hemp for its long, comfy ware and its natural antibacterial properties. But enough about hemp, let's talk about the patterns that emerged.
I had sampled on my 15" Cricket before I started these blankets. Even though I did not have a strict pattern in mind, 400 ends are a lot of ends that I did not want to waste. I discovered there was about a 15-20% shrinkage in all finished fabrics of both my single waffle weave and my double waffle weave. This was to be expected, though, with take-up and the fiber choice. I wove a two-inch header that was hemmed under when the towels were finished.
My first blanket incorporated a 2x2 waffle weave framing a 1x2 waffle weave to create a square within a square. (When I say "2x2" I mean I used my pick up stick to pick up every other 2 warp threads in the down shaft position and then two repeats of the waffle weave sequence. For a 1x2, I picked up every other warp thread in the down shed and did two repeats of the waffle weave sequence.) The 1x2 waffle weave really stands out more than I expected with this monochromatic palette. This is the blanket shown on the far left. Then, I tried a larger waffle and did a 3x3. I really like how it puffed and crinkled for a ton of texture when it was washed, but I feel as though the warp and weft floats are just shy of being too long. I think the more the cloth is washed, the less this will be an issue, but it wasn't my favorite result for something where baby fingers could get snagged. Bottom line, I liked the look but maybe the 3x3 wasn't practical for this particular purpose. (With a little color play, it could make a really nice spa cloth or pillow.) The last burp cloth was a combination of plain weave and a 1x1 waffle. I really liked how this turned out, too. The only hiccup with this pattern is that there is significantly more draw-in with the waffle weave than the plain weave, which is to be expected. But this leads to some undulation along the side of the cloth that looks a little less clean than I typically like. However, if you keep the stripes small (mine were four inches), the flux along the side is minimized and I do not think it detracted too much from the finished product.
Summary: This was a really fun exploration in waffle weave and I love the resulting cloth it made. To think, with one pick-up stick you can make such varied textures! It also is not a time-consuming technique but makes a cloth that looks a lot more complicated than what people expect from a rigid heddle. My biggest tips for creating a waffle weave is to make sure to consider the different draw-in a waffle weave can create and also to be mindful of how long a float can get, since waffle weave is nothing more than combining warp and weft floats in a pretty pattern. Also, speaking of floats, keep in mind that a weft float on the front is a warp float on the back of your cloth. Don't forget to consider the back, which can be full of surprises when you pull your project from the loom!
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I had my crazy pants on one day and decided to try a NEW fiber craft. Why in the world would I want to when I have twenty million projects currently going and no time to really sit and do any of them? You know, I don't think there is an answer to the question. Not a sane one, anyway. I blame Craftsy. I saw this pattern on a video link and thought to myself; "How pretty, I want to make that." Damn. They got me. But really, I must say, I am glad they did. I loved this hand stitching. Who knew embroidery could be so fun? Okay, perhaps many people knew...but I didn't. Now my mind is a blur of possibilities. The colors! The pictures! The hours of fun! I think my crazy pants might still be on...I blame the pregnancy.
This particular embroidery project was stitched for my sister. Her birthday was last week and her anniversary of her marriage is next month, so I thought it was a lovely way to make something that could celebrate both. I saw it as a pretty sort of anniversary wreath that she could hang (or not hang) in her house somewhere. I think every house needs a little needlework in it somewhere. I have yet to see prettier wreath designs, either, than Namaste Embroidery's Jessica Long's designs. Particularly the two hoop, center cut-out designs. Stunning. You should check them out.
And as I mentioned, this was all sparked by browsing Craftsy, which should immediately let you know that Jessica Long has a class that teaches you all about hand embroidery! Bonus! So, if you are new to embroidery, like me, this is a great place to start. For a number of reasons I am not able to get out to take classes on crafting ventures that interest me, not at this point in my life, so I really love platforms like Craftsy that allow me to continue to grow and explore.
For this particular design, I deviated from the pattern only slightly. I changed two of the thread colors, chose a dark blue fabric for the background, and scripted a letter "A" to go in the center of the wreath (for my sister's last name). As far as stitch varieties, there were woven roses, chain stitches, stem stitches, long and short stitching (which was actually a lot more fun than I expected) and the beautiful herringbone stitch. I made sure to start with plenty of time so I never felt rushed, but it's always the last little bit that seems like it takes an eternity. I trimmed it down and framed it in a bamboo, 7" hoop and backed it with paper- I was silly and didn't take a picture of the finished product. Luckily, I did finish it AND mailed it before my sister's birthday. Go me!
Confession: I already have another piece of cloth in the hoop and am starting another project even though I have two sweaters on needles, a dress in the works and a quilt that needs finishing before October.
What a sweet little sweater! I say little, but the wonderful thing (there are actually quite a few wonderful things) about Tin Can Knits is that their patterns are written for SO MANY DIFFERENT SIZES! It is wonderful. This simple sweater is written from sizes 0-6 months to adult 4XL. It is a seamless, top down sweater that is part of their Simple Collection. This collection is a series of free patterns that walk you through all the basic skills you need to be a proficient knitter. While it is technically a "beginner" series, the patterns are really well written and great, quicker projects for more experienced knitters. With my little one on the way, I was looking for a nice project I could knit up between some of my other, more monstrous projects. I love that it is seamless; in my experience, babies do not like seams.
I have another of Tin Can Knits sweaters on needles and have my eyes on one of their new patterns. (A sweater that buttons in the back! How fun!) If you know how to do a basic knit and purl stitch, this pattern would teach you anything else you would need to complete this project. Like I said earlier, it is a really great beginner pattern, but it is such a great and well-written sweater that any knitter could enjoy knitting this.