It's been a while since I've mentioned my little loom. I have been tinkering with it on and off and, rest assured, it is still so much fun. This latest scarf I pulled off the loom was my first attempt at a technique outside of the plain weave. This technique is called leno and is a manipulation of the warp strings that create a lacey spacing in the weave. It is achieved by using your fingers to twist one group of warp threads over an adjacent group of warp threads. You store this "twist" on a pickup stick and repeat the process across your weaving. Once finished with the twist manipulation, you set your pickup stick on its edge to create a shed.
I tried using groups of 2 warp threads in one row and groups of 4 threads in another. As expected, the 4 threads gave a larger "swirly" lace look while the 2 warp threads gave a more compact stitch look. I did not have a pick up stick when I started this project (and I still don't) so I used a wooden paint stir stick from Lowes. It worked perfectly. It held the shed open wide enough to comfortably fit my shuttle stick through. It was a low fuss solution to a lack of equipment.
The one thing I couldn't figure out and drives me a little crazy is that the edges of a the leno don't look great. I think I captured this in the picture to the right. The weft thread at the very edge of the scarf does not maintain the same tension as the weft thread in the middle of the scarf, making it impossible for the turn in the weft to keep the warp threads twisted over one another. So, on either side of my scarf, there are sad little lenos that didn't twist. I guess the answer to this might be to add a plain weave border, essentially framing the leno in a space with more consistent, stronger tension in the weft. I will have to try that next time. In this particular project, I liked the look of the 2 warp thread leno over the 4 thread leno. It had more to do with the weft threads above and below the leno, I felt the 2 warp threads looked "cleaner."
I used a solid color for the weft and a hand painted, varigated yarn for the warp. I think the varigated warp color is beautiful here. It is subtle enough that it does not have that hectic look of cat throw up that some varigated projects suffer from but it still adds a dynamic color shift. I used a light colored weft, and I have a little remorse on that count. I wish I had used a darker weft color, I think it might have allowed the warp to sing a little more. However, the pale teal color is still very pretty and the overall look of the scarf still makes me happy.
At the start and end of the scarf, I applied a hemstitch while the scarf was still on the loom. For the fringe, I twisted groups of four threads in a 2x2 twist. I was not rigid in how long I twisted the threads, knotting the groups between 4-5.5". I then laid the fringe flat and, using a rotary cutter, trimmed it to an exact six inches. I then wet blocked the scarf. The finished prodect is very soft and drapes well.
Summary: It was a lot of fun to experiment with a new stitch. I am excited to apply this knowledge on future projects and trouble shoot a little to improve my technique. With the decorative weave on only the top and bottom of this scarf, this project was mostly just a plain weave and was very easy.
Every once in a while, even though I have more projects than I can manage well and too many of my knitting needles are occupied with half finished scarves, blankets, hats and mittens, I get the itch to design something. It's crazy, I know. So far I've designed little things, like mittens and baby sweaters. This time, I'm going big, I'm designing an adult-sized garment. Gasp. I know, taking the leap from mitten to sweater design is a little crazy, but I'm a girl who loves a challenge. Or rather, I'm a girl who loves to bite off more than she can chew, flail around a little bit, and then finally figure things out just when all hope seems to be lost. To each their own, right?
I am in the beginning phase of this design endeavor and thought it could be fun to chronicle the journey. Really, knitting is almost as much about the journey as the finished product, and this journey is sure to be interesting. First, I should explain my inspiration for the jacket/sweater I am hoping to create.
Perhaps it is a guilty pleasure, but it is one that I do not feel too guilty about, so I think I should probably just call it a pleasure. I love steampunk. This obscure, stylized subgenre is so great! I love historical romance, particularly Edwardian and Victorian era. I love science fiction and fantasy. The marriage of the two is really more than I could hope for. Steampunk is a little ambiguous in its definition, but one of its cornerstones is the use of steam powered machinery over modern technology. This usually lends itself well to a Victorian era style of clothing, as that time period was the height of this particular type of technology. However, because steampunk worlds are an alternate reality to our own, and not just a historical fiction subgenre, the clothing and artwork is often stylized as Victorian meets modern. It often includes elements that salute the steam power that defines steampunk. The results are interesting and very imaginative. This genre finds itself coming to life in many forms, from literature to video games. Now, I hope to capture it in a knitted jacket. We will see how successful I am.
In this post I am including some Victorian fashion plates that I used for inspiration. In the captions I highlight what it is about the fashion plate that drew my attention.
So far, I have sketched my design, chosen my yarn, and swatched my stitches. Now I must begin to bring my little seed of an idea to life. Gulp. Here we go.