Friday, October 31, 2008

You had me at heddle!

So I'm kinda like a double threat now - weaving and knitting.  Yeah, that's right - I'm officially a weaver.  

Thanks to Cay, from the now closed Yarn Basket, I have a loom and didn't have to sell a kidney to get it!  Even better, it's the Schacht Flip loom which was my first choice until I found out that they retail for $225 now.  I PM'd her a bunch on Ravelry and she gave me all kinds of advice on the differences in some of the looms I asked her about.  Some people suggested that I look on eBay or on some weaving websites where people are selling used gear - which I did, but then realized that I didn't know enough to do that.  When Cay told me that she had a couple Schachts from before the price increased, I totally jumped on it!  She's the best - I mean really the best!  She even handed me a big stack of Handwoven magazines for free!  

I talked to my mother to tell her I bought it - assuming she'd want to wrap it up and give it to me for Christmas, but she surprised me by saying that it really wasn't necessary due to the fact that I'm not 12 and that I'm pretty capable of remembering that this is my Christmas gift, even if I get it early!  yippee!  So last night I pulled it out and set it up - which was kind of weird since I didn't really know what anything was supposed to look like, and even though I was following the instructions, I was still not totally sure everything was, you know, on the right sides of other stuff.  Then I proceeded to warp it with some gold slightly slubby rayon from a cone I got at the Woolgathering 2 years ago. 
 It's fingering weight and seemed to fit the calculations for the 12 dent reed I have (yeah - there's math involved in weaving too!  oh math, what can't you do?)  I think this part took me a couple hours, and I believe I had to walk around my dining room table 62 times to measure out my warp threads!  Aside from the walking, there was a whole lot of this:
Pulling 62 loops warp threads through the slots with a little hook.  Then after that, there was the matter of cutting the end of the loops and pulling 62 of the now 124 threads through the little holes.  Sounds tedious, but I can certainly think of worse ways to spend my time - it was a heck of a lot of fun, really.  I mean I'm used to spending hours making loops of yarn and pulling them through other loops of yarn, aren't I?  This is the finished warping - I feel like I have more extra than I should at this end, but again, what do I know?  maybe this is normal. 
 Then the best part started - I picked out some Cherry Tree Hill from my stash and wound my shuttle and started weaving.  
It's fantastic!  I love it.  The variegated yarn is so much different in weaving than in knitting - or at least if feels like it is so far.  Maybe it's because the warp threads break it up, kind of like a slip stitch pattern does.  Whatever the case.  I'm crazy in love with this.  By my calculations, this was supposed to make a 12" wide piece, but it's a bit narrower, which I'm attributing to the fact that I don't really have my technique down - kind of like finding your gauge when you start knitting.  You can see at the beginning I was pulling the edges too tight (the warps are way closer together there) then I tried to loosen up and the edge got messy, but then I think I evened out a bit.  I'm hoping to attend a workshop that Cay is doing for the weaving guild next weekend, so maybe I'll get to weave with some real weavers and soak up their technique!  Whee!  

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Santa, won't you bring me a loom?

And guess what?  I already know the answer!  He WILL!  

Ok, so here's the back story -- I called my mother today to talk to her about buttons for her Tweedy Aran Cardigan (which is coming along swimmingly, btw!) - we decided we're going to wait until she can try it on to decide on buttons, and I'll use little loops instead of button holes.  She really just wants one or two buttons at the top, so I think that'll look great.  And she's very particular about buttons, so if she finds something else she likes 6 months from now, she can easily change it out and not worry about the size being too big or small for the button hole, etc.  So anyway, I also wanted to give her a Christmas gift idea in case my favorite uncle asks for ideas for me - somehow he always comes up with amazing stuff, with no help from anyone, so he may not even ask, but in the latest KnitBits Cirilia talked about the fringe on the featured scarf being done with a fringe twister.  It sounded interesting so I looked it up on the www and found that it was a weaving tool and something that I think would be way cool to have for the ends of knitted scarves or wraps - so that was the gift idea I wanted her to pass on to my uncle - if anyone can find it, he can.  he's cool like that.  So in the conversation about weaving tools, I told her that I was thinking of weaving, but that I wasn't asking for a loom because they were expensive - and that this tool was in the $20 range.  I told her that the looms I was looking at were like $125 and said that sounded like a great gift for her and my father to get me - and she was SOO excited!  I too was excited because it was the first time someone else was that excited for me (gosh, can't you always count on moms for that?)   I told her how my friends were all poo pooing the weaving idea - she said "you tell them that yoooour mother thinks her little girl would be a wonderful weaver!"  so take that all you weaver haters!  Now here's the problem - I jumped online to look at looms again and realized that I was kind of off on the price thing - the Schacht loom I looked at before (the one that Cirilia has, and talked about on another KnitBits a while back, which initially started me thinking of all this) is more like $225 - but there's a Beka ridgid heddle that is about $130.  My problem is that I don't know enough about them to understand what the price difference means - is it a quality issue?  Will I have to spend $100 on Beka accessories just to start using it, whereas the Schacht comes with everything I need?  I've thrown out some questions to some weavers in the area and I'm hoping to up my understanding a bit before going back to my mother.  At the very least, I know I'll get one - even if I have to throw in $100 of my own - either way, I'll be weavin' in the new year!  yeah!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

So most of you are probably over it by now

But here's one final entry about this cactus flower, because it's fully open this morning:

I'll stop going on and on about it now.  But I want you to  know that I'm still going to be raving about it inside.

*Added note about 20 minutes later, after I found out some info about this plant from the internets- check this out.  It's not incredibly flattering.  Especially the parts that talk about how the flower resembles "a small dead animal" which explains why it's sometimes called the "carrion plant" and that it can often "fill a room with the smell of death".  Oh yeah, and they attract flies - you know, because of the stench and resemblance to a small dead animal.  lovely.  mine, for the record, does not seem to have filled the kitchen with the smell of death.  I think I'd notice that.  But I am going to go stick my nose in it to see if it stinks up close.  I still love you carrion plant!

Friday, October 17, 2008

If this doesn't blow your mind...

...I seriously don't know what will.  Can you believe that?  I mean. can. you. believe. THAT??  Do you see the hairs?  and the color? That is in my kitchen and it's growing off an ever lovin' cactus.  oh, not even just a cactus - it's the arm the I broke off.  Something this amazing will never happen again in my lifetime.  

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What you do when you hurt a plant that you think might be pregnant with alien spawn?

Panic!  Gaa!  So when you're moving plants to windex off the glass shelves, and though some course of seriously terrible events, the plant comes crashing down on you, sending dirt into your eyes, bra, floor, and just baked muffins, AND after screaming and putting it back on the shelf, you realize that a giant branch broke off and that that branch was the one with these huge blossom/buds on it that you've been watching and anticipating for like a month now - you get kind of panic-y!  Like maybe the plant will inflict some kind of revenge for killing it's unborn babies.  I mean really - look at this big bubble of an unopened blossom!  Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever seen?  I don't even know what this plant is - because I got it at the North Dayton Garden center (aforementioned favorite nursery ever) which always has the weirdest stuff I've ever seen.  It's some kind of cactus, except that it's not at all prickly, but rather very soft and kind of fuzzy, like what I imagine a deer's antler feels like when it's new and young and  covered with that little peach fuzz.  This is the mother plant - this is the piece I broke off this morning and promptly repotted (all the while appologizing to the mother) - otherwise known as the pregnant arm of the mother.   I vaguely remember the lady at the nursery telling me that it will get some amazing flowers on it, to which I mentally said "yeah right - it happens here in this otherworldly atmosphere, but not in my kitchen at home!" until it did happen - or almost did.  Now I'm afraid it'll have to put energy into trying to survive in its new pot instead of birthing whatever's growing in this pod!  I broke off another piece months ago and potted it up - it too has a pod growing.  In the morning when the light is shining through it, I feel like I'm candling an egg - waiting to see some life moving around in there.  but nothing yet.  So hopefully this one will open.  Oh, and if you don't hear from me for a while, come over and make sure the house isn't filled with some kind of ectoplasm and overtaken with creatures from beyond.  And if that does happen, just hope like hell that they didn't make it up the steps - you'll have to climb up on the porch roof,  break in the bedroom window, and rescue my stash - you can have it.  I won't need it anymore because I'm sure they'll be feeding off my delicious brains or savory organs.  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back to my mother's cardigan - ugh

There's really nothing terrible about working on this cardigan - I enjoy it when I'm doing it, but I think I've just got it built up in my mind as this monumental wall that I have to cross before I can get to anything else I want to make.  It's not that bad really!  I took it to Memphis which means I had a decent amount of plane time to work on it - time with no distracting tv or beverages or conversations!  I think I made some decent progress.  Well, maybe not decent, but progress.  I've made so many mistakes on this thing.  You'd think I'd never knit before.  It's not like I don't know I'm screwing up - I do!  but it's so hard to go back - there are all these panels of different stitch patterns and once I realize that I fouled something up I just can't bear to frog back through the field of fancy rib, then the cable, then the this, then the that, and so I just keep going and tell myself that no one will notice.  oh, but they will.  Even my mother, who is bound by motherly laws to not notice the flaws, will certainly notice.  but seriously, I think she'll still be proud.  Maybe what keeps me from being as excited as I could be about this is that I'm not incredibly proud of it.  But I will keep plowing on!  I'm bound and determined to get this finished by Christmas.