Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not Warp Speed

I'm not sure where the term "warp speed" -- as in extremely fast, so Star Trek-fast that you zip from one universe to the next in less time than it takes to type this, less time, in probability, than it takes to blink your eyes. Because warping a loom is a slow, deliberate process. About as far away as you can get from thos satisfying traverses across millions of miles of space and time in a fictional warp speed. (Caveat: there may be a real science principle at work here. but I majored in English.) This, then, is my 4-harness Schacht loom, which I bought with money from returned wedding presents, 33 years ago, in the process of being warped.

Here are some of the 400 threads, being individually threaded through the heddles (a long rectangular strip of metal with an eye in the center for threading).

This is a page from Marguerite Davison's Handweaver's Pattern Book. Published in the fifties, I think, it's a recipe book of old weaving drafts, or patterns, for 4-harness loom. I using the Finnish Twill pattern. I've used this one before for towels and napkins and I like it (despite having no Finnish heritage).

And more slow: jigsaw puzzle.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tired Knitting

Today we had several tired knitters in the shop. Familiar tales of slogging through unhappy projects or trying to winnow down to less on the needle. General knitting malaise.

Except for the customer knitting a dragon scarf for her husband. He was very clear about the yarn selection. Something shiny, like dragon scales.

Even though I don't have a dragon scarf to knit (though I suppose that I could), I decided to focus in on finishing an old Fair Isle cardigan. From a Debbie Bliss magazine maybe two years ago.

One sleeve almost done. Another to finish. Then pesky finishing details. But I do want to knit this, which is a change in a good direction.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


My first swatch for the fair isle vest.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Designing a Fair Isle Vest

I've started designing a Fair Isle vest for my husband. This is one of the only things that he has ever asked me to knit.

And I've been working on it, but in a round-about way, slowly moving toward the goal. I've knit Komi mittens from Mostly Mittens. I've modified the Komi patterns to accomadate a much warmer, thicker yarn. I've knit and taught my colorwork cowl pattern (see a post below). And this fall, I led a knitalong with a project of a steeked, stranded colorwork vest modified from Fyne from Rowan.

As you see, I try to learn the new skill, and then modify/wrangle it into a slightly different size or yarn or method. I've been trying to keep track of these riffs by making notes on my Ravelry project page. Unfortunately, I have a very bad track record of losing mittens and hats before I write the changes down. And on a more positive note, I've taken lately to giving away things that friends or family admire. (You like this cowl? Here, it's yours. Very fun.)

For this vest, I'm using a photo of a Ralph Lauren vest that my husband admired a few years ago. Luckily, it was still in my knitting files on the computer. The picture provides color choices and an idea of the balance between peeries (small designs) and motifs (larger, more complicated patterns, usually not television-watching-while-knitting friendly).

The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK. This is the only DK-weight yarn that we sell at the shop that has the range of colors needed for Fair Isle. And even with, hmm, 28 shades, there are still holes that a traditional company like Jamieson and Smith, which has at least 100-150 different colors of yarn in a fingering weight, would offer. (I just noticed that we don't have Mineral: a bright yellow.)

Phase 1 of this project was teaming up with a friend who also is knitting a Fair Isle vest for her husband. Hers, which will be natural colors of amazing yarn from Long Island Livestock, will be very different from mine.

Phase 2, which is my project for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (non-stop knitting, movies, and a fire) is swatching to try to figure out the charts and colors that I'll be using.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Virtual Cookie Exchange

For this year, or maybe next:
the Splendid Table's Virtual Cookie Exchange.

My contribution: Scotch Shortbread, from my mother-in-law's Scottish neighbor, Peggy Sellers.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix together 3 cups flour, 2 cups cornstarch, 1 heaping cup confectioner's sugar. Add 1 lb. butter, softened and cut into pieces. Work dough with hands until it begins to come together. Press into a jelly roll pan. Pinch edges. Prick dough evenly with a fork. Bake about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Cut into squares, Return pan to oven and lower temperature to 300 degrees. Bake another 15-20 minutes, covering pan, if needed, with foil so that the cookies don't burn. Remove from oven and cool in pan.

Yield: about 30 cookies, which keep well for at least a week in a covered container.

Enjoy with tea and a jigsaw puzzle or a friendly game of Uno.


Color work cowl in Swans Island Ecowash Organic DK weight. Cayenne. Graphite.
Stranded color work is so reassuring. Charts. Repeats. Concrete progress and rounds ticked off. Time measured not with a teaspoon but with each completing of a symmetrical, mirrored, rhythmic movement simultaneously sideways and upwards.
Always moving. Yet still. Controllable. Controlled. The future known. Anticipated. Clear beginning. Definitively complete and completed.