Happy Birthday, Mum!


The last day of NaBloPoMo was always going to be an easy subject for me; it’s my Mum’s birthday!  Harder was finding photographs of my Mum to feature; she’s remarkably good at evading the camera.  She used to say that that was because she was the one taking all the photos, but since owning a camera, I’ve found that it’s not the whole truth.

So this photo has my Dad in the immediate foreground, but it’s a good one of Mum, too, taken this year in September when J, Kita and I went up North to visit.

There is so much I’d like to say about my Mum, but every sentence I type sounds cliched, sappy or downright weird.  So I’ll stick with a simplE HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Eye candy Thursday: playing with colour again


Procion-MX, magenta through yellow.
Left to right: no yellow, 25% yellow, 50% yellow, 75% yellow, 87.5% yellow, 94% yellow
Top to bottom: calculated to give 4%, 2%, 1% and 0.5% depth of shade.

I was fascinated with how little magenta you need to make the solution look resolutely *orange* – only six percent! – and also how much diluting the solution emphasised the yellow at the expense of the magenta.

The actual dyeing results were disappointing-to-mixed.  I think maybe my stock solutions have ‘gone’; apparently, these dyes last less than a week in solutio as they actually react with water.  Oh, well!

Just two more after this one…

I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed NaBloPoMo, but I will be very pleased when it’s over.  Blogging every day has definitely gotten my past the hurdle I had before – "I should blog that, but it’ll take aaages".  Now, though, I’m struggling with other issues.

Blogging every day is making it hard for me to have time to reply to people who comment.  I hate that.  I think I’ll be alternating ‘blog’ days and ‘reply’ days from now on.  For me, blogging isn’t just about shouting out into the darkness; it’s about contacting other human beans with similar interests to me and sharing stuff with them.  I’m also leaving far fewer comments on other people’s blogs, which isn’t good, either.  So, apologies everyone, but I will get back to you eventually.

I have several draft posts that need extensive photography sessions to finish them off properly – or for which the photographs I have taken have proven inadequate.  The light round here has been lousy recently – even at noon! – and it’s not helping.

I have a couple of weaving posts, too, but I’m very aware that a lot of my readers are not weavers.  I want to put together a ‘rigid heddle 101’ post or page before I post any more weaving stuff.  But to do that, I need to get my current weaving project off the loom so I can photograph it properly (light allowing, see above!) – but the knitting is getting all my time right now.

But one thing I *am* very grateful to NaBloPoMo for – my Bloglines roll has been very busy for the last month.  I have always been assured good reading, morning and evening.  I love reading other people’s blogs, it’s what made me want to get one in the first place.  Don’t y’all go away, now!

Progress Report: Dad’s Christmas Sweater

Time for another progress report on Dad’s Christmas Sweater!  As previously mentioned, this is an easy post to write, and I was going to save it for later in the week, but thanks to a frenzy of sleeve knitting in the past two days, significant landmarks have now been passed:

  • I have now been tracking my progress on this sweater for five weeks
  • Today, I passed the ‘80% knitted’ mark!
  • I am almost exactly a week ahead of schedule
  • that is equivalent to 9278 stitches ahead
  • There will be a lot of ends to weave in…

The sweater body now looks like this:



The sleeve looks like this:


And my spreadsheet graph looks like this (the vertical red line marks ‘today’):


For the curious, I did indeed struggle on using the 30cm circ until the sleeve was really too big for it; now, I’ve transferred to the 80cm circ, using the magic loop method to proceed.  It’s fiddly, but I definitely knit faster with longer rigid ends to my needles…

One last fact: If I maintain the same average speed I have knit at over the last week, I will finish knitting a week on Monday.  And if I maintain the same average as I have for the last five weeks, I’ll finish… one day earlier.  Sounds like I’ve been pretty consistent, huh?

Yarn: shelf appeal vs. knit-up appeal

A while ago, I posted about quite possibly the ugliest sock I’ve ever knit.  In fact, it’s so bad that I’ve not even finished turning the heel on it yet, and it’s certainly got no prettier:


But they have gotten me thinking.  This stuff looked *lovely* in the ball.  It’s right in the middle of this photo, just in case you don’t believe me.

So, what is it about multicoloured yarn that is just so *appealing* to so many knitters??  I know that I have this amazing compulsion to collect all the colours of Lorna’s Laces sock yarn that exist, but I have seen socks knit from it that are eye-popping in their zigginess and zagginess, and completely unappealing to me.  Colours fight cabling and obscure lacework.  They make horizontal stripes, and do unexpected and usually unattractive things whenever shaping is used:


They make different patterns on sleeves than on body pieces:


But so many folks can’t resist buying them.

So I want to know.  Do you like to buy multicoloured yarns?  Do you like the way they look in skeins, in balls, knit up?  Would you buy multicoloured sock yarn?  Lace yarn?  Sweater yarn?  Yarn for adult garments?  Accessories?  Kids’ clothing?

If so, do you want quick changes?  Dainty stripes?  Bold, wide stripes?  Self-patterning?  Long, slow colour changes like Noro?  *Very* long, slow changes like Kauni?  A regular pattern, or a random one?

High contrast? similar values?  Similar hues?

Do you like semi-solids, or do they just look like a dyeing mistake to you?

What about marled yarns, heathered yarns, tweedy yarns?

Or do you like all your yarn to have a perfectly even colour finish?

What speaks to you?

2/1 Twill: First attempt

Back here I started talking about my attempts to weave twill on a rigid heddle loom, using two heddles.

So, I have a threading that results in three sets of threads:

  • one goes through the holes on the back heddle and the slots on the front heddle
  • one goes through the slots on the back heddle and the holes slots on the front heddle
  • one goes through the the slots on both the front and back heddles

To weave a simple twill, each set of threads must be lifted (or dropped) in turn.  Notice that on a rigid heddle loom, you have the option of creating either a rising shed (threads in holes are lifted above the neutral threads) or a sinking shed (threads in holes are pushed below the neutral threads).

The order I came up with was as follows:

  1. back heddle up, front heddle down, weave in rising shed
  2. front heddle up, back heddle down, weave in rising shed
  3. both heddles down, weave in sinking shed

**Theoretically** this works.  The crucial problem with my scheme, as described, though, is that in steps one and two, no heddle should be *down* but, rather, in neutral.  Otherwise, you get:

  • tension issues
  • one shed is wrong; thread from rear heddle gets blocked by front heddle and deflected.

Resulting fabric is pretty, but not a twill…


I need a winter scarf.  OK, not a whole, long scarf; I don’t like them.  Just something soft and warm and not too bulky to fill in the bit at the front above where I zip my jacket up to.  And, well, I like knitting.  And I’ve been hearing a whole lot about this Malabrigo laceweight and how soft and squishy it is, which sounds pretty much the thing for a winter scarf.


Oh, this stuff is *everything* they say.  And if you’re going to break a yarn diet once – may as well do it twice, right?


Finally started the first of the sleeves for my Dad’s Christmas sweater…


These have been No Fun to get going.  Firstly, I messed up the tubular cast on twice before nailing it (don’t know why; managed it fine on the body…)  Then, even the short circ I bought was really too long for only 66 stitches, and yet – yet – the rigid bits were still too short to knit with comfortably.

So I transferred to the two longer circs, which worked, but since one was 80cm long and the other 100cm long, there were quite a lot of dangly ends.  Plus, although I’ve got the tension issues of stranded knitting sorted, in general, I find it hard at the point where you transfer between needles.

I considered using DPNs. but I think that would only result in more transition points.

Now, I’ve managed to move back to using my 30cm circ, though I still find the rigid parts uncomfprtably short.  This is not nearly so fast as I was expecting; I’ve made a lot of progress today, but not so much as I thought…

Random Friday

  1. Kureyon Sock!  Polly is most definitely not the last person to find out, since I learned it from her.
  2. Texere is not dead. Long live Texere!
  3. Having ditched my job as a software engineer, I’m currently very inspired about writing a software project…  This does not make for good blogging.
  4. NaBloPoMo is getting harder, but there is only one more week to go!
  5. Tonight is supposed to be cold.  Very cold.  Brrrr!!


Playing with colour

I’ve been on a ‘use it or lose it’ kick lately; going through the contents of my studio and either deciding to use some of the many things I have stashed away, or throwing them out.

My very old acid dye stock solutions got thrown out.  I only had two colours, and though stock solutions are supposed to be stable for months or years under good conditions, these were about five years old, I don’t have any records as to their concentration, and in any case, I only had turquoise, magenta and black, I think.

The Procion-MX dyes, though, were still in dry powder form.  I mixed up 100ml of 1% stock solution of each, and decided to have a little play with some of the white crochet cotton I had hanging around.

Whenever I do something like this, I’m always very torn between a rigorous, scientific approach and just *playing*.  What if I don’t keep the right records, and get the *perfect* yarn and can never recreate it again??

I did, in fact, draw up a plan for mixing and testing around 250 sample colours, based on my four stock solutions.  But then I realised that the turquoise dye hadn’t fully dissolved before I started mixing the secondary colours, so it wasn’t going to be accurate anyway…  So I started to play.


I’m quite pleased with my mini-skeins.

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