Just a Tease

I know you’ve all been dying to know how the steeking  applied i-cord socks turned out, so here’s a look for you:

Socks a la Dobby

Pattern and detailed explanations of how to do the craziness on the back to come!

Also in the works for the near future: log cabin quilts, A-line skirts, and getting started spinning on Scotch tension wheel…because I’ve been up to my neck in crafts. The more fodder I have for the blog, of course, the less I manage to write, but what can you do?

Call for Patterns

I want to show off your patterns!

Unsurprisingly, my blog gets almost all of its attention from my free patterns, good and bad alike. I love sharing my patterns, but let’s be honest here: I’m a workin’ woman with two jobs, two cats, a husband, and a desire to not spend the rest of my life working for other people. The design / test knit / rip back / fix design / knit again / photo shoot / format pattern process takes me a while in between all the other things I can’t just put down to knit.

Putting up a finished (or mostly finished) pattern, however, is a piece of cake for me. Not every knitter has the time and inclination to learn how to turn notes into a PDF or work with a blog, I imagine, so here’s what I’m thinking: if you have a pattern you’d like to share with the world but no place or no technical ability to share it, email it to me! If I like it and can make sense of your directions, I’ll put it on my blog, fully credited to you, and the whole world will win. How picky I am will depend on whether or not I get any submissions, but here are some basic guidelines for what you should send me:

> Photo of the finished product (the nicer the photo, honestly, the more likely I am to publish the pattern).

> Instructions in a document or in the body of an email.

> A title for the pattern.

> Your name, as you’d like me to credit it.

> A short bio, and any links to your web presence or contact info you’d like to share with my readers.

I promise to always respect your ownership of the pattern. I promise to take it down if you ever change your mind about having it on my blog without saying anything mean to you. I promise to let you know if I can use it or not as quickly as I can. There’s not a single cent of money in this blog–it’s for fun, not for profit–so you won’t get paid in anything but the ineffable joy that comes from sharing something you created with others, but I find that to be worth the effort of doing a blog. I hope you will too.

Email me your pattern at: write2mwauthor@gmail.com

Insert Clever Metaphor about 2001: A Space Odyssey

Technology amazes me, from beginning to end. At the beginning, you have, to quote Robin Furr, “a rock on a stick.” From so humble a combination, one can spin anything. (Assuming, of course, that one has a bit of practice under one’s belt.) At the other end, we have a worldwide network of incredibly fast and thoroughly encrypted information that allows inventors and would-be manufacturers bid for microfinancing to fund their business endeavors. And instead of enormous factories with tons of underpaid workers producing cheap, generic products, 3D printing now allows us to make cheap, generic products at home…or at the home of the inventor-turned-manufacturer.

Robin Furr is creating a living history of these technologies from both ends by using modern technology to produce carefully engineered and inexpensive versions of that ancient technology, the spindle. Although it’s hard to tell from the photos whether the plastic spindles will be beautiful things worthy of a spinner’s selection and impossible to know if they will spin as nicely as promised, I think his idea has merit and I hope he gets the funding he needs to get started. If you’re a rabid spindle fan who likes to collect or a would-be new spinner who has children, you might consider pledging a donation to try his products out.

Plus Spindles Kickstarter Project – Goal: $1,425 more by March 10th, 2012

Spinning, My Head is Dizzy

I MADE YARN!!! FROM A SHEEP!

Okay, well not completely from a sheep. I didn’t shear the sheep or skirt the fleece. But I washed this fleece, carded it, spun it on a spindle, plied it, and finished it. I’ve seen these shirts that say something like: “Knitting: It’s not a hobby. It’s a post-apocalypse life skill.” To this I say, true, but you know what’s even more useful? Spinning. Someone make a spindle-oriented shirt with that saying, and I will buy it. (Well, provided it’s soft and has a baby doll fit–I have no interest in your crappy, iron-on, boxy, stiff man-tees, internet.) If you only know how to knit, you’re only useful until all the yarn stores have been raided clean or destroyed. But if you know how to spin, well. Maybe you won’t get eaten when the canned soup runs out. Spinners can turn sheep into sweaters without killing them. It’s amazing.

This first yarn of mine, unsurprisingly, is terrible. It’s uneven and lumpy and thick and scratchy, which I am trying very hard not to be discouraged about yet. There’s a fair amount that happens between spindle and finished skein–I just wish I knew which parts of the process are in most need of modification.

This is the yarn before plying:

I wound it from my spindle with the ball winder John got me for Christmas. (Oh, by the way, have I said Hallelujah! yet? I love that thing.) I was astonished to find that my yarn did not break even once. This worried me, especially considering how much moving around yarn does in the finishing process. Spindle to ball, ball to spindle, spindle to niddy-noddy…

John and I made this niddy-noddy. It has…issues. I’m a little worried that this is one of those cases where I tried to be cheap by doing something myself and end up spending not only the time and money on the DIM project (oh, apt acronym), but then eventually the money on a professionally-crafted item.  This one was not standing up well to the forces put upon it when I tried to take the yarn off, but I did somehow manage to get the yarn from the niddy-noddy into the bath.

Wait, what? You want me to put my WOOL yarn into a hot bath and agitate it? Are you crazy? Do you know how much time I spent spinning that stuff? And now you want me to subject it to the ever-feared felting conditions? Yes, apparently. Yes. I have decided that knitters greatly exaggerate the ease with which wool felts in order to put the fear of felt into non-knitters who become responsible for painstakingly crafted wool garment. That being said: Cho, if you put those gloves through the wash, I will beat you with whatever comes out.

Somehow, through all this abuse, fleece manages to survive and emerge strengthened into this:

Did I mention that I made that?

Casing the Joins

I am a cheapskate. If I can spend less money by doing something myself, I’ll waste my time before I waste my money. I do try to be realistic about the types of task I am capable of accomplishing. I also try very hard to consider the costs–if it’s cheaper to buy exactly what I want, that’s what I’m gonna do.

I recently bought myself a set of interchangeable circular knitting needles, which I’ve been wanting for a year or so. I find circular needles to be a royal pain to organize, so the concept of being able to pick my cord length and pick my needle size is just downright sexy. The set I bought comes with a plastic pouch to store everything in, but let’s get real here: I love my tools. My shiny tools deserve better than to languish in crinkly plastic pouch, no matter how well it’s constructed.

I was actually almost delighted when I opened the box and found that the zipper pull had broken in transit. What luck! The fact that I had purchased materials to make my own case was justified by the shoddy craftsmanship of the standard pouch. I whipped out my sewing machine (love that birthday present, Mom!) and went to town.

The design is my attempt to reverse engineer something like the Della Q cases, I won’t lie. I love their stuff, but again: I’m cheap. The materials for this cost me less than ten dollars, and since I had fun with the project, I consider my time and labor free. I won’t be selling these things, ever, because my ability to sew in a straight line is severely challenged, but for my personal use, I’m quite pleased.

I used broadcloth for the lining and pockets. From finished edged to finished edge, this is about 12×16 inches, the top flap being two inches shorter than the other sections to allow room for the button. Once I had ironed the hems down and pinned the top together, I sewed the pockets only to the lining by the dividing seams and the bottom seam of the top pocket.

The tie is composed of two pieces of the lining fabric, sewn up with an angled tip and reversed. I pinned them in between the outside and the lining and sewed them in as I sewed the two pieces together. Instead of turning the top upside-down over the pockets and leaving a hole to reverse it through, I laid the hemmed top and front together as they go and sewed all around the edge, using a green thread that matches the outside. The final piece was the shell button, which fit nicely in between the two pockets.

These instructions don’t quite qualify as a pattern or a tutorial, I know, but hopefully they’re useful for other fabric rookies a start on a simple project. If you want quality, I’m sure the real thing is worth the asking price, but if you’re a cheapskate who doesn’t mind a few imperfections, this project worked out pretty well.