UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

January 25, 2011

Your prejudice, it bothers me.

Filed under: discussion — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 3:20 pm

There’s a local Ravelry (not sponsored, or technically affiliated, but they are allowed to call it that) meetup. They are holding it at the Women’s Building in San Francisco. The link to that location specifies that the building is to be used in support of women and girls. Shocking how extremely inclusive that feels, right? Obviously they are not going to come right out and say men are not allowed, and the meetup group does have a parenthetical comment saying men are welcome, but seriously, how welcome would women feel if there was a building saying “this space is intended to support men’s endeavors”?

That would be why I do not go to YMCAs. If they want to rename their organization to the effect of actually including old women and a-religious people, then sure, I can see them being a community organization for everyone.

I am honestly offended by how universal and understood the prejudice in the fiber arts is. I would really like to see other women stand up and say, “I like the idea of getting together with other knitters and crafters but not if your event is only open to some kinds of people.”

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January 19, 2011

plaid runner

Filed under: weaving — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:56 pm

Progress on the second weaving project:
plaid cloth on loom

January 18, 2011

let the weaving begin. second project and the new tools

Filed under: equipment, weaving — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:50 am

Tools I have built yesterday and today in order to facilitate the weaving:
On the left is a terrible picture of the new rubber feet on the bottom of my Emilia. They do keep the ratchets from hitting the table when the loom rests flat instead of with the front end hanging off the table.  The second picture is of a hand-beaded sleying hook made from a paper clip. Sleying hooks are what weavers use to thread the heddles. This is a vast improvement over the plastic guitar pick that came with the loom since it actually fits in both the slots and the holes.

loom with feet sleying hook

My new weaving project is warped. I am making a plaid from black and silver and white.

warped loom

January 15, 2011

Swift= warping board: yarn flow diagram.

Filed under: equipment, weaving — Tags: , , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 2:05 pm

I came up with a method to create warp pieces of yarn that will allow them to be individually tied on in any order. This is extremely common, and the only way to warp a regular (non-rigid heddle) loom. My method involves using my swift with two layers of pegs and a yarn path that owes something to string art. But from a swift with arms about 2 feet long, I was able to come up with a path 100 inches long using only 9 pegs.

swift warping board with diagram

This will allow me to cut all the warp colors in advance and string them through the heddle in any order. In my first warping attempt there was slack between colors because one was tied on and the other merely wrapped around the bar. Not to mention that the physical demands of direct warping required a lot of up and down and alternated close up detail work with big motions. I found it painful to do for an hour. Using the warping board, and in my case it rotates, only requires me to sit while wrapping. Later when I am sleying the heddle, there will be a lot of detail work in a row, but hopefully the lack of alternation will allow me to find a more comfortable position for my back.

The other benefit is that this does not stretch all the way across my living room and disturb my husband with me walking in front of the television.

Longer warps would require more pegs (for diminishing additional lengths while increasing the awkwardness of loading) or longer swift arms.

(The swift is the walnut version of the Mama Bear from Oregon Woodworker. It took me 2 years to talk myself into buying one and I had a great shopping experience buying at Stitches West 2010. The man who makes them included the extra set of taller pegs. There is a competing swift with sliders, but that would have prevented my using it as a warping board.)

January 14, 2011

personal user’s loom review: Emilia 13.5 rigid heddle

Filed under: equipment, weaving — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 8:04 pm

Having put my loom away for almost 2 weeks, I am almost ready to try again. My experience was so horrible the first time, but I think a lot of that has to do with being a beginner and mis-understanding the instructions. I hope that is the case.

I will not need to assemble the loom again, which should prevent the heinous disaster I experienced. People at knitting group laughed when I told the story (since I meant for it to be funny, that is fine) about how I was supposed to melt the ends of the texsolv cord to prevent fraying and thought since I was only doing 4 cords, I might just use a match instead of lighting a candle. I burned my thumb, dropped the match, and set some papers on fire. Luckily I was able to blow the papers out and did not need a fire extinguisher, but you might guess that my opinion of the loom instantly dropped to a bitter negative one.

Next came the actual using of the texsolv cord. In the assembly instructions, the word “loop” is used at least three different ways. You wrap the cord around the beam to make a “loop” and stick the end through one of the “loops” in the other end of the cord. Next you make a “loop” with the cord to attach the tie-up bar. But that one really meant, “Pinch a fold of the cord in the middle and put this through the hole at the loose end of the cord.” So, not only was the explanation vague to the point of incomprehensibility, it says nothing about the extremely tight nature of the texsolv cord. It was so tight that in my imagination I kept hearing the cord scream like an abducted  virgin heroine in an historical romance. Accomplishing that maneuver with a burned thumb was painful.

Anyway, having warped once and a half times, I should avoid the obvious pitfalls that resulted from instructions that were written “Do A B D E repeat across, oh, by the way, make sure to do C every time too.” Anyone who had warped a loom before would know C, wrap around tie-up bar, but I had no idea and had to unwarp a lot of very finicky yarn.

I had problems with the warping, but the second time it mostly worked. However, layers of warp intermingled during the winding on, so my tension was wonky when I started weaving. (I did not notice during the process and it was only by reading the Ravelry group where someone else had a similar issue with wonky tension that I found the explanation. The instructions actually say that no warp wrapping is needed.) The warping is ridiculously tedious and a complete pain in the entire body. It is honestly horrible. And this is the “direct warping” that makes rigid heddle looms “so much easier” than multi-shaft looms. I warped about 9″ and cannot imagine owning a 32″ wide loom. Some of the warping and sleying (putting the yarn through the holes of the heddle) problems were because the tools provided with my loom are inefficient and completely pathetic. The “sleying hook” does not fit into the slots of the 10-dent heddle without forcing it. And the sleying hook is under 2 inches long and plastic. It is, actually, a strangely shaped guitar pick. There is no reason why what comes in the box as an “everything you need to get started” should not work together seamlessly. They probably should ship the looms with the 8-dent heddle unless they find another sleying hook that fits better. They actually recommend using dental floss threaders for the 12-dent heddle in the instructions.

The other problem with the winding on is that was when the ratchets started grinding the under-surface because the instructions do not say to set the loom with the front edge hanging off of the table. These instructions give a diagram of a slip knot, but never mention anything about where the clamp that holds the loom stable is supposed to go. The clamp is not even in any of the pictures. I was mostly able to figure out what I should do based on the pictures and the fact that there is only one place to put the clamp (on the underside of the loom’s front stabilizer brace.) But if the instructions had mentioned this, there would have been a lot less destruction of the pad I had placed under the loom. I am mostly thankful that I had taken extra precautions.

So I was extremely angry the whole time I was weaving the first project. Some of that was because the stick shuttle gave me splinters. How difficult would it be to actually sand a flat piece of wood? That is inexcusably bad quality control.

Now I have little rubber feet from the hardware store to raise the loom up and protect the table from the ratchets if the clamp slips (which it does frequently unless you are willing to damage your table tightening the clamp) and I have come up with a way to indirect warp (where one measures and cuts the warp threads and sleys them afterward instead of during) which will save me from having to lean in to do detail work then immediately stand and walk around the room before hunching back down again. Plus I know better now. I know how to position the loom to use the clamp and avoid table damage. I know how a correctly warped loom should look. I bought some warp separating bamboo mats to help reduce intermingling the warp layers during winding on.

I hated my loom because I did not have what I really needed to make it work. I lacked in experience. I lacked in understanding the directions. I hurt myself and damaged property during the assembly because of the instructions.

In my opinion, corners were cut in the design choices and those choices affect the versatility of the loom (it is extremely difficult to use this loom on your lap because of the ratchets). If the lumber on the ratchet mounting sides had been wider, then the loom could be folded and stored flat on a tabletop when not in use, but that cannot happen since the ratchet teeth stand proud of the surface in every orientation. The loom does not fold up well at all, the knobs are strained when the loom is folded. The pegs holding the loom in the open configuration (it can be folded while warped) splintered the wood in their holes. The wood feels unfinished, though it might have some sort of clearcoat. It certainly is not professionally varnished for durability and long-lasting service. I feel like what came in the box is insufficient to make the product work correctly.

Many of these problems have been addressed by fixing the user and aftermarket solutions. But I must heartily recommend against this loom due to the instructions, the ratchet teeth, the poor quality finish, and the lousy included tools. If this loom was $80-100 and marketed as an unfinished loom for experienced weavers, I think it would be fine. Since it is assembled, I will feel no guilt selling the loom should the second project go anything but silkenly smooth, provided I explain to the buyer how the loom should be mounted. I am still considering weaving as a potential hobby, but this is definitely why everyone keeps recommending try-before-you-buy because everyone-is-different. I will see if I can try out other rigid heddle looms in person before buying the next one.

January 11, 2011

status reports and new ideas

Filed under: project lists — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:18 pm

I bought rubber feet for my loom. I am hoping that I will resent it less when I do not have to be quite so careful how it is placed. I also received my copies of Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving and The Weaver’s Idea Book. This might help somewhat in terms of less struggling with the concepts of weaving and how those concepts affect technique.

I have also been considering whether I would prefer indirect warping. The direct warping is a pain in the head, back, rear, and feet. Plus the results are mediocre due to the differences between a tied warp strand and a looped warp strand. I own an Oregon Woodworker swift, the mounted versions of which are recommended as warping boards. I have been mentally running through how long of a warp I could construct with two sets of pegs, but I think I might have to measure.

My hair has been shortened from the icon. (The icon is not me, despite the representative nature of my tendency to hold onto spare DPNs by putting them in my hair, up my sleeve, or through my sweater.) I am really cold without my insulating fur. Can someone recommend a style of hat that might compensate? I’m wearing a stretchy lace cowl today, but it scrunches up too much. Maybe I should dig out the turtlenecks instead?

Immediately after posting this, someone on my Rav friends list faved, the Lady Jessica Cowl (direct), Rav link. I happen to have 110 loops of 5 foot diameter handspun 3-ply worsted BFL (dyed by Lisa Souza) just waiting for this project. (Google’s math says that is about 180 yards.)

There has been very little progress on the Phantom Phonebooth socks, despite their presence right next to the remote control in front of the TV.

I have not made any progress rebuilding the Halfaquin sweater that I frogged. There is time for all this, but I seem to allow it to be sucked down into flash games, sending random emails to friends, and cooking. But the cooking has been nice to have done.

Let me give you five reasons. One, two, three, four, five!

Filed under: discussion, knit — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:17 pm

I was working on a giant post about grafting, but it has devolved into a list of links and rants about really annoying things in the world of knitting.

There are a lot of really annoying things in the world of knitting. These five are the ones making me crazy today.

Kitchener Stitch is a specific kind of grafting, only for stockinette. If you are grafting another texture, or not using a sewing needle, or any of other parameter change, it is just grafting. Plus Kitchener most likely did not really create it himself so his name is on it for mythical reasons.

I dislike it when anything is named after a specific person in knitting. I appreciate when things are credited to their developers, but I find myself really annoyed by the phrase, “I used Judy’s Magic Cast-On.”

I am outraged by the people who say that if you substitute yarns (or worse, yarn colors) or change textures or have to do your own math that you no longer have what was in the pattern. There gets to be a point where a project is merely inspired by a particular pattern, but most of us have to do our own adjustments.  If there is a pattern and you have only tweaked it, then you have used the pattern and should credit the originating source. If there is a designer who cannot let design elements go, if they only want people to use certain yarns and only for certain body shapes, then they need to sell completed garments or kits at the very least.

Then there is the polar opposite of this, someone who created a pattern last week, making a hat in the round using stockinette and with a roll-brim, and Cascade 220, arguing that other people “stole her idea” even though they made their hats 5 years ago. We do not have to credit the obvious and if anyone should give credit it is the new knitter who did no searches of prior art before claiming originality.

And finally, last on today’s rants, I hate when truly profound techniques are distributed through quantity-limited media. Magazines without online-access archives (paid or not) are not the correct distribution method for a fundamental technique change. I find that I feel no interest in summarizing the various grafting techniques, even though I found something I have not seen anywhere else, because the one hidden in an out-of-print issue of IK (Interweave Knits) is supposed to be paradigm shifting. Right now, I do not care if it does change grafting throughout the entire knitting world, because that knowledge is lostto all but a select few.

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