Dec 262012

I decided to try out my new silk yarn this week. First project will be some bookmarks using Sulawesi technique and more of Guntram’s cool patterns. Since Sulawesi is a 3-color weave I needed to use 3 colors. I chose silver/dark blue/medium blue for this project. I wound just 2 meters of warp so I could play with it and see what it does. Again (like the first time) I had to try all different combinations of S- and Z- threading and (re)orienting the tablets this way and that before I could get the correct pattern to emerge. I think I must have some kind of mental block for this 🙁 Anyway, I finally got one bookmark done using the silver to make the pattern and the 2 blue colors in the background. On the loom it looks like this:

I like the way this came out, but I think it is a bit loose (this allows some of the colors that should be “hidden” to peek through in places). On the next one I’ll try to pull the weft thread to tighten up the weave a bit and see if that helps.

Next I rearranged the tablets and with the same warp, I did another one using the dark blue for the pattern and the other 2 colors as the background. On the loom that one looks like this:

I think I’ve now figured out how to keep the width even as I weave. I hope the next one will be more uniform in width. I’ll post more pictures when I’ve cut them off the loom and finished them.

So far I’m pretty pleased with the material. It is a bit more slippery than the linen I’ve used, which is OK it just takes some getting used to. The material is extremely strong and looks and feels really nice.

UPDATE:  26-Dec-2012

I was able to make only 3 from the warp I had. Here they are (the pictures really don’t do the yarn justice. The yarn is shiny and bright and the colors are wonderful):

Dec 102012

I just received an order of 20 colors of NM11 (110 meters = 100 grams) real silk from Schmetz in Krefeld. I intend to use this for some tablet weaving projects (borders, belts, etc.). The colors are so delicious that I just want to eat it all up! Feast your eyes and see for yourself:

Dec 032012

I’ve been getting interested in Steampunk lately and have plans to make some suitable clothing and gadgets. I bought a pattern from Laughing Moon Mercantile for a frock coat and waistcoat. It bought some material to make the coat but then I found a vintage frock coat at a flea market for 25 Euros that was in pretty good shape. So I don’t have to make the coat right away. I started working on the waistcoat and before I cut into my “fashion fabric”, I decided to make a “muslin” to see how the pattern instructions worked and whether the thing would fit me or not. When I’m done it should look something like this:

The pattern (Laughing Moon Mercantile #109) contains a single- and double-breasted frock coat and 2 different waistcoats. It looks like this:

I measured myself and  it looks like I need a size 40. I cut the major pattern pieces from muslin. I didn’t bother with the pockets or the back belt as I just want to see how the thing fits. I put it together and it looks like this from the front:

and like this from the back:

I think it fits me just fine! 🙂

So now I get to do it all again. But this time I need to be much more careful because I will be using my “fashion fabric” which is a length I cut off an old curtain that I found at a flea market for 15 Euros. The “fashion fabric” is a nice gold damask. I already cut the pattern pieces out of it. Here’s a sample (unfortunately the photo isn’t that good, the fabric actually looks much nicer than this):

I’m not sure when I will actually get to finishing this. I do plan to get it done this winter, as I want to go to one or more Steampunk events next year and would like to have something to wear. To tell the truth, I’m really afraid to do the pockets. Luckily this pattern “Waistcoat B” only has 2 pockets instead of the 4 pockets in “Waistcoat A”. I think I’ll have to practice doing the pockets a few times with scrap fabric before I tear my “fashion fabric” to shreds 😉

Jul 012012

I had an urge to make cookies, so I did 🙂 This is a nice chewy cookie made with half white flour and half oat flour. Tonight I added some no-name brand thin mints (like After-Eight), walnuts and  chunks of 70% dark chocolate. Yummy!

Here’s the recipe. It is basically taken from “The International Cookie Cookbook” by Nancy Baggett:

1 2/3 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups flour

1 t baking soda

3/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 t vanilla extract

4 oz. (120g) chopped After Eight (or similar) chocolate mints

2 oz. (60g) chopped dark chocolate

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease cookie sheets (or use parchment paper). Grind oats in food processor to powder and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugars in mixer until light & fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to batter and beat until well blended. Stir in chocolate, nuts, mint wafers. Make 1 1/2 inch balls of dough and place on sheets. space about 2 1/2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until just tinged with brown at the edges. Remove and let cool on sheets for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with spatula to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 30 to 50 depending on how you measure.

This is also the same recipe we use for making Chocolate Chip cookies. We find it is way better than the typical “Toll House Cookie” recipe.

Feb 172012

I’ve used Kaffe Fassett’s “Jack’s Back” pattern on several projects already. I made a jacket for myself  some years ago (see photo and photo) and I’ve also used the pattern for the back of a vest which is still not complete (images later). The pattern is an oriental/arab-inspired 2-colors-in-a-row stripe. I like it a lot, and it is fun (and not boring) to knit. This time I decided to try it on socks.

The first one is complete and the second one is in progress. At this rate I probably need another week or two to finish the project (based on my current workload, I only knit on the way back and forth to work). I took some photos this morning to give you an idea of what it looks like.

Jack's Back socks (in progress)

Jack's Back socks (in progress)

As you can see, I alternated multi-colored stripes with black stripes. I wanted to try this approach as I felt that using multi-colored stripes everywhere might be too much. After looking at it for awhile I’m no so sure anymore, so maybe I’ll make another pair with multi-colored stripes throughout.

I didn’t want to make them exactly the same, so I used a slightly different set of colors for the multi-colored stripes. I think the effect is quite subtle. Here’s a closeup:

Jack's Back socks (closeup)

Jack's Back socks (closeup)

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. I’ll upload more pics when the second one is finished.

Dec 292011

Well, I’m known for doing pretty much everything complicated. So I quickly found a complicated way to do tablet weaving! There is an interesting 3-color technique called Sulawesi (named after the Indonesian island where this type of weaving is common) that looks very impressive. I’m fond of celtic knotwork as a pattern and I found a number of celtic knotwork patterns that have been done using the Sulawesi technique. So, I figured I would try it.

After about 5 days of playing with the yarn and twisting the cards every way possible I could not get it to look the way it was supposed to. Very frustrating. But then I finally figured out what I was doing wrong (the pattern I was using, from Guntram’s web site, had the hole assignments in the cards listed in a counter-clockwise fashion instead of the clockwise fashion that most other people use) and fixed that. It works! Here is a photo of the first pattern.

Closeup of the celtic knotwork in Sulawesi technique

I’m using a 16/2 Linen yarn in 3 colors (dark brown, forest green, yellow) with 32 tablets (pattern is 28 tablets). Now that I know how to do it I’ll be putting another warp on the loom so that I can make a belt containing a number of different celtic knotwork patterns in it.

Nov 072011

I’ve been interested in weaving for a very long time. I took a course while living in North Carolina about 25 years ago and wove a baby blanket in an interesting pattern. Since then I’ve really wanted to get a floor loom so that I can weave my own fabric and throws and blankets and things. Sadly they are expensive and take up a lot of room and weaving isn’t the kind of thing that you can do while on a bus or a train, so I have never gotten around to doing that.

I recently sewed a medieval costume for Victoria (11) and realized that it needed a bit of border material to spruce it up. I had some commercially made border that I had purchased some years ago at a medieval fair and used that, but it really isn’t “period”, as the material is commercially made by machine. Real die-hard fans would have used a hand-woven border. That’s when it hit me, that I could get a small loom and weave border material and belts and scarves and things. This wouldn’t take up as much floor space as a full-sized floor loom, but would allow me to indulge my interest in weaving.

Research on the Internet led me to Jens Neumann’s Brettchenweber Shop. I ordered the large loom for 99,- EUR and some handmade wooden tablets. The loom arrived the other day and we quickly put it together (his detailed illustrated instructions were easy to follow). Since I had never done any tablet weaving before I needed to find some instructions on the Internet, which I sorta-kinda thought I understood, then found some heavy linen yarn that I’ve had sitting around waiting to be used in a weaving project, then I found an interesting (but not too complicated) pattern for tablet weaving, and Victoria and I got to work. We wound the warp, labeled and threaded the tablets, set up the loom and got to work.

In this photo you can see the loom, warped with tablets threaded. As this was our first project, we just put the minimum amount of warp yarn on the loom so we could get a feel for the loom, the tablets and see how the pattern worked. We probably have about one and a half meters of warp length here (80 threads total on 20 tablets). The loom itself is about 1m long and 80cm high and can hold about 8,5 meters of warp.

Loom set up with tablets threaded

For illustrative purposes we used a dark red weft thread (normally you would use something the same color as one of the warp threads), so that we could see where it peeks out. In tablet weaving, usually you only see the weft thread at the edges, but it was a good thing we did that since we can now see a few other places where it shows through.

Simple two color repeating band

It didn’t take long for both Victoria and I to get completely hooked. The work is fun, it goes relatively quickly, and you can see results after the first few shots of the weft. The tablets are a dream: the wood feels good in the hand, they turn without much effort and they don’t pinch or fray the yarn. You can see that the beginning of the band (on the right) is a bit thinner and the pattern is a bit more stretched out. This is because it took us a little while to figure out the correct tension of the weft and how hard to beat.  This project was meant as a test project anyway. All in all, it looks like this will be great fun and should get a lot of use this winter.

I’ll probably add some more to this post later, but wanted to put up the pictures and figured it needed some explanation.

Mar 012011

I finally finished these socks for Liza. They sorta-kinda match, in a weird way. Enjoy them, even if you can’t wear them 😉