Off the needles!

Proper FO shots, (and the pattern!) for Sandy are coming shorty, but I had to show off the final, blocked piece. It blocked out to a delightful 62″ x 12.5″ with about 5g (<23 yards) of yarn left over. I can’t wait to get it off the blocking wires for a shoot!

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The Zen of Hem(stitching)

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A few people asked, after my post about the Colour Shifting Scarf, if I could share a tutorial on how I hemstitch my ends. I am by no means a weaving pro, so how I do it may not even be the ‘right’ way, but it works for me and I love how it looks!

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1. When you have finished weaving your leader, and you’re ready to start with your first colour, pull off a length of yarn that’s at least 4 times the width of your piece.

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2. Weave your first colour, leaving that extra yarn to the side for now.

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3. Work a few inches of weaving to stabilize your fabric, then go back and thread a blunt tapestry needle with the extra yarn.  It sounds silly to point this out, but it’s a mistake I’ve made; don’t advance your fabric until after you’ve hemstitched!

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4. Decide how you want to divide up your warp strands. This number is arbitrary and completely up to you and the effect you’re going for. In my case, I knew there were 16 beige strands, and 12 of every other colour, so I decided to do groups of 4 for the beige and 3 for everything else.

5. Go under your chosen number of warp threads, in my case 4.

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6. Go around your warp threads, wrapping them.

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7. Go through the fabric – bring the needle up 4 warp threads over, and 3 weft picks up. Again, these are my numbers, but they are a good place to start.

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Pull your thread snug.

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My hemstitching mantra looks like this:
Under. Around. Through.

8. Under

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9. Around, and through.

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10. After a bit you will see a pattern. See that gap that’s forming above the hemstitch line? Don’t sweat that gap, it will totally block out when the fabric is washed. Some techniques actually use that gap to create intentional lace, but in our case it’s so small that when the yarn expands and relaxes, it will disappear. 10

Work your way across the piece, when you reach your last gap pull your working thread through the knot a few times to fasten it, and you’re done!

Hemstitching at the other end of your piece can seem weird because it’s reversed, but just remember your mantra; go under some warp threads, around to wrap them, and then through the fabric :)

Ye Olde Day Job

… is occupying my every waking moment. Definitely heading into a crunch time, and it’s hard to find time to craft. In honour of huge workloads, I’ve ordered new business cards for my own company, The Blue Brick :) They just arrived!

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Tutorial – The Colour Shifting Scarf

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This winter has been super cold, grey and monochromatic. So when Tanis Fiber Arts came out with mini-sock yarn skeins I was inspired to weave a colourful rainbow scarf, to give myself a cheerful pop of colour on these grey days. Changing colours as often as I did can be a bit fiddly, but oh-my the results are worth it, this is the perfect grey day scarf!

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In Newfoundland they say ‘There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only inappropriate clothing’. Well, it’s -40 out there today, that strange, cold place where celsius and fahrenheit say the same thing. I think that the spirit as well as the body needs to be armed against weather like this, and this scarf is the answer. tutorial-blank

You will need:

  • 2 packs of Tanis Fiber Arts Mini Sock Yarn Skeins
  • Optional: approximately 120 yards in a neutral colour (I’m using Koigu KPM, colour 2360)
  • A rigid heddle loom (I am using the Ashford 24” knitters loom)
  • A 12-dent heddle (Better for sock weight, but work with what you’ve got)
  • A boat shuttle with extra bobbins*
  • Tapestry needle
  • Scissors

*Most looms come with stick shuttles, but because you’ll be changing colours frequently, a boat shuttle with enough extra bobbins to give you one bobbin per colour is much easier. Also, a boat shuttle gives you a smoother pass through the shed, and because the bobbin spins freely it doesn’t do that awful snag thing when you’ve passed your stick shuttle though without a long enough length of yarn. If you enjoy weaving, it’s a worthwhile investment.

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1. Open up the packs of yarn. Enjoy how ridiculously happy it makes you.

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2. Wind up the yarn into little balls and work out the order that you’d like your colours to appear in the warp. I went for something close to a natural spectrum. You will use one ball of each colour for your warp, and one ball of each colour for the weft, so keep the 2 sets separated.

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3. Do some math. You can change this to suite your preferences, but mine looked like this:

  • Intended scarf length: 60 inches
  • Intended scarf width: 15 inches
  • Estimated loom waste: 18 inches
  • Total warp length: 78”

Because a warp is under tension, pieces often seem shorter than you’re expecting when they get cut off. To account for this, I gave myself a buffer of 7”, increasing my total distance between the back apron rod of the loom and the warping peg to 85”.

Each mini skein is approximately 34 yards. With an 85” warp, this should let you fill about 7 slots of the heddle with each colour (remember, that means 14 warp ends per colour).

4. I chose to frame my scarf with a neutral colour, which has the added benefit of making it wider. This is optional, but if you choose to do the same thing then begin warping your loom with the neutral colour. I warped 8 threads of the neutral, and then proceeded to the first colour in my rainbow. Work your way across the loom, warping the colours in the order you set out in step 2, filling 7 slots with each colour.

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5. Now grab the other set of yarn cakes. Pre-wind your bobbins, one with each colour.

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6. Begin weaving. After you weave the leader, weave a few picks with the neutral colour and leave a tail at least 4 times the width of your piece. (You will use this to hemstitch the piece after weaving a few inches. This is my favourite hemstitching tutorial).  Starting with the first colour in your rainbow, weave 14 picks. Using the visual guide below, change to the next colour, staying in the order you set out in step 2.

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Tip: Changing colours:changing-colours

7. When you get to your last colour, simply start again with the first colour. Continue weaving to the end of your warp. End by weaving a few picks of the neutral colour and hemstitching. On my scarf, this meant 3 full repeats of my 12-colour rainbow, and a little less than half of a 4th repeat before I ran out of warp.

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8. Cut the scarf off your loom, wet-block, trim your fringe and buffer both body and soul against Old Man Winter!

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Sick and Dyeing

Sorry for the radio silence, I have been hit with a crazy bad flu – sickest I’ve been in years.

I think I’m finally on the mend though, but alas there is very little to show for the time I was sick except for one dyeing experiment and the progress I’ve made on the lace shawl (which I am now naming ‘Sandy’ after my mom, because this is totally moms colour and mom loves shiny, feminine things).

I present the skein of ‘That looks just like all your other sh$@t':

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And the progress on ‘Sandy’ which passed the halfway mark of the skein at 28 inches by 12.5 (blocked) so I’m proceeding with more confidence knowing that the final blocked size of the scarf will be a respectable 56×12.5 inches. I’m hoping to cruise to the end of the sample knit in the next 2 weeks, after which I can get the wrap size version on my needles!

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