Thing-a-Week #52

Last March, I pledged to try to do one fiber-related thing each week for a year. And here I am, one year later, having mostly fulfilled that commitment. Sure, I took a whole quarter off, and this week’s Thing is fully a week late, but who’s counting?

For my final Thing, I wove another pooling scarf. This is something I promised to a friend at Stitches West, using some yarn she bought at the show.

Thing a Week #52: Woven Scarf

The warp is Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock (superwash merino, cashmere, & nylon) in “Fall Sky,” and the weft is Valley Yarns 10/2 Bamboo in “Silver Grey.” Seems a fitting end to this project, don’t you think?

Thing a Week #52: Woven Scarf

Thanks, everyone, for following along. I’ll no doubt be posting more of my fibery adventures, just not on this cadence. Next, I think I’ll be lazy for a little bit then start looking at some longer-term projects. Stay tuned!

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Thing-a-Week #49

This week’s Thing is actually three things, the products of the classes I took at Stitches West.

Thing a Week #49: Stitches West classes

At bottom right are the samples from the Embroider Your Knitting class on Friday. Up top is the bag from the Color and Weave Mini Tote Bag class, and all that fiber and the little tiny ball of yarn is from Spinning for Knitting.

My favorite, and the most proper completed Thing, is the tote bag. I haven’t been doing much with color patterns (or much besides scarves!), so it was nice to do something different.

Color & Weave Bag

This class used a basic 2×2 alternating color warp with three different weft patterns. The top of the bag is one pattern (2×2), the middle is another (4×4) and the bottom is yet another (1×1). It’s pretty neat to see the different effects you get by just varying the weft.

Color & Weave Bag

Overall, the classes were great and I learned a lot. Looking foward to next year!

Stitches West 2012

I had the best of intentions. Honest. I was going to post daily accounts of my time at Stitches West, like I did last year, but the days were so packed that I didn’t have the time. So, here’s a recap!

Stitches West began on Thursday. I went to the opening session by Betsy Hershberg, author of Betsy Beads. XRX, who runs the show, is promoting the book. I’d gone in not really interested in it, and by the end of the speech, I wanted to purchase the book (and did!). Funny how that works. Nice job, XRX.

Opening session

After the session was lunch, where the teachers came around to our tables at five-minute intervals. It was a great chance to see what was being offered at Stitches. While there were classes Thursday afternoon, I didn’t sign up for any, choosing instead to hang out and wait for the market preview to open.

Marketplace entrance

I did take three classes at Stitches.

My first was a three-hour class on Friday: Embroider Your Knitting with Anna Zilboorg. Amazing lady, beautiful work. I sincerely hope she comes out with a book on the techniques in the class.

Embroidering class

My second class ran all of Saturday: Color and Weave Mini Tote Bag with Deborah Zarchow. I’d taken her introductory class last year, which led to all of those scarves I wove since then. I wanted to try something different, hence the bag. (I’ll show that off with my thing-a-week, next.)

Weaving class

Finally, I had a class on Sunday morning: Spinning for Knitting with Merikke Saarnit. I already spin, but this class was worthwhile to gain a better understanding of different fibers and techniques.

Spinning class

I purposely didn’t fill my schedule with classes. I’m fortunate to have fallen in with a group of great folk from Northern California and enjoyed spending time hanging out and knitting with them. I also met with relatives for dinner on Saturday and spent an afternoon with a high-school friend on Sunday before my flight home. Oh, and my roomie Sherry bestowed upon me a beautiful skein of yarn that she spun and a knit cowl. What great friends I have!

Prezzies

The rest of my time was spent at the marketplace, which was pretty awesome, as usual. Nearly 200 vendors, thousands and thousands of yarns and books and other goodies. It’s a wonderland. I didn’t get that much, considering how much there was to buy.

Market haul

That’s pretty much it. It’s all a blur, and I didn’t get much sleep, but it was great. Definitely want to go again next year!

Stitches West 2012: Prologue

I’m in Santa Clara for another Stitches West! It doesn’t start till tomorrow; I like to get here the day before so I’m not rushing around on the first day.

Last year, I posted some complaints about my trip down. In a surprising reversal, everything went smoothly this year. I am amazingly unannoyed. Here’s why:

  • I was not subjected to a full-body scan by airport security.
  • I heard all of the boarding announcements and boarded in a timely manner.
  • The one-year-old baby next to me on the plane was well-behaved and slept most of the way.
  • The TSA did not search my bag.

There’s really only one annoyance that continues from last year:

  • The sinks at the hotel are still stupid.

But that’s ok. Also, this is my view:

View from the hotel

It’s 75 degrees right now. Oh my.

Thing-a-Week #48

Alright. Back to weaving now. Another pooling scarf.

Thing a Week #48: Woven Scarf

This is using Blue Moon Socks that Rock superwash wool in the “Tricoter / LYS Tour 2009” colorway for the warp, and Navy Valley Yarns tencel for the weft. I like this pooling stuff.

Oh, and I’m off to Stitches West this week. Maybe I’ll cheat and make one of my class projects this week’s thing. Easy, right?

Thing-a-Week #47

I returned to spinning this week! Yay!

Thing a Week #47: Handspun

This was spun from a very pretty batt from Becoming Art in the colorway “Spice of Life.” It’s 4.25 oz mixed BFL wool, nylon, milk fiber, and firestar (sparkly!). It came out at 320 yards of roughly sport-weight yarn.

Thing a Week #47: Handspun

It was nice to spin again. It’s been a while.

Thing-a-Week #44

Last month there was a discussion thread on Ravelry about a $300 hooded scarf from Spratters & Jayne. The basic tenor of the thread was that people couldn’t believe someone was charging $300 for a chunky scarf. I was intrigued, and decided to see if I could make one too. This is the result.

Thing a Week #44: Hooded Scarf

I reverse engineered the scarf based only on pictures on the web. I also chose a yarn–Cascade Magnum–that appeared to be very similar to what they used. It’s a very thick single, made from Peruvian Highland Wool. It’s so similar (even down to color selection!) that I have a feeling it’s from the same mill. It’s crochet, using a Q hook (which is very large… 15mm). Minus any small differences in stitch count, gauge, or construction, I think my scarf came very close to the original (found here).

Thing a Week #44: Hooded Scarf

(This picture is my own; I arranged the scarf so that it appears similar to the manufacturer’s pictures for comparison.)

What I learned during this exercise was that $300 is not really that far off. The yarn cost me nearly $80 alone. It only took a few hours to make, but once you factor in that, shipping, and distribution, it’s not that much of a stretch, even with reduced material and labor costs for the manufacturer.

I think people are incredulous at high prices because they think that hand-knit and -crochet items are inherently cheap, something you do because you can’t afford to buy the “real” thing at the store. So not true. Handcrafted items can take many (many, many!) hours to make, but they’re often sold for only a little over the cost of materials. Knitters and crocheters undervalue their time, and buyers don’t want to pay what the item is really worth. It’s why I never even think about selling what I make; it’s only for the pleasure of making it. Still, it’s nice to see a business model that works.

Hooded Scarf

I do love this scarf. The yarn is great, and the scarf so very warm and soft. I can see why people would shell out $300 for it, though I’m glad I can just make it myself.

Hooded Scarf

Thanks to my husband Bryan for the photos. I keep saying how handy he is!

(Note: I am not making the pattern available for this scarf. This was solely for the challenge; I have no interest in encroaching on Spratters & Jayne’s turf, either by distrbuting the pattern or by selling the completed scarf. However, it’s really not that hard to figure out if you really want to make one for yourself!)

Hooded Scarf

Thing-a-Week #43

This is late. I made another woven scarf. That WIP is still on my table loom, so I hopped on the rigid heddle to make this.

Thing a Week #43: Woven Scarf

The warp is Creatively Dyed Yarns Steele in colorway “Corus,” and the weft is Valley Yarns 10/2 Bamboo in black. I was going for a pooled color effect, in which I carefully plan the length of the warp to make the colors match up to make broad stripes. The fine bamboo lets the warp show through rather nicely.

Thing a Week #43: Woven Scarf

“Elle,” you say, “don’t you make anything but scarves?” Yes, I could, but I just find scarves a great way to explore different colors and textures quickly while at the same time producing something I’ll actually use. I’ve been mostly exploring color, but maybe I should try something with texture.

Oh no ewe didn’t

This is a dramatization of actual events in my household today, starting with a typical exchange in which I ask my husband if any mail arrived.

“Did we get any good mail today?”
“No, just the usual.”

*** hours pass; hubs comes to me with a package ***

“This came for you.”
“You told me nothing good came.”
“I forgot.”

Of course, this has me wondering whether there’s a stash of forgotten packages somewhere in this house.

Anyway… the package contained prezzies from a faraway land, from my friend Ewenique.

Gifts from Ewe

We have a very pretty Christmas card, some chocolates, a tea strainer (because this American barbarian didn’t own one), sticky notes, wee note cards, crane scissors (just like my grandmother’s, you have no idea how special this is!), beautiful cotton yarn, and a pair of gorgeous handmade bags. I love bags. Thank you so much, Ewenique!

I have to do these pictorials whenever Ewenique sends me something, because they’re so thoughtfully put together and really fun to touch and look at. I am truly fortunate to have a friend like her. :)

Thing-a-Week #40

I said I was trying to use up my stash yarns, and I wasn’t lying. Behold, another woven scarf!

Thing a Week #40: Another Woven Scarf

I went with a sport-weight yarn this time for the warp: Three Irish Girls Kells Sport Merino, colorway “Sedona.” The purples in this yarn just begged for another deep purple for the weft, so I used Valley Yarns 8/2 Tencel in “Amethyst.”

Thing a Week #40: Another Woven Scarf

This time I practiced my weft spacing, shooting for 12 epi, which I think turned out well. However, the merino was super-duper stretchy, making it difficult to control warp tension and resulting in a slight waviness. Almost looks intentional, though, so I’m not going to complain.

In other news, I picked up a new Rasmussen 4-shaft table loom last night. I still love my rigid heddle, but this loom will give me a chance to practice some interesting patterns.

Rasmussen table loom

Beauty, eh?