Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Paris Journal: Animals in the city

Paris is a lovely city with creative store window displays. Here are a few sheep sightings in the city.

I think this is one of the sheep you're expected to be counting while trying to get to sleep

on the mattresses they sell in this store just north of the Marche St. Pierre in Montmartre.

I don't even remember looking at what they're trying to sell here. I just saw the dear lamb. Near the Jardin des Plantes.
The Animalerie or pet shops along the Seine river approaching Chatelet are a regular sight while riding our favorite bus number 67. I don't know who is going to purchase these life-sized animals, but whoever they are, they do have a wide range of choices.

How can you not love the sheep on the ladder?

Maybe you could get a deal on both the fiber-producing animals?

A panda without ties to the Chinese government. Bamboo included!

The place to go to fill that empty aquarium!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Necessary Indulgence, Handknit socks: what NOT to do

So, we've established that I like to knit socks, especially when I travel. I was excited to knit my sock on our trip to Paris since it had been sitting idle since February. I never really knit the same sock pattern, so as I knit and the lovely pattern reveals itself on the sock, I am enthralled and wonder how stretchy it is with all those fancy stitches between the ribs. Feet are funny in that they have a heel and, as such, comfortable socks need to stretch over that heel. So, with all that work put into knitting those little stitches, sometimes I am eager to see if /how the sock fits. So eager that I try said sock-in-progress on with knitting needles still attached. 

Do you know what? US Size 1 wooden double-pointed knitting needles aren't as bendy as you'd think! 

Do you hear the sound of my heart breaking?

Also, they are difficult to fix with tape or glue...

This doesn't work as well as you'd think/hope/want.

Had I been at home, I would have gone to my stash of needles and just taken the fifth needle (yes, they sometimes throw in a fifth needle for larger-diameter knitting and for cases just like this!) from the set out and knitted on my merry way. BUT, as I was in Paris, I sort of was stuck. I knitted with a glued needle for about four rows before it snapped again. (Can't really tell you how amazed I was  that I was even able to do this for that long, but I was inordinately excited.)

Most yarn stores in Paris do not stock knitting needles as a matter of course. Since sock knitting is not as popular there, small size dpns (double-pointed needles) are very difficult to find. Many years ago, I did  find some dpns for sale in an odds and ends jar of a now-shuttered Anny Blatt store in the Marais area of Paris. They are the best dpns I own with the perfect tip and finish. They are metal and strong and somewhat bendy. They were not the needles I was I was knitting these socks with. I was knitting with the colorful wooden Knitpicks needles (they sort of match the yarn, I'll use those! yeah!). I moped for what seemed like an age, actually looked in our kitchen for a suitable bamboo skewer to no avail and then had the bright idea of looking in my weaving storage drawers.....


This photo is more exciting than it looks.

By the way, this is how you're supposed to try on socks-in-progress: 
  1. put the live stitches on waste yarn
  2. set working needles aside 
  3. pull on! 

Simple and me.

Diagonal Rib Socks designed by Ann Budd from Interweave Knits webKnits in Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett color #4256, yarn purchased at Le Bon Marche, Paris, ca 2005.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

FLASHBACK: Penland weaving concentration: Blanket weaving and the smell of burning peat...

My "scaled up" tartan blanket used both llama and wool yarns alternating in the weft for the background. Using two shuttles in the weft can be a bit fiddly and slows down the weaving rhythm quite a bit, but I felt that it was worth it in this case since my warp also alternated the two yarns. For the blue weft stripes, I also alternated yarns, using a two shades of turquoise singles wool to add interest to the narrow stripes.

Since the finished blanket would be fulled and washed to fluff up the yarns and create a thicker, more cohesive fabric, I had to be careful not to beat the weft in too tightly. That really slowed down my weaving, since I tend to pack the warp in pretty well.

Boat shuttle with wool on left, end-feed shuttle with llama on right, 

Measuring tape set below the temple to check width of weaving.

Once the weaving begins, the warp width invariably draws in a bit. For weaving of this width (47.75"), it is important to make sure the warp width does not "draw-in" or get too much narrower as the weaving progresses.

A temple placed near the fell line of the weaving helps to prevent as much draw-in as possible. The temple consists of two metal bars with sharp teeth a the ends to keep the weaving at the desired width. You can see the temple here; it is red.

Just off the loom and onto the floor...I can see my threading and treadling mistakes, finally!

I braided the warp ends into fringe on my blanket to secure the weft. Our tartan blankets were treated to a traditional "waulking" during Marjorie Logie Warren's visit. Waulking is a traditional Scottish group activity used to finish woven woolen fabrics. 

We gently pre-washed our blankets and basted them together into a large loop. Marjorie brought the peat burner which set the atmosphere and led us in singing Scottish songs as we beat the dampened blankets against the table. 

My blanket, waulked and ready to dress up...
my plain bunk in Dorm 54!