11 October 2012

Huck Lace Many Ways

I mentioned I needed to clean up the house for book club. One of the things that needed to be cleaned up was the loom. I'd had my Ashford 24-inch/60cm 4-shaft loom sitting on a card table in the living room since January. I purchased the Plus 4 upgrade kit in February, and that big box had also been loitering in the living room.

In January at Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, I took the Extreme Warp Makeover class with weaving superstar Robyn Spady. Suzi Gough, who is a past-president of CHG and the current president of SEFAA, had encouraged me to take the class. Truth is, I was in a little over my head, but in a good way. Over three days, Robyn had us weave at least fifteen different structures all on the same threading. For someone who was still learning weavish, this was a big shove up the learning curve. Lots and lots of new terms to understand. And I admit, I understand double-faced and double-weave fabrics, but I sure don't yet understand overshot.

The class was also a little challenging because I am using a table loom. Most looms in the United States lift shafts. So if you move a lever or press a treadle, the shaft associated with it goes up. Robyn's pattern drafts (and most in the US are this way) were written with that convention. On my loom, the shafts drop down. So for me, I would be moving (dropping) shafts 1 & 3 when other people were moving (lifting) shafts 2 & 4. But I got used to it, mostly. I think there is one pattern I wove upside down (pattern side facing the floor). And I enjoyed the class enough that I came home and wove all the way through the workbook.

Even though I was in over my head, it was a great class. Robyn covered lots of different types of weave structures. Her handout is a spiral-bound book that is worthy of space on my bookshelf. And because some people were weaving on a huck lace threading while others were weaving an overshot or a rosepath twill threading, it was a great way to see how diverse any of these three basic threadings can be. It was also great for a new weaver like me to see what other people do as they weave. How do they tension selvedge threads? How do they use boat shuttles and bobbins? What color choices do they make? I'm sorry I didn't get to watch experienced weavers warp their looms, because I am so not good at that.

Here is what I wove:
Echo Fashion
Deflected Weft
Deflected Weft, Corduroy, Rib, & Double Face
Summer & Winter Fashion
Crackle Fashion
Alternative Swivel
Monk's Belt
On Opposites (both patterns)
Shadow Fashion
Waffle Fashion
Some things I did learn for next time:
I didn't need nearly the width of warp I used. I could have woven a narrower strip. Of course, in weaving this only really changes the time it takes to warp the loom, not the time it takes to weave. It isn't significantly different in time to weave something 2-yards whether it is 12 inches wide or 24 inches wide.
For learning warp structures, it might be helpful to warp the loom with different colored threads. The huck lace threading, for example is:
4 4 4
 3 3
      2 2
     1 1 1
For learning, having all the threads on shafts 3&4 in two shades of one color and all the threads on shafts 1&2 in two shades of a different color would have made it easier for me to see in the final fabric what my treadling had been. Of course, that also would have made warping the loom way more difficult. See previous comment about how I stink at dressing a loom.

So if I finished the class right away, why was the loom sitting in the living room?

I had put a gracious plenty of warp on my loom. The idea was that after I took the class, I'd spend some time experimenting with what I had learned. Since there is always loom waste, it is more economical both with time and materials to warp once. But I had much more warp than I anticipated. And I got busy with other things (South Carolina Knit Inn, then meeting the Governor, STITCHES South, and all the rest). By the time I got back to it, I had let the loom sit for months; and it took me some time just to come back up to speed on how to read the pattern drafts and how to think through what I was doing at the loom. But with the local Mensa book special interest group meeting at my house this week, I needed to create space in the living room. So motivation found me.

More Polychrome Lace
Polychrome Lace
Polychrome Tabby & Not Quite Tabby
I started off with noticing that shafts 1&4 and 2&3 will almost but not quite produce tabby. So I wove a little of that to see what that fabric looked like. Then I wove some tabby, playing with different colors in the weft to see how color and number of picks would change the look of the fabric. Then I went back to the basic huck lace treadlings and played around with those and color.

But I still had more warp.
So then I decided to weave a dish towel. After all, I did have sort of a wide warp! (In the image above, the towel was woven left to right.) And I had only been weaving samplers. I ought to weave a project! I pulled out my pocket Weaver's Guide, looked up hemstitching, advanced my warp, and got started. And I just made up the pattern. It is mostly huck lace but with bands of what I think is monk's belt. At the end of the towel, I even repeated the hemstitching. And I was a good little munchkin and wrote down the pattern. (It is on my Ravelry page.)

But I still had more warp.

So then I decided to try a double-weave structure, which is one Robyn didn't have us do, probably because you will get very weird results. In this case, I treated shafts 3&4 as the top layer and shafts 1&2 as the bottom layer. I knew I would get gaps 5-thread wide. I don't have pictures of that fabric. It did come out as basically a bag. The warp collapsed into the gaps in interesting ways. But I just wasn't happy with it -- partly because I made some mistakes -- so I frogged it and have put those warp threads away. I may try to weave a bag with them later, but using a different threading. But at least I finally wove all the way to the end of the warp! I even found the "sweet spot" on the loom and had only about 10 inches of warp waste.

Once I had a naked loom again, I was able to get out the Plus 4 kit and update my loom. So I now have an 8-shaft table loom rather than a 4-shaft. And after all that, I folded it all up and put it away in the studio. But I'll be eager to get the loom back out again.

10 October 2012

Yarn Crawling Copenhagen/København

Cuddly Hubby spent a couple days in meetings -- this was, after all, a business trip. I love, love, love the train system in Copenhagen. If I think too much about it, it will make me either sad or angry that a city like Atlanta, which is full of railroad tracks, does not have a train system like a European city. We did not need a rental car at all. While Cuddly Hubby was in meetings in Roskilde, I took the train in to Copenhagen and went yarn shop crawling. I used the same technique I had used for Portland, Oregon -- generate a map using the yarn finding function on Ravelry. (Previous post on how to make a yarn store map here.)

I ended up visiting three yarns shops. There was a fourth for which I had an address but there did not seem to be a yarn shop on that street.
The first shop was Sommerfuglen, at Vandkunsten 3. I started at København Central Station, which is across the street from Tivoli Gardens. A good way to do it as a tourist would be to exit the station on the side towards Tivoli Gardens, turn right, walk down to the corner and cross towards Tivoli Gardens as you walk along Tietgensgade. You'll pass between Tivoli Gardens and Ny Carlberg Glyptotek. At Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard, follow Stormgade as it jogs to the left to eventually border the Nationalmuseet on the northwest. Alternatively, you can follow Ny Vestergade forward toward Christianborg Slot. In this case, Ny Vestergade borders the Nationalmuseet to the southeast. In either case, you'll end up at Fredericksholmes Kanal with Christianborg Slot on the other side of the canal. Turn left and follow Fredericksholmes Kanal northwest. Vankunsten is only about a block off the canal, just past the Albanian Embassy. You'll turn left and Sommerfuglen will be there.

Because this was the first shop I visited, and because I didn't know what I would encounter elsewhere, I did a lot of looking but not any buying. The yarn selection was wonderful, the shop had fabulous books, plenty of samples, and kits by Hanne Falkenberg. In retrospect, I probably should have purchased one of the kits, but I can get them here in the United States. If you were looking for a knitterly remembrance of Copenhagen, a Hanne Falkenberg kit might be just the gift. Sommerfuglen is definitely worth your attention. Plus, it is close to several tourist attractions and the awesome restaurants on Gammel Strand. If you have a tourist map, put a little star north of Nationalmuseet and west of Christianborg Slot and you'll be ready to stop by when you wander into the neighborhood.

The next place I tried to find was 123knit on Ny Adelgade. I did find Ny Adelgade (it is off Kongen Nytorv up near Nyhavn), but I could not find a yarn shop on that street. Bummer. Plus, that was the point where the battery in my Garmin died. Now I was by myself, in the rain, with only paper maps and my own wits to guide me.

I eventually navigated up to Fiolstræde, which is in the Latin Quarter. The center of Copenhagen is only about a kilometer across, so even walking from Sommerfuglen up to Uldstedet i City is not bad. If you decide to do so, head northwest up Rådhusstræde. You'll cross the Strøget at the open squares of Nytorv and Gammeltorv. Turn at either the next right (Skindergade) or the second right (Dyrkøb). Dyrkøb borders Vor Frue Kirke to the southeast, and the church is an obvious landmark. If you walk one block easterly, either of these streets will intersect Fiolstræde.

Just behind Vor Frue Kirke, at the corner of Krystalgade and Fiolstræde is Strikkeboden. This little yarn shop is small but stuffed full to the brim. I did look around and almost bought something. But, you know how some yarn shops just don't have friendly energy? Well, this shop just didn't have that friendly feel on the particular day I was there. Maybe kindness was lost in translation?

By this point, my wandering was beginning to bother my knees. I tend to think, "Oh, I did this sort of walking about all the time in college. I can do this, no problem." I forget that college was during the Reagan and Clinton administrations. My knees are not that young, nor that experienced in spite of the time spent on the exercise bike last spring. Phooey! So I headed up Fiolstræde because the Nørreport train station is at the end of it. And then I came across it!
Uldstedet i City!
This shop's doorstep lies below grade level. But do not let its lowly architectural position discourage you. This turned out to be a wonderfully helpful shop. There was a nice selection of yarn and helpful clerks. It was truly an oasis for me at that point in the day. My one goal in yarn shopping was to find yarn to convert my Bohus cuffs into gloves. I had the cuffs with me and was able to find some Isager laceweight alpaca that will probably work. (I may have to hold two strands together.) The ladies also pointed me in the proper direction for the train, which was just a few meters away at the end of the street.

My plan for the evening was to sit and knit, find dinner in Roskilde, and ice my knees -- not necessarily in that order. But when I got to the hotel room, Cuddly Hubby was already back early from his meeting. This would have been a good thing, except that he had left his laptop in the taxi. His coworkers -- who were heading back to Copenhagen for the night because they were all flying home to the United States -- had noticed before they left the taxi. However, this meant his laptop was with his boss in Copenhagen. "But I just came from Copenhagen!" was about all I could blurt out. In the end, we did tromp back to Copenhagen. The Cuddly Hubby's boss hadn't yet had dinner and did seem to want some company. So we ended up at Krogs Fiskerestaurant. I was going to order something light, but both men wanted the six-course meal. So I ordered it as well. It was a great evening of wonderful conversation and incredible food! Cuddly Hubby and I didn't end up back in our hotel room until about 1 AM. It was so worth it for the food and yarn. And by that time, I was exhausted and fell asleep with the ice packs draped across my knees.

09 October 2012

Catching Up: Denmark

I know it has been awhile since I've update the blog. Can I just say the last couple months have been busy? Here is what has been happening since the beginning of August:
  • My first international trip -- 8 days in Denmark!
  • Crystal Palace Moonshine yarn to be made up into a project.
  • Dragon*Con.
  • Vincent (shaggy black cat ball of love) sick with pancreatitis.
  • Georgia Alpaca FiberFest at Callaway Gardens.
  • Me meeting some nasty virus and being sick for more than a week.
  • Me cleaning house so book club will fit in my living room on Friday.
I don't know how much of this I'll write up in the next few days, but I do know I need to catch up.

Visiting the Little Mermaid
First things first -- Denmark!

At the beginning of the summer, Cuddly Hubby came home and said there was a chance he would be taking a business trip overseas to Denmark in the summer of 2013 and would I like to go along? Sure! And then about a month later he came home and said that instead of the trip being in about 12 months it would be in about 6 weeks. Ack!

This was my first international trip. There were lots of details -- airline tickets, several different hotel reservations, cat sitter, finance (informing the bank that Danish transactions would be legitimate), new luggage, guidebooks, itinerary planning, downloading maps for the GPS. I don't know how people who travel a lot do it. We were in Denmark for eight days -- three of those in Roskilde and the remainder in Copenhagen. Things I observed:
  • You don't understand what is American about America until you travel abroad. Especially if your return flight brings you in through Newark, New Jersey.
  • It is amazing how thoroughly trashed the inside of an airplane can be after an 8-hour overnight flight. I don't know how flight attendants deal with it.
  • Trains are an efficient means of transportation! Trains are awesome!
  • You don't understand the concept of walkable communities until you travel somewhere that was settled hundreds of years before automobiles.
  • There is something about a landscape that has been settled and tamed for hundreds of years. I can't quite say what it is that is different, but somehow you feel the wildness is gone.
  • Satellite GPS systems do not like narrow urban European streets with five-story tall buildings on each side.
  • Compared to Europe, Americans are prudes! No wonder the pilgrims left -- I'm not sure whether they were glad to leave or whether their neighbors were glad to see them go, but I'm sure they were misfits.
  • No wonder the Danes have a high standard of living. They eat a huge breakfast each morning, and there are ice cream places everywhere. With a big breakfast to greet you each day and a stop for ice cream each afternoon, you have already laid the groundwork for a good day.
  • I could not find drinking fountains in Denmark.
  • Denmark has a great tradition of building with brick.
  • In Denmark, it is okay to exhibit a common pit viper (or other animal) in an open air exhibit. If you are unwise enough to stick your hand in there, then you deserve the consequences.
  • Reindeer antlers look much larger in person than in pictures.
Qiviut on the hoof at København Zoo.
I wasn't able to speak the language, but I could read some of it because I know some basic German. A lot of the Danish sounds are not the same as German or English, but the letters are the same. Lots of people in Denmark, especially the young, speak some English. And English is used as a second language for communication with people who don't speak Danish. Many of the signs in tourist locations were in Danish and English. So finding our way around wasn't too bad.

We did eat several excellent meals, including one incredible meal provided by my Cuddy Hubby's boss. Eating well in the European way really does take up all evening. So the pace of life is different from America, where you might eat dinner from 7 to 8:30 PM and then be off to another activity. If you show up at a good restaurant in Denmark at 7:30 PM for dinner, you will be there until at least 10 PM.

One note about money. We were told we could just use our ATM cards to get money, and that worked fine. Credit cards were another matter. At least in Denmark, credit cards either have a chip or a PIN. Some merchants could process our cards for signature, but some couldn't. This kept me from shopping much. Debit cards worked fine. If we had known this, we would have shifted money from savings to checking and used the debit cards. I know now that you can set up a PIN for a credit card. So if you are going to travel overseas, contact your credit card company so you are ready.

Tomorrow: Yarn Crawling Copenhagen