Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two great tastes that taste great together

The best thing about easy knitting projects is that you can multitask while knitting them. Namely, I can prop up ye olde kindle and read and knit at the same time.


That's my Color Affection shawl; it's nearly done; it has taken me all summer to make it. I've been making lots of progress lately during epic Trivial Pursuit battles with the in-laws, as we are docked here for the next few days before shipping off to Europe for the rest of the year. I promise I know that the sun is the closest star to Earth, but last night I totally answered Alpha Centauri. Whoops! Is somebody going to come and take away my BA in Astronomy? Anyway, stay tuned for tales of German yarn and tales of me gesticulating wildly as I try to purchase laundry soap in my truly nonexistent German.

Also, do check out this guest post I wrote on Forever Young Adult, my very favorite book blog, where I also combine my love of reading and craft. And if you clicked over here from there, welcome! Let's be friends and talk about books and knitting!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Knitting is front page news...

...here in York, PA!

(just who are these experts?)

Friday, August 10, 2012

I call myself a gyroscope...

...because spinning keeps me stable. Or something. Anyway, I spun nearly every day of the Tour de Fleece this year. I missed one day--it was a very busy travel day, in my defense--but other than that, I did spin every day that wasn't a rest day. The total output for the whole shebang honestly doesn't look that impressive.

But then again, the goal wasn't production; it was just spinning. I obviously have a lot of plying to do. I actually finished spinning and plied my July self-imposed spinning club fiber by the skin of my teeth, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.


I'm thinking I might do a striped project with this skein and this skein from late last year, what do you think?
The real fun of the Tour de Fleece this year was that I got to spin in some really beautiful places in the month of July...


For August, I actually decided to take a break from the club and spin something else, because I'm ahead of schedule. That sounds like I'm an overachiever, but really, I'm a person who sets the bar pretty low. A big part of that was keeping my monthly goals very reasonable--of the twelve projects I'd lined up, two were one ounce projects and five were two ounce projects. By chance, the four remaining projects are all four ounces...Anyway, here's some beautiful Rambouillet from CJ Designs that I just started this month. It's so puffy, while still being easy to draft, I just love it.
I love it so much I finished the first ounce in about two days.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Indecision and Technoblogy twofer

Two blog posts for the price of one!  As of this afternoon, I've completed my first weaving project since 2003 -- yay!  And I'm getting excited for my second one.  I know that I want to make some sort of funky plaid, in bugga!  It'll be a table runner, or a wall hanging, or maybe become some pillows if my MIL agrees to help out with the sewing.  

So this is where the indecision comes in.  I'm choosing between two color combinations:  The Nauti Nudis (the pastel set), and Killer Bee and her posse (the bronze/brown set).

I love both of these color combinations.  But which one will make a better plaid?  To try to answer this question, I had to make mock-ups of woven fabric:

I'll tell you in a minute how I made these mockups.  (That's the technoblogy part of this post.)  But first, get thee to the comments and tell me which you like best!  Bonus points if you can say why, but one-word answers will receive full credit too.

Oh good, you're back.  Okay -- when I feel the need to do some sort of mock-up of a future knitting or weaving project, I always turn to Inkscape.  It's free!  It's open source!  It's so much more powerful than ClarisWorks was in 1999 !  (That being my main point of reference for what a computer drawing program can or can't do.)  Find-and-replace on colors?  It can do that!

So, in what follows, I won't assume you know anything about Inkscape -- I've tried to be very explicit.  The terminology is pretty simple: When I refer to a "tool," I mean one of the tools you can click on in the left column.  When I say "X>Y," the > symbol means that you go to menu X and choose option Y.  If anything here isn't clear, please ask!

1.  Import (File>Import) photo(s) of n yarns.
2.  Use the rectangle tool to draw n rectangles.
3.  Use the select tool (that would be the normal-looking arrow) to select a rectangle.  Then use the dropper tool, with the "Pick" option, to make this rectangle the color of one of the yarns.   Repeat n times.  (The dropper tool takes the average over a circle, whose center and radius are chosen by you.  Try a few times, until you get a color that seems representative to you.  Naturally, this technique works better with solid/semisolid yarns than highly variegated yarns.  As a digression though, I've sometimes found the dropper useful to help me figure out the overall cast of a very variegated skein.)  
4.  Duplicate your rectangles (use the select tool to select them, then Edit>Duplicate).  Stretch them (using the arrows that appear on the sides when the rectangle is selected) into tall-and-narrow shapes and arrange them (using the select tool, click and drag) in your desired warping pattern.
5.  In a separate area, duplicate your rectangles again, stretch them into short-and-wide shapes and arrange them in your desired wefting pattern.
6.  Select all the weft rectangles (Use the select tool and shift-click to select more than one object) and group (Object>group) them together.  Now change their opacity to 50% (Object>Fill and Stroke will give you a dialog box that includes an opacity slider.)
7.  Move the weft on top of the warp. 

All this is very fast -- it took me less than 20 minutes to do both mockups above.  But if you feel like spending extra time and getting amazing results, I have to mention the "mask" option.  This lets you take a picture of swatch (for knitting projects) or of an unskeined, straightened hank of yarn (for weaving), and use it in the place of a solid color.  Maybe I'll go into more detail about this later, like next time I make a sweater ...