What is it about natural disasters that makes me want to weave? I broke in my 10-inch Schacht Cricket during Hurricane Irene a few years ago, and I haven’t touched it in a while—but I feel as though I’ve only pulled it out during long stretches forced at home. (Let’s not talk about how often I normally have long stretches at home—it’s not as if an incoming storm really changes things!) But the threats of a blizzard—complete with a total subway shutdown and a ban on all cars on roads after 11pm—got me itching to use it again.
This time, I turned to the space-dyed yarn I bought from Jill Draper Makes Stuff while at Vogue Knitting LIVE two weekends ago. I recently saw a few examples of deliberate-pooling woven scarves that were truly gorgeous (this one in particular has me swooning), and I wanted to play with the technique. The colorful skein of Hudson that I got (colorway Deep Breath, Cold Air) was not actually a palindrome skein; two patches of gray were divided by one dark teal and one light. But I went forward, matching the teal sections and the gray sections for the warp. I used this technique and it was quite easy, but I forgot all the steps of warping exactly, and a few strands got quite askew before I started weaving them up (not that anyone would notice). For my weft I used a solid gray (Mourning Dove) in the same yarn; the result in the color sections is very gridded, and I like it a lot, even if it wasn’t what I’d envisioned happening.
I kept the tension on the warp and the weft rather even, and the end result is maybe a little light and loose—the sproingy yarn didn’t bounce back as much as I thought it would when it was taken out of tension. I really have no clue what I’m doing, but I think I did a good job of keeping my “gauge” even. However, I prefer a heavily beaten look—when the weft is scrunchy in the warp. I think in this case that would have highlighted the weft (solid gray) too much, though, so it’s all well and good that it worked out this way.
I started warping this around 4pm or so the night the storm was coming (I think), and I hemstitched it at around 10pm, including a break to cook and eat dinner (but no other real breaks). I still marvel at how fast weaving can be!
I went the full width of the 13″ loom, and ended up with a scarf 8 inches wide by 64 inches long. Kind of an awkwardly wide scarf but I didn’t want it to be narrow, either. This used up nearly all of each skein of yarn, too, so that was satisfying. The next morning we woke up to find that the blizzard had been all talk and no action; we had a nice good snowfall and some wind but not the three feet of snow that was predicted. I took the scarf with me while we went on a photowalk and set it in the snow to shoot it. Because the snow is so light and fluffy and the temp still so frigid, giving the scarf a good shake removed all the snow from it—and I set it down, snow-free. It was so windy and snowing so hard during the few minutes I was shooting that it ended up nearly covered in snow!
Every time I wear this cowl when around people who know me, I get a surprised reaction. People say things like “It’s just not very . . . you.” When strangers see me in it, however, they go out of their way to compliment me and say they love the colors! I stepped far out of my comfort zone with these colors, and it’s been pretty rewarding.
Neon has been a trend lately, and though I’m not one to clamor to follow trends (my trend-following is mostly subconscious, which yeah, I know), for the magazine we highlighted neons recently. And we put some Manos—to me, a traditionally rustic, wooly yarn—in screaming neons on the cover. Which meant I had a skein each of a bunch of highlighter shades. Last summer when I was in Wisconsin, I threw the yarn and a crochet hook in my bag and started on a long chevron scarf. I finished it soon after the trip and started wearing it this past fall, but never got any pictures of it.
I confess I now have no idea what I did exactly but it was nothing special or outlandish as far as chevrons go. I wanted a pretty shallow zig zag, and I worked it in the round. I rotated through the three colors until it seemed tall enough. I might have made it taller. It’s long enough to double up, but it’s not snug to my neck so it’s best worn on transitional weather days, like I’m having while on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I wore it while sightseeing in Seattle this week—and I have loads of pictures to share with you of all I’ve seen here!
Last October, I browsed the halls of Rhinebeck with nothing in particular in mind. I wasn’t really knitting too much, so I mostly went to spend a day with friends and see some sheep. But then we passed through Oasis Farm Fiber Mill‘s booth and petted their yarn and came to a screeching halt. It was so so soft, despite its rustic appearance, and we all wanted it. I decided it would make a lovely gift for Dad for Christmas. So I called my mom and asked her if Dad is allergic to angora and what color she thought he’d like in a scarf. I debated among their colors for a time before settling on a pretty heathered blue. The yarn doesn’t have labels so I truly have no idea which yarn I bought, but I think it’s the “Classic Bunny” (because I don’t recall picking one with silk content, but who knows).
There was no way I would knit something up in time, nor could I be sure my hands could handle it, so I brought out my little 10-inch Cricket and got to work the week before the holiday. I worried about warping it with this yarn, as it felt delicate, but I didn’t know how to resolve that issue so I just barreled ahead and crossed my fingers—I realize that I’m lucky it held up just fine. I know just enough about yarn to be concerned, but not enough about how weaving works best nor what my personal preferences are to know what kind of fix would be right. (Obviously, choose a stronger yarn for the warp, but how would I find one in just the right color? Would I want warp and weft in different colors? There were just too many variables.) I know confidence and knowledge will come with time, so for now each foray into weaving is another experiment, and blind luck and a hopeful attitude makes up for actual planning. (I could never imagine approaching knitting this way! Egads.)
As I say, my weaving experience is very limited so of course my skills are, well, in need of practice, but I think I did okay. I tried not to beat the weft down too hard (which is my instinct) in order to keep the gauge relatively even in both directions. Truth is, a different-dent reed was probably in order but I only have the one. The edges are not exact but they’re not drastically bad, either! I think dad liked it a lot, and he immediately donned it when we exchanged Christmas presents a few weeks ago. I only wish I’d bought more of this yarn to weave a scarf for myself, too.
More playing with the Cricket loom! This time I warped with one yarn (Brooks Farm Four-Play) and then wove with a second (Brooks Farm Solo Silk). The yarn had been in my stash for a long while, but little did I know that they were destined to be the perfect scarf for Holly. I gave it to her for Christmas, and when I saw her tear up, well, I knew I did good.
It came out narrower than I’d intended, but extra long, so she can wrap it around a lot or let it hang. It’s lightweight, as all the woven scarves I’ve made so far are, but Holly runs hot so she often likes something light. The colors are definitively Holly, which is particularly perfect. The variegation in the Solo Silk worked nicely against the single-color Four-Play.
Going to the stash to find suitable weaving combinations is so much fun! Though I can only make scarves with the Cricket, each is so fast and helps make dents in my out-of-control stash.
I showed you photos of my neighborhood after Hurricane Irene blew through, but I wasn’t yet ready to show you the real results of the storm: I started weaving! I’ve been kind of obsessed with becoming a weaver for years and years, but never had the equipment to make it happen. I got my hands on a brand-new Cricket Loom by Schacht and was sure to bring it home for our weekend trapped in the house. I figured I would set it up on Saturday so that if the power went out, I’d have something easy to do by candlelight.