I Sampled!

Crafting is often a lesson in patience, right? In knit and crochet projects, we’re always told to “gauge swatch” before beginning a project, particularly one where we’d actually like the item to fit. It can be a drag, but is also very worth it when the piece turns out just as we want it to.

Weaving is no different. Except in weaving, we call it “sampling” instead of “swatching.” You may remember the felted scarf I wove a couple of months ago using regular Deluxe and Deluxe DK Superwash. I was pretty happy with the finished project, but there were some aspects I wasn’t crazy about.  No surprise, this was something I just dove into without first sampling.

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Of any project to start on without first swatching or sampling, a scarf is probably the safest. I mean, it’s a scarf! It can really be any size or shape we want it to be. And my felted pucker scarf fit just fine. But one thing I didn’t like was that the regular Deluxe, the part of the scarf the felted in the washing machine, was a little thick for my taste. I had warped and woven that portion with 2 strands next to each other.

I wondered, if I use just a single strand of wool, will it felt to itself, not having that other strand next to it to adhere and shrink with? To answer my own question, instead of committing to an entire big scarf, I decided to make a small sample.

For my sample, I warped my Cricket using an 8-dent reed, Infusion Handpaints color 110 Ruby Mine, and Deluxe Chunky in 91904 Pomegranate Heather. As a side note, I love love love this color of Deluxe so much, I did a cabled sweater (free pattern!) last year out of it.

Again, I did a plain weave structure and wove in the same order I warped: 1 pick of Deluxe, 8 picks of Infusion Handpaints.

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Instead of starting and stopping the Deluxe after each stripe, I tried something new.  I wove my pick, then I pulled out a long loop at the side. After the felting process, I knew I would be able to simply cut off those loops, thereby avoiding any unnecessary bulk.

Here it is off the loom, nice and drapy:

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Here we are after one cycle in the washing machine on cold:

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It was somewhat felted, but not quite enough for my taste. I put it through another full cycle on cold, and it was perfect!

Here it is after the felted loops and fringe were trimmed:

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I’m very happy with my experiment! As you can see, the single strand of Deluxe felted beautifully with no problem. I really love the resulting texture. And the variegation of the Infusion really makes for a complex looking piece that was, in fact, super simple to weave!

The piece was comprised of 82 ends, was 10 1/4″ wide on the loom, and shrank to 6 1/2″ wide, or by about 1/3.  I have definite plans to weave an entire scarf following this sample, probably with these same colors. I’m also lusting after Infusion Handpaints 115 Gray Matters and 112 Hydro Power. Perhaps I’ll just have to make all 3!

Infusion HP 112 Hydro Power hi-res Infusion HP 115 Gray Matters hi-res

 

 

Free Pattern Friday – Totem Scarf

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Jubilation Fringed Scarf wrapped blog

Today, the Totem Scarf in Jubilation Kettle Dye Worsted.

Jubilation Fringed Scarf long B blogI love the way the variable length bands of daisy stitch are broken up by rows of garter to keep things interesting.  It’s a good technique for helping make sure the pattern isn’t overwhelmed by variegated Jubilation Kettle Dye (shown here in color 101 Rejoice).  Jubilation is a pretty yarn, and it works in harmony with the pattern here.

Happy knitting!

 

Throwback Thursday – Santa Hat

It’s Throwback Thursday!

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Today, the Holiday Santa Hat by Michael del Vecchio!

Originally designed for Classic Worsted Holiday, this would look great in any worsted weight yarn.  Naturally you’re not limited to red and white – be a psychedelic Santa if you want! – but we do have recommendations in our solid color worsted weight yarns.

Uptown Worsted has 312 Racecar Red and 302 White Glow.

Deluxe Worsted has 3691 Christmas Red and 12270 Natural.

Deluxe Worsted Superwash has 738 Christmas Red and 728 Pulp.

This pattern is designed to be knit flat, handy for those who aren’t comfortable with circular needles.

I love Michael’s use of bobbles in this pattern to give texture.  Make a provisional cast-on and knit the bobbled brim, then attach the red to the cast-on edge and knit the rest of the hat.  A festive pom-pom finishes it off.  I’m still backed up on my holiday knitting, so I might just use a Luxury Fur Pom-Pom to save time rather than making my own.

Wishing you a festive holiday season – and happy knitting!

Free Pattern Friday – Frog Hoodie

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Bella Chenille Frog Hoodie wide blog

Today, a great project to leap into the new year with.  The Frog Hoodie in Bella Chenille!

Bella Chenille (131yds/100g) is a fuzzy polyester chenille that’s very soft and easy to work with.  I used this for a Sunday Swatch a while back, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it machine washes well.  This is a great yarn choice for a kid project.

Knit the sleeves in the round and put them aside, then work the body and attach the sleeves.  Work upward to the neck and hood, then add the frog eyes.  The coordinating buttons are nice and big for little hands to fasten.

Happy knitting!

 

Throwback Thursday – Felted Polar Bear

It’s Throwback Thursday!

TT_Felted Polar Bear_Deluxe Worsted_blogToday, the Felted Polar Bear by Michele Wilcox.

We were inspired to release today’s pattern by a note in Vogue Knitting’s latest KnitNews e-mail.  They polled the staff to see what they were gift knitting, and one responded, “I’m hurriedly knitting a toy with Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted wool, for a new baby in my family—he was adopted, so I didn’t have much notice!”

That combined with the adorable knitted cat in Cotton Supreme Batik that a customer sent to us via Facebook got us thinking about stuffed animals.  And as usual, Michele Wilcox comes through!

The Felted Polar Bear was originally part of a pattern collection for Shepherd’s Own, which is now discontinued.  However, it looks perfect in Deluxe Worsted color 40001, Cream Undyed Natural.  There are a number of undyed Deluxe Worsted Natural colors that would work if you wanted a traditional teddy rather than a polar bear.

This bear is made in pieces and stitched together, then lightly felted to make it a little more fuzzy and snuggly.  Sew on an appropriately adorable expression and stuff it, and you have a squeezable friend to cozy up to.  Too cute.

We wish you beary happy knitting!

 

Poof! Done!

Bamboo Bloom Handpaints is a unique and lovely yarn. It’s a customer favorite and is just so pretty on the hank:

BBH skein pic Tarik_web

A blend of wool and rayon from bamboo, this is one of those yarns that doesn’t need much in the way of fancy stitches or weaves. Its innate beauty does all the work! It’s a thick-thin yarn with tufts of soft wool here and there.

BBH 320 Dragon web BBH 321 Miko web BBH 319 Forest Light web BBH 318 Emperor web BBH 317 Sensei_WEB BBH 313_Kanji_web

We also just updated the palette with some scrumptious new colorways. We have some really nice one skein knit patterns for cowls, including this Persephone Cowl.

The beauty of this simple cowl is that all you do is knit until you come to one of those tufts of wool. At that point, you work a dropped stitch by yarning over which enhances the tufts. I wanted to try a similar technique, but with weaving.

First, I set out to warp my loom. For the warp, I chose Little Bird in color 113 Shoe Polish. I opted for this yarn partly because I wanted a light yarn that would allow the Bamboo Bloom to shine, and partly for its strength (100% microfiber acrylic). For this project I used a 10″ Cricket and the only reed size I have for this loom is a 12 dent. I knew I didn’t want the scarf to be too dense, so I threaded only half the slots/holes, making it 6 ends per inch.

The weave structure is simple plain weave. The fun happens whenever the tufts of wool appear.  First I pass the shuttle through the shed, and then lightly beat.

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See where the thick wool slub is? I just used my fingers to pull up a little loop through the warp threads.

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Then I pulled up 3 more little loops, and then beat again to hold everything in place.

 

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It’s as simple as that! You’ll notice that the wool slub extends beyond both sides of the 4 loops.  In order to avoid stacking the loops, I pulled them up sooner or later after the slub began so that a staggered effect happened. Just a little extra extra action makes this plain weave scarf more interesting to weave and to wear!

And now, dear friends, it’s learning time. My weaving project did not happen without incident. I don’t know where my head was while warping, but this was not my best warping job ever.

I made one crucial mistake: the paper I used to roll onto the back roller was not quite wide enough, so a few of my warp threads slipped outside the paper and had tension that was very different than the others. I really didn’t even notice the problem I was about until about halfway into my scarf.

It began with a single warp thread that was much looser than the others. To combat this problem, I wrapped a double pointed needle around this thread behind the reed to even out the tension. Every time I advanced the warp, I would have to re-position the dpn.

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Then, after a few more inches of weaving, many of the surrounding threads were showing to be too loose. I inserted my pick-up stick underneath these threads to make the tension consistent with the rest of the warp.

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These are just a couple of the tricks I’ve used to combat my  occasional poor warping skills.  If you have any tips, I’d love to hear about them!

Oh yes, and the reward for sticking with it all is this:

Bamboo Bloom woven scarf 2042 blogBamboo Bloom woven scarf 2051 closeup blog

And here’s what the back (loop-less) side looks like:

Bamboo Bloom woven scarf 2049 blog

I used about half the 100g skein of Little Bird for the warp, and one skein of Bamboo Bloom Handpaints #315 Cherry Blossom.  I’m thinking these will make great last-minute gifts for a few special women on my list.