Friday, October 31, 2014

Under Cloudy Skies

It's a big deal. We're expecting rain today.

For the past week, we've been watching the elements of a storm system coming together. Though unlike the slow steady flow of lava closing in on the Big Island homes, we gladly welcome this other force of nature.

After all, it's been 188 days since we last saw measurable rainfall. On April 26th we received a torrential third of an inch. When you consider that we report our rainfall as "tenths of an inch" or "hundredths of an inch", it's not hard to understand our excitement.

Consider also that our annual average rainfall is a mere 18 inches, well, the possibility of half-an-inch to (gasp!) two inches would certainly be a treat.

Truthfully, it's hard not to roll my eyes and snicker when I hear that we're on "storm watch". After all, I am from Kaneohe, Oahu - with almost fifty inches of annual rainfall.

Instead, I think we should say T minus 5 hours.

Happy Halloween: No trick, all treat.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What In Tarnation?

Boro-boros (Hawaiian Pidgin): worn out, worn down (usually used when describing clothes); the most had-it clothes you own.

Gathering up donations for our local Goodwill store, I came across my colorful collection of tank tops - my daily wear in Hawaii - not used as much anymore. Despite the fact that they were quite threadbare and holey I was still hesitant to throw them out. They were perfect boro-boros for bathing the dogs, washing my car . . .  yeah, right, they gotta go.

I took a deep breath and cut off the cute little buttons from the Henley-style placket. (You never know when you might need cute little buttons.) I was almost to the garage door to toss the tops into The Man's rag bin when I thought to myself, "I bet I could make something with this stuff."

Well, sure, why not?

I looked at a few online tutorials about how to cut a continuous strip of fabric from t-shirts then I cut a long ½-inch width strip, cutting in a circular shape to avoid sewn seams. I was making t-shirt yarn: tarn.

I got out my Mason-Dixon Knitting book and started knitting up the Dizzy Rug pattern with the tarn I had made.

It didn't take me long to realize the problems with making a rug with my tank top yarn: It took forever to cut the ½-inch strips and the cutting made my hands hurt, the pattern called for 3 lbs of tarn, the little bit I made weighed an ounce, and lastly, I was leaving little purple pilly balls everywhere. Everywhere.

One day, there may be a Dizzy Rug made with t-shirt yarn in my future but not today. My little pile of tank tops will be recycled and added to The Man's rag bin. It won't be wasted.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Playing With Cotton String

With the success of my first pooled warp I was eager to start another weaving project. I spent many moments online this past week coveting the beautiful hand-dyed Lorna's Laces yarn. But before I purchased more yarn I thought I'd better take a look in my own Stash first.


Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised to find yarn that I thought would work. I had purchased 10 single skeins of Cuddly Cotton Multi, 100% cotton made in Romania, from Little Knits (it was 82% off - a Super Sale - how could I resist?). When I untwisted a skein I found that the yarn had been dyed creating bands of color that lined up, a palindrome skein.

Unfortunately, a single skein was not enough for the wider, shawl-like, project I had in mind. So I took two similar colored skeins and was able to warp them in a coordinating color pattern.

                               I used these guys     ^   ^

Woohoo, so far, so good. It could be amazing or it could be a disaster (I'm hoping for amazing).


This time I'm using lace-weight yarn for the weft. I figured this way I wouldn't be covering up the beautiful vibrant warp colors with thick yarn. I'm not certain about the mix of fibers though - 100% cotton and 100% Merino wool, but . . . what the hey.

Deep Stash 2009: DIC, Baby, colorway "Petal Shower" (1 of 2)

Lastly, I had to borrow some Man Tools while warping the Flip Loom. The weight of my sewing machine and two 4 lb hand weights were not a match for the cotton warp's tension and I found the loom's stand tilting. I used a couple of The Man's dive belts for counterbalance.

Boy, those two dive belts were heavy! I think if The Man wants them back he'll need to come get them from upstairs. They'll be right next to the plunger, I mean, felting fiber tool.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Most Beautiful Thing

Star Trek Yarn. It was those three words that hooked me and reeled me in. A fellow Ravelry member was paring down her considerable yarn stash by letting a few go. The "Star Trek yarn" turned out to be a limited edition colorway from hand-dyer Lorna's Laces called "Live Long and Prosper". The colorway was bright bold colors - gold, red, blue, and brown - the uniform colors of Starfleet. 

As you know, I do enjoy Star Trek and I do love yarn but I was hesitant to purchase more yarn as my yarn baskets runneth over.

At the same time I was admiring the yarn, I read about how certain hand-dyed yarns could be woven with a pooled warp - a technique by which blocks of colors are lined up and create controlled symmetry.

The clincher for buying the Star Trek colorway was that I could make an accompanying scarf to David's hat. I'm not sure if he's a scarf guy (or a hat guy for that matter) but I know he's a Star Trek guy. He and his wife Lori have their own American Cancer Society Relay for Life team called, the "Star Trekkers". I had to make a prayer scarf for them.

The warp turned out to be magic. Lorna's Laces hand-painted yarn was a true palindrome skein: brown-blue-red-gold/gold-red-blue-brown/brown-blue-red-gold, the colors repeated itself forwards and backwards. (I'm geeky about palindromes too. You know, like: "Madam, I'm Adam" or Nurses Run.)

Halfway through warping the 10" Cricket loom the color blocks started shifting and getting wonky. The lightweight Ikea table was moving and being pulled in by the warp tension. The heaviest thing in my craftroom was my sewing machine and it worked well for holding the table in place.

I chose mmmMalabrigo sock in the colorway Chocolate Amargo for the weft color because, well, chocolate. It turned out to be thicker than the Lorna's Laces and the weaving was becoming more weft-faced, i.e. the warp was being hidden by the vertical brown yarn. It was starting to look like a secret Star Trek manly scarf.

The scarf took a little over a week from start to finish and yesterday I cut the scarf off the loom and twisted the fringe with my nifty Conair hair-braider.

I gotta say this woven scarf is the most beautiful thing I've ever made. It's soft, drapey, and the pooled colors are amazing. The Chocolate Amargo ("bitter chocolate") is shades of brown with streaks of silver - like the tails of shooting stars.

Just when I thought the weaving experience couldn't get any better - the prequel Star Trek movie played on TV last Sunday - twice - while I was weaving. Then a few days later I watched Into Darkness via Netflix streaming. The scarf was truly infused and woven with Star Trek virtues: Goodness, Courage, Friendship, and Hope. It's a beautiful thing.

David and Lori, my dear old friends, Live Long and Prosper.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

But Wait, There's More

"F" is for . . . 

furry (wet) friends. We're having a last-ditch heat wave (at least we hope it's our last). The unusual weather pattern has kept away the marine layer and the coastal areas have been in the 90's, instead of the usual 60's. Although we're ready for cooler temperatures - and rain - we took advantage of the perfect beach weather and loaded up the dogs and headed to dog-friendly Cayucos beach.

We brought along our new Chuckit! dog toy. I bought it online and didn't realize it would be almost 2½ feet long and very heavy-duty. There's a learning curve to using it which I haven't figured out yet. I'm calling it Chopit! since I hold it over my head with both hands like I'm swinging an axe downward, that's the only way the ball releases for me.

No matter, The Man and the dogs have it all figured out.

feather(less). It's a good thing it's warmed back up because we've got a naked hen. The Girls have been slowly molting for weeks, loosing a few feathers here and there. But last week Sophia lost most of her feathers seemingly overnight.

I had to do a head count to make sure everyone was accounted for when I found two big piles of feathers in the goat house. In addition to feather loss, egg production has drastically changed and the only layer still in service is Mrs Jane Bond - the feathered black and white hen.