End of Summer (hopefully)

It’s been an interesting and unusual summer around here.  There was very little knitting, despite the fact that we had a cool summer (more on this later – as in, rant about it).  Although I didn’t knit much and the seasons e-book is so behind, I’m still working on the Spring shawl, there has been a lot of crafting around here (mostly WIPS, though).

Going from the most recent to some stuff we’ve done throughout the Summer:
– I decided that I had it with mismatched shelves and came up with the idea of installing a built-in in the living room.   Joel wasn’t very keen on it, until I showed him some library ladders.
I downloaded an awesome software – SketchUp, finally bought a pocket joint jig and off we went.  In all honesty, we could have done it without the jig (which is really cool and useful), but the software is invaluable and made it possible to have very accurate pieces, with little mistakes.
We have the base almost finished.  I still need to do the drawers (dovetails will be involved).  I’m still struggling with making proper shopping lists that will get us through only one trip to Home Depot, but it’s getting better.

– A few weeks before the built-in enterprise, I went crazy over some patchwork I saw over here.  I looked around the web and the best price I found for pre-cut fabric was at Craftsy, so I got myself the squares I needed, plus a jelly roll that I didn’t need, but was pretty.
The idea is to practice piecing so I’ll get more accurate blocks.
I might still be doing something wrong because, unlike the video I linked above, I need to square the sub-blocks(?) each time I cut/sew the pieces together.  Because it’s so labor intensive, it’s slow going and was totally side-tracked by the built-in.

– Before that, I was playing with the quilt made of old shirts (I posted about it before).  I finished the patchwork and managed to quilt two blocks, but had to rip the stitches on the second one because…reasons.
Around the same time, I decided it was time to replace the cover on Joel’s chair.  I wasn’t happy with the fabric used for the original cover and it was fraying.
I’ve been saving old jeans for some time now, and decided to use those as the fabric for the new cover.  I took the old cover apart and used it as a template for the new one (I might, eventually write a post about it – when it’s finished).  Tackling that cover convinced me that the ready-made ones aren’t that expensive to buy.  To say it’s a pain to sew together is an understatement, so it remains unfinished.

– There was also the spinning and some knitting, but it was addressed here already.

Back to the weather.  We were having a lovely, cool summer, until the end of August.  It then became the usual hot, unbearable summer we know and love came to expect.  On the bright side, Summer is (supposed to be) almost over, so the hope is that the heat won’t last much longer.

Spinning ramie

Ramie 2 ply
Ramie 2 ply

I decided to “challenge”  myself for this year’s HdF by spinning fibers that I’ve never worked with before. One of the was ramie, which I bought based on the oh-shinny effect only.

After the package of fiber got here, I did a few searches on Google and on Ravelry, trying to find anything I could about how to spin this fiber.  I didn’t find much, so I did what I thought was the best for it (read: I spun it the way I’m more comfortable).

I decided to write a post about it since there’s so little on the internet about the fiber and how to treat it while spinning.  I hope this post will help someone.

Ramie is a vegetable fiber – you can read about it on Wikipedia, or Google it.  To me, the fiber looks a lot like silk, and kind of feel like it to an extent.  The biggest difference from silk (to me, at least) is that the fibers don’t stick to each other like silk does.

I spun it dry,  using short draft and then plied 2 singles together.  Even though I spun this during a very moist summer in Kansas, there was a lot of fuzz on my clothes and chair after each session of spinning.
Ramie is very easy to draft, and I think that it can take a look of twist (I didn’t try over spinning it, though).  The singles looked and felt like dental floss.

I tried 2 different ways of plying it.  The first was holding both singles in one hand and adding twist.  The second was by holding each singles separately (one in each hand), treadling and then bringing the singles together near the orifice.
I found out that the second method gave me a rounder yarn, but it was over-plied (which tells more about my lack of practice than about how the fiber behaves).

Since I had no idea how to finish this yarn, I boiled it like one would do to linen.  I didn’t see any difference in color, sheen or hand of the yarn once I was done.
The yarn has no give – at all, yet it’s nice to knit with (I’m knitting this pattern and will add an edging from Heirloom knitting to the bottom).  I’m hoping it will become a bit more fuzzy once I put it through the washer.

You can find more pictures and a few more details about it here.  If you have any questions or want me to discuss details I didn’t post here, feel free to leave me a note here or on Rav.

It’s been so long since I wrote here, people might be thinking I gave up on the blog entirely.  I didn’t.  There was this thing, and then another, and then something else…I kept on thinking, well…after this one thing (bad cold, finishing another design, fill-the-blank excuse) I’ll post again.  Time did its thing and I went from not having the stamina to post, to no having anything to say, to how will I tell about everything that happened in between my last post and the next?

Early in the year, I caught an awful cold that made me feel sorry for myself for a full month.  It was so bad I didn’t even knit.  I did play a lot of games on the Surface, though :P.

Then, there was (still is) the next design on the E-book that I will eventually publish.  The patterns were already out of sync with the seasons, but it’s already the end of July and I haven’t decided on the next pattern – supposed to be named for Winter.
To be honest, I think I have the right design now, but I still have to knit it – yet again – since the size is still way too small.  There’s also the little nagging voice in my head, reminding me that I need to come up with the last design for the collection, the one for Spring.

So, after being stuck for a few months trying to come up with the last 2 designs for the book, I was reminded of a promise an offer I made to a friend, and stopped everything I was doing to design her wedding shawl:

Tru Wuv
Tru Wuv

Between the shawl pictured above and another one that didn’t make the cut, I spent almost a month knitting nonstop.  Then, there was the soccer cup and the Hoar de Fleece, and I most of the month of July spinning and watching games ;).

I spun more this year than I did the last, but I still fizzled out on the last week.  Part of the reason I didn’t spin anything on the last week of the HdF was because I wanted to knit with some of the yarn I’d spun – which isn’t something that happens to me very often.

Well, this entry kind of sums up what happened since I last posted here.  Sometimes, having a boring life isn’t so bad.

Fiber arts with a twist

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