Monday, 17 April 2017

Remember the hats?

These hats.

Well, my Calgary Sister and her family came over for dinner a few weeks ago when they were still sitting on the dining room table and they all decided they'd like a hat. So, four more found good homes. There are now just three waiting for a home. I think I'll hold onto them until my Scotland Sister comes to visit, my Wee Niece may like one. I don't think any of the ones left will fit an adult; they're more of a child's size. After that, the remainder will go into a clothing donation run.

It's always good to thing when your hand knits have gone to a good home.

Started working on a new double loom-knitting project, I have done one in the past, a blanket for my Wee Niece. And I quite like the technique, especially for some complex colour work on a blanket. I ran into a few things I didn't like though, one being gauge. They heavy worsted/aran yarn (number 5 on commercial acrylics) was almost heavy enough but not quite; I was never really satisfied with the gauge; it was just a bit too loose. I don't like things too loose, they snag and wear out quickly. Plus, with this technique you can see the strands that are being carried along if the fabric is too loose to hide them. There's a happy ending for the blanket though, my Scottish Sister likes it for my Wee Niece's pram ("stroller" in North America) so I guess that worked out in the end. But I wanted to try again.

It turns out there isn't a lot of information about loom knitting out there. I don't think it's nearly as popular as regular knitting, and what is out there did not cover much about gauge. I did learn that when double loom knitting gauge is determined by a combination of how far apart the two lines of pegs are and how far apart the pegs are from each other. I suspect how tightly you wrap the pegs will matter too but perhaps not as much as with regular knitting. But I, so far anyway, have not found out much about how to determine gauge. With regular knitting there's so much out there you can get lost in it.

So, I decided to experiment with gauge, this is never really a bad idea. The first blanket was a heavy worsted/aran weight yarn and the blanket is in Scotland so I don't have a sample, I do have more of the yarn so I may work up a sample up at a later date. In the meantime, I worked up a quick sample using a worsted weight (4) yarn and as you can see it's hideous:

It doesn't help that the picture is blurry but you get the idea.
You can see right through the fabric and the ends are pulling out even though it's done nothing but sit on the back of the couch and look ugly. I shudder to think what would happen if it was used for something. Urgh. 

By the way, the watering can and the "GO" patterns came from a book called "Tapestry Crochet, 64 Playful Patterns for Children" by Renate Kirkpatrick.

So next I tried using two strands of worsted held together. This was much better, the carried strands are hidden for the most part, although the high contrast of the colours I used does still mean you can see them a bit. This is a bit of the nature of this technique, I suspect that unless your fabric is so thick it can stand up on it's own you will always be able to see high contrast colours behind the fabric. With two strands of worsted the fabric was a little too stiff for a blanket; although it might make a nice floor rug or pet mat. (Yes, I switched to yellow when I ran out of cream. Bite me. This was about gauge and I wasn't about to run out and buy more of a yarn I was trying to get rid of, I was stash-bustin' for this experiment.)

Given that two strands of worsted produced a fabric that was just a little too stiff for a blanket I decided to try two strands of DK weight (number 3 on commercial acrylics) held together. This turned out to be my Goldilocks gauge for loom-knitted blankets on this loom. Not to tight, not too loose; just right. I love how this fabric is turning out.

I did have to buy more yarn for this part of the experiment and I was not at all sure how to calculate how much I'd need (not much on that out there either) so I decided to get (I hoped) enough to make up a baby blanket. In the end I think I bought about twice what I'll end up needing. Oh well, it was on sale and I can always make another blanket.

At some point I will try with a bulky weight yarn, number 6 on commercial acrylics, and see what happens with it. But that won't happen until I finish the current blanket. The pattern for this blanket is mine(ish), I took some free snowflake patterns and combined them, then added some chevrons and a border, to make the blanket.

The next issue is that the knitting loom I have, a Martha Stewart Knitting Loom is not wide enough for an afghan or a bedspread or something like that. In the picture above the blanket is about 25 inches wide, that's just barely wide enough for a small baby blanket. I bought a second loom (Micheal's sent me a coupon) and will try combining the two to make a wider board but I'm a bit worried about doing that. This board is only meant to be about 2 feet wide so making it wider may make it too awkward to use and there are no stands available for these, or the plastic may not be strong enough over that distance. Combining two looms will still only give me about 4 feet of width and I'd like to be able to do something 5-7 feet wide to make a blanket you can really cuddle up with or put on a bed as a bedspread.

Another option would be to make panels and sew them together. While this is certainly an option I like the idea of one single, wide panel to make the entire blanket. I will try the combined length and see how/if it works before I come to my final conclusion.

There are longer looms out there which are bent into a figure 8 shape but they're not really intended for double-knitting. I have found some videos on YouTube on adapting them for double knitting but the one's I've looked at have the pegs spaced further apart than my current loom so I'd need to check the gauge all over again. And I may end up with something too thick or heavy to really use.

I fear that, in the end, I may have to try my hand at making a knitting loom. This would be way, way outside my usual skill set so I'm not at all sure it would or could happen. I suppose I could always ask my Dad for help... I'd need to borrow his tools for something like that anyway.

Scent Hurdle
There was a Scent Hurdle tournament on Saturday. Ahab ran with our regular team in the morning and with another team in the afternoon. He did fantastically well. I even managed to talk him through picking up one of his barbells (another dog picked up the wrong one and dropped it in the race lane) and taking it to the box, he didn't really need to do this but he had picked up the barbell and wouldn't drop it, then dropping it and picking up his other barbell (which the boxloader had placed in the box after the other dog removed his) and bringing back the correct barbell. Wow. I know he's smart, but just; wow. I'm still amazed I was able to get him to do that. I really wish someone had been taking video of that race.

Not much happened for Easter around here, my Red Deere Sister and her husband came for dinner and we had ham on Saturday. That's about it.

Current Weather
Mostly cloudy, 10C.

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