Monday, January 19, 2009

Polly, Pocket Wheel

Because I have a number of nieces, I have seen all things related to Polly Pocket toys.

I have a new toy. For some reason I can.not get "Polly Pocket Wheel" out of my head!

My spinning wheels have names. Do yours?

My very first wheel was a Louet Victoria and I call her Lil' Vicki. She was a very good first wheel and my travel wheel.

Next came the Schact Matchess. She is named Stipulation. Huh, you say? When I purchased it Greg said to go ahead and buy it but there was one stipulation. She couldn't "live" in the living room. That is how she got her name.

Since July 2008 I have been on the waiting list for a Pocket Wheel by Doug Dodd.

Last week Ellen and I drove up to Bellingham to pick up our wheels. I was beyond thrilled and excited! Now that I have had some time to spin on her, I love her even more than I thought I would.

Here is a photo comparison of Stipulation against Polly Pocket.

When I put my deposit down in July I was hoping for Christmas delivery. I would email Doug from time to time to find out where I was on the list and I realized I wasn't going to get it even before the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat mid February. Well I do have it! Yes! But...there is a story to be told because I would still be on the the waiting list. You'll have to read on to discover how I got her.

Since he first came out with this wheel, he has made a few design changes. His most current design of the wheel does not have a leather strap. I have always wanted the leather strap version for ease of transport. You can still get the design with the leather strap but it is special order now.

He had three wheels available to take delivery of now. He wasn't willing to ship these. I believe he had taken them to a St. Distaff Day gathering and one woman had wanted one of the wheels but never contacted Doug. Ellen just happened to e-mail Doug about a week and a half ago inquiring on the progress of the waiting list and he happened to mention he had three wheels available now that had leather straps. There were two maple and one prunewood. She took the prunewood.

I had a choice between the two maple ones. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to take delivery of a maple one because I had set my mind on Cherry. I decided the type of wood wasn't so important to me but having the leather handle was. Plus I figured maple might be just a tad lighter than Cherry. Do I have to mention that getting one now was a real motivator?

I had to decide between a change in the design of how the ratio change thingy(my technical term) attaches to the wheel. The change in the design was made so it is easier for him to create. One had the new design, the other had the old design. With a waiting list of over 70 now, he has had to make some design changes so he can make all us spinners happy!

He says there is no difference in functionality with this change but I liked having the older model. He said it makes it slightly easier to treadle. That doesn't make much difference because this baby is easy to treadle anyway. I have only compared my wheel(with the old design) and Ellen's(with the new design). I do think the treadling is a bit smoother and my wheel seems to be a tiny bit quieter but I can't say if this is due to this design change or something else.

This baby is small! So adorable and she spins SO smoothly. It really is an amazing design.

Being vertically challenged(petite) this wheel really is comfortable for me. The pedals are higher up so there is less strain on my low back. I can sit on a sofa, a dining room chair, my office desk chair and they are all comfortable. This has not been the case with my other wheels.

It is a scotch tension and it comes with 3 bobbins.

This wheel, by design, has an infinite # of ratios. You can purchase the wheel with a high speed option but I am not sure this is really necessary. For most folks the regular option is definitely going to work just fine. How are ratios changed on this wheel?

As you see in the photo above, there is a metal roller thing that moves up and down the silver shaft. You just take a little allen wrench tool and loosen the mechanism. You just move the roller thing up and down and this is what changes the ratio. As you move it toward the outer edge of the wheel, it has a faster/higher ratio. As you move it toward the center of the wheel, it has a slower/lower ratio. See? Infinite number of ratios and you don't need to carry and change whorls when necessary.

At this point I only have nice things to say about this wheel. I am seriously considering selling my Louet Victoria(for sure) and even possibly, the Schacht. I get a lot more spinning done because I just tote Polly around from room to room. I get in a few minutes here and there and before I know it a bobbin is full!

I even tried putting her under my desk. She fits. So I can be at my desk doing "work" and spin here and there as I need a break. Yes, I don't work anymore at a real job. If you do work at a job, you can hide your pocket wheel under your desk and spin from time to time! Your co-workers won't even know! :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Grafting the Dolman Shoulder Seam

As I was happily graphting (I say facetiously) 129 stitches on the shoulder seam of my dolman, I thought I would break up the monotony by taking some photos of what I was doing.

Setup: Put the piece of the garment with the live stitches closest to you, right side facing. The piece with the bound off stitches goes above the piece with the live stitches, right side facing.

Step 1: Go into the first stitch on the piece closest to you with the live stitches, purlwise. Leave on needle.

Step 2: Find the first stitch of the bound off piece. You will see a 'V' shape and you want to go behind the two legs of the 'V'from right to left.

Step 3: Go into the first stitch on the front(live stitches) needle knitwise(left to right) and take off the needle.

Continue with steps 1-3 until all stitches have been grafted.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's like driving across Montana

My friend, and fellow Nihon Vogue student, Joni compared knitting a dolman garment to driving across Montana. It just seems to go on, and on,and on!

I wholeheartedly agree. I might even say it is like driving to Florida and back!

As tried to remind myself while knitting that as I was knitting the front or the back, that I was also knitting the sleeve at the same time!

Let me tell you something you don't want to do. Make a mistake and have to frog. I made an error in my cable and had to rip back 20 rows(it was an unrecoverable type of mistake or else I would have just frogged the cable portion). I wasn't just ripping out 20 rows of my left front, it was also 20 rows of the sleeve!

During the project drafting phase I wanted to minimize the bat-wingy-ness of the garment. As you will see in the photo below, my bat wing is pretty small.

I just finished knitting all my dolman pieces. As you may recall, the cable is from A Cardigan for Arwen by Kate Gilbert. I love that the cable is reversible.

I still need to decide how I am going to finish the neckline. Will I do the same cable as the collar, will I do a rib(saw a cute stand up rib on Arwen in Ravelry - looked very sharp)? Hmmmnnn. So many options. That is what I love about creating my own design rather than following a pattern - I call the shots!

Can you see all the markers along the shoulder line in the photo above? That is where you do a ton of short rows to create the shoulder slope.

How to join the shoulders? You can do a 3 needle NV technique bind off, you can kitchener it or you can do as I am doing. The 3 needles bind off will result in a seam that you can see rather readily. The kitchener may not provide enough support for the whole garment. The technique I am going to do is to bind off the front and then kitchener the front and back pieces together. This will give the most seamless look while providing more support at the shoulder seam.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Elegant Arrows Moebius

I was reading the Blue Moon Fiber Arts blog tonight. Tina's latest post resonated with me.

I was moved by it. I believe as she does in the power of mindfulness, the power of intention and the power we have as individuals to help move the planet towards peace.

Sivia Harding posted in the comments about a moebius scarf she designed that may be used in a KAL of sorts, suggested by Cat Bordhi. Sivia wrote "Cat Bordhi has suggested that knitting a Moebius while watching the inauguration would be an especially fitting way to usher in the “new era” with peace, oneness and unity." There are more specifics in this post on Sivia's blog.

Even with as much Nihon homework as I have to do in the coming weeks I want to cast-on this scarf on Tuesday January 20, 2009.

For me this moebius will be a symbol of the peace and hope I feel as we usher in a new president. It will remind me of this historical day.

Will you join me?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Projects, Projects Everywhere! All NON Nihon Vogue!

If you have followed my blog you will know I do a whole lot of starting of projects and only a handful of finishing! I can blame a part of that on my Nihon Vogue certification. I do finish 8 sweaters in the course of a year. The following projects are just side projects or what I call Contraband Knitting.

I finished a shawl for my mother-in-law for Christmas. This yarn is from Toots LeBlanc. It is in the 60/40angora/wool blend. The wool portion of the blend is either Rambouillet or Merino. It really blooms after washing. The pattern is the Foliage Shawl by Miriam Felton. I only used 2 skeins or 500 yards. I had the smallest amount left over. It was close. I did do one extra repeat of the pattern to make the shawl a little bit bigger.

I had some issues with the pattern. In the pattern instructions Miriam says you can make the shawl bigger by adding repeats but she doesn't go into detail in how that affects the knitted on border. I e-mailed her about it but it took her a bit of time to get back with me. By that time I had already forged ahead. I had to make some small adjustments but it wasn't noticeable in the finished product.

I had never done a knitted on border before. I think it turned out beautifully and Evie loves it.

I could not leave my father-in-law out in the cold, so to speak. I made him a scarf in a 4 ply scottish cashmere. I purchased this recycled yarn off Ebay. In a prior life it was a sweater. I took the yarn which was in cakes, took four balls and strung it around my knitty noddy, washed it and dried it before knitting. This scarf is so thick and yummy. I had never used recycled yarn before and I think it is a very cool(no pun intended) way to go. I do have a fair amount of cashmere yarn in my stash but *my color's* wouldn't suit Ron!

I found this pattern out of one of my Japanese knitting books with patterns/designs for men. (Note: Amy, do you see the project bag in the background? I am never without my knitting!)

I also knitted some socks for my niece, Jenn, who turned 30 this month. She makes hand made books and she inquired one day about doing a trade - one of her books for a pair of hand knit socks. I told her "there is no freakin' way". I don't gift knit to non-knitters because I have had a bad experience with it. Non-knitters do not understand the number of hours it takes to knit a scarf or a pair of socks. I made an exception because this is a very special milestone in her life.

The pattern is Biological Clock from Janel Laidman's Eclectic Sole book. This was not a hint for her to get going in the motherly way(she isn't married) but she is a scientist. The DNA strands were perfect for her! These photos are not very good. I gave them to her Christmas night so there was no natural lighting. I had forgotten to take photos before I gave them to her.

I am a member of the Rockin' Sock Club. I love this club. The last installment of the year is a lovely colourway that happened by mistake by Tina and it has become her new favorite. We got the yarn in mediumweight paired with a wonderful, easy to memorize pattern by Anne Hanson. How could you NOT love a pattern by Anne of Knitspot. All her patterns are very well written and easy to follow.

Recently on a black-hole tour(You know the one. You go into Ravelry to just check your messages, maybe check out what is going on in a few of your groups, maybe stop by to see what your friends are doing and next thing you know a couple hours have gone by. Familiar?) in Ravelry I came upon these adorable mittens. Like the sea turtles, I love seahorses. I have never seen one in the wild(I would have to scuba dive). I just think they are such fascinating creatures.

Greg took some awesome photos like this one while in Indonesia. I would love to see this guy in person. Can you believe that this little guy is about as big as your pinkie fingernail?

I know a lot of you out there with left over Kauni yarn. Will this project be added to your Ravelry queue?