Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


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2016 by the numbers

I see from rereading 2015 by the numbers that “I’m letting myself not feel like I have to do another fifteen projects.” Rest assured, I didn’t. I managed nine projects in 2016. No, nothing was wrong. I just found other things to do that weren’t knitting or crochet.

First up, the colors I used in projects last year. Not that there’s a theme here or anything.

Pie chart of dominant project colors.

One of these colors is not like the others…

Okay, now there’s a pie chart I could wear. That’s my everyday wardrobe (with one little exception). Oddly, gray, the color I used the most during 2015, is nowhere to be seen. I’m currently working on a gray sweater, though, so if I finish it this year, it’ll count.

Pie chart of project craft

Well, this certainly wasn’t the Year of Crafting Variety. That 11% represents one project. On the other hand, I did do one crochet project. But I definitely want to do more crochet in 2017.

Pie chart of project yarn by weight

No, not much diversity in my project yarn weight either. I enjoyed the projects I did (most of them anyway), but I’d have liked to have done more of them in something besides fingering weight yarn. And when I did do a project in something besides fingering weight, I went to the other end of the yarn weight spectrum altogether. No happy mediums in 2016!

My plans for crafting in 2017? Still up in the air. More crochet, different yarn weights, and maybe even more colors if that happens to work out. But above all, enjoyment, even if I end up doing a year of nothing except knitted projects in fingering weight yarn.


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2015 by the numbers

Yes, I’ve decided this is going to be an annual feature of this blog. Whether or not anyone enjoys reading it, I enjoy putting it together.

The first number, of course, is how many projects I finished in 2015, which is fifteen, nicely enough. No, I’m not shooting for sixteen projects in 2016. That’s a slippery slope that will eventually lead to my being in my 80’s and trying to do fifty projects in a year. Let’s not go there.

I love color, so I track the dominant color in my projects. I don’t love too much math, though, so I count this by the number of projects I’ve done, not by how much knitting I’ve done in each color..

2015knittingcolors

Admire the yellow while you can: I almost never do projects in it despite the fact it’s my favorite color. (It comes from the Little Lion project.) And purple made it in here this year: yay! But gray dominates again. When did I become someone who knits so much in gray?

2015projectcraft

I did much better than expected when it came to doing more crochet. One project last year, five projects this year. It’s not that I’m trying to make it an even split each year; I just want to do more crochet than I have been doing.

2015-yarnweight

 

But then again, diversity of yarn weight went down. I knitted in laceweight and DK last year as well, and fingering wasn’t so dominant. Although it was knitting small fingering weight projects that let me finish fifteen projects this year.

And what’s coming up for 2016? I’ve got some unfinished projects in fingering weight yarn on the needles, and it would be nice to do another sweater, but other than that, I haven’t really planned anything. I’m letting myself not feel like I have to do another fifteen projects. If it happens, it happens, but there are other things I want to do this year as well! [gasp!]


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Coloring with knitting and crochet

By popular demand, a quick and dirty guide to how to make a picture like the one I did for 2015 Knitting & Crochet Blog Week Day 3. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements 13, but I suspect a lot of photo editing software could do this. What you need is the equivalent of the APE command Paste Into Selection.

1. I started by getting my black and white picture. I drew mine using Paper by 53 on my iPad, mostly because I don’t have a good setup for drawing on my desktop computer, but if you do, have at it. You could also scan a picture from a coloring book if it didn’t have a lot of detail.

drawing of a tree by a lake

2. Figure out what colors you’ll need for your picture. Now go through all your knitted and crocheted items and take close-up photos of the ones that are in those colors. (Don’t forget your UFOs.)

3. Get all these photos onto your computer and do any photo fixing you want to do before getting started on the main picture.

4. And now the fun begins. Open the drawing in your photo editing software and choose an area to color. Select that area. (I used APE’s Quick Selection Tool.)

5. Keeping that file open, open the photo of the color you want to use and select an area. Copy this selection.

6. Return to your drawing. Using the Paste Into Selection command, paste your copied selection into the area you’re coloring. In APE, you can use the Move Tool to move your copied selection around, which lets you put the prettiest bits where we can see them. You may realize at this point that your copied selection is too zoomed in or zoomed out for the effect you want. If that’s the case, cancel out and go back to your color photo to tweak it and make a different selection. Or, if necessary, take another picture of your project.

7. When you’re satisfied, deselect this area, which fixes your color in place.

8. Choosing another area, repeat steps 4-7.

9. When the whole picture is the way you want it, save it and do whatever you were planning to do with it.

knitting-scene

Enjoy!


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2014 by the numbers

I had fun analyzing my crafts last year, so I decided to inflict more craft data on you again this year. I finished nine projects in 2014. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but hey, Viajante took time. Lots of time.

First, the dominant color in my projects, by number of projects. I did three small- to medium-sized projects in gray, and Viajante, despite its size, was only one project, which is why it looks like I knit more in gray than pink (not so!). But I’m not obsessed enough to start counting how many yards of yarn in each color I used, so this is as good as it gets.

Pie chart of dominant colors in projects.

I’m surprised brown made a return appearance, but I did knit a brown cowl for someone. (All my brown projects are for other people.) But how did I manage to avoid doing any purple projects this year? Even the two projects I frogged were pink.

2014-crafts

Only one crochet project in 2014. Well, maybe I can do two in 2015. We’ll overlook the fact that there aren’t even very many crochet projects in my Ravelry queue.

But surely there was more data I could analyze—only two charts seemed a bit too succinct. Hey, I could look at yarn weight!

2014-yarnweight

That was a bit eye-opening. I feel like I knit almost exclusively with fingering weight yarn nowadays, but there’s a fair variety of weights in that chart. Okay, the lace weight yarn was held doubled and treated like fingering weight, but it was lace weight.

On to 2015!


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Playing with wire

There are too many crafts out there to keep up with (not a complaint!). Last week, E. told Suncat and I about a community ed class on Viking weave that she was planning on taking, and invited us to join her. The class was called, enticingly, “Viking Weave: Knitting with Wire.” Weaving or knitting, I’d never heard of it, and although Suncat couldn’t make it, I decided to give it a try. It was just a one-shot class, which promised to be an interesting way to spend an otherwise mundane Thursday evening. Suncat found a video on YouTube and sent it our way, so we did go into the class with a vague idea of what we might be bringing out of it.

Viking weave in process

The weaving.

The instructor had provided all the supplies and equipment, saving us from having to go out and buy stuff without knowing what we were doing. This looks like a craft you could get into without a huge initial financial investment, especially if you already do beading. The class description had stated that silver, copper, nickel, and bronze wire would be available, but I hadn’t realized there would be all sorts of pretty colors to choose from. E. and I independently decided we liked the same color: rose gold. (Although the deep green was really tempting—perhaps a future project, if I can find it on my own.)

Generally, the class went well. The major problem was that while the weaving is easy to get the hang of once you see it done, the teacher didn’t have any way of showing the class as a group how to do it. She had to walk around showing each student how to get started, and later on, how to finish it off, how to attach the findings, and so on. Although that gave me plenty of time to slip over to an empty table and take a picture of the work in process without disrupting the class.

Viking weave bracelet

The finished bracelet.

And yes, the weaving itself really is easy to learn. You use a bit of scrap wire to form a daisy of five loops that you stick on the end of the dowel. You then take a length of your wire and make what is in essence a twisted stockinette stitch cylinder. Like embroidering with a needle and thread, you poke the end of the wire through a loop, go to the next loop, make a little loop in that loop with your wire, and around. For the next round, you pass the wire behind the little “x” at the bottom of the previous round’s loop, loop it around, and move on to the next “stitch.” When your work is long enough, you remove it from the dowel and pull it through a succession of increasingly smaller holes in a draw plate. This evens your work out and compresses it. My bracelet started out at 13 mm and ended up at 5 mm in diameter.

The instructor had samples for three kinds of weaves we could do. I chose the single weave—what I just described—because it looked like it would make the thinnest, most delicate-looking bracelet of the three. E. went for a double weave, where instead of weaving your wire through the round you’ve just completed, you weave it through the second round up. Other students went for the triple weave, using the third round up. These variations make the piece progressively thicker and denser, but they also consume wire faster. I had enough to make a bracelet, with even a bit of weaving left over, but other people, including E., had to either add more wire or decide to make something else with their piece.

I like Viking weave enough to want to try it again sometime. (E. was also enthusiastic about it.) I just don’t know how many wire bracelets I need, even if they’re in different colors, and I don’t think I’d be likely to wear necklaces made this way. But maybe learning more about it will give me more ideas of what to do with it.


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Just in time for Valentine’s Day

I went to Dream in Color’s website to see their photo of a particular color of Smooshy, which is how I learned that they’ve got some new colorways. I clicked on the pictures to get a closer look—and began to see a theme in the names:

  • Rose Anguish
  • Humdrum
  • Naked Shame
  • Apathy
  • Vague Unease
  • Bitter Malaise
  • Forget Me
  • Milky Spite
  • Icy Reception
  • Mild Tedium
  • Blue Sulk
  • Callous Pink
  • Damp Pillow
  • Deep Regret

Much as I would love to tell people that I was making something in Apathy, Vague Unease, or Bitter Malaise, I never wear those colors (if I had to assign apathy a color, it would be some utterly meh shade of gray, but this yarn is gold; the other two are yellow-greens). But saying my new project is in a color called Forget Me, Icy Reception, Blue Sulk, or Callous Pink would be fun too. Something to look forward to for a future order!


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2013 by the numbers

I’m having way too much fun with pie charts.

2013-colors

It’s a bit misleading. I’m not that fond of brown, but a set of six brown dishcloths pushed the total ahead of larger but fewer projects in other colors.

2013-crafts

More crochet than I thought I would manage this year. Again, credit those dishcloths!


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The cutting edge of knitting techniques

From the Wall Street JournalMillennial Craft-Makers Embrace Arm Knitting

Clearly all that money I spent on Addi Turbos was wasted.

From Salon.com: Meet the world’s most famous vaginal knitter

I hope she is using organic wool. I understand a lot of commercial wool has been treated with chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin. Given where she is storing her stash, this could be an issue for her. (Hey, if the article title didn’t warn you, what could I have said?) I’m not sure how many people will catch the issues she wants to explore because how she’s chosen to explore them will distract them more than anything else.


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If one state fair is a good thing…

…two of them might be a bit too much, but that didn’t stop me from going to two of them anyway: Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wisconsin holds their state fair about two weeks before Minnesota does, so attending both was feasible, if tiring. I went with my cousins to the Wisconsin State Fair. The cousins grew up on a farm, so not only did we see most of the animals, but they could say knowledgeable things about them. Me, I can tell cows apart from goats, and both of them apart from chickens, but that’s about as sophisticated as I get. When I’m at the Minnesota State Fair, I take care of all my animal-watching in one fell swoop with the Miracle of Life Barn. They keep at least one of several kinds of animals there, and if you’re lucky, you can see them giving birth. I usually just see the baby animals afterwards, but the cute factor makes up for missing the births themselves.

The adult knitting case at the Minnesota State Fair.

The adult knitting case at the Minnesota State Fair.

Now on the other hand, I do know my way around knitting and crochet competitions, and I wanted to see what people entered in Wisconsin. Pretty much the same kind of things we enter in Minnesota, of course. But they display them a bit differently. In Minnesota, the Creative Activities building is mostly organized by craft. Almost all adult handknitting is in a large case to the left of the main door as you come in, except for the blue-ribbon items, which are in a separate case. Sewing gets a case, weaving gets a case. Machine knitting and crochet share a case across from baby and child knitting. Afghans, knitted and crocheted, are displayed on special racks. Less popular crafts with fewer entries are slipped in here and there. There are smaller cases in the building with assorted items from different crafts that share a theme or a color or something (which is one way to display those less popular crafts). In turn, just as the different crafts are mostly separated, all the needlework and handcrafts are kept apart from canning and baking, which are in a different section of the building.

The Victorian Tea Party case at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The Victorian Tea Party case at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Things are a bit different in Wisconsin. The equivalent of Creative Activities is the Horticulture, Craft & Culinary Pavilion. Wisconsin likes to mix entries together. A plate of prize-winning cookies will nestle happily next to a handknit sweater, with an embroidered piece looming behind them and a photograph perched off to the side. The building has more small cases than large, and it looks like each year they make up themes based on the entries they get and put one theme in each case, along with a sign telling you what the theme of the case is. It’s an interesting way to arrange the items, although it’s even more frustrating than the Creative Activities building if you want to compare and contrast, say, all the adult knitted cardigans. I enjoyed the visit, but I think I did a lot of back-and-forthing trying to see everything and keep it all together in my mind. Plus, while Minnesota does its level best to cram everything into the display cases, Wisconsin arranges entries on the tops of the cases as well.

Oh, and another key difference between the Horticulture, Craft & Culinary Pavilion and the Creative Activities building? The Pavilion is air-conditioned. This year, with Minnesota enduring a 90ºF/32ºC and higher heat wave during the fair, that sounds heavenly.

mdntvnyrd2013stfr

Midnight Vineyard (leftmost, in navy blue, green, and purple).

On a personal note, the Midnight Vineyard vest took fifth place in its category. It was even prominently displayed, right at the very front of the display case.


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Wool gone bad

I’m reading Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, and as you can tell from the subtitle, the focus is more on the history of elements’ discoveries and uses than the chemistry involved. In the section on radium, Aldersey-Williams not only talks about Marie Curie, but also describes how radium was promoted as a cure-all (he likens it to anti-oxidants nowadays). Companies added it to all sorts of unlikely products, including knitting wool:

Oradium wool for babies was ‘endowed with a physico-chemical treatment of remarkable power: radioactivity’: ‘Everybody knows the extraordinary effects of organic stimulation of cellular excitation passed on by radium…Wool so treated combines the standard advantages of the textile with undeniable hygienic value. To knit Baby’s layette, children’s woollen garments, your underclothes and your pullover, use LAINE ORADIUM.’

(pp. 166-167)

You know, it’s a miracle the human race makes it from one generation to the next.

(Curious, I Googled “laine oradium,” and found some photos of the advertisements on this blog along with a photo of a sister product, LE COTON RADIUM (radium cotton). They’re towards the bottom of the post, but even if you don’t speak French, you can enjoy the other pictures of radium-saturated products as you scroll down. Another source claims the ad is from 1934, well after radium’s dangers were known—sheesh!)