Monday, October 26, 2015

The Art of Randomness

Being strategically random is an art, not a science. Years ago I heard a radio show about randomness and I recently came across it again: My two current projects engage the concept of randomness.  I wanted to "eat up" a bunch of hand spun yarn (to make space for more of course) so I started knitting a blanket with blue tones. The other project is a woven piece using some random yarns.

In the Radiolab show they talk about an experiment in which there are two groups. One is going to flip a coin 100 times and write down whether they got heads or tails. The other group generates a random list of heads or tails. Then the scientist looks at the two list and immediately knows which list is real randomness. She knows because there are 7 tails in a row in the coin flip group.  The other group had chosen to not make such a long string of the same outcome thinking they were being random.  Apparently there will always be 7 of the same side of the coin in a row for any given 100 flips.

How does this relate to my project? If you were trying to make pleasant looking random stripes and you put 7 strands in a row it would stand out as odd.  So my randomness is not random.  As I'm knitting the blue tone blanket, if I haven't had a white strand in a while I'll add one in---but I'm definitely not counting and putting in the white at regular intervals.  Every now and then I step back from this blanket and ask myself "What color have I not used in a while?" or "Am I using too much of the same color?" I'm starting to run out of certain colors and that is limiting my options.  Will that mess with my perceived randomness?

It's been a long time since I have sat at the loom. This project was a reintroduction to some of the basics of weaving. For example, after I set the warp I couldn't remember how to start. I kept starting the weaving part, but it looked super sloppy. Then I finally remembered to use a header.  I broke a few wefts along the way and had to re-learn how to deal with that, too.

The design involved random wefts and a solid color for the weave.  I wove about 2 yards, took it off the loom, and cut the fringe. I'm not sure what I'll do with it; it's more of a practice piece.

If you are searching for something to listen to while doing your fiber crafts I highly recommend this episode of Radiolab. If you are a compulsive gambler it's a MUST HEAR!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Icelandic Sweater for a Student Midwife

She will wake in the middle of the night, pull herself from her own bed, and drive to you. She will greet you with a smile. She will rub your back and her hands will take away some of the pain. She will encourage you. She will make it safe for you. She will place your baby on your chest and cover you both with warm blankets. She will hug you when she says "good bye".

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Icelandic Sweaters

Before Weaving Works moved to their new location a while back they had a sale in which for $50 you could stuff as much yarn into a bag that would fit.  That is how I got all of this Alafosslopi.  The abundance of Icelandic wool allowed me to explore Icelandic patterns.  First I made a rather large Afmaeli sweater. Using the same pattern but making LOTS of modification I made this grey one. This time I took some of the lighter yarn and over-dyed it, getting these dark purple and forest green colors. 
When it comes to Icelandic patters, there's a lot of weaving in of the yarns to finish the project. I have discovered a little tool to make in go 100 times faster. It's a curved yarn needle---brilliant!  The sweater was suppose to be for me but alas, it's too small. I needed to find someone smaller than me, who appreciates wool, and is not afraid of wearing something that weighs 4 lbs. The perfect receiver: my current student midwife. She's always cold and she doesn't wear store-bought clothes. My only deal with her was that she'd have to let me photograph her wearing it. She agreed.  Now the sweater is blocked and drying. Soon we will take the photos. 

Since I still would like an Icelandic sweater for myself, I made some adjustments with my calculations and tried again. This time I'm going with a button up design. I'm still using the Afmaeli pattern and again I'm making a lot of modifications. Knitting the body is quite boring but I'm just to the part when I can attach the sleeves and start the pattern work. My favorite part! I'm not totally set on colors but the skeins below are what I have to work with.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Good Bye Summer, Hello Fall

Using the yarn from the solar-dyeing project, I whipped up a hat. I'm not exactly sure the dye took perfectly. I had rinsed it well, but without the kind of heat I use on the stove I worried that when I go to wash it someday the color would run out. So I used a black yarn in the hat, not only for contrast but because it wouldn't get discolored if the dye ran.

The pattern is called Icelandic Hat by Astrid Ellingsen, found on Ravelry. It's written in Icelandic so I just looked at the pictures and used the chart for the pattern. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Goodbye Summer

Summer is coming to an end. Here we are on the last day of August and I want to get one last word in about this summer. 
Record breaking hot!
(That's 3 words.)
What do you do when it's 90 degrees everyday? Solar dyeing, of course. Here's a photo of some icelandic wool that I left soaking in cutch and madder root in mason jars for half the summer.

Now the wind is picking up and the rain is starting to fall and I'll be moving inside.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hiking and Knitting...but mostly hiking

 Due to cold fingers and exhaustion, very little knitting got done. I had planned for a light weight knitting project---lace trim. Size 2 bamboo needles and a little ball of cotton string. What I didn't plan for was a hike that was way above me fitness level.

I ventured out into the North Cascades by  myself for 3 days. The first day was the most difficult. I went 8 miles in, mostly uphill.  The second day I left my pack at my campsite and hiked up to Copper Ridge Lookout.  On the 3rd day I hiked out which took 4 1/2 hours but was mostly downhill.

This hike was so exhausting that once I stopped moving all I could do was lay down.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fiber Arts and Hiking

 Heading out for a backpacking trip on the rugged Washington State coast I grabbed my lightest spindle to bring along.  My husband and I hike in about 6 miles heading north from Rialto Beach near La Push.  By nightfall we were isolated by the high tide and locked in to our camping spot.  Our tent nestled up against the cliff on one side and was about 10 feet away from the lapping waves on the other side. I had brought some natural tan merino and some natural black-gray alpaca. My idea was to spin some "sand-colored" yarn. I spun in little flecks of black and gray, giving the tan wool an appearance of sand.  Being that I was so tired from hiking over boulders and giant old-growth driftwood I didn't have much energy to spin. But at the same time I loved having a little down-time with my craft. I'm thrilled to combine my two favorite pastimes: fiber arts and hiking!

Camp site at low tide.
Spinning. Water rising.