Sunday, November 16, 2014

Broke out the loom this weekend!

I was going to write about New Zealand but I spent a lot of time on fiber-related pursuits this weekend so this is a fiber post, not a travel post.

First of all, I finally warped my Flip rigid-heddle loom! I bought it shortly before I went to China and apparently had only partially assembled it. When I took it out to warp it, I found that the apron rods were not attached. I couldn't figure out the instructions so I had to search online for better instructions. Amazingly, there isn't a video on how to put it together. I guess since it is 90% assembled, one is not needed except for people like me. I finally found what I was looking for in a video on assembling the Cricket loom which comes in many parts. The instructions talked about a chain in the cord that was supplied and I couldn't see the chain until it was pointed out in the video.

After that it was sort of plain sailing. I have the Craftsy class on rigid heddle weaving and I went back and forth between the lesson on warping and actually warping my loom. I made a few mistakes. The warping paper wound on crookedly so a bit of the warp is on and off the paper. I also didn't do a surgeon's knot when I knotted the warp but it is quite tight.

It took about 4-5 hours to get it all done. Now I have loads of weaving to do which can be done in bits and pieces. I did a bit this afternoon.
 I was going to use this cone of alpaca for warp but it wasn't strong enough. So I ended up using it for weft. I warped with Silk City Kashmir - a merino, cashmere, silk yarn I got years ago. I have it in 3 colors and used the white to go with the white in the alpaca above.
 Here is the bit I wove this afternoon along with the warped loom.
 And a close-up of the weaving. It is going to be a stole - about 18x65". The loom is 20" wide so 18 is pretty close to the full width of the loom. To add some interest, I may weave a few stripes of leftover yarn when I run of the main yarn in the shuttle. Just to add some color to the plain stole. Let's see.
 I started a sweater for my husband last weekend. It is in Rowan Felted Tweed DK in a color called Midnight. It is a bit darker than the photo - almost black with tweedy bits. It is going to be a plain stockinette sweater with saddle shoulders, worked seamlessly per Elizabeth Zimmermann in Knitting without Tears. I started with a provisional cast-on because I only have 10 balls and am not sure if it will be enough. If I don't have enough, I can do the ribbing in a lighter blue or a very dark purple - which I have in stash. The idea is to bust the stash.
I have also been slowly spinning the Kraemer Sterling Silk and Silver roving. I had started this in China and spun the big ball you see in the photo. It was a full bobbin like the one next to it. I wound it off when I got here because I needed the WooLee Winder bobbins reamed out at Rhinebeck by Nathan Lee. I didn't want him to have to deal with the fiber on the bobbin. Since then I finished up the rest of that single and the other single and now I have 2 full bobbins and 2 partial bobbins worth. I will probably start plying this evening.

It is roving so I spun it long draw and hope to get a worsted weight yarn out of it. Let us see.

I am spending an hour or two spinning or now weaving after dinner. I found that if I sat in the family room and did something, I ended up munching on something even though I didn't need it. By going upstairs to the guest bedroom and doing something other than watch TV, or even be around the TV when it is on, I am not motivated to munch. It is a win-win. Good for my waistline and good for getting fiber-y things done. I watch spinning or weaving videos or listen to podcasts.

Last weekend, I organized my stash. Wow! I have a lot more fiber than I thought I did. I had a lot of partially filled boxes of yarn in my closet so they all got combined into large plastic tubs which have been put up high. I put yarns of the same type together and found quite a few that I can use for weaving. I was going to get rid of some of it but decided against it because the weaving will use up yarn faster than knitting. Plus I like all of it!

The fiber also went into plastic tubs but lives in the guest bedroom closet. Once that closet is cleaned out and decluttered, my yarn is going in there too. The good news is that I have less yarn than I thought I did. And a lot of it is fine yarn which is good for weaving.

I will try and get to posting about New Zealand during the week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


After quite a while, we return to the travelogue. After our trip down the Great Ocean Road, we spent a day wandering around Melbourne. Melbourne is a lovely city. It doesn't have the glamour of Sydney's harbor but it is accessible, compact and I like visiting it. I've been there a number of times on business and one of the things I like about it is that our office is in the heart of downtown. Sydney used to be like that decades ago but Melbourne still is.

But this time we were there on holiday. Our vacation hotel was on the other side of the Yarra river from where I usually stay. This was nice as it gave me a different perspective on the city. Melbourne has gorgeous Victorian architecture so we spent the morning walking around the city center looking at buildings.

This is Melbourne's China town entrance up ahead. Melbourne and Sydney have a very diverse population which shows in the variety of foods and faces and culture that is visible.



Juxtaposed with the lovely Victorian architecture is very modern architecture. This is Federation square from which our tour left. The day we went on the bus tour was Superbowl Sunday in the US so there was a giant TV showing the game and people hanging out. But this was the next day and it was quiet.


Flinders Street station - across the street from the modern architecture above.

One of the government buildings for the Victoria provincial government.


Melbourne has a trolley system in the city center. The trolley cars are old and acquired from other cities. They are gussied up with paint. There is a free trolley that goes on a circular route around the city center. We took that a couple of times. We didn't take the others because the ticketing is complicated. You need a card, which you have to get from specific places and which need a deposit. It wasn't worth it for a day. We did take a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus to see some of the further out places.


There was a protest going on outside this government building.

A row of yarnbombed trees.

RMIT - one of the universities in Melbourne - has a lot of really intriguing modern architecture. This is one of their buildings.

After wandering around the city center, we went a little further on the tourist bus. We wanted to see the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Tennis Center (home of the Australian Open) and the Botanical Garden.

See that tiny bit of green in that picture? That is how close I got to seeing the cricket ground. From the outside, it is a giant sports stadium which I could not capture in a single picture. It was rather boring. We went inside and were told we had to pay to take an hour long tour. We didn't want to spend the money or the time. I thought I could sneak up and get a photo of the grounds but this as close as they would let me. Darn!

From the cricket ground, we walked across a long over-pass which went over the railway tracks to the tennis arena.

These are the outer courts of the tennis center. We couldn't get into the Tennis Center either.

Next up Botanical Gardens. These were not as nice as Sydney's. But it was nice after being in the sun all day.

We also went to the Shrine of Rememberance - Melbourne's war memorial.

The top provides gorgeous views of Melbourne.

Looking up at the shrine.

The actual shrine.

The four corners have these structures that are meant to evoke the trenches of World War 1. They are quite interesting and serene to spend time in.

And with that, we walked back to our hotel. A very long walk because we missed the last tourist bus to get back. We were able to get it from the shrine to the Botanical Garden where it ends. But we couldn't get the next one that starts from there and goes to our hotel vicinity because we had just gotten off the last one.

The next day we flew to Auckland for the New Zealand leg of our trip.