Thursday, March 25, 2010

At long last...

...some crochet!

Stats: free pattern courtesy of Naturally Caron (you'll have to Google -- too lazy to link!) 'Spa' yarn (acrylic/bamboo blend), smallest size. Mods: shortened by a pattern repeat in total length -- shortened sleeves by 4 rows. Another delightful Doris Chan design!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What a workout...

...but I have my first TFO (treadled finished object) -- a napkin!

More to come, but I was so excited to actually get it working that I had to show it off. I'm not sure that the stitching really shows that well in the photo (no close up lens, but you can click for bigger), but I'm really pleased with it. What is actually showing on the top of the napkin is the bobbin stitch -- since I was making a narrow mitered hem I wanted to see what I was doing and had the back side on top. I could have gone with a longer stitch length, and probably will for the rest of them. Unlike modern machines there is no convenient little numbered dial to set that -- you simply turn an unmarked screw one way or the other to change length. That will take a little getting used to! I have a feeling that I didn't get the leather treadle belt tight enough, so that will need looking after, but other than that -- what fun!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Look what followed me home...

...Can I keep it, Ma?

It's a circa 1922 Singer "Red Eye" treadle, not in the most pristine of condition, but I'd like to actually use it, rather than have it be a display piece, so that was OK with me. I've cleaned it up a bit, given it a nice drink of oil, and all that's left is to replace the leather treadle belt and the old girl should be good to go. I've been procrastinating on the belt replacement -- I'm not the most mechanical of people and recently almost set fire to myself while trying to repair a spinning wheel drive band (it was plastic; you need to melt it, yadda, yadda). Fortunately, no fire is involved in a treadle belt replacement, although I have read a hint about piercing the leather strap with an ice pick...

At any rate, I look forward to some 'green' sewing -- I shall laugh in the face of power outages! And who knows, maybe all that treadling will be a nice fitness regime? Heaven knows getting that heavy old cast iron treadle up to the second floor of our house was a real workout -- many thanks to Mr. Mingling Yarn who shouldered the lion's share of that load!

And on a seasonal note --dare we hope?

Sunday, March 7, 2010


...I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole again. How about a needle review to make up for lost time?

I have previously reviewed the Options Harmony (wooden) interchangeable needles from KnitPicks. To recap: LOVE the sharp points, LOVE the price, like the flexible cable and HATE the fact that the needles pop out of the metal connectors at inopportune moments. Yes, KnitPicks is very good about replacing defective needles, but that is small comfort when you are dealing with a lap full of slippery lace stitches. So, that's not a brand that I would feel comfortable recommending, despite some very attractive features.

My next stop at finding a reliable interchangeable needle was at Webs. Their Valley Yarns brand of needles are made from bamboo (a favorite material of mine) and are available in sizes 3US (3.25mm) to 15US (10mm). Two different cables are available -- thin, for needle sizes 3 - 6, and a thicker cable for all other sizes. They come in 3 lengths, 16, 24 or 32 inches, however for $1US you can buy connectors that allow you to combine cables (of similar diameter) for longer lengths. A set of all needles EXCEPT size 3 is available for $109US -- I purchased my needles/cables individually in a couple of sizes that I use frequently.

Hopefully you can see in this slightly blurry photo (click for bigger) the difference in point sharpness -- KnitPicks Harmony is the top needle, two different sized Valley Yarns needles are below. Can you also make out another nice aspect of the Webs needles? They have their sizes printed on the needle -- no more hunting for a needle gauge! At the very bottom of the photo you can see the part of the KnitPicks needles that gave me such a fit -- the metal connector, from which the wooden needle spews forth. Notice that there is more than one connector there, which represents more than one occasion that I've had a problem with them. Sadly, this doesn't represent every occasion they have failed, only the ones I didn't replace, or re-glue.

So, what's my verdict (and please remember that these are MY opinions, your mileage may vary!)?
Well, first and foremost, the needle tips are blunter than some others you may find in the marketplace. That might be a real deal-breaker for many knitters -- I thought it might be for me, as I really enjoy knitting lacier stitches. However, while using them to knit a lacy shawlette (Haruni) I didn't find the blunt tips to be much of a problem for me. Hmmm, have I been poking holes in my fingers from sharp points all these years for no reason? Be aware of this though, should you decide to try them.
Next the cable -- LOVE, LOVE these! They are clear, and hollow tubes, and they are nicely flexible. NOTE: I only used the thinner cables, as I was using smaller sized needles. The joins seemed nice and smooth (and SECURE) and nothing untwisted or came apart from the metal connectors while in use. Now, granted this was one use, however, my problems with the other brand showed up (in every case) during my first use of the needles. So, on that score I have high hopes for this brand. Fingers crossed!

All in all, I was very pleased with this purchase. Yes, they are blunter than I would like, and that may prove to be a problem for some projects, but I think for most applications (the points) will be just fine. Cables are great, connection seems good, good range of sizes, decent price (although a bit higher than KnitPicks) -- so, well done Webs!

I'll repeat, these are my honest, no affiliation, opinions. Your experience may be different, and I'd love to hear other knitters experiences with these needles, so don't be shy about expressing your opinion if it differs from mine!

And speaking of Haruni --

Stats: Jojoland Melody, slightly over 3 balls.