Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Snippet

Or, perhaps, spinlet.

This is my progress on 3/4 oz of bamboo and merino roving that I got from MDSW. It spoke to me when I pulled it out of the bag this time; it said, "Make me a three-ply knitting yarn!" but it also said, "Keep my colors together!". Well, the only way I can reasonably do that is Navajo ply, but 1. this is a really fine and slippery merino/bamboo blend, so it isn't the strongest yarn, and 2. I hate Navajo ply. Instead, I'm opting to ply it with two strands of that nice soft brown-black alpaca I also got from MDSW; unless there winds up being too much brown in it, the darkness should let the colors in the merino blend shine nicely.

The wheel is my Cassandra wheel, which I've modified to accommodate sliding flyer hooks and a cotton drive band.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hack of the day: Cheap warping wheel/square

I would very much like to own a warping wheel or warping square. I have a sectional loom, so it would be pretty handy. However, I would not like spending $600 nearly as much. Think of all the yarn I could buy with that!

So, as I do in such situations, I figured I ought to make one myself. I haven't entirely succeeded, but for approximately $60 in parts, a partial solution is great.

(Bad phone pictures inbound!)

That's my 72" yarn swift from Fiber Artist Supply Co. clamped to a base made from bolts, nuts, and a chopped up 2x4. The swift comes with the wooden pegs, and is quite nicely made.

And that's the mini-raddle. The wooden base and clampy bit is improvised from wood and thin plywood, and the raddle itself is a steel pet comb cut in half. (The spine on the linked comb is aluminum so it comes apart very nicely with a hacksaw.)

I haven't used this very much yet; it has an absolute lack of tension control, so I can't wind directly on to my loom without the whole thing flopping all over and dumping all my warp on the floor. It's just fine for winding sections that I'll chain off and beam later, though! I still find it a lot faster than a warping board or reel.

I will probably build a new wheel head to replace the swift at a later date, so that I can add tension control and a place to clamp the mini-raddle.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm getting started on Christmas decorations early

I presently fly a purple Cobra in Elite Dangerous. This Christmas season I'll also be flying a purple Cobra on my tree.

3D printed at Shapeways with this model from JotaErre, modified slightly to add a hanger loop. If I were you I'd move the loop further to the front to balance the model a bit better, but it's not bad as is.

Bonus action shot: just unloaded some sweet, sweet painite (real painite included!).

Friday, November 13, 2015

Solar flares

Ever wanted to blame some problem on solar flares, but weren't sure whether that was plausible? Worry no more, I built something for that:

Now you can easily find out whether solar activity is happening, and how severe it is, so you can honestly say "I'm sorry, there are some really bad solar flares today. Come back tomorrow.". Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I mean to impose

I've run into another book-printing project, so I thought I'd share the PoDoFo imposition script I used to generate a printable PDF. I was going to write an interesting blog post, but wound up creating a Github repository instead. Go check it out.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

How long is a piece of string?

If I'm stringing ~6mm pearls on a doubled strand, knotting between each pearl, probably 4*[finished length of strand] + 12". Scale that according to pearl width -- if I'm stringing pearls that are, say, 4mm wide, I'll add an additional 2*[finished length]*0.333... to account for the extra knots.

This is for my own personal reference, but feel free to benefit from it. I'm probably not totally wrong.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Things I do with seed pearls

I... might have a thing for pearls.

I'm especially fond of seed pearls because you can do cool filigree things with them.

I was inspired by Victorian-era pieces of similar construction, backed with carved mother of pearl. Since carving mother of pearl for the frame is cost- and time-prohibitive for me, I design the frames in Blender and get them 3D printed in plastic through Shapeways. This piece was my wedding necklace, and I patterned the design off of a couple of different Victorian lavalier pendants. The golden pearl is a South Seas keshi pearl I purchased from IndoSeaPearls (whose reopening I still await).

Bonus action shot: 

photo by Kristen Rawls

Monday, February 2, 2015

PSA: Printing vellum on an Epson Workforce 1100

Use double-sided tape to tape one short edge of the vellum to one short edge of a piece of cardstock, then feed the taped edge into the recalcitrant printer.

That is all.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Late night embroidery: Chikankari Flour Sack Towel

I've decided it's time to whip up a couple of gift flour sack towels, so I've gone digging through my pattern books. I'm not done with the pattern for the new set yet, but I'd like to share the pattern I used for a towel about a year ago.

The pattern is from a book called Traditional Chikankari Embroidery Patterns of India. (I reproduce it here per the terms given in the book -- I can pretty much do what I want with the patterns non-commercially.) I don't have a photo of the finished product, but the colors are fairly accurate.

I stem stitched this in the corner of a flour sack towel -- except for the gridwork in the center, which I laid and couched. I (believe I) used two strands of cotton floss, in the following colors:
  • DMC 333 (grape)
  • DMC 470 (green)
  • DMC 676 (light gold)
  • DMC 680 (dark gold)
  • Anchor 59 (dark pink -- think dark Barbie pink)
And, for your benefit, here's a large printable version in black and white, which magically grows when you soak it in water click it:

I performed the pattern transfer by tracing with a pencil, but I'm going to be ambitious with the next set and attempt a prick and pounce using vellum and Micron pens instead of pounce. I tried an iron-on pencil, but the lines were heavier than my stitches.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

DIY fiber and weaving tools

My Fiddlestix proved their worth and flexibility once more as a warping mill:
One section of a sample warp
I was ridiculously excited to get this wooden crate with a bunch of bonus clementines at the grocery store.
It works a whole lot better than the foamboard and duct tape contraption I worked up the first time. The spinny part is a lazy susan bearing which was $6 or so off Amazon.

I also recently finished my Adequate Drum Carder:

Photoshop makes my photography look slightly less lazy

I ran into a few roadblocks along the way, but I'm happy with it. The blue-handled dog brush is my handheld licker-in, the bamboo skewer my batt picker, and the scrub brush my burnisher. As you can see, a lot of fiber gets stuck to the drum, so I'll definitely be trying the netting trick from my previous post.

The basic workflow for a single-drum carder goes something like this:

  1. Load the brush with fiber. Use this as an opportunity to open up the fiber. Otherwise the fiber will just clump up on the drum and you will be sad.
  2. Crank the drum and feed the fiber off of the brush, starting at the end furthest from your hand. Don't mesh the teeth, just let the drum grab it and pull it off gradually. You'll get a feel for it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the width of the drum is full of delicious fiber*.
  4. While still turning the crank, stick the brush in there and pack the fiber down over the whole drum.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you can't comfortably get any more fiber on the drum.
  6. Pick the batt off of the drum.

Materials for my $60 Adequate Drum Carder:

  • 12" of carding cloth from Brother Drum Carder
  • 2 4" round wooden plaques from the craft store
  • From the hardware store:
    • 4" PVC pipe, cut to the width of the carding cloth
    • Some wood screws
    • Two brad hole tee nuts, 3/8"
    • 1 acorn nut, 3/8"
    • 1 6" length of threaded rod, 3/8"
    • 2 carriage bolts, 3/8" (if you're making this, take your own measurements as mine won't be accurate)
    • A package of 3/8" washers
    • 3 3/8" nuts
    • Rigid plastic tubing to fit the threaded rod (okay, I admit I had this in my stash)
    • Some wood for base and crank (I used 1x3 red oak and some scrap poplar)
    • Wood glue (I had Titebond III)
    • Other strong glue (I used E6000)
    • Some nails to fit the tee nuts
    • A 1/2" or so wide strip of sheet brass as long as the carding cloth is wide (look for it with the rest of the hardware)

You'll also need a saw to cut the wood and the tubing, a hammer to attach the tee nuts, a drill with a 3/8" bit to drill the holes, and a wrench to tighten up the nuts.

I won't give you a step by step, or any measurements, because I was winging it the whole way and I had to do some chisel work to get the drum to fit in the frame. (I can normally measure correctly, but I didn't figure out the tee nuts until late in the game. Don't judge me.) However, I'll toss out some relevant thoughts and tips so I can finish this blog post and get some sleep:
  • Attach the cloth to the PVC pipe first. Well, after you cut the pipe, that is. I screwed it in along one side of the untoothed seam (parallel to the length of the pipe), then glued it all the way around, then screwed it in perpendicular to the pipe. I pre-punched the holes in the cloth. Oh, be careful not to scratch your hand too deeply when you inadvertently stick it in the pipe with the sharp wood screw ends sticking out. Safety third!
  • Once I'd laid the glue and wrapped the cloth around the pipe, I wrapped the whole #!** firmly in duct tape and bubble wrap and let it dry for 24 hours.
  • After you get the cloth on, glue the brass strip down over the seam.
  • The wood plaques are, you guessed it, glued on with the E6000. I eyeballed it to get it centered, but I know I can get away with that.
  • The frame is, you guessed it, glued together. Even the butt joint between the base and the uprights. Titebond FTW. I glued extra bits of wood to widen the base so I could have a place to clamp it to the table.
  • Include the width of the drum WITH the tee nuts when you're measuring for making the frame.
  • No, it isn't simpler to just drill the plaques at the center and run a threaded rod or dowel through. The tee nuts are your bestest best friend.
  • The plastic tube bit should rotate freely on the threaded rod bit so the handle bit doesn't make your hand a bit sore.
  • If your significant other complains about the squeaking, you can either figure out how to stop it or look up a YouTube video of gem cutting and threaten to take that up as a hobby instead.
  • Tooth orientation matters. I have the teeth pointing up and away from me, and I turn the crank clockwise.
* part of a balanced breakfast
** shebang***
*** don't judge me, I should be in bed by now


I've got to try this drum carder trick. Mind blown.

I'll take pictures of my new drum carder later. Handmade, cost me $60. I'm totally happy with it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cake for breakfast

This morning I made delicious cake.
20 wraps per inch if I pack it a bit
This is slightly over two ounces of handspun Merino wool that I plied and wet-finished last night, winding it into a center-pull cake this morning on my new ball winder. (Christmas was good to me.) I'm intending to use it for weaving an overshot throw pillow cover in preparation for an overshot coverlet -- I've never woven overshot before so I'm trying to get my pattern weft choice sorted out before I spin two pounds of whatever I choose.

Speaking of Christmas, I also got to use my new Tinkertoy Fiddlestix set as a yarn swift:

I'm not certain I like the vertical orientation yet, but that's the beauty of the set -- I can just reconfigure it into a horizontal swift if I want. Hooray for flexible tools!

Finally, it may be winter, but the alpacas are nesting already.
These are actually wee little nests of alpaca roving that I carded with my fancy dog brushes and dizzed with that big button up there. I bought the alpaca fiber from The Fuchsia Fleece and I'm very happy with it -- it cards up well even on my ~80 TPI brushes. The little nests spin up nicely -- who knew a button could make so much difference?