Timing is interesting: I just finished meeting some knitting deadlines, have a self-published pattern in the works but no specific release date, C and I are about to acquire a short-term roommate, and my sister’s wonderful (but aged and suffering) dog just passed away.
Like planets aligning, all of these things combined to create the perfect condition for me to work on a project that I have had in mind for YEARS: I have time to weave, I want to do something nice for my sister, and I have to return the floor loom to its owner so its room can go back to being a bedroom.
I don’t remember how I first came across Bonnie Tarses and her horoscope weaving - either in Handwoven magazine, or listening to WeaveCast (a podcast about weaving produced by Syne Mitchell)… but I thought the idea was interesting, and I desperately wanted to try converting her horoscope charts to knitting. I got in touch with Bonnie via email and shared my idea, and she kindly offered to create a horoscope chart for me to use in my experiments.
Bonnie uses a person’s birth day, date, time, and the location of their birth to create an astrological horoscope based on the position of the planets and stars in the sky overhead when they were born. She then converts this into a warping plan that tells the weaver what colour goes where as they are preparing the loom for weaving.
(JARGON ALERT: in weaving, the “warp” is the group of threads or yarn that are pre-strung onto a loom during set-up, the “weft” is the threads or yarn that does the over-under-over-under part across the warp during active weaving.)
I wasn’t able to find my own baby book with all of these details, so I got my sister (or maybe my Mom?) to give me hers, and off it went to Bonnie. Once I had the drafting plan back (along with a cool chart of astrological symbols arranged in a sky-circle) I started plotting my project.
12 colours, in a fairly standard rainbow range? We’ve got Cascade 220 at the store that would work…
A pattern that is simple and doesn’t require lots of darning in of tails at the end of a row? Well, a sweater is out (can’t imagine how I’d do the sleeves), and a scarf isn’t big enough… Hm! Maybe a wrap? Something like the Colourflow Wrap would work well, and it means I just need to knit a giant tube and then I can cut it open, knot the fringe, and call it done. Yay!
Rainbow yarns in a worsted weight held together as three strands at a time doesn’t make the subtle eye-fooling colour blends that rainbow yarns in laceweight do… so my wrap was going to be tragically ugly if I didn’t quickly abandon the idea.
Oh wow.. while composing this blog post, I just came up with another idea for working the horoscope into a knitted garment.. woot, I love inspiration! Not sure if it will work, but I like the vision in my head…
Okay, so aside from THAT bit of excitement that just happened, I hadn’t come up with any really GOOD ideas to make this work using the Cascade 220. Next step: change out my yarn! Lunatic Fringe Yarns has cones of teeny cotton in gorgeous bright colours that they promote for their colour gamp projects or for use with Bonnie’s horoscopes. I loved this yarn, but not for knitting, so the design project was put on hold and I’ve been planning (for years!) to just weave a wrap or blanket for my sister and see for myself how the colours will all blend and work together. Bonnie has always assured me that it would be fabulous, I just need to DO it… so here I go!
(JARGON ALERT: a gamp is a weaving pattern where the colour and/or the stitch pattern changes in a specific way as it moves across the warp AND up the weft)
When I dove into the project today, I realized that I would also need some additional yarn as there is a large amount of the horoscope chart that specifies “favourite colour - your choice” and Heather’s chart already ran pretty heavily through the cone of blue that came with the set of 12 from Lunatic Fringe. I remembered that C had bought some royal blue tencel at a fibre fest many years ago and had never used, so I managed to dig it out of the depths of my stash and got permission to use it (with promises to replace it as he still has plans for it).
These are the “after” cones, once I had taken off between 40 and 100 lengths of approximately 4 yards each. The middle photo up there shows bundles of warp threads chained together (crochet with your hands!) to keep them from tangling between the measuring stage and the actual installation/warping stage. I forgot to take a photo during the warp measuring stage, will try to remember if it turns out that I goofed on my counts and have to do more.
So, I am stopping for tonight, because I think it is a good idea for me to go to sleep fairly soon, after a brief look through my Learning To Weave book to see if there are any hints on sleying the reed when I have more warp ends than I do slots in my reed.
(JARGON ALERT: “sleying” = threading the warp threads into the slots on the thingy (”reed”) that keeps them spaced at a particular distance AND helps to press the weft threads into place)
More photos to come tomorrow! I’ve just figured out how to blog from my iPad, photos and all (assuming this works!) so there will be updates over the next few days.. hoping to finish this by Friday!