Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Something Fun, and Something Funny

There was a new project waiting for me in yesterday's mail! My ply-split braiding kit from Linda Hendrickson arrived, so of course I had to stay up all night playing with it.

Ply-split braiding is a traditional technique that's fairly new to Western textile geeks. A braid is made with several twisted cords, which are drawn through each other between their plies. It makes a firm, flexible fabric, and can be done in all sorts of shapes. The Star Ornament here is from Hendrickson's book, Great SCOT!, and she also sells a nifty little kit with all the cords you need to make an ornament. The little spiral design is from my kit leftovers, and its pattern is explained on Hendrickson's webpage.

At $5.30, the kit may seem a bit expensive for a handful of perle cotton cords. But I think it's well worth it for a first project. Good cords make the work so much easier. I want to make my own cords so I can work through some of my thread stash, but for the first time around I'm glad I only have one thing to screw up.

The book itself sells for $8.00, including shipping. She doesn't do phone or credit card orders, and doesn't do rush shipping - although she mailed mine fairly quickly, and e-mailed to let me know it was coming. I'm very happy with the book, although I'm not sure if everyone would be. If you prefer learning in person, it might be better to let the book supplement a class. There are a lot of "do this like you did before" instructions, which means you have some reading to do if you just want to pick a first project at random. But everything you need is in there, and if you're more inclined to work through the book everything would go more smoothly.

Here is what I learned about ply-split braiding:

1. When making cords, tension is important. You must be able to keep the cords under fairly firm tension while you're twisting them, or they'll twist where you don't want them to.

2. While it's possible to make cords with a hand drill, it takes a long time. In the future, I'm pulling out the power drill.

3. You don't need much counter-twist. The yarn takes care of that itself; you just have to control it.

4. A latch hook (for drawing cords through each other) isn't necessary, but it makes things go faster.

5. Very sticky tape for the ends of the cords is good, but you can get by with anything. Even knots are OK, although they slow down working.

6. Having your yarn licked by a dog at any step of the process makes it more difficult to use.

This ornament represents, at most, a couple hours' work. I suspect it was really much less, but I spent so much time making more cords that it's hard to be sure.

My only criticism of the book is that there's not enough of it. There are so many neat projects to be found on-line, and I want to know how to do all of them. Fortunately, Hendrickson offers a remedy, in the form of a nice collection of basket kits and patterns. I'll probably be ordering one of them soon.

In other news, I can finally let the truth out about my SP10 Secret Pal. I've been spoiling The Other Amanda, of Have Yarn, Will Travel. Out of the 700+ participants in Secret Pal 10, I got paired with one of the few knitters I know who's moved away from Lafayette. It's hard to be secret when you've been at the same sock club. I'm glad Amanda finally found me out, since it's been hard to keep quiet on something this funny.

I'm also amused to note that I had two Amanda-pals this summer, thanks to the Hurricane Sock Party and Clothesknit Amanda.

So now I don't have any exchanges going except for Sockday club, and the next sockday isn't until August. That leaves me more time to start new projects, right?

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