Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekend Project: Polar Bear Prep

If I were a bear
And a big bear too,
I shouldn't much care
If it froze or snew;
I shouldn't much mind
If it snowed or friz -
I'd be all fur-lined
With a coat like his.
--Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Preparations begin for the polar bear. First, I tested the pattern by trying to sew it up in fabric.

Actually, FIRST I spent an embarrassingly huge amount of time trying to blow up the pattern to the correct size (it was scaled down in the book). Nothing is quite so humbling to a person who uses computers all day long as not being able to make sense out of a new software program. ;)

THEN I sewed it up in fabric scraps.

This exercise identified 2 issues. First, the pattern is a bit awkward where the back part of the top of the head joins the neck. I'm going to have to work on that a bit.

Second, the legs splay outwards quite a bit. Another thing to think about and try to fix...

Next up, picking the yarn! You know how some fabric stores will sell you a collection of swatches to help you pick the fabric for, say, a wedding dress? Well, it turns out that yarn stores will do a similar thing and when I first got my loom I purchased this "Yarn Store in a Box" from Halcyon Yarn:

The instructions call for 20/2 cotton and chenille. The 20/2 cotton is the THINNEST thing I have ever tried to weave! Here I compare it to sewing thread:

So, you know how I've been complaining that the weaving "kits" are just a few cones of yarn and a page of instructions? And I've been wondering how that is any advantage over just buying a few cones of yarn?

Well, I've figured it out. The effort-savings aspect is in the planning the project, not the weaving itself. It turns out that there is quite a bit of math involved in figuring out how much yarn to buy for a project!

The first step is to figure out how long the total warp will be. In the image below, the numbers in red were given for the project, and the numbers in blue are standard across many projects.

Next, you have to figure out the total length of weft yarn(s) you'll need. This project is a little bit complicated (for me) because for every 2 "rows" of the thin cotton I establish, there will be 1 "row" of the much thicker chenille. I need to figure out how many rows of each there will be in each inch of fabric.

Finally, you combine the warp measurements and the weft measurements and figure out how much yarn to buy...

Of course, you can't buy ANY random amount - the yarn is sold on 2 sizes of cones (regular & mini) and you have to figure out how many of which sized cones to buy in order to buy the least amount of extra. ;)

From there it's just place the order and wait for the mailman to bring your supplies... Giving you plenty of time to turn your attention to sewing projects! ;)

Next weekend I'll have a sewing update for you! :)