It’s been a week when I’ve made progress on several projects, but haven’t actually finished much. Unless you count an espadrille sole.
The espadrille experiment, part two
I am now the proud possessor of a pair of espadrille soles.
They are a long way off being identical, but I think the second one (the lower one in the picture) is more even and generally better than my first attempt. If I made another 1,000 I expect I’d get quite good at it. I will have another go at some point, because I want to see if using plaited twine rather than I-cord gives a firmer result. These soles are a bit floppy and slipper-like. When I’ve got the uppers on I’m going apply some PVA to the underside to make them waterproof (or at least, more waterproof than they are now, which is not at all waterproof), and I’m hoping that might stiffen them up.
The next stage is the uppers. They need to be made from a reasonably firm fabric, such as denim or cotton canvas. I had a rummage in my scrap drawer (actually, it’s a chest of drawers, and it contains fabric I’ve bought on a whim and never used, as well as three decades of leftovers from sewing projects). I found a bag of squares of Liberty furnishing fabric I bought some 20 years ago from a mill shop there used to be in Burnley.
The squares of linen union I have were obviously cut to go into sample books, but they don’t have the annoying holes in them that you get when you buy an old pattern book. They are a good size and cost 15p each – the price labels are still on them – so I bought loads. How could anybody not buy gorgeous Liberty fabric at 15p a pop? My intention at the time was to make a patchwork throw, but linen union isn’t really suitable for that. Over the years I have used these squares for cushions and various other projects, so that I only have four designs left now. The biggest and boldest, Lodden, should suit my espadrilles. It’s top right in the photo above.
I started by cutting a paper pattern from instructions I found online that involve measuring your feet – seems a reasonable enough place to start. Then I cut out a front and back part in some old sheeting, which is just as well because I found that I needed to make adjustments. I have now bitten the bullet and cut out one shoe’s worth of upper from the Lodden and I’m trying to work out how best to fit it around the sole. I feel instinctively that the toe area should be eased around the toe of the sole, like easing a sleeve into an armhole. Further experimentation is needed.
The Mayan blade in action
I’ve finished my spinning device. I don’t really feel I can count that as a finished project this week though, because it was all over bar the shouting last week. When I have time, I’ll write it up as a project on Instructables, because there doesn’t appear to be an Instructable already for such a device.
My “Mayan blade” consists of a wooden dowel with a hole in one end into which a short length of glass fibre rod is glued. This rod acts as a spindle and goes through a hole in the blade, which is cut from hardwood. You grasp the dowel handle and wiggle your arm to make the blade rotate.
I put a washer under the blade, but I’m not sure it’s really necessary. It’s held in place with a wooden bead pushed onto the end of the glass fibre rod. I found I didn’t even need to stick the bead on the top, I’d drilled it out to the perfect size to be a push fit. (More luck than judgement, that.)
I put this device to use for the first time yesterday, sitting outside in the sun. Unsurprisingly, my beginner’s efforts have not produced consistent yarn, but I’m still ridiculously pleased with myself.
I can see that learning to draft well will take some time, possibly more time than I have left on this earth, but even an absolute beginner like myself can produce yarn of a sort with this football rattle-like tool, and very quickly and easily. I’ve never tried to use a drop spindle, but from what I’ve seen of them in use a Mayan blade is a big improvement. I wouldn’t like to try and make enough yarn for a jumper this way though. Making enough for a hat should be feasible.
I spun some merino tops which came in a packet from Texere that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas one year when I was in a felting phase. (Dilettante, moi?) It needs plying before it is usable, and I might just ply it with some of the fine acrylic I’m using for my Adrift cardigan, to stop it getting too thick and heavy. Plying can be done with the Mayan blade too, you just whirl it in the opposite direction. Then I’ll knit a small square from the yarn, to see what it looks like.
Adrift is doing pretty well. I am below the armholes (this is a top down knit) and into the waist shaping.
The Android row counter
I’ve been struggling with learning Android development. Sometimes things go well, sometimes I spend ages trying to work out where the problem lies within my code. Fairly typical, I suppose. If I had a teacher, rather than trying to learn by myself, I’m not sure it would be any better – there’s nothing like spotting your own errors for making them sink in.
I’ve only had access to an Android phone for a few weeks and I’m not much of an app user, which is part of the problem; I don’t know what Android is capable of. I need to spend time looking at others’ code and figuring out how it does what it does, but that’s not nearly as much fun as trying to write my own. That is one of the pleasures of self-directed learning: I can choose to go down the more enjoyable route rather than the more effective route if I wish.
My simple row counter is now slightly less simple than before, in that the user can choose a reset value other than zero. Also the counter doesn’t go below zero any more, and a message pops up (it’s called a “toast”, for obvious reasons, which I think is great) if you press the minus button when the count is already zero. Small improvements but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I need to get a decrease/increase counter into it now, seeing as I’m working decreases in Adrift, and find a way of storing the data when the phone is turned off.