Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Not So Much

I finished Citron. Woo.


Stonesthrow Farm (they're in Vermont) 60% Cormo/40% young mohair, in a nice medium blue, exactly the blue I look good in and would wear a lot. I was knitting this at Jenny's and she commented that it was camouflaged against the Wisteria I was wearing. That blue.

So why am I not excited? Well, it's blue. Nice, medium, boring blue. I think I need to break out of the blue mold. Also, despite my Citron turning out a little larger than the pattern predicts, it's still not really big enough to go around and stay around my neck without being pinned. Hmm. Oh, well.

Having finished this, I said to myself:
Not Blue. A quick rummage in the first stash bin came up with this.


Four balls of Woolbearers Kona Superwash Merino, in the colorway Chocolate-covered Cherries. Definitely
Not Blue.

A quick rummage among my Rav favorites yielded a few prospects for 560 yards of yarn; I chose the lace shawl Gail (aka Nightsongs). A really nice shawl. I had no problems with the pattern, probably because I had the benefit of all the people who have dissected its quirks.

Three-and-some repeats in, I'm here.


And I've decided:

Unfortunately, this yarn is too heavy for this pattern; I really need a thinner yarn. I also think the strong raspberry and brown variegation is too much for this lace. When I work up the courage, this will be frogged. I've just wound a ball of Schaefer Anne in dark blue/green/purple to try instead.

I wish I could say I was getting better at pairing yarn with pattern.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Three Gifts

Gift #1: Yesterday at work, I realized that since I'm now an Official State Employee, I get St. Patrick's, er, Evacuation Day off. I don't really think we ought to get it off, but since today is a simply beautiful, warm, early spring day, I thought I might be able to handle a day off. So I took it.

A long walk at Quabbin Reservoir this morning yielded nothing much to photograph for you, although I did hear brown creepers singing their sparkling spring song, and there was a newt and a caddisfly larvae in a vernal pool, and black ducks and mergansers cavorted and called on the far side of a pond, and I'm pretty sure I saw moose tracks. I did, however, get fairly close to this guy...


Who was guarding quite the harem of 15 or so hen turkeys. They slunk away before I got very close, but you can (maybe) see two of them beyond Mr. Tom the Virile.


By the time I got home, all the snow crocuses were blooming; that means it's really spring!


Gift #2: I can't quite believe that somebody cared enough to knit me socks - somebody I've never even met! - but Lisa was so very nice to knit me these. (I could show you the chocolate she sent along as well, but, well, you's gone already.)


Paraphenalia, in Regia Stretch. I take back whatever I said about blue being boring. These are perfect, absolutely perfect. George thought so, too, and I had a hard time taking a decent photo without him in it (that's his shadow above).


And once more, for good measure, and so you can admire my sturdily wide feet. Thank you, Lisa!


Gift #3: Meg Nakagawa is quite the organizer. So far, she's been focusing her talents on weavers worldwide, but we can all hope she'll get the rest of the world straightened out soon, too. She's pulled together a couple of virtual scarf exhibitions; this year, she's organized a creative challenge called Pics to Picks for weavers. Fifteen of us volunteered to join in (OK, I admit it; I squeaked in at the last moment). Here are the rules, such as they are:

1) Collect three (or more if you like, but no more than, say, six) photographs/clipping/drawing to inspire a weaver. (May I suggest three different types of photos, for example one abstract, one emotional, and one something else, in case the recipient has very different taste/sensibilities from yours?)

2) Put all three in an envelope, and a personal message if you like. Send it to your weaver recipient. Keep an eye on your mail box for a similar envelope coming your way.

3) Plan a project based on one of the images.

4) Photograph it, sketch it, write about it, or blog about it. And weave it. Prepare to publish your project on the first weekend of June 2010. Include in the post:
  • All original images you received; all of them in one snapshot is good;
  • Whatever thoughts and images from your creative process you like. "Didn't Work" pics work, too.
5) How far you take the project depends on you. You could weave and have a finished piece, or go as far as determining the yarn, the set and the draft, or come up with a bunch of drawings and alternative project ideas.

Yesterday, I got my package of images from my challenge partner, Bety from Deep End of the Loom. And oh, my, what a great package! Look!


I fear that the images I sent Bety aren't nearly as exciting but even that realization is helpful to me. Maybe I haven't been looking, really looking, at the world enough to find and see the inspiration there. I think that's the first lesson - the first gift! - for me from this challenge.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


You know, it's all Slow Cloth. Even a three-day weekend like this one, pretty much dedicated to fiber in among the chores and errands, doesn't really let me accomplish that much.


I dyed eleven skeins of handspun into five colors for a woven bag. Weaving this will have to wait till I finish the red rag rug, which make take a while - see below.


I spun 4 ounces of Spunky Eclectic wool into 110 yards of uneven bulky three-ply. I suppose this could be a hat or part of a sweater someday; for now, it's stash.


I finished the bobbin of Corriedale/Border Leicester fine singles; I think I started this bobbin a week ago. There's another half-bobbin or so to go of the roving; then I can start plying. When the yarn's finished, I can dye it. When the dyeing's done, I can weave it. When the weaving's done, I can sew myself a jacket. (Don't wait up.)


I wound a warp for a red rag rug. Putting this warp on the loom has to wait till I decide once and for all what to do with the Paternayan krokbragd sample on the loom right now. I found more, a lot more, Paternayan needlepoint yarn yesterday when I was looking for that cross-stitch sampler of mine, so now I think I could do something cool with graduated colors in krokbragd. Plus, I need to cut a lot more 2-inch strips of red fabric for weft for the rag rug before I can start weaving that, anyway.


I dug out of the stash four skeins of Merino superwash in Woolbearers' Chocolate-covered Cherries colorway and wound them into balls; I still haven't decided which scarf pattern to knit with these. I wanted some not-gray, not-blue knitting and this yarn was the first to come to hand. Citron might actually be a good pattern for this, but I think this strongly variegated yarn might overwhelm any pattern but the simplest; I might just knit a feather-and-fan lace scarf out of it.

I've done a little of everything this weekend.

And yet, nothing's finished. All of these are worthwhile, to some extent, although none of them are likely to be earth-shattering projects when they're done. Even if I had spent all weekend working on one project, that one project would likely not be finished either. Plus, my knees would be sore from too much spinning, or my hands from too much knitting, or my back from too much loom warping.

It's patience I need to cultivate.
An appreciation for the process, or processes, in my case. I suppose I'm going to have to think, really think, about why I knit/spin/weave, about what I really want to make, and about how to get there from here. It's been very easy to just acquire more yarn/fiber/wheels/looms/books/whatever over the past four or five years in particular - but now I don't really want to buy more just for the sake of acquisition.

Now I want to make stuff. I typed I want to create first, but then I got scared by the pretentiousness of that, so I scaled it back.

I suppose what I want is to understand why I am compelled to make stuff, to create; I suppose I need to create so as to look at what I create and find out who I am.

And finding out who I am is the scary part.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Moment to Think

We interrupt this fiber weekend to think. Or, more precisely, I'm thinking; you just get to read along.

I've just been eating lunch and reading blogs - multi-tasking as always to try fit in everything I want to do. I came upon this and this, one after the other. Go read them; I'll wait.

Tien Chiu is an extraordinary new weaver. I believe she's only been weaving about three years now, a little less time than I have. And yet look at what she just finished. She wove that, people - she wove and sewed her wedding dress and wedding coat. The photos in that post aren't even of the final garments; the final finishes took another couple of weeks.

Now, I know people accomplish extraordinary things while getting married (this is why I got married in front of a justice of the peace, with only two friends as witnesses; I simply couldn't cope with anything more). But still, Tien pushed and pushed herself - and now, as a result of spending the last year ( a year!) weaving and sewing her wedding ensemble, she has decided she is and will be a fiber artist. She is committing herself to becoming an artist. She already is, of course, but she's making it real.

Then I turned to Meg Nakagawa's blog. Yesterday I'd read the Slow Cloth article she refers to, so it was interesting to see Meg's thoughts and those of Keith Recker, who edits Hand/Eye. Keith had an epiphany while hand-sewing three pillows; doing so opened his mind to what it takes to really create something.

Now, you (the readers) and I make things all the time. We knit, we spin, we weave, we are compelled to be makers. I've always been a maker of things, usually with fabric. When I was eight, I sewed a cross-stitch sampler that's somewhere in this house, on a piece of fabric stamped with the pattern.

When I was a freshman in college, close to 40 years ago, I made my first quilt, now very tired, from scraps of fabric.


About 17 years ago, when I made Drizzle, this 5-foot by 6-foot quilt, I realized I was indeed a creative, powerful, productive person, even though my husband at the time didn't believe any of that about me. I left him because of this quilt. Other people appreciated it, and me; the quilt was chosen to be in the juried Visions art quilt show in San Diego, and then traveled around the country.


Right after the divorce, I made a series of little quilts to reassure myself. It worked.


And now I knit, spin, and weave. Obsessively, I'd say. I think I'm trying to say who I am through fiber, and I'm trying to get people to pay attention to what I have to say. I try to make things as fast as I can - and then I get frustrated that an object isn't finished in a week. But that quilt Drizzle took me six months, and I look at it now and think, that's OK, but not great. Not as good as I could make, if only I put the time and effort into it.

It's finding the time to make, to create, in the calm, focused, productive, concentrated state of mind that's necessary to make something worthwhile - that's what is hard for me right now.
So, I'm going to think about how I, too, somewhat like Tien, can commit myself to becoming the kind of person who makes good stuff, who does a good job, who is a good craftsperson.

I don't know if I have it in me to become an artist, by which I mean someone who creates objects that convey meaning to other people - but I'd like to find out.

Scary stuff.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Weaving of Not-Gray

Well, $575 later, I have new front brakes and four new tires. Somehow, I'm not as thrilled as one might expect after that sort of outlay.

I walked downtown to go pick up my car - about an hour's walk, luckily literally almost all downhill. The sky was overcast, but no rain. The piles of yucky snow still prevail...


But lo! The snowdrops are up in my front garden!


No sign of the snow crocuses, though - do you see any here?


Me neither.

Anyhow, when I came home, I took a good, long look at this warp.


Pretty colorful, isn't it? This is a sample krokbragd weaving that has been like this since shortly after I finished the rag rug a couple of weeks ago. The warp is 8/4 cotton rug warp; the weft is Paternayan needlepoint yarn. I thought I would just play with the Paternayan, since I have a good bit of it and yet don't needlepoint any more.

Somehow, I'm not fascinated by this, I think because it's just a sample, with no particular project in mind, and because the small skeins of needlepoint yarn are a little too small to get a good rhythm going. So, shortly this won't exist. I don't intend to let all of $3 worth of yarn stop me from weaving.

Instead, I took this:


And did this:


And came up with this:


These are skeins of French Hill Farm Coopworth/mohair I spun last year (sorry about the lousy photo, but it was night by the time I finished dyeing. Plus, you're used to my crappy photos, right?). A few hours hovering by the dyepot, and I have five really lovely colors (yes, yes, there's a blue there) with which I intend to weave myself a krokbragd bag.

But they'll take a day or so to dry, especially because it's supposed to pour over the next two days, so in the meantime...

Well, that's a story for another post, isn't it?


It's that time of year - no longer winter, mostly, and definitely not spring. You could call it mud season, but today I'd rather call it Gray Season. Today it's overcast; it's supposed to drizzle and rain and sleet and snow and generally be crappy through the weekend. I took today off because my car needs brake work and new tires, so I have a three-day weekend. I'd really rather have a sunny, warm, spring-like weekend, but no, I get Gray Season. Or, if you'd prefer, Grey Season.

And since lots of other things feel a little crappy in my life right now, I decided to inject a little color. Lots of color, I hope, because my fiber life is lacking color right now. My weaving is stalled after the gorgeous rag rug of the Ravelympics, I'm spinning the endless, endless gray Corriedale/Border Leicester fleece I started last September, and I'm knitting a medium blue Citron from Stonesthrow Farm Cormo/young mohair. Jenny commented last weekend that the Citron was barely visible against the blue sweater and jeans I had on.



So, color - I need it. Red, preferably.

I thought I'd blog a good bit this weekend as I play with color, so stay tuned. First, however, I'm off to deal with the car, with boring blue Citron along to entertain me.