Sunday, February 20, 2005

Season Kick-Off....

This week contained the 3rd Thursday of the month which meant Michigan Weaver's guild at noon, then knitting guild in the evening. In weaving guild Loretta Oliver took us through a felting exercise: creating a felt "vessel" over a 35mm film canister that you could take home and embellish. That was okay, but the really neat thing she had to display were some felted cup shaped flowers that would make great lapel flowers similar to those that are so popular right now. Wish we could have done those instead.

Then I learned that Bonnie Inouye is teaching a twill workshop for the Greater Lansing Area Weaver's Guild and there are opening in the class. So my check is in the mail to take this workshop: The Big Twill

Now the challenge will be to finish weaving off the warp that's on my workshop loom and getting a new warp on it for the workshop. I'm really excited about this.

There are a number of good fiber workshops in the area that weekend. Also several "names" in knitting are coming to the area this spring. Our knitting guild is hosting Edie Eickman in April. Beth Brown-Reinsel will be here while I am weaving twills. Sally Melville and Nancy Bush will also be in Southeast Michigan this spring. Hence the title for this blog entry.

Saturday was the Spinner's Flock sale at Beach Middle School in Chelsea. I have no need of additional fiber, but there were a couple of books I wanted to look at. Fortunately, I priced them both on Amazon before heading over there. Long story made short: I ended up saving about $9 by ordering from Amazon with free shipping. Here's what I ordered:

Lavish Lace
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Shadow Knitting
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While on Amazon, I searched for the new twined knitting book that was reviewed in something I read this past winter (or was that a dream?). That search came up blank, however I learned that my original copy of Twined Knitting is worth $99 (!?)

I mentioned the value of this, plus my copy of Principles of Knitting to hubby while we were out for dinner Saturday night. He suggested that I make a list and note the value of some of my OOP fiber books. I suspiciously replied, "Why, so you'll know which ones not to give away if I go first?" I didn't tell him what my Alice Starmore books would go for these days. only purchase at Spinner's Flock was an embroidery design book by Jean Messant.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Color inspirations..

Valentine Flowers
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I think nature, and in particular, flowers are a great source for learning about color. That's the reason I'm sharing the Valentine bouquet with you. There's crimson red and fuschia with touches of gold, purple, and dark green....oh, yes, and sprinkles of white. What a great springboard for designing a warp, a dye project, or a fair isle colorway!

Start out by looking at the quantity of each of the colors in the arrangement. Often that's what makes a flower arrangement or a fabric colorway work. It's like cooking, you don't want as much salt (or cilantro, or chipotle peppers) as meat in a just want enough of the seasoning to enhance the character of the meat.

When you start looking and thinking that way....that weird bit of fuschia yarn that came to you through a friend's destashing takes on a whole new life.

mostly 2 ply shetland
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The photographed colors of this shetland are off a bit because of the incandesent lighting, but this box is like a box of crayons to me. I've spent time creating wrapped stripes on tagboard for knitting and weaving, but there haven't been many swatches yet. Much of it came from a friend's stash.

tatting thread collection
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This bag of tatting thread came free from an estate. I'm planning on using it to work through some exercises in the new book Rep Weave and Beyond. Again, the colors are skewed toward yellow because of the lighting and the plastic bag doesn't help much.

Most of current fiber time has been just an hour or so in the evening, knitting Fulmar and some occassional spinning of more cormo for the singles weaving project.

We just got a new computer and much time has been invested in setting up the new Dell, moving files from the old HP, installing printer drivers, etc. Of course, now that the new computer has arrived, the cd drive on the HP is working just fine. We spent a lot of time and money trying to get it straightened around before just deciding to replace the darned thing. grrrr!!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

At least one thing completed:

My son's gloves are finished, so I can pack up his Valentine's box and send it off to Purdue.

Man's gloves
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I enjoy knitting gloves. They go faster than socks and it's fun to fiddle with the fingers. I prefer fiddly knitting over plain old stockinette (yawn!)

Even though my husband's vest and Fulmar remain to be finished, I think some socks are in order as a carry around project.

sock yarns
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These are my choices of sock yarn. The red skein (marked with a white *) is the one calling to me right now. It's a variegated, but not self-patterning yarn which reminds me of chili peppers...or perhaps red for Valentine's Day.

The MWG Newsletter came today. There's an exhibit coming up with the deadline for entry in April. I've never put anything into an exhibit and am pondering whether to make this a goal for this year. Subjecting oneself to public scrutiny is a big step.

weaving handspun singles
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This is a sample of some handspun cormo singles sampled on a small handheld loom. The quarter (a Wisconsin quarter...but not the one worth the big $$) is there to give a sense of scale.

This was woven with singles right from the bobbin, then wet finished. There's a little over a thousand yards on the bobbin. I'm thinking about weaving a scarf with perhaps a simple huck lace patterning. That means more yarn is needed for I've been combing more cormo locks w/ the minicombs and spinning another bobbin full on the Schacht.

Have any of you done this....warping a loom right off the spinning bobbin w/o finishing the yarn first? Am I crazy and headed for heartbreak, or just skipping a step that will yield different results? I know the answer is sample, sample, sample, but I'm loathe to "waste" anymore handspun on a sample larger than the one in the photo. other thought on this scarf was to dip dye the woven scarf from end to end, getting a blended color in the middle from the dye wicking up the fabric.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Foggy morning...

weeds in winter
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We've had icy fog every morning this week. I love fog and I love when ice crystals form on trees and grasses. Combine the two and: Wow!!

I took this photo of milkweed along our drive this morning. The neighbors were probably a bit spooked to see me outside their front window in the fog with tripod and camera at 8:00 AM on a Saturday.

Jeffrey Yamaguchi at 52 Projects has a great idea for an ongoing project for the year. His suggestion is to take a picture of yourself at the beginning of each month. An alternative suggestion is to take a photo of a favorite location every month (or week) over the year. If you pick an outdoor location, it's a great way to document seasonal changes and develop observational skills.

I don't think I'll pick the milkweed site. It might provoke the neighbors to get a restraining order against me. I'll have to scout around our lot and/or the local park for a spot worthy of documentation and observation.

On the fiber front: I did run a comparison of my Louet and Forsyth minicombs. Both are double pitch hand held combs, though the Forsyth combs do have a table clamp. I didn't pick up much discernable difference in the product from the two combs....both produce a reasonably good preparation for spinning. The difference is in the feel and the movements required to use the combs. I'm faster with the Louets and more fiddly with the Forsyth combs. I took photo's, but they weren't at all instructive. So, if you're looking for handheld combs my advice would be try them out and see which ones suit your body and movement best.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Book Stuff..

Just got home from book group where we discussed The Time Traveler's Wife. It was a split down the middle for those who loved the book and those who found it annoying. The best insight on the book came from Sandy, who suggested the rather than time travel Henry was "mind traveling". She pointed out that Gomez's area of specialty was abused children and both Henry and Clare had damaging childhood experiences. These ladies are great discussion group people!

I read the book long before seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I can't help but draw a parallel between the two stories. The movie rights to TTW have been sold, so we'll see.

So I came home to find that Cathy has a book quiz up on her site. Book lover that I am, I had to try it out for myself:

You're To Kill a Mockingbird!

by Harper Lee

Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have
changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you've
also taken a significant amount of flack. But you've had the admirable guts to
persevere. There's a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you,
but you're pretty sure it's worth it in the end. In the end, it remains unclear to you
whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Hmm...I'm flattered about the book, it sort of fits my post from earlier today. But I don't know about that "weird guy in the neighborhood" thing.

One more thought: I keep reading about Clapotis from Knitty on the blogs. I've clicked on the link and looked at the Is it just my generation, or does the term Clapotis sounds like a 'social disease' to anyone else?

Instead of playing with the minicombs yesterday, I cleaned house. You know, work before play and all that. Around here, house cleaning is accompanied by loading up the cd changer with old music and turning it up loud enough to recognize the tune over the vacuum cleaner. It's supposed to make me move faster...but I think it only makes the chore seem to pass more quickly.

The livingroom cleaning cd yesterday was Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water. It transported me back in time to the end of my senior year in high school and all of the world events at that time. Viet Nam was winding down, my male classmates were no longer worried about beind drafted before getting to college. Nixon was facing his last days of presidency, though we didn't yet know it. The cold war was still raging.

So my thoughts yesterday were along the lines that "Things (world events) haven't turned out nearly as bad as we thought they might. And yet, things haven't turned out nearly as well as they might have either."

On the last part of that thought, witness the following:
Born Into Brothels and Stolen Childhoods

These are the things I think about every time I drive past a Walmart or see their ads on tv. It makes me feel so sad and helpless to make a difference in the world.

Since reading Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains when it first came out, I've often wondered what opportunities I've passed up to make the world a better place. There are things I've done...and things I've left undone. I'm still watching and waiting for opportunities and pray I have the courage to act. Perhaps this entry is one such act.

If you want to be amazed and inspired by a real hero, you can real Paul Farmer's online bio at Partners in Health: Paul Farmer

Meanwhile, feeling kind of sad. A dear friend is headed back for another needle biopsy this AM after thinking she was all clear of cancer and ready to go with reconstructive surgery. Pray that "the spot" is nothing...nothing at all.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More problem solving, or a new way to wash fine fleece....

Last March I did a tutorial on washing fine fleece in the crockpot. On my birthday a little over a month ago, Carol sent me 2 lbs. of wonderful, fine corriedale fleece. This fleece has a lot of my favorite things, but the most favorite thing is that it has a lot of body. Often a fine fleece can be a rather limp fiber, which is okay when one wants a drapey yarn. But a handful of fine fleece that bounces back immediately after squished in your fist?...That's what I like!!

Just look at the lock below, can you imagine anything keeping that wool compressed?

light gray corridale lock
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I didn't want to tie this fleece in bundles for the crockpot, but I did want to preserve lock structure so I could still have the option of combing this wool for spinning. Since I have a canner set-up that I use for dyeing, it seemed like a good idea to just pack the quart canning jars with flicked locks, tips down. Then I filled the jars with very hot water with Dawn dish soap added. I let those jars sit for a few minutes to let the soapy water work through the wool in the jar. Then I pulled out the locks, maintaining lock structure, and squeezed out the excess water, dumping the dirty water into a collection receptacle. (I dump wool wash water out on the ground to protect our plumbing from greasy, waxy build up.)

Next I filled the canner pot to the appropriate level and brought the canner water just to boiling, then turned down the heat to stop the rolling boil. While this water was heating, I carefully refilled the wool filled canning jars with hot soapy water. (Make sure the water is hotter than the wool, and pour it in carefully down the side of the jar to avoid agitating the wool.)

At this point I lowered the wool and water filled jars in their rack into the hotwater bath. Then allowed the canner w/ wool to sit over low heat for about an hour or so to allow the waxes and grease in the wool to release from the fibers. Watch carefully so it stays hot, but doesn't boil.

1/2 lb. fleece washing in quart jar canner set up.
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After an hour, I carefully removed the rack of jars from the canner and sat them in the sink. Wearing heat resistang gloves, I pulled the locks out of the jars, squeezed out the excess water and laid the wool on the drain board to cool. Once reasonably cooled, I rinsed them in hot tap water.

one jar's worth of clean fleece set out to dry.
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Now I have to set out the wool in the spare bedroom to dry. The house has been so dry in this cold weather, it should dry fairly quickly.

Tomorrow I want to experiment to see if there's much difference in the top pulled from the two types of minicombs in my cupboard.