Friday, June 29, 2007

A Command of the Language and a Sense of Style....

It is said that we admire in others those characteristics that we desire for ourselves or are lacking in someway. It is also said that we can learn a lot from our children. Sharon has a wonderful blogiversary post today which includes the saying "Where came this?", a perfect expression of wonder gifted to that family when her son was a toddler.

Our family was given a similar, yet less universal saying with my son's first complete sentence: "go back, buy more chocolate now!"

Language is such a wonderful gift to the human race. A command of the language serves one well through out a life time. That's why I walked away just a little sad after a brief conversation in a check out line yesterday.

Just ahead of me were grandparents with their little grandaughter. The clerk took the time to talk to the child and ask her, "How old are you? Are you four?" The little girl laughed a bubbley laugh and said, "Two!"

The atmosphere was friendly, so I commented to the little girl, "Wow, you are really tall for two years!" and she kind of giggled and babbled.

Then the grandparents kicked in: "Tell the lady: 'hello, how are you?'" Which she did, so I played along: "I'm fine, thank you. How are you?"

She responded with a lovely laugh before her grandad prodded, "Tell her you're good." So she did....but the giggles and bubbles had waned....and she allowed a string of beautiful babbling syllables at the end.

And we all moved on from there. I understand the grandparents' interest in teaching the little girl social conventions of language and courtesy, but it makes me sad to see adults treat children as Charlie McCarthy puppets. My prayer for that little girl is that there is a space, a big space, in her little life where she is free to express the thoughts going through that lovely head. That she too can say to some adult: "Where came this?" as an expression of wonder and get an answer rather than syntactical correction. Or "Go back, buy more chocolate (or whatever she loves) now!" as a command to fulfill her needs and desires.

So...I admire a command of the language and desire it for others. That's probably a selfish desire because when others speak or write well, my life is enriched. (Thank you Sharon.)

However, I also truly admire a sense of style. Even tho' I'm a weaver, spinner, knitter, and seamstress I tend to dress "uniform fashion". I find T's, tops, slacks, and skirts that fit...and I buy or sew several of the same thing in different colors. I own tons of shoes....I wear 3 pair regularly. You get the idea.

Not everyone in my family is like that. My Mom was a costume jewelry queen. My sister has a great sense of style. And yesterday I recieved confirmation that the style gene is being passed down through the family. Witness my great niece, Gracie on her 2nd birthday:

Matching sunglasses, boots, and sundress! I love it. No wonder Liz Claiborne could go to her rest this week. It has been demonstrated that others will carry on that true sense of style and fashion! And a little child shall lead them!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How (not) to pack for a fiber workshop:

Tomorrow afternoon I pack up the car and head over to Hope College in Holland, Mi. for the aforementioned tapestry weaving workshop. So today finds me busily packing and making preparations:

First there must be knitting to take along:

The pattern is the "Diagonal-Knit Vest" from Knitted Sweaters for Every Season by Nancie Wiseman. The yarn is Suri Merino from Plymouth Yarns. The pattern is very simple knitting to take along while traveling. Since I had to go gas up the car this morning in preparation for the trip, there was also a stop at Joann's to see if they had square silver buttons for the vest, just in case I finished it over the next 3 days. (Note: you are looking at the back of the vest. More accurately: half of the back of the vest.) In order to need those buttons, the rest of the back and both of the fronts must be completed. But clearly I needed to stop at Joann's.

They didn't have the buttons that I have in my head, but they did have the latest addition of Quilting Arts with a cover article titled "Textile Sketchbooks Made Easy"

I don't consider myself to be a quilter, but the technical and design articles in this magazine are consistently top notch and relevant to other fiber pursuits. I no longer subscribe or read knitting magazines, except for one. But this magazine is a 'must have' for me.

And wonder of wonders, Lesson V in the Art Design Primer series is "Space, Motion, and Rhythm"! Clearly I must read this before heading into a tapestry workshop! (As if these aren't the very things Ann excels at and will cover in our workshop.) Still, I sit and read.

Then there are the unfinished projects that haven't been touched in weeks because of gardening and other outdoor pursuits. Yet clearly before leaving, I must sit down and spin a few yards and take the time to consider transferring yarn to a storage bobbin before leaving:

What is this sickness that compels me to think of these things as essential to "getting ready to go" to the extent that they take priority over assembling clothing, tapestry loom, tools, camera, and personal hygient items...the things that really will be essential over the next few days? And the greatest irony of all......why am I sitting here blogging when so much remains to be done?!

It's crazy I tell you! Am I the only one?

RE: Comments on "Vision Quest" - I knew there had to be more of you out there. Thanks for the encouraging comments. Jean: nope, no cataracts. I got a clean bill on the health of the eye. I did make an appointment with the optometrist, making it clear that I only wanted to discuss this iZone system. It seemed to be an unusual request by the way the receptionist dealt with me on the phone. I'm skeptical, but will keep you up to date as to my impressions of this system. Maybe Wendy's approach is the best one.

PS: I just flipped to the back page article of Quilting Arts. The title is: "The Goddess of the Last Minute". Enough with the irony already!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vision Quest...

Yesterday was my biannual eye exam. I've worn glasses since 6th grade for nearsightedness and astigmatism and have worn progressive lenses for about 10 years. Oh yes, and I have Floaters.....Lot's of them. The blue sky picture on the link is pretty accurate for what they look like in case you have no experience of these entertaining little annoyances. However in real life they move...or float as the name would suggest. I used to entertain myself in 3rd grade by moving my eyes to watch the floaters move against the background of the chalk board. (That must have looked very strange to the teacher. It's a wonder I didn't get 'referred' for special needs!)

During the past year I've noticed that traffic signs are getting harder to read while driving. Not the BIG GREEN AND WHITE signs that hang suspended over the highway....I can read those as long as there's not a big freakin' huge truck or SUV blocking the view until I'm right on top of it. But those smaller signs on the shoulder.....with things like the Speed Limit or street know, important stuff.

What's even more frustrating is dh and ds, who both wear glasses, have corrected vision that is so sharp, I swear they could tell me what's on the other side of a solid wall. So while I'm still trying to make out what a sign says, they're saying "You mean you can't read that?!"

Recently an optometrist that we used to go to sent out a flyer announcing that they are a licensed provider for This new product. We switched to an opthalmologist from these guys back when my son was in second grade and had 20/15 binocular vision and the optometrist aggressively wanted to fit him with glasses (one eye was far sighted/one near sighted and he functioned just fine without correction. He went without glasses until the beginning of his 3rd year in college.)

Dh latched onto the flyer and thought this might be "the thing" for me. So, I took the web based information with me to the opthalmologist. After the exam, when he told me that my distance vision was corrected as well as it can be corrected (!?!) I asked him about this high resolution system. Being the good guy that he is, he admitted that he was totally unfamiliar with the product and the concept and couldn't address the topic one way or the other. But...if I thought it might help me achieve better distance vision I should look into it.

Remember way back when medical people told you what to do and you did it? Now we have choices......and the consequences that go with them!

So, I'm trying to decide whether to make an appointment with the 'gorilla optometrists' to investigate this proprietary vision system. Or....being a physical therapist and knowing that most of the things I do are close work like This and This and This, maybe the issue can be addressed through ocular exercises or yoga eye exercises to improve my ability to focus at distances? The exercises won't do anything for the floaters...but.....

I'm posting this here for two reasons:
  • most of the people who read this also do fine handwork.
  • maybe someone has had experience with the high resolution vision system.
Meanwhile, I'm going to go stare off into the distance and see if I can focus.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Learning Tapestry Weaving:

Here is my first tapestry attempt using Kirsten Glasbrook's book.

It will have to come off the loom this week since the MLH workshops are next week. The weaving is kind of small, but I did learn a few things. This whole tapestry thing is a new venture for me. I'm not big on making "pictures" with weaving, but I am fascinated with line, color, and shading. So we'll see where this road takes me.

Meanwhile summer continues apace. The Love in a Mist is just about done blooming.

The original seeds came from my mother-in-law, then Margaret Atwood heightened my interest in the plant in Alias Grace, a book well worth reading.

Other summer news: A lovely lady Barn Swallow has set up her nursery in our carpark. The muddy nest is sitting right on top of a spot light hooked up to a motion detector. We've been trying our best not to disturb her because the spotlight comes on when we come and go after dark. I can't say what's in the nest right now. Along with her beauty and lovely song, she can catch mosquitoes in mid-air, so we would very much like to become her permanent summer residence.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hyrna Herborgar By The Numbers:

First, thank you all for the generous compliments in the comments. I'm afraid I just slapped up the post in my rush to get out of town for the weekend. So now I'll give you "the numbers" which should answer most of the questions in the comments:

At the bottom of the photo, you can see that the fiber length of the cashmere was about 1.5 ". The singles yarn is about 26 WPI and the McMorran Balance says it's about 4600 ypp. There's about 5-7 twists per inch in the singles yarn.

At the top you can see what the yarn would have looked like in a 2 ply. I didn't like the 2 ply well enough to sacrifice half the length of the yarn.

Leigh asked how long the project took from spinning through knitting. The truth is, I don't know. The yarn was spun a couple years ago on my Trillium reproduction Saxony wheel using scotch tension and short draw with a whorl ratio of about 7.5:1. Remembering the time period when I spun the yarn, it probably took me about a week to two weeks of intermittent spinning to fill the bobbin with all 4 oz.

I liked the yarn well enough after sampling, but never could think of a project for the yarn. So, I skeined it off, washed it, and dried it flat with just a little bit of tension. The tension applied was by putting the skein over two V8 bottles filled with water which are then placed just far enough apart to keep the skein under slight tension.

When Ted posted his completed Hyrna Herborgar, that skein of cashmere singles came to mind and I thought, "What the heck. The yarn's not doing anyone any good sitting in the cupboard."

The knitting was relatively straight forward. I started the shawl while at my sisters for Md. S&W on May 6 and the shawl was blocked and ready for it's photo shoot on June 6.

There are several places where I would come to a thin place in the yarn. At first when that happened, I broke off the yarn and tried to do a "fulled" join (moisture and twisting together between my fingers). That was less than satisfactory so I switched using a Russian Join, using a slightly sharp tapestry needle to split the thread and pull the end through the fibers in the yarn. That worked fine, even though the yarn is a single.

Blocking was interesting. I thought that some of those "fulled joins" or weak spots in the yarn might drift apart under the kind of strenuous blocking this pattern required. It didn't happen. The yarn behaved very nicely during blocking.

The point of the exercise is to demonstrate that a well spun (well....even a moderately spun...) singles yarn can be very serviceable in the right application.

Other News: Today We Are 30
Thirty years ago, on a beautiful sunny day very much like today we were married here. It's hard to believe it's been that long. 2007 has been especially sweet.
This past weekend we headed up here for a quick weekend get away.

So there you have all the numbers you might want to know and a bit more.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cashmere sliver becomes Hyrna Herborgar:

The Fiber:

The Yarn:

The Fabric:

A Close-Up View or: See? It Really Is A Singles Yarn:

With much thanks to Ted for the inspiration.
(I hope he's one of those people who believes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.)