Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What the heck, why not two finished items in one day?

On the first Thursday of the month, Mary and I participate in a shawl knitting ministry. This is my first finished shawl which I'll turn in tomorrow night. It's the Diamond Knit Shawl in Homespun yarn. That's Jazzy at the top of the picture. She likes a cozy knitted blanket just as well as the next cat.

Here's a closer look:

It only took about a skein and a half of yarn. The colors were really appealling to me when I started back in November. It could have been made larger, but I was really tired of these colors when it seemed just big enough.

It's the right size to wrap comfortingly around the shoulders of someone in need and will be sent "out into the world" for just that purpose tomorrow night.
Finish Line:

The knitting on Print o' the Wave is done. Here you see preparation for grafting the edging together:

And here is the actual finish line:

Just look at that grafting, even if I do say so myself! Now to wash and block it.....not tonight, perhaps tomorrow.

The Chocolate Retreat was.......chocolatey. Take my word for it, you can have too much chocolate. And certain quantities of chocolate demand to be accompanied of salty, crunchy foods.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

If you are looking for me this weekend....

I am off to a chocolate retreat!! Some knitting will accompany me, but it will have to be something that won't show chocolate stains. Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Change of Fortune:

On the left we have the label with dyelot number of the Alpaca With A Twist Fino which arrived from Yarn Barn of Kansas in today's mail. On the right we have the beat up, twisted, and mangled label with the resurrected dye lot number from the Print O' the Wave Stole which I have moaned about here and here

You will notice that against all odds, these two skeins are from the same dyelot. I don't even remember where I purchased the first skein, but it certainly wasn't in Kansas, Dorothy. This is a piece of luck that I hadn't even dared to hope for. I was just planning on finding a way to live with dyelot discrepancy.

My whole attitude toward this shawl could turn on this one event!!

Also in the box from Yarn Barn:

Is that not the most delicious red you've ever seen? Swallowtail, here I come! (right after I stop and buy a lottery ticket.....who knows the luck may still be working!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Trees Are Full of Diamonds:
The temperature dropped:

The winds did not come:
But the sun did come out:

Today the outside world is breathtaking. Driving is dangerous, not because the roads are icy, but who can watch the road when there's such majesty to take in?

(Click on each picture to see a larger view.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

For a little sheepish entertainment, go over to Willow Garden and enjoy Bill's sheep photo's and reviews. You might even purchase a sheep or donate to a worthy cause along the way.

January '07 ice storm, originally uploaded by vmusselm.

Looking out my window... All of the trees and bushes are covered with about 1/4" of ice. Trees and power lines are cracking under the weight of ice while the wind is still. We are fortunate to have electricity and the roads at this point are only wet.

Forecast for tonight: dropping temperatures and wind. So our fortune may change.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Because Charleen asked...

The purple weft is indeed a tad darker than the purple in the warp. All yarns are 8/2's unmercerized cotton.

The acid green is a tad weaker than the rest of the yarns. Maybe it's the dye? I did wonder if perhaps it was cotton flake mislabeled as 8/2's unmerc. Keep a good thought that it won't break in the warp.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Weaving has commenced:

I'm happy with the colors and the patterns that emerge on this 8 harness point twill threadling. This pattern is "tromp as writ" on a 3-2-1-2 tie up. There's 7 yards to this warp to experiment with different tie-ups and treadling. I'm thinking that the last 3/4 yard may be woven honeycomb with serged edges for dishcloths to match the towels.
Here's the color inspiration for the towels:

Also wanted to post about these "nifty gifties" from Mary's sister, Ellie:

What a delight and surprise! Thank you, Ellie (if you read this) for thinking of me. I have nothing that compares to them. Now I need a project that is worthy of them!

Speaking of projects, worthy and unworthy: it appears that there is not enough yarn for me to complete the border on the Print o' the Wave Stole. I suppose there is at least something to be said for in a project of consistent misery. It's not that I don't like the shawl, and it's not that it's a bad pattern, it's just that this project has bad "juju", for lack of a better phrase. I want to say that this has never happened before, but I think it's just that I've never stuck with something through the misery before. I'm at a decision point:
  • rip back 3 sides of edging, then rip back some of the body of the shawl to gain sufficient yarn to complete the edging.
  • attach a new skein of yarn and proceed to finish.
  • rip the whole d*mn thing out and use the yarn for something else.
I ordered a new skein of the yarn from Yarn Barn of Kansas. I know it won't be the same dye lot...but we'll see how it matches up. Then I'll decide between the 2nd and 3rd options above. If I start to rip, I will not likely stop for option number 1. If nothing else, the yarn would make a nice weaving yarn.

Oh...and while I was placing that order a skein of this hopped into my online basket. I'm still hankering after a red Swallowtail Shawl from the Fall '06 Interweave Knits. This is a lot more yarn than I will need, but it's faster than spinning and dyeing my own (again).
With this lengthy post, my blog is up to date...except to note that today is ds's 21st birthday. Where did all of that time go!?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A glimpse at two budding textile artists:

Take a look at these videos:
Textile Documentary 1
Textile Documentary 2

The video quality could be better, but it's fun to see both of these young ladies pick up the thread and go forward.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Walk With Me Wednesday of a different sort.....

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, so even though it was a sunny, beautiful, April-like day (in January! Michigan?), no outside walks for me. However, I've been contemplating two versions of a story about a walk. Although they are often used in reference to the spiritual life, they have an application to the fiber artisan as well. These are folk tales which have been told in a variety of ways and I found several sources for them on the web. I've included a link at the beginning of each story to the sources I'm citing should you wish to look further.

Here they are. I'm curious to learn what resonates with you:

Story 1 Once far away, but not so long ago, lived a woman in a house made of mud with a roof of straw. The woman had been befriended by an American Peace Corps worker when her husband died and wanted to present her with a gift on her birthday to repay the kindness. She had nothing to give but her skill, so she started crocheting with any bits of thread she could find--from the roadside, leftovers from the neighbor's projects, etc.

When the small mat was finished the woman began her 5km walk through the bush to find her friend and deliver the gift. The day was steamy hot and the ground burned her feet like hot concrete. She ran out of water when she was only halfway there and the wind chapped her lips. Finally she stumbled to the door of her friend, who brought her quickly in, gave her a cool drink and wrapped her feet in a wet towel. As the American woman heard the tale of the gift and the determination it took to deliver. She cried with gratitude and wonder. As the sun started to set, the two women went to the well to refill the water skin and then the American woman offered to get the mule cart to take the woman home. The woman stopper her, saying, "I hope you won't be offended, but please understand that the walk is part of the gift."

Story 2: There once was a teacher in South Africa who sent his student to the shore. He told the student that he had a gift for her there. In order to get the gift, the student was given a set of instructions as to where to walk to receive it. She walked along still waters, rocky paths, and deep valleys and across plain fields. She met kind people on the journey and she had some troubling encounters. Along the way she experienced calamaties, adventures, and loneliness. After a very long walk, she came to the shore of the ocean.

There on the beach, exactly where the teacher had described, was a gift....a beautiful shell. The student picked it up, tucked it into her pocket and began the long walk home. She experienced adventure, grace, kindness and rudeness along the journey home. She said to her teacher upon returning, "Thank you for the wonderful gift of the shell, buy why the long walk there?". The teacher responded, "The long walk was part of the gift as well."

My thoughts: It's interesting that it works both ways. In the first story, I'm reminded of the handmade gifts given and received over the years. As a knitter, weaver, spinner, and quilter, it doesn't take long to learn to pick carefully the recipient of your handwork. Don't knit socks for a brother-in-law who prefers the X-mart variety.

Yet there are others who may (or may not) knit, weave, etc, who deeply and genuinely appreciate the gift from your hands. They appreciate the thought that went into the selection of the design and the color just for them. And they appreciate the time that went into knitting each stitch, or each throw of the shuttle.

I clearly remember the reaction of a young man I once worked with when I wore a handknit sweater to work. At the coffee machine he came up behind me and was staring at my shoulder. When I turned and said, "what?", his reply was, "I was just thinking how amazing it is that you knitted every single one of those stitches."

That is a person who appreciates that the "Walk is Part of the Gift."

The second story has meaning for the "process person". I can't help believe that if you are spinning your own yarn and knitting or weaving garments you could purchase at a lower price, you are a process person.

For such a person the wonder of inserting twist into a handful of fibers and observing the yarn that is formed is a gift. The walk is the process of acquiring skills, honing them, and combining the skills to create a finished product that is a unique expression of self: the gift of self expression.

Swatching, taking classes, doing the required preparation for those classes, and keeping notes on finished products are both a walk and a gift for the fiber artisan. When attending workshops there is often advanced preparation required, especially in weaving workshops. That preparation is part of the walk that enables one to receive the gift of what the instructor is prepared to give the class.

Both of these stories resonate with me....I hope that they are a gift to you as well.