Thursday, November 18, 2010


I wanted to show you what arrived in the mail yesterday from Liz at Sundown Alpaca Ranch :
Well actually, it was two balls of alpaca roving but it was already pretty dark when the mail came yesterday and I couldn't get a good picture when the box was freshly opened.  Last night the blue green ball just hopped into my hands as I sat with the spinning wheel in front of the tv.  So, you'll have to use your imagination for that blue/green fluffy ball.

Liz had a lottery for new followers of her blog last month and I was one of the winners.  The fiber is just gorgeous and spins into beautiful yarn:
There's just a little bit of glitz in this yarn, I think it's firestar, but this photo doesn't pick that up.
Thanks so much, Liz!

Then today I had a less welcome surprise:
This warp has been a monumental PITA.  It's a double layer warp with different size threads in the two layers and there are stripes in both layers.  So it had to be warped front to back.  It seemed to take forever to sley the reed and thread the heddles, probably because I procrastinated more than I actually worked on it.  Then today I sat down to tie onto the back apron rod and smack in the middle of the warp there are 8 threads that were not threaded through heddles.   ARGH!  Fortunately the threading is a straight draw on 8 harnesses.  I thought about rethreading from that midpoint to the end again then decided to look in the weaving cupboard.
Ahem....clearly I have made this mistake before.  Perhaps not a whole 8 thread bundle worth, but enough to have cut into a few heddles to create repair heddles.  I just needed to cut two more and put them on the heddle bars to thread those loose ends and we're back in business. 

I finished tying on the back apron rod, crawled under the loom and tied up the treadles, then cut the ends in front of the reed.  By then it was time to make dinner and I didn't have the heart to tie onto the front apron rod and check to see if there are other threading errors.  Save that for tomorrow.

Right now I'm going to park my carcass with some yarn and knitting needles and work on a pair of gloves to go with my new winter coat.  They're forecasting temperatures in the 20's tonight and I need new gloves!

Can you relate?

This video sort of sums up what life feels like right now:

Yep, they did mix the fiber metaphors, but that's that next generation I was telling you about.

Thanks to Cady May for making me aware of the video.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Next Fiber Generation....

Over the past several years a topic that frequently surfaces when weavers, and almost any fiber-crafters other than knitters, assemble is "where will the next generation come from?"  We bemoan the lack of art and manual skills taught in the schools and we note that most of our guilds are populated by those who have left the mainstream working world and have entered retirement.  Guild participation and enrollment is waning.

Both  Sandra Rude and Laura Fry have recently written posts that express concern about how new weavers will find their way.  And in a recent conversation I had with a prominent weaving instructor, Syne Mitchell was pointed to as our best hope for bringing in the next generation.  I love the work that Syne has done.  She has demonstrated phenomenal energy and creativity in getting the word out about weaving through the electronic media.  But....(and I can say this because I am a lot older than Syne..almost old enough to be her mother) Syne recently celebrated her 40th birthday.  There are at least 2 generations of weavers coming up behind Syne.

Three years ago in a workshop with Randall Darwall at Penland we spent one of the discussion sessions talking about where the next generation will come from.  I opined then, and I maintain that opinion, that the next generation of weavers are already there, but they are very different from our generation.  They have to reinvent weaving to make it their own.  In the same way that many of today's mature weavers started out with hemp rope and macrame' frames, the next generation of weavers will discover the magic in the intersection fibers and they will create their own web.

These young people were raised on electronic media.  They have played video games all of their lives.  This is where they learned the tactics and strategies of problem solving.  They do not attack problem solving in the same linear fashion that was drummed into us.  Their approach is not likely to be exactly like our approach.  Yet we leave them a legacy that they will eventually discover.  They will find it in places like:, with deepest gratitude to the work of Kris Bruland, in places like YouTube (look! no gray hair!), and in places like Syne's Archives.

I am confident that they are there because I am confident of the human need to create.  The need to make things is an essential part of being human.  Not every human has the need to make something out of fiber, or even necessarily something that can be held in the hands.  But I think we can trust that there will always be a segment of society that does need to create a tangible object and a portion of that segment will be inspired by fiber.  These relatively recent developments are what inspire my confidence:

And while you're there, subscribe to the RSS feed for Craft
See, they are there.  They are differently inspired and they organize themselves differently than our generation.  Why would they want to just clone our generation when we who lived through the 1960's didn't want to replicate the generation who went before us?
Especially when a part of the legacy left them has been this:

I think they are going to be just fine.  Let's get behind them, give them support, and encourage them to lead us in new directions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Things to do on a gray November day.....

November is definitely here.  The furnace is on, the days are overcast, and the nights are cold.  Hot cocoa tastes good, especially in the evening.  And handknit socks are a daily wardrobe item.

My spinning wheels are definitely affected by the change of seasons, so twice a year I find myself giving them an overhaul:

Today is the day to nourish the wood by rubbing it down with a beeswax/lemon oil product for wood. Then clean out the old oil and gunk from the all of the bearings, lubricate everything generously, and use leather restorer on the leather parts.  Also, replace the drive band, brake band, and brake band "spring" (I use covered pony tail elastics).

All of my wheels are wood and they change when the furnace comes on in the fall and when it goes off in the spring.  The change is so dramatic, that it's almost impossible to spin with them until they get their overhaul.  Such was the case last night, when I thought I'd spin a few more grams of a fiber that I've been working on.  So today is the day for wheel tune-up.

A gray November day is also a good time to thread the loom:

I don't usually warp front to back, but this is a double faced weave and there is a top and bottom warp, both with stripes.  So this one is front to back.  Must thread the heddles and tie-on to the back beam before I'll be able to throw the shuttle.

And when all this is done I will sit down to watch last night's episode of The Good Wife and knit on some socks in progress:

Yes, I still have more weaving to show you.  But I need a day with good lighting for photography as well as good motivation for writing the post.  Hopefully those particular stars will align soon.

Hope your day has as much pleasant fiber as mine does...even if it is gray outside.

Oh more thing to do on a gray November day:  write a blog post!