Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back in the game

I am pleased to report that last weekend’s band weaving workshop was a success!

This is the setup I asked my students to use. It’s not my favourite weaving arrangement (I prefer using my floor inkle or a backstrap), but it worked very well for demonstrating the technique.

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Incidentally, do you like my new-to-me table loom? I do! It’s a Good Wood Slant loom in cherry (the makers of which disappeared from the web the day after I happened upon this one, so I sadly cannot provide the link).

One of the guild members gave me a book of Lithuanian sash designs in exchange for her heddle, so that will keep me busy on this front for a while (say, several centuries). Stay tuned.

In other news, here’s the belated Christmas roundup! I planned to stick to a few small knitted gifts after the woven insanity of last year, and didn’t break my resolution too badly.

First, a griffin hat for my mother:

IMG_1064I used this kit but substituted griffins for the birds. Why griffins? My mother’s dog is named Gryphon, and if you’re interested, she keeps a blog of his sledding, hiking, and canoeing exploits. Also featured in the blog, of course, is…

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HERE, EDGAR THE DOG SAILED.

…Griff’s partner in crime, Edgar! My dad is something of a medievalist (at least, he likes Brother Cadfael) and I thought he might enjoy a little Bayeux Tapestry featuring his dog. This also gave me an opportunity to practice the Bayeux stitch in pleasantly authentic wool on linen. (I did fix the gap in Edgar’s harness, but didn’t take a picture after that.)

Other gift projects included finishing a sweater for my grandmother (pictures to follow), concocting an amigurimi gastropod for my boyfriend (pictures possibly to follow), and whipping up a hat on commission for a friend (picture follows).

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In exchange, she’ll help me make a muslin!

Once all that was done, I made a little something for myself: EXTERMINITTENS!

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Who and a what now?

And then, some socks. This week I made a sock knitting kit out of ah Altoids tin and wool felt to contain my stitch markers, measuring tape, tapestry needles, repair hook, 4″ DPNs, and snips. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I’m  still quite proud of it.

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Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for following the blog!

Still here, still crafting

It’s time for the annual Christmas gift roundup, but it’s going to have to wait until after the workshop I’m giving this weekend to my weavers’ guild. In the meantime, here’s a sock I accidentally made.

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Oops.

Started just this weekend and finished… yesterday. Amazing! I gave those tiny Addi Turbo circulars a try, and I don’t think I’ve ever knit anything (certainly not a sock) so quickly.

I’ll post again after the workshop. Wish me luck!

Country Living

And we’re back!

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Over the last two months, I have:

  • Hugged a chicken (live)
  • Stuffed a rabbit (knitted)
  • Made a Honiton lace pillow
  • Watched two baby doves hatch, grow, and fly away
  • Introduced guinea pigs to the wonders of fresh grass
  • Learned new recipes
  • Spent time with family
  • Knit things

I’ve been staying with family since the beginning of April while I recovered from surgery. Fortunately, my hands were unaffected, so here are a few highlights from the crafting front:

1. A second Henslowe, shown above.

2.The Christmas coverlets. Remember that big, mysterious project with the giant cone of yarn? Here’s what it turned into:

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Here’s one folded across the back of a chair. Each mini-coverlet is about 30″ x 40″.

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3. A rabbit.

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4. A snail.

4. A little bird.

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And, okay, I admit it– I took a fence shot of the Henslowe:

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More to come on both the finished-object and work-in-project fronts. Stay tuned!

Playing catch-up (and with bobbins)

Crafting has been rampant in these parts as of late, even if the same cannot be said of blogging. I started a two-month bobbin lace course at the end of January, and have spent many hours making tiny samples, learning stitches, and occasionally sprouting side projects to try out my budding skills.

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I have spent an equal number of hours drooling over lace bobbins. They’re the perfect combination and/or perfect storm of small, collectible, relatively affordable (unless you go in for gemstone inlay and elaborate turning), beautifully crafted, useful objects. You can find all sorts of bobbins designed for different aesthetic and functional purposes, and the history of the various types is very interseting. And if you actually make lace, you can justify having a large collection. My biggest project to date called for 19 pairs, but some laces call for hundreds.

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My significant other and I spent a weekend in Ottawa recently, and naturally, my lace homework had to come with us on the train. Some people bring laptops; others bring lace pillows. However, I discovered that it’s actually rather difficult to make lace with the correct tension while moving. My teacher was not tremendously impressed with the results.

On a completely unrelated note, this was the view from our hotel room: the Canadian Parliament. Amazing!

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Right now, I’m working on some trim, just for fun. It’s up to about twenty inches: we’ll see how long I can go. The Canadian Lacemaker Gazette runs a “five-meter club”, but I didn’t wind anything close to five meters on those bobbins. The weaver’s knot (a brilliant invention) may come to my rescue once again.

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Knitting is also making its semi-annual resurgence. In addition to trudging along on the several thousand projects I started last summer, I picked up a few new techniques (Continental!) and am working my way through the new Free-Sole Sock DVD. So far, excellent; I made a mini-sock and learned to knit backwards. I’ll be spending next month recovering from surgery, and hope to have enough mental capacity available to finish at least a few of the four socks, three mittens, two sweaters, and one shawl that I keep meaning to wrap up. There are also a couple of crochet projects yammering at me to finish them. Plus various modifications to existing items, such as a perfectly respectable hat that the recipient shunned as “not warm enough”. At least that can wait until next year. Hmph.

I imagine that weaving will have to take a short hiatus. I’ll be staying with family for a while after the surgery, and though it might be feasible to pack a simple loom or two, I probably wouldn’t use them (I will, after all, be convalescing). Spinning will be subject to similar constraints, though I might pop a spindle in the suitcase. You know, for emergencies.

Also squared away in advance of my departure: two giant bags containing four stinky fleeces. Since my S.O.’s threats of disposal were increasing in proportion to the sheepy smell, I spent the better part of a weekend scouring wool in the bathtub. (And then bleaching the bathtub so as to render it fit for human use.) These fleeces were free, which as fiber-prep folks will know, is a mixed blessing. In the end, I kept the two best fleeces and disposed of the other two, which were heavily matted and very dirty. The ones I kept are of an unidentified longwool: Lincoln or something close to it, but I didn’t have the chance to ask the shepherd since the fleeces were a surprise present (thank you!). Anyway, I now have one white fleece and one black-brown fleece. No plans for them yet, but maybe I’ll make a two-toned fleece rug this summer, à la Anne Field.

Now, there is fringe to be twisted and hems to be stitched. Or I could act like an adult and start my taxes. Thoughts?

Cowling at the Moon

I’m still down with the knitting bug. (This bout is lasting a while.) I made myself a cowl this week out of the yarn rescued from that ill-fated blue mitten:

I really like this pattern.

I grew up calling these “neckwarmers” and thinking of them as fairly hideous cold-weather necessities, but now I can see why they’re so popular in the knitting community. It took just a few days of here-and-there knitting time, and it’s a cozy, useful item. Meanwhile, the knit-along shawl is still knitting along.

This was supposed to be done by the end of September, but I’m, uh, reevaluating my goals.

Otherwise, small-loom weaving has been the norm around here lately. I need to squirrel away my yarn for the winter! Here’s the naturally dyed color gamp that I mentioned planning in my last post, woven on the resurrected table loom:

 

There’s enough warp left to weave a couple more of these.

I also set up the inkle loom for some tablet weaving. This was the first kind of weaving I learned, so it brings back fond memories, and the potential weave structures boggle my mind all the more now. I’m using a threaded-in draft from the Candace Crockett book that leaves some of the holes empty, producing interesting results. Photos to come!

Not much of note in the dyeing and spinning departments, though I picked up some indigo powder at Vermont Sheep & Wool, and I’ll be experimenting with that as soon as I get my hands on some washing soda. I’ve also been fiddling with some of my dyed wool on the spindle. But there’s another new project I’m excited about: learning to make hairpin lace! I got a secondhand Jenkins lace loom and am trying to get my hands used to a crochet hook.

I haven’t done much crochet of any kind before, but there are also a few non-lace patterns I’ve got my eye on. One is for a crocheted guinea pig, because of my new furry friends:

Meet the noble and dignified guinea piglets Archimedes and Sir Gawain!

It would be tough to  spin their fur, but otherwise, these little guys make the perfect pets: they sit tamely on your lap and make endearing noises while you knit. What could be better on a chilly autumn evening?

Mittens and Museums

First, the mittens!

My half-handspun Nightingale adaptation is now progressing nicely. I think the design is more succesful with this combination of yarns, at least on an aesthetic level, but I’m not sure the mittens will fit my monstrously large hands. I’m holding out hope for a bit of blocking magic.

Also on the Coffee Table of Crafting, a small piece of cross-stitch that I made from a kit picked up at the local Highland Games. Making something from a kit led to much rumination on the nature of creativity, and whether I was actually adding anything new to the world, and whether making a project from a kit is the same as using someone else’s pattern and following their yarn specifications, and whether there is any point to changing something just for the sake of changing it, and why it’s easier not to follow “recipes” in weaving (no shaping! …generally), and then– I decided not to worry about it. So here is my Wee Hieland Coo. (I kid you not, that was the name of the kit. This may have played a role in my purchasing decision.)

As it turned out, I did wind up placing my own personal stamp on the project. After a few days of carefully managing every last thread, I misplaced the whole glob of it just as I was finishing the cow’s head. Rather than wait until the weekend to go thread-hunting, I dug into my embroidery box for some close-enough floss. So, this is a blonder Hieland Coo than some– but according to Wikipedia, they come in all shades of orange to yellow! Of course, I found the missing floss immediately after completing the project. (It was stuck between the pages of my mitten pattern.)

Also on the coffee table, another knitting project has mysteriously appeared. I can’t figure out how this happens. I keep telling you, I’m not a knitter!

Socks. This yarn will become socks.

In loom-land, my warp is still…  well, with another half hour’s work, I should be up and weaving again.

Now, on to the museum. This is becoming something of a theme on the blog. Last weekend I went to this delightful little museum, which fills up the floor of an old stone church with beautiful stained glass, various artisanal works, and a few artifacts of interest to textile folks:

My significant other thought it was funny to see a glass case full of things that I use all the time. (He’s learning to identify the different tools and even to recognize quality!)

Sadly, there were some errors in the labelling, in both French and English. This cute little artifact was identified as a spindle, though it is, of course, a distaff. I am considering contacting the museum to let them know.

But the real treasure of the visit was from the gift shop:

Yes! A book all about the ceinture fléchée, complete with instructions for finger weaving a number of different traditional designs. I think this is becoming a mini research project of mine. They had a nice example on display, too:

I believe this dates from the early twentieth century, but I’m not certain. Next time I’ll take notes.

Already I’m eyeing my baskets of yarn bits and dreaming of inkle-loom adaptations. But it will have to wait for a bit: tomorrow it’s off to the races, by which I mean the Twist fiber festival, with friends chopsticknitter and starweaving.

And yes, the inkle loom is coming along for the ride.