For the last week and a bit, I’ve been participating in the Tour de Fleece, which is an online spinning event that corresponds to the, you know, bike thing.
Here are a few glimpses of what I’ve spun so far:
There are no specific objectives for participants, but since I am a person who needs structure, I put together a list of tasks and a calendar for tracking my progress. On any given day, I will do anything spinning-related so long as it’s on the Official List. Side projects need not apply: any fiendish ideas that come along (about, say, building a flax distaff or learning to spin cotton) are on ice until after this event.
Of course, I put enough on the list to keep me busy:
The event takes place largely on Ravelry, which I am finding more or less impossible to keep up with. (It’s like trying to have a conversation around a dinner table with thousand other people: by the time I start to respond to a post, the topic of conversation has already zipped along to something else.) But so far, I’ve spun a few hundred yards and made a couple of little spindles. I’m going to see if I can manage a mile of plied yarn by the end of the Tour on the 22nd. Wish me luck– or join in yourself!
You know that the Almighty Fluff has taken over your life when, on a vacation, the first thing you do is scope out the local yarn shop.
Naturally, when I went to Quebec City for a few days, one of my first stops was this store. I treated myself to some delicious (and affordable!) alpaca, which also happened to match the tea set in my hotel room. I think this justifies the purchase.
I also spent lots of time touring the touristy historical district, and found all sorts of handwoven goods to admire: napkins, placemats, and so on, but also some interesting-looking objects that I assumed were scarves. But after seeing them at a number of shops and booths, I started to wonder: they were everywhere, and each one had a different maker’s tag. Clearly, this was some sort of cultural… thing… that I wasn’t getting. (You know what else I didn’t get? Photos. In retrospect, I wish I had, but I found one on ever-useful Wikipedia.)
A bit of Google research has answered some questions as well as increased my curiosity. Apparently, what I saw were examples of the ceinture fléchée, a piece of folk costume with some historical significance. (Other useful keywords turned out to include Métis sash, Assomption sash, arrow sash, and voyageur sash.) Traditionally finger-woven (!), these seem to be commonly produced now on hand looms. Interestingly enough, one of the people (or the person?) responsible for re-popularizing the sashes in the early twentieth century seems to have been none other than the Edmond Massicote of my previous post. (In more recent years, this appears to be a responsibility of the terrifying Bonhomme Carnaval.)
Anyhow, I’m planning to do much morereadingaboutthese, so you can expect to hear more from me in future posts!
For the moment, back to the vacation. I found some other interesting craft-related goodies that I didn’t photograph: a spinning wheel faintly visible from the window of a closed antique shop, for one, that induced a number of hopeful visits until we finally managed to find the store open. It was a cute little Canadian wheel: unmarked, screw tension, all wood, looking to date from the early nineteenth century. Fun to visit, although I didn’t wind up taking it home with me. (This is not to say that part of my mind didn’t consider it. It would have fit on the train!)
My hotel also happened to have some especially endearing hosts in the breakfast room:
Now that I’m home, I’m itching to get back to the loom, but there’s just one more needly project in the works. In keeping with my goal to Enjoy Knitting, Dammit, trying out a knit-along seemed like the thing to do. Also, it’s a puzzle: you don’t find out what the shawl looks like until you finish it. I always liked a mystery.
When winding a warp, it’s very helpful to use a stand to hold your cones or tubes of yarn upright so that you can pull the yarn off the cone smoothly and at an even tension. However, these stands can run fairly steep in price, and even more economical alternatives aren’t always readily accessible.
Locate an empty CD spindle.
Next, remove the lid and plonk on your yarn.
There are a few disadvantages to the Spindle Solution, but nothing too dire. First, there’s no built-in tensioning device for the thread, but holding it carefully seems to work reasonably well. In a pinch, I imagine that you could feed it through some sort of freestanding hook, but so far I haven’t found it necessary. Second, a CD spindle is very lightweight, and can be dragged around if you’re not feeding the yarn straight upwards. A couple of clamps can take care of this, or (less elegantly) something heavy– like a weaving book– laid across one side. Of course, if you’re working with more than a couple of cones at a time, further creativity might be called for.
Also, it’s kind of ugly.
Since I posted this entry, I came up with another option:
It’s an expanding mug rack, intended for wall use, just lying flat on the table. I’m considering screwing it into a flat piece of wood for even better stability, but even as it is it’s pretty decent.