So I’m a bit of a scrap hoarder. I have a bin for wood scraps, a bin for leather scraps, a bin for wire scraps, et cetera. This drives my boyfriend crazy. But as you crafters know, all that stuff comes in handy one day. And it’s so rewarding to find just the right thing without having to run to the store and spend your entire craft budget on some silly little part.
Right now, I am working on a tapestry. (That’s a post for another day.) I tried various methods of wrangling the pile of mini-cones on which the fine wool weft was wound, none of which were working quite right. Then a lightbulb went off!
I got out the scrap bins.
A bit of doweling, a plywood tray, and eight might miniature flowerpots later, I am totally organized slightly less disorganized.
Honestly, I tried to cut back on handmade gifts this year.
Of course, that turned out to be boring. So when, in mid-December, my grandmother told me that she was hosting a family gift exchange…
I made these. Hooray! It’s not Christmas without a last-minute project.
Last year, I… well, I started a small fire that happened to melt my mother’s old advent wreath. So I took some wool scraps from the Dorr Mill store and appliquéd her a new one:
Hopefully, this wreath is less flammable.
We also had a solstice party. I made a Yule log.
The log appeared to be in an advanced state of decay, but taste tests were favorable. The meringue mushrooms received especially good reviews.
From my trusty bin of wool scraps, I whipped up some stockings for us and the pigs and tacked them to the wall:
It was a pretty sloppy effort, but the rodents in question were very excited to find parsley in their socks.
And last but not least, look what my significant other surprised me with: an antique reel!
From what we can tell, it probably dates to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, and was probably made in Quebec. Any opinions on the subject would be appreciated. Aside from two nails in what is an obvious repair job), the joinery is entirely wood pegs and mortise-and-tenon joints. The wood looks like pine.
Whatever its provenance, it’s in beautiful shape and makes a tidy skein. The reel now lives in our living room where I can admire it from my knitting chair.
I hope you all had a pleasant holiday, if you celebrate any, and that you have a happy 2015!
I finished enough of my 16th-century Flanders outfit to wear at the demo this past weekend. Here’s how it came out:
Flemish garb. Hat tied on because of wind.
Flemish garb without partlet or sleeves
There are a few bits and pieces that I still would like to finish, but at least I had the partlet done! It was essential for sun protection, since my group sadly lost its tent due to high winds. (This is also why my hat is so obviously tied on.) Mugs and weapons racks and people were all blowing over, so my poor lace pillow didn’t stand a chance– I wound a few bobbins but didn’t actually make anything.
I’m still working on Hazel. The light blue is the “hopefully wearable test garment”, and the rose linen is the “real thing”:
(If I don’t finish the straps in time, I could always wear my partlet. Ha!)
Making good progress with the Aynia shrug, but I’ll have to hurry up want it for this weekend.
(I’ve been sitting on this post for ages, trying to take new photos with better lighting. Since it’s February, I’ve given up.)
My friends and I talk about yarn the same way normal people talk about food.
“I broke my diet again, but the MadTosh was too delicious to resist.”
“Eh, it’s little bland, but the texture is unbelievable!”
Perhaps not coincidentally, one of my more frequently used comparisons of weaving and knitting is as follows:
Knitting is like cooking. You’re always moving around, keeping track of five things at once, and it makes me immensely frustrated. (Note that this aspect of knitting is less true the more I practice. I’m getting better at the juggling act.)
Weaving, on the other hand, is like baking. All the hard work is at the beginning, and once everything is set up and running smoothly, it’s only a matter of time before you have a delicious finished good.
I suppose spinning is equivalent to making tea, all soothing and repetitive. And bobbin lace… is confectionery?
Sorry. I’ll quit torturing the metaphor. Here’s a guinea pig.
…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).
Once all that was done, I made a little something for myself: EXTERMINITTENS!
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.
Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for following the blog!
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.
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’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 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:
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:
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?
You may think I’m kidding, but the fiber arts can lead you down a perilous road. Mostly due to the interesting diversions along the wayside.
My friend chopsticknitter has already posted a batch of pictures from the Twist festival in her blog, so I’ll be brief in my review: it was lots of fun, and it has indirectly provided me with more potential blogging content than I know what to do with. In terms of fiber, I stocked up on Shetland, Cheviot, alpaca, and even a bit of bison. (For the sake of my dignity, this indecent haul will not be pictured.) My favorite, though, is the tiny sample of qiviut that is now occupying my supported spindle. This is shockingly beautiful stuff.
Of course, I have to mention our trip to the loom room. After the greedier other members of my group appropriated the most exotic looms, I found my way to a Fanny just like my own, but pre-warped and conveniently unattended.
We also passed a room that had clearly been occupied by a dyeing workshop, which would have been fun to take. I’ve always been fascinated by natural dyeing. After getting back from the festival, and having picked up all that springy Cheviot, I wound off a batch of ten-yard skeinlets for my schemlets.*
To date, I’ve experimented with lac, madder, cutch, logwood, pomegranate, turmeric, chamomile, and some rather unsightly black beans. Aside from the lac, these are all plant dyes. (Lac dye comes from a bug-produced resin, making it less icky than dyeing with cochineal, which involves grinding up bugs. I might not mind, but my significant other is concerned that we might find dried insects scattered around the kitchen. He’s probably right.) Anyway, I think the sample skeins will be perfect for weaving a color gamp or two.
“But, tintinnael,” you may ask, “how will you weave any gamps? Isn’t your loom already occupied?”
Well, yes, it is:
But on Saturday, my mother happened to come across this dainty creature gathering dust in the corner of a weaving shop in Vermont. As soon as I saw it, it was love.
It’s a two-shaft counterbalance table loom, toy-sized but fully functional. I’ve seen similar looms on Etsy and eBay, but usually in worse condition for higher prices. (Worthy of note: this one was twenty bucks.) It came intact with a wooden reed and two functioning ratchet-and-pawl mechanisms on the front and back beams. The only things missing: heddles and heddle bars, i.e., string and sticks. So I spend an hour tying string heddles and hacked some dowels to size. To stabilize my makeshift shafts, I tied the lower bars to one another, going underneath the roller at the center of the loom. I’m not sure if this is the originally intended configuration, but it seems to work just fine. And to change the shed, all you have to do is flip the lever on the top of the loom.
Here are some close-up shots of the riggings:
Although it looks delicate, I am pleased to report that the little loom holds up to a good amount of tension. I wouldn’t use it to make floor rugs, but tiny tapestry samples are not out of the question. (Also, I’m careful to take the tension off the warp after every weaving session, a suggestion I read somewhere and have internalized to the point of neurosis. Fellow weavers, is this good practice?)
So, my next project seems likely to be a natural-dye gamp on this little charmer. See how one thing leads to another? There’s no hope for any of us fiber folk.
If you’ve made it this far into my rambling post, you may be interested to see my brand-new Twitter page, also linked from the sidebar to your right. I’m starting to get into the tweeting habit: if you’re there, let me know!