Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Turns Into Three

Lots of grey days here:

hot tub snow
The hot tub and picnic table, under the weight of snows this week. Also:

bird feeder snow

While this is a shot of the bird feeder, the real news is the heavy tree branches in the background. These (and many others like them) are the branches that break, drop phone lines and power lines, and leave us in the dark, often this winter, and sometimes for days on end.

Luckily, spinning is people powered, and can be done in dim light, as in the light of oil I've been spinning:

bfl silk bobbins and fiber

Blue Faced Leicester wool blended with tussah silk. It was donated by Ashland Bay Fibers, and sold at SOAR in Bend (2009) to raise funds for the SOAR scholarship program, and for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund.

I managed to buy three packets, two of which I've spun up during recent power outages/days on end of rain and snow, onto these three bobbins. I have one packet left, or another bobbin and a half (approximately), all of which is spinning up to a weaving yarn of 56 WPI in the singles. I will ply this and I will also dye it. I've been dreaming of colors as I spin: I'm sick of grey at this point, in the weather and the fiber. So next up:

alpaca silk

A little more color! This is Alpaca Silk that I bought at The Spinning Loft in January (Michigan in January? I was going for More Color then too). I'll start this on spindles, because I'll be traveling next week. A little of this should brighten any day.

Speaking of brighten any day:

marin in high chair2

This is who I will be traveling to visit :).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weaving Window Screen

Sometimes you just have to have faith that what you are doing will turn out all right:
mohair fabric 006

Or, in this case (drumroll please) sample! This is ready to cut off and wash: before I go any further I will see how the yarns/sett/weft behave. It is quite window-screen-ish at this point: see through and wiry (it's mohair). But we'll see how the sampling goes, and if nothing else, I make very colorful window screening....

Thank you! to everyone who has been so supportive of my Etsy shop. Who knew samples of fabrics and a few bags would find homes so quickly?! I appreciate everyone's support and comments, and can't wait to see what you make out of the fabrics: I'd love photos if and when.

It's snowing again here today, wet and sloppy snow, after some hard winds and rain earlier. I don't know how long the power will last at this rate so I will quickly close with:
marin sits up!

A cute little girl I know has just learned to sit up!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Everything Furthers

Sometimes even small steps toward a goal mean real progress. Years of making things means years of accumulated supplies, leftovers, finished projects and just stuff.

There can be too much of a good thing. Feeling a little overwhelmed by the collection in the studio, I set up an Etsy shop this week to manage some of the accumulation. So far I have sold some packets of handwoven fabrics.

There will be more fabric, some beads, buttons and all kinds of vintage sewing stuff, which I used to collect but now seems to need a new home.

I also have some finished bags to list (Sunset bag, above, among them), and a few that were made for The Book. I have several that are handspun silk, kind of hard to make that choice to let them go, but really, something has got to give!

I used to have most of the bags on display in a glass case in my living room. I keep making more. They outgrew that venue. I need to thin the herd.

The second part of creativity is letting go. Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Knitting Architect vs. Knitting Designer

I woke up this morning, and yesterday morning, thinking about the architecture of a knitting project I am working on (in my head, so far). Knitting thoughts are not my usual contemplation: I am a spinner. I am a weaver. I am a spinner, who weaves.

I often knit, but I do not think of myself as a knitter. For a long time I have tried to describe why I do not think of myself as a knitter. It is something about the way I knit, but mostly about the way I think about knitting.

I like knitting. I've knit for over 30 years, and mostly make up my own designs. I learned to follow patterns only a few years ago when I started knitting lace.

flaming peacock big
Peacock Feathers Shawl in handspun silk: pattern by Dorothy Siemens

Patterns were a revelation. I learned lots of things from them: different ways to increase and decrease, different ways to change direction in knitting, add to the fabric, and make shapes: the architecture of knitting.

I belong to a group that meets once a month to knit together, and there are several very talented and accomplished knitters among the members. I've learned lots from them, too, like how different increases and can look in the finished fabric, how to decrease in various ways and the effect those various ways have on the fabric: holes? or no holes? smooth transitions? or a neat and tidy little seam-like line? These things are also the architecture of knitting.

So what had I been doing all those years? I'm not a pattern follower, so I had to be doing some of the architectural underpinnings, and as a spinner who knits: there simply were not patterns that I could follow. I always had to do the math in some way to make the yarns work. But I knit mostly during the Big Sweater years of the 80's, where shaping was not the goal: the colors and patterns of the fabric were the goal: the interior design of the sweater, so to speak. I think in terms of the colors, the overall impression, the picture of the sweater/socks/mittens, and borrow the shape, or architecture from knitters more clever than I. One of my favorite finds this past year was Knitting Pure and Simple patterns:

ps sweaterr  back
Easy Baby Cardigan by Diane Soucy

Diane does all the math: I just have to plug in the yarn and the stitch pattern. I've made baby sweaters (several), adult sweaters, baby bunting, all from Diane's formulas.

I can use some of these architectural tools now, and like any interior designer, the more construction tools one has at one's disposal, the better the design: one can move walls, or re-orient windows, or move light boxes, etc. and have a more satisfying result than just painting, furniture placement and window dressing would allow.

silk baby hat

This silk baby hat is on my project page in Ravelry. I'm quite proud of it in that I have learned enough to alter the pattern for the construction methods I wanted to use (knitting the star in the round, rather than flat), the size yarn I wanted to use (fine silk, rather than the cotton specified, so I had to use the yarn doubled, and add repeats to the star to make it big enough) and also the size head I thought it might fit (I have not seen it on the head-for-which-it-was-made-yet, but all the hats I made for said head were a bit large so far. Baby still growing though, so I have hope!). I have indeed learned some of the tricks of knitting architecture, and I'm beginning to feel more confident in those skills.

But I am still a knitting designer, but not much of an architect. I still think in weaving terms, sometimes translate that weaving architecture to knitting (which can be a good thing). Weaving architecture differs from knitting architecture in many ways, not the least of which is construction in weaving is usually flat-to-shaped, rather than knit-to-shape. 2-D to 3-D, rather than created in 3-D.

Much to think about, fun to contemplate: and not done yet. Still learning.

January 2011 046
If I cannot eat my hat, I will eat my toes.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ten Years On

ten years on 014