Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Leaves Piling Up

First: look who is blogging! There is certain to be lots of good information on beads, knitting and spinning, welcome Sylvia!

This is coming along:

leaf shawl

This scarf must be a good introduction to lace, because I'm already at the stage of understanding *where* I am in the pattern. At first, it was just *follow the words* blindly, hoping the mess would make sense. Then it began to sort itself out into leaves, and then a few rows later I could begin to tell where I was, and/or if something was not right.

Not that I haven't made my share of mistakes, and had to both un-knit and rip. There have been a few *that doesn't belong there* moments, some of which I could fix with a yo or a k2tog. And a few *whole row not right* un-knit moments. The most satisfying mistake was the rip though: several rows wrong (leaves elongated) so I pulled out the needles, pulled out rows of stitches, then managed to *pick it all back up*. (Phew!)

I am at the 5 row repeat area, over and over, just adding leaves, until either I run out of yarn, or the scarf is the *right* size (whatever that is). I cannot figure out where to put markers, though, despite all advice. I have them at the center, but the other motifs just shift around: no good place to mark (for the photo, there is a clear pushpin holding the cable: that's not a marker). If you have knit this, and can help me out here, I'm open to suggestions.

This lace knitting is fun, no wonder so many people are making shawls, scarves, lace sweaters, and lacey gloves. I am not able to converse and knit yet, or even watch movies and knit, but I can listen to music and knit.

I will say, I admire the mind that thought all of this up: both lace in general, and this pattern. I've been learning ssk's and s2kp's and yo's. Putting it all together to make this pattern, fitting in new leaves and creating the shape, well, it's just amazing.

It's a different thought process than two color knitting, which just seems more obvious, and graphic, to me. Well, some lace is like that: a fabric with holes that create a design. But this is different, much more like architecture: building with holes and solids, shaping the solids, and pulling it all together into a graceful pattern. Impressive.

I may have to try another project, larger needles and larger yarn. I may do this very same pattern over again (it's that fun!) or try the Flower Basket Shawl. They are both designed by the same woman, and now I'm guessing she has more out there. I'll be searching.

Until then, though, this is oh, so satisfying. And sheesh, I thought it was going to be a short post with a picture. I guess I had more to say than I thought!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Flights of Inspiration

Hurrying through the airport on my way to catch a plane, the crowds parted in front of me and my way was impeded by a plexiglass case of artifacts. I stopped dead in my tracks: they were an arresting sight.

There was a raffia mat, with a large pottery vase and a smaller pottery bowl, all in greys, blacks, tans, and ochre, the natural colors of the materials. The mat was diagonal in the case, and it's graphic image captured my attention.

It was a woven raffia pile mat from Africa. Which country? Which century? Contemporary or antique? The details from the small card in the case escape me now. None of that really matters: I was captivated by the imagery. The cultural information is secondary here to the graphic inspiration.

I did a quick sketch from memory once I was seated in the gate area.

raffia mat sketch

Later, I did another with color added, my own ideas of color, not the colors of the original piece.

raffia mat colors

The lines in the mat were delightfully askew, they weren't neat and tidy. It was as if they were done at will, not from any neat mathematical calculation. There is much in weaving that is orderly, but I am most captivated by weavings that demonstrate a bit of the human touch: the uneven, the off-kilter, the out-of-square, the meandering line.

Here is the beginning of the first interpretation:

raffia mat bag

Wool pile bagface, about 8" wide (and getting wider, speaking of human frailty!).

Inspiration is everywhere, sometimes in the least likely places. While I *can* find it right outside my door, I also find it very often when I am out and about, in public, when I go into *watcher* mode. I find my mind is let to wander when I am out of my comfort zone of home and studio. And for some reason, inspiration is often not where I go looking for it: it comes upon me unawares.

Monday, November 21, 2005

It's Good to be Green

I had some leftover dyestock mixed up, which happened to be green. So I plotted using it up.

It was teal green, and I was dyeing rug yarn, and teal just did not seem to be needed. So I kept adding yellow, in varying amounts, not measured (known in some circles as *dump dyeing*) and here are the resulting skeins:

hat yarn

At the end, I did an exhaust bath on a light grey skein, at the far right.

Then, after much green, I decided to go for browns, by adding scarlet and yellow, for the dye run here:

hat yarn1

The exhaust skein is the pale peach, this time over white yarn.

I did a couple of plain scarlet and yellow, thinking they'd make nice spots of bright color:

hat yarn2

I already have some blue yarns, and some golds and reds, and some will be left white and light grey. All of these are intended for knotting, in a current bag project (pictures later this week) and for hats. Multiple hats. I'm stocking up (ha ha. Actually knotted hats, like this post).

Dyeing. Too much fun.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Coming Down to Earth

What? Long time no post? Why would that be? Well, maybe because I have nothing new to post.

Herewith, progress made on the white lace scarf:

SOAR project 1

Hmmmm. Not so much. Herewith, progress made on the alternative project, fair isle mittens:

SOAR project 2

Well, a bit. But I must confess: all the progress here was made yesterday in line at the DMV. It was a mercifully short line. *None* of this was knitted at SOAR. *But*: they are being knitted with needles given to me *at* SOAR (does that count for anything?). Martine made these for me out of bamboo. They are the perfect size for this yarn and this project, Thank you Martine!

I've been away. You all knew that. So here is my SOAR report:

We drove out Saturday to Park City, Utah, we being my friends Sue, Nancy and her partner Adrianna. Two cars, lots of stuff. Nothing to report on the trip out, except it went by quickly, anticipation being a good sauce. We arrived around 6 o'clock Mountain Time, to utter chaos in the reception area of the Canyons Resort: A Mary Kay conference was checking out. It was the clash of two cultures. I'm quite sure they looked at us, bedraggled, be-jeaned and be-clogged, with out a pinch of make up and decidedly lacking in the Big Hair department, with a jaundiced eye.

No matter. We unloaded box after box, tools, suitcases, ice chests, crockpots and dye pots, and carried on with aplomb. You would have been proud.

The next day we set up workrooms and greeted the incoming workshop participants. It is always grand to see everyone come, full of anticipation, and not tired yet. The Mary Kay people were gone, we were left alone for a week at the resort by ourselves.

The workshops began Monday morning. While not actually calm, the first three days are a bit focused, as people settle into the classes they are taking. There is still an air of anticipation: the retreat brings more participants, the vendors, and the public. The end of the week sees the excitement level ratchet up a notch, with more activities crammed into very little time, and shorter classes, as people rush from the Market to retreat sessions, the gallery and meals.

The resort was a fabulous place: new (built for the 2002 Olympics), scrupulously clean, delicious food (lobster bisque, twice! Petit fours, and other gooey, caloric desserts, fresh greens and fresh fruit, every day, vegetarian meals, and meals for us carnivores, and did I mention the desserts?), a pool and three hot tubs, a spa (massages!), and very nice rooms.

Thursday, as the retreat participants arrived, and the Market opened, some of us took advantage of the massage and hot tub option (note to self : do *this* more often!), then took the free public shuttle bus into Park City proper, for some gallery hopping and lunch out. Town looked a bit upscale (one person commented that it looked like a Disney version of *quaint old mining town*) but then, it was in keeping with all the other up-scaleness of the area. If you want to move to Park City, bring money. All very pretty, but the usual lament: it must've been a nice place to live before it was over run.

Let me end by saying thanks. To the staff at Interweave for pulling it all together once again, to my friends for making it such a fun event to attend. To all the new people I meet each year, there's not ever enough time is there? And to all my workshop participants, what a nice bunch of people you are! It was a great class, thanks in no small part to Sarah, with her able help we managed to set up 30 looms and get people weaving on their silk pile bags. If anyone is interested in the process, Sarah's book has it all laid out in detail. And while it's much nicer to be able to work with her in person, this is definitely the next best thing! Even though the title is Kids Weaving, it really is a subversive book for adults. It is a great introduction to weaving, for anyone from age 9 to 99.

Next year? Tahoe. In my own backyard. See you there!

Friday, November 04, 2005


Thank you all for your comments and suggestions on my impending lace project. And it feels like that: a bit of the doomsday about it, in its all whiteness, and its laciness.

I've decided to make the Leaf Lace shawl, mostly because of its more stockinetteness, if that makes sense: fewer holes (lace without holes, now there's a project for me). Anyway: I've taken your suggestions to heart about markers:


I made a few more, to go with the existing crop:


And because it came from Claudia, and because she actually knows me, I'm taking her suggestion to heart: I have along another, safer-bet project: fair isle mittens. To be honest, I have two *other* projects along too: one must never be caught without handwork.

All of your help is greatly appreciated, and reminds me of how nice it is to be connected to a community of fiber people. Locally, I have a great group of people whose opinions I trust, and the further-afield group of people connected through the internet: I may or may not actually know them all, but some I do, and others I may someday meet. We are lucky, lucky, lucky, that when we reach out, there is someone there.

A few weeks ago I attended a weaving meeting out of my area. I did not expect to know anyone there, but was pleasantly surprised to see that I did. I should have realized that after 30 years in a small geographic area, I would have connected with lots of people doing the same type of *work* that I love to do.

The connections go beyond the merely personal though. As weavers, spinners, dyers and knitters, we are a community without borders. We speak a common language, with which we can keep open the lines of communication, even when the political climate of our respective geographic areas would prefer that we not.

That common language spans time and space: generations of makers have shared our joy in the process of making. It is my hope that we can keep these connections alive, across borders and through time, as we learn from those who have gone before, and we pass on what we have learned.

We can continue to connect across borders as a single community, but only if we continue to communicate. If you are a maker who does not yet have a blog, consider it. My ramblings have sparked interesting commentary, and that feedback sometimes keeps me occupied and thoughtful as I work. We *need* more weaving blogs, especially.

We need more weavers. We need to support vendors, have enough people doing enough interesting things for lively conferences, and be able to pass on what we know. We can show people how simple weaving can be, and perhaps encourage people to learn. That's why Brandy's comment to my last post was so very gratifying. Brandy, I hope you do get a small loom and try, and that your child learns too. Weaving needs to be an everyday event, something people just do, not some far off, unattainable wish about something you might learn someday.

Me? gone fishing (well, gone knitting, and spinning, and weaving!).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Possible Alien Abduction

White? Lace?? Who are you and what have you done with Sara?

angora yarn

Yep. I needed a travel project. How many bets on just how long this *stays* white on a trip? (Saving grace: I can always overdye it).

I've got approximately 600 yards, for a small scarf in either of these patterns:


(Flower Basket Shawl, or Leaf Lace Shawl, both from Fiber Trends). Not being an experienced lace knitter, these looked, well, not easy, but possible. Any hints? Suggestions? Come on, you lace knitters, help!

And in answer to the unspoken question *why?*: it's a gift. The recipient will like its whiteness. But, if I get it too grubby, I'll dye it red!