Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

Rug Goat

This was my friend Sue's angora buck, from whom I have received mohair for my rug yarns. The goat was about the size of a large dog, except for the horns (!), and was a nice old guy. Smelly, but oh! the hair. This is before shearing last winter, and he was sheared twice a year.

Sue lives just up the road from me, we can see each other's house if we flash a light at night (this is what passes for being a neighbor here, and a sight line is unusual in these hills and ridges).

Anyway, I use this mohair blended with wool in my knotted pile and pickup bands, here is an example of both:

quiver back2

I dyed some of this yarn the other day:

red mohair yarn2

Perhaps you can see the sheen and glow of the mohair: it makes the dyed yarn sparkle. [See Claudia? still working on that red inspiration :)] Mohair also adds strength to the yarn, a good thing in warps and rugs.

But, this big goat is no more. Sue lost 5 or 6 goats, and a sheep or two to a mountain lion attack the other night. Even her 4 dogs didn't hear this attack: he came silently in the night, and killed each goat with a bite to the back of the head. The remaining animals were terrified, bunched up with eyes wide open, when Sue found them in the morning.

We live in the woods. There are other inhabitants of the woods who occasionally assert themselves.

The state trapper was worried about this particular attack though, because it was so vicious. The lion did not just kill to eat, he killed on a spree. And it was one lion, not a mother, teaching her cubs to kill. The trapper brought out his striker dogs and his scent dogs, but the trail was lost amidst the houses and fences that dot the ridge.

The lion has not come back, he's probably well away now. He may have just been passing through: the trapper indicated that there is not enough habitat for the current lion population, and some are left to roam and fend for themselves, without specific territory.

Lions and bears are always with us here, usually more in the background. Attacks like this are rare, and senseless killing sprees are more often done by packs of dogs, more a worry here than the occasional lion. Lions more characteristically take one animal, for food, and move on. Not this time.

There's no happy ending here, no moral, unless it's lock up your pets at night:

mojo sitting

If sheep and goats were the main course, Mojo would just be a snack.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I've been updating my website, which I do every January (or rather, webmaster Vicky does every January, Hi Vicky!). Anyway, we change the upcoming classes and shows, add to the resume, re-work the class offerings, and add photos of the work I've done over the year.


Usually I am surprised at how much I have done in a year. But this year? Not so much. Not so much, that is, in the weaving department. I've done a lot of knitting, mostly shawls, and there was wedding weaving for my son and his wife, but the only *real* weaving I did was for a show last June.

Humph. 3 new pieces.

Well. We will remedy that. We headed down to the studio and started this:

silk pickup band

A silk pickup band. I forgot the dime, but this is about as wide as an American quarter, or perhaps a British 50p piece? :) It may become a small bag, it may remain a ribbon. It certainly will show up next year on the website update: I'm keeping a list.

I also started a really-really-fabulous knotted pile bag (everything is fabulous at the beginning. It's only later that they become unfabulous). Pictures to come, right now it looks like this . Eh.

So the (finally) New Years' Resolution? More Weaving.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Anatomy of a Project

First there is the thought. Exciting times, planning, pulling out books and patterns, writing things down, research, testing yarns, testing fibers, spinning up a bit.

The thought could be a color, a garment, a yarn, a pattern, a picture from a magazine, something from a book, an idea, a feeling, a song, a word, poetry. Sometimes, the thought needs to be mulled.

At some point, hands pull out yarn, needles, loom, notebook and pen, scissors, and the work of putting life into the thought begins.

Full of anticipation, excitement, potential, the first part may last for a day, a week, a few rows, and few shots. Or it might last longer, well into the project, if things are going smoothly.

There might be The Glitch. Sometimes The Glitch is fun, interesting. The Glitch can lead to more research, help from friends, or, occasionally, a heap in the basket, and more mulling.

Sometimes a project never gets beyond The Glitch. Sometimes there is no Glitch, and we putter along, adding length, bredth, stitches, shots, miles on the wheel.

Most times, after the first blush of excitement, there is just the daily effort. Just More. More stitches, more shots, more miles. The real work. The work without surprises, without wonder, where the planning shows in the ease, or lack thereof, of the doing. Sometimes it comes at the body, sometimes it's the sleeves, the hours of throwing the shuttle, the hemming, the pressing, the blocking, sometimes it's the endless miles of edging.

Toward the end, excitement builds again. Will it fit? Does it look like I wanted? Feel like I planned? Have I missed errors, which will only show up when I stand back, hoping to admire?

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Jan 2007

Boundary Waters folded

And Boundary Waters with it's new little shawl pin, a gift from a friend:

boundary waters pin

Details: Handspun two ply Romney cross wool from Lindsey's sheep, dyed and sent to Morro Fleece for processing, spun on a Lendrum, over 3000 yards, knit on size 5 needles. I added a few pattern repeats in the first and second charts, finished size: 80" square. Started August 2006, with a brief hiatus for holiday knitting, finished January 2007.

Last, there is that little let down. There is no more to do. The new project (whatever it may be) is not here yet. It will take some time to recover, re-focus, to start again.

Time to dream again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hanging in There

Whew! Still puny here. Not much happening. I've not been too sick to throw a skein of silk in to dye though:

dyed silk yarn

Fabulous color, eh? (It's a rust/orange, in case your monitor is showing you something decidedly not fabulous.) I'll never get this color again, it being an a) overdye and b) dump dye (overdyed a pale salmon with a *red mix* (so labeled in my cupboard), then when I thought that might turn out too pink, I added some yellow). See? The best colors are often like that. I guess we will just consider this a gift and move on.

What have I been doing, in this whiny, sickness-induced fog? Well mounting dye samples:

dyebook page3

This will be sent off, with all it's various cohorts, to Deb, for the current edition of our dyebook.

I have managed a little bookmark weaving:

linen-wool bookmarks

These are experiments in combining linen and wool, and also supplementary and complementary pickup techniques. They gave me a grand idea for a silk band, and thus the silk dyeing. The new yarn is almost dry, and then the warping will proceed.

I've had lots of time to noodle around on the web, join email lists, and generally waste time. Curious things occur: I found someone in my local guild has been removing pictures of my work from various related websites. Mad? Passive agressive? Petty and childish behavior on their part, poor soul.

Back to the couch, I hear my spinning wheel calling.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Turning the Corner

I was slogging through the edging on Boundary Waters:

boundary waters edging

*Was* is the operative word, now I am coasting.

This is the first corner, and I never thought I would make it. I could not get this edging pattern in my head, and referring to the chart every (small) row was getting to be a drag and a half.

I kept thinking I would quit, rip back, and change to the edging I do like and have memorized (see here). This pattern would look nice with the other elements of Boundary Waters too, it is angular, geometric, like the lace in the shawl.

But I liked the shawl's intended edging. I like how it fits the theme of the shawl: it looks like a wave, and is (I think) half of the Print O' the Wave pattern. How fitting that the edging for Boundary Waters should be water.

There are a few irritants knitting this pattern as written: the pattern calls for knitting the first (outside) stitch on each row, and I am accustomed to slipping this stitch. I can see the reason why: it will make a more elastic edge. It's a good reason, and so I have been trying to knit, not slip. But this requires that I pay attention, because my default is to slip.

There is also an issue that has come to my attention with the slip-stitch at the joining edge: if I slip the first stitch, with the yarn in back, then knit the next stitches, that leaves a little bar on the back where the yarn passes over the slipped stitch. This bar of yarn is not there if I slip the stitch with the yarn in front, and then move the yarn to the back for the rest of the row. But (and you knew there was a but) this is awkward for me to do, and I find myself flailing around with the yarn (well, OK, maybe not flailing, but it is an awkward yarn move). All this results in too much thinking, not enough flow. So I have decided to content myself with the little flaw-which-is-not-really-a-flaw, and have the bar-stitch on the back. Bleh.

I have knitted this edging pattern before, on Fir Cone. I remember not being able to get the pattern repeat into my head then too, until the very end. This time, I told myself that I would go to the first corner, and if I couldn't get it by that time, I could rip back and start the other, known edging. I knew if I worked on this one for long enough, or in a continuous session or two, I might catch on. And I did! Finally.

How did this happen? Cold medication. I tell you, sometimes I need to turn off the chattering monkey-mind and just go with the flow. A slight fever probably helped. With fever, medication and sappy movies, my mind just got into the groove, and we (together) have turned the corner.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sun, Sand and Surf in the Tropics

Starting the New Year right, we lounged on the beach in the Tropics. There were drinks with little umbrellas, guacamole and chips, sun, soft warm breezes, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, fireworks at midnight, and did I mention the drinks on the beach?

I'd have photos to post but, well, I guess I'm not so good with the photos. I do have some, but they are in the camera, as in film, as in yet to be developed.

How Old School.

Meanwhile (while we wait for me to finish the roll and have it developed), here is my complete tropical knitting kit:

Mexico Knitting kit

which I used to knit four of these:

Mexico washcloth

Beach knitting, plaza knitting, couch knitting, palapa knitting. Sum total: one week, four washcloths. I like to take my own washcloth while traveling, the others were for my traveling companions. I also left one for the woman who took care of us and the house we rented.

I took several other proposed projects to work on, but between reading, eating and lounging, cotton washcloths won the day. I started the first while we were airborne on the way down, and finished the fourth just after I got home. See that small kit? One cone of slub cotton yarn, one circular needle, one additional needle for the edge knitting, a point protector/stitch holder, four markers, a sewing needle for the two ends (start and finish), and dental floss, because I initially forgot my stitch markers (checked in the suitcase) and needed to make markers on the way down. For some odd reason, no stitch markers were to be found for sale in the Phoenix Airport [there's a marketing idea: knitting supplies at airports. I bet someone could make a killing (hah), no pun intended, and please God, don't let the transportation safety police read this].

What might I have purchased while enjoying the sun and sand on the beach?

Mexico beads

Beads, green beads. (Yes, Marcy, green). Just because. I liked them. I thought I might be able to use them. I really like the peridot green beads. On the way home I thought about a necklace made with them, with branch fringe. I made some prototype earrings:

Mexico earrings

A bit wild, but maybe I'm still in a Tropical mood. If I ever want to dress up as Carmen Miranda, I've got the baubles.

Anyway, all that is behind me. It is white outside right now; rain, hail and snow today. No sun, no beach, no tropical breezes. I'm back.