Friday, June 27, 2008

Pointless Rambling: No Pictures

I've been working on this post for several days, and for some reason could not seem to find the time to download, re-size and upload the pictures. This has prevented actual posting.

I went to knitting this morning, knowing full well that Lindsey and Patricia would comment on my lack of posts. I wanted to post it this morning just before leaving, so when they so kindly mentioned my online silence, I could blink and say "But I posted this morning, didn't you read it?"

Such was not to be. They did comment. I believe it was Patricia who first brought it up, but Lindsey jumped right in, so to speak. So herewith, post with no pictures, fresh out of the draft stage, much delayed:

Knitters often complain about being belittled, an object of jokes, being compared to grannies in rockers. It is annoying, irritating and untrue.

But try being a weaver in our culture.

We are invisible. Not there.

I took up knitting so I could at least be outraged at the lack of sensitivity in the general population. It's better than being invisible (Sometimes. Wouldn't you like to be invisible on occasion?).

People don't even know what weaving is, have never seen a loom, think nothing of weaving, in the truest sense.

Few consider where their clothing, sheets and towels, carpets and blankets come from, who might have made that fabric and how they might have accomplished such a task.

Weaving was once ubiquitous. Weavers were everywhere, if not in your own home, then in your village or town, itinerant or permanent. Textiles, once valued, cared for and even bequeathed, are now hardly considered: throw-away objects costing little to nothing, given little regard beyond the fashion of the day, wearing out only to be replaced, or (gasp) being replaced long before they wear out.

Why would anyone spend their time making such transitory objects? Why indeed?

Could it be an interesting process? Could it be fascinating, mind-boggling, endlessly entertaining, and yet useful? Might it require a few brain cells to understand, accomplish and then do it well enough to supersede commercial fabric?

Weavers do enjoy a certain status among textile enthusiasts, I'll grant you that. Cloth is the basis of many other textile crafts, a necessary first step.

It is also the end result of a fascinating journey from raising animals, spinning yarn, dyeing it all up and gulp, yes, weaving fabric.

(imagine several photos here)
I have spent a week with friends at Tahoe, and then another week in Virginia City at a fiber retreat. All of the women I have recently spent time with are people I consider true friends. I would not know them but for weaving, spinning, dyeing and other fiber pursuits, and they totally get the fascination with spinning dyeing and even weaving.

I was able to encourage two weavers into trying out knotted pile. Sue and Eileen worked on their bags diligently each morning in Virginia City (imagine photos here).

It was very gratifying to find them up early and eager to get to work each morning. Apparently they liked weaving too.

This is all kinda-sorta why I started this blog: so weaving would be more visible. I know, photos would help.

All this recent gadding about has left me moving slowly. I mostly sit and stare. The local air quality is not helping either: smoke from the fires has made it look foggy around here, for days on end.

Sitting and staring is conducive to warping though, which I am doing: (imagine photo here).

Soon. Silk fabric (let us hope there will be photos).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I admit to being something of a voyeur, a Peeping Tom, if you will, about other lives and other places. When I travel, I try to imagine what it would be like to live elsewhere. One of my favorite books is this one:


Maine Farm, written by the people who bought Scott and Helen Nearing's old farm in Maine. It has lots of photos of their farm, their activities, their life and the area near the farm.

My family is from this area, although many generations ago. This book is also the last birthday gift I received from my mother, before she died. I spent hours and hours looking at the photos, in my grieving stupor many years ago. It was solace, and still is, when I take it down to page through.

I also like this book:


The Private Life of Tasha Tudor. Beautiful photos, some of which are weaving and spinning related, but mostly views of gardens and rooms. It is an idealized version of life, not as honest as Maine Farm, but no less beautiful. A peek into another life.

When I read some of the house-farm-decorating magazines, I spend hours looking at the photos, at the details in the photos, at the rooms and the kitchens, the dishes and the furniture, the vases of flowers and the tablecloths. Peeping tom-ism.

So when I heard about this book:


Shear Spirit, I had high hopes. I was not disappointed. Lots of stories and pictures of farmers and their animals, spinners and dyers, a few weavers, patterns and did I mention the photos? These are mostly people I think I would like, living in beautiful places. Small farmers who followed their passion, and are trying to make a living selling us what we need: fleece and yarn, the stuff of my life.

There is one anomaly: an absentee-jet-set-owner-alpaca-mega farm of the worst Ponzi-scheme kind: where they seem to just want to make money, and are not of the small-farm-knitter-spinner-caresabouttheanimals, but rather the ihavetoomanyanimalstoname type of alpaca farm that doesn't fit with the general theme of the other profiles in the book.

That aside, the rest of the stories, photos and patterns are lovely. Worth the investment: eye candy and dreams, all bound up and presented beautifully.

The book reminded me of another favorite:


Knitting in America, a look at knitters, their process and their product: a peek into their lives. I haven't taken this off the shelf in ages, perhaps it's time for a cup of tea and some daydreams. Inspiration.

All of this brings me to Marie, damn-her-hide, and her Meme, for which I was tagged. I tried to resist answering, but I know there would be payback. I will be in Marie's backyard next Fall for SOAR. Marie is small, but mighty. I am afraid of Marie. So I am complying!

The rules: Posted here at the beginning. The player answers all questions. The player then chooses six people you want to know more about and tags those people by listing their names at the end of the post and going to their blog and leaving a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Also, you let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

Since I Know Voyuerism I thought photos might be better than words:

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was doing much the same thing: weaving, spinning and dyeing. My two boys were in college, I was working in my favorite studio:

I can tell I am moving here, there is a table missing, and a few boxes packed. The date is more recent than 10 years ago, the small upright loom did not come into my life until 1999. But you get the general idea: here is my studio, from about that time.

And while I'm at it, some of the rest of the house:
The living room, the first room you see coming into the house. Loved that little wood stove.

The kitchen, straight off the living room. I totally gutted and remodeled this space, it had been a dark 70's kitchen. The view out the window is the Sierras. I can tell I'm totally moving here: too clean! The top shelves were once full of stuff: bowls and baskets, tea pots and pitchers.

The family room, around the corner from the kitchen. Where are all the magazines piled on the coffee table?

The back deck, outside the kitchen window.

It was a nice place to live, I worked hard to make it the place I could comfortably live for the rest of my life. Whoops!, not to happen.

2. What were five things on my to-do list today (not in any particular order)?
Try out my new flyer:
blog 003 (2)
notice the wood is not even finished yet? oops:

blog 005 (2)
Polwarth roving: red. (Surprise!)

Set up some cardweaving with this yarn:
blog 011
nice colors, eh?

Maybe set up this warp:
blog 002 (2)
Oooh silk! and a color digression.

Spin up some of this:
blog 014
more Polwarth.

Get some work done on this:
blog 013
love that screensaver: trees in my backyard.

3. What snacks do I enjoy?
Salty. Crackers, chips. Guacamole. Salsa and chips. Cashews. Lindsey once brought a bag of Cool Ranch Chips to SOAR, and I think I sat down and ate the whole thing. I know I did. yum.

4. Where are some places I've lived?
um, California.
San Mateo, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Auburn, Weimar, Colfax, Grass Valley.

5. What things would I do if I were a billionaire?
Buy a Big Farm somewhere with room for all of my friends to have their own houses, where we'd raise sheep and goats, have a garden, an orchard and the biggest damn barn-studio where we all can spin, laugh and drink tea, isolated from the world, politics and the current election cycle. Rose-colored-glasses anyone?

oh. and give most of the rest of it away. A Billion is a Big Amount. My sons would benefit.

I am not tagging anyone. I'm exhausted thinking about all of this. I rest, safe, in the hope that Marie is satisfied.