Sunday, October 27, 2013

Been There, Done That

SOAR The Final has come and gone. We were a wonderfully cohesive group: everyone knew this was our last time, and we were kind, collegial and communal. I have never been to a gathering of women that felt so cohesive and committed to each other: helpful, positive, funny and fun.

We knew. We knew there were some people we would never see again. I cried almost every time I saw my friend Judy. I see her annually at SOAR; I have known for over 20 years. I love her. She is always happy to see me. She lives across the country from me and we have no connection other than spinning and weaving. I met her at SOAR. SOAR is where we connect.

Where we used to connect.

We did have some color fun in the retreat sessions, matching and blending colors:





We had fun, we had evenings in the hot tub, evenings where we raised a glass or two, and now, and into the future, we have to stand on our own two feet:


I hope we can be as happy about it as this little fellow, and that our future will be as bright. We will grow and prosper, but we will miss some people going forward. I will miss you Judy and I hope to cross paths with you, and some of the other SOAR regulars, at other venues in other places.

Adios Amigos. Vaya con Dios.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



The weather has turned, and at the end of the day, the workshops will be done. We will have new classes at the close of the week, as we turn the corner from workshop to retreat sessions for the last time.

We have woven samples, using many several looms...rigid heddles, including Flips and Crickets:


Copper pipe:


And classic table looms:

And some of us, lazy soul that I am, are plying silk:

A good time is being had, we are happy to be here, and we have not yet turned maudlin. I love my life!

Sunshine Jackson
Sunshine Jackson!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All Shall Be Well

True to form, we have snow! At SOAR.


Yes, we'll, OK, mixed with rain, and melting off, but snow! At SOAR!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There and Back Again

I'm at the airport, headed for SOAR via a short visit to the grandchildren (and their Mom and Dad, of course!). I have been a traveling fool lately, mostly by car, traversing the State, first to Jamestown (Sierra foothills, but way south of me) then to Tahoe for a few days, and now off into the wild blue yonder. It has been a frenzy of packing, lists, clearing up chores and now? A nice few hours with nothing to do and WiFi to do it with!

I did buy an unexpected book recently:

I like to buy books from authors that I know, and while I was not expecting to make many of these garments, the book was a pleasant surprise: it is full of lots and lots of weaving tips. Well, duh, of course, you say, but really it was unexpected: I thought it would be "just" a project book, but no. There are tips, there is weaving instruction, there is information on designing and finishing fabrics for clothing, and there is a delightful section of profiles of several weavers, examples of their work, and how and why they do what they do. I love this stuff, a glimpse into someone else's thought process, and weaving process.

It is a perfect book for guild libraries, and I will suggest it to my own guild. But if you are a new weaver, or new to garment weaving, it should be on your bookshelf.

I have some knitting with me, and some spindles, but nothing urgent to finish, no looming (heh) deadlines, so I can relax, and make some samples and plan the next few projects. I did want to show this to Sarah, however:


Amazing huh? Two cairngorms, remarkably similar. The spindle is a Golding, and Sarah will know about the pin...! The link to Sarah's blog, by the way, is to an interesting post from last Spring, packed full of weaving, spinning and embroidery information, much more so than this post! Go read it!

I will post from SOAR, at least a photo a day, next week. Until then :).

Sunday, October 06, 2013

When A Plan Comes Together

Yesterday I went to Lambtown Festival, the first time for me, although it has been going on for 27 years! I felt right at home, saw lots of friends and fellow fiber people, chatted up the day and had the most fabulous lamb teriyaki for lunch imaginable. It was sooooo good I actually contemplated driving back today for more!

There was a sheep-to shawl demonstration/competition, with three teams of spinners/weavers. Spinners spun, a weaver wove, shawls were produced and then they had to be judged: boo!

They were wonderful examples of spinning and weaving, and it was too bad that they, so different from each other, had to be compared. At all. They were good fabrics. They were well thought-out weave structures, well woven, using excellent handspun yarns, and they were pretty. One had to be picked over the others. Bleah. It's like deciding which of your children you love more: you love them each for their strengths and for their weaknesses. Not Best, Lesser and Least.

Those spinners and weavers were inspiring. They had done their homework, the fabrics were thoughtful, and beautiful. One was sett at 8 and woven with 8 picks per inch, another was sett at 10 and woven with 10 picks per inch, in twill variations: point twill and undulating twill, with plain weave stripes. One of the difficulties in judging fabrics at these events is that the shawls were not washed: the fabric was fresh off the loom. Things change in the washing, fibers meld, weave structures impose themselves, the hand changes, and the hand of the fabric is it's end use, to it's final utility. That factor has to be guessed at, and there is no second guessing once the fabrics are washed and really finished. I would love to see them after washing, but I most likely never will.

I thought all the way home of weaving and wearing wool cloth. How would I have done it differently? What factors would I incorporate that these spinner/weavers used? I would like to combine some of the qualities of each of the shawls that I saw and touched on Saturday. I want a simple twill fabric of two ply yarns, sett at 10, and woven at 8 ppi. I want it to be woven a bit openly, so that finishing will determine the hand: more = firmer fabric, less = softer fabric. I'd have to sample!

Luckily, I happen to have some wool yarn:

Not handpsun, alas, but a Pile O' 2 ply Shetland wool yarns. There is plenty to sample first, wash and press, handle them and decide how best to weave the garment. I'll make a long enough sample so that I can change the sett, and wash both, to see how they differ. There are even colors I do not like to wear, which I will happily sacrifice to the Sample Gods. These yarns are knittable, usually into sweaters, so I will weave a sweater. I've wanted a pullover anyway, lightweight, with plenty of drape: easy to layer over a shirt and under a jacket. I'll have to do a set-in sleeve. Horrors!

So. What else have I been up to? I think I have shown these both in progress:

This first is handspun silk, a shawl size, using leftover yarns from another project. It is shown after finishing, with the afternoon sun shining on it, which brings out the shine of the silk yarns used. It will be my gallery project at The Last SOAR(tm).

This next, also shown previously in various stages as I worked on it:

is silk cashmere, also a scarf or shawl length. I was a bit worried about differential shrinkage once I started weaving: the mottled stripes are a different silk/cashmere yarn from the rest of the shawl. I'd used them together before without incident, but they are a slightly different grist than the others, and in rather larger stripe sections like this, I did not know if they would shrink more (or less). I took a shot right before I washed the fabric:

Just to remember it was once flat. It did, indeed, remain flat after finishing (phew!), although I had long decided that whatever I got would be OK: this is not a show piece, or for a gallery or photo session, it's just for wearing. So if I wear a scarf/shawl that has some differential shrinkage? Oh well, must've been what I was meant to do! Attitude is everything :).

It has been a few busy weeks recently making up supplies and samples for SOAR: packing the boxes and shipping is this week, and then... it will be upon us. It will be fun, sobering, happy and sad, and I will wager there will be not a dry eye among us, in the end. Which will be the end, for better or for worse. And we will turn our faces outward, to whatever may come.