Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nearing the End

Boundary Waters is getting to the last few rows on the body of the shawl:

Boundary Waters3

There is still the edging, which could take me the month of December to finish.

But I'm nearing the end. Poignant. I have enjoyed the project. I look forward to picking up the needles each evening. As I finish a pattern row, I pick up the chart to see what's next(sometimes I read ahead!). I read the next row(s) in anticipation: will this be a fun row, or will I have to focus, to concentrate? There have been many of each in this pattern, and as I count down to the last few rows, I know I will miss this project when it is done.

Yes, we work to have a finished object.

But we also work to enjoy the process. I am at the exciting part of nearly seeing if it all worked out, whether I made egregious errors in the lace, and if the wool/needles/pattern combination was the right choice after all.

But I'm also starting to regret the finishing. It's been a fun knit. Will the next be one too? What's next?

I need to spin yarn for the next shawl, and I haven't the parameters decided yet: wool (I have some nice Polwarth)? Wool blended with angora (just purchased from Rovings)? Silk? Thick for a throw or blanket? Thin for a shawl?

Then: which pattern? I want to do Frost Flowers from GOL. I also gave away Fir Cone (see here and here), from Folk Shawls, and I liked the knitting of that. I do intend to knit it again but in handspun, because I was a little sorry about the yarn choice (too flat, not enough life to the yarn).

Time at the spinning wheel will sort out the answers to the next project conundrum. As soon as I pick a fiber, the rest will fall into place, as I plan and spin.

But still, nearing the end of a good project is a little like sending a child off to college: I want it, I expect it, I've worked toward it, I anticipate the benefits, but it's sad all the same. I want time to slow down, so I can enjoy the last moments longer. Nothing will ever be the same, the experience is gone, behind me, no matter how I try to reproduce it, the time has passed.

Poignant, and uncertain, time for a new plan, while the old one wraps up. I don't want to miss a minute of the next few rows, but I also wait in eager anticipation: what will the next one be?

boundary waters4

And to think: just a year ago now, I was planning to knit lace for the very first time. What a difference a year makes!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Button, Button, Who's got the Button?

Me, that's who:

buttons silver

Oops, forgot the dime for scale, but let's say these are bigger than a dime, smaller than a 50p piece!

I'm participating in a Fiber Show and Sale this weekend, and knew I would not have much time to make anything for it, what with preparations for SOAR, SOAR itself and the Dyebook Deb and I have been working to produce. But I did have time to make some buttons, and few earrings, bracelets, and necklaces out of silver clay, so I'd have something for the show.

It's been fun, and, like a miser with his coins, I've enjoyed the riches that having a handful of silver buttons can mean to a textile junky. Imagine lines of silver buttons, marching down a cardigan, or lining up on a bag, as embellishment. What fun potential is.

I have been drilling polishing and planishing, mounting, tagging and making lists. I've had tea to keep me going:


My favorite pot and cup, and new tea, from Betty's, yum!

The sale is Friday Saturday and Sunday this weekend in downtown Grass Valley. I'm almost ready!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spinning to Weave

I learned to spin because I had an empty, hungry loom. My spinning has been more about weaving than anything else ever since. I do spin for knitting occasionally, and I buy lots of yarn for weaving. But I still mostly spin to weave.

Case in point: alpaca. It's very popular on the fiber front these days, and there are lots of Alpaca fiber producers, and sellers of Alpaca fiber and yarns. But there are no (to my knowledge) Alpaca yarns spun for weaving the bands and fabrics traditional to the regions where Alpaca is native: the high mountain regions of South America.

If I want a tightly spun warp yarn, I have to spin it myself:

Alpaca yarn

This is some Suri Alpaca, meant for testing out a little chuspa (bag) weaving. I have two colors, and I'll dye some of each, after it's all spun up. But I had to take a break from spinning to wash the carded fibers. Ahem.

I purchased some carded batts at a fiber show. When I started to spin them, my hands (and wheel orifice) got all dirty and grungy. Huh? On closer examination, it turns out the fiber was not washed before carding. Who would do that? Only a non-spinner. Only someone who was told that the fiber is valuable, but not told how to optimize its value. Who in their right mind would think I want to pay carded Alpaca prices for dirt?

Burn me once, and all that. From now on, I will do more than look into the pretty bag, and all that tissue wrapped, carded fiber will get more scrutiny!

So, I stopped spinning and washed the batts. They came out marginally aligned, and the yarn doesn't need slip-smooth perfection, so I spun from there. I have more of the second color to spin, then a little dyeing, and I'm ready to warp.

Meanwhile, I spun up some washed carded wool:

wool yarn

I'm a big fan of spinning fine, and plying up for the size of yarn I want. I spin the singles fine and tight, then ply tight, 2, 3 or 4 ply, whatever I may need for the project. I use commercially spun wool rug warps as my guide; fine grist, tight twist and coarse wool. It's no wonder even my knitting yarns wear like iron:

wool yarn 2

Thank goodness the softness of the fiber saves me.

I hope you have noticed the International flavor of the scale-measuring devices. Thanks to Martine, for a 50p piece, so those UK bloggers can't fool us :-).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Home To

Luggage and laundry:

SOAR luggage

Lots of boxes to unpack:

SOAR Boxes2006

But also pleasant reminders of how nice SOAR was. It was a great trip, a pleasant and cheerful SOAR with lots of happy times, quiet moments, and fibery conversations.

My workshop room was at the top of the complex, with a bonus beautiful view every way I could turn. Once my heart stopped pounding and I could breathe again, I enjoyed all the light and relative quiet at the top of the hill. SOAR can be non-stop visiting, and the quiet each day before and after class was a welcome bonus.

There was plenty of good food, plenty and good being the operative words, lots of late nights, and never enough time with friends seen only once a year. Thanks to Amy, I managed to score the recipe for Granlibakken's breakfast quiche, which helpfully starts with "mix 8 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of butter, etc." for the crust. The filling uses 90 eggs, and it goes on from there. Now all I need to do is find a Very Large Oven, and a few hundred friends to help me eat it.

The Yarn Harlot was very entertaining and sweet, and no bears or raccoons interfered with her talk, even though we were in a cold and drafty tent previously frequented by said raccoons. Stephanie? You wondered about a yurt for your potential backyard personal escape-space and studio? It would be a lot like that tent. In Toronto? Maybe not so much.

We took a few extra days in the mountains, which never hurts, but the weather started to turn just as we headed down the hill. I arrived home to blue skies and Fall weather here:

Fall 2006

Inside the yurt, left on my desk, I found my my packing list, a reminder of just how much it takes to get everything ready:

SOAR pack list

Notice the checked-off things, lined-through things, and (ahem) the coffee stains? Frenzy and forgetfulness do not a happy couple make. But we made it through, and whatever I may have forgotten was either procured or not really needed. We spinners are nothing if not resourceful, and the SOAR staff really are there to help.

I'll spend the next few days in the yurt, which is waiting in the sun, beckoning:

Fall yurt

What will I be doing? Well the first thing will be to start spinning that big bag of white roving in that photo above, from Francine at Rovings, and yes, most people buy the dyed stuff. Not me, not this time. I can (and will) dye it after I spin it up, any color I like. The potential sometimes seems overwhelming, in this whole world of fiber we inhabit: we can just about do anything we please. Too much fun.

I'll sit and spin after, that is, I unpack all of the above. Sheesh!