Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ups and Downs

My last full day in England, Pete, Carol and Margaret and I went to Betty's in Ilkley for tea. We had tea! and I also bought some to bring home.

Pete and Carol bought a Yorkshire curd pie for our supper later that evening. That and flapjacks were the two new taste treats from this trip. Other things were tasty mind you, but these were new, unexpected, and delightful.

Margaret and I nipped over to Duttons too, and I managed to find a few buttons, but really you need a focus and more time for true button shopping. It was a little shop, but much to see!

When we dropped Margaret off, she ran inside and came out with another gift for me:

margaret's sweater

In the short time since Margaret found out I am to be a grandmother, she knit my coming grandchild a lovely little sweater! Fast! Cute! Thank you Margaret :)! Yes, the buttons are from Duttons.

The next day began the long journey home. We will not speak of Continental Airlines starting it all off with a two hour delay. I had breakfast while I waited. We will not speak of Continental Airlines keeping us waiting at customs in Newark for AN HOUR for our luggage, thus missing the connecting flight. We will not speak of standing in line for ANOTHER HOUR with all the other passengers who missed their connecting flights to re-book on a later plane. We will not speak of having to run to another terminal, go through security AGAIN while the second connecting flight is announcing final boarding, and finally boarding at the last minute before the doors close. We will not speak of a long trip that would have taken 21 hours on a good day, now up to 29 hours. We will not speak of it again.

I've been keeping mind and hands occupied since I've been home with dyeing some silk for SOAR classes coming up this Fall:

silk dyeing

Always nice to contemplate lovely colors on silk, and the dyeing is easy enough to do while not-really-present.

I usually come home from a class ready to get to work on projects that I've had to abandon for travel. I've had this pile bag on the loom for several months waiting, and it was a good week to watch dyepots, listen to a book and tie knots:


The pile yarn for this is some I purchased in Melbourne at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop:

victorian tapestry yarns

The yarns are fine:

yarn july 2010

I stranded five together to make the size yarn I would need, in colors I am using:

vict. tap. yarns

The blended colors add a richness and depth not possible with a single dyed strand:


I love the surface texture with these yarns too, and will have to husband the rest of them for a special project some day (or, gasp! order more yarns!).

All this dyeing and weaving has served to distract me this week from jet-lag and re-entry into my own life again. The hardest part of the week, and saddest of all though, has been having to say good-bye to Mojo:

mojo sleeps

He was a good cat, a grand friend, and we miss him.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Homeward Bound

Packing up. Trying to stuff purchases and gifts into the odd corner. Tea at Betty's. Soft rain, lots of lush greenery, trees thick and green grass, dotted with sheep, crisscrossed by stone walls. I will have to store up these images as I head for the hot dry West.

I finished knitting the Composed Mitts I talked about here and here, using some spindle spun and some wheel spun wools, wool blends, and angora:

composed mitts

They were fussy to knit while traveling, having to change color so often, and weave in so many ends. I changed the pattern a bit to lessen the fussiness....and then I traded them away, to Margaret for hers:

margaret's mitts

There are also Gifts:
kumihimo stand

Sarah's pin

tapestry book

Maggie's book

hazel's art card

Some of which pack in neat little corners, others of which will take up a bit more space:

Freyalyn's shawl

Technically speaking this is not a gift, but also a trade: I owe Freyalyn a woven shawl. She spun, dyed and knit this for me (we'd agreed to the trade months ago), but I have yet to fulfill my part of the bargain......I photographed her knitting on top of my woven shawl: did she not get the colors just right?!

There is also new yarn to pack, and some samples:
yarn samples

I've bought a few skeins to sample with for next year's knotted pile class in Edinburgh. It was useful to come to the UK to find out what could and could not be purchased here. People who sign up for next summer's class will get an updated materials list of yarns available to themn here.... very useful.

But before all that happens, I have to stuff everything into bags and jet home.

Soon now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

There and Back Again

I'm in the North of England now, in Yorkshire, and we've been over to Alston Hall, in Lancashire. There were roses in the gardens, neither red nor white, but every color inclusive. The people were inclusive too, and we were made to feel very welcome by the staff and hospitality at Alston Hall.

Alston Hall port cochere

There were two courses going, a dye class, run by Debbie Tomkiss, and knotted pile in our room. We began classes after arriving Friday evening, and that short time allowed everyone to get a jump start on the class for Saturday morning, getting more accomplished in the short weekend than I had expected:

alston hall marion

alston hall hazel's star

Marion and Hazel (respectively, above) are weavers, so of course they are familiar with the tools, jargon and what would be expected, but several of the newer weavers got on well too, finishing both their initial sample and starting their project:

alston hall ann's spiral

alstonhall scottie

alston hall sarah's colorblends

There were variety of looms, and we managed to work with all but one of them (which was missing parts). In a perfect world I would supply the looms so everyone worked on the same one,
but since the process is able to be adjusted for any loom, weavers who already have a table loom or frame loom can (and did) use them.

alston hall gargoyle2

Some people used silk for the pile:

alston hall sarah's silk

But most people used wool:

alston hall freyalynn's sample

I was able to get a handle on just which UK yarns worked to add to the materials list for next year's UK knotted pile class, which will be held in Edinburgh in August.

Today is a grey and drizzly day, perfect, giving us a chance to recover, knit, spin (on my new IST spindle) and rest up for the next big social occasion: a night on the town for a birthday party tomorrow night!

alston hall gargoyle1

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Oh! The Places You'll Go....

I'm in London this morning, having spent the weekend with the very kind and generous Cambridge Guild of Weavers and Spinners. We had a short workshop on knotted pile, and happily everyone at least got to the knot tying stage, but I forgot to go into the whole waving-of-hands-describing-the-construction-of-the-bags, so alas, I will have to come back some day and rectify the lapse :).

Before leaving, I shipped off the shawl to Deb, the soon-to-be Mother of the Bride:


You can click the photo and get a larger picture: the fabric is just lovely, soft and drape-y, and the colors are stunning.

Deb's inspiration for this shawl is some silk paper she made a while ago:

silk paper

Deb dyed the warp chains, and I think the fabric and colors turned out perfectly! It does remind me of Marimekko fabrics, as someone commented previously, and it will be a perfect wrap for a summer wedding.

It was interesting being the technician, not the designer, on this project. Usually, from conception to execution, I use my own ideas in weaving. I may take inspiration from someone else's work, or use a sett, or yarn or set of colors I've seen somewhere, but the idea, the project is my own. This time I was trying to meet someone else's vision, which requires communication, understanding, luck and good will. I think we met that challenge. The subject of artist vs. technician is a rich one, and one that I'd like to think about further.

For what it's worth: I am now in the class of travelers-who-take-too-few-knitting-projects on board the plane:


The Peanut will be a Pumpkin for Halloween and Fall this year :). Those of you at home who forced me to pick these colors for the hat: you were right Lindsey and Eileen, this looks just like a pumpkin (I wanted a brighter orange....). This hat was knit between SF and Newark, leaving me nothing to knit on the way to the UK. I slept a bit, and then woke to a breakfast snack and an hour to landing. I actually spun in my tiny little window seat cubby, on this the smallest of Goldings with some silk::


My hostess in Cambridge, Tricia, should recognize her bath towel and couch cover on the last two photos, and when she sees this, please pass on a wave from the train to Madeleine and Isaac, whom I missed as the train pulled away to London.