Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hit The Ground Running

Busy times!

We have painted, trimmed, decorated, bought furniture and towel racks, towels, food and more food, drink, and then we had a party! We hosted an open house for neighbors and friends, on a night of one of the worst storms in recent memory. But 40 people came, and we celebrated the solstice, the end of construction, and, if we read the Mayans correctly, Not! The End of the World!

Then we took off for the hinterlands, for the holidays with family. The reveal:

Table runner

The table runner was a gift, dyed and woven to coordinate with the painting in the dining room:


It's cotton, 5/2, 8/2, and some rayon yarns, all of which are somewhat the same weight (between 2000 and 3000 yards per pound), sett @ 40 epi, quite close, for a mostly warp faced fabric. There are two hemmed pieces, one with a heavier weft for a runner, and the other with a finer weft for a bread cloth. I dyed the yarns at the guild dye day in August with this project in mind, but of course, procrastinated on the weaving until December!

I am traveling with an old new-found friend this trip:

Wool angora shawl

It's my old travel shawl, handspun merino and angora, which has been held in abeyance for over a year so it would be in good shape for the photos in the next book! I've missed it, and have tried to substitute with several other shawls, but it's surprising, even to me, how much comfort the old familar one can bring when I am far from home. It's warm, soft, cosy, familiar...a pillow on the plane, a wrap for my head and ears when it's cold (as it is here!) and just plain cozy in the mornings.

It's years old, spun and woven in 1996, but still looks new and unblemished (hence it's hiatus, so that it remain so until after the photo shoot).

Now we are in the quiet times, the twelve days of Christmas, between the birthday and the Epiphany. we read our new books, visit, eat way too much and play with our new toys.

Someone has a new kitchen:
Marin kitchen

She has been busy with tea and babies:
Tea party

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quiet Joy

loom and winter photos 003

December is a lovely month, both for its frosty, clear days or rainy gloomy days: either way they are welcome and cherished.

winter photos 006

Both of my children were born in December, making it a festive time, from Thanksgiving through Epiphany. It helps that the whirl of the season is full for others at this time too, because we have parties and gatherings, family and friends full to overflowing...
winter photos 004

And for those of you who asked: what's next? All white cloth. And one of natural beige only. And one with both: beige and white.

I know! ::gasp::!

And this:

Whoops! A new loom!

And this:

A happy little girl, helping her Mama put away the groceries.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Turning Points

I was talking with some friends the other day about life's turning points: we all have them... Sometimes they are momentous, sometimes they are quiet, sometimes they are painful or uncomfortable, but they are inevitable.

I believe we should not fight them, but that can be hard: it is hard to leave places, pets, things, activities, little parts of ourselves, and especially people behind as we move on.

But I also believe if we fight these turning points, if we refuse to move on, bad things happen: stagnation, dis-ease, and dis-integration, death, even, in the figurative and literal sense of the word.

In a recent interview, I was asked about my ten year+ odyssey with weaving knotted pile. Learning this weaving technique was one of those turning points: unexpected, unsought, but exciting. I knew, from the moment I first had the idea to ask my teacher Duke for lessons, that the weaving would be fun and interesting. I did not know it would change the course of my life: I'd been a fabric weaver, banging out the yards for 20 years...

pile bags

I did not know knotted pile would absorb me for over a decade: Duke would hand over his tools, designs and yarns, along with the knowledge he shared with me. I did not know I would eventually teach this technique, would find a way to pass it on. I did not know it would lead to my first book:

book cover

I also did not know that this different way of weaving could teach me not only about fibers and weave structures, looms and tools. It kindled a deeper interest in people who live in cultures and places far removed from me, with whom I feel a certain connection, or kinship, based on a common activity, a common knowledge. I feel a frisson of excitement when I see a photo of women weaving these techniques in their own settings. I know something. I know what they are doing, not just intellectually, or from observation. I know it in my hands. I think this is a common, elemental response to learning, to knowing, things like these spinning and weaving techniques.

rug project7

Spinning does the same thing for me. Wheel spinning was momentous, many years ago: I stayed up all night when I learned, spinning bobbin after bobbin, hands and fingers, fiber and twist. Working with spindles was a shift, but I eventually succumbed. It took time to train my hands to the activity, but it is now my favorite take-along project.

spindle wool viking santas

Both knotted pile and spinning are very hand-centric: simple tools and fluffs of fiber...maybe that is the reason I feel calm and satisfied when I do these things.

So now, when I see a shift, in my work, in my life, I try not to fight it, to not be confused or angry. I try not to hang on, or rail against change (this is sometimes very hard). I may watch for a while, wait, to see if it's a real shift or a just a phase and things will settle down again.

wolf spindles

Old routines can be comforting, old patterns, habits, ways of working, people. But new and sometimes very satisfying things can be right around that turning point.