Tuesday, December 30, 2014

small things...

Oof! Holidays: hustle and bustle, trying to keep the big picture in mind, all the details! It's all over but the crying now :).

I have mentioned before, and I will repeat, I love the quiet time that is the 12 days of Christmas; those 12 days between the 25th and January 6th, the 12th night, or Epiphany, the day the Wise Men arrived.

These days and nights are the reward for the hustle and bustle: quiet time to ramble through the copious food left from the feast, to still listen to the seasonal music, and to weave, knit and spin what I want to, for no particular deadline or reason:

Silk spinning

Silk! from a bundle I could not resist buying for myself from Spunky. I have Big Plans, of course, for this fiber. I dyed more to go with it:

Silk spinning

and will soon have to decide if I ply these two batches together, or separately, with themselves. Maybe some of both?

Small things dominated the gifts this year:

coffee cozy

First up, a coffee cozy, for a French Press, handwoven cotton lined with wool. It's actually lined with an old wool sweater, intentionally fulled to a solid fabric, for lining things just like this. This is inspired by a tea cozy, made by a friend of mine, that I have used for many years:

Tea Cozy from Deb

It's surprising, astounding really, how long the wool keeps my tea hot. So the lining for the coffee pot cozy was a foregone conclusion, the cotton cover is just for bling! The whole thing should be washable, should the need arise, so practical, useful, small and functional.

The next small thing is The Official First Attempt at Leather Bag:

Tool bag

A tool bag! A small project, but also a good First Thing to practice stitching. It's useful and does not need to be as beautiful as a bag to be carried in public. It will serve a utilitarian purpose carrying tools, be stashed in the back of the car or on the shelf, grabbed when needed, and likely survive lots of use and abuse. As I worked, I imagined this bag in 50 years, worn and scarred, but still holding up, still holding and carrying tools as needed. Leather. Thick sturdy leather. This may be the most durable and enduring thing I have ever made.

I learned a lot, my stitching got better, and I realized I need a few more tools (isn't this always the case?) to finish the next bag better. So I am on the quest for an edge beveler, among other things. My stitching awl is perhap a bit big for my hands. I will look for another haft, that will fit my hand better. We run into this problem often, the sizing of tools and equipment for different hands or bodies. That is why there is no perfect tool; there are many sizes of hands and lengths of legs!

But my stitches improved, while the movements to make the stitches became more comfortable and habitual. The next bag will be better, and the one after that, and the one after that....until I don't think about it anymore, Until the process is second nature, and the product design and execution can be more of the focus.

So. Much. Fun. and something to work towards, something to look forward to!

I also have been weaving on a long neglected pile project, which will indeed be incorporated into a bag (! so single-minded!). I had company while weaving:

Weaving help

Somebody else likes these quiet days after the veritable storm of activity. She has a nice perch right behind the warp, and can keep an eye on me, while demanding pets.

So I stitch on, I spin on, and I weave on, tying knots and petting the cat, in these closing days of the year. May your New Year bring you all that you want and need, although sometimes these things conflict. May it also bring you joy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Wildness is happening here!

All of my recent knitting, since February or so, has been projects for publication. As such, I have not shared them online, or even, really, in person. Publications prefer that they get the first crack! at revealing new things, and I am happy to oblige. But this has meant that everything, spinning, knitting, planning, designing, ripping and re-knitting (whoops!) has been done off-camera, so to speak.

Well, I finished the last project on Friday and mailed it in. And then? I started in with the crazy! Mitts? maybe. Gloves? maybe. Mittens? maybe. I don't know yet. Just cast on, grab a color at will, knit on until "done", and then do another. Will they match? I doubt it. Some yarns are variegated, some are not, some are 2 ply, some are 3 ply, fiber content varies....in short, break all the rules. Wear them happily when done, or, if they are totally fugly??? Overdye!!

It is such a change from following the plan, writing everything down, making sure things work and are not just fudged for convenience, etc. etc. etc. I do love designing and sharing those textiles, don't get me wrong. I think that's my best-textile-purpose, if I had to define it: sharing what I know.

A few weeks ago, a local friend thanked me for sharing dye information, and also my time and energy. She asked why I did it, without payment, since my time is valuable and we all have busy lives and things we need to get done. I told her I love textiles, I wish more people did, and wish more people understood what makes a good textile, what makes good technique, and in support of that, I am willing to share what I know. I know a very small portion of the textile world, but I know my part very well! It's likely what keeps me writing this blog, that desire to expand our base of spinners, dyers and weavers. That, and the wonderful feedback I get from readers!

Sharing is what we try to teach in civilized cultures. We start children young, in pre-school and at home, showing them, willing them, admonishing them, to share. We preach it from pulpits, the best of us share our time and resources with those who have less, and we know, as adults, from experience, that it feels better when all of us have a piece of the pie, when there are no faces standing out in the cold, looking in at the window.

It's a hard lesson, but I think it helps define us as civilized: not Me First! but We Are All In This Together. Much of what goes wrong in our common everyday lives can be put down to the prevalence of competition for ...everything from food and shelter, to money and power. My piece of the pie. I want what I want and I don't care how it affects you, either the individual or the collective you.

tree hunting

I have a dog in this fight, so to speak. I have grandchildren. I want them to learn that we can share as adults. I want them to grow up civilized, and in a world where people care about each other.

The concept of sharing is weighing heavily on my mind, because I have recent experience with the reverse: someone for whom I did a favor, whom I included in a project, has excluded me. They have chosen not to share. They have chosen to be selfish. It hurts, that a kindness was not reciprocated, but what does it demonstrate? The worst of our culture is the person who thinks of Self above all others, who will not give an inch, even if that means others can be included, who will not share.

My first reaction was to think "wait until next time". But that is everything I don't want these children to learn. That is not sharing. I hope I can be big enough to extend a hand again next time, because their participation, their joy, enriches mine, enriches all of us. Sharing the big events and the small is what makes us a community. I can relax in the knowledge that I did the right thing, no matter what the recipient did in return. This is not a competition. If it is, we all lose.

In this hectic season of preparing for winter, preparing for holidays, of shopping and parties and dark nights and treacherous weather, I wish you the equanimity to deal with the troubles and troubling people you too will encounter.

I wish you sharing and laughter, I wish you peace, and Peace. I wish you grace. I wish you Joy.