Friday, November 18, 2011

Purples, blues and greens

Although my garden can't compare to Giverny, and I have no water lilies - just one small fountain - looking around, I have some of the water lilies colors in my yard.

Meanwhile, the weaving on the water lilies shawl proceeds apace.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspiration needed

With any process, there's a part that's less fun than the others.  For me and weaving that's beaming and tyeing on.  I don't know why - just is.  It would be easy to lose momentum at this point and - dare I say it? - procrastinate. 

That's why I need a little inspriation to keep going.  This video combines views of the Giverny gardens with Monet's paintings.  The second half of the video features a museum gallery designed to display some of the paintings to advantage.

And now, back to winding on warp.  Day 9 of Art Every Day Month

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Order out of chaos

Some people thrive on chaos.  I am not one of them.  I like order - everything in it's place.  I also enjoy creating order out of chaos.  That, in a fundamental way, is what weaving is about.

Wild string in its natural, chaotic state.
Weaving takes a highly
chaotic element - string - and turns it into its most organized state - cloth.  Along the way, the weaver adds organization to the string in various ways: chaining it in warps, sleying it in reeds, threading it through heddles, winding it on beams and bobbins.  But these are just interim steps.

In the end, the only thing that holds the string in its most organized state is itself.  Through a series of interlacements with others of its kind, string becomes cloth.  That is, in itself, a miracle of creation.  

String confined in heddles in preparation for weaving.  Day 8 of Art Every Day Month.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Move your right brain, move your left brain

Weaving is like that.  It's a process with discreet steps, and each one must be followed with care and in order.  That's the left brain part.  But most of those steps are, within themselves, repetitive - one might say meditative.  That's the right brain part. 

There's a great deal that must be done before warp ever meets weft: measuring the warp, sleying the reed, threading the heddles, beaming on.  And before that there's design - color, texture, pattern.

Last summer on my fiber stay-cation, I planned a project based on Monet's water lillies paintings.  I dyed the yarn and measured the warp.   

For  day seven of Art Every Day Month, I sleyed the reed.It doesn't look like much, but it's a step along the way.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It don't come easy

You gotta pay dues
If you're gonna sing the blues
And you know, it don't come easy.
--Ringo Starr

Some projects just aren't meant to be easy.

First off, there are no size 00000 knitting needles in Ventura for ready money.  (Anacapa Fine Yarns did have some scrumptious yarns, so I didn't leave the store unscathed).  I could have ordered the needles on-line, but I wanted immediate gratification. 

So I toodled off to the hobby shop in search of 1mm brass rod to make my own needles.  Hobby shop doesn't carry metric, so my choice is between 3/64" rod, which is more than 1mm, and 1/32", which is less.  I buy both.  The 1/32" rod is more like wire - super bendy.  So I cut the thicker rod, and grind the ends into points.  Viola!  I'm calling these 00000.5 needles. 

The 20/2 silk that I was planning to use won't work on the smaller needles.  But that's ok, I have some 30/2 silk in my stash.  I wind some off and start knitting a little swatch.  I also get some more practice picking up dropped stitches. 

The resulting gauge: 14 stitches per inch.  Not the 18 I was hoping for, but I'm going to live with it, especially as I know that with the two color knitting I'll have some draw-in from carrying the thread across the back.

You may have noticed that the swatch is white.  My design is not.  So that means dyeing the yarn.  Out comes the dye notebook, I pick my colors and get to work.  But first I have to divide my yarn into skeins.   That's when I discover that the counter on my reel is broken.  So I count the turns out loud - 1,020 times.

Eventually, I actually get to the dyeing.  Whenever I dye yarn, I thank Deb Menz for her super easy to follow directions and computations in Color in Spinning.  Here are the results:

So there's day 4, 5 and 6 of Art Every Day Month: making the needles, making a test swatch and dyeing the yarn.  You won't hear any more about this project for a little while.  I don't intend to start the actual knitting until I have my new glasses.

Friday, November 4, 2011

... And not much to show for it

Day 3 and not much to show for it.  It's not that I didn't work on my new 14th c. bag project - I did for a couple of hours.

There are some parts of any project that are just not as much fun as others - dare I say "tedious"?  Swatching and sampling fall in that category.  I got out my needles and yarn and worked up a swatch.  I confirmed that my gauge with 000 needles and 20/2 spun silk is 12 stitches to the inch - pretty far away from the originals at 18 stitches per inch.  I also confirmed that I really need those new glasses (eye doctor appointment next Tuesday).  Also got some practice in picking up dropped stitches - which would have been easier if I could have seen more clearly. 

What I ended up with was a tiny swatch a little less than two inches square and the fact that I need smaller needles and finer yarn.  Next: the search for 00000 needles...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day Two: Another Skein and Another Project

For the second day of Art Every Day month, I plied a second skein of the silk/merino/alpaca yarn. 

November is a month when we will be traveling quite a bit.  If I'm going to do Art Every Day, then I'm going to need something portable.  I could dig out a UFO - heaven knows I have enough of them - but what's the fun in that? 

Every since Ursula Georges conducted a workshop on the Gunnister pouch, and I did my first 2-color knitting, I've been anxious to make another and to kick it up a notch.  In this case it means bigger and smaller - a bigger pouch and smaller stitches. 

My inspiration are the Sion pouches - a collection of knitted relic bags from the 14th century that are a favorite of historical knitters.  The originals are in the cathedral in Sion Switzerland, and documented in Bishop Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting.  They are knitted in exquisitely small stitches - about 18 to the inch and the smallest bag is 8-1/8" high by 6-1/4" wide.  That works out to about 32,805 tiny little stitches!
Am I ready for this???

First, start a test swatch.  My smallest needles are 000.  I've decided that those are quite small enough, thank you, so unfortunately my gauge will be greater than 18 to the inch.  Second, make an appointment with the eye doctor - I can't see what I'm doing!

Finally, create a design inspired by, but not copied from, one of the relic purses:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November - Art Every Day Month

I'm participating in Art Every Day Month.  I figured it would be a great kick start to creativity.  There's nothing like making a public commitment to get you going!

So yesterday was the first day.  After working just a little late, then coming home to fix dinner for my family and do a couple of loads of laundry, it was 8:30 and I was really tired.  What to do to fill my art quota for the day?  I have looms to warp and projects to start, but I have to admit I just didn't have the energy to start anything.

So I dusted off the spinning wheel - literally, it had been a while - and dug out my "current" project.  Can you call it "current" when you haven't touched it for months? 

I've spun up a fine singles of tussah and merino blend from Treenway and another of baby alpaca, both purchased at SOAR many years ago.  Some nice quite meditative plying just the thing! 

I had just enough time to ply up one skein before bed time. Here it is - still on the niddy noddy:

2-ply tussah/merino/baby alpaca

Monday, July 4, 2011

Weaving in the Garden

The weather this weekend was nearly perfect for weaving in the garden.  The goal was to finish a group project that was started last year, and was put on hold until the weather was warm and dry enough to set up the warp weighted loom on the patio.  An unusually cool and wet spring postponed the project until now. 

With the help of Jan Eichling, we wove 25 inches between Sunday afternoon and Monday evening.  There were plenty of breaks for putting my feet up - one of the draw backs to a WWL is the standing.  There are about five more inches of weaving left on this shawl and a little finish work, then it will go to it's recipient.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Something old, something new

A couple of week's ago I took a knitting class based on the Gunnister pouch.  The 17th century original was found in a peat bog in Scotland, along with other personal items.  Here's a picture of the original:

My adaptation includes a design of crosses, instead of the stripes and checks of the original.

It's also a little bit longer - just the perfect size for holding my iphone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All Wound Up

I have this bin in the garage (OK, I have lots of bins).  Up until today this particular bin was full to overflowing with left over bits of yarn.  Over the last two days, I have grouped the yarns, mixing textures and colors, and wound them into warps for scarves - ten in all.  Here are some of my favorites:

I love the candy colors of this one:

And the cool sage of this one.

This one reminds me of a berry/ peach smoothie.  Yum!

Meanwhile, I've been dyeing the purple and green warps for the Water Lilies shawl.  Here they are with the multi-colored warp and the blue weft:

And here are some of Monet's Water Lilies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting Ready to Dye

This morning I mixed up the dye solutions for the projects I'll be working on this week.  With the solutions already mixed, dyeing the yarn will be much simpler - just mix the solutions in the right proportions and put them in the crockpot with hot water, yarn and, after a while, a little soda ash.

Mixing the dye solutions reminds me a little of my chemistry major days:
While the yarn simmers in the crockpot, I'm working on the lavendar scarf on the rigid heddle loom - see the "What I'm working on now" pic in the margin.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Week's Vacation

I have a week’s stay-cation and my plan is to fill it with as much fibery goodness as possible. First stop was my yarn stash to see what spoke to me. There were lot’s of possibilities, but I settled on this:

Doesn’t it remind you of Monet’s Water Lilies? But there is not enough to warp up a full shawl, so back to the stash where I found this white cotton rayon blend. I don’t want white, though, but this cotton/rayon blend should dye up beautifully with Sabracron F dyes. Using my swatch book from Sarah Lamb’s workshop, I picked a blue and a green to match the Water Lily yarn, and a purple for some 20/2 silk for the weft.
It will take a couple of days for me to get all the yarn dyed. I don’t want to wait to start weaving, so in the meantime, I warped up my rigid heddle loom with a warp I’d had sitting around for a while.
This is a mélange of left over yarns: some black and purple ladder yarn, pink and purple eyelash, purple 20/2 silk (doubled), purple wool (a sample from a workshop) and some gray kid mohair from a UFO sweater. The weft is a super-fine lavender kid mohair.

Tomorrow I start weaving and dyeing.