Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pretty Yarn

A little birthday yarn that came yesterday:

It's tencel from Webs in colors "Jewel" and "Blue Ming"; I also have some black that's on backorder. I hope to weave some scarves with the three colors somehow used together. I'd love to find a bright pink to match the pink in "Jewel", too, maybe a purple (the yarn is actually pretty equal amounts of turquoise, pink, black, and purple; it just seems to be picking up a bit more of the blue from the other yarn). I might even have to use some of the "Jewel" for a shawl (there are 3,300 yards of the stuff). I like tencel; it's shiny. I like shiny.

I also got some cotton in burgundy, elm green and natural for some holiday towels. I had warped enough for 6 sampler towels already and have only done four, so maybe I'll do a couple of Christmas towels before moving on. Since I want to make the Christmas towels using the same threading and treadlings, I may be able to "tie on" a new warp to have enough for more towels. As I understand it, instead of having to thread the dent and heddles all over, you basically tie each new warp thread to an old one. This sounds time consuming until you realize that you can slide the knotted threads through the heddles and dents instead of having to rethread from scratch. Someday soon, I'll try and explain how a loom is warped for anyone interested and maybe some of this will actually make sense. For now, realize that warping is the most time intensive part of the whole weaving process and long warps are good. Unless, of course, you are like me and like lots of different projects going on at once. I really want to play with my new tencel, but I know I should do a few more towels and work on keeping those edges even first.

To all those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

I had planned...

Well, I had planned to finish plying some lovely yarn that I've been spinning for a while. I had planned to finish it up yesterday and give it a nice bath and then I had planned on having some lovely pictures of it to show off this morning. I had also planned on getting some more weaving done, maybe even some more of Magickal Earth. But things don't always work out that way. I spent most of yesterday morning in a migraine-induced stupor. My usual remedies didn't seem to be remedying anything. I was mostly okay as long as I remained completely and totally still. Finally, around suppertime my migraine let up only to give way to a stomach bug for me and one of my daughters. Ugh. We're feeling much better this morning.

So, I only really have a lousy weaving picture to show. I have a small Ott lamp downstairs, but I really need to get a bigger one to use for my weaving and picture taking.

Hopefully later in the week I'll have the pretty yarn all finished (at least one skein, I still have tons of the stuff to spin).

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Monday, November 17, 2008

It is still a knitting blog

Yes, really, it is. I know it doesn't seem like it because I haven't shown any actual knitting in ages. I hadn't touched Magickal Earth in weeks; I'd only done a few stitches on my current socks and I haven't even touched this beautiful sock club yarn from Neighborhood Fiber Company's October installment:

(Honestly, I can't even get the colors close on my computer to the loveliness that is this yarn. It's kettle dyed and has beautiful rich shades of pinks, reds, and purples. How me is this yarn?)

I've been weaving, spinning and just about everything but knitting. But, it still is a knitting blog and I've actually been doing some knitting over the weekend. I finished the evergreens on Magickal Earth a while ago, but don't think I actually posted pictures, but I finally got started on the unicorn chart. I'm only six rows into it, so it doesn't look like much, but I'm there.

I'm still weaving and I hope to have some more pictures soon. It's hard to capture some of the patterns on camera. I also hope to have some yarn plied soon. It's been giving me fits though.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Story of Arachne

Once there was a maiden by the name of Arachne who was extremely skilled in the art of weaving. Her weaving was so beautiful in both the finished product and the actions themselves that the nymphs would often watch her. Some said she was blessed by Athena herself, but she denied this saying she had taught herself everything she knew. She even went so far as to dare the goddess to test her skill against her own.

Athena was displeased and went to Arachne in the guise of an old woman. She warned the girl of the dangers of challenging a goddess and advised her to ask forgiveness. Arachne stood firm in her challenge and Athena dropped her disguise. Arachne was surprised, but also resolved.

So the contest began. Both worked quickly and skillfully, shuttles flying back and forth, colors contrasting and complementing. Athena chose for a subject her victory in a contest with Poseidon for the city of Athens. Twelve heavenly powers were represented - Zeus in all his majesty, Poseidon with his trident, Athena herself with helmed head.

Arachne likewise filled her loom with pictures of the gods, only of their failings. One scene showed Leda caressing the swan, another of Danae and a shower of gold, and other such scenes. All were beautifully woven, yet told strongly of Arachne's disapproval of the gods.

Athena could not help but admire the beauty of the work, but incensed with the subject matter, she struck it and Arachne's loom with her shuttle destroying both. She then touched Archne's forehead and made Arachne feel guilt and shame. So great was Arachne's shame that she left and hanged herself.

Athena only meant to make the woman feel shame and pitied her. The goddess sprinkled the juice of the aconite over Arachne and the woman's body shrank her head grew smaller, her fingers became legs, and her body became her shuttle.

Questions answered
Blogger doesn't always come through with an email address for everyone, so if I don't ever acknowledge your comments, that may be why. I try to say "Thank you" to everyone at least occasionally (I'm not the world's best though) if I have your email. Sometimes, I get questions that I'd like to answer, but can't over email, so here's one.

Knitogether asked:
Do you plan to block this piece? If so, will that even out the selvedges? (Ignorance showing here.)
Thanks for the comment and to answer your question, I have no idea. Sorry, I'm just not knowledgeable enough about weaving myself yet. I'm under the impression that since it's cotton and since the towels I'm making are in cotton, I would just throw them in the wash and dry them. I guess selvedges aren't really a dire concern on towels, though I would like them to be pretty. I don't think blocking would help too much just by the nature of the "draw-in". It's cotton, so not too much give in the first place. I highly recommend the book Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler if you can't take a class. (The one place near me that has weaving supplies isn't doing classes yet as they just opened and I'm a bit impatient.) Her instructions on warping a loom are excellent.

Also, to everyone, anybody have an alternative blog reader besides Bloglines? Bloglines is misbehaving today yet again.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stash Diving!

Weaving is something that has long interested me for many reasons. Weaving is one of the first textiles. Man had been wearing animal hides, but somewhere along the way, he (I mean that in a general sense, not that it was actually a man necessarily) discovered that he could roll a bunch of plant fibers up and get a pretty strong thread. Man probably later discovered that certain animals could be domesticated and their hair used for the same purpose. Somehow, our long ago ancestors discovered that if you crisscrossed those threads, you could create a pretty strong cloth that could be as pretty as it was useful. We take our clothing for granted. As knitters, spinners, weavers, and seamstresses, probably not so much as the average person, but how many times have you just pulled on your clothes in the morning without thinking about the time consuming process making clothing must have been thousands of years ago.

The history of textiles is fascinating and I highly recommend a book called Women's Work by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

The structure of cloth fascinates me. I often look at clothes to see if they're knitted or woven. You can do so many different things with the different techniques and each technique has its own properties and its own beauty.

So by now, if you're still with me, you're wondering why I've entitled this piece as stash diving if I'm talking about weaving history and such. Well, I've been a knitter for a while and I knit a lot of lace. When I knit lace, I often purchase an extra skein to ensure I have enough; I also often use cones originally billed as weaving yarns. When I knit a lace shawl, I'm usually not inclined to knit another shawl or even a scarf out of the same color. Which means, I've accumulated a few cones here and there:

The one on the top left is a random wool silk blend from WEBS that became a Shaped Triangle. The four on the bottom are all WEBS Valley Alpaca Silk - the pink became Icarus, the dahlia is a full cone, the eggplant was Spider's Web Hexagon and the purple the Diamond Shawl (if you're so inclined, you can search all of them on either the blog or Ravelry; I'm being lazy); the upper right cone is an unused slub silk and the middle upper is a huge cone of soy silk, something like 5,000 yards which was my payment for a test knit I did for someone.

Most of these yarns have some memories of pleasant knits and now I'll be able to eventually make memories in weaving. The very nature of weaving will allow me to mix my colors and patterns in ways I'm not able to with knitting. Don't worry, I'll still be making my shawls; I love lace and I love making shawls. I also love having the leftovers for my newest love.


Friday, November 07, 2008

My First Weaving!

My first weaving is off the loom. I was a bit worried that I had threaded the loom wrong because my sampler wasn't matching the one in the pattern's picture, but when it came off the loom, I realized that the picture was of the backside. The sampler is about 31 inches long and 12 inches wide, but I couldn't get a good shot of the whole thing. Here's a bit of it though:


The selvedges aren't exactly even, but the ppi isn't horrible in most places. There are a few places where I caught a thread I wasn't supposed to while weaving, but overall, I'm pretty happy with my first piece. I was also pretty surprised at how fast it went, and I'm a beginner!

The sampler is done with a warp of dark pink on either side and light pink in the middle with blue dividers and edges and for the weft. I finished the sampler and had just a wee bit of warp left to play with, so I for the weft I used some of the dark pink, light pink and blue and came up with this:

The picture is sideways as the warp is going horizontal and the weft vertical. I like it a lot and I may just have to order more of the dark pink to make a scarf from it. Or maybe order all the colors in a smaller weight. Not sure yet, but I know I really like it. I also know I'm not ordering any more yarn for a while yet, so I'd better think it over while I get started on my next project, sampler towels. I'll work on evening out the selvedges and the beat.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote today!

Whatever candidates you support, exercise your civic rights and duties and get out there and vote! Okay, so now my public service announcement is over, I'll warn you that the rest of this entry is about the rally I went to last night. Those of you who've been reading for a while know that I don't normally use my blog as a soapbox. I may discreetly say whom I'm supporting, but I'm usually not too vocal about it. Having said that, this election seems to be important to a lot of people, myself included, and hearing my candidate was ending his campaign right near me, I couldn't not go; I couldn't not take my kids. If you don't want to read on, then please skip this entry, but please don't knock my candidate in the comments because I'm not knocking yours. I'll be back to regular fiber blogging later this week.

None of my photos of Obama were great as I was dealing with a podium and bright light as well as not being too close, but we were much closer than I had expected to be. I could even see one of the CNN reporters in the press stands, and I could actually tell that it was Barack Obama speaking. We arrived around five and this is the Vote for Change sign around this time:

This is the same sign later:

The unofficial estimates for the night were 80,000 people. I don't do well with crowds and I debated about bringing my girls into these crowds way past their bedtime. In the end, I did. The crowd was wonderfully well-behaved. There was a bit of heckling of the band when Obama was a bit late (they really were more appropriate for a wedding). But, it was a good crowd, despite standing for hours. My girls were asleep on the ground while waiting in the middle of the crowd and people around us warned anyone coming through that there were kids there. No one seemed upset at waiting (a bit of complaining, yes, but it wasn't bad-natured.) People around us chatted. One elderly lady from Europe talked to me a little bit about seeing the end of World War II; she told me she had seen people dragged from their houses when she was about my girls' ages. She was impressed by the diversity of the crowd last night and the unity. She was there because she believed Obama was the diplomat the country needs. Others had other stories. I was there because I hope. I'm very cynical by nature and yet, I want to have hope for the future. I have hope of getting out of a costly war. I have hope of somehow making America a better place for everyone.

I believe he's the one to try and fix this mess we've gotten ourselves in. From what I've seen of him, he tries to surround himself with people that know more about certain issues than he does. His VP pick, for example, knows foreign policy. That's what I think a leader should be, not someone who necessarily knows everything and how to do everything himself (or herself), but someone who will listen to what others think and come to a decision based on several viewpoints.

I'm cynical enough to think that he may not be everything we hope he is. But, for now, he's given me hope. So, last night, we found ourselves in a field with thousands of others because I have hope. We heard Obama speak on the day he lost his grandmother and the day before one of the most historic elections, win or lose.


Monday, November 03, 2008

We have weaving!

Actual weaving!

I'm enjoying my new toy immensely! My selvedges (edges) are a bit sloppy, but I'm fairly happy with the rest. I would have used a floating selvedge, but wasn't aware that this pattern needed one while I was setting up, so I'm improvising one. Hopefully next time, I'll know better.

Happy Monday, everyone!