Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Placemats

In a recent episode of Weavecast, Syne Mitchell discussed the drudgery of finishing your weaving, and I could totally relate. I get so excited about the transformation that takes place on the loom that I kind of forget to look forward to the transformation that will take place in the washer and dryer. I took these placemats off the loom weeks ago and just finished them today. Although I've woven and wet finished quite a bit, I am still always amazed by the appearance and texture of the finished fabric compared to the web.

This was my first attempt at overshot. I used M.P. Davison's Valley Forge Dogwood with a just-okay border that I designed. I used 10/2 and 5/2 mercerized cotton, so they would stand up to some abuse. I'm not thrilled with the way the border turned out, but I haven't had much experience designing drafts. If I had to change anything about the placemats, I would change the sett (27 epi is a little close) make them a little shorter. They're not bad though, and all-in-all, I'm pleased with them. I enjoyed the rhythm of overshot, and it was a lot of fun to watch the pattern develop. I can't say that overshot is my new favorite weave structure, but it is something I'll do once in a while.

Also, I wanted to share some of the view from my backyard:

Since I don't have much room on my property for growing things, I was so excited to see the crab apple blossoming on the land owned by the county. I'm having a lot of fun seeing what kind of plants are popping up around the house; although, I seem to have an over-abundance of hostas already...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Poor Naked Looms

I feel like I've been neglecting my looms lately. I don't feel too guilty, though, since I have a couple of good reasons. First, I bought some awesome fibers at Greencastle a couple of weeks ago.

First was this beautiful silk from Robin Edmundson. She had so many great yarns and fibers in so many beautiful colorways, it was hard to choose.

I also bought a raw Cormo fleece from Westfield Woolies. I decided to process it myself. I have never washed a fleece before. I have washed this one now, and it's still drying. I am going to flick card it since it has a nice long staple. I have already learned one important lesson: Be more careful about skirting. What I have isn't too bad, though, and I'm excited to see how it turns out.
Last, I bought this beautiful roving from Greyside Farm. It is alpaca, shetland, and silk. I have already spun quite a bit of it, and it's turning out very nice. I am going to use the yarn in a project for our guild's straight draw program in June. After the program is over, I'll post more about it.

So that's one reason I've been spinning so much instead of weaving. The second is that I've been spending time trying to bond with my new bunny. She lives in the basement, so I can take my wheel down there and spin while I hang out with her. Iris seems to really like the wheel. If I leave it unattended within her reach, she thinks it would make a fabulous chew toy. This makes me think it would be a very bad idea to take one of the looms to the basement to use while I spend time with her. She also seems to find my spinning relaxing. One evening as I was spinning, she hopped to the end of the room and stretched her whole body across the floor. It was relaxed as I have ever seen her. Another time she sat behind my legs and kept bumping my ankles as I spun. She seemed to think that was a fun game. I wound up with a rather slubby skein that time! Anyway, I think I'll have to keep spinning while she's around because she seems to frighten so easily at any other time and especially when I run the washer and dryer. Hopefully spinning will be a way to keep her increasingly calm and friendly.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My New Housemate and Creativity

First, let me introduce Iris, who I adopted from the Indiana House Rabbit Societey:

I'm having a lot of fun getting to know Iris. She came from a rough background, so she has a hard time trusting people. If I sit or lie on the floor, she likes to come sniff me and check me out, but if I try to reach out to her she quickly runs away. She is really curious and likes to explore every corner of the room. She is also really active and likes to sprint around the furniture and do "binkies," happy bunny leaps. I have a blast watching her, and I think we'll get along quite well.

On another topic, I was home sick from work today and passed some of the time reading old issues of Handwoven. One article in particular caught my attention and made me think. It was about a Navajo weaving class. The Navajo instructor asked her students what was the source of their creativity. The students gave answers such as the land, the ocean, opossums, and turtles. The instructor replied that the source of her creativity was her clan, Reed. My first thought was: Opossums? Seriously??? Then I began to think about how I would answer that question. What is the source of my creativity? It didn't take long to realize that the source of my creativity is God. Anything I have ever made has been inspired or influenced by something that He has already made, either in nature or through someone else's work. The more I thought, I realized that He is the Creator of All Things. Nothing exists that He didn't create. So in all reality, I don't create anything. Rather, God creates through us. He created each of us individually and gave us skills, talents, passions, resources that yield beautiful things. He is ultimately the source of it all.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spinning Silk in Spring

I was so excited to discover this behind my house when I got home from work today:

Yeah! Spring is officially here! It looks a little bare to me yet. If nothing else pops up this year, I'll plant some tulips in the fall.

So, Greencastle is coming up this weekend, and I'll be going for the first time. I'm pretty excited about it. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to Alice, my spinning teacher, that I planned on looking for some silk since I'd never spun it before. She offered to send me some to try, so I could see what I liked before I spent any money on it. Two or three days later, a silk hankie, a cap, some recycled sari silk, and a couple of types of sliver showed up in my mailbox. It didn't take long before I had spun it all, and I really enjoyed it. Here's what I wound up with:

Some of it is pretty slubby and inconsistent, but practice makes perfect. You might be thinking, "Hey, I don't see any recycled sari silk there," and you would be right. It turned out awful, with lots of tangly slubs that got caught at the orifice and on some of the flyer hooks. Before I realized it was caught, I tried treadling faster to make it take up, and I wound up with some "yarn" that was more overtwisted than anything I had ever made before. More practice is definitely in line!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It's been a long time since I posted for two reasons: First, I was preparing to move and settling into my new home. Second, it took a month for my ISP to reconnect me after I moved! Prior to my move, both looms sat naked for a good month, so, naturally, I've been weaving like a madman since then. Here is my new weaving space. It's a lot of space for two small looms, but I plan on upgrading within the next couple of years. It's a really pleasant room, with old hardwood floors, windows to the east and west, and plenty of storage space.

I wove my first set of three rayon scarves for my grandma and took them to show her at Easter. She was thrilled. I am happy with how they turned out. They feel great, and they were so quick to make. I used a straight threading on eight shafts and used a different tieup and/or treadling on each scarf.

Next I wove a set of placemats in overshot. I just cut them off the loom this week. I'll post a picture after I finish them. Now I've started the next set of Grandma's rayon scarves. Here's a preview: