Light and Shadows

Sharing a few images from our spring 2019 trip here, with plans to flesh this out after we get back home. Hard to write on a smart phone!

On a day trip to Galway, we found the ruins of a 14th century castle in the heart of old town. Among the artifacts display was a replica of a stone spindle whorl found in the dig.

I could go on and on about our visits to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and I will in a separate post. For now, though, here is a picture of B being patiently amused with the crush of crazy knitters on the Friday of the event. We saw Steven West, mobbed by adoring fans, and I met the Jamiesons of Jamieson’s of Shetland (and bought six balls of their yarn!).

At the Scottish National Art Gallery in Edinburgh, one of the many dazzling paintings we saw was the “Madonna of the Yarnwinder.” Looks like a supported spindle to these eyes. ūüėČ

Fast forward to Paris: we almost literally stumbled over a tremendous display regional artisanal work at a beautiful old exhibition hall, Galleries de Gobelins. This piece, standing about a foot tall, appears as though it was hand-stitched with fabric bits and seed beads, with a ceramic face and stainless steel claws. One of several in the exhibit, and breath-taking in person.

This is detail of tensioning used on a beaded piece. I was less interested in the beading than I was with the tensioning: sewing pins placed in a line parallel to the edge, with lacing strung through and around the frame. So simple, yet quite effective for temporary stretcher bars. An idea to save for later, certainly.

And, lastly, a visual treat: the difference between these two images was that I moved about a foot to the right from one shot to the next. The glass screen panels are not only installed on an angle, they are also wavy and twisted in such a way that the view through them changes as you move in any direction in front of them. The pattern of shadows also changes as you change perspective. A simple yet captivating display!

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Traveling

We’re in Mazatlan, enjoying a little warm weather. Accordingly, we bring art/crafting supplies. Last trip to Mexico, I brought a pair of socks to knit and a Turkish spindle with some tie-dyed silk hankies to spin.

This trip, I brought a shawl to work on and another pair of socks.

The shawl is a Cobblestone in a two-ply ecru handspun. One ply of cotton and the other is mint fiber. The mint fiber gives the yarn incredible tensile strength and an iridescent glow.

Cobblestone Shawl

The socks? A toe-up pattern with really cool star toe knitted in a broken rib pattern with an afterthought heel. I’m knitting the pair concurrently on two 16″ US1 needles, rather than a single long circular or a set of dpns. For quite a while my ‘go-to’ method for socks has been two-at-a-time Magic Loop on one long (32″ or 40″) circular needle, but I wanted to switch it up a bit this time. I am also practicing knitting in Continental style with the socks, too – especially with the k1p1 alternate rows. Teaching my muscles new tricks.

Toe-up Socks in 80% superwash Merino / 20% nylon

But what are we doing while we’re here? So far, not much, as B is down with a cold – but what a lovely place in which to be ill!

Seafood Soup (aka Sopa de Mariscos) at Muchacha Alegre

Rollin’ In It

Time just gets away from me. We had a busy summer, full of garden, growing fruit, a little travel, a little family time – lots of things. Here is a little of the fiber fun I had since we got back from Oaxaca last February. 

Fiber Prep

I acquired just one fleece this summer – a full Jacob fleece from a ewe named Polly, owned by my cousin Robin. She’s the same cousin that I bought a fleece from last year, and whom I made a cap for to show my appreciation. Polly’s fleece is wonderful: the white part is downy with minimal guard hair, while the brown part is rustic. Both will spin up to some great yarns. I’m pondering a Winemaker’s Waistcoat for this fiber.

The Clown Barf is a quick space dye job that I did on some leftover Merino/Silk blend top that I’d purchased for B’s Reversible Cable Scarf.  It spins up pretty nicely on a supported spindle: 

Concrete plans for this light-as-air DK yarn haven’t been made yet, but I suspect it may end up as caps for grand-daughters, perhaps paired with some dark yarn for contrast. 

Knitting

Lots of projects on the needles in the past six months. 

The Roberta Socks are based on Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and are knitted in a bamboo & wool blend that breathes amazingly well and is cool on the toes. Selfish knitting: these are for me! 

The V-neck vest is in progress, and is very loosely adapted from Tami Parks’ Diamonds For Him – a pattern I used for B’s Mocha Vest last spring. 

Something a bit different for me this autumn: I got bit by the Fair Isle bug after watching a video on the Two-Handed Fair Isle technique. I combined remnants from my combo-spin cardigan and some brown 2-ply Shetland that I’d spun and adapted Paula Berman’s Semi-Swedish Hat for DK weight yarn. What fun! This pattern is going to be knitted again – perhaps many times!

And, lastly, spinning cotton generally results in having cotton yarn to knit with. I knitted myself a little treat for my gym bag – probably the softest, most absorbent washcloth I’ve ever used. Nice! I’m looking forward to working with more cotton yarns.

Spinning

And, yet there’s Cotton . . . .

We grew cotton this year. Six plants each of green and brown cotton, in big black plastic pots against a sunny, warm wall of our house. Just an experiment, but such fun! I’ve got a little stash now of each color of cotton and will be spinning it after the first of the coming year. 

Cotton spinning is a new thing for me, and I’ve taken right to it. Heretofore, I’ve spun it on a coin tahkli spindle, but I just recently bought a fast flyer for my Sonata wheel, so let the cotton spinning commence. . . . I want to spin enough to WEAVE!! 

Acquisitions

Yup, I’ve been bitten by the bug. OLAD strikes again! (Obsessive Loom Acquisition Disorder) Now, we just need to finish that studio! 

Take Me Back . . .

To Teotitl√°n del Valle!

 

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Weavings at a vendor’s stall

This charming Zapotec village in the mountains of Oaxaca state in Mexico hosts the most amazing weavers in the region. We spent a few days here in February, 2018, and were immersed in the weaving and farming lifestyle there.

 

Nearly all of the community of about 5,600 people weave commercially – this town is a full-time fiber festival! Everywhere you go in town is full of examples of weaving – rugs, fine woven cloths – amazing and colorful work, many using yarns dyed with natural dyes derived from native plants and insects.DSCN4513.jpg

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Weaver Antonio Bautista of Artesanias Bautista – flicker.com/tonyartesanias

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At the loom – Dixza Rugs –¬†https://www.dixzarugsorganicfarm.com/

We visited several artisans and stayed with a local family, where I spent an afternoon at a floor loom and dreaming of having my own loom someday . . . .

2017 Year in Review

2017 is nearly history, and it’s been quite a year. I went to work for The County in June as a temp, and then was hired on full-time in July. B retired from his Federal job at the end of August and is finding his new normal. (Successfully, I might add.) The garden kept us busy with squash and apples, although not as much as last year. We’ve been healthy and busy.

Wheel up: a new Kromski Sonata, with extra bobbins and (added later) a Lazy Kate.
New spindle: a purple (squee!) Turkish spindle, designed and 3-D printed by Turtlemade.
Fiber: Oh. My. Yes. Fleeces (several), batts (several), and top. Alpaca, silk, flax, cotton, bamboo, and wool: Romney, Merino, Cormo, Targhee, Wensleydale, Polwarth, Jacob, Romney/Polypay, Romney lamb, Falkland, Gulf Coast, RomeldaleX, and Navajo-Churro lamb. My stash bins groaneth.

And, yes: stored in air-tight storage bins, numbered, with corresponding database entries. Because I can’t possibly remember what I’ve got, nor where it is, without some computerized assistance. And, the inventory file is on my Google drive so I can get to it with all my devices anywhere I have wi-fi. Easy stuff, but it keeps me from buying the same thing over and over. Unless I want to, of course. Ha!

So, pictures!

Proof of spinning:

A little Jacob, chain plied.

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A little 80/20 Merino/Silk (single), for finishing B’s Dress Scarf and for a shawl for me:

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70/30 Romney/Alpaca 3-ply:

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A little kool-aid dyed Romney fluff on the Turk:

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More Jacob, this time on the Griffis wheel:

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Cotton/mint 2-ply, 500 yards of lace weight:

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And knitting! Finished B’s Dress Scarf in late October. 66 inches of¬†loveliness in natural 80/20 Merino/Silk:

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I snuck in a shawl for me, a “Girl from the Grocery Store” shawl designed by Joji Locatelli. I named it La Chica Shawl (for short), or more formally La Chica de La Playa del San Jose (The Girl from San Jose Beach).

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And a sweater! A “Comfy Cardigan” (designer: Sarah Punderson) in the Mostly Merino combo spin from earlier this year:

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And a few hats:

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Sheperd’s hat, for Robin

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Glacier Peak caps for my grand-chicas – 100% handspun, some is hand dyed. Faux fur poms from Black Sheep.

Current Knitting

A couple of projects in play right now. One is the long-languishing Mitered Square blanket. I’ve finally gotten around to solving the problem that jammed the whole darned thing into time out months ago, and have grafted the third block section to the second lace band. I’m now picking up stitches along the top of the third block section to knit the third lace band. Moving along on US2s. Slowly.

Next up, but concurrent, is a v-neck vest for B in the luscious chocolate Romney/Alpaca blend you can see on the wheel, above. I’m basing it on the Diamonds For Him pattern by Tami Parks, but am re-calculating it to use the fingering/sport weight yarn and far smaller needles. B likes his knits fine-gauge and solid fabric, so I’m creating the sweater to suit his tastes. I’ve swatched and we both love the results. I’ve got the second skein of yarn to ply – it’s resting on the bobbins waiting for its turn on the wheel this weekend.

What’s Next?

More spinning, more knitting, of course. Some dyeing. A trip to Mexico in February, wherein I will be attending dyeing and weaving workshops. Who knows what adventures await in 2018? No matter what, you can bet fiber will be involved!