Saturday, 14 March 2015

I See An(other) Addiction Looming

This is for all of you weavers out there who keep saying things like, "Come on over to the dark side! We have yarn!" You know who you are. I did not need another hobby. I can knit, spin, tat, dye, embroider, sew, and crochet, and that's just the fibre crafts on my list. My mother weaves; I didn't need to.

But I thought it might be nice to try making a Linus blanket to contribute to the Guild's initiative. And here's my mother, aiding and abetting, volunteering her stash and loom and knowledge to help me....

I had a dentist appointment Thursday morning, came home minus one tooth, and started my period. Notwithstanding,  I learned to calculate yardage, and started measuring warp. We only had enough to warp up for one blanket, unfortunately, but it's the process that counts...

Finished measuring and chaining up the warp Friday morning. Between us, Mom and I got the warp through the reed, rolled onto the back beam, and threaded into the heddles over the afternoon and evening.

The one thing that you never hear of or think of, if you're not a weaver, is how much of your set-up time you spend tying and untying various parts to each other. I know when Mom got her loom, the lady who sold it to her sent a whole bag full of random pieces of string with the rest of the accessories, saying we would need it. At the time it seemed like a really random thing to send. But really, you tie up your warp, you tie the beater in position, you tie the shafts in position, you tie the lease sticks on place, you tie the extra heddles back - it all adds up. The box of string bits is an essential tool.

Anyway, this morning saw the sleying done, and the warp tied to the front beam, and I did a little math and worked out a random stripe pattern. Two and a half days into the project, and I finally got to sit at the loom and actually weave after lunch today. It's a twill weave, in cotton yarns (DK-ish weight, I think). I got a quick run-down on how to weave, change colours, and advance the warp, and off I went.

It is going surprisingly fast and well, in my opinion, for a first project. And I can see how this could get really addictive, really quickly. I'm over 2 feet in already. Wove for a while, refilled bobbins as needed, and wove some more. Wandered downstairs for a break - tea, bathroom, and a Motrin to take the edge off my headache (always happens at this time of the month) - and went back to weaving. Made a few mistakes in treadling, corrected myself, and wove some more. Answered the call to supper, and went back to work. Dad went off to the Irish concert in town, Mom settled down with her knitting, and I wove. Finally stopped a little while ago, and discovered my back muscles were stiff, so I think that ought to be it for the night. But I think I like this weaving thing.

I did tell Mom she might have competition for the loom now. She says when they find a buyer for the piano, maybe the other loom, currently in storage, can go in that space...

We all see where this is going, right?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

New Projects From Old Stuff

I've been thinking I wanted to do some spinning on my old wheel again. I started spinning some wool on it a while back, but the wool was full of nups (my fault entirely, I thought it was something else when I was carding, and the teeth on the carder were way too coarse). I thought I could salvage it, but the spinning was so tedious that I kept abandoning it. So I just sat down yesterday, took off what was on the wheel and plied it - a small skein of white could be handy.

Then I took out the carder, and a heap of pewter-grey llama fibre. I think the fibre was from the first time I went to Rhinebeck, several years ago. I had washed it, carded and spun and knitted a couple skeins, and wrapped up the rest for's lovely fibre and time it got used. I did get around to picking it all before Christmas. It only really needed one pass on the carder to make it reasonable to spin, happily, since it produced 16 nice little fluffy batts, now rolled up and ready to go. That was most of the afternoon.

And you know what? It's so much nicer to spin than that blasted wool that I have more of it spun already than I had of the wool. I feel so much happier!

The other thing I'm tackling that's been taking up space is some cotton yarn. I had leftovers from a couple baby kimonos made 3-4 years ago, plus some destashed to me, and I thought it might turn into a baby blanket. Knit a bunch of squares and started putting them together, decided I wasn't overly enthused with it, and put it away. But even thought the squares were small, the length of the pieces of yarn in them is long enough, I figure, for a few rows of weaving. So it's all getting frogged and rolled up, and maybe it will be a baby blanket after all - but a woven one instead. And that will clear out a project bag, and keep the yarn from gathering (more) dust. So nice to feel there's progress being made!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Spring Forward

March so far has been coming in like the proverbial lamb. And like actual lambs, I suspect there will be a lot of busy-ness and bouncing around going on. I just got a call from work to schedule a meeting for next week, so I know the season is showing signs of starting, despite the snow still on the ground.

In the meantime, let's see. There's a pile of stuff to go to Jo again, including the scrappy fingerless I was working on (they came out nicely, but the ends! They practically had a fringe inside!), a pair of mittens, two skeins of yarn, and another pair of mittens on the needles which may become something else, since the yarn seems to be going faster than anticipated - I'll have to weigh the remainder after and see.

Also there's a pair of socks for Joan, for her daughter.

Hopefully we will be able to work out a meet-up this week when I go down to the parents'. I have to deliver Jo's stuff also, visit the dentist, and then (Oh, excitement!) Mom and I will warp up her loom and I will have my first go at weaving on it. A baby blanket, towards the Linus Blanket project, which the guild is also working on things for right now.  Oh, and I have to choose some fabric and a pattern for a quilt square for a community quilt that Mom and I signed up for last summer.

Then back to the guild and more weaving of a different kind - I'm taking my first class there in a couple weeks, in basketry - we're making a wool-drying basket. Very exciting, and it will be a busy day, since after that, I will just about have time for supper, and then a friend and I are going out contra dancing!

It's been a few years since the last time I did contra, but the subject came up recently in a conversation with the same friend, I went looking, and not only is the Ottawa Contra group still going strong, but they've moved nearer to me! And hey, with spring and work coming, it's about time I did a little exercising after sitting on my butt all winter, right? They had a dance this weekend that I went to, and it all started coming back pretty fast, and was super fun. Only, I am being very impressed with the fairy tale of the dancing princesses, because my feet were tired after only a few hours, whereas they danced all night! Well, I will have to experiment with different shoes, try something with a little more cushioning. But I definitely hope to make this a permanent part of my schedule. I've never really been much for the club-fashion, unstructured dancing. Contra, however, is as much a mental as a physical work-out, since you have to remember a different sequence of moves for each dance, and they change every dance - and you have your partner, and your current neighbour couple(s) interacting with you in each sequence. We get a walk-through of one repeat before the music starts, then the caller helps keep you on track for part of the dance. From the sidelines it looks like organized chaos, but it feels wonderful when it all comes together.