I was knitting merrily along yesterday as giant breaths of wind gusted wildly through the Pacific Northwest, hurling branches and debris at moving targets and kicking over flower pots like a tantrum driven two-year-old. It was the kind of day Pooh would call “blustery”. My gauge on Saint Olav was spot on (as Flavia de Luce, the 11-year-old British chemist and lover of poisons might say while examining the specimen under a microscope in her late great-uncle Tar’s laboratory) and I had just progressed to the main part of the lower body where I would begin my vertical columns of white.
May I direct your attention to the picture of the sweater in my last post? Can you compare my beautiful green and red border with that of the design photo? Take your time… I’ll wait.
Why no, as you can plainly see, you cannot compare them, for the design calls for red and white, not red and green! Three steps forward, two steps back, and here I am, starting the border over again.
The weaving went a bit better, and I’ve added about an inch, despite many rescues of yarn tails from little kittens.
Because of the Blustery Day, we (along with thousands of other people) lost our power for about 12 hours, and were forced to revert to primitive means of getting our morning coffee– to wit, driving around until we found an open Starbucks and having them fill our two Thermos containers. If we had been better prepared, we would have procured a battery-powered coffee grinder and made cowboy coffee on the gas grill.
I don’t know if the era of the knitting/weaving/spinning blog is past or not. I notice that many blogs have gone by the wayside and wonder if it’s because the blogger just tired of it, got too busy, thought nobody cared, or some other reason.
From time to time I think about resurrecting this blog, but I’ve never really had a compelling reason. I’m older, it’s harder to try to be funny (though I can’t help being silly sometimes), and I just don’t have as much time and energy as I used to.
But now I look around me and acknowledge the data that tells me that I will likely not finish anything I start. In the past, it was fun to show my progress on the blog and get encouragement. Just by knowing that I wanted my photo to show a bit more progress on the next blog post, I was motivated to work on an item.
Last week, a reader of one of my former blogs from many years ago wrote me to tell me how much I had helped her and enabled her, in turn, to help someone else. That was a heartwarming message, and caused me to further consider the future of Material Thoughts.
So here I am, with Plan B (plan A: knit one thing at a time and finish it, has been declared officially impossible).
Plan B is the Blog plan. For one month I will commit to posting 3 posts per week. Each post will contain description and/or photos of my progress on projects.
If I can do this for one month, Plan B will get approved and extended to 3 months. And so forth.
At my company, we use what is called the Agile methodology to plan and execute how we build software. “Stories” are written in a specific way. They have to say what is being done and why, and the why must be measurable, in the format “As a [person, organization or system] I want [something] so that [statement showing value]. So here is my story:
As a maker of things from yarn, I want to write blogs posts 3 times per week for one month showing continual progress on one project from each technique (knitting, weaving and spinning) so that I can make progress on works in progress.
Seems simple, right? I hope so!
The Project On The Needles
Just started yesterday, Cynthia Wasner’s fabulous Saint Olav and his Men cardigan. I am using the yarn called for (Rauma Finullgarn) in the colors called for, except subsituting Rose for the Orange. This is the photo from the pattern, since my 1/2 inch of ribbing isn’t very photogenic right now:
I’ve committed to also knitting the Dale Peace Sweater, so I will be posting about both of those projects, which should both progress, but I haven’t received the yarn for it yet, and it will require some design changes so as to avoid knitting fair isle back and forth.
The Project On A Loom
Started last week (after actually finished a class sample), a small Navajo rug of my own design using traditional motifs. I have two inches of this complete. The goal of my Navajo weaving is to accept that Navajo weaving goes slowly, to savor the satisfying placement of the colors and the beat of the fork and to delight as the pattern emerges.
This is the design, which I created in Excel:
And here is my humble 2″ start. The bottom is wobbly because I am a beginner and didn’t secure my edge twining properly. Next time!
The Project On a Spinning Wheel
In line with Navajo weaving, I ordered a lot of Navajo Churro rovings in different colors, from Desert Churros Rovings on Etsy. This is beautifully prepared roving, not too “rustic” and the shop owner is absolutely wonderful.
I have spun up about a dozen skeins of this so far, on my cherry Hansen miniSpinner, aiming for a sport weight. I have at least that much more to spin. The darkest churro comes from Dyers Wool, and it had a bit of dandruff in it (I knew that before I bought it) which is hard to get out, but I hope it comes out with washing. The dark heathery charcoal also comes from Dyers Wool.
It’s hard to get things washed these days, thanks to the new inhabitants of the laundry room, who haven’t quite attained citizenship in the Greater Household. Spencer and Katie were adopted last week, born of feral mothers from two different Washington locations. This brings us up to four cats and one dog.
I finally got around to weaving the sample for the Fiesta dish towels. The conclusion? Fiesta Flop. I am not at all happy with the way the plain weave portions of the cloth misbehave, nor am I happy with the fact that the blocks are not square. I used an epi of 28, as is recommended for this weight of cotton, but my ppi obviously does not match. The good news? It was just a sample, and I didn’t waste all that thread on the real thing.
On the left is the unwashed cloth off the loom. On the right the cloth has been washed, dried and ironed. Blech.
A knitter’s project must be paired with her mood. Is this not so? Who’s to say what project suits what frame of mind? You’d think that a week of chaos would make me want to knit something mindless like garter stitch. Instead, after rambling through all my yarn, patterns, books and abandoned wips, I settled on this one.
It must have been five years since I worked on Maidenhair. At the time, I thought it extremely laborious and finicky. Now I find it smooth and satisfying. I love working with the gansey yarn and needles that seem impossibly small for it. I particularly like the central lace pattern. If I were to start it all over again (which I won’t) I might substitute something else for a couple of the smaller panels, but overall this is a very pretty and satisfying knit. Perhaps I will finish it.
Someone else has learned to enjoy watching the movement of the needles while perched just above my shoulders.
And as for the dish towels, I’ve managed to wind a sample warp of 60 inches that I hope to get beamed on today. It’s like swatching for knitting– time consuming and irritating, but time-saving and valuable in the end.
The monthly family funeral trend continues, with the death on April 1 of yet another family member. I’m hoping this trend ends now, but that party on the other side is sure attracting a lot of folks!
A woman on my team at work is getting married in April. Their dishes are any and all colors of Fiesta ware– you know them? The bright and colorful, cheery dishes that have been produced off and on for many, many years?
I wandered off to Weaving Works at my lunch hour yesterday and found fiesta-like colors in 10/2 cotton.
This morning I sat down to plan the towels, based on a huck lace tablecloth in the March/April 2008 Handwoven magazine. Here’s what I came up with.