Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blocks and Strip(e)s

This is Ruth Kennedy's quilt, called Blocks and Strips in Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, but labeled Blocks and Stripes on the Philadelphia Museum of Art site.

I've just ordered 8/2 unmercerized cotton, based on the amazing juxtaposition of acid green, yellow, blue, black, and burgundy for a twill sampler for my study group on the Handweavers Guild of America Certificate of Excellence.

We've decided, as a group, to spend more time studying the technical aspects of the weaving, and not rushing through to get to the next sample. Already - well, now that I've made a decision on colors, which is the most onerous but enjoyable part of the process for me - so many choices, so little time - I feel more relaxed about working on the sampler.

 Less quick and dirty, as we say. For example, the warp that I threw on the loom for a sample on pulled weft loops in rug technqiues is sett at the wrong number of ends per inch, because I rushed and didn't carefully read the information on how  far apart (3 or 6 ends instead of 8) to place the threads for this technqiue. As a colleague reminded me, quick and dirty often ends up taking much longer than a careful plan of attack. So against my nature! But with the twill sampler, hopefully, more process, more joy, less instant gratification, less suffering? We shall see.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An iphone in every pocket

We went to Grant Park last night to see the symphony perform. If you haven't seen the park as the sun goes down, you're missing a beautiful sight. And the concert is free.

I wish that I had a nickel for every iphone in the crowd. My favorite sighting: the man in front of us, who fell asleep on his back, phone on his chest, with his finger still crooked in position above the phone to scroll down on the screen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Attention to Detail

The really lovely thing about weaving is turning something into Something Beautiful. Here we have some very well-wound rags prepped for weaving a rag rug. They started out as sheets from the Salvation Army, and after some tearing into strips, sewing back together, and then winding up, they are Something Beautiful.

Next up, they are becoming a rag rug. Also very nice:
The prep and weaving is not my work, but the efforts of my daughter and her boyfriend, who decided to learn to weave on a floor loom by making rag rugs for their new apartments. That's another lovely thing about weaving: watching others learn to use what is such an ancient technology. (And I freely acknowledge that they, in just a few weeks, have much more attention to detail than do I:  their balls of rag strips look much better than mine, with definite attention to symmetry and winding tightly. And my daughter is sewing the ends of the rags together when she starts a new color, whereas I just overlap the ends and move on.) They've been industriously winding the warp, putting it onto the loom, and threading for the last week, and now are starting to weave. 

In the meantime, I found a loom on Craig's List. I've been scoping for a second loom for a few months, so that I can work on my Handweavers Guild of America Certificate of Excellence samples AND have something to weave that I actually enjoy. (Again, attention to detail: the COE is all about precision and records and precision, or did I already mention that? Today I couldn't even find the records of the samples I've done, or the warp that I pre-wound. Organization is called for.) On Friday I found an ad for a simple floor loom at a good price. Sunday we drove to Wisconsin, checked it out, and came home with a Nilus Leclerc Artisat wedged into the back of the car. Luckily, we'd left the very large dog at home, or he would have been sitting on my husband's lap for the return trip. Here's the new loom:

It's described as a good, solid, hobby loom, but folks on Ravelry said that they've been happily weaving on theirs for many years, and with an occasional re-tightening of the nuts and bolts, you can even weave a rug on it. The treadles (the pedals that you step on to raise the harnesses) are much skinnier and closer together than on my Schacht - no weaving with my Keens on -  but if I weave barefoot, it should be fine.

Huzzah! Next up, trying to get something woven by Monday for my weaving guild study group...

Friday, June 11, 2010


I am getting some knitting done. This is my first-ever toe-up sock. Or, when I say first-ever, what I really mean is the tenth or eleventh attempt.

In the past, I've not been a fan of sock-knitting. Also, in the past, I have done only top-down socks. Easier to get started, but the ever-present frisson of will-I-have-enough-yarn not only to get to one toe, but to finish a second sock that matches the first?

Before our road trip down to Tennessee, I bought Wendy Johnson's  toe-up book and a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy. Between here and Paducah, Kentucky, home of the National Quilt Museum, I started, re-started, and started again. The goal was a wide-ish toe and a sock that was snug but not too tight. I put it aside while in Tennessee and worked on a shawl, then came home and re-instituted the pursuit of a toe-up sock knit by someone who knits in a loose gauge but has small feet.

Yesterday, I decided to make a fresh start with the second ball of yarn and a new beginning. I'm definitely closer - a toe-up sock that borrows Joan's Favorite Toe method of increasing, working 1 round, increasing and working two rounds twice, and increasing, working three rounds, twice. We Shall See.

And the National Quilt Museum? Amazing. On the way down, I saw a quilt with images of Darfur, including a woman in tears: a white background with very subtle stitching that created shadows of images of women and children fleeing the scenes of tragedy. On the way back home, we stopped at 4:40 pm on Memorial Day, sweet-talked our way past the woman at the desk who said the museum was closing, and saw more beauty, including a quilt called Buckskin: the color of a well-worn buckskin from the Wild West, with elements that shaded from deep purples through iron-reds, and the most beautiful, subtle stitching highlighting the piecing.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Return to the Blog

I've been away for a few weeks at a yoga training in Tennessee.

I did some knitting on a simple shawl of stockinette with yarn-over columns, inspired by Mirian Felton's Icarus, and read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I'm convinced that Austen requires large, old-fashion blocks of time - the kind of time that you only find on vacations, or, in my case, during a two-hour break for lunch. I would lie on my big bed in the old lodge or on the amazing hammock on the amazing porch and read. This is a book that I've tried to start many times at home, but was not caught up in it until this trip.

I love that the heroine is quiet and shy and ethical - she's the still center of the novel, which, as Austen shows, can be a very powerful position.

And, I'm continuing to unearth references in the Harry Potter books (the last discovery was in the history museum in Chennai, where I noticed that Nagini is snake in Sanskrit). This time, I learned that Mrs. Norris, the cat that stalks the hallways, spying with and for the bitter school custodian at Hogwarts, is named after the interfering, know-it-all aunt in Mansfield Park.