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The Adventures of two Fibre Artists.



Contributing Artists

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Off the Loom

I finally cut the last piece off the 4 harness floor loom. I had just enough warp left to make a bread cover which I gave my Godmother for her upcoming birthday. She is an Abbess of a local monastery, originally from Texas so I thought that the SantaFe Mission pattern would be appropriate and remind her of home.

I have no picture of the final piece to offer but as reference for this discussion I refer to the picture offered on a previous posting (the SantaFe Tea Towel) and note that I was only some what satisfied with the result. I tried to select colors that would best represent that part of the country but I feel that the colors may have not offered enough contrast to afford the pattern enough distinction. You can just barely make out the crosses. If I ever use this pattern again I will choose a more contrasting weft.

I enjoy creating projects of a religious persuasion or articles specifically for worship or devotion. One of my sisters is making a devotional table for her son and has asked me to create a cover for it from fibre my from my angora goats. During my last visit to the monastery I was brushing one of the dogs that have taken up residence there and collected a good bit of fibre and will attempt an icon scarf.

When working on items for people I know I like to pray, recite scripture and or listen to spiritual music as I work in an effort to transfer, or leave a signature, I talked a little about this in the earlier "Signature" discussion , of something sacred for that person. If nothing else it is a form of prayer which lends itself as my love to them. That may sound a bit "out there" by some, but for those of us who understand, surely it can't hurt.


Saturday, June 17, 2006


As I continue weaving the Santa Fe tea towel, I only have approximately 30-40 rows left and can hardly wait to finally get that project off the loom...completely, I remain mindful of the need to knit a row, here and there, on the lace headcovering so I don't loose the feel for it. I have learned through experience not to let a project lie unattended for any length of time, especially knitting, or you run the risk of losing your familiarity with it. This may sound strange to some but I suspect most artists/craftsmen can relate, that through the act of creating your work becomes alive in a sense. You imprint your psychosomatic signature if you can get my meaning. These impressions dictate your physical manipulation, how much tension you employ, the speed in which you work and of course the attention you give it. If a project is put aside long enough you will find yourself in a different place and suddenly you are working in a completely different light. How much does this really effect a project? Just ask a knitter, or any fibre artist for that matter, how important it is to keep tension consistent.

So here is a picture of the first 14 rows. I suspect it is going to be a little wide, as you may be able to tell from the chart, but I can use it for a stole also. As I mentioned in a previous post I have modified a shawl pattern by cutting out, then piecing together certain constellations of choice to suit my plan.

Again I am using Alpaca Cloud from Knit Picks which I have found to really do well in holding up through a few tinking and ripping session in earlier, "practice", attempts.


Friday, June 16, 2006

SantaFe TeaTowels

Here is a picture of my work so far on the now infamous tea towel that has been on my loom for so long now that I very nearly forgot the technique.

It is woven using two different weft threads, one being the cotton used in the warp alternating with sewing thread of similar color which affords a greater detail to the design. I am hoping to get this done in the next week or so for a birthday gift. I had actually cut off two sets last Christmas to give as gifts and still have enough warp left for one more set. This is something all weavers need to take into consideration when planning projects. If you warp a loom to make say 5 towels you better be prepared to make 5 towels. If you get bored or want to start a new project there is no undressing that loom without wasting a lot of material or cutting them off like I had the brilliant idea to do, which ended up being a tension nightmare. Try as I might I was never able to get all the warp threads uniformly tight which is making weaving the last couple a bit tricky. I remember one time I saw a nice pattern for some really cute bookmarks and had the bright idea to warp the loom to make a bunch of them all at once so I would have enough to give to anybody who would want them without having to warp the loom again. After about the 12th one suddenly they weren't so cute anymore and still, after 5 years, I have not given them all away, which is probably a good thing because I don't think I will ever weave another bookmark as long as I live.

The selvedge for this particular project is a bit tricky and when I am not mindful I end up having to unweave, too bad there is no clever word for this, like tinking is for knitting, still just as frustrating no matter the term. The problem arrives when changing harness patterns, some require slipping the shuttle under the first thread of the bottom shed in order to prevent that end warp from being left out. I had to undo 20 weft passes woven before I noticed because I concentrating more on Maggie the cat fighting for her husband on one of my favorite plays put to film in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".


Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I made mention of “Lifeline’s” in the previous post and thought I would expound for those not familiar with this project saving technique. Anyone working with lacework knows how intricate the work is and how nearly impossible it is identifying and/or correcting mistakes. You can go cross eyed straining to find the illusive stitch and even ruin the delicate yarn tinking or ripping rows over and over. Instead I would like to suggest, and indeed have, putting into practice, a safety feature offered.

Now there are many safety features we are either reluctant or just don’t see the need for in life. The more obvious, of course, are seat belts. I remember when they first started the “buckle-up” campaign; yes I am old enough to remember a time when we rode at high speeds without them, how hard it was for me to get into the habit. I hated wearing them and even rationalized reasons not to, how confining I felt, I hated how it would wrinkle my clothes, what if I were trapped by one, and even, believe it or not, I just didn’t have time to get settled in one. None of these excuses were valid of course. The same goes for this lifeline. Most knitters just don’t feel it's worth the time to put one in place. It slows them down and/or they feel confident they won’t need it. But when you consider the consequence of needing it and not having it, chances are you will wish you had.

A lifeline is a length of yarn/string, preferably of a different color, that is threaded through, using a darning needle, the bottom of the stitches on your knitting needle. When you begin knitting the next row be sure not to include this lifeline. Then if you notice a mistake and either are unable to correct it without ripping rows, or are unable to find it, you can easily guide your knitting needle through that particular row using the lifeline as a guide. This will prevent you from having to rip out more than you need and risk dropping more stitches.

You need to periodically pull that lifeline out and replace it in rows worked and confirmed to be mistake free as your work advances. That is to say as you knit say 5-10 more rows and everything looks good, pull the lifeline from where last placed and insert it where you find yourself at that point.

As I mentioned a yarn of contrasting color and texture is best as it will be easier to identify and choose a yarn that will hold up to constant placement. I have read that some knitters will use dental floss. It is strong and will glide easily though stitches.

I hope, one day, to be able to work without one but until that day comes I am grateful for the headaches, literally, it prevents from squinting to find the offending stitch and the material it saves from ripping more than you need or risked tangled and knotted fibre.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Creating with Confidence

It has been some time since I posted last, but be assured it has been time spent, and yes spent well, though I have no physical evidence to support this fact, therefore I have been reluctant to share since there are no pictures to offer as proof that I have continued to be creative in my absence.

While most people would call my recent activities a compilation of mistakes, or an exercise in tinking and frogging, I prefer to call it “practice”. Even if the sessions, which started out with me determined to “get it this time” but mostly ended up with me giving up, exhausted and in sheer frustration, they helped prepare me to recognize a problem and how to fix it. The few projects I posted previously all became something more than wasted time, energy and yarn, but rather, a lesson learned, valuable lessons at that, and once this became evident, suddenly the joy came back to my work.

So, with plenty of practice behind me, I feel better prepared to attempt a project. As with other lessons I have learned in the past sometimes you have to walk away for a bit, but once you return, suddenly the answer is there, nearly jumping out at you and you are amazed how you could not see it before. Everything begins to fall into place, and this is where I find myself now, more confident in my knitting and interpreting charted instructions. Still I am not as confident in my ability to create my own pattern so instead I have modified a larger piece to suit the dimensions I need, utilizing some of my favorite design work.

I have started on a lace head covering, I know....this all sounds familiar...., using the alpaca lace weight described in an earlier post. The modified pattern is one Galina featured in her book and after 12 rows I am happy to announce that so far I have managed not to make a mistake. I am not sure I know how to act not having to tink or rip every other row. Still I will be periodically "throwing out a lifeline". For those reading that are not familiar with "lifelines" I encourage you to find out how to acquire one for your work. It will indeed save you some real grief, especially on some of the more intricate lacework where finding mistakes can be difficult at best or sometimes nearly impossible.

I am also trying to finish some tea towels that I have had on the loom for some time now. I hope to have them finished by my Godmother's birthday at the end of the month. So I will stop here for now and get on with it.

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