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The Adventures of two Fibre Artists.



Contributing Artists

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dreams Realized

After six years of discussion, yearly demonstrations at our State Fair, the occasional demonstration at our public library, local knitting guilds, and even announcing our intention in an interview with our State newspaper, my dear fibre sister, EM and I are beginning to finally realize our dream. We now have a name, Congaree Fibre Arts guild, and are now one step closer to becoming official. The next step, already in the works as one of our very creative members is in the process of communicating our intentions with HGA, the Handweavers Guild of America.

Once listed with them we will have finally made it, as it were. I feel very blessed that we have such a wonderful group of creative ladies, but more importantly to be in the company of very caring and spiritual group. I see nothing but good things from our guild. I am looking forward to learning and sharing with one another resulting in nothing short of wonderful projects.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Crispin and Melangell

I thought I would post this picture my dh took last night, of me and our new furbaby, Mr. Crispin ProudNeck. We are still getting to know each other but I think he is beginning to see me in a better light. Instead of associating me with the daily brushings alone, he now recognizes that I am the one who offers him those yummy apples, turnip and mustard greens and no longer tries to run from me every time I approach him.

Isn't that the sweetest face? And his fibre, though he is not yielding much just now being that we are approaching winter, is, as you can see, absolutely gorgeous. While our colouring, his hair (fibre) and mine, very nearly match, I could never hope to match it's softness.

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First Unofficial Guild meet

Last Sunday, after Divine Liturgy, EM and I met with a few ladies whom we have been communicating, via email, since just before our State Fair demonstration, that have approached us expressing interest in forming a guild. With my Priest's blessing we met in our "fellowship hall" for lack of a better word, where we were afforded lots of room to spread out, which will be a great asset for future meetings, as the tools, a prerequisite in fibre adventures, are multifarious, in quantity as well as shape and sizes and more times than not requires lots of elbow room to work with. Location will be another factor, as quite a few of us are geographically challenged (residing in neighbouring towns). Fortunately the Church is centrally located.

The meeting was very productive, even though only about half were able to make it, in that we managed to get organized, formulate a plan and delegate duties required to form a guild, something EM and I have been dreaming about for years. Everyone was eager to step up and offer their time, which I personally found very promising. It is a great joy to work, together, with a group where everyone is willing to help out. I can already tell this is going to be a tremendous guild. With everyone coming together, willing to do their share. And each of us has so much to bring to the table. We are all creative, and more importantly eager to share. While I have always looked forward to our "Sunday Spin-ins" these crafty ladies will augment an already enjoyable adventure.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Navy Watch Cap

With the weather turning cooler dh approached, asking if I would knit him a Navy Watch Cap. Not real clear on what a "watch cap" was I surfed the web and found several free patterns. Though the colour was not traditional I had some dark brown Alpaca lying around waiting for a project. Feeling nostalgic, though I would not take my first breath for several decades after the pattern was made, I chose the Red Cross pattern. It makes better sense to me to use an original pattern whenever available, to lend to a more authentic project.

Because it is an old pattern there are references that are no longer available and when my fibre sister, EM, asked what I did to resolve the gauge issue, my reply was, that I did what I do best.....that's right....I ripped it. After knitting a few rows I tried the circumfrence in respects to my dh's head and found I needed approximately 20 stitiches less. I also used circular needles where they called to knit the first 6 rows on straight then transfer to double pointed needles. I can't work out why the pattern did not call for circular, were these needles not available in 1942?.

The pattern is a very basic rib, there aren't even any decreasing, so I can, as I mentioned in the previous post, work on this project while enjoying
Saturday Tea or watching TV, or any activity that does not require my hands.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Projects in the Mix

I was once, until most recently, one of those "one project at a time" knitters, faithful to the project in hand and would never think of starting anything else until the work was off the needles. This, however, would result, more times than not, in me becoming bored with the monotony of the pattern which would take the fun out of my work, and even stifle my creativity as I became obsessed with finishing quickly to start another. This is especially true when working a lace project, which can become interminably tedious, when ones creativity should be paramount. But there is something in my nature that keeps me allegiant toward any task I take on, to see it through to the end without distraction, which may be commendable in certain respects but surely not essential in knitting.

Fighting this nature in matters that are not life threatening or disloyal, has taught me that not only can it result in being more productive, but also very freeing, especially in the creative vein. Productive in that different projects are more conducive for certain environments. For instance, Saturday tea, distracted happily, by great conversation with my mother and sisters, attentive to the various antics of their children and grandchildren I am still able to work on something that requires no real thought like the watch cap I am knitting for dh. Then when I find myself at home alone enjoying one of those rare quiet times, that's the best time for working on the Orenburg lace that requires full attention.

I recently picked up Interweave Knit's Holiday Gifts issue and found an interesting pattern that falls in between the two afore mentioned projects in degree of difficulty. The Twilight Lace Wrap is fairly easy knit until you reach the star cluster stitch that requires momentary concentration. This is my first attempt at this unique stitch as well as the first time using a crocheted provisional cast-on, as this wrap is worked in two halves. The pattern, in my opinion, was not as clear on instructions as it might have been, especially when addressing the star cluster design and the chart. I have worked with many charts when knitting lace projects but this one was really written with quite a few assumptions that the knitter is a mind reader. Still the wrap is very pretty and worth the effort in trying to figure out what they aren't real clear on. Once worked out it is fairly easy to knit.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Crispin Proud Neck

Every year for the past 6 or so, I look forward, with great anticipation to a trip to Asheville, for two special reasons, colours and fibre. The last weekend in October, when God's glory is evident in the colours of his creation the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair takes place in Asheville NC. The view alone is worth the trip. The trees are out in their most colourful dress which lends to a normally mundane 2 hours inside a car, something I usually dread and find most painful, a fuel for creativity. The mountains in all their glory distract me from the pain, and the excitement of gathering with other fibre enthusiasts and their fibre animals finds me all but enjoying a most physically unenjoyable ride. Unfortunately for EM, who was driving, it was raining, which did not make the drive for her very pleasant. Still we were all smiles the closer we got and forgot all about the negative components of the trip once we arrived.

I had been saving, a good part of the year, for my planned purchases. Living in the south we are hard pressed to find natural fibre sold in local stores let alone spinning and weaving supplies. So once a year we get to participate in a fair where fibre vendors from all over the nation sell their wares.

Over the years I have pretty much stocked up on the essentials for my various crafts but I always enjoy finding good buys on natural fibres in various stages of needs, from raw to spun and dyed. Beside the odd tapestry beater to replace the one dropped and broken during the demonstration at our local State Fair, and the occasional good deal on spun dyed linen and or wool my favorite purchase was Crispin.

Since I had to give up my spinner's herd of angora goats, earlier this year due to my concerns over shearing them with my physical limitations, which was making it harder over the years as the goats put on more weight and my back pain worsened, I thought I might try a smaller fibre animal. I decided on English angora rabbits. I had enjoyed house rabbits as a teen and a young woman, so beside the obvious concern that their long fibre would need addressing, I feel confident that I should be able to create a healthy environment for them. I decided to start with one, get the feel for how many I would physically be able to manage and also to afford more time for bonding and training him to sit still while I brushed to harvest his fibre.

I came home with a 4 month old chestnut buck. We are slowly getting to know each other. He has so much more to get familiar with than I obviously, especially with the other furbabies in the house, namely Mika our 14 year old dog, the queen of all she surveys, and Kiki, my lovable male cat who is such a sweetheart I just knew there would be no problem with him. I named the little guy Crispin then later gave him the rest of his name "Proud Neck" as he has a habit of posturing, as most rabbits do when they are ignoring you, by sitting with his back to me he won't even turn his neck to glance in my direction as if to say he has no use for me and the horrid brush. Still I feel sure as time goes on and expectations are realized, boundaries are set and wills have been broken :-) we will all get along just fine.
My patron saint, St. Melangell, left Ireland fleeing an arranged marriage and to devote her life to God. She was found praying in a field by a hunter and his dogs as they chased a rabbit, seeking shelter in the folds of her dress. The dogs would not approach, even with coaxing from the hunter. When questioned she explained that she had lived as a hermit for 15 years devoting her life to God and when it became evident to the hunter, who owned the land, that she was committed to God, he gave her a piece of his property to build a monastery. I have asked St. Melangell, who's churches in Wales include rabbit sanctuaries on the grounds, for help in understanding Crispin's needs so I will have some expert guidance.