Monday, May 2, 2016

Beautiful Spring!

This past weekend was spent working out in the garden. We are building a butterfly and bee garden in the back and then we have a shade garden we call the grotto under a linden tree in the back. It has been a ton of work! I did so much digging that I am super sore.

The spinach after transplanting. 
As you know, I did a little garden experiment trying to grow spinach in a cold frame. Nothing happened really until spring when it started to grow like crazy. So I decided to move it outside into the  real garden. Above, it is doing really well having survived a snow and cold and more--this was from the beginning of April about a week or two after I planted it.  It's looking yummy! Below, was this past weekend:
What happened to the spinach?
So where did all that spinach go? It filled two raised squares, and was growing to the point of being ready to eat.
Can gorgeous tulips be a clue to disappearing spinach?
Between the spinach being healthy and disappearing, these tulips bloomed gorgeous without interference from bunny rabbits.  Could it be that my spinach distracted these cute furry rodents long enough to let the tulips bloom?. I really did appreciate the gorgeous display--my tulips have yet to survive the furry onslaught. At first, I thought it was the coyotes who frequent my suburban neighborhood in the predawn hours--you know the cycle of life and all that--protecting my flowers. But then I visited the garden in hopes of a spinach omelet and realized someone small and furry and beaten me to it.

Alpaca two-ply spun 382 yards out of 8 oz

Yes I have a fence, but it has worn down over the years and needs a bit of help. So I think the bunnies have grown fat on the largess of spinach. I suppose next weekend will be another busy time in the garden. I have ordered nine more pots of perennials to plant so I know I'll have the shovel in hand again. Plus, I think it is time to go to the garden center for tomatoes and peppers, so we can get a start on our planting.

Falling leaves scarves from handspun.
So being as pooped as I am from gardening, more knitting is getting done than weaving or spinning. Yes, I am trending towards projects that allow me to put my feet up! It's always nice to be pooped AND productive!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Beauty of crackle

Crackle woven as summer and winter. This photo is sideways, the warp is white.
Crackle has come to fascinate me. Since the workshop, I've been reading up on the structure, and now have both Wilson's and Snyder's book along with Lucy Brusic's Crackle Weave Companion. The whole subject fascinates me and I think the red and white sample detail explains it the best. The warp in this case is white (the sample is on its side). You will notice in some spots how the warp appears to form diamonds. The warp is doing all kinds of interesting things. Mary Meigs Atwater, the grandmother of modern American weaving, termed this weave Crackle, for this very reason---it reminded her of the crackle effect on old pottery. The weave does have an unpronounceable name in Swedish,  but we American weaver's took Atwater's advice and call it "Crackle."

Crackle woven as lace
The one above is woven in a lace treadling. I love all the shapes it makes! I'm thinking I'd like to try some curtains in this weave. We will have to see what happens.

Polychrome treadling
Polychrome is one of my favorites and I am itching to put a warp of scarves on so I can try a few things with my supply of Tencel. But I do have a warp already wound for overshot placemats. I could easily change the plan to Crackle placemats and I'm already looking at a few ideas. Regardless of what it will be, there is definitely Crackle in my future!

With the warming days, my spinach is growing, but also receiving visitors! If you look in the upper right you can see where someone was excavating and leaving nesting materials. I took the lid off the cold frame to discourage any thoughts that my spinach patch is "cozy" and "homey"

This weekend, DH and I--well mostly DH---set out three more raised bed garden squares and filled them with dirt. We now have 20 square feet of garden space! I plan to transplant the spinach out there later this week, before the rabbits find the cold-frame and make salad!

Happy Spring everyone! Hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Snap. crackle, pop

Polychrome crackle at the top, lace below

 A three day workshop on crackle weave left me both inspired and a little tired. I've already changed my mind about one project I was going to do in favor of crackle, and that's not all. I can see long warps of scarves in my future.

The workshop was taught by Beth Duncan and sponsored by my guild Illinois Prairie Weavers. I warped up the old structo artcraft and rolled it into the workshop on a luggage cart. I haven't used this loom much as weaving on a table loom is much more time consuming than the floor looms I use, among other drawbacks. But I enjoyed weaving on it and getting to know my way around the loom.

Vintage walnut workshop loom.
Crackle is a really versatile structure, and we learned how to incorporate different kinds of treadling sequences and color combinations to make interesting effects. This turned out to be fascinating. Because I'm a slow weaver, when I got home, I wove a ton more samples, such as the one above! That is a three tone polychrome weave in gold, green and dark brown.  I am almost done with the warp.

Done as overshot
Weaving crackle like overshot is the most common way, but there are other interesting effects created using color combinations. I tried the overshot method in two colors, and tried different tabby colors too.

Spinach is getting big

I can see spinach in my future! It is growing! So are the flowers outside. I should have some daffodils soon. We are having a very early spring this year. I won't complain about it. It's hard to believe I used to be one of those people who liked snow. But when it does snow, there's never time to enjoy it. With work, snow is all about shoveling and traffic being slow. Once free time rolls around, the snow is melted, or turned to ice. Sad. There isn't much time to like it anymore.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


I love this hat
Nothing quite beats a lovely hand knit hat to spark inspiration. It's nice to have something pretty on my head keeping all the thoughts warm. I was delighted when Janet offered me the hat she knit (shown above) at Wednesday's sit and stitch. I love this hat. Janet is a talented spinner, knitter and weaver who love mixing texture and color.

 The hat is so pretty, I could wear it to a poetry slam.

Wisps of thought
melding with clouds
blue sky

Something like that, but done dramatically. With a cool hat, colorful handknit tunic sweater and yoga pants, I'd be outfitted to express myself. I'd have to improve my poetry, I suppose.  Probably write a lot more of it than i do.  Clothes do not make the verse.
This is the cool slouchy back
Well, no slams just yet. I'm busy enough with everything else I'm doing around the Craftstead. There is so much yarn, so little time.  And spring is in the air with these unseasonable temperatures. We are enjoying the second 50 degree weekend in a row!
I still have spinach
 The spinach still know it is February and continues to grow slowly.  I think they need thinning, but I will wait until we put the new garden squares out in March. I think I can transplant some and have a nice crop. 
Socks for DH
We went out for a drive Saturday and I was able to finish up these socks I started back in January. I'm participating in the 6 or 16 in 2016 challenge on Ravelry, and this brings me up to 8 projects completed so far this year, including finishing three works in progress (WIPS). I am also making headway on the charity scarf knitting and I just finished this:
Purple charity scarf
It is an infinity scarf done in moss diamonds. It developed this wavyness, so I left it in, blocking it very lightly.
The other scarf is a lace infinity, using a free Ravelry pattern, Easy Lace Cowl. I used sparkly yarn for this one:
Easy Lace Cowl for charity
So, yes, there's been a lot of knitting going on around here.  But weaving and spinning have happened too. Today, I've been beaming a warp on the big loom. I had to take a break so I decided to do some blogging. That's about all right now. Hope everyone has a great week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lace, finally

My first lace scarf
Though I can increase and decrease using several methods, have done stranded knitting and cables, for some reason I've avoided lace all these many years as a knitter. My few attempts had ended out with an undecipherable mess which led me to abandon the attempts. 

This time though, I stuck with learning the technique. And this time I had help and the very good advice to put a marker to separate each pattern repeat. The marker made all the difference. This kept me from getting lost. It also allowed me to make quick adjustments, for instance discretely reducing a stitch when I had 13 instead of 12 in my repeat and vice versa. The scarf turned out nicely. The pattern was simple and pretty, the Lagoon Pond Scarf by Jennifer Meyers, a free Ravelry download. The yarn for this one is a 100% wool my niece bought for me. I'd meant to make something special with it for a few years, and I finally did!

Cowl for charity knit
So now I want to knit more lace. My sit and stitch is making scarves for our annual fundraiser for a local charity--likely a women's shelter or some other good cause.  With my newly minted lace skills, I'm set to be knitting up a storm! I made the cowl above, primarily because there was only one skein of red. The next time I use this lovely and easy pattern, Circle of Love Cowl, by Evelyn Clark, I am going to double the number of stitches and make an infinity scarf.

I've also been cheating in my blocking. I'm using the steam iron and a wet cloth.  I know! But blocking seems so tedious to me. I've yet to do it. I'd like the say the weaver in me wants to give everything a good hard press.  Regardless, my lace is going from crumpled to flat.
Scarf before "blocking"
The scarf came off the needles squishy and crinkly, but after a light press with the iron (protecting the knitting with a wet cloth) I had the smooth scarf shown at the top of this blog.  I have to say, I'm really enjoying knitting lace. Besides doing the charity knits, I have some lace things I want to do for myself--like a shawl and other lovely things.

Monday, February 1, 2016

More yarn

1100 yards at 12-13 wpi

Despite having one of the busiest weekends in awhile, I managed to finish plying the very last skein of the Crocodile Tears Yarn. Sadly, this last skein seems more uniform than the other two without the splashes of deep blues and greens. This means it might not be the best choice for a sweater. I may end out weaving with it. I will have to see how it is once I rinse the yarn.  So I add a few more skeins to my stash while I plan something. I already have three 18 gallon buckets jam packed, not including the one I'm filling with future rug yarn. I'd better get busy knitting, weaving etc.

The spinach continues to survive the ordeal of growing in a cold frame in winter by me. It is small, though--the leaves are the size of a penny. There is a long time to grow.

My diet is going about as well as the spinach. I suppose it would help if I actually dieted--hehehe. But this month I have a new plan for increased activity so we shall see how it goes.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weaving joy

Block twill is going slick
Despite setbacks, mistakes and unbelievable tangles, I am glad I set out on this journey to learn to weave seven years ago. It has proven to be all I hoped with the long learning curve. I know I will never be bored with it.  Above I am nearly done my second towel.  As you know from my previous blog, I had a heck of a time getting the warp just right. As I started, I had to make a few more adjustments to get the sheds just so.

But the fussing and redoing does not daunt me. Being undaunted and forging ahead has probably been the most useful skill as I've learned to weave.  I tell people weaving  is not for the faint of heart.

All the perseverance has paid off, because weaving this warp has been a joy. I really love block twill because I can easily spot treadling mistakes. So I like how nice this is coming out. I love how the two colors interact.

Block Twill is also giving me ideas for future projects. I plan to open up my weaving program and experiment with point block twills. That should be interesting.  And I need to try extra colors in the warp to see how that goes. There are so many possibilities with this structure!