Sunday, June 24, 2012

Slightly Warped

Threading heddles requires care and concentration and is a perfect activity to break up.
Coming on the heels of last week's weaving marathon was the Warped Weaver's question of the week, "What do you do about the pain from weaving?"  To say I was a little stiff would be an understatement.  Add to that winding warp for the next project and then finding  I needed to spin up 250 more yards of two ply only made it worse.  And then I got completely engrossed in a project at work that had me sitting hunched over files for hours on end.  By Thurday, I was in serious Aleve barely-touches-it kind of pain.

Between Aleve and yoga, I was able to get it under control, but I remind myself, never again! I am taking the advice offered by so many in this Ravelry weaver's support group to get up and walk around every so often. So I am taking my time threading the warp for this next project, which is a good idea in itself.  Threading is fairly crucial to the weaving process and I really don't want to make a threading error because the I will just be redoing it which means more sitting at the loom.

I thread from back to front and take off the front beam and the beater so I can get closer to the heddles.  I have a low stool for the treading and I keep reminding myself to maintain good posture. Making sure stools and benches are the right height for the job was another bit of good Warped Weaver advice. My legs just fit under the cloth beam, so I can sit head on.  Fortunately, I have four harness and six treadles, because the treadles get in the way of the stool, so I will need to sit at an angle for the middle threads.
Carding alpaca
My break from threading is spent carding the weft.  I dyed quite a lot of alpaca bright red and am very pleased with the results..  I'm waiting on a drive band for my Pat Greene so you can see my trusty Clemes & Clemes in the foreground.  It does quite a nice job on alpaca so it will do until the drive band gets here.  My plan is to alternate between carding and threading so I don't have to repeat the pain of last week. That really was no fun at all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weaving Marathon

I filled up a lot of bobbins to weave foot after foot of table runner this weekend.
Keeping up with deadlines kept me at the loom all weekend. I wove at least five or six feet of fabric, which is a lot considering I was using 5/2 cotton shown above.  Which proves that once the painstaking process of warping the loom is complete, the weaving part can move right along.  I will cut the table runners I was weaving off the loom and then I will start winding warp for the next project.  Because the project is a gift, I will show pictures of it later.

My next project is a throw woven from handspun alpaca.  I've been spinning alpaca for months and I hope I have enough for the warp.  I'm a little tired of spinning the color, though I must say it is really nice fiber and the color is a rich chestnut.  It is a cria fleece from Meadowsong Alpaca in Michigan.  This is truly a locally grown and locally made slow cloth project.  I did all the fiber prep too in workshop.
I hope this is enough Alpaca for my warp, or I'm in big deadline dodo.
 Sweatshop possibly--my weaving studio is on an upper floor and it can get a little hot in summer if I don't have the air cranked up.  But the window does have a nice southern exposure, so the light in the room is excellent.  I suppose that's my trade-off the advantage of great light for the disadvantage of it being a little warm in summer..  In winter, the room is fine and there is nothing better than weaving up there in the late afternoon sun.  In the evening, I have some full spectrum bulbs because I love natural light. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quiet day

I have many projects planned for my LeClerc.
Nothing quite like a peaceful Sunday to give one a chance to catch up on weaving activities. Above, is the current warp on the loom, but this will soon be replaced by something much wider.  I've been spinning alpaca to weave a throw, and if all goes as expected, I hope to be warping next weekend or the one after that.

Usually, I have something planned to say in my blog, but this weekend has been unusually quiet.  Oh, there are strawberries from the farmers market and the fledging robins are still acting goofy in my yard--I saw one asking a cardinal for food--but for the most part not much to say.  The garden is doing well, the weaving is moving along and yarn is being spun.  All is as it should be.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rhythm of Nature

A hill of red cranberry beans.
Young squirrels are chattering in the silver maple, cavorting among branches and trunks in an energetic game of tag. A trio of chickadees fly clumsily from feeder to perch.  It is June and the time when the carefully tended young of spring are out exploring their new world. Young blackbirds follow their parents begging for food, and robbins trip about like gangly teenagers.

It is also when the garden takes, as you can by the hill of beans shown above.  The weather in my suburb is fine and the bugs aren't so annoying I can't enjoy sitting in the shade of my backyard this beautiful Sunday morning.  This is craftsteading at its finest and once I'm done writing, I'll bring my spinning wheel outside to finish up the chestnut alpaca singles.
Chestnut alpaca plied into fine yarn for weaving. This bobbin is now full.
Though I enjoy the gentle peace of my suburb, I do have a secret longing for the north woods.  I am reading John J. Rowlands' classic Cache Lake Country, Life in the North Woods.  It is jammed with interesting information about the rhythms of the North Country Wilderness, what is in season, how to build useful items like a level or canoe carry to a list of provisions to bring if you got it in your head to venture out in a canoe. This book was written in the 1940s and the sound advice and wood lore hasn't lost anything with age.  He writes it month to month, so you get the sense of the rhythm.  We lose a lot of the rhythm of life living in the extreme civilization we have today, so it is good to be reminded of the slow turning of the wheel of the seasons.

Tomatoes, peppers and basil in the new section of garden.
Rowlands even had a little garden in the North Woods, which trust me isn't as easy as my garden here in zone 5.  I've gardened in zone 4, and you can get a good crop, it's just you need to be on your toes as far as getting it in at the right time.  I've noticed people who live in the Rockies have greenhouses in their gardens.  

Knowing the rhythms of the year is essential for anyone who goes to the farmers market in an attempt to live locally and sustainably.  I'm sure you've all heard warnings about the "fake" non-local produce available. Understanding the rhythm of the seasons is how you tell the real local produce from the guy who buys pallets shipped from Mexico.  For instance, there should be no peppers or tomatoes at this time of year. They don't start until later in the summer.  The watermelons you see are likely from Mexico.  If we didn't have our huge global network of roads and farms, most of the foods we take for granted wouldn't be available.

The rich browns of these alpaca batts where lost in the camera flash, but you get some idea
Knowing the rhythms of nature allows you to appreciate her more.  We are so disconnected that we've forgotten that she is as cruel as she is benevolent, that death is just as much a part of her as life.  The other evening I watched the movie Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer's book about an idealistic young man who ventures into the Alaskan wilderness unprepared for its rigors. I wonder had John J. Rowland's book been on the young man's reading list, if he would have been better prepared. But then idealism is a strong motivator. Growing up in a society so disconnected with nature's dark side has a price once you venture to live at her mercy. The movie was extremely thought provoking, and now I want to read Krakauer's book.