Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spare minutes

Part way through plying
Hand spinning for me is a simple pure craft, purely relaxing and pleasant in a tactile sort of way. Years of practice has allowed me to spin nice even yarns in short burst of time.  Once I've made my decisions regarding fiber and set my wheel up for the thickness desired, I can spin consistently in what I like to call "spare minutes."

A few spare minutes later and the bobbin is full!
Spare minutes could be 10 minutes I have before it's time to head to the office, or I could be waiting for a pot of water to boil.  My wheel is set up conveniently close to the kitchen.  I live in a ranch house with an "L" shaped living/dining room so the wheel can be right outside the kitchen only a few feet from the stove.  This is very convenient because I can hear the water boiling, stop spinning, add the pasta, set the timer and maybe stir a pot. Then I can return to spin some more.  I can get quite a bit of yarn spun in the 8 minutes it takes to cook my favorite whole wheat pasta!

I wound this off while waiting for salmon to bake.

And so. I do most of my spinning in short bursts of time.  With the exception of the Tour de Fleece, this is pretty much how I do my spinning. Occasionally, I might sit down for an hour or so to relax in the evening, but usually my spinning time is relegated to those little bits of time that open up here and there within a day.

Spare minutes let me start on another bobbin of this colorway.

If I have a whole hour, I like to go to my loom.  Weaving takes a bit of concentration and I like to have at least 20 minutes free before I will sit at the bench and start treadling.  It isn't something I would want to work at while something is on the stove! It is too easy to get lost in weaving and end out with a pot of something burned. But spinning seems almost made for interruptions--it is easy to stop and and pick up again five minutes later.  And so spare minutes turn into yards of yarn.





Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weaving fears

Ready to be plyed, this yarn will be part of a future weaving project.
Unused for nearly a year after purchasing it, my first floor loom picked at my conscience.  I had purchased it speculatively, knowing I wanted to learn to weave, but also knowing I wouldn't have time for at least a year.  I finally did learn to use it and have been enjoying the art for the past five years.  Three floor looms later, the thought of a loom sitting untouched for a year is at the base of my weaving fears.  And not mine alone, from what I read in the Ravelry's Warped Weavers thread about what scares weavers the most.

Naturally, there were other answers, like expensive warps gone to waste, but many shared this worry that one day they would wake up and not want to weave anymore.  A scary thought indeed for the average weaver who has more than one floor loom and thousands of dollars tied up in equipment.  Some have even built lovely studios or transformed bits of their homes for the purpose.  My guest bedroom is now had long workbenches for fiber prep and a loom.  I wouldn't know what to do with all this equipment if one day I decided to stop weaving, or what I would do with the extra rooms in my house if they didn't hold looms.  It is a strange thought, and an even stranger consolation to remind myself that at least I purchased it all used!

And all the yarn and the plans and the designs waiting to be explored.  I have more ideas than I have hours in the day to weave. I know weaving will be with me for years to come, but the thought of one day deciding to stop is still sobering!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

From stinky to clean

Spinning progress last week.

My other new book From Stinky to Clean and Back Again: Daily Life in the Suburbs will gain its name and first chapter from the never ending pile of laundry at my house.  I am amazed at the amount of laundry two people can make and know it must be worse in households with greater population densities.  Don't worry! I won't let this book get in the way of One Hundred Weaving Mistakes Not to Make, A Zen Journey into Weaving Craft. Gladly, I just discovered a new mistake!

Don't try a new complicated pattern on a large project such as a throw.  Try it out on a towel or something small made with fibers you didn't pay a lot for.  I was planning to do make this mistake with the Canadian Snowflake draft I received from Laura Fry.  Fortunately, common sense crept into my head and I will use it for a future throw project.  First, I will make some towels. It is really important to get to "know" a pattern before diving into a big project, at least this is for me.  I've only been weaving a few years and it takes a few dozen misweaves before I feel comfortable and understand how the pattern works. (I just made up the word misweave, but it means what it sounds like it might mean.)

This where I am today-not much done!

Knowing how the pattern works is essential to finding your way back if you tend to daydream while weaving (me!me!me!) and find yourself lost in the pattern.  Canadian Snowflake has a long repeat so I definitely want to make some towels first.  Towels are my go-to sample source because they are so useful even if the pattern is a mess!

There isn't much to show for a week's work here on the Craftstead.  I have 25 inches worth done on the new runner, and a few inches worth of towel.  Yes, I have a long way to go, especially if I want to free the Fanny up to make some Canadian Snowflake towels!