Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Resolutions

Oh, I have the usual suspects down. You know, lose weight, be nice to my husband, work harder and smarter. I trust my friends not to really hold me to these. But I also have a creative resolution list.
It's a fluid thing, changing with my interests, energy level, and time constraints. New ideas tend to derail current ideas-in-progress, making it hard to fully accomplish things sometimes.
I accept this fluidity as an important part of my creative process.  But I worry about some of the better ideas getting away if I don't capture them somehow. A new idea actually causes me anxiety, because as much as I want to chase down "new idea", I am worried about dropping and losing the ones I already have brewing.
Did you see Ice Age? With the squirrel needing to keep track of his acorn?  That cracks me up every time I see it. That is exactly how I feel about my fiber to do list. Ironically, just like with the squirrel and his nut, the harder I try to grasp an idea, the more likely I am to either have it slip through my fingers, or squeeze the life out of it.
The coming of a New Year is a great excuse to give a little solidity to ephemeral ideas. I am about to start a list of creative objectives to accomplish in the next year. This list will be a fluid thing, with a few rules. Starting today I will publish a list here of some of the things I really want to do. I am allowed to add more, and maybe even subtract some until and including January 1. On January 2 I will have a final list. And, friends, I expect you to hold me to them.
Here goes:
1. Start an Etsy Shop.
   Weavings I think. But what should I start with? Little Theo Moorman tapestries? Kitchen Towels? Fabulous scarves and shawls? Results from weaving experiments?
2. Experiment with Weaving techniques. Collapse weave with handspun yarn for starters.
3. Write and publish 3 patterns. By publish I mean any public format. It could be in my Ravelry Shop, it could be in a magazine ( in which case I will allow for actual print in 2013), it could be for shop hop. It could be free on my blog. These patterns should be:
        A knitting pattern - first one might be based on something second daughter wants - a 70's style puffy vest.
        A crochet pattern - thinking about either Tunisian bathroom rugs, or Ipad cover
        A weaving pattern - maybe the result of some weaving experiments.
4. Refine my spinning. I can be pretty specific about this one. I want to make a novelty yarn based on instructions in a recent "The Wheel", a publication put out by Ashford. And I want to try this.

OK there it is. Publicly announced, and therefore more embarrassing if I flake out. And, I still have the opportunity to refine, add or subtract for the next 4 days.

Note that this list does not include any ongoing, current, or about to be started projects. I should list them here so that they don't get dropped!
Knit, Swirl
A tunisian entrelac blanket for my couch. Haven't started it yet, but the yarns have been picked out and are on my to do shelf in my studio. That makes it a committment
Mitered Crosses Blanket.  I swear I will finish at least one square. It will make a cute, if impossibly tiny pillow.

And, now it's your turn? Do you have any creative resolutions for 2012? Put them in the comment box - I would love to have some company.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

By the way...

F.O.stands for Finished Object. Just in case you thought... You know.
I am trying to be nice here.

F.O. Santa!

I am so excited that I have finished two projects in the "Nick" of time! I just wanted to share the news with Santa, in case he didn't get the message of what a very good girl I have been.
Our  family fun starts tomorrow evening when everyone arrives.  I will have very little time for anything but the most mindless of knitting for the next several days. I am ready!
Kristin's Christmas Stocking - finished a year ahead of time! My tradition is to knit one per year until everyone in my family has their own fancy stocking. I am using the kits from Judy's Colors. I  love how the patterns are sort of traditional, but not really. I finished Kathryn's about a month ago, so I was on schedule already for this year. But, hey, what is the holiday season without some unreasonable knitting deadline? I cast on for Kristin's stocking, thinking that at least I would have a head start on next year. But I finished! Watched "The Help" while putting in the green toe.
Next year I will knit one for Kelly. Really honey! And the year after that, Ryan, my SIL. Then I will be all caught up - unless someone new joins our family in the next two years. What are the odds of that?
I felt so on top of things that I pulled out a "marinating" project. Last Christmas, my oldest gave me a ball of handspun that she had made just for me. So sweet! Then 3 months later, she gave me the other ball. I started knitting myself a hat way back in February, and stopped when I ran out of yarn. Knowing that she is coming tomorrow I decided it would show my appreciation for her gift if I actually finished my hat. 
I like to knit hats from the top down. Especially with mystery yarn. Didn't know the gauge, didn't know how much I had. Turns out I had enough yarn to make a slouchy!  I made the top roomy, and when I got to the headband part, I went down two needles sizes, and began the ribbing. I have about three inches of ribbing there - so the top part hangs nicely off the back of my head. It is super warm, and looks super cute on me. Thanks again honey!

Holiday deadline knitting now completely done. I have cast on for Peiga Cowl, using O'Paca from Fleece artist, held with some hand dyed silk I had in my stash. The O'Paca has the look of a fine mohair yarn, but with the ultimate softness of alpaca. It knits at a gauge of about 5 stitches to the inch on size 7 needles. Fleece Artist does genius color work with their dyes. There is a swatch now in the shop, and maybe the cowl soon - depends on how many holiday movies we watch, and who is mixing the drinks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's a tradition

I can be pretty sentimental. Traditions are very important to me. So important that I keep creating new ones. Most of these traditions are connected to holidays. In addition to our extended family Christmas traditions (opening presents on Christmas morning, followed by big breakfast of egg bake and sticky buns, for instance), I seem to need traditions that have been created by our nuclear family, for our nuclear family.
Maybe, more accurately by me, for me.
It is for me that I purchase identical tree ornaments for each of my daughters. It gives me so much comfort to think that when they decorate their own trees in their own homes, they will have a similar set of ornaments, and will think of each other, and of me.

It is for me that I am making a set of Judy's Colors Christmas stockings, one per person and in the order in which they joined the family. Not only are they very beautiful on my mantle - but also a reminder of home, should they be taken to another house some year. It happens.

Last year I added another tradition of weaving a set of 4 kitchen towels, one for each daughter's house, and one for mine.

Only problem is choosing who gets which towel. I think I might wrap them in identical boxes, and let it be random. I might be keeping the white one for myself.  I am not worried about blowing the "surprise". It is a new tradition - but they are expecting towels. And, they never read my blog.

For the technically curious: these towels are woven with an "M's and W's" threading. Louet linen warp, cottolin weft.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I knit a hat for the Wall Street Occupiers while riding on the City of New Orleans, with Arlo Guthrie's song of the same title stuck in my head. It was a proud moment.

When I returned home, I found a huge pile of hats waiting for me! Thank you Cyndi, Kathy, Luann, Tamsyn, and others who sneeked the hats in without me knowing who.  I am still collecting hats until November 20, but I may send off a batch sooner than that so that these wonderful hats can start their jobs sooner.

We have 23 so far! Way to go knitters!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy our needles update

I have found that there are many efforts to knit hats and warm items for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Such as Jessica Rainbow and her Knitters for the 99%.

So, as it should be, Woven Art is just a small part of a greater effort to support those who are standing up against corporate greed.

Three more hats have come in:
Total so far: 5 and counting

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Your Needles

IMAG0183.jpg by nancymcray
IMAG0183.jpg, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

The first two hats for the Occupy Wall Street protesters have just come in. Thank you Cyndi! I better get my needles going.

Occupy Our Needles - Lansing

Wouldn't it be lovely to have knitters present and knitting at the Capitol on Oct. 15?  Unfortunately, I will be out of town on that day.  I won't be able to attend, but Woven Art is committed to collecting and sending hand knit or crocheted hats, scarves and mittens as a show of support and gratitude for the Occupy Wall street protesters.

Here is some information about what is happening locally:

-A Rally and General Assembly is scheduled to take place on October 15th at 10am on the Capitol Steps. This event is in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. A occupation may take place by individuals who choose to do so.

This is a peaceful movement. Like Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Michigan is a  leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that we Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We plan to use the revolutionary tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants.

We are a grassroots, leaderless movement. This is not a hiearchy. This is a horizontal movement. Everyone is equal. Everyone is a leader. We are the 99%.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Our Needles

I am impressed by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and I want to do something to show my support and gratitude. You may not have heard about it yet. It is a loosely organized group of people who have set up camp near Wall Street. The gathering is peaceful now, if a bit disruptive for the day to day business in the neighborhood. If you would like to find out more, I have a couple of links for you to try:

It is starting to get cold in New York, Chicago and Boston. Wouldn't it be nice for us to send them some hats? Can you think of a more personal way to say "Thank you"?  I hope to collect 99 hats and send them off before Thanksgiving.  It would be really grand if I could get 98 more yarn shops to join in.

If you would like to help with this effort, you can send or bring a handknit hat, pair of mittens or a scarf to
Woven Art
325B Grove St
East Lansing, MI 48823

If you have a favorite LYS near you, please feel free to encourage them  to participate in this effort. I have started a thread on the LYS group on Ravelry. 

This information will also be posted on the Woven Art wesite:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blanket for a baby goddess

A good friend recently had a baby girl, so I made a stroller blanket. Luck me - I have access to great yarn all the time. Most of the warp was found in my stash, and it turned out that the perfect weft was Madeline Tosh DK in the color called Wren.
While planning this project I accidentally wound enough warp for 3 stroller size blankets. So, 2 more will be woven. There will always be new babies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


IMAG0159.jpg by nancymcray
IMAG0159.jpg, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

Soon to be a stroller blanket for a soon to be baby girl

Clock work in progress

IMAG0161.jpg by nancymcray
IMAG0161.jpg, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

So, no posts for a very long time, and then four in a row? I was kidnapped by the knitting needles, and the yarnies. These posts might be a cry for help.

This one is Stephen Wests Clockwork, in Punta Merisock and shibui sock. I bought a shirt to go with it, I love it that much.

For Kelly

IMAG0162.jpg by nancymcray
IMAG0162.jpg, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

Sock for Kelly. Zauberball Crazy with Gems fingering toe and heel. This is the first sock, and I sort of hope I can make the second sock sort of match.

Christmas stocking

IMAG0164.jpg by nancymcray
IMAG0164.jpg, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

Started this years Christmas Stocking kit from Judy's Colors. Must say, these are fun to knit. This one is for Kathryn. My goal is one per year until I have made one for every member of my family. Starting with Gary and I, and in order of when they join. After Kathryn I need to knit for Kristin, Kelly and Ryan. Kind of hoping I never get all the way caught up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

American Brilliant

Our Guest Blogger today is Sharon Winsauer. Welcome Sharon!

Sharon will be teaching at class at Woven Art how how to knit this magnificent blanket. The real thing is at the shop for a few weeks. You must see this in person. Details about the class are on the WovenArt website.

Connections & Coincidences

Pat Richie has a beautiful collection of American Cut Glass. Several months ago, she approached me with an idea; wouldn’t it be neat if we could replicate some of the cut glass motifs in knitting? The result was the throw, American Brilliant,  with each block design based on a glass motif.

American Brilliant  is a convergence of two time honored, creative skills, knitting and cutting glass.
The art of cutting glass appears to have originated in Egypt as early as  1500 B.C.  It slowly moved into Europe, appearing in the British Isles in the early 1700s. From there, it traveled to the colonies, with the first American Glass appearing around 1771.   Knitting followed a very similar path.  The earliest known examples were found in Egypt  and ad moved to Europe by the 14th century.  By the 17th & 18th Centuries, knitting involved whole families in areas like Ireland.  Knitting, likewise, traveled to North America with the  colonists.

To commemorate the 1910 appearance of Halley’s Comet, several cutting firms designed swirling, spiraling patterns and named them “Comet.”   It is fitting that the very center of this knitting pattern, American Brilliant, forms a similar large “comet” swirl as 1910 was also the year of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s birth.  Her influence continues to spiral outward and touch knitters all over the world today.

Perhaps it is more than coincidence that the fusion of cut glass and knitting took place in the Lansing, Michigan area.  The designers of the pattern, Pat Richie and Sharon Winsauer, are both from the Lansing Area, and one of the greatest designers of cut glass patterns, William Anderson, established his cutting house,  back in 1902, on Kalamazoo St in Lansing,

Sharon Winsauer
Ravelry’s CrazyLaceLady

Monday, August 8, 2011


I need some rules. I really want to start a new project, but I have a few that are very close to completion. I love FO's. The sense of accomplishment, the fun of showing off, the garment in my closet, or to give as a gift. But mostly I love that a finished project frees me up to start something new.

Starting something new is kind of like new love. Choosing the yarn, determining which pattern, swatching and casting on is all foreplay. Then there are several days of progress when I can thin of little else. I dream about it at night. But then, it becomes routine and familiar. I still love my projects, but I crave a new thrill.

Don't think for a minute that I am monogamous. I just try to have one project of each of several types going at once.
Currently I have a sock that is 2 inches away from being finished. Then I can start a new pair of socks. I have been working on this pair for over a year. If I don't finish them before starting new ones, I never will.

I also have what I call a long knit, and that would be Volt. She is a beautiful shawl designed by Grace Anna Farrow. I have been working on this for several months. I am now working on the I-cord edging. When that is done I can start my Knit, Swirl sweater.

My loom at home was empty, so I could justify a new weaving project. Hand towels for the bathroom at Woven art
I just started a new crochet project, and have ten more in my head. None of them are small. Most are experimental.

I have two shop projects that I mostly work on while at the shop. They are definitely shop models, made in my size. But they don't count as projects.

Time to stop rambling, and start some finishing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sketching with Yarn

I took my rigid heddle loom on a recent lake vacation. I threaded two heddles to be able to do the Theo Moorman technique.  Ms. Moorman developed her technique as a quicker way to do tapestry like images in weaving. However, she soon discovered that her technique also allows for other possibilities. Because you have a ground cloth under the image providing structure, your images do not have to create the plain weave cloth, as is true in tapestry. The image is superficial.
Using Mountain Meadows fingering wool for the fat warp, and moriah merino lace weight wool for the skinny weft, I threaded the loom about 12 inches wide. My though was to create a sketching surface that would allow me to capture my scenery in an intuitive way.  What you see here is my first attempt.
I plan to return to Elk Lake, East side this time, and do s few more sketches. Get a series going.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Big Sale! Huge!

At Woven Art
325B Grove st
East Lansing, MI 48823
July 14-16, 2011

Big, big Sale. Huge!
1/2 n 1/2-20%
Art Yarns Silk Rhapsody 30%
Buffalo Gold - 30%
Chesapeake - 20%
Creative Focus Linen - 25%
Denim - 30%
Frog Tree sport weight Alapca - 25%
Frog Tree Pico Boo - 30%
Fiesta Yarns - all - 30%
Luscious - 40%
Imperial Stock Ranch bulky roving cakes - 25%
Misti Alpaca Chunky - 25%
Plymouth Tweed 25%
Tilli Tomas - all - 25%
Yarns On Stage - 30%
Bargain Tower Yarns - an additional 25%
Undyed Spinning Fiber - 25%
50% Table
Greener Shades Dyes and assists - 50%
Kollage Kits - all - 50%
Culinary Colors - 50%
Lantern Moon Cross Body Denim bags- 50%
Louet Hand dyeing kit - 50%
Dollar Table
Back Issues - $1
Hemp Twine
Hemp Spinning Fiber
Free Lace Sheets
Art Felt DVD’s
Selected single sheet patterns
Selected books
Selected yarns

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More of Mom's wisdom

There were two pieces of newsprint taped to the wall of my Mom's studio. My last blog post recounted one of them. Here is the other:

Golden Rules for Living
1) If you open it, close it.
2) If you turn it on, turn it off.
3) If you unlock it, lock it up.
4) If you break it, admit it.
5) If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.
6) If you borrow it, return it.
7) If you value it, take care of it.
8) If you make a mess, clean it up.
9)If you move it, put it back.
10) If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
11) If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
12) If it is none of your business, don't ask questions.

I love these. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wisdom from Mom

I spent some time this past weekend on Old Mission Peninsula with some of my family.  I was inspecting Mom and Dad's long deserted house. In their joint studio I found a couple of newspaper clippings taped to the wall. My guess is that Mom put them there. I so carefully peeled the crumbling yellow papers and put them in my wallet.  Still, they are falling apart. So I am putting them here.

The first one:
An English newspaper asked its readers this question: "Who are the happiest people on earth?" These were the four prize winning answers:
- A craftman or artist whistling over a job well done.

- A little child building sand castles.

- A mother, after a busy day, bathing her baby.

_ A doctor who has finished a difficult and dangerous operation and saved a human life.

No millionaires among these, one notices. No kings or tycoons. Wealth and position, no matter how the world strives for them are not the things most people --in their wisdom, we might add-- consider the essential quality of happiness.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Onnie's Birthday Shawl

My MIL, Onnie, will be turning 94 in July. I promised I would make her a shawl. She lives in Texas, but the air conditioning is often too cold for her. I wanted something light weight, but warming, without becoming too hot.  I chose 2/17 tsumugi silk for the warp, and cotton gima for the weft. Both yarns from Habu Textiles.  The weave structure is turned Atwater Bronson Lace. The draft can be found on page 186 in A Weaver's Book of 8 Shaft Patterns. It is design # 618 by Mary Smith.

The warp was threaded 18 inches wide in the reed, set at 20 ends per inch. I wound a 3.5 yard warp, and wove to 78" long. Not much warp was left!  After washing and pressing, the final shawl dimensions, without fringe, are 16" wide by 72" long.  Perfect!  The fabric turned out to be exactly what I wanted for Onnie. The colors I chose to remind me, and maybe her, of her Florida home.

Happy Birthday Onnie!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Stitching is PERMAnent

I recently read a fascinating article in the Whole Living magazine (May 2011) about the psychology of  happiness and well being. Martin Seligman has a new book out: Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, (Simon and Schuster). It is on my list of books to read, but the article had some tantalizing tidbits that I can share with you here.  In his book Seligman focuses on 5 aspects of well being, the initials of which spell out PERMA.  I am going to tell you why I believe knitting, crocheting, weaving and other crafts ( but these especially) are a key path to happiness and satisfaction. The following ideas are my own interpretation, and I fully disclose that I haven't read the book yet.

Positive Emotion: For many of us, just walking into a yarn shop, or touching soft yarn, or losing ourselves in color is enough to make us happy.

Engagement: "When we're truly engrossed in a task that demands our attention, our sense of self recedes and time feels as if it has slowed or even stopped" direct quote.  Ever get lost in your knitting?

Relationships: This yarn biz is very different from most retail in that relationships are at the very core of a successful shop. People make new friends in classes, or they simply plop themselves down on a couch and stitch away until someone tells them their whole life story.  Then there are the guilds, knitting groups, and other clubs that are offshoots. There are the on-line communities as well. Try bringing out your project at a festival sometime. Instant friends.

Meaning: So many knitters and crocheters donate their products as a matter of course. Sometimes it is a hat or a toy for a local child, sometimes it is to help raise funds for tragedies that happen on the other side of the world. Stitchers  are always ready to help someone else, while still engaged in a favorite activity.

Accomplishment: Yes - occasionally you get to finish things. Then you get to show your yarn shop friends and post it on Ravelry, You might even get to wear it and receive compliments, or gift it and receive heartfelt thanks. Whether you have made a cowl, or a blanket, you get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

There you have it. I am really looking forward to reading the book, and getting more in depth information about all of these areas, but I am here to say: Stitching is here to stay - or rather permanent!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Knitting in the Rain

 Wednesday night was pretty wet, and windy. But the Stitch 'n Pitch organized by Yarn Garden's Lindsay Potter and WovenArt's yours truly was full of warm fuzzies.
 I was truly amazed at how many lovely people came out to the ball park on a really rainy evening. There was a $2 cosmo special going on.  And the food was worthy of the Ball Park rule ( I only eat brats and wonder bread buns at a ball park).  The goody bags were super cute, stuffed with baseball themed treats. Special thanks to Lindsay for designing a twisted stitch baseball sock - it is so awesome I am going to have to knit two. Unless she let's me keep the shop model she sent. Then I only have to knit one semi matching one.
 Here are a couple of Oakland shawls in process with the wonderful Kauni yarn.
 At least one of these knitters is trying to master Judy's Magic cast on.
 The game was a little slow.
Most folks stayed until around 9:30 - just in time to hear the National Anthem.   A big thank you to everyone who came, and enjoyed!  Knitters are the best people.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cross on a Hill

IMAG0119 by nancymcray
IMAG0119, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

I presented the final 8 panel project to the Church last night, only to discover that the whole piece was way too big. Somehow, when looking at the blueprints I had it in my head that the space I was to be working with had a top height of 16 feet. Forgot about the doors, I really had only about 7 feet to work with.

That's a big problem.

We agreed to a bit of rearranging. Later, as I tried to go to sleep, I literally prayed, Oh God, please help me solve this problem. A good answer came to me pretty quickly, and involved removing some purple strands of yarn, and cutting a couple of the panels in half. The picture here is of what are now the center four panels. These will be flanked with a 4 foot panel on each side. On the other side of the gathering hall will be the two longest pieces, facing each other like a valley, instead of like a hill.

After I started breathing again, I decided I like this version even more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Market Report

I just returned from The National Needlework Association (TNNA) trade show in Columbus Ohio. This blog post is about what trends I identified and what I bought.
Handmade sweaters are still going to classics with some interest.  By this I mean that you will be seeing designs that you can make now and wear forever, but will have some interesting detail to make them stand apart. There is also a lot of emphasis on accessories - and that is also where some real fun is to be had!  Fair Isle and intarsia mitts and fingerless gloves, cowls will be very present everywhere (yeah for that - think quick but special presents!), and the accessories also will allow you to play with luxury yarns without breaking the bank.  Crochet continues to grow as more and more people are interested in learning, and more life long crocheters are able to find patterns written for pretty garments and in pretty yarns. Rowan has been on top of this trend for a few years now.

So, that's what I saw, trend wise.  Wanna know what I bought?  Look very soon for a wonderful wool and peace silk blend yarn from Frabjous Fibers. Peace silk is made from cocoons that have already released their worm. These cocoons can't be reeled, so the fibers are shorter. This yarn is not smooth and shiney, but has other wonderful silk qualities such as loft and warmth.
We spent a lot of time at Deep South - a pattern distributor that carries most of my favorite designers. I picked up a few new pattern lines; Tot Toppers, Grace Akhrem  and others.
Then we went on to Rowan.  Had tea with Martin Storey and Nicki Epstein!  Rowan has several new yarns that I am super excited about.  Colorspun has a soft, slightly textured spin on it, and long color repeats that are very subtle and rich. Plus, of course, great patterns. Then there is a yarn I am calling Lima Bulky. That's not it's real name, it is really called Alpaca Chunky - but it has that same tube construction that I love so much about Lima. Another new Rowan Yarn is called Fine Rowan Tweed. It is similar to Scottish Tweed 4 ply from long ago. I cannot wait to make the little kitty hand warmers from Tiny Owl Knits.  And then finally, they showed me Kid Silk Stripe. This is a giant ball of Kid Silk Haze in a long color stripe, in colors by Kaffe Fasset. I have been fantasizing projects for this yarn ever since.

At Classic Elite I picked up a new to us line - Jill Eaton's Minnow Merino. This is a machine washable wool, with a gauge that is very close to Mission Falls 18/24 wool. It also comes in lovely kid and adult friendly colors.

At Skacel I got us some Crochet interchangeable sets to go with your Addi Clicks. This will be perfect for Tunisian Crochet, as well as some Portuguese knitting techniques. They come in a smart brown case, or you could keep them in your new Della Que case!

Here's some big news! We are bringing in Fleece Artist/Handmaiden.  These yarns are very unusual, luxurious and heartbreakingly beautiful. In about 3 to 6 weeks we will have the Blue Face Leicester sock yarn, a wool and linen blend, a silk and kid mohair yarn they call Maiden head, and  O'paca. This one reminds me a little of a lovely mohair, with the super soft feel of alpaca.

I made a stop at Habu, and got more metals! Copper and bamboo, steel and linen, and new colors of wool/stainless and silk/stainless.
I also stopped at Unicorn and got several new crochet books, the Fleece and Fiber source book, Knit Swirl!, some new weaving books and Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home.  Now I need an ice cream maker. And some new running shoes.
I am pretty sure I am forgetting something - the last few days were a whirl for sure.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Name dropping

I am in Columbus Ohio, attending TNNA. Sitting in an open area, knitting Volt with Sarah and Meg, a tall, beautiful woman approached me and said: I am Grace Anna Farrow, and I designed that shawl. I was speechless! Sarah got a picture that I might figure out how to share later. I hope I run into her again when I have my wits about me. Later got to hug Melissa Leapman by sneaking up on her from behind. Had dinner and drinks with Carrie and Sherrie from Knit A Round, saw Erica and Suzy crossing the street. Met Iris Shirer and also her latest project. Told Doris Chan in the elevator that I appreciate what she has done for crochet with her wonderful designs.
This morning I have a crochet class with Mary Beth Temple, and then into the market to see all the newest yarns, books, patterns and tools.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ho Hem

I am still waiting for yarn to come in, so I can finish weaving panels 7 and 8. In the meantime I am hemming. And hawing. And sewing on velcro to the top borders. This part is tedious and nerve racking. I must measure exactly right for these hangings to be all the correct sizes.  Plus, I really, really want them to hang straight.  I have found that it takes about two hours to hem and sew velcro on to one end. And, remember, I have 8 ends to do this too.  The other ends are just finishing hems, so probably will only take 45 minutes each. The bright side is that I will be SUPER excited to get back to weaving!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stand still

I am half way through the weaving part of the seventh panel of the big commission. This and the eight panel are the smallest at 4' by 4' finished.  So, really not much longer before they are done!  Saddly, I have run out of an important color.  More is on the way - but in the meantime, can't weave.

To console myself, I decided, at long last, to purchase a spinning wheel from WovenArt.  I decided on the Matchless from Schacht Spindle.  I feel like a teenager driving a Jaguar. Not yet worthy. But this wheel will take me from beginner to where ever I want to go. So, I love it.  I have a sample of PMS from Rivers Edge to try out, and I have to say, it is like playing with kittens and yarn at the same time! But kittens with no claws or litter box to clean up. The color is a yellow to green that somehow reminds me of melons and spring time. 

This weekend I will begin the process of hemming the panels and finishing them for installation. This is a daunting task, really has to be done just right. Nice to know I'll have a soft reward when I get them finished!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two very different shawls

 Here is my St. Lucia shawl - so named for the vacation spot I was going to after sending this off.  The warp is a Mulberry Silk from LeiLani fiber arts - one skein was dyed in an orange to red varigation, and the other in a cool blue to purple colorway. These two were put together in a "clasped" warp - so all the cool colors are on one end of the scarf, all the warm colors on the other. The Mulberry silk was so easy to dye - just sucked the color right up. I used Greener Shades dyes from Stillwater Mill. This process is so easy, you really could do it in your kitchen, using a pot with a rack in it for steaming, one that is dedicated to that purpose.
The weft is sari silk ribbon -also from Leilani Fiberarts.  The weaver is Kathy Popoff - she was testing out the pattern for me, and I think she did a lovely job.  She graciously said it was a really fun project to do. The first and last several inches are in a 4 over 4 leno lace, and the center section is a form of basket weave. Very loosely woven to preserve some softness and drape. There can be some migration of the warp threads, but you just tug them back into shape.
 Just pulled this project off the loom yesterday. My excuse for making this was to try out the new David loom from Louet that has recently become part of the WovenArt studio family.  My other excuse was to do something with Cotton Gima, a slender tape yarn from Habu. This yarn stayed absolutely flat during the weaving process. It felt like a very interesting sheet of paper while under tension on the loom. I also couldn't see the lace pattern at all.  I was using the Lace Net with Plain Weave Ovals from Donna Muller's book HandWoven Laces. The draft was written by Marion Andrews. Once off tension the lace pattern shows up very well. Better than the picture below would indicate. The fabric has a nice stiffness to it - lending it a but of drama and sophistication. I am going to love wearing this shawl.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Inappropriate use of Addi clicks

We moved the last of our stuff out of our former condo shed and garage last weekend.  This included two kayaks, a small sailboat, and about a dozen inflated floaty toys. The floaty toys were too big, of course, to get into our car. And, you know, new ones wouldn't cost very much. But we have some lovely memories of these toys.

As Gary was figuring out how to lash three boats to one very small trailer, I was deflating.  Broke three fingernails getting the little valve things unplugged. Then I rolled around on the floating tubes and mattresses, while hugging the life out of the smaller rings and pillows. But, nothing happened. They would not deflate!  Urg!  It was pretty cold, and there I was wallowing in the parking lot in my black wool coat and my winter boots, on top of floaty toys. It took me too long to figure out that there is an INNER flap on all those valves. I said to Gary - I need a stick. But I can't find one strong enough. He offered up his keys, but no, I said. I need something long, and pointy, and strong, like a... like a knitting needle! 

I had needles with me - but they were in a project. Volt, from a few posts back.  Desperate now, I took Volt out of the project bag, and wadded it up, exposing one needle.  Poked it into a valve, and it worked!  But, only as long as the needle was in there. This was going to take too long - and expose Volt to too much dirt.  If only I could take the tip off the cord. Hey! Wait! These were Addi Clicks!  They saved the day. I took off both tips, and we got those floaty toys deflated in no time. I am pretty sure this is not an approved use of this high tech tool - but I didn't care.  I saved the toys. 

And, Volt is in progress again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kelly's Autumn Rose

She picked the sweater. Autumn Rose by Eunny Yang. She picked the colors of Elemental Affects Shetland fingering. And then she waited, oh so patiently, while I knit it for her.  Other projects distracted at times. Holidays got in the way. Business stuff got in the way too.  Finally it was finished, and then it was my turn to wait to see it on her.   First, Autumn Rose needed to put in some time as a shop model.  Then, she and I both kept forgetting to put it on her when she came home for a visit.  But, last week, she put it on.

It fits!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Schefflera Cozy

Many of you have seen me working on my Coco Knits Felted Bucket.  It is the perfect pick-up, put down, pick up again project. It has been my shop project for the last few months. I finally threw it in the washing machine a couple of weeks ago.  My intent was to line it, and have it filled with yarn.  But after it came out of the washer, the mid section looked so much like a terra cotta pot that I just had to put a plant in it. Brilliant.  There are so many reasons I like this!  A felt pot won't scratch your table. If you happen to over water your plant, the wool will absorb most of the extra moisture. I want to knit cozies for all my plants now!

I only made a couple of modifications to the original pattern. I used Punta Merisoft for the yarn. I love how it felts and how pretty it is.  I didn't feel like making i-cord handles and attaching them to the sides. Dunno why - just didn't wanna. Instead, I picked up and knit around the top edge, knit one row, bound off for a handle space, casting on again at the same spot on the next round. Then a few more rows of reverse stockingette. After binding off, I tacked the roll over the edge, all this before felting of course. Now I have two handles at the top, to aid in carrying my plant around.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Comfort Bear

Should I call him Levi? Because he is made of Riveting, a new yarn from Kollage made from 100% post consumer recycled blue jeans.  I started him on our vacation - the perfect beach knit! Not hot, the yarn didn't stick to me, and the pattern was pretty easy - but not boring!

I made the bear for two reasons. I wanted to try out Riveting, (love it!) and I wanted to make a bear for the Lansing Police Department Comfort Bear project. Kristi Garcia has been coordinating this ongoing project in our community for many months now.  All area yarn shops are collection points, with the next pick up in June.  "Levi" (still not sure that is his name) has one friend at WovenArt (Thank You! Sarah!), but they would like more company. Don't you want to knit a smile?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Progress on Calvary Commission

Five of eight panels have now been completed for Calvary Lutheran. They are pictured here on my living room floor. I needed to get an idea of how the pieces would work together.  I believe they will be much more effective on the wall, with the proper spacing in between.

I am in the process of threading the loom for panel number six. Panel number 7 has been dyed.  There is more work to be done, but I feel that I am "over the hill".  I am beginning to really anticipate installing these hangings in their future home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Welcome David!

 WovenArt has a new member in it's studio family. David (from Louet) arrived Friday afternoon, in a great big box.
 There were a lot of pieces to put together.
 And a LOT of screws.

The instructions were clearly written and illustrated, and in just four hours of labor, David was sitting up in his new spot.  This loom is a bit different from my other looms. This is our first "boy". He doesn't take up very much floor space, but he is very powerful. 8 harnesses means he can tackle complex patterns. Sturdy design and construction means he will be able to make rugs.  He has a sinking shed instead of a rising one, and an overhead beater.  I think I had better try him out before any students get to him, don't you?  You know, a test drive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Knit what you wear, Wear what you knit

WovenArt was privileged to host the most amazing Sally Melville last weekend.  A talented designer, technician and wonderful teacher, I walked away with lots of food for thought, and some new resolutions. Would those be St Patrick's Day resolutions?

Sally's mantra through the weekend was "Knit what you wear, and wear what you knit." I am a yarn shop owner. I knit all the time - but mostly it is for the shop. So, I tend not to wear what I knit. Two things wrong with that.  One: I am missing out on the fun of wearing some great sweaters, and two - I should be a better role model.

Sally also spoke extensively about how to choose the garment shapes that will flatter each individual the most, and what to pair these shapes with. This was most eye opening. My shopping and knitting in the past has been a haphazard adventure in choosing what is trendy, or a pretty color, or intriguing, or would get the sales person to leave me alone.  I have never considered how flattering a shape might be, or what outfits are best together.  The result is that I have a closet full of things I liked well enough to buy, but not well enough to wear. Armed with new knowledge of flattering proportions, I have a much better idea of how to put together outfits that I will feel comfortable in, and that will make me look good. Don't you always feel more comfortable when you know you look good?  Saddly I am pretty sure I recently threw away a beautiful long, full, silver skirt, because I never wore it. I never wore it because I couldn't figure out what I should be wearing it with. 

Many thanks to "The closet knitter", who I enjoyed for many reasons.  I am looking forward to her return - which could be September!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vacation Knitting part two

After two days of skiing, we went here. See the beautiful beach?  What do you think the perfect project would be?                           
A Teddy Bear out of Riveting by Kollage! This recyled cotton was the perfect thing to be knitting with on a hot, steamy beach. The bear is for the Lansing Police Department's Comfort Bear program.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vacation Knitting part one

Gary and I took a Winter break over the last two weeks.  We started our vacation by going NORTH to Stokely Creek for a cross country ski adventure.  Along with us went a group of Gary's running friends. A nice surprise was to also run into some people we knew as neighbors years ago. 

The lodge is cozy, has a fire place, and really great food.  The trails are groomed, and suitable for a wide range of skill levels. My skill level is " do I have to?" Our friend, Dick, has an obsession with cross country skiing - so his level is a frightening race to the tops of mountains, followed by shooting down the other side. I didn't ski with Dick.  I enjoyed myself more than I expected to, on lovely gentle slopes, each morning.  Each afternoon I settled in by the fire with a book and my knitting.  To my delight, there were other knitters there as well.

It turned out to be a delightful Winter Break.  And the perfect project pairing?
Volt from The Fine Line  in Isager 100% Wool.  In addition to being easy enough for conversation and wine by the fire, the light weight wool kept my knees toasty.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Threading Heddles

More progress on my Cross on a Hill project for Calvary Lutheran Church.  Here is a close up threads going through heddles.  There are 490 cotton threads and 245 silk threads for each panel.  There are 8 panels total. That's a lot of threads going through lots of heddle eyes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Handspun Eggs in Raku nest

Modified cliche for the day: Artwork is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Recently I declared that I am more interested in product development than in manufacturing. In other words, I am more excited about having ideas than in bringing them to world. Doing the work. That isn't a great formula for success. Unless I can  get other people to bring forth my ideas for me. 

In the fiber arts, which I know the most about, most ideas require repeated motions, by the thousands, to come to fruition.  This might be true of other media as well, but I can't think of any good examples.   It takes some will power to sit down at a loom, knowing that you are going to throw the shuttle and beat thousands of times before you can cut off your towel, or scarf. It takes inner strength to cast on  several hundred stitches for a shawl that you might not finish for several months.

Though I complain and procrastinate, I return time and again to knitting, weaving, crochet, and  spinning.  The individual motion of putting spin on a spindle, results in almost nothing. It is the repetition of that motion, followed by many, many more repetitive steps that can finally add up to something beautiful and of value.

Somehow, the thing that I complain about the most, is the very thing that also attracts and compels me: the tiny incremental steps required to add up to anything of substance.

These three little balls of handspun singles were begun last August, from BFL roving dyed by Miss Babs, on a dyaKraft drop spindle.  They are really nothing yet. Many more steps will be required. 

They are nestled in a raku bowl made by a woman named Janka. She was my Mother's ceramics teacher.  This tiny bowl must be 40 years old. My mother treasured it, and I treasure it.  Janka must have thrown a thousand bowls before she developed the skills to make this one. I am grateful she did.