Process. So it seems for weaving, knitting, spinning, and life. For most things, I enjoy the process.
At the beginning of February, in honor of Imbolc, also known as Brigid’s Feast, I decided to begin knitting a black lace shawl. I had been contemplating knitting such a thing for a good while and had the yarn in my stash. I wanted to incorporate knitting mindfully, beginning something new at this time of year, and at least in some small way, I wanted to celebrate Brigid and this cross-quarter time in the wheel of the year.
And so I began on February 1. It was a bit of a rough start, requiring a few attempts, but that is not unusual. Once the project had more stitches on the needles, it became easier. And then it became a relaxing evening knit, if I had a light, solid color cloth on my lap and good lighting.
In the meantime, with both of us fully vaccinated, we visited family and one of our favorite places on the coast of Northern California. It will be a process finding our way forward through the pandemic. I expect it will require even more mindfulness than my lace knitting project. It seemed like a brief get-a-way to the coast would help. It did.
Then there is the learning process, specifically with sewing machines. I have never gotten along particularly well with sewing machines. I’ve tried. And I’ve tried to forget about sewing through my finger many decades ago, using the machine I fought with as a kid. Now have a very good, basic machine; the best I’ve ever had. Usually we get along well enough.
But apparently this machine wanted a different needle for this project. I change them frequently and it was only because of great advice from my weaving group that I was prompted to switch needle types for hems on my Sky towels. No one could exactly say why, but it worked.
I continued slowly knitting my black lace shawl. It is, of course, difficult to photograph progress in a circular lace project. The lace simply clumps together. Then it became time for more mindfulness practice as the bind off, nearly 15,000 stitches of it, became a bit boring.
But, patience and perseverance paid off. Just in time for 90-degree heat, I have completed a 50/50 merino/silk shawl. It blocked very easily with the lace relaxing and blooming like magic. It is 48 inches in diameter.
Another process I very much enjoy is the process of project percolation. I was quite taken by a painting I saw in San Francisco in 2017 and I purchased a post card of the print. Not long after, I set aside tubes of Brassard 8/2 cotton in appropriate colors. The cotton and the print sat on my desk for nearly four years. Suddenly, the juices were percolating and this project came to life. That’s the fun part of project percolation.
Recently I found a draft I thought I could use for this (Strickler #732) and, after lots of playing around in Fiberworks, wound the warp in mid-April this year.
I expected to weave the five towels fairly quickly as it is a very pleasant weave and easy treadling, especially with TempoTreadle on the loom.
But, as life would have it, being the process that it is, the towels were put on hold to take a class with the Feralknitter, finish two other projects, and deal with projects that life presents.
Here is where process, rather than product, is everything. I wanted to take a class with Janine Bajus for a long time and, thanks to the pandemic and Zoom, the opportunity finally came in April. The class was about designing a Fair Isle vest with a focus on color. That really makes my heart sing!
I had no doubts about choosing my colorway from what Janine offered. It was based on a carpet. I spent a couple of weeks learning, swatching, and playing with color. I had been doing what I was told was Fair Isle knitting for a number of years but I learned so much in this one class! I will not knit Fair Isle the same going forward and I learned a great deal about designing with color in Fair Isle knitting.
After a number of swatches, I decided that I may not want a vest knit in these colors, or at least how I was putting them together. And how I was putting them together was nothing like the photo of the carpet Janine sent to me after the class!
Janine warns that designing from a photo of nature is much more difficult but that is what I would really like to wear. I have some photos of the Olympic Peninsula that I’ve been wanting to use so, when weaving needs are less demanding, that is the direction I hope to take my Fair Isle colorplay.
At the same time I wound the towel warp, I wound a final rug warp. As Gil (my Gilmore 8/12 loom) has not found a new home, I decided to weave one final rug. I used a Summer and Winter draft from an old Handwoven magazine (November 1982) with 8/5 linen for warp and Halcyon rug yarn for weft. I planned to slowly finish the rug, weaving it when I wanted a break from weaving towels, scarves, and other things that I find more fun to weave.
An email from someone on Ravelry prompted me to finish the rug as quickly as possible to secure a new home for Gil and more space for me. So, the rug was woven in two weeks. And then the potential buyer decided the cost to travel to pick up the loom was too much. Now I will have to decide on fringe or weaving in the warp threads and then try and sell Gil. I have gained a great deal of respect for this loom, built in 1973. But space is limited and my weaving is in a different direction. It's a process.
In the meantime, I was inspired to weave a scarf inspired by a flower I photographed somewhere in the Los Angeles area in 2015. Like I said, the project percolation process takes time.
I decided on a network draft based on something posted on Eva Stossel’s blog. I modified the draft and, because the colors I wanted can’t be found in Tencel, I used 8/2 cotton from stash. I would much prefer the hand of Tencel and did attempt to ease the sett, using 20 ends per inch, but between being overwhelmed by the red weft and being a cotton twill, well … let’s just say not every project that percolates is perfect. It is not what I envisioned. I’m considering another attempt using plain weave and a more open sett.
As Winter turned to Spring and Spring is moving into Summer, I have been spinning as much as I can. My goal, as it is with many spinners, is better consistency. I would like to use my handspun in weaving; I do have a great deal of it now. Another process.
We have been busy dealing with the process of purging “stuff” that isn’t being used (not fiber related!) and preparing for fire season here in very hot and dry Northern California. And we planted another garden, which is growing before our very eyes. There are some other life processes and fiber projects that I am engaged with, but I’ll save that for another post.
Recently, my dear enabling husband honored me with a beautiful gift. Using a piece of driftwood found on the Mendocino coast, he created a kanji that says Weaver Woman. I am humbled by how he honors and encourages my process on the way to becoming a weaver.
In the meantime, enjoy the end of Spring, the growth and promise it brings (even here in fire country), and be mindful.