Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Oh, The Places I Go, The Sights I See!

I managed to complete one knitting project for SOAR while we were away, but I'm still plugging away at the cast off border of my cotton shawl.  I visited knitting and fibre shops, but didn't buy a skein of yarn or puff of fibre.  I'm making a valiant attempt to work only with my hand spun yarns and I have enough fibre stash to stock a shop all on my own. Besides, SOAR is coming up in a few weeks.  That conference will likely be a once in a lifetime event for me and I'm not expecting to attend without spending a dollar or two in the merchant mall!  

When I wasn't knitting on our travels, I spent my days outside, hand ginning the brown cotton bolls which spins4fun brought me at Olds Fibre Week.  I love working with this cotton; it's a bit inconsistent in length and colour, so the yarn I spin with it on my tahkli follows the same path.  It's rustic, fitting for outdoor, travelling spinning:

I also love playing with coloured ink pencils and blocks, working in a tiny 3 inch x 5 inch sketchbook, capturing my impressions of the places we stay and the sights we see.  I take a lot of my inspiration from Mother Earth.  My sketches aren't anything special, but they capture memories and colours which catch my eye and are references for the times when I'm sitting at home, working on projects:

They also remind me of how fortunate I am to walk in this world and to be able to take the journeys I am given.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Getting Closer to My Home

We headed home last Thursday, trekking back through the mountains and across the prairies.  We camped in Revelstoke again, where I visited Talisman Fibre. The owner had a loom in the middle of the shop, but was selling out her weaving and knitting yarns and supplies to focus on clothing and gifts.

Morris loved walking the trails with us.  This is Williamson Lake, a quiet campground which has meandering trails through forests of old cedar and ancient trees rising up among the fire scorched stumps. Mr. DD could easily stand up inside many of the stumps and some were wide enough to shelter a traveller or two:

You can get some sense of the size of these trees here:

We drove back through Roger's Pass:

Our last evening was spent at Kinbrook Provincial Campground, where we sat along the shore of the lake and watched the sun setting:

I love camping in the trailer; it keeps me in touch with Mother Earth.  The more I travel, the more I realize that we all have a duty to walk lightly on the Earth and protect her to the best of our ability.  "Progress" gives me the opportunity to experience the beauty of Nature, but it's up to us to see that "Progress" doesn't destroy Her.


Monday, 24 September 2012

You Spin Me Right Round: A Visit With the Ponderosa Spinners, Weavers & Fibre Artists

I spent part of an afternoon last week having a very pleasant visit with members of the Ponderosa Spinners, Weavers & Fibre Artists at their weekly drop in which is held in the beautiful Rotary Centre for the Arts, in downtown Kelowna.  If you're not sure where you're heading, follow the large sculptures of apples and pears along the walk way:

Everyone was busy preparing for the annual spin in, which was held on Saturday in Rutland. (We were on the road by then, so I didn't get a chance to attend.)  People told me that this guild has approximately 40 members who are weavers.  Their spinning members come from around the Okanagan; there are about 70 of them!

Most of the drop in attendees were involved in name tag assembly; one or two were working with their yarns.  Their names escape me, but they graciously allowed me to photograph them in their studio space:

This is Chris M., who, if I understand correctly, is a founding member and organizer of the guild.

Chris showed me the display which won the guild first prize at an ANWG conference. Everything is hand spun, felted, knitted or otherwise hand made.  The tree trunk is composed of metres and metres of I-cord:

These towels were woven by guild members and the felted fruit and vegetables, etc. are sold as fund raisers for guild activities:

I missed another event held last weekend in Kelowna-the Orchard Valley Quilt and Fibre Arts Show.  Fortunately, there were quilts hung in the hallway of the Rotary Centre and on display at the Town Centre Mall:

This guild also had sale items available through the Rotary Centre, including some knitted items:

Thanks to the members of the Ponderosa Guild for their hospitality.  I hope they forgive (and correct) any errors I've made in reporting on their activities.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sanctuary: Kasugai Gardens, Kelowna

If you happen to be in Kelowna and want to walk in peace and tranquillity, wander through the Kasugai Gardens in downtown Kelowna.  Bernard Street is currently undergoing major reconstruction, with all the noise and dust one expects from such a project, but after you dodge people and machines to get to the city's cultural centre, you step through the gates of Kasugai into a wonderland:

The sounds of the water flowing, the wind in the trees, the birds singing will soothe your heart.


Monday, 17 September 2012

Stray Cat Strut and Other Tales

We had a wonderful weekend, visiting, wandering about and seeing the sights. Mr. DD picked up Young Mr. DD at the bus station on Saturday morning.  Young One came from Vancouver to pick up the rest of his things and take them back in a UHaul trailer.  He was only here overnight, but we were all happy to see him, Morris especially:

On Saturday afternoon, Young Ms. DD and I went to PetSmart, where she volunteers to play with the cats waiting to be adopted, clean cages and make sure the cats are healthy, well-fed and watered.  There were four kittens of various ages and sizes there.  I forgot to take my camera along and Ms. DD is none too fond of having her picture posted, but there is no shortage of cats around.  Ms. DD has five "foster" cats.  (I put that in quotations because there isn't a chance she's parting with any of them.)

Helena, who lives next door to Ms. DD, helps run the Okanagan Humane Society, which has a no-kill policy for its animals.  Sad to say, as of yesterday, there were 320 cats waiting to be surrendered. Helena is understandably rather passionate about animal rights. She rescues many animals from drug houses and takes a lot of cats into her home.  At last count, I was told she has 35.  (Her house is charming, by the way, with a wonderful garden.  She dropped off fresh pears for Ms. DD this morning.)  There's a large cat run in her back yard and the upper floor of her house is modified to suit the cats.

If you've read the Wanda Gag story, "Millions of Cats," you'll get the idea of what life is like around here. I love it, but it's rather unsettling for Morris, who can't understand why he's not allowed to play with all those furry creatures.

Here is Mia, who is deemed to be rather unfriendly to most strangers, but who apparently likes me:

This is Lex.  He's annoyed at me because I flashed a camera light in his face, but he's a real cuddler and a most handsome cat.  He also likes to stir up trouble with Rambo, the other male cat in the house:

Chloe and Heidi are wary of strangers.  They both came from abusive homes.  They love Ms. DD and spend every moment they can on her lap, but they just barely tolerate me and run when they see the camera.

I managed to hit Art of Yarn in Kelowna, the day after we arrived here.  It's hard to believe, but I did not buy a single skein of yarn or a bit of fibre.  That's not to say that I didn't manage to buy anything at all; there is now a new Namaste Harlow bag in my possession. It's an even better travel bag than my Laguna-it's large, has a zippered opening (the Laguna uses magnetic closures), lots of pockets, handles and a body strap.  Besides that, it's purple.

I have finished Sybil, Project Number One of Road Trip Knitting.  She's drying in the back yard now.  The last time I checked, she was surrounded by a trio of tabbies who were sitting around, although not on, the damp knitting.

When I'm not knitting or playing with cats, I walk and walk and meditate.  I am filled with great, good fortune.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sanctuary: Life, The Trailer

Here is our happy little home for the next while, a 20 foot trailer:

On the first day of our journey, the wind was so wicked that we filled the tank just outside Medicine Hat and just made it to Brooks on fumes.  (Really-bells were clanging; lights were flashing!)  We stayed here, at lovely Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, outside of Brooks, Alberta, on Nevell Lake, which was wild that day:

I always take a photograph as we enter the mountains, outside of Calgary, Alberta, near Canmore:

A ten hour drive on Day Two brought us to Revelstoke, British Columbia, where there was a beautiful dog park:

Morris is an excellent traveller and is thrilled at the many dog parks available to him.  It is true-a tired dog is a happy dog:

The weather has been beautiful, hot and sunny, although there was a brief moment of snow going through the mountains.  We're now camped in Ms. DD's driveway.  Life is good and I'm grateful to be here.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

But, Is It Art?: Priscilla Plays With Designer Yarns

I love spinning designer yarns, but I have a harder time using them.  I think most art yarns work better in weaving.  Since I no longer loom weave and these yarns don't suit my style of tapestry making, I'm caught up with knitting many samples, but few projects which use my designer yarns effectively.  I've been planning projects for SOAR; I'm determined to have at least one item made from art yarns to take along.

Last week, I came across a "scarf" in a store.  That scarf was made from alpaca yarns and held together with a crochet binding.  I use the terms "scarf" and "made" loosely, because these accessories were nothing more than a skein of plain yarn, in a variety of colours, wrapped for a few inches at a single point on the skein (probably to cover the knot) with a contrasting yarn.  Retail price: $45.  The yarn resembled Diamond Luxury Baby Alpaca Sport, which retails for about $16 per skein.

All right for you, I thought.  Now, I know what I can do with at least one skein of yarn.  Not only that, my trendy "scarf" will be unique, cutting edge and very fashion forward.  It will be more eye-catching than those froufrou scarves which are currently fashionable and which, at my height, or lack thereof, make me resemble a wayward clown.

It took me about a half hour to wrap my selected designer skein.  (That's because I wrapped her at not one, but two carefully chosen sections.)  I now present to you, Priscilla, in all her glory.  If I was much younger and far more fetching, I'd wear her like this:

I'm not quite that brave, so I'll wear her around my neck:

She actually doesn't look too bad over a dark top.  I'm convinced I'll be the talk of SOAR attendees.  If not, I can unwrap Priscilla and dream up another use for her.  One which might involve actual knitting.  Or perhaps, I'll have to take up loom weaving again.


Monday, 10 September 2012

On the Road Again: Always Be Prepared

We're on our way to BC, again, for a visit with the younger DD's.  Last year, I was stranded in a campground with no spinning or knitting projects and no fibre shops to be found.  Not this time: this trip, I'm well prepared.  This is my "in the truck" bag:

My hand spun wrap is spilling out of the top of my Namaste Laguna bag. (I bought this bag when they first came on the market and I've never regretted it.  It's been everywhere with me, holds a huge stash of stuff, fits under an airline seat and still looks brand new.) Next to it, barely in sight, is my Noro yarn, 3 balls of  Karuta, so that I can start another wrap when the current one is finished.  Next to that is a bag of colourful soy silk, ready to spin on a KCL interchangeable spindle.  (I'm taking that spindle so that I can spin from my stash and sample any fibre I may find.)  On the right side of the bag is a batt of wool, silk and yarn remnants I blended, which I'm spinning on my Hatchtown spindle.  (Sorry, Edward, the Tabachek spindles are too precious to take on a camping trip!)

Inside the bag are my iPod, camera and drawing materials.  The drawing and painting supplies fit in a zippered pencil case, which holds postcard size watercolour paper, a travelling paintbox, water pens and a stash of drawing supplies for sketching in the truck.

Just in case that's not enough, I have my two tahklis, miniature spindling bowls, and a supply of brown cotton bolls stored in the trailer, along with a couple of books, for my evening entertainment.  No bouts of camping boredom for this gal on cold, rainy nights.  I hope.

It's a good thing that Mr. DD travels light, with a sports bag and copies of the London Review of Books.  Between me and Morris (who, of course, must be well supplied), our tiny trailer is well-stocked and well-insulated.  Off we go!


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Copycat: Reproducing Commercial Yarns

Commercial yarns are filled with endless possibilities for inspiring hand spinners.  I've spent a summer trying to reproduce the amazing colours and textures of Noro yarns.  (I came close, but no cigar.)  Commercial yarns were a starting point for the art yarns I spin.  I don't try to duplicate commercial yarns; I use them as starting points to decide how a particular fibre should be dyed, spun and fabricated.

Lately, I've been looking at my Manos del Uruguay stash, whose gorgeous hand and wonderful colours also inspire me.  This is a little wrap I made years ago from Mano Clasica Space Dyed yarn:

It's reversible, can be worn back to front, with the straight edge at the front or like a poncho:

Manos Clasica is a singles, and uses Corriedale or similar wool breeds. It's fairly soft, but sturdy. The colours don't stripe dramatically, at least when I've knit them, but they don't pool a lot, either.  It knits at between 3.5 to 4.5 stitches per inch (4 stitches per inch in this wrap) and has approximately 138 yards per 100 gram skein.  I used 280 grams of yarn for this wrap, about  400 yards.

I spun the yarn for this project on my Lendrum Jumbo Flyer.  I had 215 grams of fibre; at 240 metres, this yarn is bulkier than the Manos, knitting up at 3.5 stitches per inch on 5 mm needles.  (For most knitters, a 6 mm needle would work well, but I knit so loosely that I had to frog my first attempt and go down several needle sizes.)  My singles is spun from Blue-Faced Leicester wool, which is much softer and slightly fuzzier than the Manos wool. I know this wrap will be smaller; I've saved enough yarn for the collar and the bottom edging.  One of the nice things about this project is that you can knit until you run out of yarn and no one is the wiser.

I dyed the top with Jacquard dyes, using a sprinkle dyeing technique in a crammed dye pot of simmering water.  I wanted softer colours than my first wrap, so I took my inspiration from my neighbour's back alley flower bed.  She grows these ornamental cabbages every year and I make a point of photographing them in the late summer/early fall:

I focused attention on the purples, adding just a touch of browns and greens.  The pinks and oranges blended from the dyes I used to mix the other colours. 

We're heading out on a road trip soon; I need simple projects for the journey.  This one fits the bill--I can knit her on my Knitter's Pride circular interchangeable needles, so I don't annoy the driver with sticks poking at him or have to go fishing for a straight needle (or worse yet, a double pointed sock needle) between or under the seats.  Morris, who is going along, will not think I'm playing a game of "chase the stick" while we're in the truck.  The knitting is easy, with 4 increases every other round, a fancy cast off edging and a neck to be decided at the end:

Simple knitting for what we hope is an easy journey.