Friday, July 22, 2016

Another Week That Was

Another week, another tragedy. Sigh. To cheer myself up from the horror, I retreated to the pleasant fantasy that is the Tour de Fleece and attempted ply-on-the-fly...

... using a bit of leftover Zarzuela's Fibers SW Merino, colorway Santa's Coming!

Zarzuela's Fibers SW Merino, colorway Santa's Coming!

It took me a while to get used to the three steps forward, one step back process. So far I like the result well enough, not as sure about the process. I'm going to suspend judgment and spin a bit more.

To pass the time while watching the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, I started my July Camp Loopy project, Simple Straight Skirt by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. Soon I had half a skirt. Much to my surprise, it resembled a reasonable facsimile of a skirt. I'm not sure why I should be surprised, but I am.

Half a skirt

Unhappily, the bad news just kept on coming. During the RNC I received word that a beloved friend and mentor passed away suddenly. Which officially makes this a Rough Patch. Sigh.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Week That Was

It's been a sad, sad, sad week of gun violence across the U.S. Each incident has been more dreadful than the last, culminating in the horror of a bomb robot used to kill a mass shooter who targeted police.

In difficult times, I knit. For Summer of Socks 2016 I finished By the Seine River by Dona Knits, worked in Regia Design Line Jazz Color by Erika Knight, colorway 6454 Kind of Blue. It was an easy, fun knit that really should have been finished much sooner.

By the Seine River FO

And I spin. Project 1 for the Tour de Fleece 2016 is to finish a half-braid of Gale's Art Polwarth, colorway Sweetness & Light. At the beginning of the week it looked like this.

Spindle candy

At the end of the week it looked like this. I randomly spun the first half of the braid, but fractal-spun the second half. The broad strip is on the left spindle, the thin strips are on the right spindle. I'm going to let the singles rest before plying them.

Gale's Art Polwarth fractal-spun singles

Today is one of the tough mountain stages for the TdF. Chilly llamas on the road are a possible additional hazard. I think I must spin up some of my paco-vicuña in their honor.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Prosperous Voyage

On the last day of the month my June Camp Loopy ship has safely come in: behold my 3 Color not-Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli, blocked and styled as inspired by stashmaven.

3 Color Cashmere Cowl, styled

The kindly mods in the Lace Lagoon thread indicated June projects need only be done, and do not require blocking, but I have an aversion to rumpled FOs, especially rumpled lace FOs. At casa Jersey Knitter, blocking is not optional.

3 Color Cashmere Cowl, blocking

That's so much better!

The pattern is simple and well-written – an easy, straightforward, fun knit. As always for me, the challenge is finding sufficient time and motivation to knit. I opted to change the ribbing and not "correct" the jogs at the end of rounds as I find the jogs endearing, the fixes not so much. For the BO I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy BO, but on reflection I kinda wish I'd used a tubular CO and BO for something so close to the face. The interesting alpaca-cotton yarn, Manos del Uruguay Serena, shares many of the best traits of each constituent fiber. I thought it might bloom alpaca-like after washing, but instead it retained the crisp stitch definition of cotton. It should prove to be a comfortable three-season cowl when cowl season comes around.

As long as I was emulating others, I struck a pose similar to the designer's. Let me tell you, it was hot in there!

3 Color Cashmere Cowl, modeled

Suffice to say that as a fashion photog, I'm no threat to Richard Avedon, recently in the news.

Overall, I enjoyed the first month of my first year at Camp Loopy and the company of great mods and congenial fellow-campers. Initially I wasn't sure I wanted to go camping all summer, but June was so pleasant, I'm getting ready for my July project, Simple Straight Skirt by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, using Cascade 220, colorway 4002 Jet. I'm assigned to Gold Pirates.

Yarn for July Camp Loopy project

The July theme is Buried Treasure, that is, a long-queued or long-desired project. I've always wanted to knit a skirt, but somehow never have. Hopefully this is the year!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Yarn the Movie

The raffia bag is finished, except for FO photos. Remiss of me, I know, but I've been in an uncharacteristic hurry to finish the bag and take it on adventures. It went on its first adventure on Friday, to see the movie Yarn at the IFC Theater in NYC. Here's the official trailer:

I arrived a little early, so had plenty of time to take the semi-obligatory photo of the theater marquee. The theater is in NYC's Greenwich Village – if gentle readers recognize the location, you know how hard it was to get such an unobstructed shot.

IFC marquee

That accomplished, I rambled off to Washington Square Park to enjoy the nice summer afternoon. The light was lovely on the Arch, and the park was full of – dare one say thronged with? – people chilling and doing their respective things. ^ Being arch.

Washington Square Arch

Whilst I was drinking in the atmosphere, a mini Pride march went by in advance of the main event Sunday. However small it was in numbers, nonetheless it was complete with signs, banners, flags, chanting, musical instruments, singing, marchers of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and even a serendipitous rainbow in the fountain. It was fabulous. I love NYC.

Mini Pride march

I love the movie too. It's an enjoyable summer flick – light, diverting, even film-festival-y. It features self-consciously poetic narration by Barbara Kingsolver and equally lyrical images of mostly crochet works by artist-activists Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldar, Olek, Tilde Björfors, and Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam. Next to seeing the various artworks and the reactions to them, I especially enjoyed seeing the various processes of construction and installation and how one large installation was frogged (zip!). I was pleased to see how generous one of the artists was in encouraging her collaborators to speak. There was scant exploration of various assertions about the boundaries between art and craft and between artistic and utilitarian, the value or devaluing of women's work, and misogyny in the world of commercial fine arts – or rather, they were presented as self-evident yet radical truths. So film-festival-y.

The Friday evening screening included Q&A with director Una Lorenzen moderated by Vogue Knitting editor Trisha Malcolm (on the left and the right in the photo below – sorry about the blur and the giant head).

Una Lorenzen and Trisha Malcolm

The session was enlivened by a disruptive appearance from the audience by Olek, who declined an invitation to come forward to speak and who (eventually) said she liked the movie. Dunno what that was about, but a whiff of controversy is so very film-festival-y! Una mentioned she'd like to make more movies about yarn artists, a wish that was warmly received. Trisha promised to post additional information on the VK Facebook page.

Overall, I'm glad I saw the movie and would recommend it. Plus it was nice to be with and to chat amiably with fellow crafters. The current screening schedule is online – hope you can make one.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sumer Icummin

Happy Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)! Every year when summer rolls around I find myself craving a smart new straw tote bag. The trusty old and worn canvas tote bags that got me through the fall and winter just won't do. I'd not considered make-your-own, but inspired by knitcole's Rafia Tote Bag, this year desire became a weaving project, with raffia and citrus-y colors and pirates. I must admit the project came together when I saw the whimsical fabric I picked for the bag lining, Robert Kauffman Message in a Bottle, designed by Suzy Ultman.

Pirate-y lining fabric

For the warp I used Just Our Yarn Aziza, 5/2 100% Tencel, in pretty variegated lemonade and limeade tones, part of my MDS&W loot. It's lovely stuff, also very slinky. I didn't attempt to wind it into a ball, but dressed the loom with the yarn still as a hank, which is why the remainder pictured below is in a (now much smaller) hank.

Warp and weft yarns

Dressing the loom took me three days and about 367 yds (336 m) of warp. There were the usual sorts of interruptions and delays, not to mention I find the process tedious in the extreme. Some people say it's meditative. After the dreadful news last week I needed something meditative, but for me this wasn't it. Strange that I'm a process knitter, but an impatient weaver. I tend to think of my woven FOs as intermediate items, precursors for sewing projects. Maybe that's why I don't think to take many pix of my loom or weaving-in-progress (sorry).

For the weft I used Morex Ribbon 100% Rayon raffia. The entire spool, 110 yds (100 m), fit on my stick shuttle in a loose rustling mass. There was lots of aural stimulation, unusual for fiber projects! I wove a few inches before realizing the raffia is a skinny cord when it comes off the spool...

Skinny raffia cord

... but it can be spread into a broad flat ribbon.

Broad raffia ribbon

The fabric looks and drapes much better with the raffia woven in the form of a spread ribbon rather than an unspread cord – the cord is stiff and unstable as weft while the ribbon scrunches down nicely when beaten lightly. I thought about unwinding the shuttle, spreading the raffia, then re-winding the shuttle, but decided it worked better to keep the shuttle wound with rustling raffia cord and to spread only enough for a pic at a time. More tedium. Oh well, I'm happy with the results.

Raffia fabric

The straw bag is shaping well! To be continued....