Weaving Naturally

From around my town. This woven fence holds back the encroaching blackberry bushes, which thrive in our climate and are not always welcome. What an interesting and earth friendly way to do it.

And from today’s walk out at Crescent Beach. Grant got a spot to lay in the sun and I went for a good long walk. We met up with our coffee and scones and watched the birds and the ocean – a wonderful morning. The pictures below are from my meanderings, to a bird refuge near where we sat.

When the sun comes out in the winter here we all run to take advantage. This “egg” warns walkers to be aware of birds who may be living on the open grassy bits. I saw a sign saying that in spring there can be nests. What a skillful way to remind us that we share the space!

One of the slow moving projects is complete. The yarn I raved about last post bloomed in a very lovely way when this was washed and blocked. Pure wool, with some hand spun mohair warp, with a bit of leftover cotton too. The yarns fulled at a slightly different rate when the stole, (it’s a stole now, not a blanket) was washed but it doesn’t show when in use.  The browns are heathered, there are little bits of orange and blue in there that don’t show up in the photo, it is a very pretty fabric.

Adventures in plain weave. These could go on a while. (And the Pi Shawl, gah. There are about 37 more repeats to go, of a total of 88. Getting a bit cross – eyed with this one, I am.)

Slow Moving Projects, and a Favoured Yarn

In recent days in our house we have had the luxury of time to slow down a bit, and this is reflected in my projects. The Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi shawl is at the edging stage, which involves knitting an edging onto 576 live stitches in increments of 7. It may take a bit of time. It’s a cliché with lace knitters, that observation that the bumpy bag of knitting transforms into something lovely with blocking. I too am completely charmed by this process and am really looking forward to seeing it complete. One of these days.

There is always the question of what to do with those one of a kind skeins of hand spun. This shawl is made from yarns spun into roughly light to heavy fingering weight. The finished shawl will not be an ethereal piece of gossamer, not at all, rather it likely fits the category of a “warm shawl”, (maybe like a lap blanket if the size is big enough…) There is some merino, some merino and bamboo blend, some merino and silk, all fibres that caught my eye from various sources this past year.

The other slow-moving project is a beginner one. Weaving is new territory and like many other people seem to find, the rigid heddle loom is the gateway drug. A friend gave me her 32″ loom when she was clearing space, (for another loom I believe, she is down the rabbit hole a bit before me and we compare notes along the way.) I have been experimenting with vaguely Saori techniques, and with how various bits of plain weave look and it is so much fun.

The warp is a tad sticky so I am using the wooden beater rather than the heddle to beat the weft, which while workable is kind of painstaking. That’s OK – podcasts are listened to, the cats come to visit and copious amounts of tea are consumed. Not too bad I would say.

The yarn is Briggs and Little which is wonderful, my absolute favourite yarn.  They are a Canadian business out of New Brunswick, and I am always pleased to find them carried in my yarn store travels. The yarn lasts – it doesn’t pill, it softens with wear and best of all, it is reminiscent of sheep! (I went to a craft show last week, and there was a vendor selling sweaters from the east coast. I knew I was a fibre maniac when I told my friend, “I know what yarn these are made from by the smell!” And they were gorgeous.) Anyhow, lets see how it weaves up, and how long this takes. I warped up what I hope is enough for half a blanket so this may be a while.

This gift of time is really something. To live in a big city and just slow down a bit, something to try to emulate when “normal life”, whatever that means, resumes.

Still Looking at the City, Favoured Knit and Remembrance Day

The unofficial “looking at this city with fresh eyes” project is still going on, with no real end date in sight. It’s been fun, not to mention has contributed to the lessening of a general sense of restlessness over the past couple of years. We often think there is someplace better than where one is at – at least I do, quite regularly. It sometimes takes a shift of focus, or life itself giving a nudge to remind that it really isn’t better anywhere than right here.

This guy has such natural dignity. He (or she for that matter, how do you tell on a sleepy heron?) was sitting quietly on a fish boat when I walked by and I couldn’t resist. This is from the New Westminster Quay again, from a sunny respite from rain a couple of days ago.

As I wrote before, the Fraser is a working river and seeing tugs is a common sight.

On the knitting front the Pi Shawl is still chugging along. It doesn’t look like much now, as all lace does, kind of a lumpy mass so I won’t bother posting a picture. The colder weather made me haul out some sweaters though, and I found this, my first sweater made from scratch, from my earliest handspun.

Technically, this is no masterwork, to say the least. The fibre is a mystery to me, I wasn’t choosing with discrimination back in the day. Soft, shortish fibres of some sheep or other. The thick two ply yarn is pilling like mad, and it is clear that I ran out of the brown and had to fill in with a blend I had on hand. Too many buttons! Saggy button holes and button band, that lumpy stretched out ribbing…It is easy to fall into criticizing but to tell the truth I can’t stay in that attitude. Sure, I wear this only in the house, but until it falls apart, it will get good love. The fair isle was spun with yarns from a dye class, and the yellow, dyed with lichen smells incredibly good, especially as it warms to body heat. This was my very first steek and this project made it clear that steeking is not only easy, it is actually fun. Cutting one’s knitting is not the huge deal it can be made out to be. And while the fit is, well, awkward, for my body type, this sweater is warm and soft, and actually works well as long as baggy pyjama or sweat pants are worn with it, finished with woollen socks. Does it get better than that on a winter day?

Sunshine was by last night. At one point during dinner the conversation moved to the meaning of Remembrance Day, and why we observe silence to offer compassion to all those who have been killed and effected by war, everywhere. Wouldn’t it be something if Sunshine’s generation saw us get our act together, as a species?

Dizzy in the Rain

The rain theme continues, boy does it ever. We live in a rain forest, no question. In the neighbourhood a walker can observe the water coming straight down from above, and bouncing, yes bouncing, off the ground. This is not the sweet little drizzle of a spring shower, this rain pulls the leaves off the trees and onto the road and houses. This is the short interval before all the leaves drop and the city comes round to clear the drains, and it is kind of magical. The light reflects off the pavement and trees, and the walker feels in a tunnel, with the noise of the rain making the inside of a waterproof hood a closed noisy space. The ground is saturated and shoes are too. The smell of wet dirt and trees is intense and a bit dizzying. Saturated clothing is left at the entrance of the home and it is lovely to change into flannel pyjamas and brew up a chai. And knit, most likely.

The rest of Canada gets to shovel snow off their windshields.

I mentioned in a post before that when I left the north people told me that Vancouver had no seasons. Hmm.

One worrying thing though – if this rain continues the rainforest is going to take over.

Too late. It already is.

Knitting is ongoing, but no pictures yet. Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawl, done in handspun. For a change it will be a real shawl, not a shawlette or scarf, so it is taking some time. I am up to five hundred plus stitches a round – and still on the body of the thing, so it is not fast going. (Maybe a pair of socks on the side for more immediate gratification?)