Fear of the Scissors, Or Trying Not to be Too Precious About This…

DSCN1040My father would say, when working on some project or another, “You have to be smarter than the hammer.” You could take that a number of ways I guess but for me, it reduced the anxiety around the work being done. Those words gave the project a bit of perspective. Now, my dad was a bit famous for his improvised repair work. Ask my sister about the mud flaps he added to her car when she was a teenager. They worked, oh yes they did – but to an image conscious teenager enormous piano hinged flappy things on the back of her cute little car were a burden to bear. Mom and I were talking about family last night, and that conversation reminded me of these things.

I have seen enormously talented people become paralyzed by the perceived need for perfection. (I go the other way, I can be selectively blind to sloppy workmanship on my part just to get something done. There is of course a middle way with this.)

Anyhow, even when the delight in making something makes me want to hang onto it, to not cut it or otherwise risk finishing a piece is an error, at least for me. I try to think of my dad’s perspective. “I have got to be smarter than the yarn.”

The cloth made from the three cottons is pretty. I sewed together a basic vest, and absolutely don’t care for it. Not a catastrophe because it was a simple pattern, three rectangles really. So, fussing around with a smaller piece I made yet again a small pouch. Lined it with fleece fabric from some leftovers from years ago and stuck a button on it. Seems the cloth prefers that. OK then.

We have had a stretch of cold (ish) weather around here, getting below freezing. Walks are a joy.

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Frozen droplets in the park.

DSCN1025Bits of snow in the rain forest.

Off the Loom, a Lesson in the Properties of the Cloth

DSCN1023So, I had certain plans for this cloth. It is fresh off the loom, wet finished in hot soapy water, and then subjected to the dryer. There was about 25% shrinkage in width, but not so much in length, which was interesting. Initially, I thought this would be an article of clothing, maybe a kimono style jacket or a simple tunic. I don’t sew much but as I said last post, straight seams are becoming more acceptable all the time with practise. I had to reconsider though, when I took a closer  look at the cloth. The wet finishing made the open weave close up a bit, but being all cotton it remains a fairly drapey, open material. For it not to sag and grow, it would have to be lined and even then, the weight of the fabric might just be too much. Strangely, although it is very soft, it consistently feels cool to the hand. Not something to keep one warm then. It is a very pretty “tweedy” cloth as the weft was a hand painted yarn but the strong brown stripes would have to be arranged vertically to avoid any garment making the wearer look a bit like a semi trailer truck. I guess maybe not a garment after all. Marination time! Something will come of this, it just takes a bit of time to sort out. It was very enjoyable to weave, and to try to learn to look clearly at the properties of the result and come up with (hopefully) a good use for this.

To freshen the palate I started knitting up some of the hand spun I did this winter. The fibre is a souvenir from one of our trips and was a mystery roving. I do know it was processed beautifully, had a long staple, was a light and dark gray combed together in some way, and was local to where we were visiting in Idaho. The yarn is a worsted firmly twisted three-ply, about aran weight. It was a joy to spin and the resulting yarn is bouncy and lively. The flash kept consistently flattening out the cables in the photos of this vest, but in person the three-ply makes the cables pop rather nicely. Fun, fun, fun.

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From the park near our house. Things love to grow here!

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Put in the Hours (Or Adventures in Plain Weave Continue)

I had a minor epiphany a few days ago. My friend K gave me a loom this summer, a 32 inch ashford rigid heddle. This kind of loom is ideal for a small space, easy to warp and fun to use. Now, I am a beginner weaver, and part of what has drawn me to weaving is the gorgeous work of some of the people in the guild. (It’s a weavers and spinners guild, but the weavers outnumber the ones who primarily spin by a great margin. Some of these people have been weaving since the 1960’s and their work is both utterly impressive and daunting for a newbie.) The rigid heddle seems to be a bit of a poor cousin in the loom world, and one feels like a bit of a cliché – part of the recent pack of knitters who become spinners who start to weave. And the epiphany hit – Who cares!! To learn a skill means put in the hours. Do it and do it again. Remember how intimidating the spinning wheel was? So, in terms of weaving, and in terms of sewing too, put in the hours. If I can sew straight lines over and over, eventually they will be really straight. And what exactly is one trying to do with these activities? I can buy my friend a pair of socks. But when I want to express my gratitude for that friend’s existence in my life, do I wander down to Sport Check and pick up a four pack of cotton tubes? Nope. And yet the object, the hand knit pair of socks will end up doing the same function. So there is something else going on, and boy am I good at stating and re-stating the obvious.

Ah well, at least these activities keep me off the streets…

And I can’t believe how pretty plain weave done with fingering, DK and worsted yarns can be. Especially how the handspun works. I could do this for a long time and not get bored.

DSCN1014Cotton boucle weft, cotton DK weight warp. Plain weave, over and over.

DSCN1013Straight line sewing – putting together squares.  Handspun weft, a variety of warps in the pieces. Straight seams, over and over (and some of them are actually really straight)

Keep putting in the hours.

Steveston Temple in the Fog

2013. The fog rolled in at around midnight, to welcome the new year I guess. As a result our busy city feels very quiet. DSCN1001The Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas is behind the main Buddha Hall at the Steveston Temple. In the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas there is a shrine set up to the Medicine Buddha. As we walked into this clear, clean space it struck me forcefully, the numbers of prayers uttered at those kneeling benches.

I didn’t take photos of the shrines, they ask you not to and it would have felt an intrusion anyway. Lots of families at the temple today. I imagine for some it is an obligation, for others an act of faith. It doesn’t really matter too much.

DSCN0995Guardian at the entrance to the temple.

DSCN1000Panel from one of the walkways.

No New Years resolutions, just good wishes to all for the upcoming months.

DSCN0999Meditation hall behind the main Buddha Hall. A cold foggy day.