A Bit of a Random Post

IMG_0110IMG_0104Sarasvati, portrayed here in this statue which was a gift from my teacher is known in both the Buddhist and the Hindu traditions. Her full meaning has more depth than I wish to go into here, (and more depth than I fully understand) but she is associated with a number of characteristics. She is known as a guardian of those who practise the dharma, and is appreciated in particular by those who practise the arts. She is often shown playing a stringed instrument, seated on a lotus. She is associated with flowing water – so many metaphors that point at what we do! Anyhow, this statue sits in the studio/spare room where I fuddle along with my projects. (The Hand of Fatima in the background is not Buddhist, it was also a gift and it seemed to co-exist just fine. If only people would co-exist without worry.) It seems important to carve out a bit of a space, however small and ordinary, to sit and spin and weave in peace. (The knitting goes everywhere.)

Sunshine and I walked the beach in the wind today. The eagles were out in great numbers, we counted at least a dozen soaring in the strong gusts. Sunshine is my sister, a chosen sister. It is, on the surface, not a likely pairing given our age differences and backgrounds. We met through the wonderful organization Big Sisters and by good fortune it has been a great match from the start. I think we both worried – what if we really don’t like each other? That worry fell away pretty quickly.

Mentorship manifests in so many ways and I don’t think we realize the impact a good part of the time. I asked my Aunt H if she remembered an embroidered table-cloth she made for me when I was about 14. She didn’t remember it at all, which is fine, but that little blue checked cloth had a significant impact. It was hand-made. It was made specifically for me, a kid who often felt unseen and awkward. It went from place to place as I moved into the adult world and it was a bit of a wrench when it was finally discarded, stained and well used. It gave an intangible gift along with its simple function.

The Big/Little friendship is reciprocal – it is definitely not one “doing things for” the other. We do activities I might forget to do otherwise – walking on the beach admiring the eagles, and cracking each other up.

IMG_0094There is an experiment going on with the weaving. A friend gave me roughly 9,000 metres of wool singles on cones that she came across. I am not sure how this will wash and feel off the loom but it seemed a good time to stretch a bit and think about looms. The rigid heddle is fast to warp, easy to use and there is a lot of room to move with different warp structures, using pick up and a second heddle. Years of stuff to learn. I like the loaner loom from the class, but am not yet convinced, three warps later, that the fussiness of getting it warped and going is actually worth it for what I wish to make. (It’s noisy too and that may be adversely effecting the joy of use. I know that is a totally fixable issue with swapping out the heddles. Listen to me, I sound like I know what I am talking about!) Anyhow, with this enormous amount of free yarn I can run the two looms sort of simultaneously. I am not committing to anything but this is a good opportunity to see what direction I enjoy best. I am looking forward to finishing up this yardage of 3/1 lace on the rigid heddle. I warped it putting two ends in each hole/slot so it is technically a kind of basket weave I guess. I really hope I can use this for more than yet another scarf. And I promised my husband to not cover every inch of space in our house in cozies.

IMG_0097Garland found at the Punjabi market here. Purchased for no reason other than its sheer exuberance.

Urban Weaving

Our guild had a very interesting guest speaker at the last meeting. An enthusiastic artist, she showcased the Urban Weavers Project, a wonderful idea on many levels.  One of the goals of the project is to use some of the invasive plant species that threaten native ones, and to use them in a sustainable, least harmful way. The community based project allows people to participate in such things as cedar basket weaving, spindle spinning, and natural dyeing. The link goes to a site that I looked at for some time. One looks at the immediate environment in a whole new way.

This is what english ivy does, as one example of an invasive species. Green, lush, and harmful. Dedicated volunteers cull and dry, and some of this end product is used in the weaving projects. I encourage a look at the site, it is quite inspiring.

IMG_0090The other kind of urban weaving,(done by me, here in this city)  is this first project on the loaner loom. The warp is silk, at 18 ends per inch, and the weft is hand spun, a combination of silks and exotic fibres, samples from the spinning workshop last year. I can’t decide if this broken twill fabric will be a scarf or not, it is a bit reminiscent of a 70’s style sofa. I wonder how it will be off the loom and finished. A beginner project for sure, nubbly from the hand spun. It feels very different this working on the four shaft loom after the goofy free wheeling of the plain weave on the rigid heddle. More formal. The analogy I have heard a lot is the difference between baking and cooking. When baking, precise measurements, at least of some very important ingredients, are needed for success. Cooking can be a bit more “loose” – using up what is in the cupboard, tossing it together to see what comes out, more room to improvise. (I don’t cook or bake enough to know if this is a good analogy, it is just a common one!) I am suspending judgement till I get a bit more experience though. Having only done two warps on the four shaft I can’t say I am anywhere near comfort with it. It’s a process.


Speaking of process, this is the month that finds us, Grant and me, back in a more “normal” schedule. Back to work, back to health, back to the day in, day out that has characterized the last few years. Of course there have been changes, some of them profound. Life is just like that. But all is well, “and all manner of things will be well” which is part of a quotation credited to Julian of Norwich. A favourite.

All things change, that is one of the universal truths taught by the Buddha. And really, it is a truth known to anyone, Buddhist or not, who looks closely at things. How much we suffer seems to be in direct proportion to the degree we get that figured out. At least that is how it has been for this knitter.

IMG_0070When I went for my appointments in town this summer, on the counter in the office we placed our appointment cards into a set of hands, just like these ones, only wooden. The very first day, when I saw those hands, in spite of everything, I knew for sure it was OK.

Slow walking

Our neighbourhood, we have been told, is unique. Apparently back in the 70’s the urban planners of the time came up with an idea to create a community that included housing for many different residents. In this little ‘hood we have co-ops, town houses, residential care facilities, and private homes. There are several schools and some homes for those with special needs. In addition to all this, this very people oriented place, we have green space, quite a lot of it. This is kind of wonderful, smack in the middle of the urban bustle that is a modern city, we have a little enclave of green, and (mostly) quiet. It is a community in the real sense of the word. How lucky we are in that from every room in our house we see trees. One winter in the small hours of the morning we watched a pack of coyotes trotting down the path through the woods out back. And just the other night, as I was spinning at the wheel, I could hear our local owl, (all the neighbours comment on this guy) hooting up a storm.

This blog has evolved into a space for nature pics as well as a photographic diary of fibre projects and I took the plunge to get a new camera, one I actually have to learn to use and remember all those principles from that class taken many (many!) years ago. It seems the “seeing the city with fresh eyes” is continuing on. It’s good to stretch a bit with these things.

IMG_0024Not that this is an original idea for a portrait. It was pouring rain so the poor cats had their picture taken about a dozen times. Good thing there is a delete button. Cat’s nose idea freely stolen from about a dozen different knitting blogs.

IMG_0030Spring is in the air today though and a slow walk to try out the camera outdoors was fruitful. Walking for exercise with the headphones on is invigorating and good to do. But a slow meander through the woods behind my house, sans earbuds,  revealed all sorts of things. I found out that crows don’t seem to like their picture taken. (A group memory of having guns pointed their way? I wouldn’t doubt it.) I discovered which bunches of willows the sparrows and the chickadees like to hang out in. I watched a pair of thrushes shove leaves around in the underbrush and a squirrel make a most undignified leap from branch to branch with a large blue piece of ?something in his mouth- a complete goofball, feet flailing. Fun.

Knitting: socks from some sale Kroy yarn. They are fraternal, toe up, short row heel. Not sure I like this construction, though the fit is very good. It may be that I can improve my skills on the toe cast on and the heel and I might like it better.

IMG_0054And it seems inevitable, hanging around all those weavers. A sampler on the four shaft loom brought home from the learn to weave class at Place Des Arts. One step further along the road.

IMG_0015Somebody call my boss and tell him I just have too much other stuff to do…