One Yarn, Three Techniques

The yarn my friend gave me, all 9 kilometres of it (!) is kind of fun to learn with. The yarn would be classified as vintage I think, the label is yellowed and the colour invokes the ’70’s.

Using this stuff has been extremely helpful in learning a few things, with little investment of money or having to use my “good stuff” from the stash. The name of the yarn is La – Mieux Rustique, so I presume it is from Quebec. It is labelled “pure virgin wool,” “laine canadienne” (canadian wool) and each cone has 8 ounces of singles on it.  It is a singles, highly twisted as you can see from the fringes after washing, and kind of indestructible. I worried it might be weak and prone to breaking as a singles. Nope, this stuff has withstood everything thrown at it. When washed, the odour reminds me of some kind of petrochemical, it is kind of awful, but thankfully this goes away after it dries. I may not want to know what it is coated with, the label just says “moth proof”. Those were the days. Better living through chemicals! Still good for experimenting and learning.

On the four shaft loaner loom I did a length of  rose path, using some lace weight merino as weft, warped at 18 ends per inch. Somehow, a good wash and steam blocking it three times with the iron softened this piece immensely. It is almost next to skin soft. As the other pieces did not soften so much the weft seems to have been a big contributing factor.

IMG_0348The loaner loom had a very small weaving area and I discovered that off the loom there is a line that clearly shows where I advanced the warp. Hmm. That’s good to know about. The tension differences showed up very clearly and it doesn’t look like anything I do in terms of blocking and steaming will change that. Still, it made a pretty piece of cloth, and it demonstrates an area to be mindful of in the future.

Now this was the 3/1 lace done on the rigid heddle loom, with two heddles making the warp 15 ends per inch. I used the same yarn for the weft and it is pretty rough to the touch. It fulled together a fair bit too, so the open lace effect is pretty much gone. It has left the fabric with an interesting texture however. (Gah, the colour, it is giving me flashbacks to high school!)


The last piece is kind of fun. I again used the rigid heddle  and did this piece Saori style. The warp was 7.5 ends per inch and I used a combination of leftover embroidery floss doubled as the weft. I wanted to achieve the sense of waves, after some recent trips to Galiano and Vancouver Island. The fabric was forcefully beaten up after it was off the loom – washed, agitated, into hot and cold water and a bit of time in the dryer. It needed to firm up as the initial fabric was loose and “sleazy” (see, the terminology is just tripping off my lips. I guess I am becoming a weaver.) This piece is going to have some surface embellishment, but I am not sure yet on what that will be – so far, the cat is the surface embellishment of choice.


Just try to block anything in this house – knitting or weaving. It comes with cat hair for some strange reason.

So lots of information for me to process in these pieces. I hope to use these fabrics in some way too, having purchased some simple sewing patterns that could be adapted to hand-woven fabric. (Another bit of learning on the horizon. A couple of the patterns have curves in them – moving on from sewing straight lines. Whoo hoo.) One yarn giving lessons in warp tension, how the fabric changes with fulling, working with cotton and wool together, creating movement. This has been a very fruitful series of weaving for this beginner.

IMG_0292This photo is from a recent trip to Vancouver Island, taken in Goldstream Provincial Park. Is there any doubt this is a rainforest?


I think, if we have the luxury of time to watch, that we can get a glimpse of some of the rhythms of the natural world. We spent the weekend on Galiano Island, Grant working on the van, finishing up the cabinets, and me going for walks. (It’s great to be the dingbat assistant. I help when I can but mostly I was left to my own devices.) The van looks great by the way, it is kind of ingeniously designed to allow two adults to live in for camping and hiking, and yet looks just like an ordinary cargo van on the outside.

IMG_0216It is designed to be completely self-sufficient – there is even room for a biffy, should that be required. It is hard to tell in the photo, but Grant has created a space to cook in, room for a cooler full of food, and at night, the bed folds out to sleep the two of us. All that remains is to give it its first test run. Soon!

Back to the rhythm thing. Our city is a wonderful place to live, it really is. And sometimes the body needs to just sit and feel the rotation of the earth in order to get some rest. And that is a bit harder to do in the city, at least for me. Not impossible, of course not, being still can happen anywhere, but I find real nourishment in being in the natural world,  in being able to catch the rhythm of my own breath.


This is the view from Mount Galiano, overlooking Active Pass. We finally had some sun.

Stumbled upon on one of my walks.


The hands are still resting so no knitting again this week. However,  one can only sit so still – I had to hand a bit of dish cloth cotton and some dried grasses. It felt like play. It’s an impermanent souvenir of the weekend I guess.


Ironic, and the Toes of a Coot

It is a bit ironic that my office is located on the boundary of one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Canada. You see, the work I do takes me into some of the most economically disadvantaged parts of town. We leave what I have dubbed the “Fortress of Solitude” beside its neatly manicured yards and drive to home visits where the manicure, shall we say, has been a thing of the past. One clue that we have found the right address is often the garden. Where in the past the lawn and shrubs were a point of pride, or the grapevines tended for the making of home-made wine, we might see that the weeds and moss have overtaken. We are often picking our way through debris to find the front door, and sometimes even when we are in the home itself. It is no small thing to maintain a house in good health, quite another when one is frail. One of the satisfactions of my job is when we can broker a bit of assistance – not to make the place neat and tidy, that is beside the point, rather to assist a bit in maintaining the person safe in that home. Neat gardens are an esthetic we don’t worry about. Isolation, loss of independence and health are factors we can work with, if the person wants or is not too sick to survive without some kind of help. The work we do is a constant ethical challenge – it is easy to make assumptions about what is best for the person based on such things as “can they manage the yard” and it behooves us to try to see it from another’s point of view, not just our own. Makes for some pretty interesting, challenging discussions at times. I wouldn’t want it any other way.


At this house, the crocuses have spilled out of the garden, into the front lawn and onto the median of the street. There are swathes of blooms up and down the block all starting from this once tidy bungalow. I was predisposed to like the occupant from this alone! (It is all working out OK. I imagine this block would be much diminished if the house’s occupant were to have to leave. Hopefully not any time soon.)

I thought about weaving today, then thought better of it because the sun was out. Off to the bird sanctuary to see who was around.

IMG_0178Sandhill crane. I overheard someone saying there are several that are now resident at the sanctuary.

IMG_0181It is the height of rudeness to laugh at another species and their toes. Maybe the lady coots think those feet are the sexiest things ever. The feet of a coot are described as “lobular”. Yup, they certainly are that!

IMG_0179I anthropomorphize and really shouldn’t, but isn’t this little mama mallard kind of sweet?

The bird sanctuary is a joyful place to visit. I overheard a young kid say to his dad: “I want to stay here all day, even when it gets dark!” I can relate.

Warp and Woof?

Warp and Woof was the name of a now defunct group that a few members of my sangha attended for a while. (Sangha, in this definition is a group of people studying the path of Buddhism, in this case our local congregation.) “Woof” is interchangeable for the weaving term “weft”, though you don’t see it used so much, it is a bit archaic I suppose. I heard the term “the warp and woof of our lives” used in a Dharma talk and it stuck with me. (A Dharma talk is when someone, a teacher, talks about how to live by Buddhist Precepts.) Anyhow, the name seemed to fit, both the old group of mostly women who studied the Dharma together, and who happened to also ply some kind of fibre craft and for what Sunshine and I talked about when we planned this little blog. For one reason or another the warp and woof group eventually faded away. It didn’t end acrimoniously, it just wasn’t needed any more I guess.

Warp and woof – the intersection of all the facets of our lives.

So anyhow.

We had a meditation at our house today and M., a friend who teaches a good part of the year in India, near Ladakh, brought these as a gift.

IMG_0126Aren’t they great? I suspect they are acrylic, given that synthetics are being used instead of wool in many of the traditional crafts, but they are made in an old-fashioned way. They are so vibrant and fit perfectly. Knitting is so forgiving of shape, the toes and heel hug my foot perfectly. Given their likely acrylic nature I won’t wear them in shoes as they won’t last under friction, but save them for house slipper wear. So pretty.

Personal knitting projects are on hold, hopefully temporarily. Hand pain has been creeping in, and is a reminder to take care of those most important tools. I hope this is a transient phenomenon, it is a new one, so maybe a good rest will do the trick. Luckily weaving doesn’t seem to bother my poor old thumbs at all so that is continuing. Braveheart approves.

IMG_0115Rose path on the loaner loom. Such a noisy loom. I am told some people quite like the crash of the heddles. When, and oh yes, it seems to be when, I get a multi shaft loom, nylon heddles for sure. I plan to warp up the rigid heddle loom after this sampler is done, part of the comparison of the two ways to weave. So much to learn.

I am not the only one fascinated by warp and woof. This was clearly deliberately done, seen the other day on my regular neighbourhood walk.