One Fibre – Three Techniques

What to do with that bag of roving? The one that you think, “what on earth made me purchase this?” The one with the somewhat insipid colourway, the one that doesn’t really spark inspiration. Well, it turned out to be a good purchase after all.

It’s perfectly fine, really. A bit on the felted side from being stuffed in its bag too long. And it is Blue Faced Leicester, that fine and longish wool that spins so easily. And perhaps it is good to address my bias against pink.

I cracked The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs, which is a beautifully laid out study of various kinds of yarns and set about improving my skill set.

First – the cable yarn. Four ply and lots of wow factor if you pay attention. This skein is far from perfect but in spots the cable really bounced itself together as I plied. I learned that it is OK to over ply, and when you think it is twisted enough, let it twist a bit more. One knows it intellectually but it is hard to break the habit of not over spinning the singles. I think some of this might become funky shoe laces for grey ankle boots. Maybe with a bead or two on the end?

IMG_1758And then, it was the spiral crepe – deliberately spinning a thick singles plied with a thinner two ply. I loved this! Ignore the colour differences, the day was very overcast and the red background – oh lots of reasons for wonky pictures, anyhow its the technique I wanted to document.

IMG_1761It looks a bit beaded doesn’t it? Fun. Maybe a scribble lace scarf for this to keep the structure front and centre. We shall see.

Finally because intentional spinning is what I aim for – the thick singles yarn, consistent rather than thick and thin. A bigger challenge than one would think. One hears how hard it is to go back to thicker spun yarns after learning to spin thin and while I wouldn’t say it is difficult, it does require focus. No autopilot here.

IMG_1821This batch is a tad overspun so it will live on the niddy noddy for a couple of days.

That bag of unremarkable roving turned out to be a lot of fun. Perhaps a good goal is to work through the Yarn Design book. I don’t do new years resolutions but documenting some ideas here might spur on a project.

Lighting a Small Candle

Even here in “lotus land” as the rest of the country sometimes calls the west coast, you can feel the darkness of the season, the shortness of the days. I have been told that the rituals of light that are done are a small gesture against the coming of the darkest day, and within them the hope and gratitude that the light will return. It’s a leap of faith to sit in the dark and wait for the glimmer in the east.  For some people this season is harder than for others. Some associate this time of year with loss and with fear – for instance my friend who had a biopsy yesterday. It will more than likely be fine, but she waits, even as she prepares the holiday meals and visits with the family from out-of-town. I have touched on the offering of merit before, and have been humbled and grateful to be on the receiving end. It is compassion and it is the antidote to helplessness and to fear. Everyone does it, regardless of what we call it.

IMG_1755So, in our house what happens is a lamp is lit and a stick of incense is offered. Its offered to one waiting for the angiogram, who feels the pull in her chest. Its offered to the young woman who struggles with her body and its betrayal with its baffling symptoms, for the loved father who has his surgery Friday,  and for the loved man who lives with daily pain, who waits. And because we are all in this together, the offering of merit is broader than that of course, it is offered to all beings who suffer. So it seems, on the days before the darkest one, the smell of incense is permeating our house.

Found Objects

ImageThis has travelled bit. Hopefully its owner isn’t too upset at its loss. From the wander at Crescent Beach this past weekend.  There is always something interesting. This was clearly propped up by other wanderers. (This beach is not likely to receive much debris from the Japanese tsunami, there are many landforms between here and there. At least that is what local media are saying around stuff washing up on the beaches of the gulf islands and Vancouver Island. The bike’s travels likely started out much more locally.)

While yet one more knitted hat blocks and dries, a look into the stash bin revealed some woven bits that were waiting to be made into something. I found some stuff from back at the beginning of my rigid heddle play.

IMG_1749A quick zip of the sewing machine and this strip of plain weave cotton fabric becomes six wash cloths. Warp is…something…weft is hand spun organic cotton, done up as a two ply. Very soft, next to skin soft. Hopefully they will continue to shrink as they are washed – other experiments in plain weave and cotton seem to do so.

IMG_1752A bit of saori style weaving with different remnents of handpsun wools and silks. Turning it into a cowl minimizes the various width and gauge changes – sheer luck that the piece was just the right size. I blame Mason -Dixon Knitting for reviving the cowl idea. While this might be a gift, I keep wearing it around the house…

Another found item – a very simple recipe for rosemary and olive oil shortbread. This might be the perfect activity for another cold day here. Not just winter coming, oh yes, that holiday, oh what’s it called? It’s on its way too…

Winter is Coming! (make a blanket, quick)

Image 5Sorry, too many episodes of Game of Thrones apparently. A series which has lost its charm for me actually. Too much gore, too many killings, just too much. Anyhow, Grant took this recently on a local hike and I couldn’t resist.


Off the loom, it is about four metres of 40 cm wide yardage. Not quite big enough on its own to be a blanket but I will finish the ubiquitous blue up completely making a couple of panels to sew on to it. It’s an easy point twill, (hard to make out I know) and should be a warm cover. It may benefit from lining it with some fleece maybe, that remains to be seen. I have vigorously washed and blocked it and it stood up very well. There is a slow food movement? This is slow fabric. Fun.

Still with the birds. Our unusual, but not unheard of, cold snap has continued, with accompanying clear bright skies. Today at Crescent Beach the ducks filled the ocean, hundreds and hundreds of them, murmuring to themselves. We had never seen anything like it. I guess the ponds are frozen over. Mallards and wood ducks were what we made out, there may have been other kinds too.

IMG_1735Kind of an inadequate photo, too bad.

Lots of these fellow too, charging up and down the shore. Amazing how few people out today, I guess this is cold for here. (The rest of the continent, socked in with blizzards gives us a razzberry. )


Flat Winter Light

DSCN1250My friend and I drove to Dragon Flower Mountain last weekend. It is about a three-hour drive but we took a bit longer. My friend’s son, who came with us, likes to stop at the Hope skateboard park and we leave him there while we buy food offerings for the monastic community. We also stopped at the Alexandra Bridge Park in the Fraser Canyon to stretch our legs a bit. This is part of the old gold rush route into British Columbia’s interior. The park was closed but it was just a hop over the concrete barriers to wander down to the bridge itself. This is a view of the Fraser River from the bridge.  We were driving towards those snowy hills. A whole different world from the rainy south coast.  Looking back, the Fraser River has featured many times on the blog. The river itself is part of what defines this whole region. It is a food source, a transportation route, a living element of the landscape that connects vast parts of the province. It’s the route we followed as we drove to see our extended Sangha. The river makes a nice metaphor, no?

DSCN1255Ghost like in the winter light. The bridge is for walkers only now. It can be seen from the main highway as it winds around the mountains. It is not ideally placed as a spot to stop – not far enough from our lunch place, stopping stretched our trip from three hours to five but well worth it.

DSCN1265Knitting the stash continues. To prevent brain implosion I am working on a scarf instead of yet another hat. This is the Irish Hiking Scarf, an easy free one from Ravelry. Perfect for bouncy handspun. I can see the bottom of my yarn bin, it’s so very exciting. Unlike the photo – thanks to the flat winter light the knitted objects are pretty ho-hum compared to real life. There is weaving off the loom too but every picture was so incredibly uninspired I will not subject those who look here to it. When the light is better…?June.