Focus?

This was supposed to be the year I would focus on getting projects done. The plan is already running amuck!

I just returned from teaching at a fiber retreat at Insel Haus. This photo is the view from where we worked:

The morning this photo was taken was incredible. It went from rain to sleet to flakes nearly the size of a tennis ball in minutes. The huge flakes are what I was attempting to capture here. Not the most beautiful photo, but certainly good inspiration for sitting around the fire, staying cozy and playing with fiber!

While at Insel Haus, in addition to teaching, I worked on a number of projects. This is my first ever stab at tablet weaving. I used 5/2 mercerized cotton and experimented with density, patterning, tension, body position and more. I followed instructions written by Pam Howard in a back issue of WeaveZine – very simple and they made sense to me. I’m ready to start a new project – this very, very long warp reinforced that I get bored easily!

Another project I began on the island is one in preparation for an upcoming class on Shetland Lace. It is a scarf from a book that we just received in the shop. It is simply a pattern book – no history, no how-to – that has been republished. You know it is authentic when you look at where it was published: Lerwick, Shetland! The yarn I am knitting with was hand-carded and spun for me as a birthday present. A really luxurious custom blend – camel, yak, cashmere, silk and merino plyed with commercial silk – about 1,000 yards in all (thank you, Maureen!). The scarf pattern is giving me fits, so, I need to do what I tell my students: practice until you learn the pattern. I do not like white knuckle knitting. The beginning and ending lace patterns (not the border) are knitted lace. Every row has yarn overs. Even tho’ the pattern is a simple repeat of only six stitches and I don’t have a problem establishing the rhythm, I don’t yet see exactly how the rows relate to each other. When it is intuitive, I’ll work on it again. For now, I’ll be swatching!

I also spent time on the island working on my tapestry weaving. This is a practice “swatch” for my COE in Weaving. Becca and I have been spending most Monday afternoons since September with Mollie Fletcher (the CCS weaving instructor) working on tapestry. It has been fun learning how to do it and a pleasure getting to know Mollie. For the COE you must be able to weave a circle, triangle and square. So that’s what I started to work on after some initial experimenting based on the sampler in the Glasbrook, Tapestry Weaving book. Over the fall we watched two Nancy Harvey tapestry DVDs and found them a big help, too. Mollie has a background in tapestry, so she’s been able to lend confidence and guidance to Becca and I. All in all, I’m glad that I’ve taken a stab at this. Next? I’m not sure, but I’m thinking on it!

Another recent (but non-island) project was for Mariah. She asked me to make her a pair of Bella mittens. Bella is one of the main characters in the Twilight movie (and series of four books) that teens are currently ga-ga over. I figured that if she sought out a knitting pattern and expressed even the least bit of interest, I should respond. So, between Christmas and New Year’s I made these from a pattern on the Subliminal Rabbit blog. I used Kathmandu Aran yarn and they knit up FAST! Mariah was tickled with the result and that is the best part of all. Any time you can please a teen daughter, life is good!

Then, right before Christmas Ryan, our newest young-person employee, asked for a pair of handknit mittens, “the ones that the top opens.” So, being the soft touch that I can sometimes be, I started them when I finished Mariah’s.  They are rolling along, but  had to go on brief hiatus until I saw Ryan. Thankfully, the first one can now be finished and I can march on the second one with confidence. We just measured and his hands are almost identical to the size of mine. That sure makes it easy. Give me a good long evening and a couple movies and they’ll be done. This yarn is Shepherd’s Wool. I don’t have a pattern, just knitting along and creating as I go. The second one will undoubtedly take longer than the first since I need to make them match!

Speaking of Ryan, he kindled an interest I’ve had for years in making pottery. So, right before Christmas I tried my hand at “escaping” in clay. It was wonderful! These pots represent my very first attempt. I’m happy with them and while I was working on them I didn’t think about work or fiber or anything except learning about a different kind of wheel than I usually work with. It was a real treat.

What a joy it has been working on these varied projects. It will be fun to see what 2009 has in store!

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