Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A New Twist of Spinning with a Spindle
Today, my new Spindolyn arrived.  I think the best term to describe it is 'sweet'.  I discovered this sweet spindle on Youtube when I was trying to re-learn how to spin and had decided to start with spindles -- they are slower and you can take your time, before the whirl and wind of a fast spinning wheel.  Here's the video: 
 The spindle has a brass shaft with a whorl and  the brass shaft  sits in a holder where it spins happily away without getting away from you.  This means you can sit and spin.  Think travel.  I could spin in a kayak!  Okay, maybe not, but it would be easy to pack it up and take kayaking with me.  And it spins so beautifully.  Smooth, swift.  Sweet.  Designed and created by  by Catherine Goodwin.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hyperbolic Space - Crochet and Mathmatics

Crocheters have been crochetting up a coral reef and mathmaticians are paying attention.  Take a look at this TED Talk. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Fabric of Technology or the Technology of Fabric

I am a self-confessed geek, so it is natural for me to cruise the Internet looking for fibre resources. It is amazing what is out there now. Blogs of note I have included in the sidebar to the right. And there are some great resources which I will also list on the side bar, but what I didn't expect was such a social networking phenomena to have burst forth. First YouTube, not only can you do a search for say 'warping a loom' but you can create an account and save your favorites in your playlists. I've created playlists for weaving, dying, spinning, etc. Then I can play all the files in each playlist, one after the other. So I put my netbook on the loom or next to the chair and spin or weave away.
But wait, there is more. You soon get to know some of the key video uploaders in your area of interest. Take Roxanne, for instance. She is off the wall and downright wacky, but she strips all pretention out of learning the 'fibre arts' (side note: she would probably call this, ' you know, this yarn stuff') and gets right down to the basics in a, well, a weird and wacky way.  It works, despite the burps, the mistakes, the unpolished production.  It works, and she is good at explaining things.  You gotta like the gal! Check out one of her videos on drum carding.  

You don't know what drum carding is?  It doesn't matter.  You will. 
YouTube has become a social networking site.  You can check out Roxanne's profile and discover all the videos she has uploaded and her other weird and wacky hobbies - computer games.  You can sign up to be her friend, and keep an eye on her uploadings.  

Then there is Ravellry.  It's for knitters and crocheters and althought they might only suspect it, for those with FOCD (Fibre Obsessive Compulsion Disorder).    If you are one of these, get your self an account and use it to track your stash!  No kidding, they even encourage you to take a snapshot of those fibres hidden in boxes all over the house and put them on virtual display!  You may want to use a pseudonym for this!  You can also list and show your projects, even projects in the idea stages.  Then there are groups you can join.  I joined the Vancouver Island Spinners,  Spinners Study, Love to Dye, etc.  You can check out other members, become instant friends and keep tabs on their stashes.  
Libotechnophobia - the fear of being anywhere without technology.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The First Spin

I bought pre-dyed sliver roving. 20 years ago you were lucky to find quality fleece and then you had to clean the urine and manure out of it. Times have changed. My mother, sister-in-law and I arrange to have Jeannette open her home-based store HummingBird Fibre Arts. Walls of colour! Blues, greens, reds, yellows. Merino, silk, sea cell, (sea-cell?), tencel, bamboo and it went on. Fibres I had never heard of. Blends, I had never seen blended. And books. Lipobibliophobia. I bought both of Judith MacKenzie McCuin's. After filling my eyes with colour, I used my hands to feel the rovings. I selected a green-yellow-blue roving (or sliver) of 40% Romney, 40% Alpaca, and 20% Tussah Silk. Lipofibrephobia.  I also picked up some blue and white 70%Merino/30%Silk.  And what the heck, a beautiful Tercel electric blue thin thin yarn.  I have no idea why but I had to have it.  FCD (Fibre Compulsive Disorder). 

My first project was to re-learn how to spin, so I used the green-yellow-blue sliver and over the weekend taught myself how to use the drop spindle.  I then moved on to my old Lendrum spinning wheel.  The photo shows the results.  The wooley skein on the right is from the spindle.

Nettles and Alpaca

Last weekend started with a conference on First Nations Traditional Foods.  Talks on Friday, then feasting and playing the bones game Friday night.  Spotted at the display was a dried plant with long stems, dried and looking like hay.  This was dried nettle. Wound onto a short stick, was line, somewhat like fishing line.    Saturday was a traditional food fair at the Snuneymuxw Long House.  Abe, who was studying First Nations root gardens, was cooking up a meal.  Potatoes done in a cedar box of water, heated by placing red hot stomes into the water.  The fire was removed from the pit to make way for ferns and salal which was quickly laid in the pit, vegetables added, more ferns and salal, a bucket of water, burlap and covered with a foot of dirt.  Abe removed the cooked potatoes with a handmade ladle, made of wood, twine made of young willow bark and nettle. 
Someone else had told me earlier that the Saanich First Nations used willow for their reef fish nets.  Judith MacKenzie McCuin (who taught me how to spin years ago) writes about indigenous use of nettles in the introduction of her new book The Intentional Spinner .

lipobibliophobia - the fear of being somewhere without a book.

Sunday, a bike trip along the old Cowichan Valley railway.

But first a stop at
Pacific Sun Alpacas (by lucky co-incidence, just about on the trail) to buy some fleece. A very friendly and enthusistic owner who, of course, is a spinner, shows me how to sort a fleece.  I buy a sample--the neck fleece of Lumina, a cream-coloured alpaca-- to take home and try.  I'll bring it back and she will help me card it into rovings with her new carding machine.  Lipofibrephobia.  I buy a couple of bags of rovings to keep me spinning.  

Full Circle
After a 20 year hiatus from the fibre world, I have returned.  After a 5 year hiatus from the Blogging world, I have returned, and have woven these two activities together into this blog.  Inspired by blogs and creations of other islanders, other fibre aficiandos, I plan to make this blog an eclectic tapestry of things that interest me.

I shall start with the weaving bug that hit myself, my mother and my sister, all in the same month.  Last month.  Which went something like this: help Mum remember how to warp a loom; back to the books; surf the web, download instructions; try again; help read a pattern; back to the books, surf the web; download instructions; thread the heddles; read instructions; re-thread the heddles; clean the attic; dust my loom; haul loom down to living room; sort wool; watch youtube videos on warping; prepare my own warp; thread heddles; watch youtube videos on weaving;  sort 20 year old wool stash; wind warp on; watch youtube videos on spinning; eye spinning wheel; weave; haul spinning wheel down; buy rovings; learn how to spin again on a spindle; clean spinning wheel; spin; ; spin; dye; spin; card....hooked again.

lipofibrephobia - the fear of being without fibre, wool, yarn.

This is why people like me have kept stashes of yarns, fleece and fibre for over 20 years.