Saturday, February 27, 2010

Confined to barracks

I have been confined to barracks with Chicken Pox. Despite having it as a child, I have succumbed to it again. The miracle drug they gave me has made it very bearable. I have the red spots but feel pretty good. So what does one do when confined to barracks? Spin. Knit. Dye. Cook. Clean. Watch movies. Read and cruise the 'net. Not a bad life.  

I've been taking pictures of some natural dye material. Here's Japanese Green Tea (interesting grays with a greenish tinge) and Lac (reds) dye stuff. Lac is interesting. It is a excrement from an insect that parasitizes certain trees, mostly in Asia and Mexico. The insect colonies make a resinous cocoon from which the dyestuff is extracted. The resinous material is made into shellac and in the old days, into lacquer ware.  Who would have thought that insect excrement could be so useful?! I remember eating off 400 year old lacquer plates on a remote island off Guadalcanal thinking it most unusual to be there eating off such beautiful elegant dinner ware in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Knowing lac comes from insect excrement makes that dinner experience even more bizarre.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The spinning sisterhood

Last weekend I joined the sisterhood of spinners. I had no idea that these fiber sisterhoods existed--weekends where women get together and spin, or knit or weave. The one I went to was for spinning. Think of a large meeting room filled with 40 middle age and older women (and one man) and 50 spinning wheels, all spinning up a storm of fiber, and you get the picture...very weird. But it was two and a half days of spinning bliss. Hard to believe one could get such enjoyment from making yarns.

I took a workshop on things to look for in buying a fleece. Interesting tip when looking for fine wool. Test for softness by taking a lock of wool, twist it and rub it against your face just below the nose and above the lip. This is one of your sensitive areas and works to detect softness far better than your fingers or the rest of your face. The picture of the fleece is from a sheep named Tomeye, a lovely Romney. Shorn in 2008. We also saw some of Tomeye's fleece from this past year after he suffered from pneumonia. The fleece reflected his poor health.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Yarn bombing

I have been meaning to post this picture for a long time.  This is a bicycle that has been 'yarn bombed' outside of the Knotty-by-Nature yarn store in Victoria (great fibre store by the way). This is kinda like a knitted tea cosy but think bigger scale. Yarn bombing is taking the world by storm, stitch by stitch.  A friend had his truck yarn bombed and came back to find little knitted accessories hanging from the tailgate, the antenna, mirror, etc.  Cute in a devilish kinda way.  Anyway, the Vancouver Island University light poles got yarn bombed last week and unfortunately my camera battery died so I don't have proof that one light pole was dressed as a flasher in a grey knit sweater (moss stitch, with a cable or two) from which a pink sock-like appendage protruding.  That may be providence that I couldn't capture that image, but I did manage to capture the seaweed being circled by fish and the snake that slivered around a pole and captured one of the campus bunnies it its mouth.

Last week on Saltspring Island I saw a book on yarn bombing ' Yarn Bombing - Improving the urban landscape one stitch at a time and see that the two women from Vancouver (I just realized I am almost at the epicentre of this knit revolution) have a blog dedicated to recording yarn bombing activity around the world.  Some where I read an article about subversive knitting in Paris (of course).  Social knitworking where twitters twitknit a pub or cafe and knitters descend upon that location, armed with yarn and needles, ready to knit up a storm, usually on a public object like a mail box, tree or statue.  One never knows where or when, but wired knitters have learned to be prepared at a moments notice to do their bit and warm up the world.