I managed to warp the loom this past Saturday and wove some on Sunday and a little on Monday. After splitting wood I was less than enthusiastic, I really just wanted a nap.
This has a tencel warp with a verigated wool sock yarn for the weft. It is really quite lovely – the tabby warp in tencel looks like little glass beads when the light hits it just right. Speaking of warping and weaving I made another mistake threading – can you see it? I didn’t until I’d woven about 6″ – and that was my point of no return. It is what it is. I don’t find it glaring and it wouldn’t stop me from wearing it. Another exercise.
I have 10 days to finish this. Barring any unforeseen crisis I shouldn’t have a problem doing it. It’s nice to be weaving a more complicated draft. I really love doing overshot. It reminds me of knitting an Aran pattern in a way. You have to knit many rows before the pattern appears, then it keeps you interested. Once you’ve repeated the pattern 5 or 6 times the piece you’re knitting is done. This does much the same thing, by the time you are in a rhythm with the treddling the piece is nearing completion.
When this is done I will probably weave another wool overshot throw, then I have a striped twill throw in mind. Christmas is coming.
The little afghan in the photograph I crocheted in 1972. I was part of a group of women who were all crocheting at the time. It is small, delicate and I love the way the colors played together. A baby blanket for any gender. The funny thing about this is I think it is the ONLY thing I have ever crocheted (at least to completion). I liked making this because the motifs were easy and mindless, that’s everything I love about some crafts. I love the feel of fiber in my hands, being drawn through my fingers. Whenever I begin a knitting project now the one thing that makes a difference in how often I pick it up is the texture of the fiber. A friend(?) once told me I was like Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men because I loved the feel of soft things, of fur and fiber (and I played with my hair obsessively at the time). To this day I think about that remark and feel like I may have a better understanding of Lennie’s phyche than many people – not necessarily a good thing.
I do a lot of things with my hands. It’s my way of thinking, relaxing, calming down when I’m stressed, working through problems. I love making beautiful things. My projects have become much more complicated as I age. I’m not one of those people that could knit the same sweater more than once. The little crocheted afghan will never be replicated, I made it, it’s done, it’s over. I’d have to say that probably 70% of the projects I finish I give away. They are often made with someone in mind and if said project lives up to my perfectionist standards off it goes. That crocheted blanket was made with someone in mind but the window was missed in giving it to him. It’s amazing to me that I still had it since I’d moved so many times from 1972 on. Different lives, different places, different people, just the flow of time.
I recently reconnected with the intended recipient of that blanket and gave it to him. I thought that since I had been carrying it around with me so many years I would miss it when it was gone. You know, it was a relief when it left my hands into his. I felt a little foolish in a small way giving a 41 year old man something I’d made before he was born but it also felt like it had made its way home.
Robyn Spady in this months Handwoven magazine writes that “we make our own legacies when we pass along the items we create.” I really think that’s true. I have a legacy of things created by my mother, grandmother and great grandmothers. They all mean something to me when I look closely at them and imagine their hands working the stitches. I have their creations and know that for them it really was the process as well. In the back of my mind I hope the recipients of my work will someday treasure them as much as I have the things left to me. Maybe it will inspire them to create something of their own and pass it on.
A couple of days ago I received an order for yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery. Until I read the tag I had no idea that they were in Putney, VT which is about 45 miles from Rowe. They are a co-op and spin the majority of their yarn from New England fleeces. This is for a project I will be doing in a knit-along with Ruth Fischer-Ticknor. You can read about it on her Counting Sheep blog. It is a beautiful yarn.
As I was winding the skeins into balls I started thinking about having a garment made from wool that was processed so close to home. I’ve gradually become more of a locavore in the past few years and have begun to see that mindset seep into everything I do. I grow and preserve a lot of food from my garden every year. I get all of my dairy from Smyth’s Trinity Farm in Enfield, CT where I can talk cheese making with someone who works with dairy on a larger scale. We buy a side of beef from Russell in Heath once a year – grass, sunshine, fresh water, nothing else goes into these cows. We also make our own maple syrup with him. My eggs come from my sister next door where I’ve watched those hens from hatchlings. Our sausages, bacon and other assorted smoked meats come from Pekarski’s in South Deerfield. Mike Pekarski is a very generous man and rightfully proud of his smokehouse – he will tell or show me how things are made, right there, with the help of his family. In the summer there are a few farms that I frequent for pick your own produce that augments what I am putting up at the time. Although the farmers there don’t know me by name they instantly recognize me when I arrive. I thought, until I started writing this, that it was more important to know how far my food had travelled but I now realize that I have friendships that have been built over time with all of the people who are raising much of my food.
Preparing and eating food that you trust gives you a peace of mind that is difficult to really describe. There is nothing that makes me feel better than to prepare a meal where I know where everything came from, I’ve visited its source, I know who’s hands have been on it. I know that if I didn’t grow it myself I have contributed to the livelihood of people that have become my friends or have been for a long time. By doing that I am contributing to my local economy. So I try to get what I need within the 100 mile radius that is often talked about. Purchasing fiber that I needed for a project from less than 100 miles away made me feel that there are so many other ways I can think about being local. I personally know at least 3 people that are raising fiber animals. Although I didn’t buy their fiber I know that I am still contributing to their type of local economy as well. Yes, things cost a little more but doesn’t it feel better when you know that the money you are spending is going directly into the pockets of people you know rather than some huge corporation with the farmer essentially getting paid just enough to keep going? It’s worth thinking about.
This is my 100th post! Thank you so much to all who read, follow and comment on it.
“…the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can’t tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble.
“…knitters just can’t watch TV without doing something else. Knitters just can’t wait in line, knitters just can’t sit waiting at the doctor’s office. Knitters need knitting to add a layer of interest in other, less constructive ways.” ― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
The true brilliance of Jenna Woginrich is her understanding that the people that are drawn to her and her blog Cold Antler Farm are interested in doing things. Her workshop last weekend invited attendees to bring a knitting project to work on while presentations were being made. I have to admit that was one of the driving forces that got me there. People sitting around knitting while the speakers spoke their piece showed me that Jenna got it. She understands that there are many of us that always need something to do with our hands. Knitting helps me think, helps me absorb what is happening around me and many times helps me feel like sitting around isn’t time wasted because there is an end product.
More people need to take the time to learn to knit. If they know how they need to have some little project that they can keep with them for those quiet moments. Knitting is a type of meditation. The feel of the wool in your fingers, the quiet clicking of the needles, the surprise when it all comes together, the pride in the finished project. It allows you to concentrate on a problem or pay close attention to a conversation even though the other party may feel like they are being ignored.
I remember having to do laundry in a laundromat back in the small apartment days. I always said that I didn’t mind because anyone that came from Rowe could not be bored. It really was because I always had some sort of handwork going. A ball of yarn didn’t cost much, kept me entertained and I’d have a Christmas present for someone. They didn’t need to know the hours I spent in a laundromat creating the thing.
Of course this is how Sophie sees knitting.