Archive for January, 2010


January 28, 2010

I figured it was about time I started adding links to some of my favourite fibre blogs . . .  so now on the right you’ll notice a short list.  I’ll try to keep it up-to-date as I find more, and add some for suppliers of awesome stuff, too.

The End.

Ha, not quite.  Did I fool you?

Here’s a picture of the Romney I spun a while back, along with a bit of the original fibre.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  That’s a quarter for scale, by the way, I just realized I put it queen-side-up so it could be anything as far as you know.  I can’t wait to spin up the rest of this stuff, and try out the Lincoln too.  Maybe over the ridiculously long spring break we’re getting because of the Olympics.

In the meantime, this is what I’m spinning:

It’s alpaca, specially imported from the highlands of Ontario.  I’m going to try using it for my next backstrap project, once the llamas are finished.  So far I’m pretty impressed how strong even just the single is for such a fine thread, though I’ve snapped it a couple of times from overspinning (it needs to be spun much more tightly for weaving than knitting).

Okay, now it’s the end, I need to go to bed!

Weaving with Help

January 27, 2010

This here would be project #3 on the backstrap loom – project #1 was the tiny green strap I showed before, #2 was an actual backstrap (that’s kind of ugly, so I’m not showing it) and this is theoretically a bookmark.  Mostly just trying to remember double weave, and figuring out how it works on one of these.

You may also, should you choose to, admire the lovely shed stick/beater/sword that I made last week.

My other helper is being much less helpful.  He’s up top:

Here’s a detail shot of the weaving, but don’t look at the bottom llama’s back leg, it’s broken.  I didn’t take a picture of it, but on the back is the same image, in reversed colours.  That’s why double weave is nifty!

The pattern came from the backstrap weaving blog, like all the rest of my instructions.

And for any of you who think that you don’t have space in your house for a loom . . .

. . . this is what it packs up into.  That’s it, the whole thing.  Tied onto my couch/bed.  Cat not included.  Unroll and use, roll back up, tuck in the ends, and store.  Nomad tools are awesome for apartment dwellers!

Wet Sheep

January 22, 2010

It always amazes me that some wool can still smell so much like sheep when it gets wet, even if it has clearly been through several commercial processes – hardcore washing, dyeing, washing again, carding, combing.  And it’s always a surprise, because you just can’t know when you throw a batch of freshly-spun wool in the sink to soak if it’s going to smell or not.  I suppose some people might find it distasteful, but I love it.  It reminds me where the fibre that I spend so much of my life working with came from, and takes me out of my urban basement suite and off into the green pastures, if only for a moment.

OMG Bread

January 21, 2010

Okay, I’m totally late on the bandwagon for this one, but if you haven’t heard of, or have yet to try, “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” then go here and do it.  I may never buy bread again.  And I like buying bread.  I even like baking bread the work-intensive way.  But not every day.  This, I can do every day.  Seriously, it’s easier than making Kraft Dinner.

P.S.  I don’t have a baking stone, so I just used a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Still got a beautiful crust.  Tonight:  pizza!


January 13, 2010

Art school is hard!  They make me use my brain and stuff.  I’ve been muddling the mast few years, since I graduated from college, about my art practice, why I’m still drawn to it despite the many things that drive me completely crazy about the art world.  It became clear last year around this time that I needed to figure it out because I wouldn’t be really happy until I did, so I ditched what I was doing and applied to art school.  The first semester . . . pretty much just frustrated me even more, for a lot of reasons.  The only really good part was the dyeing class back at my old college, with my favourite teacher.  My boyfriend says I’m jumping through their hoops to a) get the shiny piece of paper and b) find out what I don’t want to do.

But it’s a new semester now, new classes, new teachers, new classmates.  Which means yet another round of introductions, who are you, what’s your medium of choice, what are you interested in, why did you decide to take this class?  Oh right, it’s required to graduate.  Anyways.  Today was my last day of introductions and I don’t know why, but I started to think about my own practice in actual words for the first time.  So I quietly wrote them down.  I’m sure the teacher thought I was taking intense notes on her lecture.

So here you are, the muddled thoughts of a developing artist, on their way to becoming real.

My art is the embodiment of and metaphor for how I would like to live my life.  I like to understand things, how they work, how they’re made, as far back in the process as possible.  I don’t drive because I don’t really understand how cars work.  I process fibre, spin it, and make fabric out of it because the complete, physical understanding makes the end product, whatever it may be, a million times better, more real, than anything I could buy.  Building the backstrap loom has given me a better understanding of how my other (purchased) looms work.  Some day I will have sheep, goats, maybe alpacas, angora rabbits, flax and cotton plants and then I will truly understand where that fibre I’m working with came from.  As you know, I’ve already started with the dye plants.

I like (as much as is possible in my busy, student budget life) to do the same with food, and furniture, and housing, and exercise (I HATE going to the gym, I’d much rather just walk everywhere), and everything.  I really am a Cancer, I’m a nester, and I need to be fully involved in all aspects of my physical surroundings.    I’m a very private person, I like to be more or less self sufficient emotionally as well as physically, though I know it’s impossible and yes, undesirable, to be completely cut off from the world in either sense.

What I need to do is find a way to develop my art into something that expresses these thoughts of mine in terms that the art world will understand.  Or alternatively, change the art world so it recognizes the beauty of a well-made sock  🙂

Wheeee I like spinning!

January 10, 2010

Friday afternoon I made DBF drive me out to the not-so-local fibre shop for weaving supplies, since none of the local ones have anything.  She also had just gotten in a shipment of raw fleece, so of course some had to come home with me.  Not much, a pound of grey Romney and a pound of Lincoln Longwool.  I washed them last night and I’m totally impressed – practically no VM, no second cuts, very little dirt.  It’s taking forever to dry, so today I took the hairdryer to a small handful of the Romney and carded it up into proper rolags (a first for me) and spun it all at once.  It was gorgeous.  Kind of like spinning butter because of the lanolin that didn’t wash out, but mostly like spinning nicely carded wool.  Finally got down the long draw thing.  The only problem is I was having too much fun to stop and take pictures, so you’ll have to imagine it.

And do a happyspinningdance with me!

Backstrap Weaving

January 7, 2010

I’ve been wanting to try backstrap weaving pretty much since I first heard about it.  And yesterday, inspired by this lovely lady’s blog and guided by her article on WeaveZine, I finally did it!

This is my uber-basic loom, made from three dowels, a pillow case, and a bunch of string.  Oh, and a little plastic ruler.  Total actual money output:  $10 for the dowels.  Could have been only $5, but I wanted them to be a bit longer than the 16″ I’d have gotten if I only bought one.

Though I guess that will change tomorrow when I go shopping for yarn to make my first real project – a proper back strap.

I had a bit of trouble controlling the tension at first, but I think I’ve got it mostly figured out now.

Not bad, eh?  It took about two hours, from warping to setting up the loom to weaving about a foot.  Then I realized it was past my bedtime, so I had to stop.

The other cool thing is it fits right in with my sculpture class this semester, which is on “re-skilling” and walking the line between art and craft (basically my life, art-wise), which means that I can get academic credit for something I’d be doing anyways!