OMG! Really?!

Not EVEN going to try to catch up. I blame my day job. If you stare at a computer screen all day for a living, who wants to spend more time staring at a computer screen in the evening? Especially if you do said staring-for-a-living from the home office. I generally don't even want to see my computer once I've finished work for the day.

Sigh. I should really just suck it up. I do realize how incredibly lucky I am that I: a) have a job; b) have a full-time job I can do from home; c) have a home in which to do said job; d) have a partner who mostly gets that just because I'm home all day doesn't mean I'm home all day, if you know what I mean; and e) have just enough of a social life that I remember what the world looks like beyond the house. Oh, and f) that I don't have to leave said job behind when we move to West Virginia later this Spring (more on that in the future).

So there.

And, yes, there has been fiber. Lots and lots of fiber over the past few months. Some of the highlights:

Overshot "Norse Kitchen" Towels
Norse Kitchen Towels for my SIL for Christmas. Pattern is "Norse Kitchen" from A Handweaver's Pattern Book. Warp and tabby weft are 16/2 cotton in fuchsia and the pattern weft is 8/2 cotton in carnation pink. These were great fun to weave (I do love overshot) and I am exceedingly pleased with how they turned out.

MIL's Towels
Twill towels. Last fall I lucked into my dream loom (one of them): a 40" 4-shaft cherry Norwood. And is she ever gorgeous! She needed a good cleaning and some TLC with Howard's Feed n Wax and then she was ready to sit in the studio and glow. The first warp on her was 9 yards of snowy white 8/2 cotton, threaded for a rambler rose twill from Davison. The first two towels I wove were these yellow ones for my MIL for Christmas. I love how they turned out. I threaded straight-draw twill for 3/4" on either selvage, and rather than doing plain weave hems, I just wove 2" with a straight-draw treadling on either end of each towel. Made for nice even hems since there was no difference between the draw-in on the hems and the draw-in of the pattern.

Brown Cotlin Towels
These brown towels with a weft of Valley Yarns 8/2 Cotton Linen were for us. I loved working with this yarn. I have sworn off linen because of a really bad experience with it in my first weaving class, but this blend is quite a delight. I also wove two with Christmas colors (one with green hem and red body; the other reversed) which for some reason I never photographed. Hmmmm.

August Mystery Socks - Scales
Yes, knitting, too. These were actually the August Mystery Sock for the Solid Socks group on Ravelry. I started them on time, but for some reason they got set aside sometime in September and only finished last month. Love the pattern, and totally love the Hairball Yarn wool-bamboo-nylon blend I chose to knit these with. I would link to her shop, but it's down right now. You can find her on Ravelry, though.

Dwell for Dad
As soon as I saw these adorable houses and trees on the cover of the Knit Picks catalog I knew I had to make them for my FIL. He is the king of the Christmas village -- his is a major metropolitan area, complete with airport. These diminutive houses are perfect for a centerpiece, however, and he loved them. Yarn is Palette left over from other projects.

There's more, oh so much more. Perhaps later.

One final parting comment: I must make THESE.

RIP My Dear Pupper

It's a Good Thing I Love Him

Yesterday we had to put our dear sweet Louie down. It was time -- he was old and had a catalog of health problems that had finally caught up with him. When he refused even cheese puffs and didn't seem to even know who we were, we knew we had to let him go.

King of the World

When we adopted him, almost exactly 5 years ago, no one thought he would live a year. He'd had a rough time of it alone on the streets, and the catalog of problems led our vet at the time to remind us, "the tail still works". And that become our barometer for the dog: if his tail was still working the rest of it was not so important, but once the tail stopped working we knew it was time.

Pupper at Picacho

A 60-lb dog leaves a really big hole in your heart and in your house. I hadn't realized until he was gone just how much of a Louie-sense I had developed. During my working day, part of me was always listening to know where he was in the house and whether he needed anything. Now it's like an open phone line with no one on the other end.


We will miss you, dear friend.

Folding, More Folding, and a Lot of Triangles

I blame my college friend Lisa for this. A casual comment she made on my Facebook page lead to an idea that wouldn't go away: what if I DID commit to doing something creative every day? Of course, I do something creative most days, but it is all in service to larger projects -- it's a rare day when I actually COMPLETE something, and I almost never do something entirely in one day. What if I did? And what if it had nothing to do with yarn? What if it was something that challenged me? What if it was something I'd never done that would be like learning to ride a bike as an adult?

Enter origami. Aside from the occasional fortune teller or paper airplane as a kid, I had never done it, never really even been interested in it, but somehow it became my Make Something Every Day challenge. Could I make an origami something, start to finish every day? And, perhaps more difficult, could I commit to blog it every day?

Ahem, so far so good. And it's been fun. Taking a bit of time every day during my lunch break (working from home and setting my own schedule helps here) to do something completely different has been freeing and interesting and challenging and just plain fun.

And when a madman opened fire at a meeting my Congressperson was having with constituents, the simple, meditative act of folding seven lilies gave me a bit of peace.

Of course, not one to stick with basics, I found origami tessellations and spent part of yesterday evening making these:

Star Puff Tessellation

They're called star puffs, and you can read about them and where I found the patterns on the Flickr page.

And now, it seems, I'm folding my weaving, too.

Handwoven Bag(s)

The path from the long strip of woven fabric on the right to the in-need-of-lining purse on the left is detailed at Doni's Delis, and it is surprisingly simple: a couple of folds, a couple of seams, and voila! a bag which only awaits a day off warm enough to play in water outside so I can dye the lining fabric and finish it off.

Warp: 6 yards #10 black crochet cotton
Weft: a collection of yarns (mostly cotton, rayon and blends) about the grist of 3/2 cotton
Sett: 18 epi (8" wide in the reed)

Each strip was woven from half of the warp (allowing 20" for loom waste on the Voyageur), and each has a short hem in the warp thread which is folded under to create a clean edge at the top of the bag.

This all started because Mom wanted to weave while my parents were here at Christmas, so I set up the Voyageur with a 3 yard warp of the crochet cotton and set her loose. The bag she created (alas, I have no pictures) was beautiful, and I wanted one (or two) for myself.

And the equilateral triangles which form the base for the origami pieces above have crept into my knitting.

Pyramid Vest - fronts and start of back

This is the Pyramid Vest from Dazzling Knits. I had so much fun with the Dream Coat and my sock yarn blankie that I wanted to do something else modular. Vests (even wool ones) are fairly practical for the winter here in Tucson, so I figured this black Stacy Charles Baci M had bought to make a sweater would be perfect. The contrasting yarns are mostly Berroco Pure Merino, though there are odds and ends of other stuff in there, too. This picture was a while ago -- I have only three more pyramids left to do on the back before I do the pyramids that join the front and back. Then I will block the whole thing to determine how big I need to make the underarm pieces.

Lots of other knitting and weaving happening (and happened for the holidays), including a stealth test knit project that has felt doomed from the beginning but which may actually see completion this month. Hope to be able to share some of it in the coming days.

Looms at New Years

I'm a bit behind on this, but I swear the pictures were current on January 1. Meg encourages weavers to document the state of their looms as the new year dawns.

"Kit" My 4-shaft Purrington

"Kit" is a 4-shaft, 6-treadle 32" Purrington workshop loom, and an old one. She had at least a few owners before she came to me (not sure which one is responsible for the green stains (from a marker, I believe) on the aprons and the castle, but they only add character. She spent the holiday season folded up in a corner of the studio because it had to be converted into a guest bedroom while my parents were here. This is probably a good thing, because (while I would love to just throw another towel warp on her, or a baby blanket -- shhhh -- or some yardage I'm imagining) what I really need to do is clean her and give her some TLC. She's full of dust; lams are in need of some lubrication; frames could stand some cleaning and sanding; two of her treadles were damaged when we moved (a friend kindly made me some new treadles, but I need to do some adjusting before I can install them); heddle bars are in need of cleaning and oiling. It's just time for a tune-up. I hope to get to it before the end of the month.

Fall-Winter Bag

"Sammy", on the other hand, is newer and fairly clean and rarely naked these days. She's a 12-shaft 15 3/4" Voyageur table loom. This is a great loom for just about anything I weave ("treadling" on a table loom is a bit slower than a loom with treadles, but I find I can get into a pretty good rhythm and move right along, even on fairly complex patterns). She spent the holidays in the living room because Mom wanted to weave. I put on a warp of #10 black crochet cotton (18epi sett, 3 yards, 8" wide) and gave her a collection of cotton, rayon and blend yarns about the grist of 3/2 cotton to play with for weft. Most of her weaving was clasped weft -- changing colors as the spirit moved. Before they left, I sewed the strip she wove (she did weave the whole warp) into a Don's Delis bag for her. She'll line and finish it when she gets back to her fabric stash in Florida.

I really liked the fabric she made and the simplicity of the bag, so after they left and I got the room cleaned up and the looms back where they "belong" I put on a 6 yard warp of #10 black crochet cotton to make two for myself. Here is the first one started.

Beware the Pomegranate Popsicles

It's hot here in Tucson. I mean, really hot (though not nearly as hot as it's going to get in a few weeks, yay). So, M and I have taken to filling the freezer with Dreyer's (Edy's for those of you East of the Mississippi) Fruit Bars as a healthier alternative to ice cream. And now they come in all these healthy-sounding flavors like blueberry-acai and pomegranate. And they are tasty, but I need to warn everyone to be careful with the pomegranate ones -- they bite. Remember the light post scene in A Christmas Story? Well, these popsicles won't stick to your tongue, but they do have a nasty habit of grabbing onto your inner lip and not letting go. Ouch!

Don't say I didn't warn you! Now, on to the fiber....

Taking it slow so I don't overwhelm the blog or myself, I think I'll start with something a bit different, a weaving project.

A few months ago, M came home and said that someone at church had suggested that we get our interim minister a nice handmade stole as a going away present. M, of course, piped up and said that I could probably make him one. It would have to be something that would remind him of the southwest and his time with us, perhaps a bit over the top, and it should be makeable primarily with yarn from the stash.

And why not learn something along the way? After I pretty much decided that I wanted motifs of a saguaro cactus and our church's unique twisted cross, I figured I needed to learn inlay, specifically Theo Moorman inlay. I searched, and I read articles, and I desperately wished my public library had a better selection of weaving books, and I read some more. I even put in a call to Sandra Briney (whose work makes me drool) who agreed to let me watch her weave to see how it's done (though we never were able to actually connect). But eventually, you just have to dress the loom and play with it, right?

So I did. The test warp was two reddish shades of Valley Cotton 5/2 and some burgundy sewing thread. The cotton (sett: 16 epi) was threaded for plain weave on shafts 1 & 2; the thread (sett: 8 epi) was threaded for plain weave on shafts 3 & 4; order of the threads was 2 cotton/1 thread across the warp with four ends of cotton on either side. Winding the warp was fun (NOT!). I used the warping paddle, but the thread was so fine that it tangled terribly and made things difficult -- though I'm convinced not as tedious as winding one end at a time would have been.

Moorman Inlay Saguaro Test

Here it is -- my first ever attempt at weaving inlay. The process is fairly simple, and the possibilities with this technique are just about endless. I was hooked.

Moorman Inlay Cross

Since there was a bunch of warp left after I finished testing both of the cartoons for the stole, I decided to play. I kinda like this cross (supplemental weft is some leftover ArtYarns Ultramerino 4).

Then it was time to get down to business. I decided (to avoid having to do either of the motifs upside down, as well as to avoid tension issues caused by the difference in takeup between the ground warp and the inlay warp) to do the two sides of the stole as separate pieces and seam at the top.

The "Front" of Jeff's Stole

Here are the two pieces after washing, but before stole assembly. If I had it to do again, I would make the saguaro narrower to balance it a bit better with the cross, but all-in-all I was very pleased.

But the stole needed a back, for two reasons: 1) it was a bit light with just the single layer of cotton; and 2) how many times, really, is one going to wear a stole with a saguaro on it in Minnesota? A green stole (the color for ordinary time, which is the majority of the liturgical year) should be a bit more universal than that.

So a back it got. The original plan was for a plain green field with some doubleweave blocks of white in an offset stripe, so I wound a warp with the same greens I'd used for the front of the stole with a secondary warp of natural 1.5" wide 1.5" in from one side. But the blocks weren't to be because when I wove the doubleweave section in a twill to join the two warps I liked the look of twill so well I never looked back.

Twill Detail

Backing fabric woven, all that was left was assembly and fringing, and a stole was born.

Jeff's Gifts

Here it is on the altar, flanked by the two gorgeous stained glass plates handmade by another member as part of Jeff's going away gift (no one can say we don't treat our pastors, even the interims, well on the way out).

Jeff With HIs Stole

And here it is on Jeff. I feel so short -- this stole hangs all the way to my ankles, and on him it comes to just below the knees.

Project Details (Front)

Warp: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934 and 5398
Inlay Warp: Polyester machine embroidery thread in dark sage
Weft: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934
Inlay Weft: Louisa Harding Jasmine #6
Sett: 16 epi (cotton)/8 epi (thread)

Project Details (Back)
Warp: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934 and 5398
Secondary Warp: Valley Cotton 5/2 #8176
Weft: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934
Sett: 16 epi (32 epi in the doubleweave section)
Doubleweave twill section: 1.5" wide set 1.5" in from the edge


Today, the United Church of Christ premiered its Internet-only ad. This is what a progressive, grace-filled, diverse and loving church looks like.

In Which a Trip Through the Olympics with Pink Socks and a Traveling Woman Leads to the Clap

First, an Olympic report: I am claiming victory, though not a Gold Medal, in the struggle. As the Canadians were barely beating the Americans in the gold medal hockey game, I was weaving in the last of the ends of the flap of the Olympic Satchel.

East Meets West Satchel
After a good long soak to relax all those tortured fibers, it got pinned out to dry. I have to admit that the intarsia section doesn't look as awful as I had feared (but note, I'm not providing a closeup pic just yet), and the stranded pieces came out great. I still need to do some duplicate stitching on the flap to add some dimension. Since I need to use the pieces to make the pattern for the lining, I either need to find something to make a pattern from then get to assembly or wait until M and I can get to the fabric store together to pick out the lining fabric so I can cut it out before assembling the bag.

Victory? I survived intarsia -- that's always a victory. To be perfectly honest, because the bag needs to be lined, I never expected that I would finish it by the end of the games, but at least I managed to finish the majority of the knitting (after assembly, there's about a mile of applied i-cord to do). And there's sooo much yarn left -- but I have a plan that maybe, just maybe, involves another shawl or two.

In other pink/purple knitting news, the Pink Breeze socks are done, and I love them.
A Cool Pink Breeze

Pattern: Breeze by Jennifer Appleby from Knitty, Summer 07
Yarn: Kollage Yarns Luscious in magenta, 2 skeins
Needle: Knit Picks Harmony 2.5mm 32" circ
Mods: added a 2" cuff; did plain slip-stitch heel flap

As I mentioned before, these magical socks fit my not-narrow size 8 feet and M's narrow size 10s just perfectly. And being cotton and short, they'll have a long wearing season here in Tucson (well, as long a wearing season as any socks have in the land of sandals). And I have mentioned on more than one occasion just how much I love working with Luscious.

And then there's the beauty I can't wait to get off the blocking board so I can wear it
Traveling Woman Shawl -- blocking

Pattern: Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Handarbeitskram by Selana sockyarn in "pink is beautiful", 1 skein
Needle: Knit Picks Nickel-Plated interchangeable, #6 w/32" cord
Mods: Increased stockinette section to 187 stitches; worked 4 repeats of chart A because I wanted to use all of the yarn. And I did use all of the yarn, plus about 1/2 yard of something else to finish the bind off.
Dimensions: 52" wide and 16" deep before blocking; 68" wide and 24" deep after blocking

I already love this shawl, and it's not even off the blocking board yet. Must wear it the first chance I get because it's nearing the end of shawl season here.

Next on the needles? A Clapotis -- I'm finally going to join the masses who've knitted and loved this pattern. Many moons ago I fell in love with some Jitterbug in Raphael and had to have it. Now, it is destined to become a Clapotis. Because I have only two skeins, it will be narrower -- plan is to weigh the ball, increase to 89-95 or so stitches (will decide when I get there), weigh the ball again to see how much the increase section took, then knit until I have just a bit more yarn than that left before starting the decreases. After reading a lot of notes on Ravelry, I've decided to start with a size 6 needle.

And, just because I can, gratuitous pictures of the stranded bits of the bag:
East Meets West Satchel

East Meets West Satchel

East Meets West Satchel