Monday, February 23, 2009


I spent the weekend deep in nupps on my current Swallowtail shawl. This is my third Swallowtail, and I was certain I had mastered nupps. On every right side row I diligently slowed down just enough to ensure that my 'K1, YO, K1, YO, K1 in the next stitch' was decidedly loose, so that on the next row I could more easily insert my needle for a P5 tog. Well, it's still not a walk in the park for me to do that P5 tog... There are only 10 rows of it, but they are slow going, and I must be nearing 300 stitches on the needle where every 10th stitch is a nasty nupp!

Actually, I've finally graduated beyond 'nasty nupps.' They are just annoying nupps now! Oh, but I do love the little drooping lily of the valley blossoms they create! I hope to be blocking this shawl by tomorrow or Wed!

Look what came in the mail! Oh my! I've promised myself that I will divest myself of a great deal of Paternayan in order to add this treasure to my stash....

I am completely flumoxed about creating a design for some aspect of the Hudson River (to celebrate the quadricentennial). Although I do not like to be tied down to a subject, there is so much leeway here I can hardly say I'm being 'forced' into a particular design. I'm so frustrated I'm seriously considering just warping up and weaving with no cartoon. ....just to see what might happen. Obviously I want water and sky. This is not about not liking or caring about the Hudson River...I actually think it might be just the opposite. I've lived near the Hudson for most of my life now. I love the view of the Palisades that I see almost every week in my local travels.

Well, I can't weave if I'm not warped, so I will at least get that done.....

Friday, February 13, 2009


Various thoughts are coming together here to make me evaluate both my commitment to using up my stash and my incredible excitement (and sense of conquest) at purchasing a large quantity of discontinued yarn from Weaving Southwest.

Whenever I go searching through my closets and bins for yarn for projects, I'm thrilled with what I find in my stash. It's like going into a yarn store! The yarns I'm not searching for inspire so many creative ideas that I end up thoroughly distracted, sometimes aborting the idea that sent me searching in the first place. I have a treasure trove of beautiful materials, and I know I'm not the only one.

Many years ago I heard Daryl Lancaster give advice not to feel guilty when we impulsively buy a beautiful yarn, but to promise ourselves to 'design from our stash' in the future to ensure that those impulsive purchases get used. I've lived by this advice for decades. The down side of it is that is has allowed me add to my stash far faster than I can weave, knit, or spin. I'm not going to 'fess up to how many of spare bedrooms' closets are packed completely with my stash, not to mention the storage areas I've managed to squeeze into the basement. I've taken a sober inventory, and I realize I need to slow down. I thought a year of using the beautiful fibers and yarns I already own would be totally joyful anyway, not at all a burden.

In my current tapestry of Rob I am using only yarns that I can find in my stash or that my teacher Soyoo supplies. The combination of yarns I'm using on Rob's piece quite surprise me, as I would never have blended such hard yarns with such delicate ones in one weft bundle. I'm sure I'll pay the price for that when I release the tension on the loom, but I do want to begin to learn how to work with different qualities of yarn and be successful at it.

Meanwhile, during the past couple of weeks at Soyoo's studio, she has been talking about designing and building a new house on land she has in Korea. She is quite knowledgeable about Feng Shui, and she also knows a man who advises people on Feng Shui. It's his opinion that most Americans live way beyond their means, and he doesn't mean just monetarily. He believes we are a culture of people who hoard everything from paper towels to cars, to big houses filled with too much of everything. We become slaves to our hoarding and it drains our energy that should be used on better things. We have so much space which could be used so beautifully, and yet we fill it up with too many things like mega rolls of toilet paper, cans and bottles of soda and water, endless food... We buy so many supplies for the endeavors we love (in my case knitting, weaving, spinning) that a lot of creativity and joy gets killed under the weight of our possessions.

I know I'm pleasantly surprised that with Soyoo's help I can create the colors I need in the tapestry of Rob when I actually don't have the color. So why do I have to have every color? It's better anyway to create a color from a blend of others than to grab just the right color to start with, as we've all learned at some point in weaving.

I want to cut back on having things in order to have more freedom to express myself, instead of always trying to manage my stash, always looking for more storage, a better system to organize things. If I had less stuff I wouldn't be burdened with managing it.

Meanwhile, I really did need that yarn I bought yesterday! It's going to feel like Christmas morning when I open it, and there in lies my dilemma!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fallen Woman

I'm a fallen woman! I only made it 6 weeks before falling prey to a yarn purchase!

What would you do in my situation? I read on my tapestry list that Weaving Southwest was discontinuing its fine singles tapestry yarn. ....never to be had again. Oh, I wish I could post the colors I ordered, with luscious names like Chokecherry, Ganado, Red Willow, Caramel, Pinon and Spruce. I can't wait to open that box!

And I have to say this has been a particularly hard 6 weeks. I've spent too much time trying to think of ways I could get yarn without actually buying it! I asked my husband to buy me yarn for Valentine's day (he said, "why don't we just go out to dinner instead."). I offered to send my sister money and a list of yarns I wanted. I've been getting more and more uptight as the weeks go by. Deep down I knew I'd never last a whole year... truthfully, I don't feel that guilty!

I worked on Rob's hand at Soyoo's today. Finally all the 'dotty' shapes turned into a hand! I like it! Here are two of Soyoo's rules: when shading within a shape (in this case, Rob's hand) always include most of the colors from the previous colorway. And to unify a piece use one color throughout. In this case the bright and deep golds of the background will be used anywhere there is light to give a sense of the wonderful golden light of sunset falling on everything.

A little project making a temari ball. I made a few more than 25 years ago (where does the time go?), but decided to join a group of friends to make a few more. Our time together is a great learning session, because we are following a plan, starting with the first exercise in the Diana Vandervoort book and working through the different techniques in order.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Productive Week

It's been a good week here! Wish I could say that more often. Both tapestries are showing progress, even if it is very slight!

My biggest thrill this week was dyeing without anyone holding my hand, and being pleased with
the outcome! This is quite a hurdle for me.

So, first is the green: I took two skeins of my weld-dyed handspun (a romney that I spun for tapestry) and overdyed it with my indigo. I made the indigo vat with a friend over two years ago. We dyed one day and the vat has sat 'idle' ever since. I re-constituted it with soda ash and thio-urea. The weld skeins were dipped twice for 10 minutes with a 30 minute rest in between.

The lovely blue silk was dipped three times for 10 minutes each, with a 30 minute rest between. I thought I would have gotten a deeper blue, but I'm pleased because this shade will be lovely for enhancing the edge of the pink shawl which has lain dormant since about Sept....because I needed to come up with something to finish the edging!

I've made great progess on knitting the 'Cardi for Arwen,' but I feel that needs its own post, so I'll save that for now.

The days are definitely longer! I'm waking earlier and feeling more energy! The sun is higher in the sky, and in spite of another bitterly cold week, I can tell the sun is stronger.