Sunday, March 29, 2009

Links to inspire you (and me!)

WOW, just saw this on the CBS News website - I guess it's from a Sunday morning art spot or something? It's a video about a pair of artists who are weaving some really incredible pieces out of glass rods that they make themselves. Sooooo amazing!

Watch CBS Videos Online

I found it via Twitter - I've got a TweetBeep alert running right now that alerts me to tweets related to weaving. Most of them are actually about really bad drivers on the freeway (weaving in and out of traffic is the general idea) but there are a few gems that are actually related to weaving on looms or weaving baskets and I'm finding lots of really interesting people to follow.1 :) One of those tweets was actually about this video and I'm so glad I went to check it out!

And, on the subject of videos I've found beautiful or inspiring, here's another one I like even more:

I have watched it over and over and over and over1 and listened to the song even more. The art in the vid is really lovely and gentle and sincere but the lyrics of the song are like hearing the soundtrack that goes on inside my head - and, I'm sure, inside the head of any artist or artisan who aspires to make.. well, if not a living then at least a life out of his or her work. Maybe even those guys in the glass vid, except that at $4-12k per piece, I doubt they've got doubts any more.

That one I found in this blog by Betz White, which is one of my new faves. Another blog I've recently found and fallen in love with is How About Orange. I recommend them both! I'm turning into quite the blog junkie lately, as you can see from my much-expanded blog lists in the sidebar!

Now I really ought to head downstairs and work on the blankets I've got on the loom, but man, oh, man it's a bright sunny day outside and really warm (11 degrees!) so I'd much rather be out than in my dungeon of a basement. What to do, what to do...

1. Here's a tip for you weavers in the crowd who might like to do the same: to us "shuttle" means that thing that a bobbin of yarn goes in but to everyone else on the planet it means the Space Shuttle. And all those other people? They talk about space shuttles a LOT. Also "warp" means time warp. You'd be amazed at the number of Rocky Horror Picture Show fans out there. Seriously.

2. ...and over and over and over and over and over...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Little ideas = Big things

Remember when I said that my theme for the moment is "little by little"? This idea continues to play out in fascinating ways. Case in point: I had the little idea a while ago that it'd be keen to have a blog ring populated by local artisans. I mulled it over myself for a while, and then I mentioned it to a friend. Then I forgot about it, and then later remembered and mentioned it to someone else... and now there are a couple others who are interested, and I've taken the first few baby steps towards the big picture... but for the time being it's still a small idea and that's just peachy.

I said as much to Laura Moore,1 one of the artisans who's going to join the ring. What I said, in fact, was this: "I think it could be the seed of a much larger affiliation down the road, a little tiny beginning of something that could be big... or could just stay small and still be a good idea. I'm all about dreaming big and working small these days." It seems this resonated with her too, and she sent me the link to this poster by graphic designer Frank Chimero:

I cannot tell you how much I love this poster! Ooo-arrr, talk about an idea resonating. I can feel it thrumming in my gut. It repeats what I've been thinking about so much lately: that a small idea can grow into something big and maybe even that the best big ideas come from small seeds. That big ideas come about incrementally. Its "little by little" all over again, and in one of my favourite colours to boot.

Still, it's the second half that I can't get out of my head. I keep interpreting it in two different ways, both of which really speak to me:

#1: An idea that's too big may collapse under its own weight (and become so small it vanishes).


#2: Big ideas are really just a lots of little things combined.

I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of time mulling this over the days and weeks ahead... and maybe even forever, since I've just ordered the poster from Mr. Chimero and it is winging its way to me As We Speak. I'm looking forward to framing it and hanging it where I can see it all the time.

You see? Little things really do add up to bigger things. The original "hmm, I should have a theme!" idea was a little thing. The idea for a blog ring was a little thing, too, and even this poster is a little thing. And yet, it feels like it's all starting to add up to something pretty big...

Huh. No mention of dietary fibre anywhere in any of that, was there? I'm scratching my head trying to think of what random thing I can bung on the end here to justify this post and I'm coming up totally empty. Sorry about that! I promise to make up for it with an extra fibery post next time, honest!

1. FYI: Laura and Teena Marie Fancey have an absolutely fabulous show on right now at CBU Gallery One, called Redux. Painting + found objects = FANTASTIC. If you live in the area, you must Go See This Show!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Knitting [& Knit-a-thon!] Update

First, the knit-a-thon update. I got a very nice thank you letter from McConnell Library with the final tally (at least the current final tally) on knit-a-thon goings on:
  • 450+ balls of yarn were donated,
  • 260+ finished items were donated to the Clothe A Family campaign and half a dozen tiny caps were taken to the premie ward at the hospital,
  • over $900 was raised to support the children's lit programs at CBRL,
  • hundreds of knitting needles were donated, and many are still waiting to be given to new and aspiring knitters,
  • 30 door prizes were donated and then won by very happy knitters,
  • and lots of good [donated] food, fun and conversation were had by the many many knitters who participated in both locations.
Isn't that great? Congrats and thank you to everyone who donated and/or participated. And hey, guess what! It's only 11 months until the next knit-a-thon!

I was lucky enough to win a door prize myself and, although there were tons of beautiful kits to choose from with enough yarn for e.g. an afghan, a lace shawl or even an entire sweater, I was a good little girl and picked the one, scrumptious ball of Noro you see above. I just loved the colours and one of my knit-a-thon objectives was to destash, not restash. Well, at least as far as yarn goes. I got heaps of new needles - everything from size 2 dpns up to 25 mm needles which are presumably meant for broomstick lace but won't ever be used for that by me! (At least, not unless someone tells me what broomstick lace actually is...)

I also scored a whole whack of needles for my friend Amy, who knew how to knit in theory but hadn't done it in practice for a long time. She came to the knit-a-thon to lend her support and keep us company but had zero (0) intention of knitting anything, but I bunged a pair of needles in her hands and a ball of yarn in her lap and she was away! She left with left with many balls of yarn and a hat under way and has since started another. I can be very persuasive!

Knitting continues apace on my March socks. I was really hoping to knit some monkeys for March since they're having a March Monkey contest on Sock-A-Month but, alas, I don't think I'll have time so I'm sticking to my original railroad rib socks. I knit the leg of both socks first and then intended to knit the heel flap of one and then the other so that they'd be exactly the same but I really like doing the heels and just couldn't stop! As you can see, they've gotten a bit out of synch so now I have to decide whether to just finish #1 and then go do the heel and foot of #2, or whether to play catch-up so that they're the same length. Tricksy! I must admit I'm not loving the colours quite as much as when I started. The pooling makes them look like camouflage socks - NOT the look I was going for. Oh well!

Another piece of knitting news: you may recall from my Feb 8 spinning pics that Sidney was knitting (yes, that's Sidney. Now You Know.) She had with her that day a really neat little book of Luxury One-Skein Wonders. This little gem was filled with tons of patterns for things you could knit out of a single skein of yarn. Now, this is perfect for me in many ways: 1) I really only get one or two skeins of yarn spun at a time before I get distracted by doing other things, so projects to use up these orphan skeins are much appreciated, 2) I can't knit anything very heavy without the ol' CTS acting up, so lightweight projects that use only a single skein are easy on the wrists, and 3) my attention span lasts about one (1) skein. Granted, my handspun is not anything luxe, but the idea was a good one.

Turns out there are a few different books in the series, so I am now the proud owner of 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders, which you can see behind that yummy Noro above, and I got a copy of One-Skein Wonders: Yarn Shop Favourites from Coast to Coast for Chris for her bday.1 AND Donna has a copy of one of the One-Skein books - not sure yet if it's a fourth one or one of these three, but at any rate our little spinning/knitting group is well covered by wonders of one-skein or less! So now I need to pick a lovely pattern to use my new yummy Noro on!

Incidentally, I see that Chapters has all three titles on for 34% off right now, and a 20% discount on their irewards memberships. If you buy a lot of books, I heartily recommend it - it's not nearly as good as it used to be but nevertheless Ron and I always keep our membership current and get loads of coupons in the mail.

Only other thing to mention knitting-wise is that I finally finished that blue feathers and fan scarf but I think it's a bit short, so I'm going to take out the casting off and make it longer. I was worried about the length so I never cut the ball off, which means I can take out the CO and then just keep knitting until the ball is consumed. Which it will be before long!

Oh, and I was also given this totally fab vintage knitting bag that I'd been drooling over during the entire knit-a-thon as a thank you for helping to organize and get the word out. It came in as a donation, completely filled with needles which were divided up for door prizes, gifts and general use during the knit-a-thon and on Fibre Fridays. I told Chris that she ought to put the bag out for a door prize itself but she played skeptical - I think maybe she was saving it for a gift all along, the sneaky bugger. Not that I'm complaining: I. Love. This. Bag. It's vintage, it's my favourite colours, it's plenty long enough to fit a pair of straight needles into with knitting still attached, and it even matches my current project of that description. What's not to love? (Those are my new enormous 25mm broomsticks needles and my yummy Noro in there with the fan scarf, by the way.)

Okay, that's it for me for another week or so. I think I'll try to post something worthy at least every weekend since Scarf A Day is taking up my weekday blog-energy. Hopefully by next weekend I'll be able to impress you all with pics of the blankets I'm weaving on Mabes right now. :)

1. I tried to get pics of them all lined up side by side, but just couldn't figure it out. This has caused me grief in the past and will no doubt continue to do so in the future. Any Blogger users out there who can help me out?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where does the time go?

Here it is, more than a week since the Unspun Heroes last spin-in and I still haven't posted the pictures from the previous one! Have been meaning to do so for Quite Some Time, so without further ado, here are some pics from our February 8th gathering:

There was a fair amount of spinning...

...which required some carding as well:

There was also a bit of knitting...

...but mostly there was dyeing! There were tons of dye baths...

... containing both natural...

...and chemical dyes:

Or maybe Chris just likes to wear that mask - who can say?

Some folks painted the dye right onto their fibre rather than using a dye bath:

And some threatened to paint on me. I name no names. *cough*Prune*cough*

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The joy of socks (a little at a time)

Hey, long time no see! At least not here on HFD - I've been really busy over on Scarfaday lately. Turns out it's really hard to keep two busy blogs up to date all the time - who knew!? (Well, okay, I should have expected it and yet, I'm still kinda surprised. Colour me naive.)

I'm anxious to tell you about all kinds of stuff but I'm not gonna - not yet, anyway. "Why is this?" you may ask, and I shall tell you: it has to do with my new theme for the... month? Maybe a month, maybe a little less, maybe a whole lot longer. My theme for the time being, let's call it.

The theme is "Little by little," and my reasons for it are many. Mostly, I was trying to think of ways to make Scarfaday and all the other stuff I've got on my plate easier to do and more fun, but I also thought choosing a theme for a duration of time would be inspiring and helpful when it comes to making decisions - about design, about ways to spend my time and energy, about what to write on the blogs, ekcetera.

This particular idea for a theme suggested itself when I was starting to feel a bit burnt out on Knit-a-thon and Scarfaday stuff. I've always been a binger (as in"one who binges", tho' I am known to bing happily from time to time :) - I tend to do a whole lot of something for a while and then burn out and go do something else. One of the things "little by little" means to me is working on things incrementally - work a bit on a project, take a break. Work some more, take a break. Don't rush, don't burn out, get the job done all in good time.

"Little by little" is suggesting lots of design ideas, too. Things like working on items of a smaller scale, working on pairs of things that go side by side, working more slowly (something I've been thinking about a lot this year already), working in finer threads... It's going to be fun to see where all it takes me. :)

And so, although I'm dying to tell you all about tons of different things, I'm going to curb my inclination to write pages and pages about them all and just hit you with one thing at a time. I'll work through my list little by little, and maybe it'll be more fun to read about them that way, too. :) First up, the thing I've been meaning to talk about the longest: the joy of sock...amonth!

I was poking around online to see if anyone else had *aday blogs or something along those lines and somehow stumbled across a Sockamonth blog. People all over the world have signed up to knit a pair of socks every month and then post 'em when they're done. How cool is that!? I'm sure it will come as no shock at all that, since I'm a sucker for *aday (and, evidently, *amonth) projects and I've been loving the whole sock knitting thing since Mom got me hooked up with some needles and yarn at Christmas, I promptly signed up to participate.

My first pair of socks was due at the end of February but, happily, I actually already had them done. You remember those blue and green and yellow ones I'd been working on? When they last appeared on HFD, I'd just frogged the toe of the first one I'd finished in order to reknit it. I finished that up, Kitchenered the toes one both socks and was all set for Sockamonth! Easy peasey. :) Of course, since I didn't have to worry about getting them done in time, I promptly forgot all about posting them at all, and only barely remembered before the March 1 deadline. D'oh!

This is the picture I posted to the blog, mere hours before the end of the month. It's a bit cheesey, as we had friends coming over At Any Moment and plans for the evening, so I just bunged 'em on my feet, slapped some white paper down on the kitchen floor and tried to find some pleasing arrangement for mes pieds. It's kinda hard to get a good angle at your own feet without blocking the light coming from overhead, letmetellyou. Also: it's impossible (at least for me) to work your feet into a heart shape. This is probably for the best.

The socks way up at the top of this post ^^^ are the ones I've started for March. I quite like the colour and the railroad rib but I'm a bit worried that they're going to be way too big, 'cause this is stretchy yarn with some elastic in. Plus, I have no pattern for these in hand yet - I just cast on Some Stitches and am hoping that a pattern will miraculously appear in my inbox with the particulars sometime before I hit the heel. Also, I'm really anxious to knit a pair of toe-up socks and try out a really cool, really easy provisional cast on method I found on YouTube, so I might change gears and work on another pair for a while. A friend of mine gave me a toe-up pattern for fingering weight yarn at our last Unspun Heroes gathering that I might use, or I might use this pattern from Ravelry.1

Fortunately, the Sockamonth rules just say that you've got to finish the socks in the given month - doesn't matter a whit when you start them. Which makes it perfect for my little by little theme!

Hmm. My text to photo ratio is pretty high for this post. Oh well, what can you do? I'll try to talk less and pic more next time!

1. Yes, it's true: I've joined Ravelry. Ravelry, Twitter, Flickr, WeaveZine, I even rejoined Yahoo (gack!) and some obscure machine knitting thing... I've turned into such a joiner! I used to avoid all this stuff like the plague but now I can't seem to stop! Might have to apply The Theme(tm) to online groups as well. Ooo-arrr.