For the love of fine wooden tools

I have to tell you that a big part of my joy in weaving comes from my love of fine wooden tools. I love the color and grain of wood, and the way it feels in my hands. It is such a delight to handle a perfect shuttle, feeling the smooth contours and the silken finish.

In addition to the fiber I bought at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival, I bought these fine shuttles.

Rhinebeck 09 - 23The Birdseye Maple boat shuttle at the top was made by Jonathan Bosworth. It feels serious and sturdy in hand, and I really like the locking mechanism that lets you remove the spindle for those times when hairy yarn gets wrapped around it.

The red Bloodwood Swedish style shuttle is from Bluster Bay Woodworks. It is small and graceful, with a very low profile to glide through stubborn sheds.

Neither of these shuttles use my Schacht Bobbins. I plan to make paper quills using recycled junk mail, and use my Swedish bobbin winder to fill them.

Do you have a favorite shuttle?  Is it a work of art, or simply a workhorse?

Shades of green and iron

My tribe, the dear creative kindred spirits, bring me earthward and my discontent melts. Salad and green beans help me ground the pain of misunderstanding and sweet cider washes away the bitter taste of greed. All is not perfectly well, but much is better and I can breathe without the ragged breath of sobs overtaking me. Color has returned, the sweet green of the aged lock that guards my future. I am so over the coldness that overtook me on Saturday. I don’t need to fight petty obstacles that I can easily step over. I have things to do, roving to spin and fabric to weave. This is the way I usually feel after Rhinebeck. Stitches was just a wrong turn but I am back on my path and essentially unharmed. Thanks for your iron steadfastness and leafy vistas.

The day they locked up all the color

Continuing in the Colorless vein of my last post, I want to tell you about my trip to the Marketplace at Stitches East last Saturday.

Stitches East, if you aren’t familiar with it, is one of several regional knitters gatherings. You might compare it to NEWS in the weaving world, but with some critical differences.

It’s run by some knitting magazine, rather than by a knitter’s organization, and that created a cold atmosphere in my opinion.  Every little thing has a fee. I heard that the booth fees for vendors are outrageous. Even the demos were billed as Marketplace classes, with an attendant fee to be paid. There was one very generous weaver who gave free demos of the Ashford Knitter’s loom and invited people to give it a try. That was the spirit.

I don’t even have pictures to share with you.  Yep. That was forbidden. In all the years of attending fiber festivals like Rhinebeck, picture taking is at the discretion of the booth holder. You ask if you can take a picture for your blog, and they say yes or no.  End of story. I was too cold and stiff to take pictures at Rhinebeck, and was so looking forward to making up for it in the relative comfort of this indoor venue.

So, imagine if you will a convention center with nine rows of booths. There are black curtains dividing the booths, so the yarn displays are set in sharp contrast to the backdrops.  Most booths are clever displays of ordinary commercial yarn, but here and there, there is some of the most beautiful artisan yarn that you ever saw. Or handmade buttons and shawl pins.

Gita Maria had the most beautiful scarves to knit, yarn sold with a coordinating enamel on silver shawl pin. They are a narrow crescent knitted from ribbon yarn, with long ribbon and glitz fringes.  You’ll have to wait until I knit mine to see how pretty they are, because their web site only shows the larger shawls.

Kipuka Trading had sari silk ribbon, gorgeous bright strips sewn together to make yarn. I may cut it into narrower strips to weave, unless I use it as an accent in an otherwise light weight cloth. At the full width, beat firmly  it would create an interesting fabric for placemats or tote bags.

One booth was called the Incredible Stash Wall. The big corporate  sponsors of the event, yarn manufacturers,  each showcased five of their yarns. There were piles of short snippets below, to take home, and a large sheet of paper printed with descriptions, to stick the samples onto.  My snippets will go into my treasure basket, to be incorporated into some future weaving. Or not.

As pretty and glittery as it was, I felt lost without being able to use my camera.  I have scribbled notes on the back of receipts, and some of the vendors didn’t have their names on the receipts, much to my chagrin when I got home and tried to put things together.

I also felt out of place in the crowd. A lot of the knitters have very different interests than mine. Urban colors. Methodical work, not very spirited though well executed. Smooth, tame textures. Frump city. It was an older crowd, even the young people, and that’s a funny thing for this fifty-something to be saying.

People just didn’t interact much with strangers like they do at Rhinebeck. It was just plain cold.

Was there anything there for weavers?  Yes, if you like to incorporate knitting yarn into your work.

Will I go again next year?  Probably not. I’d rather freeze my fingers at Rhinebeck, than freeze my spirit in this colorless crowd.

Colorless

I am in Manhattan today after taking a wonderful break where I was immersed in color and texture.

I’m not impressed with what I am seeing. Black clothing. Tedious, suit-colored business suits. I have nothing in common with these people. They are not my tribe. I am sure they are interesting to someone, perhaps to themselves, but they do not interest me.  Even crows have better plumage than their unimaginative black, feathers rich with iridescent nuances.  Black is a good base color, a warp that ties together the random, glorious colors of weft. By itself, it’s not much for me.

I can’t wait to get back to the Aerie and surround myself with color.

Stormy Seas

Stormy Seas

I started spinning this roving before I left for Rhinebeck, thinking that I would clear out some space for something new. I’m still spinning it. This is the first skein, 65 yards of boucle with various wraps and cocoons. This is Ocean roving from Creatively Dyed, a merino/seacell blend. I plied it with Colrain Lace yarn from Webs, which is a beautiful and sturdy core yarn.

After weaving the threads of community, the shopping was grand.

moosie

There’s nothing more delightful than spending a day wandering through the vendor barns at Rhinebeck, taking in the intense colors, meeting friends, and of course, shopping.

I had given up on having a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. The waiting list was long, and the ordering process so arcane that one can wait for months and end up with nothing that one wanted in the first place. That’s what happened to me earlier this year.

What a surprise to find that I had my choice of five Moosie spindles on Saturday morning.  What a curiosity that this one looks nearly like the one that I wanted in the first place. What a joy that this sweet little spindle is mine and all the difficulties of obtaining one are behind me.

The wonderfully colorful fiber behind the spindle is a Party in a Bag from Puckerbrush Farm. It’s a pound of colorful fiber, locks, sparkly angelina and pure fun!

There are so many ways this beautiful fiber can be spun.

A thick, soft single

A slubby thick and thin single

A slubby medium twist yarn, to be spiral spun over a solid core yarn.

A bulky two ply.

Have a look at all the fiber that I bought. Do you think this will keep me spinning until NYS&W 2010?

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Click the thumbnails for some serious fibery goodness.

1. 16oz Starry Night from Tintagel Farms. 50% mohair, 50% wool and a dusting of angelina. I fell in love with this last year, but they had run out by the time I went back to buy it.

2. 18 oz. Party in a Bag from Puckerbrush Farms, in luscious autumn shades with hints of aqua, purple and angelina. Don’t you  just love the name?

3. 16 oz. Another Party in a Bag from Puckerbrush Farms, in blues, aqua and purple.

4. 32oz. Ocean roving from Creatively Dyed. Wool and Seacell. I’ve always wanted to spin enough yarn to knit a sweater. This should be it.

4. 7 oz. Dyed locks from Liberty Ridge Farm.

The threads of community converge

Contemplation

We are the weavers, we are the web. We are an extraordinary clan of spinners, knitters, dyers and weavers. We converged in Rhinebeck, NY for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, and wove a community that was spectacular but fleeting.

Friday was a beautiful day to drive up the Bronx River and Taconic Parkways. These are old roads, built for leisurely drives through the countryside. The autumn foliage was spectacular.

I traveled with my friend Jo. This was her first NYS&W. It was my eleventh. Honestly, I lost count years ago. I started going in ’88 or ’89, and missed a few along the way. Last year, I jokingly declared it my 10th visit, so I’m counting from there.

The threads of community are spun from the moment we decide to make the trip to the festival. Some become manifest in the clothing that we spin, knit and weave. We converge on Rhinebeck like so many spiders weaving our giant web. Anchor strands extend out to Finland, the UK, Canada, and across the US. (Other places as well. I’m thinking of the people that I met.)

Who are fiber folk? I like to think that as a whole, we are gentler and more creative than the norm. We value the Earth and her bountiful gifts. We are unconventional. We are warm. We are colorful.

Friday night at our hotel, we joined a circle of spinners and knitters. We shared wine and cheese. Fate seated me next to a woman who walks a similar spiritual path to mine, and we explored the idea of co-leading a spiritual journey that centers on spinning and weaving.

Old friends met again. New friends made. Welcome to our web.

Honest scrap!

I’m very honored that Tromp as Writ has received the Honest Scrap Award from a sister blogger, Life Looms Large.  When I return from the NY Sheep and Wool festival, I will share the honors with seven more bloggers of note.

Honest Scrap is a good metaphor for both the way I weave and the way I blog. Both are collages of my life, made from a bit of this and a bit of that.

Weaving connections

The New York Sheep and Wool Festival begins on Saturday and I am feeling that wonderful buzz of anticipation. Officially,  this is my eleventh year going to the festival, but I suspect I lost count years ago. I think the first year I attended was 1989, a few months before buying my first loom.

What really matters to me are the changes over the past few years. 2006 was my mother’s last visit to Rhinebeck, a special time together. In 2007, I was fragile and numb, seeing no color, buying only white wool. I think my psyche was wrapped in a thick layer of white wool, protecting me while I healed.  Last year, the color came back, and I reached out into the fiber community, meeting new friends Nancy and Donna, and reconnecting with people from the place I lived some eight years ago.

This year’s festival promises to be filled with people.  The weather threatens to be cold and wet, but there will be hugs under umbrellas, and the warmth of community.

When I tell people about the festival, I hear myself talking more about the people than the shopping. NYS&W  is so much more than barns filled with vendors. It’s a temporary community, a place where everyone shares a passion for yarn.  But a little shopping is a good thing, too.