One year in and things here have their routines: Tuesdays are farm day now, the day when I pick up flowers from the flower farm, go to the meat store at the farm up the road (it’s an honour system store where you write down and pay for what you take), and pick up my veggie csa box. Up above you can see that for $20 a week I get a mighty load of flowers. Same goes for the veggie box – and so I come home from my drive around loaded with most of my groceries for another week. We don’t have a dairy on the island, so I get that and imported veggies from the grocery – as well as any prepared goods…. but as I purchase all my dry goods in bulk through an organic buyers group, I’m finding the grocery visits are less now that growing season is here.
As I’ve not been posting much, I thought I would take a moment to recap all the textile things which I’ve worked on or finished in the last few weeks – as my daily routine involves a healthy amount of studio time these days, and on sunny days I’ve been sitting on my deck with some hand work. I realize as I post this that pretty much everything I am showing you will be given away – a pleasing thought of time well spent while I learn and learn some more.
But first of all I will show off the gift to myself purchased 18 months ago and now finished and ready to weave on — Alice!
You might remember this purchase from around my birthday in 2016. I’ve written about her a couple of times, in particular I detailed restoration efforts here. After not working on this much over the last few months, I buckled down a couple of days ago and finished waxing the last shaft bars, putting heddles on them, and putting new cord onto the brake mechanism. Which means that she’s pretty much ready to weave on whenever I get a warp on and put ties on the treadles for the bottom shafts to attach to. I’m a bit nervous about this, as a countermarch loom is quite a different beast from anything I’ve worked on today. On the other hand, this last week I realized how this loom expands – and that it could easily be an 8 or 12 shaft loom with some additional wooden jacks, shaft bars, and treadles – so *if* I can get it to go, it could end up being all the loom I ever need. My dad has offered to turn any wood pieces that I need and it appears easy to remove jacks and treadles to use as templates for new ones. (For those who don’t weave – more shafts = more complex pattern capabilities.)
So while waiting on that loom, I’ve been weaving on Little-J for the last few weeks – a loom that initially I was skeptical of but have come to understand much better and appreciate for its simplicity. I’ve also realized that many of the problems I’ve had with the loom are due to my own lack of knowledge – I tied up incorrectly when I got it, and that’s created some abrasion on the texsolv cords (causing breakage), and I have been forgetting to separate heddles on both sides of the loom to create more balance in the shafts. Also, I don’t think this loom is really good for more than six yards of fabric at a time as it’s not big enough.
For the most part I’ve got it figured out now, though I still need to re-tie some cord. In any case I’ve just finished the fabric for six tea towels in two colours – the purple view is shown below with a strip of the dark blue. The weft is three gradating colours (violet, grey, beige):
I still need to hem the ends of the towels for a finish – but that is a short bit of work and I’ve got three new sets of towels – two to give away, and one for our house. Now I’ve got a silk and wool scarf on the loom, in colours that I love but cannot wear (green makes me look sickly) – so this is definitely going to be a gift:
This yarn is beautifully soft but I’ve encountered something that I hadn’t yet experienced – because of the slipperiness of the yarn, there is no grip and so if I’m not careful the weave pattern gets lost if I beat it too hard (it packs right down and you can’t see a pattern at all). On the other hand, it’s fingering weight which means it is going much faster than a tea towel – so I should have this off the loom in a few days time – and then I’ll probably put more tea towels on since I’ve got some visiting later this summer and those make good gifts.
In knitting news I have finished eight memorial scarves to be given to the circle of our friend Bronwyn who passed away one year ago. Only seven are pictured here as I was finishing the last one when it was taken. Thus far I’ve given two of them to their intended recipients and have six more to pass along as I see people this summer. Knitting these over the last year was a form of processing, remembrance, and quiet sitting in honour of my friend’s chaotic, brilliant, and tragic life – tinged with the richness of intended gift to those friends who remain. The scarves are all striped (in deference of B’s love of stripes) and hobo-style triangle neckerchiefs to mark her days of travel. She probably would have found this quite ridiculous – or been flattered – or a combination of the two:
As I was finishing number eight – I knew that one more would still have to come after the anniversary of B’s death – for a friend who lives out east these days — but just as that happened, the friend out east wrote and told us that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer, so instead of a memorial scarf I will be knitting her a comfort shawl – something I’ll start as soon as the yarn I ordered arrives.
Finally, I have picked up an embroidery project that I prepped almost two years ago and then never started. This will be a bag or a panel for a bag once it’s done:
Embroidery isn’t something I have done much of – I am imprecise and impatient with it most of the time, which means I’ve never practiced enough to get beyond that state. As I get older however, I’ve noticed that once something is finished and usable – I’m rarely concerned with its perfection – which frees me to do what I want! And so I’m stitching – this will be for myself as I can’t get enough of small project and picnic bags in my life.
As I close this little review of work in the past few weeks I am reminded of the passage by Kahlil Gibran – which I take to heart more and more as I cut, sew, weave, and stitch each made thing to be passed from hand to hand:
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.