Monday, June 30, 2008


After two months of waiting, and wondering, "Will I be able to go to Convergence??", I finally got the answer....YES!! We left BRIGHT and early Friday morning...around 7:30 actually. Six of us headed down in two cars. We must have arrived sometime right around 9am opening. By the time we parked, found the convention center, bought our tickets, it was open.

I have to say, this was one of the most wonderful days I've had in a while. Convergence is the Handweavers Guild of America convention. It occurs once every two years, and moves around the country. This year it was in TAMPA!! There were many amazing classes in weaving, spinning, knitting, etc, offered throughout the entire week. For those of us who couldn't swing the rather high tuitions, there was a day admission price for vendors and the exhibit hall.

I had decided long before arriving there that there were two things I was interested in... books for some of my new hobbies, and fiber for spinning on the great wheel. I'll say right now, I was highly successful in BOTH goals!

One of the first booths I found was Braiding with Margo, a woman from California who carries extensive Kumihimo supplies and references, as well as many related crafts. I picked up this great braiding book, as well as a foam braiding board, pre-strung for a Laramie braid. The black board here is the braid I started Monday night at the local SCA meeting.

I started working the Laramie braid when we left Tampa Friday evening. I finished it Saturday afternoon while sitting out with a friend at her booth for a craft sale. Here's the board and completed braid!
The other book that I picked up at Tampa is this Tablet Weaving book by Peter Collingwood. I'm THRILLED with this book! It has a great survey of ancient Tablet Weaving finds, both extant textiles as well as a variety of tablets and looms.

Also for the tablet weaving, I picked up several cones of weaving cotton as well.

With the new braiding and weaving obsessions covered, it was time to move on to the existing obsession - spinning! I had already decided that for the Great wheel, I really wanted a nice, loosely prepared, natural fiber. I found the Illinois Green Pastures Fiber Cooperative, through their distributor, Esther's Place. I had heard about the co-op previously, and been given flyers and brochures, but wool is one of those things that you just need to SEE and FEEL in order to find the right one. I could have taken ONE OF EVERYTHING from Esther's Place. I did find restraint somewhere or are two bumps of Icelandic Wool (Moorit & Black/Silver), a bump of Romney (Mint), one of Shetland & Lincoln (Copper), a hand dyed braid of Montadale top (blue, purple, green), and two batts of fluffy light roving (shades of blue - with a bit of angelina)! Oh, did I mention my sheepy? It's a felted sheep cache with lavender in the middle. I'm taking him to work to be our office mascot...and so there'll ALWAYS be wool around for me to pet! ALL of these preps are very loose and fluffy, and I can't WAIT to spin them on the Great! Incidentally, I've put them all up on Ravelry with better individual pictures.

And, for my final purchase/challenge, I bought a pound of raw Merino fleece. Just look at that lovely crimp and detail!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Naalbinding and Fingerloop Braiding

Surprised to see me back so soon? After a crazy busy week at work, I was very ready for this weekend. Didn't really go knitting Saturday morning - I actually took my Lendrum and the beautiful green Corriedale that I've been spinning for a while. Between Saturday morning, then Saturday night going to the coffeehouse to see L sing, I finished all the singles and made a good start on plying it. Will finish that up soon and show you pics.

Remember this yarn I showed you before? The first yarn spun on my great wheel.

You also might remember that I mentioned a new interest in historical fiber arts, including Naalbinding. Well, I wanted to make something useful but period-ish, so dug out the wool shown above and dove into my first naalbinding project head-on! It turns out, I was in need of an accessory bag for my great wheel. I got a little stuck on how to do the eye-holes to thread the drawstring through, but I sorta improvised. Then there was making the actual drawstring. I decided to learn another very old technique, called Fingerloop Braiding. It worked pretty well, and only took about 15 minutes to create the entire braid once I got moving on it.

Here you can see the bag with the accessories it is designed to hold. The wool finger, a block of rosin, and an oil bottle. And thank goodness FOR the bag....I recently started looking for my wool finger and could NOT find it! It was starting to really worry me, I looked everywhere! Talked to a friend, reviewing all of the places I'd already looked.... and thought of one more...under the stove. Dug out a light and laid down on the floor...and.... there it was! Way at the back of course. Tried to fish it out with the broom handle, but no luck there either. Coathanger to the rescue! As you can see, it is safely back, and now has it's own pouch to be stored in.

And since it hangs right on the wheel, I won't have to worry about losing it!

Now that the wheel pouch was completed and the wool finger found, I can spin!

This is about 2 oz of Holly Birch Fibers "Turquoise in the Rough" - 45% wool, 45% alpaca, 5% silk, 5% tencel, purchased at Hanks Yarn & Fiber in Gainesville.

It's a lovely fiber with a nice hand, including a lot of the natural grease still in the wool. Here's the first single on the great wheel:

Two cops plyed together:

And here it is, the final result! It came out to just over 100 yards for the 2 oz.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where DID the time go?

I've thought about blogging many times in the past month...and I know that at least a few of you out there are still trying to read (Hi Maggie!!). It's just that there's been SOOO much going on that it was hard to even drag myself back...

So, this will be the abbreviated version...captions and highlights, to try to get me back on track...

I went up to NY at the beginning of April - this is my adorable niece at 15 mo...

Here's a pair of Baby Surprise Jackets I made for Adeline's "impending twins". I mailed them on 5/14 and they were born on 5/15! A boy and a girl, one of each.

Some yarns I finished in May...the first is from our spinning class in January. It's the first thing that I've successfully Navajo plyed! The second is a skein of merino spun on the Great Wheel.

In Mid April, Judy Pascale came down for another class. As always she was a wonderful teacher and great person to hang out with! The first is a reversible cable bag - LOVE it!!

This is the start of a beaded bag. I'm making it to match my Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoat (which is coming along well).

Also in April I did a lot of cleaning and reorganizing. Bought two awesome shelves from Ikea that have completely changed my living space. The kitties approve. It's not DONE, but it's much better than it was. I also had a yard sale in April to get rid of a lot of stuff that just needed to GO!

Since then, I've joined the Society for Creative Anacronysm, more commonly known as the SCA. In a nutshell it's learning about and playing in the middle ages. I need a persona, which I've started to develop. It's heavily rooted in family history - I'm experimenting with the name Raeghel after my Dutch maternal ancestor in this country, Rachel. I've been to two events, made three dresses, have plans for more dresses. In addition, I've learned Naalbinding, a yarn and needle technique that predates knitting. I have much more to learn about it, but you have to start somewhere! I'm also interested in learning about Inkle Weaving and Tablet Weaving. Here's the Inkle Loom that M, B, and I made last week. Haven't warped it or tried it out just yet...but will very soon.

Also recently got a fabulous book about Great Wheels written by Katy Turner. She has a deep level of respect and love for the Great Wheel, and reading her book has gotten me interested in digging deeper into the exploration of my Great.

I hope you can see, with all that, and knowing that you are getting only the highest level version, why I haven't been here much... But I promise to try to be better about it, now that I've caught up with the past.

Oh, and I'm thrilled to report that I got a new laptop in the middle of that too, which has improved my computing experiences greatly!!