June 03, 2013

Recent Activities

I have been doing yarn-related things, most of them not worth a blog post in themselves.

I have watched more film adaptations of Shakespeare than is even usual for me: the old yet timeless Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet, a recent Stratford Festival production of The Tempest played for broad laughs with Christopher Plummer in a clever robe with electronics sewn in to simulate static sparks, an austerely staged King Lear with Ian Holm, a brutal modern British adaptation of Othello, and a live production of The Winter's Tale where the thief Autolycus stole the show as well as the wallets.

It's been quite enjoyable, and I will shush that part of me that regrets not spinning yarn while I watched.  I may have said before, Shakespeare is compatible with handspinning because understanding depends more on listening than watching.  I can watch my drafting and not the screen.

I've seen Coriolanus, Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar, the BBC Titus Andronicus, King John, Macbeth, Hamlet, Coriolanus again but with big actors and modern military uniforms, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, Henry VIII, Timon of Athens, another Macbeth, more than one version of Twelfth Night, Two Men of Verona, and the BBC Much Ado about Nothing.  The more I watch, the more I see themes and patterns in the work.  I would post about that, but we're here for yarn and cloth so I will restrict myself to talking about Desemona's handkerchief and the like.

With that list, you can begin to see why I've put the task off into the future and so compounded the work as the titles have piled up.  It's best to do things as they arise, certainly.

The larger, heavier fibre arts books on my reading list are languishing behind the smaller ones, with bookmarks fifteen percent of the way in and not budging.

I had a conversation with some weaver friends about how we put off the larger projects that take more planning and involve more steps.  Weaving gets edged out by knitting and dyeing projects, and simple small knitting projects edge out complicated ones.

Sometimes large complicated plans just fall off the to-do list.  I had a good look at the yarn that contributed to the tablet woven strap I started at a demo.  I asked myself whether I like the colours and the fibre content enough to warp more for the body of a small purse.  Or rather, the question was whether I was willing to overlook my dislike of earth-tone cotton and go to extra trouble for the sake of making a slightly more interesting finished product.  I found the answer was no.  Soon the cones of donated yarn will go back from whence they came and the floor of the wool room will get a smidgen more tidy.

I finally sewed hems on my handwoven linen bath towel and hand towel in Ms and Os.

I learned to hemstitch on the loom and loved doing it, better than sewing hems.

I read Anni Albers' On Weaving (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1965), and learned more about art and what it means for a textile to be weaverly.  Here is a small but representative quote: "our stamp is or should be immediate or implicit lucidity, a considered position, a reduction to the comprehensible by reason or intuition in whatever we touch." (p. 72)  There was one plate of a Coptic textile in the book that I am sure is språng.

I knit in public at an outdoor market, where a man came up to say his mother used to knit and he hadn't seen anyone knit in a long time.  He said she could knit and carry on a conversation without looking at her knitting.  I like that about knitting in public, people talk to you where they never would ordinarily and they tell you stories of family.

I got to see a old darning egg scarred by darning needles.  It was originally used, so the story went, by the mother of someone's grandmother or great-aunt.

A member of my extended family will have a child this year, so I have a reason to make small knitted things if I wish.

I listened to an online archived radio interview of the author of Overdressed about the consequences of fast fashion, including the recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh (called the "world's worst garment industry disaster" by the CBC), and ways people can effect change.

I have been keeping a reference list of interesting third-party events for the handspinning guild I belong to, and I recently switched from a text-based list to an electronic calendar.  It has some advantages.  Anyone can copy an event easily into his or her own calendar account and with a few clicks arrange to have an email arrive in their mailbox to remind them a day ahead or a week ahead.

It was a bit of a thrill to get the embedding code, and put it on the guild website and have the calendar go live.  I was also able to integrate calendar entries from two neighbouring guilds who also use the same electronic calendar system and were kind enough to share.

The new calendar suffers from the same problem as the old: guild members have to remember to go and check the website or check their subscription in their own electronic calendar.  There's no help for that, as far as I can see, except perhaps occasionally posting a digest of the latest additions on the electronic discussion board.  The calendar's there if people want it.  When I was a newcomer to the guild and to handspinning, I had to gather this valuable information gradually through conversation, learning what annual conferences there were, and what festivals were on, and what craft schools offered classes.  Now you can see at a glance.  Might take away the fun of discovery, but it accelerates access to opportunities and I like that.

I have woven half of my first placemat ever and it's waiting in the class studio for me to get back to it.  Or I'm waiting to get back to it, take your pick.  There are two places where my threading error is plainly obvious.  The other two errors recede from notice.  I regret not fixing the threading.

I did have the wit not to make the same error with the treadling.  The pattern is twill variations, and the spacial relationships in the treadling patterns looks a lot like those of the threading.  I overlapped the places that would have given me two picks in one shed if I'd depressed the treadles in sequence as written when I transitioned from one variation to another.

I cannot say that I care for many of the twill variations that are appearing in the cloth.  As expected the only one I like is the bird's eye.  I am particular in my taste and consistent.  If I was going to thread the warp again, I would thread it for only bird's eye.  It's one of those situations where you can plan and guess how you'll receive a finished object but it's only when you see the item in the concrete that you know for certain what you think of it.

I found my missing, well-loved linen jacket.  It was hanging in the clothes closet which is deep with two rods, one in front of the other.  I need more linen clothes and linen bed clothes.  I have had to be out in the sun and heat more days than I have changes of long-sleeved linen shirts and slacks.

My språng bog hood that went to a medieval re-enactment event for display was well received, if the accompanying kind tokens of approval and comments are anything to go by.  When I talked to someone who'd been to the event and who had stood near the display, I realized that in my documentation I'd neglected to include the basic information about how språng works.  I feel fortunate she was there to tell people who asked.

tokens of approval left with my språng hood

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