Thursday, August 14, 2008

Babes in Mali

Sidiki Ouattara, who is the director of the government agency on handicrafts in Mali and my contact for the project Charkhas for Africa, just sent this photo. He writes that the women are from Nonsombougou and that they are beneficiaries of our spinning wheel project. Mr. Ouattara reports that he will be going to Nonsombougou next week to deliver the third Babe spinning wheel.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lace Reader

If you like novels and you spin and knit, you should be reading -- or listening to -- this book by Brunonia Barry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Embroidery by Takashi Iwasaki

The artist is a Canadian of Japanese descent. More of his works here. He is featured in the current issue of Selvedge. Amazing work. And it sort of updates Constance Howard's medium of choice by throwing in images reminiscent of Alexander Calder's sculptures and mobiles while using Iwasaki's own palette of colors. Wow!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Delightful Handspun

This sweater was spun and knit by a Japanese blogger, musktenjin0715.

It looks like an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern, but this one was designed by Naganasu of Witch's Knitting Room. Using top-down knitting, Naganasu employed short rows to have a deeper neckline in front. See comparison in this photo.

The pattern is written in Japanese AND English (Yay!) The patterns are in two versions: Short Row and Simple

By the way, Musktenjin's buttons were handmade.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Darn It!

I ordered this book (ISBN-10: 4894446561 ) from thinking that it was a how-to craft book.

And I thought that it would be a nice companion piece to this book (ISBN-10: 4579111273) on darning (read review by fluffbuff here):

I was a bit disappointed to learn upon receiving my order that the book is only a guide to cool shops in Japan. However, through the book I discovered this online shop called tarco which is a great source of crafting inspiration.

See samples here:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Six meters of warp later...

Here's over five yards of fabric.

Selvedge view:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

And the weft goes on...

Still working on the initial six meters of warp that came with the loom already installed. The weft is yarn handspun by Florence of Le Mouchon.

Friday, June 06, 2008

LIttle Miss Saori

There she is comfortably settled in the living room straight from Loop of the Loom. It took about 45 minutes to set her up.

Up close. Started with leftover Noro Silk Garden yarn and added corriedale roving bits. The last rows are made of handspun from a Tintagel Farm roving.

The piece was woven with no instructions other than watching the Springwater Fiber Workshop's Sheep-to-Shawl team at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival last month.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Nearly done

This was started day after MSWF four weeks ago. It could have been finished in a couple of days, but then there was a week in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a long weekend of camping in Harrisonburg, Va. I spent the whole day Sunday doing the remaining 50 percent of the shawl and I have a sore back today.

Yarn used was Peace Fleece's Moscow Magic Pink, a tweedy DK sport weight spun with 30 percent mohair and 70 percent wool. The 7-foot triangle used up an entire skein of 350 yards length (4 oz.). It looks very plain so I'm adding inlay, echoeing the colors of the tweed bits.

The inlay work, using Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted in Limeade, Aztec Turquoise and Regal Purple. I'm also adding Lotus Pink and Fushia.

The fringe.

Monday, May 05, 2008

During and After MSWF

Photo taken at Carol Leigh's Hillcreek Fiber Studio booth at the festival.

At home the following day.

Up close.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Florence has arrived!

My friend, Florence, who's a Gotland sheep farmer from Liège, Belgium, arrived this afternoon from Brussels. Tomorrow, Friday, we attend Bob Padula's Wool Science seminar at Howard County, Maryland.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Majacraft Magic Weekend

The Majacraft spinning camp was held last weekend in the North Island of New Zealand and I received a message last Monday on Ravelry from kiwijoy with her account of it. Here goes:

Hi Therese,

I’m sure you want to know how the camp went!! Good weather and lots of fun. I was very good and didn’t buy anything. Tracy White with Inspire Fibres, Michelle Aplin with the Finn wool and Kim Priest with alpaca fibre and some books. Tracy’s beautiful colours were especially tempting.

Have you tried spinning with the Stylus yet? I really struggle with it and feel very dumb. I can see how fast it can be.

Glynnis and I thought our block printing was a disaster as the mixture wasn’t stamping well when Glynnis hit on the idea to put another piece of thin foam on top of the dye mixture and it worked well then. We had plastic meat trays with a piece of thin foam, then some dye which was thickened, etc. and another piece of foam on top. Because Glynnis and I were getting our mixture ready, we missed most of the flax class. I think the man was from the Netherlands and they made a grasshopper and a small basket. Not really my thing.

Pat Old held a very rushed class showing three novelty yarns. Both she and Glynnis have the new book, “Intertwined”, so getting inspired there. The first yarn was a single of a fine fibre like merino, half-breed, corriedale, etc. plyed with a yarn that has been made up of lengths of fancy commercial yarn tied together that have been run through the wheel to put more twist in. You might then choose to overdye the whole skein. She called this “Thrum yarn”.

The second yarn was called “Mainland Jazz" which is a tuft yarn but using eight-inch lengths of fancy commercial yarns as the tufts. The main fibre was shrink-treated merino top (used because the commercial yarns are mostly non-shrinking).

The third yarn was “Yarn Soup” which is fibre carded with lengths of different yarns approximately the same length as the staple length. Predraft and spin thick yarn wrapping it as you spin it softly with another yarn. Another step after that would be to felt it and overdye it.

Pat Old did a dyeing class which I didn’t do as I had seen her demonstrate at her home in January and didn’t feel like winding the huge skein - about 25 metres wound on a warping board or similar. I just wandered around taking photos and finding out what colours people were choosing.

You divided your skein in six equal parts and chose three dye colours. You measured out three colours into separate jars and mixed with water and vinegar and detergent. Each section of skein was put into a plastic bag. You then poured first colour into first bag, second colour into third bag and third colour into fifth bag (missing a bag each time). You gently pressed on each bag until no white is showing and squeeze out air and securely tie each bag. For the three remaining bags, you put in a mixture of the three colours in each bag pouring each colour carefully in a different part of the bag. (Am I clear as mud here ?) You then put your six bags in a big plastic bag, sealed it off and then steamed over boiling water. Some of the colour schemes were fantastic.

The other class was with Cilla Kuzamaner in needle felting. I was amazed at how quickly the wool stuck. We made beads by winding fibre around a kebab stick and then going for it with a very lethal felting needle, and then Cilla showed us how to make a little man. Cilla comes to our night spinning group and some of her creations are out of this world.

Glynnis gave out a challenge of spinning carded fibre mixed with shredded paper. Most people didn’t think much of this!! I never got round to trying mine.

Andrew Poad put on a presentation showing Creative web sites - Ravelry being one of them. There was this guy there called David and I recognised him straight away as David from Ravelry so that was a huge laugh. Pat Old is koruspinna and Andrew Poad is Andypandy. I haven’t persuaded anyone to join Ravelry yet. They all say they’re not that into computers. It is a time waster, I must say. David and Pat were commenting how nasty some people get on the forums and they didn’t like that.

There was a lady from NSW in Australia who had come especially for the weekend but I think the rest of us were North Islanders.

Well, must get back to cooking the dinner.


Friday, April 18, 2008

I have got to go to Loop of the Loom

Linda Hurt teaches Saori at Springwater in Alexandria, VA, but it just started without me. :(

Happily, I found out that Loop of the Loom, a Saori studio in Englewood, NJ, occasionally holds classes in Manhattan. They offer 2-hour classes, with the option to take two consecutive classes for a 4-hour session.

Here is the website of Loop of the Loom . Look at all the colors and textures in its photo album.

In June I'm taking John Marshall's class on Clothing Designs of the World - Creating Your Own Fashions Based on Ethnic Traditions at Springwater. It would be awesome to combine Saori weaving with making clothes! It sure would be nice to take a Saori class this summer.

Saori loom at work here by clicking on "Tips".

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I want to discover Saori!

What is Saori?
Saori: its beginning

Here are new books that look interesting:

Saori: Self Discovery through Free Weaving by Misao Jo and Kenzo Jo

Handmade Style: Weave by Wendy Cartwright, an Australian

The Ashford Book of Projects, Vol. 1, a follow-up to The Ashford Book of Weaving for Knitters. This is for weavers who use the Ashford Knitter's Loom or the Rigid Heddle Loom.

And finally, an updated edition of The Ashford Book of Dyeing by Ann Milner.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Update: Charkhas for Africa Project

So, at the beginning of this year I pledged a delivery of one Babe Pinkie and one Strauch hand carder a month to Malian spinners through the National Center for the Promotion of Artisanal Arts in Bamako headed by Sidiki Ouattara.

The shipment for January went out. I put the address, a PO Box, that was in Mr. Ouattara's business card. Two weeks went by and while tracking the package which goes out by DHL (at a wholesale rate of $55 through my employer), it seemed to me that it was stuck at the DHL depot in Bamako. I emailed Mr. Outtara and asked him to check with the DHL office because the package had arrived. He said he would go there personally.

More weeks went by and still I hadn't heard from Mr. Outtarra. I had the February shipment ready to go, but I didn't want to send it without confirmation of the first delivery. Usually I get a prompt reply or update from Mr. Ouattara; this time things were quiet on the email front. So, I emailed him to check.

Mr. Ouattara reported that, because I had put the (wholesale) price of the items on the shipping form, he was taxed 100 percent. OMG!

Unfortunately, I always have to put a price when sending by DHL as labeling a package a "gift" is not an option. Probably for insurance purposes, in case the item is damaged or lost. I had been sending PVC spinning wheels and Strauch carders to two women's coops in Segou three hours away and all items were always received without any problem.

Probably, sending to a PO Box was a bad idea. Probably Bamako, being Mali's major city, the people there have less of a sense of community that you would find in a more rural place like Segou where they would give a non-profit organization like Mr. Ouattara's a break. Who knows?

Anyway, the February package was sent to a physical address and I underpriced the items; I mean WAY under price. In less than a week I received a thank you note from Mr. Outtara:

"I have just received this morning a package containing a wheel and a pair of hand carders this time without having to pay anything. I think that we have found a system that works.

"On March 19 I met the members of the women's association of Nonsomboubou located 62 km from Bamako and I took the opportunity to talk to them about your availability to help them in their work with cotton. They are very pleased and would like to get to know you better.

"I will be in Antananarivo (Madagascar) for the conference on Indian Ocean textiles. As soon as I return, I will contact you again for the next one."

By the way, I have moved the Charhas for Africa online shop back to Material Whirled. I find that Etsy has become so big it's so easy to get lost in the crowd.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Looking forward to MSWF in May

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2008 website is up and for the first time in two years, I'm in town in May. Yay!

One more thing to be happy about, this is the first time I'm not going alone. My friend, Florence, from Liège, Belgium, is coming to the US just for the festival and we will do the 40-minute drive to Howard County together. Yay! Yay!

Florence runs an online fiber business, Les laines du Mouchon, and raises sheep in her neighborhood where she has over 70 of them. Florence breeds an assortment of them, but among the Tricofolk Forum spinners, she is best known for the soft wool fibers of her Gotlands whom she fondly calls, my "gogottes".

Florence in her backyard.

When Florence is not tending her flock, she joins craft fairs and holds spinning and dyeing workshops at her home with the help of hubby, Jean-Marc, who is gifting her the MSWF trip for Mother's Day this year.

Jean-Marc assisting with a drum carding demo.

A few days ago, Florence, her sheep and her spinning were featured in a Belgian television as part of a series on women who have unusual interests. See the video here.

Jean-Marc and Florence taking the sheep to graze in a field near the neighborhood.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Springwater Fiber Workshop Reopens!

In mid-November I wrote an obit for Springwater which had suddenly closed down for lack of funds (it's a non-profit organization). Since then the fiber school and shop has rebounded with over $100,000 in donations.

The grand re-opening happened yesterday and along with it came the Spring issue of the Springwater newsletter. In it you will see that I will be teaching a half-day class on Carding Tricks and Techniques.

By the way, Jacey Boggs is also teaching. She's doing a full-day class on Coils and a two-day class on Spinning Art Yarns. I met Jacey when Pluckyfluff came to the East Coast in Fall 2005 for a spinning workshop in Pennsylvania. At that time her monster hat knit kits were already selling like hotcakes. Since then she has moved on art yarns and is coming up is her own spinning video.

To further help support Springwater, I'm taking John Marshall's class on Clothing Designs of the World - Creating Your Own Fashions Based on Ethnic Traditions while Mr. JumpSheep is signing up for Roderick Owen's class on Japanese Braiding on the Marudai and Takadai

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Majacraft Magic Weekend is back!

The camp will take place from Friday the 18th until Sunday the 20th of April. This will be a weekend packed with learning and fun, and the chance to meet the wonderful Majacraft team, which is also the entrie Poad family (Owen, Glynnis, their sons Rob and Andy). During the 2006 Magic Weekend, Rob and Andy gave our wheels a maintenance check, gratis et amore.

Not that maintenance of a Majacraft wheel is necessary, but if you treat it badly, that's another story. I remember there was one spinner who kept oiling her wheel and that was a disaster. So remember, no oiling those sealed ball bearings!

Friday, February 22, 2008

On Sale: Yarns from France for Charkhas for Africa

I have just uploaded donated skeins of yarn on Etsy. You may check them out by clicking on the Charkhas for Africa button or "Goes to Etsy" on the right column. The one on the photo is of Collie dog hair. All the yarns are donations from France. Mille mercis, Muriel et Yvette.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Francophone Spinners' Annual Yarn Exchange

I was away overseas for the Valentine's Day yarn exchange of the Tricofolk Forum so I only got my package today when I went to pick up two week's worth of mail at the post office. Here's what I found in the mail.

It's a beaded yarn from Yvette, along with Scottish soap, British chocolate and a handknit pouch. On the greeting card, she wrote: "I have only been spinning since August; I hope that you don't mind being paired with a beginner." A beginner? This yarn looks like a pro's! Yvette is Scottish, but lives in Echirolles, France. Merci et tant de bises, Yvette!

My "godlchild" was Elo and this is what she received.

I find that a sampling of KoolAid always perks up a care package headed towards Europe because it's not available there. : )

Monday, January 21, 2008

When family comes to visit...

...spinning takes a break (note Suzie in the foreground).

Prepping crackling roast pork (recipe based on Nigel Slater's and Jamie Oliver's).

Portrait of the bro as a gourmand.

Lunch over, Mr. JumpSheep is ready to take my niece shopping.

Indeed, this long weekend has been eat, sleep and shop.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Happy New Beginning for Charkhas for Africa

Charkhas for Africa. The name has stuck, but it has actually moved on to spinning wheels. Following my Skype conversations with Sidiki Ouattara of Tissutèque, I have pledged a delivery of a Babe Pinkie and a Strauch hand carder for every month of the year 2008. Each package, a wheel and a hand carder, will be given to a Malian spinner.

As always, I'm grateful to Otto Strauch and Nels Wiberg of Babe's Fiber Garden for giving me a favorable arrangement. The packages will be sent by DHL and they should be received in a matter of days. My office is kind enough to extend to me its discounted rate.

Happy New Year to all!