Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Slogging along

In every larger project, there is a spot where the novelty has worn off, you've still got a bazillion hours to go and it feels like you're getting nowhere.

The doily commission has firmly hit that state. With 560 stitches in every round, just getting through one round is a quest, let alone the next 30 that still remain to be done. (Every other round adds about 10 more stitches.. give or take a few, so it'll be more by the time I'm casting off.) It's finally gotten moved onto a 36" needle, so it looks a bit more like lace and less like a lot of squished cotton.

I didn't get nearly as much of it done at GenCon as I'd hoped. We spent more time walking and looking at things than sitting where I could knit. Which isn't a bad thing, over all, other than for my sore feet. :) Onwards and outwards!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fian challenge

So finally, after a couple of mis-starts, I've presented my challenge in court and it was accepted and all that good stuff, so I can start nattering about it here.

White Wolf Fian, for those who don't keep up on esoteric A&S groups in Ealdormere,  (And why don't you, really? ;)) is a challenge order who aims to basically prod folks into pushing their own artistic / craftsman boundaries. Self directed, about a year long project that is one of those that's just outside your reach when you start, or so the theory goes. (Sometimes the evaluation of what's a suitable challenge for someone gets a touch intimidating to read. Yow, but I digress.)

I'm a lacemaker, even if my lace of choice is not pre-17th century. (Yes, I still call myself a lacemaker, even for my first lace love being the red headed stepchild of the lacemaking world. Suck it, traditionalists!) Since turning up at the SCA, I went and bobbled around with bobbin lace (enjoyable, still in the learning queue, likely now and forever), and wanted to poke around at the other main early lace, needle lace. Which is a big broad term that means many things to many people, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.

So I presented a challenge to look at two main needle lace techniques found commonly in Venice in the 16th century, Punto en Aria and Reticilla. The first has no fabric foundation, you build up from threads, and the second ostensibly starts with a linen base, but by the time you've done all the cutting away, you seriously just have threads and a lot of embroidery left.

The final aim for this, is to make myself a needle lace flag fan, inspired by this piece.

16th century flag fan in the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts

I am so not making an exact replica of this fan. Not even in a year do I think that my skills will be up to /that/. I hope to make something inspired by this fan, which doesn't suck. Not sucking is a high priority here. :)

I've started a punta en aria bookmark tutorial, so you can see where I'm starting from in trying to get towards that. Behold, I have a long long way to go:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Needle lace bookmark

I finally took the deep breath plunge and actually started a needle lace bookmark that I've been hauling around the directions (A handout by Mistress Meadhbh ni Dhubhthaigh, thank you!) for in my folder for months. MONTHS. Seriously brain, this is not that complicated or even all that exciting. It's string and some card and more string. If it's awful, you're going camping next week and can throw it in the fire.

It's a super beginner little bookmark, basically spending more time learning how to couch threads down onto a pricking, how to work over threads, how to hide ends. All the basics that one really needs to know. The pattern suggested starting with size 5 cotton, but as I'm already well familiar with small threads, I grabbed a scrap ball of size 30. (That and I have an entire ikea box of size 30 in stash and I'd have to go buy size 5. It's like ROPE to me. Size 30 seemed giant enough. Ahhh, perspective.)

I shrunk the pattern down a bit to be more pleasing to my eye (oh yeah, and cause I'm using smaller thread), and then couched down the border. Now its a never ending stream of button hole around said border. I had thought my tension on the border threads was pretty good, now that I'm working on it, it could have been tighter. I think it'll be fine in the end, but its fairly floppy before I get it covered. Also, I need to work on my button hole stitch consistency. Story of my life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Faery fest and spinning

It was a lovely, if warm by the end, day at Faery Fest. Rumour has it that it's the last one, but we'll see how that shakes out over the next year. A work colleague took a picture of me spinning, and I continue to rock the utterly not photogenic side of my world. I was plying the turquoise random wool at the time, you can see the Andean plying bracelet on my wrist.

As part of the demo, I always have a spindle along with me so that I can show the similarities and differences between wheel and spindle. I had my never ending silk, but I also brought along a spindle and soy silk to give it a go. I mean, how hard could it be? I'm an experienced spindle spinner!

Yeah. Right. Soy silk and I didn't get along at all. It manages to be sticky and slippy all at the same time, and wants to undertwist and snap and run off on its own little way and bah. I am very grateful to have brought the silk, as there's only so many times you want to do the drop and swear thing in front of people you're pretending to be an expert to.

I did a bit of reading up about soy silk (nothing like research after the fact) and tried a bit of spinning from the fold and spinning a bit thicker than my norm. Apparently we have come to some sort of tentative truce, although it also seems to require that I spin standing up. I didn't even ask on that one.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Procrastination is my bane. It is why there's a month between blog posts (even though I've had things to say and things going on.) It's why there's not as much done at home as there should be. Its why the last minute exists in my world. Sometimes, there's a whole lot of scared behind it.

I've a couple big projects on my horizon, and both of them are intimidating as all hell. There's a lot of learning curve, a lot of potential failure.. a lot of expected fail as part of the process, honestly. Which is why I dont want to start. If I haven't started, I haven't arsed it up yet. I haven't wasted materials and time, because that's all my brain clings to, rather than the wealth of experience and learning I do get.

So rather than pattern drafting and teaching myself needle lace, I've been weaving. No, I don't know why I'm content to work on /that/ new skill and not others, but plain inkle weave is basically the weaving equivalent of an endless stream of garter stitch dishcloths. My loom was cheap from an estate sale, and has an obnoxiously short warp (60 inches if I weave long past easily woven), but makes for a quick, mindless, relaxing way to use up cotton scraps.

My first warp was all about the Miami vice colours: 

My second one was chosen to match my felted bag with the awful strap: 

And then instead of dishes last night, I warped up the loom with a collection of blues out of the scrap bag: 

Inkle weaving needs to come with a warning label: May be addictively relaxing in its simplicity.