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Archive for September, 2011

California Dreamin’ – Again

After several weeks spent close to home working on new projects (with an announcement coming next week), teaching at Weaving Works in Seattle, and taking a vacation with my husband for the first time in about five years . . . I found myself heading south to teach the workshop Extreme Warp Makeover for the Hangtown Fibers Guild near Placerville, CA.  What fun it was!  A great group of weavers that came up with questions on the fly that took me years to come up with when I was learning to weave (Fortunately, I knew the answers).

In the months leading up to the workshop, I was asked if “new” weavers would be able to follow along.  Of course! I said.  I have had many “new” weavers in my workshops over the years.  Now, mind you . . . “new” usually meant they had been weaving less than two years.  After the initial presentation and discussion to get the workshop started, I found out some of the “new” weavers were in fact new to weaving and had not woven before.  Wow!  I was so impressed with their courage to tackle a weaving workshop where we would be discussing why lace weaves create lace effects, the fundamentals of twills, the difference between overshot woven ‘star fashion’ versus ‘rose fashion’, what weaving ‘on opposites’ means, and so much more.  They were incredible!  In fact, one workshop participant (who had never even seen a loom in action prior to the workshop) wove a twill sample that was so stunning that I think Ralph Lauren himself would have been ordering yardage for his next fall collection!  The only downside to the workshop is that I was so captivated by what was going on that I completely forgot to take pictures . . . but, just imagine being in rustic grange hall with a group of really terrific weavers amid trees that were beginning their fall color transformation and you will get a general idea.

After the workshop I headed off to Berkeley, CA . . . If I’m in northern California, I frequently head there to see my friend Penny, go to Lacis (http://www.lacis.com/), eat cheese, and drink wine.  This diversion did not disappoint, as usual.  Lacis has a marvelous exhibit of Estonian knitted lace that I was fortunate to see.  Plus, I came away with a great addition for my studio.  Nancy Roberts, the owner of Machine Knitting to Dye For, had a ball winder I just had to have after I saw it in action.  At first I thought Yeah, I got a ball winder . . . but, I didn’t have one like this one.  The ball winder I’ve owned for years is a basic ball winder that makes the average center pull ball.  It’s handy if I want to wind a small ball from a skein or cone to throw in my bag when I head off to the ferry for a trip to Seattle and will be working on something while I float across Puget Sound . . . but, the traditional ball winder I own (like many fiber artists) has serious limitations when it came to winding yarns with texture, fine yarns, or both (I have dreadful memories of winding silk boucle balls with my ball winder and make a big mess).

What’s so special about this ball winder?  Well, it winds the ball onto a plastic cone.  This allows the yarn to wind off the outside of the ball AND the plastic cone gives a bit of weight to keep it in place.  This is just what I needed for winding skeins off that I plan to use for warp.  I own a Silver Needles cone winder (a very cool thing too!) . . . but, I’m not able to wind from a skein to a cone using it.  It’s my go-to item when I’m winding multiple cones from a large cone . . . but, if I’m starting with a skein, I would have to wind the skein using my ball winder into a center pull ball and then wind it onto a cone or spool.  This is not a good thing for a number of reasons.  When I first saw this particular ball winder in action, I knew I had have to have one  . . . and it was only $50!  (The plastic cones are available for a few dollars each).  To see a picture of the ball-onto-a-cone winder, you can see it at http://www.machineknittingtodyefor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=25&Itemid=35.

On my way home, I was passing through Oregon and decided to stop at the Eugene Textile Center ( http://www.eugenetextilecenter.com/) for a little sales tax-free shopping . . . and I didn’t leave empty handed.  I purchased Dormay Keasbey’s book Designing with Blocks for Handweavers.  I own the original version, but this is the re-released version and it was great to see it available . . . For as long as I can remember, I’ve encouraged weavers to learn about blocks and profile drafts since it helps to better understand different weave structures and opens up a whole new world for designing.  I also purchased Warp and Weft – Lessons in Drafting for Handweaving.  This book has just recently been made available in English.  It only took me a moment after flipping through it to know I had to buy it . . . after all, it was sales tax-free and no shipping charge.  Another book i purchased was Extreme Textiles – Designing for High Performance.  Very cool stuff!  I knew I would have to be creative with my already crowded Miata to make room for these books (and a few other purchases) to get everything home . . . but, there’s nothing like the will of a weaver to make room for new stuff.

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