Thursday, February 15, 2018

FO: Reyna Shawl

When I was in Copenhagen a couple years ago, I bought some lovely Handmaiden Casbah, actually a sock yarn made of merino, cashmere, and nylon. I purchased it at Sommerfluglen. It travelled (of course!) from Canada  where it was made, to Denmark,  to the US.   It was supposed to be a scarf of knitted broomstick lace, which I found too fiddly. I also don't wear scarves that much.  So, I found the Reyna shawl. 

I may have expounded on this in the past, but I do believe that sometimes yarn must "steep" in the stash before it tells you what it wants to be. (Maybe this belief is a result of buying yarn without a project in mind.)

I often spend time searching on Ravelry for the right pattern for purchased yarn, and it is not unheard of for me to try yarn with a pattern and reject the pattern.  Reyna won and you can see why! 




Monday, January 22, 2018

Arhuacu and Wayuu Mochilas and a bit on how to crochet your own.

I am always lucky when a vacation includes some fiber adventures. My first day visiting with my good friend Celia in Bogata, Colombia included a workshop for two on how to crochet a mochila, or traditional shoulder bag, which have a woven strap.  The word translates as "backpack" but they only have one strap. Men and women both use mochilas.

There are basically two types...one done by the Arhuaco, and one by the Wayuu.   From what I have researched, I learned that Catholic nuns taught the indigenous peoples how to crochet, and it remains a very popular hand craft, much more than knitting from what I observed.

Below is a map of northern Colombia showing where the two groups originate from



The Arhuaca people live near the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. They crochet beautiful bags from fique, which is a plant fiber derived from the fique plant that lives in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru; in the US we call it sisal.  Here are some bags that I saw in a market; the bottom two rows are natural colored Arhuaca mochilas. Here is some more info from wikipedia. These mochilas may also be cotton or wool.




The other sort of mochila is done by the Wayuu, who originate in the Guajira Peninsula in the North of Colombia and northwest Venezuela.

These some photos are Wayuu mochilas from the Museo de Trajes Regionale in Bogata




These mochilas are obviously more colorful and often seen with contemporary themes.  Patterning can also resemble those of traditional molas, (more on molas in a future post).

So how are these made? Well, first one finds a teacher with exacting standards. For us, this is Celia's friend Elisa.


 If you want some fun, try learning to do this with someone whose Engish is nonexistant (as is my Spanish for something this complicated).  Luckily, we were in a cafe where a friendly English translator could be found... that would be Celia's daughter Whitney, who runs the bakery/cafe.

We began with a trip to the ribbon store, which carries cotton crochet yarn, similar to Aunt Lydia's only with much more twist. A no 4 crochet hook is also required, I think this is the US sizing.



Then, after climbing the hill back to El Nido (and working to keep up with Celia and Elisa), Elisa instructed us to crochet a 6 stitch chain, and connect it, then single crochet 10 stitches into the loop. Did I mention that this is all single crochet? Continue crocheting in a spiral, Elisa had us do one SC into one stitch then 2 into the next.

I have actually worked on crocheting something round in the last couple months. (This). The increase ratio is different from Elisa's. With my mochila,  however, I experienced the potato chip phenomenon (too many stitches so it's not flat) as there were too many increases, so of course Elisa had me pull some out and reduce my increase ratio.

I did not get too far, but I think that the next step is to stop increasing. Then the hard part starts...crocheting in the pattern. I'll see where this goes! It's a bit potato-chippy so far


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Afghan, an FO

My son asked me to knit an afgan for a friend and his fiance.  He chose the Hue Shift Afghan

I bought the kit from Knitpicks. The yarn is their Brava Sport.  Synthetics aren't my favorite but I wanted it to be machine washable. I thought it was going to be quick, but it took all year, in my piecemeal knitting fashion. I had many, many ends, and wound up using fraycheck to be sure they were secure. (That was good a good idea and I may use it again).   

The happy couple were happy with the result, done in the "decor" colorway. I delivered it to their home only a month late. It did indeed match their decor!





Saturday, December 30, 2017

Indigo Dyeing with CHI Design

My fiber guild sponsored another indigo dyeing opportunity this fall. We welcomed Caroline Harper of CHI Design. Her company is "an indigo arts studio" working to bring indigo back to the Low Country as a useable, local dye. Caroline works with natural fibers and sells indigo powder. She is working to make the processes to produce powder from  the indigo plant, which she plants and harvests.

We first did an eco dyed scarf; Caroline had 3 natural dye vats for us to use after placing and tying up our natural materials







Then we proceeded to indigo, here is a cake of indigo produced by CHI designs


clamping a scarf for resist using a shibori technique




 Cochineal which has turned purply due to items already dyed in the pot



  I really liked this result


Here is my ecodyed result


And here is my indigo result, possibly one of my favorite indigo scarves that I've done



I find that no matter how many workshops I take, I always learn something new...

Here is a brief video showing Caroline doing some traditional Japanese  shibori techniques



Here is another link to a short film at her website

Monday, December 4, 2017

Glittens...half glove half mitten

So proud of my son who loves flyfishing. In that regard,  I decided that he needed some flip top mittens for this activity in the winter. 

I found the "glitten" pattern. The yarn is Donegal Yarns Soft Donegal 2 ply, purchased at O'Maille's Original House of Style,  in Galway, during my trip  to Ireland last year. 

The pattern is here, and is free   

I used a snap to fasten the flip top to the cuff. 




My son also is  figuring out how to tie flies.  So the question is...is an olive wooly bugger really an insect?  Nope, apparently not all flies are flies...some imitate baitfish and are "swum" /waved around below the surface of the water...who knew?

Here is my son's olive wooly bugger




What I know for certain is that fly tieing is a fiber art...


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fresh Leaf Indigo Vat

I have done a number of indigo vats from using a kit, usually purchased from Dharma Trading, using dried powdered indigo and reducing agents. No opportunity before to do a vat from fresh leaves. So, it was a lucky opportunity to visit Ossabaw Island and learn about fresh leaf vats with the expert, Donna Hardy.

Ossabaw is a 26,000 acre barrier island in the state of Georgia, part of Chatham county (the same county Savannah is in). There is a foundation to support the island, which is pretty much undeveloped. There is a guest house, and a home still lived in by the family that donated it to the state. Prior to the Civil War, Ossabaw was farmed and yielded timber, by slave labor. After the Civil War, it was still farmed and served as a hunting retreat. 

The indigo outing I joined was sponsored by the Ossabaw Foundation.  We took a boat over from a dock just outside of Savannah.






Here, participants are stripping leaves from plants for a vat. 


The vats that we used, there were four for 14 participants, had been prepped by Donna and her friend the night before, so that the water could warm.  The morning we arrived, they added reducing agents to the vats.  More reducing agent was added in the middle of the day to keep the vats going. 


This is a smaller same day vat, that Donna heated with an external heat source. 



Here is the vat before heating...you can see the blue of the indicin moving into the water. 


Below are indigo bushes growing around the back porch of the guest house. The indigo was introduced to the island back when indigo was a cash  crop in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida until the Revolutionary War. It was introduced by Eliza Lucas Pinckney in South Carolina,with some help, likely from African slaves who had used it in Africa. The indigo introduced by Eliza was the same variety that still is produced in South America.  I asked Donna whether anyone has genetically sampled it to see whether it still resembles the indigo still produced there, but she said likely not. (South America is the leading producer of indigo in the world at this point in time).



Presoaked items were slowly dipped into the vat, swished about  for a minute, and then squeezed before removing slowly from the vat, to prevent water dripping and adding oxygen to the vat. 



Here are some Gulf Fritallary butterflies on butterly bush, growing together with indigo suffruticosa. 






We did a quick tour of the part of the island near the guest house. Here is a tabby structure still remaining on the island.



These tabby structures are former slave quarters, they were inhabited by workers until about 20 years ago.




My hands..I chose not to wear gloves.  When I got home, I polished my nails with clear polish. The blue tint came off my skin in a day or two, but my nails were a beautiful indigo blue for several weeks. I would definately recommend it as nail polish~!



Some indigo textiles Donna brought to share. 








For a more information, here is Donna's TED talk on the subject of indigo



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Southern Highland Craft Guild

I have been to the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway a number of times in the past. I was lucky to get back in early September. The Folk Art Center is associated with the Southern Highland Craft Guild which represents many craftspeople in 9 southeastern states.

What was different during this visit was displays of antique textiles and handmade textile equipment











Flax working tools









 Would a spinning wheel builder consider himself an artist?  And on that subject, a note on the enduring subject of are and craft...