Saturday, March 25, 2017

Before and After

It's been another long week at the Folk School, Scandinavian Week, full of happy people discovering crafts from that region of the planet.  It's been fun incorporating Scandinavian food through the menus, but keeping in mind that all-too painful Scottish Week fiasco of too much of a "good" thing.  I kept it in my comfort zone, using mostly baked goods to convey the theme.  Last night, in the finale dinner, sweet-sour cabbage was in the main menu, and dinner was finished with Danish Apple Cake, a lovely little item that will make it into the regular dessert rotation.
But the week started off with re-dyeing the jackets I dyed way back in the fall.  I used Procion dyes on polyester. Don't do that, dear reader!  It just leads to heartbreak and wasted dye.  This time, they came out--and stayed--vibrant and lovely, after 3 washings.  I love them.  No matter how bumpy the week got this week, and it got kinda bumpy, my jackets cheered me up.  They're drying in the sun on the deck after their second wash, and stayed those colors after their next.

I had to let someone go who I had come to consider a friend this week, someone who was very, very good when he was good, but who was very, very, very bad when he was bad.  It hurts to trust someone so much, and to believe that they can be great, if only they would let themselves be great, but that's not my doing, not because I didn't believe in him enough.  He's angry and saying mean things about me now, which is part of what happens every time I let someone go, but it stings more this time.   He's young, and he can still learn from this, I hope, and I do wish him well.  Someone else is training to lead the evening shift, and she is off to a rough start.  The seemingly never-ending quest for my own team to run the kitchen is again in search mode.
 When I came home early this week, a sure sign of spring was waiting in my kitchen window.  It's big.  Fortunately, it was between the window and the screen, definitely outside.  In the morning, she was gone, but there was a smaller version in the dining room window.  As long as they stay on their side of the glass, we can co-exist.  If they come in, and survive Weftie, they will be escorted outside.

After such a week, what do the crafty do to pick up their spirits?  They start a new project!  I'm almost done with the turquoise socks, but they're too fussy for this week.  Matt's sweater is moving along, but too much concentration needed this week for such a thing.  Oooh, look at the lovely pastel sock yarn sitting over there!  Maybe a simple lace pattern?  Toe up?  Okay!  Go!

Monday, March 13, 2017

New Title

I remember very clearly the day I was beginning to read Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave, when she says to the reader:  "You are a weaver."  She said in reference as to what to call oneself when one begins to read, and she meant it to be said proudly, to not be wishy-washy about what the reader was about to become.  So now, I am a weaver, 13 years later. 
  As of yesterday, I have a new title:  I am a spinner.
Every full time employee of John C. Campbell Folk School gets to take 2 classes a year for free, and I'm shocked at how many people never take advantage of it.  I picked my classes out my first week!  But I didn't pick spinning; those of you who know me know I have tried, failed and put it behind me.  But so many of my new friends here in Brasstown spin and love it, and well, I signed up for the class and got in.  The rest is now history! 
  June Rollins, a very talented painter who works in the JCCFS craft shop also took the class, and here she is, studiously spinning.  She is taking the week long class that follows, From Sheep to Shawl, also with Martha Owen, the resident artist for spinning, knitting and all fibery things that aren't weaving.  Martha is a wonderful teacher, patient and full of great stories.  Her teaching methods helped me get over the problems I had the first time I tried to spin.  I wish now I'd kept that first spinning wheel!  But by now, it's probably loved and used by someone who didn't give up so easily!

There were ten of us in the class, and here we are carding, not my favorite part of the day.  It's very hard on the hands and shoulders, but I bet when I get more practice, it'll be something nice to do on the porch on a sunny day.

But our last day in class wasn't sunny, was it?  No, it was snowy and beautiful, and it all melted by lunch time.  Alas, tomorrow, more snow is predicted, so carding will have to wait. 

Until then, I can practice more spinning from the stuff I brought home from class, on the wheel that followed me home.  It's a Kromksi Minuet, previously loved by a friend of Martha's who passed away last summer. I also bought her carders and a little of her sock yarn.  All her stuff, loved by her, was left to her husband to disperse.  Martha is selling it to her classes to help out the husband left behind.  I was going to name the wheel Susan in honor of her, but then saw that Johan, the wheel's maker, signed it on the bottom, so that will be the wheel's name.

 At the end of every class term, there is show and tell, and here is our class's table of spun yarn.  We all learned a lot in just a couple of days, and had a wonderful time.  The kitchen did a great job in my absence, making wonderful meals for all the students, and I'm so grateful they gave me the time off to learn something new.

Maggie Davidson, Spinner

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Brain Freeze

This week, I had several projects ready to go.  The inkle loom is threaded to make 7-block letter pick up; the hand-dyed warp I've had draped across the 4-shaft Aritsat is slung across the raddle, waiting for me to pick a pattern; the warp I'd wound for lace dish towels would be enough to make them 20 inches wide, enough even though my original goal had been 25 inches. 
Weftie tries to figure it out
  And then, I realized I couldn't figure out how to pick up the letters' threads.  Anne Dixon says to "pick up the threads you need, and drop the ones you don't."  Well, that sounds simple!  But I realized while picking up threads, I wasn't sure, couldn't even figure out, had now idea which ones I needed and which I didn't.  I picked some up, put them back down, tried blustering my way ahead, which never works...  I have no idea what I'm doing, or how to fix it.  The videos on YouTube aren't any more help, basically saying the same thing, to pick up the right ones and drop the wrong ones.  I don't want to impose on weaving friends in social situations, because that's like people asking me why I don't bring sweet treats every time I meet them!  And so, the inkle sits idle.
  And then, there's the painted warp on Jenny, the 4-shaft Artisat.  I didn't think 5 inches of hand-painted beauty was enough, so I wound some black bamboo borders, only to run out on the second side, 12 threads short.  Well, shoot!  I just went with it!  After a LOT of re-calculating, I decided to use Johann Speck's Design No. 33 from Marguerite Porter Davison's book.  It's one of my favorite patterns.  I have the daisy centered in the purple center, and the lines radiating out are in the black borders.  The 12 threads too many are going to beaded.  I've never beaded on the warp, threading the beads onto the warp threads, but I'm going to try it today.  Dull or shiny?  A pattern?  Or randomness?  These are the questions I will answer today, as soon as I wind on to the back beam, and make sure there aren't any threading errors.
bath towels with skipped threads
  And then, there's the darn bath towel warp and it's sticky shaft problems.  Looks like it's mostly shaft 5 that gets hung up on its neighbors, but how do I fix it?  I think it's because the loom is still a little wonky after being disassembled by the mover and put back together by an impatient weaver, but it's already warped, and I don't want to un-warp it.  I think I'll finish the first towel with all its errors, cut it off and then figure out what's going on.
  Next weekend is my spinning class with Martha Owen at the Folk School, and I'm pretty excited.  You know I've gone back and forth about spinning over the years, and I still don't think I'll be a spinner yet, but to learn from an expert like Martha is going to be a wonderful experience.  I'll know how, even if I don't incorporate spinning into my daily life.  And to spend a weekend with fibery folks is never a bad thing.
  Last night was the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Cherokee and Clay County food banks here in western North Carolina, and we made stew, bread, salad and cookies for about 200 people.  I just saw an email from the organizer who said it was a success.  The potters from the folk school and beyond make a lot of bowls, and the guests choose a bowl for the price of their ticket, and are fed by my staff and a whole bunch of wonderful volunteers.  They can then buy more bowls at $20 each, and the bowls were beautiful.  Each member of my team got a bowl for their efforts, and I got a gorgeous vase.  At least, I think it's a vase!  The potter, Mike Lalone, who made it, told me, "it works, too!"  as he handed it to me, but I'm not sure what that means.  I'll just put dried flowers in it, for now!  
  I've been knitting a lot, too, mostly on Matt's sweater, using a lovely soft merino wool, spun in Michigan, and such a treat to knit.  I've used a pattern from the Winter Knits magazine, which is just fussy enough to be interesting, but easy enough to watch t.v. while I work on it.  I want to have it done in time for his birthday, because the end of May in Nashville can be so chilly!  Just kidding.  I know he'll say something about the inappropriateness of a sweater at that time of year, but I don't want to keep it until Christmas.  Maybe I'll make him some Bermuda shorts in time for Christmas!

  And my parting shot is a room that cracks me up when I'm in it.  My studio is upstairs in the loft, usually used as a bedroom, complete with a large bathroom.  The bathroom is currently the warping room, complete with two warping boards and lots of yarn!  Knitting and weaving books are by the toilet for extended research.  It's a light-filled room during the day, and a comfortable place to wind warps, in hearing of the stereo, and conveniently located to the looms.