Recycling Material

I’ve recently come across The Woolful Podcast. It is just lovely. It’s so inspiring to hear other peoples’ stories and realize what a community there is are out there experiencing a similar journey through fibre. Everyone comes at it differently, but alas, our love for wool, fibre, knitting, weaving, and making is something that remains the same in each of us.

In one of the podcasts, I heard the story of Jerome Sevilla of Grid Junky and felt really inspired by his sourcing of material entirely from recycled garments. What a great idea! I remember when I first started knitting about a year ago, a woman in the local yarn shop that I frequented telling me about cashmere sweater sales at certain big box stores and people purchasing a few and unraveling them entirely to use the luxurious yarn for the project of their choice.

It’s really important to me to source material in sustainable ways, and it’s also interesting to have work that is informed by what is found in happenstance. It’s a neat way to mix up what you are making and incorporate colours and materials that you normally wouldn’t choose to work with had you just walked into a yarn shop and picked things off the shelf.

This weekend, I spent the time unraveling three sweaters as a bit of an experiment, because I was just too curious to see the possibilities within a few thrift store finds. It was a ton of work and sort of took over the entire house for the weekend, but totally worth it! I have quite a huge sum of material to work with now, and for a pretty reasonable thirty or so dollars.

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Now, to plan projects… more to come on that later!

The Experimentation of a Practice

Things move quickly, and sometimes progress can be a little hard to gauge. I have been making the time this past week to shift my focus from the end result, and really giving myself some time to experiment in the process. Through routine, patterns and habits form, and slowly but surely, we are able to integrate those things into our days and our practice that we really crave to.

Setting to work each day, I have been dressing the loom with just a small warp in the search for fabrics that I am interested in exploring further. Using just two yards in length and a few inches of width, I play and practice alternating my focus – colour, sett, pattern. I am really trying to pay a lot of attention to technique and get threading, tension, and treadling as close to perfect as I can. In weaving, it is amazing what difference one incorrect thread or broken end can make to the overall appearance of a piece. It’s quickly learned to make the effort to slow down, double check the set up, and take the time to weave well.

It’s this attentiveness that is one of the main attractions of weaving for me. It’s often a nice contrast to the buzz and fastness of much of the rest of things.

Talking about tools

Whether weaving, knitting, or spinning, I encounter a lot of different tools to get me through the projects that I undertake. It’s essential to have good, reliable tools to work with, but I enjoy even more when they are objects that I admire with each use.

I have been very lucky since finishing school to have been given so many beautiful things to work with, and this post is a little dedication to those things and the people who gave me them.

Along with my loom, I received a collection of tools- bobbins, combs, shuttles, and beautifully crafted wooden gadgets galore. There are certain little bits which are very personalized, clearly handy assistants through numerous projects. I was also gifted a beautiful pair of scissors from B’s mother which match perfectly the ones that came with my loom. I really adore these, and it’s such a pleasure to use them.

I really love the idea of using things that have a history in them before they make their way to me. This is a partial factor in why I mainly shop for things that are used, and enjoy the process of going thrifting and finding those special objects with so much character and a story behind them. It’s really special when those things come with the backstory.

My wonderful partner B took the time during the first week of January to restore his great grandmother’s sewing chair for me to use as a weaving bench. I simply love this chair. It is so beautiful and unique and I have never seen another like it. The fact of it being used for sewing and coming full circle back around to another maker is an idea that I am really excited about. As anyone who is a craftsperson knows, it is the sort of thing that is particular and important, something that endless hours are paired with.

What tools do you admire most in your collection?

And then I borrowed a spinning wheel

Time is a funny thing, and sometimes, it just doesn’t feel that there is enough of it. Being involved in so many time consuming activities already, I was hesitant, but couldn’t resist the generous offer to borrow a spinning wheel that a friend offered me at the first guild meeting I attended last week.

I use public transit to make my way around when I have something to transport, and the spinning wheel was a great conversation starter. A lot of people had no idea what it was, whereas the people who did seemed quite impressed!

It is a beautiful, simple tool, and upon spending some time spinning, I don’t regret my decision one bit! It’s such a rhythmic, relaxing motion, and it really is magical to watch the yarn form. It is a Norwegian style wheel made in New Zealand in the sixties, and has a lovely chat as it spins.

And now, there is another love in my life to try to fit in during the day. It’s kind of a nice problem, although, to have too many things to enjoy.

The day I was given a loom

Upon my re-location to Victoria, I excitedly signed on to the Handweavers’ and Spinners’ guild in the city. The thought of joining a group with so many knowledgeable and active members of the local fibre community is something that I have looked forward to from the first week I started weaving at school and sent off for my membership back in September.

I was warmly invited to the Christmas Potluck, and headed up to the lawn bowling club where the function was being held. I was a little bit nervous and excited, and what great and fortunate conversations I had at the dinner.

I met some really lovely women to sit with and share some of my wine and stories of my program, and learned about their interests in weaving and spinning and of some of the events and things that happen within and outside of the guild.

Joining us at the table was the woman in charge of equipment rental, which is a huge perk of the guild’s library system, with table looms, spinning wheels, and other equipment for rent amongst their collection of books. It was lovely for her to check in and see what I had available to me and what I might be interested in borrowing, when she was struck with the memory of a man who had been looking to pass on his mother’s loom.

She quickly got my information and assured me that the loom and I would be perfect together, and by the next morning I had arranged to go out and see the loom on the weekend.

Well, now a couple of weeks later, I have my first very own loom. It has been the best gift. It’s a thirty year old 45” Nilus Leclerc floor loom, and it was woven on prolifically by a very interesting and obviously well loved woman from what I heard from her son.

It is gigantic, and occupies a large part of my living room which I am so lucky to be able to have turned into my studio by day, thanks to a supportive and rather excited partner.

Day of the first fleece

I love yarn and fabric, and lately, I have been really interested in making a point of getting closer to the source of the materials that I use. I like the idea of being involved fully in the process- to meet the sheep and to go through the steps it takes to gain a full understanding of what goes into a skein of wool.

Last week I did some research and got in touch with some local sheep farmers. I was very lucky to come across one farm a couple of days before the one time of year that they shear, and was invited out to watch and learn more about the process.

Living in coastal BC, we have quite a lot of sheep and a unique climate very fit to produce beautiful wool, but I’ve been surprised to discover how little locally produced yarn is available. There is only one mill on Vancouver Island to have your fleece processed, and with a one year wait list to get your wool in, most people send as far as PEI.

Year of the Sheep

I am so pleased to start the year with many new endeavors, one being this blog. Did you know that 2015 is the year of the sheep in the Chinese calendar? I’m not much for astrology, but it feels quite perfect amidst a string of other serendipitous events that have set me up to fill the year with all things fibre. It is here that I will share my experiences and catalog my process.

 

Thanks for following along!