Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Path Less Travelled

I think I know why I suddenly wanted to learn how to weave. I think I wasn't pushing myself enough with my knitting. While my current knitting projects are very wearable, they aren't exactly challenging. Zen knitting I told myself. I've got projects on the needles with minimal shaping, neutral colours and simple stitches. Blech! They will be lovely when they're done but it's like a stroll down a suburban sidewalk versus a hike through the wilderness. I'll take the wilderness anytime.

When I got the Baby Wolf loom; I chose a project that called for the equipment I had. Six shafts, 12 dent reed etc. Sure the warp was multicoloured but how hard could it be? I fell in love with this scarf from a Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Handwoven. I started winding the warp at the guild and another older member took pity on me and helped me. She wouldn't let me quit and when it was finally on the loom she said "That's the most complicated warp I've ever done in 30 years of weaving". Figures I choose it for my first project.

I carefully threaded the heddles. Of course, I ran out of heddles on two of the shafts and had to perform a midterm "heddle transplant". I took about six weeks to get the warp all set up and then last night, I was finally ready to weave. A quick check of the peddles lifted the threads highlighting two crossed threads so I was able to fix that quickly. I gingerly started down the pattern and after an hour of weaving - I had this!! It's always so cool when it looks like the pattern. Once the scarf is washed, the chenille threads will shift as will the others and the rounded curves will be revealed.
The thrill of learning something new has reminded me that I need to choose challenging knitting projects. No Zen here!

Remind me of this next time I get in over my head and start whining.

Monday, May 18, 2009

EZ Does It

"Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crisis"

Elizabeth Zimmerman (EZ)

I must admit that when I've thought of this quote by Elizabeth Zimmerman over the years I thought she meant to use knitting as a distraction from one's troubles. A kind of "Grannie on the Bugs Bunny Show" approach where one knits blissfully as the world crashes down around you.

I now know exactly what she really meant.

It's been a challenging year this 2009. On top of all the global issues, in February I learned of the tragic loss of a former co-worker in a plane crash. Then last month a dear friend and next door neighbour of twenty years died in a car accident. Both were men in their forties with families and communities depending on them. It just doesn't make sense.

It's times like these that make us reach for our knitting as a way to soothe ourselves and when I found myself thinking one day "I have nothing to knit" - I knew something was wrong. Like any rabid knitter; I'm rich with projects. Upon closer examination, I realized that all of my projects had hit a transition point. All of them required me to step out of my comfort zone and shift to the next leg of the journey. I suspect that this is what causes many projects to languish So - I embarked upon a "pushing through the transition" binge.

I sewed up the shoulder seams and picked up the neckline for the hood on Roam. I've never knitted a hood before. This baby is in the home stretch.

I started on the sleeves of the Americo Simple Cardigan in lovely grey Alpaca. This is a store sample. The yarn is wonderful and the pattern is very straightforward. I am looking forward to finishing it.

I cast on for Bijou by Marnie McLean. This will be a combination of my friend Hope's hand spun (merino/tencel) blend and my hand spun in a merino/tencel laceweight in Indigo from Tactile Fiber Arts. The braid of merino/tencel there is from the Sweet Sheep and will be spun to match Hope's hand spun to blend in with hers.

I plied the Shetland/Pygora/Silk blend from Hopeful Shetlands. This is a 3 ply chained ply that should knit up to a worsted weight. I'm thinking of either Amanda or Espresso from A Fine Fleece.

I even pushed on to thread the heddles of my Baby Wolf to make this lovely scarf. This is my first project.

It's clear to me now that Elizabeth Zimmerman knew that knitting is a metaphor for life. If we can tackle a short row or tricky collar pick up then maybe, just maybe those small successes can spill over into other areas of our lives and we can push on through.

I like that it's never too late to have an "Ah, ha" moment.