Pick Up to Warp Drive

I love my little Cricket loom.  It is a powerful little bugger, and didn't cost me a fortune (which is always appreciated), and I can make excellent, although narrow, cloth on it. A person could spend a life time simply playing with color and plain weave on the loom, stripes and plaids and even houndstooth ... but that world seems so limiting once you have taken a look at the awesomeness that is "The Weaver's Idea Book" by Jane Patrick.

The Weaver's Idea Book

This books shows you that a rigid heddle loom can be even more magical than you would think.  While the two heddle projects are not possible for me (the Cricket is too small to accommodate a second heddle, but the Flip loom as designed for one)  there are hundreds of pages of ideas for finger controlled weaves and pick up stick patterns.

Yesterday, after many months of hemming and hawing I finally got the pick up sticks I had ordered from Paradise Fibers (who shipped to Canada at a reasonable cost and didn't get hit with duty, which is a plus!).  I know you can make pickup sticks from paint sticks and pieces of wood, but I wanted something that was prepped for the job.  Also, I only wanted to buy them once, as in I didn't want to find myself after spending time, energy and money making something spending that amount of money to buy them.

So tonight, I warp my loom with some of the sock yarn I have lying around and do a pickup stick sampler.  My plan is to warp the loom with my 10 dent reed, warping the full width and doing 48 ends of white and 48 ends of green (and working each pattern using first the white weft and then the green weft) so that I can see how the colors and textures work together.

I'm excited to get more out of my RH loom, as I'm going to get my chance to work with a table loom in the next few months.  My local guild, the Trillium Handweavers and Spinners based in Hunstville, Ontario, are hosting a workshop with Jette Vandermeiden and I'm signed up.  I will get to borrow a table loom for the workshop and I've been watching the Craftsy class "Floor Loom Weaving" with Janet Dawson to help get me oriented to these fancy beasts.

I know that I want a floor loom, someday, but for now knowing that I can do more complex fabrics with my Cricket and a couple of sticks is pretty impressive.

Looking for some inspiration

I have been in a bit of a creativity slump the past little while, between the stress of work, the stress of my contract ending in May and it being winter I haven't been feeling the urge to create.  I finally started spinning again over the weekend, after cleaning and polishing my wheel (she is unfinished so I have to moisturise her on semi-annual basis).  I am not loving the yarn I spun.  It is too hard and picky, it is wensleydale combed top so it not surprising, but because my main style of spinning is inchworm, I have yarn that if woven could probably stop a bullet, never mind abrasion resistant, this stuff would abrade me if worn.  I like rustic wools, wool that still feels a bit like the sheep it came off, but because I spun this stuff worsted instead of woolen it doesn't have any loft, whoops.

This all said I am in a bit of a spinning rut, so when I finally remembered to order Spin Art from Amazon it was a no brainer.  I have Get Spun, another art yarn book from Interweave, but this one looked different and it has a DVD.  While, I was there I picked up the Knitters Life List which I had seen a book store before Christmas.  It seems to filled with inspiration and mountains to climb, with suggestions about techniques and yarns that every knitter should try.

In addition to my spinning slump I am totally stuck on my knitting projects, and I have been trying to use up some of  the yarn that has been weighing on my mind and I the balls of yarn are the left overs from my crocheted blankets that I am thinking I am going to turn into Chubby Chirps, an adorable, free pattern from Rebecca Danger (who has the amazing monster patterns).  However after a week I have yet to cast on, so I need to get kicked into gear as it will fill my need for a quick finishing pattern and also use up some stuffing I have lying around.

I am also looking for inspiration in my non-fiber life.  My contract is up the first week in May and I don't have anything lined up for afterwards, I am applying for jobs but nothing yet.  I am going to re-read the Sand Country Almanac because it inspires me so much and informs so much of my feelings on environment.  Maybe that will inspire me to finish Understanding Ordinary Landscapes, a book I skim read (a common crime of mine) in school that deserves a closer read.

Hopefully the new books will help kick me into fiber inspiration that will in turn fuel my personal inspiration, because winter isn't over yet and having the blues during the winter just sucks.

On Books and Shelf Space

I love books.  Full Stop.  However, since moving a half dozen times since I went to University, I am somewhat hesitant about collecting books because they weigh so damn much.  Since starting knitting I have started a small book collection, choosing very deliberately to make sure they are good ones.

With the existence of Ravelry, independent publishers like Cooperative Press,  fantastic online knitting magazines like Knitty, Twist Collective, and Knitcircus (I know there are more but these are my three favorites) and designer blogs I have very little need to buy traditional pattern books. In fact, if a pattern is only available in a printed book, I am likely to just go find another one.  I am happy to pay for good content (you can ask my bank account every time Ysolda, Anne Hanson, or Jared Flood come out with something new and fantastic), but I don't want to have to carry a book when I can just save a pdf instead.  In fact, I am willing to pay more to NOT have a book, considering that a book with 15 pattern could run around $20,  makes each pattern cost just over $1, while I am fine with paying anywhere up to $8 for a single pattern, if it is the right pattern.

So the books I have on my shelf are either technique books, informational books, or pattern books that are so beautiful I want to put them on my coffee table (I'm looking at you Knit.Sock.Love by Cookie A).

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to share the contents of my knitting book shelves and share which books I would leave behind with my local library when it is time to move again (and it seems I move about every 3 years, so that will be sometime in the next year or so).

Here are a few of my absolute faves to start out with ...

The Harmony Guides:

I have a complete set of The Harmony Guides, the final book Basic Crochet Stitches arrived yesterday!

The first one I picked up was the Cables and Arans book at Book People in Austin.  Living in Austin seems half a lifetime ago, but it was only two years.  Since then I have picked up the rest.  I really like the selection stitches and the fact that they are themed, because when I want cables, I really don't want to look through lace.

My only wishes would be that the patterns be listed in some sort of logical order, like alphabetical or by size of repeat, and that more of the designs were charted.  I do like that the crochet motifs are largely charted, as I don't know how to read crochet chart and having both in front of me would make learning how to read charts much easier.

The Knitters Book of ...:

The Knitters Book of Wool was my first introduction to the specifics of wool, crimp, micron, breeds, spinning style, were all introduced to me in an easy and fun style. The "Yarn" book has so much information about how the type of yarn, from weight to fiber content to spinning style directly impacts the finished object. The "Socks" book is just as wonderful and informative as the others, giving all sorts of crucial details on why to make socks and how to make them to work best.

Oh, and in addition to fantastic information Clara Parkes, of Knitter's Review, has included an excellent collection of patterns by some of the biggest names in knitting, including Cat Bordhi, Evelyn A. Clark, Nancy Bush, Adrian Bizilia, Nora Gaughan and Clara Parkes herself.

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

This book is awesome.  I still haven't even scraped the surface of the information in this book. But it takes The Knitter's Book of Wool to the furthest extreme, highlighting every breed of fleece bearing animal, and showing off their original form and then their yarn pre-wash, washed, carded, spun and swatched.  Book like this remind us that there is no such thing as wool, as a single monolithic entity.  I feel like this is the handbook of wools, and while a person could knit and spin for a lifetime without knowing these things, it would be like a cook not knowing how plants are grown and animals raised, you can do it, but knowing your materials makes you a better artist.

These are just few of the books on my shelf, but some of my favorite.  They are key reference books that I find myself going to when I need a question answered or to look for a stitch pattern to start modifying pattern to my liking.