And shake it all loose…

You know when you’ve just finished your step or aerobics class (way back in the day, when I actually did something other than running after a baby for exercise!), and they tell you to “take a deep breath, and shake it all loose”? – Well, that’s what I need to do weaving-wise. Something with “no-stress” attached.

It’s been a hell of a month, quite literally. My dad had a heart attack while staying with us here in Spain (a huge shock to everyone, not least of all himself – but thank God for the Barcelona emergency services and Spanish public health system – How in the name of all that is Holy, can the richest country in the world even be debating the possibility of a public health service?? ), Hannah decided that she was waking up for a feed every 2.5 – 3 hours and was sleeping in our bed again, work just heated up and  we’re waiting for our mortgage to be re-evaluated…yup “take a deep breath, and shake it all loose”

A wee bit of linen and pure wool double cloth with pockets of cotton thrums. It’s been a while since I did anything for the fun of it, or to “see what happens when you wash it”, but this has been good, relaxing therapy.

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Revolution or Evolution – but definately not involving Handwoven

Well,
something that dragged me away from feeding Hannah or singing the annoying repeat of her Fisherprice train – the latest edition of Handwoven magazine – Warning – this is a long rant!
This arrived a few days ago – if anyone from the US reads this, they’ll be thinking that’s a bit strange, I got mine last month, but as I live in Europe (which is equal to MARS, don’t you know), it takes a wee bit longer for the mag to get here…Long haul postage aside, once here you’d think I’d be delighted to sit and have a read with my afternoon tea. Mmmmmm – I flicked through it and immediately 3 things came to mind.
1. How many times can you sound excited about weaving tea-towels / dish-clothes in a calander year?
2. How many times can you take out your Olsner and find a twill or overshot and get excited about that too? (admittedly it’s not difficult to take out your Olsner and find a twill or 300, but my excitement tends to wain a bit)
3. Is tencel the only “new” yarn out there? (not so new these days actually, but I’m splitting hairs a bit here).
 
Then, to add insult to injury the feature “20 things to do with leftovers” was a question asked my yours truly to the Yahoo weavers group in April “what to do with left-overs – Thrums”. If it was just random coincidence that it then appears in Handwoven, it was also random coincidence that the idea to put thrums out for birds to use in nesting also appeared – Unfortunately the response that this can actually strangle and choke the birds didn’t make it to Handwoven – If any wee birdies die from choking on thrums, you know who to blame.
If I was any of the people who answered my question with some good suggestions, which re-appeared in Handwoven, I’d be a bit ticked off that I didn’t get any credit for providing them with content.
 
I feel like some kind of mad old biddy, to come out of my “mother-mode” back to my blog, solely for the purposes of a rant. But I have to do it, as I’ve been more and more un-impressed by Handwoven for a while now. What’s so utterly frustrating is that there is a wealth of information, motivation and new ideas out there in weavers blogs, but Handwoven just seems to churn out the same tired old formula of Olsner=(overshot/twill)/teatowels…with a bit of tencel thrown in for a “new look”.
 
The feature on 10 yarns for under 10 bucks, was interesting, but what about some ideas of what to do with them? How about “Ten weavers were given 10 yarns for under 10 bucks and had to come up with something” (like Vogue when they ask their editors or 10 random women to test cellulite cream, or some other such rubbish…but you still read about it!)
How about someone weaving with chicken wire; Someone dyeing, weaving, finishing something random, beautiful and experimental (forget purpose for the moment); Someone using their mighty 24 or 36 shaft looms for something other than (dare I say it again) Olsner; How about interviews / write ups with successful woven textile designers; How about interviews / reviews of art college weave graduate shows.
How about what news on what is happening in the world of fashion and interiors with regard to weaving: “Woven fabrics are all the rage…” or “Print is hot right now, but 60s style dogtooth has made a return to the niche market”
 
News or features on projects from around the world; Womens groups in parts of Latin America, Africa and the Stans where they are trying to gain financial independence or put their lives back together after wars and returning to traditional crafts (weaving among them), to earn money and feed their children.
 
How about some inspiration! Anything! But enough already with Olsner’s tea-towels.

I’m out of breath now, but I had to get that off my chest.

Comments and feedback are welcome. I’m sure I’ve made some enemies with this outburst – but I’m also sure that there are weavers who feel the same way too.

The curse of the too-fast time machine, bog cotton and lots of reeds

I’m sure that’s what the problem is!
One day it’s Friday the 13th of June, the next it’s July the 11th, my belly is getting big (I’m 24 weeks pregnant, so I think I’m allowed to have a relatively large belly…) and someone turned the heat up in Barcelona! Talk about time flying! I’ve still got a sample linen warp on the loom that is making me feel guilty..hohum…I’ll get something done next week (I hope!)

We have been back in Ireland for a week, (hurray!) but as I’ve not said much in a while I seem like a big slacker…so first thing on the list to talk about..Bog cotton.

At least, that’s what we’ve always called it. I’ve no idea if it is actually related to the cotton family (I can feel a wikipedia search coming on), it grows extensively around the marshy ground in the North East of Ireland, and (not surprisingly), I found it on boggy ground on the west coast too. This particular clump was right at the top of Knocknarea, beside Queen Maeve’s tomb. I picked some of it to see if I can incorporate it into a weave.

Queen Maeve's Tomb - Knocknarea

The other thing I got up to was collecting reeds. These are even more prolific than bog cotton, and I usually collect these for making Saint Brigit’s Crosses. As I wasn’t going to be doing any loom weaving when I was home, I decided I could make some crosses. We collected a lot around the bottom of Knocknarea, Ben Bulben and Lisadell forrest.

and I got to making them on sunny afternoon in my parents’ garden.

To get started, you need a lot of reeds (or rushes), some strong thread (I have an old spool of waxed linen thread that could slice your finger off if you were silly enough to try and break it by hand), and my lovely little swiss army knife – for cutting reeds and thread.

Overall, I made 2 crosses (with lots of wastage!). The reeds were very long but not very thick, and thicker is better when it comes to making Saint Brigit’s Crosses. Anyway – I hope to be able to make some of these in January / February to put on Etsy.