Crochet Summer 2017: Progress Report

I'm working on Feeling Dotty? by Sandra Paul between major house projects at home. I've only done a smidge of crochet in my lifetime, so this lacy shawl is definitely a challenge for me. But it's been a welcome challenge because it takes my mind off all the things still on the to-do list! 

Feeling Dotty? by Sandra Paul. Image © Sandra Paul/Cherry Heart

Feeling Dotty? by Sandra Paul. Image © Sandra Paul/Cherry Heart

This pattern is British, and the terms are different than American crochet terms. As a result, reading the instructions would have been too confusing, so I have been referring only to the chart. (I prefer charts anyway because I find reading instructions too tedious.) I found a couple videos on Youtube to be of immense help when I came across a stitch that I wasn't entirely sure of. Youtube has a wealth of how-to-crochet videos! I found a video by Fiber Flux that was clear and easy to follow for the Double Treble stitch (triple treble in the U.K.). I also watched this Howcast video to check and make sure I was doing my Double crochet stitch (treble stitch in the U.K.) correctly.

© Linette Kielinski

© Linette Kielinski

I'm crocheting my shawl in Road to China Lace in the color Rose Quartz. I love how vibrant it is. I need two more contrast colors to finish the border and honestly, I haven't chosen them yet! Any suggestions?  

New England Weavers Seminar: Bhutanese Kushutara Weaving

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a lecture and take a two-day intensive weaving workshop last weekend at the New England Weavers Seminar held at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. The workshop, Bhutanese Kushutara Weaving, taught by Wendy Garrity, was an amazing introduction into the supplementary weft technique that I previously knew very little about.

Kushutara samples from Wendy Garrity's personal collection.

The weekend began with a lecture given by Wendy on her experience traveling through Asia and the time she has spent in Bhutan teaching music and learning the fine techniques required to create Kushutara textiles. She discussed the many different textiles in Bhutan including the Aikapur, Kushutara, Yathra, and Nettle cloth. Despite being a relatively small country (approximately 700,000 people), the textiles are quite diverse, as the land encompasses a variety of climates and landscapes.

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Close up detail of the wrong side of a Kushutara.

The Kushutara are created specifically for women. Each Kushutara is woven with incredibly fine silk yarns (approximately 20/2) in three long strips and seamed together. (Only two strips are called a Half Kushutara, although it is technically 2/3 of the fabric.) In the image above, you can see the seam line where two panels have been sewn together as well as the supplementary weft pattern colors as they are left in the back of the work. Instead of carefully trimming the thousands of weft ends, they are left on the fabric to show that the piece is handmade, adding to the prestige.

The designs on Kushutara are created using two different stitches, the sapma and thrima. Within the thrima technique, there are four methods: horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and satin.

For the workshop, we first learned the sapma, then the variety of thrima stitches. I was amazed how much the application of sapma reminded me of Estonian Roositud! I'm not sure why, but I much preferred working the sapma technique - there was something about the all over and motif-based designs that were easier for me to do. Perhaps the connection to all-over stranded colorwork?

Changing colors in sapma motifs.

L / My full sampler . R / Sampa motifs worked simultaneously.

For the workshop I really tried to "let go" in terms of the look of the final weaving. The whole exercise was in order to learn the technique and experiment, but it was still difficult for me to step out of my comfort zone and just go for it and not worry too much about perfection or the finished project. One of the things that helped a lot was buying  6/1 Faro wool "Yarn in a jar" from Vavstuga in the marketplace during the break on the first day. It was easy to play around with colors with so many different shades to choose from!

I had to cut my piece off of the loom after class was over, as I was borrowing a small floor loom from my dad and couldn't bring it back home to Pennsylvania with me, but I am excited to scheme up some new ways to keep using and trying these new-to-me techniques!

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Two important footnotes:
Wendy's website, Textile Trails, is a wealth of information with many, many useful links, images, descriptions, and videos. She is incredibly generous with her knowledge and information, and each section is worth looking through. Wherever applicable,  I have linked to the relevant page on her site in my post.

The classes for the 2017 Nordic Knitting Conference have been posted! October is pretty full for us this year so we're sadly not attending, but had an amazing time last year and highly recommend the event for anyone interested in learning more about the culture, history, and textiles of the Nordic traditions. 

Crochet Summer 2017: How Many Projects is too Many Projects?

If you know me, you know that I absolutely LOVE to start a new project. I am a process based maker, not a product based maker. My studio and office (and living room, and bedside table, and bins in the basement) are filled with unfinished projects ranging from knitting to crochet to needlepoint and nearly every fiber craft in between. I have purchased more than two drop spindles in my life because the others are filled with bits of yarn that I haven't finished spinning...and will surely never pick up again. If this confession makes you cringe, or fills you with anxiety on my behalf, then take heart, dear reader...because Crochet Summer and my own "start-itis" brings me great joy. 

Remember this gem?

I started crocheting this amazing wrap before Crochet Summer even began. I was really excited about it, chose all my colors from The Fibre Co. Acadia, and was off to a great start. This blog post is, in part, coming to be because of a desire to post an update on this project. I had the tote bag with the project in it in my living room, and brought it into the office to take some photos to post an update. Upon taking it out of the bag I realized it was in the same spot I had left it. Yep. I HAD NOT TOUCHED IT SINCE THE LAST POST. 

Amazing.

Did that stop me from starting another project for Crochet Summer? NO! Absolutely not. I could not resist the urge to cast on this shawl, Lost in Time by Johanna Lindahl.

Lost in Time by Johanna Lindahl, copyright Johanna Lindahl and Mijo Crochet

Lost in Time by Johanna Lindahl, copyright Johanna Lindahl and Mijo Crochet

Johanna's website, Mijo Crochet, is a dangerous place if you, like me, suffer from the desperate need to start new, beautiful projects. Her crochet style is awesome. 

I had bits of leftover yarns - and some of these are rare, deep cuts - with which I intended to make Enchanted Mesa by Stephen West. And while I did cast on and knit the neck, I quickly abandoned it for another project. The tote bag full of yarns I had chosen for the sweater, however, lived on in my bedroom closet. The colors are earthy, with a few pops of pink, mint green, and blue. There are a couple of old skeins of the original Knightsbridge from The Fibre Co., a skein of sparkly Eat Agar I bought at Fancy Tiger Crafts, various bits of Shetland wool, a lovely skein of (now discontinued) Drops Silke Tweed, various bits of fancy yarns from Habu, and even some of my own handspun making an appearance! 

This project is all about yarns with interesting textures and earthy colors. I'm winging it a bit in terms of which yarn to use when, but so far I feel pretty good about it. 

And, I'm happy to report, I have worked on it diligently and it's larger now than in the pictures above. Though I think I am working the edge increases wrong, but I'm not going to let that bother me too much. After all, it's about the process.