About ecomomma

A hand weaver and knitter living on the prairies of Canada

Slow Fashion Visited

Lately, I have become interested in the notion of slow fashion–the movement to create clothes or items of quality that are intended to last a long time. The movement asks us to consider the value of our belongings and encourages us to repair rather than throw out perfectly good clothing.

It also stresses the appreciation of the actual cost and labour that goes into making clothing. It suggests we have lost sight of the true investment of time and money as markets become flooded with cheap clothing. I think this, in part, explains the puzzled reactions on the faces of shoppers at craft sales when they see prices on handmade goods.

In my mind, it would therefore seem wise to stick to somewhat classic clothing or accessory styles that can ride the tides of trends. At some level, this has been my approach to knitting and weaving thus far. Trendy accessories no doubt sell better but have a limited life span. (Messy bun hat anyone?)

So I think I will spend a little time this year on exactly this. I have a Georgetown cardigan in warm grey/sand on the needles and it is joy to knit. Knit mainly in stocking stitch, I have been forcing myself to slow down, to enjoy the rhythm of the process. There is no race to the finish, no craft show deadline looming. This one is for me, the start of my slow fashion journey. Come along with me.

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Things I Have Learned from Weaving

You might remember that I have been relearning how to weave on my four-shaft loom–what I have learned, though, had more to do with me than the loom.

  1. Weaving makes you realize you aren’t the multi-tasker you thought you were. Turns out, I need complete silence to keep track of the pattern. Yeesh! This is when I realized how loud our house was (when did we get so many pets? And why are there birds inside it?)
  2. Weaving teaches you humility. Exactly how many times have I taken this weaving back?
  3. Weaving teaches you patience. See #2.
  4. Weaving teaches you about making good colour choices. Sure, blue and green reminds you of sea glass, but seeing the pattern as you weave is another thing entirely.
  5. Weaving is for pet-free homes.    
  6. Weaving takes a looong time. Don’t give up the day job just yet.
  7. Weaving is good for the soul, when all is said and done. 

Well, it’s been a while…

Sorry, I have been out of touch. I had a spell of ill health, but things are looking up!

2016 is a year of new fibre challenges for me. I lucked into a barely-used Leclerc Dorothy 4-shaft table loom just before Christmas, which is the loom I learned on a number of years ago. The last two years I have devoted to weaving on a rigid heddle loom, so it is fun to expand into multi-shaft weaving again.

making the important cross

  

measuring the warp

 
My husband gave me a number of cones of beautiful fine merino yarn for Christmas and I have successfully wrangled the wool onto the loom (not without challenges!) and have begun to weave a scarf. It feels great to be weaving twill weaves again!
 

I can see a pattern!

 
Another challenge I have embraced is the new skills involved in knitting socks! I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. Sure, it takes a lot longer to knit with such fine yarns, but I love the appearance of the fine stitches–and that squishy heel flap! I don’t think selling socks is economically feasible, due to the length of time it takes to knit them, but some family members might be getting a little surprise in their stockings.

  
So, with the prairie weather doing its cold bit, I foresee lots of time inside working on my new loves.

Until next time–stay warm!

Collette

Back Down to Business

Ahhhh… Is that a hint of autumn in the air? The soft crinkle of leaves beneath my feet? A welcome relief from a really hot summer?  Then it must be time to get creating again.

Crafters who work with wool know what it’s like to knit or weave in the heat.  It just isn’t happening. But the recent chill in the air means I have been able to put hands to loom and get some scarves made!

My first project was a yummy squishy rainbow scarf that I have quite fallen in love with. It is the featured image you will see at the left of the page. Bouyed by this success, I immediately warped up a red and cream scarf in a log cabin pattern (images soon).

I also found the time to finish off three scarves I had woven earlier in the year (ironically two are cotton, so what’s the delay!)

Here they are:

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oh-so-soft scarf made from baby llama

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a really unusual colour combination, but it works!

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beautiful blues and green cotton scarf

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it’s really soft!

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the same Pima cotton in autumn stripes

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Well, it’s back to the loom. There is a craft show in November I have my eye on. Nothing like a deadline to spur me into action!

A Windy Day’s Works-in-Progress

Sure is windy out there. I mean, REALLY windy. I’m glad to be inside on a mid-week vacation day, sleeping, Ravelry-surfing, favouriting pics in Instagram. Everything but knitting and weaving.

I do have a few works in progress. I finished the teal was-going-to-be-a-neckwarmer-but-turned-into-a-headband a while back. It’s made from one of my favourite alpaca and wool blends. I bought some beautiful pottery buttons from Nancy Blokland Pottery to finish it off. I’m leaning towards the birds-on-a-wire button. The other one is a polar bear (we’re from Manitoba, home of the polar bears), but the design is a little hard to see in this photo. What do you think?

  

Yep, the more I look at it, the bird button is the one.  Now I can’t get the Bird on a Wire song by Jennifer Warnes out of my head.

I also finished off the Ndebele Hat (Lisa McFetridge) in dramatic black and white superwash wool. I love the pattern and plan to knit it again in other colours. This one will fit a child under 10.

cool, eh?

Next up on the needles is a neckwarmer in a beautiful lofty and lustrous aran wool from West Yorkshire Spinners. It’s an imported British natural ecru wool from Bluefaced Leicester sheep. Yummy. My nana was from Yorkshire so of course I had to buy the wool–it would have been wrong not to.

I am knitting it up in the Cable Neck Gaiter pattern from Christine Vawker. Sadly her blog disappeared right after I copied down the pattern so I hope I have it right.  It’s a delicate cabled pattern with shifting cables. I quite like the effect.

   

   

and from the cat gallery…

  

Here is youngest cat on the hairy cat chair watching me take photos on the Trusty Trunk. If it weren’t so blasted windy, I would have ventured outside into the natural sunlight, but that’s for another day. 

Momma’s Got Her Groove Back

Well, that was close. For near on two weeks, I completely lost my knitting mojo. Maybe it was the endless winter, or maybe I had done the same pattern over and over too often, but I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the needles. Or the loom. It felt over. Nothing inspired me.

So, I sat back a bit, reduced my steady diet of social media and dug into reading.  I went to the conservatory, listened to music, took myself out for coffee and hung out with my family. And didn’t you know it, I found myself looking through my Ravelry library for something new.

And here it is…the Ndebele hat, based on South African motifs. When I bought this pattern a little while back, profits were going to the Ebola elimination effort. So, not only does it look great but it feels great to knit as well.

  

Momma’s back. Life is good.

Could it Really be Spring?

Here in the Canadian prairies, winter goes on and on forever, cold, windy and long. But in one short weekend, we have turned the corner and almost all of the snow has vanished! 

Which, it is to say, makes it harder to focus on winter knits. IT might be time to switch to woven cotton scarves!

In any event, here is what I have on the needles currently. Didn’t realize I was on a bit of a blue run!



Sandinavian style mitt in 100% Peruvian Highland Wool



Braided Cable Neckwarmer in wool and alpaca



I think I’m in Love 

in my last post I shared my progress on a new endeavour–Scandinavian-style knitting.  Well, now I’m completely enamoured of Aimee Alexander’s Snow Ghost series of patterns (available on Ravelry).

In case you were worried, my wonderful and patient friend Nancy did receive her left mitt to go along with her right one and she loves it!





I then made the Snow Ghost Slouchy Hat in worsted weight, and, like the other patterns, I am going to have to increase my needle size a fair bit, but this hat will make some child happy!





The beauty of this pattern is in the details–look at the crown! Love.

Obsessed as I am, I have started a new set of mitts in a beautiful blue and cream. So, on our first warm day in weeks on the Canadian prairies, I am knee-deep in Peruvian Highland Wool. 

Ah…life.



Facing the Seemingly Impossible

I set two goals for myself this year: to master stranded knitting and to learn the Brioche stitch. Having taken a workshop on Brioche, I now feel comfortable enough to start a brioche stitch cowl really soon. I would have made one already but I have been fighting with my latest obsession, the Scandinavian mitten.

My original goal was to get back into Fair Isle or Icelandic style of colourwork, but I got side-tracked when I started reading about the origins of knitting in Scotland and the Faroe Islands. Which of course lead to many hours of scouring Ravelry for patterns, where I came across my new favourite: Scandinavian-style knitting. Oh…the triangular ends, the two-colour stranding, the red-and-white colour and wonderful designs! While I have many, many stored in my Ravelry library, it is the Snow Ghost Mittens and Hat patterns by Aimee Alexander of Polka Dot Sheep Publications that I fell in love with.

The whole endeavour wasn’t without its challenges. I started the right mitten no less than five times to find the right size, with increasing sizes of needles and even a brief foray into a thicker yarn. But, at long last, success!!

What seemed so complicated at the beginning fell into place with all of the extra practice with the pattern. The rounds got faster and the mitten grew. so here it is: the right hand mitten!!!

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the bottom side

the top side

the top side

I haven’t washed and blocked it yet so the colours will even out a bit. I am showing today it to my friend Nancy, who claimed the mittens as soon as I showed her the pattern. I am thinking she might expect a left mitten too, so back to the needles.

Happy Knitting, Happy Life.

Magic in the Shadows

I love weaving in shadow-weave. From the simple juxtaposition of threads comes magical 3D effects. It is thrilling to watch it come to life.

I hadn’t woven in several weeks and was feeling the pull of the loom. On Thursday I came home to my latest small shipment of DK weight yarn, earmarked for shadow weave scarves for online and autumn craft sales.  So how better to spend Valentine’s evening? My husband at his loom creating shadow-weave facecloths in bright purple and pink cotton, and me with my fennel and cream scarf in progress. Classic 70s music in the background, and voila! a peaceful and harmonious evening.

fennel and cream wool blend scarf

fennel and cream wool blend scarf

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Purple and pink face cloth in soft cotton

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shadow weave is always best appreciated from a little distance

Life is good.