field notes from the woolworks
... working at making and other joyful life strategies
Heidi Wulfraat • woolworker • maker • dreamer
One of my favourite no-rinse wool washes is Eucalan. It's available in a lovely selection of natural, lavender, eucalyptus or grapefruit. When I called in my last order I was lost in decision fatigue and simply asked for 2 crates of unscented. After my first blocking session, however, I realized that my knitting just wasn't living up to it's full potential in this all natural wet-wool-scented state.
My first thought was to add an essential oil DIY style and presto, custom wool wash!
Best of all, because I'm not a huge fan of strong smelling soaps and cleaners, this would allow me to control the amount of scent added.
So I've ordered my oils from Sandra at the Simple is Pretty Shop. Some for the studio and some gifts as well.
You can learn more about Sandra's take on handmade, earth friendly living along with her essential oil and aromatherapy offerings at Simple is Pretty.com.
Go ahead and treat yourself!
Add your essential oils to DIY all purpose cleaner, disinfectant, glass cleaner, kitchen scrub, sink scrub, mould and mildew remover, hardwood floor cleaner and more with these recipes by REALSIMPLE.com.
Be sure to pamper yourself as well...
Check out this amazing lavender mint bath oil recipe by Katie at Wellness Mama.
Essential Oil Starter Kit by Simple is Pretty photo courtesy of Simple is Pretty
Well y'all know I love a lace knit -all the way from inspiration to the Grand finale.
Of course you're never truly finished with lace until it's been blocked and this last step can be daunting (at least it was for me when I started with lace).
So here are a few points that demystified lace blocking for me.
These steps won't describe the only way to block your lace knitting but they work well in my world and maybe you'll find them helpful as well.
For the purpose of this exercise lets consider a lace knit wool shawl.
1. Wet your shawl.
In order I a)fill a bucket with warm (almost hot) water b) add about a teaspoon or so of no-rinse wool wash c) gently submerge the knitting d) walk away for 10-20 minutes.
2. Dry your shawl.
This is not so much drying as removing excess water. I wrap the knitting in a white (avoid colour transferring to your shawl) terri cloth towel and gently squeeze the bundle once or twice. Easy peasy!
3. Lay your shawl on a blocking mat.
Foam mats that click together are perfect for this job. Be sure to give yourself plenty of space as your knitting is going to expand in blocking. The mats that I'm using in the following photos can be purchased at your local hardware store. I've seen people blocking their work on a bed mattress which also works well.
4. Pin along the straight lines of your shawl.
I always start by pinning along the straight wing span of the knitting. This tells me if I have set up with enough space to fully extend the shawl. Use the straight grid of your blocking mats or a large quilting ruler as a guide to keep straight edges.
I start by pinning every 4 inches or so and then fill in to pin about every 1/2 inch along these edges.
*It's really important that you choose good quality pins to work with. I use Clover rust-proof straight pins, and lots of them!
5. Pin shawl Points.
Here's where things get really fun. As you stretch your shawl to block the remainder of it's body, extend any points that you'd like to feature in the final project. This is where picots, points and curves make themselves known while the body of your shawl is stretched to reveal all of your beautiful lace work.
These techniques work particularly well with wool and wool/silk blends.
You may also like to try using blocking wires though I have found them to be somewhat restricting in terms of oversized and curved pieces.
What are your favourite blocking tips and tricks?
Merino lace weight.
I love dyeing, knitting, weaving and wearing it.
Just one skein can provide days of pleasure, creativity and satisfaction. Imagine.
I think the very best qualities of Merino fibre is most evident in a lace weight yarn. It's short, fine staple results in a soft, lofty fabric that blocks and holds it shape so beautifully.
QUICK CLICK: HEIDI'S BY HAND MERINO LACE
QUICK CLICK: SALT SPRAY HAND KNITTING PATTERN
QUICK CLICK: SUMMER FLING HAND KNITTING PATTERN
QUICK CLICK: CHEVRON REMIX HAND KNITTING PATTERN
QUICK CLICK: ASHFORD RIGID HEDDLE LOOM: HAND WOVEN
If your anything like me you love a good reading list.
If your a spinner, weaver, stitcher, maker, and reader this list for you!
The guide and reviews have been broken down into 5 categories.
You'll find great reads for
1. wool appliqué, rug hooking and design
4. spinning and weaving
5. total escape.
Happy reading and please be sure to leave a note telling us what's on your list for this summer !
for wool appliqué, rug hooking and design
Wool Appliqué Folk Art, Traditional Projects Inspired by 19th-century American Life
BY Rebekah L. Smith
A feast for the eyes, this book is full of inspiration with some great tips, tricks and techniques along the way. Even if primitive is not your aesthetic I'm guessing that you'll be smitten by Rebekah's clean designs and rich pallet. I particularly loved the segment on wool storage as I am always keen to rearrange and refresh my studio space. If you're interested in digging a little deeper into this title check out Rebekah's 2015 blog post on "the making of ..." .
Story Rugs and their Storytellers, Rug Hooking in the Narrative Style
BY Paulette Hackman With a March 28, 2016 publishing date this one is hot off the press! I am so looking forward to this, Paulette's examination of rug hooking as a story telling medium.
From Rug Hooking Magazine:
Story rugs are exciting, personal expressions of joy—they are a visual style of storytelling, as old as cave art, that is gaining popularity among contemporary rug hookers. They tell of celebrations, travels, and adventures and illustrate personal journeys, strongly held beliefs, poignant special memories, and milestones of family heritage. Now there is a book celebrating these popular works of fiber art.
• Explore the work of six featured hooking artists.
• Marvel at the diversity of styles and subjects by hooking artists from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and Japan.
• Learn techniques to help launch your own project of storytelling-by-hook.
Fantastic Ornament, Series Two: 118 Designs and Motifs (Dover Pictorial Archive)
BY A. Houser
If you're planning on designing your own textile works be sure to have a look at the Dover Publications Collection of Pictorial Archives. These volumes are an invaluable reference resource.
Fantastic Ornament, Series Two is a treasure trove that will not disappoint those inclined to embellished design.
From the Back Cover: Professional and amateur artists and designers as well as cardmakers and scrapbookers will find this compilation a practical resource of versatile and royalty-free art. This volume is the successor to Dover Publications' Fantastic Ornament, another modern reprint of a rare nineteenth-century publication.
See every Dover book in print at DoverPublications.com
Modern Selvage Quilting
BY Riel Nason
Released on March 21, 2016, is this new title by Riel Nason, New Brunswick's very own Quispamsis Quilter. I've been enjoying Riel's blog the Q and the U for quite some time and am really looking forward to sitting down with this book in hand. Her light hearted approach is always a breath of fresh air and her signature selvage quilting is both joyful and contemporary.
Riel has also authored The Town that Drowned , a work of fiction which I absolutely loved!
The Better Bag Maker, an Illustrated Handbook of Handbag Design Techniques, Tips and Tricks
BY Nicole Mallalieu
This is a fantastic read for stitchers who want to take their bag making skills to the next level. The book follows a clean progression in techniques from simple to sophisticated. Nicole takes her craft seriously and outlines the fine details that will bring your skills to a level of excellence. The directions and graphics are concise and the projects are over-the-top appealing if you happen to be a bag lover like me!
The Magic Pattern Book: Sew 6 Patterns into 36 Different Styles
BY Amy Barickman
Not a new title (published in 2014) but one that I make a point of recommending to new sewers who visit my shop. Amy walks you through six basic patterns and then reworks them so that each skill set will provide you with several contemporary projects. Included are 36 downloadable patterns in a full size range all of which are formatted for a home printer. What more could you ask for? Really a great book.
The Book of Haps
BY Kate Davies
I'm kinda' thrilled that one of the most anticipated titles in knitting this summer is an indie publication. This no doubt, because Kate Davies never disappoints. With a passion for substance and setting Kate continues to share the rich history, traditions and techniques of Scottish knitting in this examination of Shetland Haps (shawls or wraps).
From Kate's Blog: Combining textile history with contemporary design, this book explores the story of the hap through five beautifully illustrated essays, and thirteen stunning patterns.
contibuters: Jen Arnall-Culliford, Martina Behm, Roslyn Chapman, Kate Davies, Carol Feller, Lucy Hague, Romi Hill, Bristol Ivy, Gudrun Johnston, Hélène Magnússon, Donna Smith, Hazel Tindall, Tom van Deijnen, Veera Välimäki.
Highlander Knits: Knitwear Inspired by the Outlander Series
BY Interweave Editors
Fans of Diana Gabaldon and the hit TV series Outlander are in for a treat with this inspired pattern collection by Interweave press. The book includes 16 very wearable pieces, beautiful format and well defined pattern instruction.
Interweave: From Claire's "Rent Collection Shawl" to the "Sassenach Cowl," all your favorite pieces worn by the series' beloved heroine, and then some, are here, waiting to be knit. You'll find each piece relevant to your wardrobe, whether dressing for today or eighteenth century Scotland.
Knitting Without Tears
BY Elizabeth Zimmermann
Unlike the previous two knitting titles mentioned this book is far from new, however I mention it for a few reasons. To begin, this is truly a mainstay for any knitting library. Although it's a pattern book it's also a great read. Zimmermann's writing is both endearing and empowering. She generously provides an understanding of knitting that goes well beyond a step by step formula. I recommend Knitting Without Tears for this summer as it's a small gem full of delightful anecdotes that you can certainly enjoy even without ever picking up your knitting needles. Beginner and expert knitters alike will be charmed by Zimmermann's passion and wisdom throughout.
FOR SPINNING AND WEAVING
Next Steps in Weaving: What You Never Knew You Needed to Know
BY Pattie Graver
I love this book. It's full of obvious "next steps" for the adventurous beginner and is a great fill-in for those who don't have easy access to a weaving instructor. Samplers and projects included are designed to have you work through various weaving concepts so that they are fully understood and will remain solid additions to your skill set. Pattie's writing style is very accessible and is sympathetic to the weaving student. Her instructions are clear and well rounded. This book left me feeling as though I now have access to an extensive weaving workshop at any given time.
Respect the Spindle
BY Abby Franquemont
Certainly not a new title but I have recommended this one in my shop for years and I simply must include it here.
Why? Because summer is the season for drop spindling. What could be easier as a quick take-along to satisfy your fibre craving? If you haven't yet given spindle spinning a try this book will walk you through the process from selecting a spindle and fibre to making your first hand spun yarn.
Expert spinners will also love this one. Abby is an elegant writer who shares fascinating personal experiences of spindling throughout the world. Grab your kindle, spindle, fibre and beach bag. You're going to enjoy this one!
Inventive weaving on a Little Loom
BY Syne Mitchell
Rigid Heddle looms are perfect for summer weaving and this new title by Syne Mitchell would serve well as a go-to resource for any rigid heddle fan. The book provides a thorough guide to selecting a rigid heddle loom as well as all of the basics. There are however, several inclusions that make this book more powerful than many others on the topic. You'll find introductions to tapestry, inlays, lace, shibori, multiple shaft weaving, as well as calculations, colour theory, finishing techniques and more. Instructions and graphics are concise and several projects are included. I highly recommend this title. For more of Syne Mitchell check out Weavezine as well as her archived poscast Weavecast (no longer in production but still well worth the listen).
FOR TOTAL ESCAPE
Principals To Live By
BY David Adams Richards
I've not met a novel by this author that I didn't love so I'm thrilled to have this new read for the summer of 2016.
I could go on about why I am so deeply affected by the work of Adams Richards but his stories are yours to experience in all of their misfortune and triumph. I will say that his characters are ordinary, perhaps familiar, and he is at times painfully honest. His writing is steeped in sense of place, human fallibility, and circumstance.
A Walk on the Beach: Tales of Wisdom from an Unconventional Woman
BY Joan Anderson
At a completely different pace and in nonfiction, I've chosen this book as a perfect summer read.
Following Joan's earlier title A Year by the Sea , A Walk on the Beach is a quick, easy read but not without substance.
From Joan Anderson's Website: A Walk on the Beach is the story of my chance encounter with a wise, playful and astonishing woman who helped usher me toward change and self discovery. First glimpsed as a slender figure on a foggy jetty, Joan Erikson was no ordinary woman. The wife and collaborative of Erik Erikson who designed the Eight Stages of Life, Joan Erikson was always eager to pass on her zest for living.
Eleanor & Park
BY Rainbow Rowell
A sweet, sad, beautiful book about love. Though this is not a new title I thought that it must be included on the chance that you missed it. This one is YA so be ready to feel ALL the feels!
From Rainbow's website:
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.
Everyday I try to find a little something that makes life interesting. A good book, a wagging dog, a cool breeze, tea with a friend.
Here are my field notes about making, discovering, and enjoying a simple, slow, handmade life.
Thanks so much for visiting. I appreciate your spending time with me.
STITCHER, MAKER, DREAMER, BOOK REVIEWS summer 2016