Monday, March 26, 2007

Built To Last?

What becomes of the things you make? Do they get put away in a drawer or hung out in plain view? Do they get used and abused and eventually used up? Does this bother you? I guess it depends on whether you consider your work High Art or just creative crafting, a happy pastime that leaves you with something to show for your hours of twiddling your fingers. There are articles on textile conservation that would like to scare you into believing that everything must be carefully wrapped in acid free tissue and stored in a museum-quality specially-manufactured box out of the harmful light. However I’m of the Use It school of thought and use my stuff unto death. I like to surround myself with handmade things and if I had the proverbial million dollars I would commission artists and craftspeople to make me a house and virtually everything in it with creative style and obvious marks of the hand. Meanwhile while I’m waiting for the money to materialize I live with a mixture of the old, the Ikea, the junk, and the handmade (mostly by me, T-Man, friends or local craftspeople). It’s not Better Homes & Gardens-worthy, but it’s us.

Speaking of building, the workman have been having big fun next door removing the roof and top floor in preparation for the major renovations planned. I spent a goodly chunk of the day elsewhere because the noise and dust was pretty bad. I did manage to introduce myself to the crew boss who promised that it would all be over with quickly. But then the building will commence and that won’t be any more peaceful, I can guarantee. I surreptitiously photographed them from my study window.

They can see me at my desk so I waved at the boss! Just as I type this the last wall is going downnnnn….

Cynthia asked in my Comments about the yarn for the Cherry Leaf Shawl. Yes, I did dye it myself. The dyes were Lanaset, also called Telana depending on who sells it. These are dyes for protein fibres and have a somewhat muted palette. I especially like them on silk because they’re very luminous when combined with silk’s sheen. They are a little more complex to use than regular acid dyes when you’re trying to get an even colour because they have a couple of extra things (dye assistants) to add. But in this case I used a combination method: first the yarn skein was soaked in my reusable bucket of acetic acid/water, squeezed out and then dipped and squeezed through a strong solution of the chartreuse dye and arranged in a casserole dish (one just for dyeing). I poured dribbles of blue-green and orange-red dye over the skein, turned it over and repeated the dribbles. (There might have been some golden yellow dye as well. I can’t remember now!) Then I covered the casserole dish with its lid and nuked it for three 5-minute intervals in my crafts-only microwave, each time with a 5-10 minute cooling period between. After it cooled, I rinsed the skein, spun it out in the washing machine (spin cycle only) and hung it up to dry. The yarn is a cashmere-merino blend in a 2-ply laceweight. I can’t remember the manufacturer since it didn’t come with a label. I wanted to be very careful with the dye method because it felts quite easily.

And now it’s all done! I marathon-knitted this morning and finished the shawl. It’s washed now and blocked so I’m just waiting for it to dry. More details later but here’s what it looks like in its pins:

I think it’s beeeoooteeeful! But hopefully now that it’s done I can control myself from starting another piece of knitted lace and get my sewing done. We spent some time this weekend looking at fabrics but didn’t really find what is in my mind’s eye. There are more places to look however so I’m not giving up quite yet. It has to be the right weight, the right colour and the right texture. Plus inexpensive. It seems that the textile clearance place is mostly filled with icky synthetics that feel totally plasticky. I did get some chiffon for my veil in slightly off-white. Then we went to my favourite Punjabi-owned sari shop with lots of lovely silks and rayons but they didn’t have anything quite right either. Lots of other yummy fabrics though! I was controlling myself. These are the only places that I can walk to so it’ll have to be car or public transit next.


Nadia said...

Your shawl is amazing!

Cyndi in BC said...

Hi Louisa, do you remember the crew boss's name? The fellow with his back to the camera sure looks like my step son, from the back anyway! And I know he just recently started a new demolition job.

Talk to you soon,
Cyndi in BC

Anonymous said...

Fabulous shawl.

Anonymous said...

I love this lace design very much. Great job with the color and knitting. Happy Spring too~!