Friday, March 30, 2012

Pretty little things

Hello, friends. Spring is officially here and it gives me a perfect excuse to weave delicate, lightweight fabrics for Nutfield Weaver. I also tend to gravitate toward brighter, summer-y colors when selecting yarns, but I digress. Today's post is just about handwoven lace.

Handwoven lace often perplexes people when they see and feel it for the first time. Handwoven fabric, for many people, often means "lumpy and clumpy." (Think 1970's wool ponchos). I love having the opportunity to show people that handwoven fabric can be something entirely different! Fine mercerized cottons, silk, and linen work up beautifully when threaded on the loom for spot weave lace.

Here's an example:


Here is a pretty little handwoven lace tissue holder. I used a traditional spot weave pattern to weave this cloth. This piece features a ribbonwork rose in robins egg blue - very springtime-ish!

Here is a second tissue holder, also made of spot weave lace, with a lavender rose:


These little pieces are often purchased by brides looking for a special keepsake for mothers and grandmothers. But, really, everyone likes a pretty little thing now and then, don't you think?

Be well,
Kate

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A visit to CraftBoston

Hello, friends. I hope that you have had a most pleasant week.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit "CraftBoston," the annual spring show of the Society of Arts & Crafts at the Seaport World Trade Center. The exhibits were wonderful and inspiring, but the BEST part about making the trip to Beantown was most definitely meeting my friend, Elena Rosenberg, in person for the first time.

Many of you Etsy-ish readers probably know Elena as "TickledPinkKnits." Elena's photographs of her pieces are absolutely stunning, as you may have seen on her website, but having the chance to touch and to see her items right up close was an extra special treat.

Here is one of my favorite Elena Rosenberg pieces:


Isn't this a beautiful, hand-knitted wrap? (And if feels wonderful, too).

Elena's patterns are also available for purchase. I am a big fan of her fingerless gloves, and made several sets as Christmas gifts this year:


It was delightful to have the chance to meet Elena in person. What fun! And my wonderful husband even bought me one of her handknit hats (my Scottish grandmother would have called it a "tam"), which I have worn nearly every day this week since we are back to winter-time temperatures here in New Hampshire. Elena is a gem in the vast world of fiber arts, and I hope that you will check out her wonderful, heirloom-quality pieces.

Up next: pretty Nutfield Weaver handwovens perfect for Mother's Day.

Be well,
Kate

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grainsack-inspired handwoven cloth

Hello, friends. I was perusing a lovely interior design book that I picked up from the library recently called "Pale & Interesting: Decorating with Whites, Pastels, and Neutrals" by Atlanta Bartlett & Dave Coote. It was a visual treat, and, being handweaver, I tend to zoom in on textiles that they selected throughout the book. They used a lot of "upcycled" pieces made from old grainsacks. The amount of color used in the grainsacks often provided just enough visual interest to provide a pop of color throughout a space.

I like the simple designs of the grainsacks. I also like the history of grainsacks: farmers' wives used to weave the cloth with a signature striped pattern so that their family's sacks of grain could be identified at the mill. Since the patterns were unique, I felt at liberty to design my own "grainsack" pattern. I also felt at liberty to use soft, all-natural fibers for my cloth; 5/2 mercerized cotton weaves up nicely, drapes well, and is cuddly soft. I chose white and nautical blue cottons for this cloth -- the colors seemed summery or, as my son, Nathan, noted, "beachy."

Here is a look at Nutfield Weaver's "grainsack" fabric on the loom:


And here is a table runner made from this cloth:


What fun. I wove enough cloth for some pillow covers, but they're still in the works. The loom is waiting for a new warp - new, custom windowpane plaid dishtowels are next.

Be well,
Kate

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tiny handwoven wearables

Hello, friends. I'm having so much fun working on some new, very tiny pieces for Nutfield Weaver. Why handwoven jewelry? Well, I'll tell you. As many of you know, I play the cello in the New Hampshire Philharmonic. Concert night is my big opportunity to "dress up" (after housekeeping, tending to animals & boys, making cheese, etc...). Playing the cello is a pretty physical activity, and wearing clothing that has a lot of drape just don't work out well. (I have lovely handwoven shawls and scarves, but these would end up falling off or slipping and would divert my concentration).

So these "miniature handwovens" are things that I can wear, even on concert night. Here are some of the latest creations:




I think I'll keep a pair of the royal blue and black for this week's performance. If you're in the vicinity of Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday, March 17th, the NH Phil is performing at the Palace! Celtic music, a harp concerto -- it doesn't get much better than this!

Be well,
Kate

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Call me Miss Muffet

Hello, friends. This afternoon I spent some time in the kitchen armed with my new book on home cheesemaking, a gallon of milk, and my fingers crossed. My first batch of ricotta cheese turned out so well that I am positively giddy. My boys came home from school and (as usual) were nosing around for something to eat. They were amazed and perplexed that ricotta cheese could be good enough to eat all by itself! (So was I, actually). I hope that we have enough left for a recipe (I was pondering stuffed shells or calzones). Next up will be some mozzerella and then some chevre.



In addition to my kitchen adventures, I've been working on some custom dishtowels


and studying photographs of old grain sacks. I love the simple, clean lines of these utilitarian fabrics, but for housewares - and in particular, pillows - I can't help think that the coarse fibers used for the weave wouldn't translate into a cozy, comfortable cloth. So there may be some new housewares in the works here as well.

But first I need to figure out how to get my hands on a cheese press.

Be well,
Kate