Elementary back stroke races

This thought just tickles me. We are taking a few swimming lessons to improve our strokes. I pretty much swim freestyle, always, and Tim does this and the backstroke. While giving us tips about our strokes, our teacher is intent on teaching survival skills as well, and the elementary backstroke, which used to be a favorite of mine when I was young, is really a survival swim. Since gliding and doing nothing is one of the most important aspects it made me chuckle to imagine a race with everyone doing nothing.

My concentration ebbed. The instructor asked me to count my strokes for the length of the pool – and I forgot to. Then when I remembered to count my strokes, I forgot to kick, because we had been working on another drill. It’s a good thing I wasn’t chewing gum as well, who knows what might have happened.

Back on terra firma, I have finished a lovely merino shawl for a friend. It is Print o’ the wave stole by Eunny Jang and the second time I have knitted it. Very satisfying. And I did memorize the patterns so something is still working up there.

Then I got carried away and decided I needed to weave a ribbon for the package. I hope to finish and mail it tomorrow.

We walked on the sand bar over to Little Moose Island which is only accessible at low tide. The day was glorious, 50’s and sunny, and we were not alone. But we always find secluded places to enjoy the sea and rocks.

I thought lobsters only turned red after they were cooked. Who cooked this one?

I saw a mitt in this rock. How about you?

Ah, how the mind wanders.

The bands of Deal Island


Warning, the content herein is solely about fiber. If you’re not interested in fiber, talk amongst yourselves.

Since I’ve become more interested in weaving, I decided I would weave during my three month time on Deal Island. And weave I did. Without any loom! I found great resources online: backstrapweaving.wordpress.com for backstrap inkle weaving and lots of interesting techniques; TWIST, a newsletter and group for tablet weavers; and great tablet patterns from flinkhand.de

So I started with what I knew, tablet weaving and made a belt. 20150423-070310.jpgTablet weaving dates back thousands of years and patterns are created by a combination of how the tablets are threaded and then how the pack of tablets is turned. It’s really pretty fascinating because it puts a four shaft loom in the palm of your hand. When I needed more cards, I cut them out from discarded cardboard boxes.

When I ran out of commercial cotton, I spun cotton on a charkha loom and used it in in both tablet weaving and inkle weaving. I used various devices to keep the yarn stretched out while I wove, depending on the weather and on my mood. During nice sunny days, I tied one end to me and the other to either the laundry post or a vertical post near the house. Some days I sat in the sun room and attached to the lovely goose that adorns the coffee table there. https://www.flickr.com/photos/24868212@N05/17583060869/in/dateposted-public/I often got started by attaching to a door latch and a chair. And off I went.

I occasionally fashioned a backstrap from a pillowcase, but for the most part, I used an old camera case strap I found for the strap. Although I brought string heddles with me, I learned how to make continuous string heddles from any yarn, which was very handy. I found the idea for a simple tensioning device in a back issue of TWIST.20150321-232156.jpg

When my spun cotton dwindled, I turned to sewing thread and wove a couple of ribbons. I had this idea I would weave my own labels for hand knit items, and I did. I experimented with Baltic weave, Andean pebble weave, supplementary weft and horizontal stripe pick up patterns. The patterns are endless and now I want to incorporate them into larger pieces. We’ll see.




Fiber interlude on Deal Island


This is really a post about fiber so for those of you not interested, here’s the photo of the day.

We’ re here in the autumn and there’s no central heat. It shouldn’t get too cold but both bathroom windows are permanently open with louvers. There’s a portable oil electric heater in a pinch. The old gas heater in the living room doesn’t seem to work. I knew this ahead of time and bought a kit for a merino, mohair blanket from the Elegant Ewe in New Hampshire with yarn from Mountain Colors. I started it after we left home, worked on it in New Jersey, Tasmania and Finished it on Deal Island. It’s lovely: soft, light and warm.

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My hair is a bit, ahem, unruly. Especially in the winds we have here. So I knit another calorimetry headband with yarn leftover from the blanket. It keeps my hair in check and my head and ears warm.

I brought a charkha loom with me to spin cotton. I hadn’t been able to use it successfully at home but with time, patience and great instructions from urbanspinner, I made thread. I spent several Hours and literally made a spool of thread. But it’s my thread and I was able to put it straight to work.



I am knitting a Shetland shawl with miles of cobweb yarn, which I wound into balls before I left home. It begins with a provisional cast on and I used my new thread to crochet a chain to use as my starting point. I love the loom for all it’s gadgets. There’s even a skein winder. I wound the skeins on to paper quills and then plied them together using clothes pins to create a tensioned lazy kate. So cute and it all folds up into a little box shaped box.

Finally I need a belt and a pair of slippers. There’s too much Cape Barren Geese poo to wear my crocs inside and out. So I found an easy pattern I’ll make sometime. For a belt, I brought my cards for tablet weaving and some mercerized cotton. I also brought 3 spools of thread if I decide to make ribbons with sewing thread. Or if my spun thread is strong enough, which I highly doubt, I could use that. It may be possible because I brought some silk (empty of their larvae) cocoons and if I can figure out how to spin silk from them, the thread should be very strong.

So anyway, I needed to create a loom on the go. There are c-clamps in the workshop but then I’d have to weave indoors and it is too beautiful for that. I saw an old article in TWIST which showed an interesting tensioning device. It used to pieces of wood that the warp wraps around an holds itself tight. So found a scrap of wood, cut it I two and drilled a couple of holes. A scrap piece of wire holds the whole thing together and laces through two belt buckles on my jeans. So it works like a backstrap device without the back.

Just trying to have fun.