Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Seventh Veil

The theme for the August Phat Fiber Box, I must confess, did not excite me. “Arabian Nights.” What, pray tell, am I to do with a theme like that? Lawrence of Arabia and Ali? Black and purple, gold and white? Well, it was a possibility, though not a terribly exciting one.

I don’t remember now, exactly how the discussion began, but my dear internet friend, Khadijah, somehow sparked my interest in creating a lavender and pink yarn colorway, and I liked what I got when I tried it. She thought it was pretty, too, and gave me permission to name the colorway after her. There will be some more serious experimentation in that direction, hopefully at the end of this week, and the resulting yarns will be part of my samples for the August box.
But I am finding that no matter how glorious my yarns are, they simply do not move. I put them in the shop, and they sit. And sit. And sit. Why? Any number of reasons. Bad economy. A glut of beautiful, hand-painted yarns from indie dyers currently on the market. And it’s summer. In the heat, a person has to be really weird about his/her wool obsession to want to work with the stuff.
What does this say about me? Wool-obsessed nutcase, that’s what. There is, quite simply, no bad time for wool. However, weather like we’ve been having drives me to the spinning wheel more than it drives me to think of scarves, sweaters, and the promise of cooler temperatures in the not-so-distant future.
But back to Phat Fiber. I realized that I have probably been shooting myself in the foot by sending in only yarn samples and patterns in recent months. My forte appears to be the blending of spinning fibers. OK. I don’t mind shifting gears, but…“Arabian Nights?”
With vague ideas about an “I Dream of Jeannie” colorway, and a spinners’ version of “Khadijah,” I ordered some wool, and when it arrived I dutifully started to play with it. Let’s get “Jeannie” done and out of the way first, then I can really put my all into “Khadijah.”
With Suzanne Vega’s musical take on “I Dream of Jeannie” firmly lodged in my head, I started working. I was not seeing anything remotely like what I had been thinking of for “Jeannie,” and then Patti Smith stepped into my brain and abruptly shoved all thoughts of comedy out the side door.
And suddenly, there is Salome’s deadly dance, and the gold jewelry shining all over her, maybe some finger cymbals, too, and the pale pink of the final veil flung away, mingling with the blood of John the Baptist. Yikes!
But in spite of the violent inspiration, it is a lovely fiber, and a lovely yarn, and has allowed me to finally work through the grief, horror, and rage I felt as a child, when I first heard the story of John the Baptist, and Herod, and Salome. I must have been six or seven, and I had no idea where the story was going. I remember hiding my head inside my desk and sobbing inconsolably. Poor, poor John! I felt it so deep n my heart, that the story should not have ended with his head on a platter.

And in the yarn, the red dominates. The blood of John is stronger than the gold jewelry, or the pale pink of the seventh veil. Even in death, somehow, he triumphs. All is not lost.

Quite an odd journey, from one silly, half-hearted inspiration to a heavy, serious one, especially knowing how far back in my own history it goes.
Peace, St. John. This one is for you. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mad Angel Creations Climbing Bamboo Scarf Pattern

All test knits have been completed, and the pattern tweaked for clarity, so my Climbing Bamboo Scarf pattern is now available in my shop.

I tried using a commercial yarn for one of my test knits, as well as a few different hand spun yarns from my stash. The commercial yarn was pretty enough, but too consistent to really show the stitch pattern to its best advantage. Hand spun yarn has a lot more "character."
This is kind of like a realtor saying a property that desperately needs updating has “charm.”
I try to be consistent in my spinning, but despite my best efforts, there are thick and thin parts. It’s inevitable. The phone rings, or the cat jumps on my head, or I have to leap up and break up a dog fight, or the kid accidentally sets my oven on fire…so much for a consistent thread!
The good news is, the imperfections do wonders for bringing the stitch pattern out beautifully.
One may certainly use a commercial yarn, but if so, try to choose one a bit on the “rustic” side, with thick and thin places.
Gauge is not critical. Needle sizes and yarn thicknesses are totally up to you. It is not necessary to slavishly follow my directions. Play with it. Swatch it. When you get a fabric that suits you, go with the yarn and needles that produced it, and have fun!
You may make this scarf for gifting, of course, and I won’t stop anyone from selling scarves made from this pattern. However, please credit me as the designer, and I beg you NOT to make and/or distribute free copies of the pattern. Every penny I earn goes back into my business one way or another, so I may keep offering beautiful yarns and spinning fibers, and supporting other indie fiber artists.
If you do choose to knit this pattern, please share pictures with me! And if you are on Ravelry, please post a project page. I love to see what other people make with my patterns, yarns, and fibers. It’s inspiring!

Now I'm off to do some more "Tour de Fleece" spinning!