Archive for June, 2010

My day in London

June 17, 2010

Monday I stayed in Hamilton. A finger weaving student from London, Gloria, came to Hamilton for another lesson. We explored Hamilton in the afternoon, and then agreed to do the same in London on Tuesday. Gloria and I talked about taking in a play at Stratford. She phoned me bright and early on Tuesday morning, encouraged me to buy the tickets on line, to go to the Archaeology Museum, and then meet her for lunch.
I ordered tickets to The Tempest with Christopher Plummer, for 2PM, and set out for London, Ontario. I found the Archaeology Museum right where my google map said it should be. Getting there just before lunch, I did not have much time to speak with the giftshop manager before they were inundated with a school group. Yes, the London, Ontario Archaeology Museum is interested in selling copies of Fingerweaving Untangled.

London Archaeology Museum

Carol at the Archaeology Museum

I phoned Gloria to let her know I was on my way to her place for lunch. She suggested that I also speak to folks at the N’Amerind Center, as they should be interested in the how-to of fingerweaving. We met up there, and yes, indeed the London, Ontario, N’Amerind Friendship Center teaches all manner of native handicraft, and yes, they are interested in my book.
Gloria had brought along sandwiches. She recommended I leave my car and ride with her to the Stratford theatre. I hesitated to leave my rental vehicle in such a small parking lot. The daycare would be needing the spots for parents fetching their kids. She agreed. We planned that I’d follow her to the outskirts of town, a shopping centre where I could leave my vehicle. A few blocks from the N’Amerind Centre the car ahead of me turned into a parking garage. I thought, “What a good idea. This is a nice, secure place to leave my vehicle.” Imagine my horror when the driver of the vehicle ahead of me emerged … NOT GLORIA! Oh No! I’ve been following the wrong car! I exited the parking garage and tried to find my way back to the N’Amerind Centre. Trusting that Gloria was ahead of me I had not paid attention to where I was going. Then my cellphone rang. It was Gloria. Whew!
We met up again, drove together, me following the RIGHT car this time, all the way to a shopping mall. I got into Gloria’s car and away we went to Stratford, Ontario, and the Shakespeare Festival. We arrived at the Festival Theatre with 6 minutes to spare. Lucky I had pre-ordered the tickets on-line. I went to the wicket to redeem the tickets. The young lady at the window was struggling with her computer, said she’d been having troubles with some of the keys. Nevertheless, my purchase number worked, and she printed out my tickets. Four minutes to showtime we presented our tickets to the usher. “I’m sorry ma’am, these tickets are for Kiss Me Kate on the 26th,” said the usher.
“Oh No!” I said. “This cannot be!”
Back to the wicket went I. There had to be some mistake! I was quite certain I had clicked on the button for The Tempest with Christopher Plummer for today!
If indeed I had made an error, there must be a way to exchange!
Presenting the original credit card on which the tickets had been ordered, the problem was solved, two tickets for this afternoon’s show were printed, and we entered the theatre with one minute to spare.
The director came out on stage to talk with us. Apparently this is still technical dress rehearsal. They are still ‘tweaking’ the show, our comments are invited.
Then the show began. Spectacular! Ariel diving down from the ceiling, swimming to the bottom of the sea to retrieve something, and then back up to the surface. Then there are the mariners, fighting the elements on board a ship in a mighty thunderstorm.
Suddenly it all stopped, the lights came on, and we were informed there had been a glitch, the trap door was supposed to have been opened. Please be patient. Wait a minute and the play will resume.
Gloria said that she had intended to get us hearing devices. It was hard to understand the words of the actors. She went out quickly, figuring she’d have time to rent the devices and re-enter before the ‘glitch’ was fixed.
Apparently not. Gloria did not return to the seat beside me until a few scenes later. She had missed the first part of the performance … BUT … Christopher Plummer had come walking past. He had to go through the lobby to get from stage right to the upper balcony, and walked right past her!
The performance was spectacular. Those devices for the hearing impaired work great! (maybe I am hearing impaired?)
Afterwards I said I wanted to take a photo of the two of us in front of the theatre for my blog.

The Stratford Festival Theatre

The Stratford Festival Theatre

Gloria said we could go over to the stage door, and see Christopher Plummer as he left the theatre.
I ran to the parking lot for my camera, hindered by a huge delivery van that was backing in to the theatre complex. Returning with my camera, I noted that the van had backed up to the stage door where Gloria was waiting, and was now leaving. “Christopher Plummer is in that van,” I said. Gloria replied that the Beatles would do such a thing, but not Christopher Plummer. Others had joined us, so we waited another few minutes, and indeed The Man, Christopher Plummer himself, emerged from the stage door. I took a photo of him speaking briefly with Gloria, and then she took a picture of me, and the little crowd that had gathered, around Christopher Plummer.
What a day!

Christopher Plummer and his fans

Christopher Plummer surrounded by fans in Stratford, Ontario

Back in London, Gloria introduced me to her sister, Dolly. They showed me the sash that had been presented to their father at Fort William many years ago.
So, I had a great time with a girlfriend, met her sister, sold books, saw a lovely sash, and had my photo taken with Christopher Plummer!
Sometimes The Universe just opens up and blesses us. What a day!

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Hamilton tour

June 13, 2010

So here I am in Ontario.
My husband is attending conferences, so I’ve tagged along.
Having met up with Virginia Barter at the Rupertsland Colloquium earlier in the month, she invited me to Métis events in her neighborhood. Saturday we went together to Peterborough, Trent University. We participated in a celebration of Métis Culture, music, dance and history. I learned some jigging from Yvonne Chartrand, and also had the honor of meeting members of the Métis Councils from Peterborough and Oshawa-Durham.
On Sunday, I was invited to a community picnic at Lambdon House. I got to talking with people and missed the walking tour of the Umber. Maybe next time, I’d love to check out this little bit of Nature in the midst of the Big City.
Virginia then took me on to the Black Creek Pioneer Village. They seem eager to have my book for their giftshop. That’s great. Then somehow someone mentioned that they’re hosting the Toronto Spiders and the Back-to-Back Wool Challenge. Now that’s something! I participated in the Back-to-Back several times in Manitoba. I hear these Toronto gals are really fast, and, yes, I did get to see them. And yes, they’re mighty fast knitters. How fast are they? What was their time this year (or did they finish, why did they have to quit)? Nope, I will not divulge. You’ll have to wait for the Official Report from Wendy Dennis Down Under. Mum’s the word on my end for now.

No-Frame sprang bag

June 10, 2010

I’ve been doing some research. Frances Densmore, writing in the book Chippewa Customs, describes the work of a woman creating a sprang sash, working around stakes in the ground. I followed her directions and found the technique to work quite well. I created a bag, photographing the process.

OK, now I’m going to retract a bit. Technically this is NOT sprang, as you get but one row of cloth for every row worked. The technique to be described is what I’m now calling ‘unsprung sprang’, that is, the simple interlinking technique. Interlinking is a stepping stone to sprang. True sprang uses the tangled mass, trapping it at the bottom of a frame … nevertheless, the following is as accurate as I can make out to the technique described by Densmore and her observations of the Ojibwa in the early 1900s.

This is the bag I made.

No-frame sprang bag

Bag created without the use of a frame

The bag is worked in a long skinny rectangle. Starting at the bottom of the bag, you sprang towards the string ends, then return to the bottom and sprang in the other direction, up the other side of the bag. Finally you attach the drawstring and sew up the sides with an invisible seam.

What you need:

Supplies for no-frame bag

Yarn, notched stick, extra yarn and large needle

I used strings that were about 30 inches (80 cm) long.

Tie them together in a knot midway along the length.

Use the contrasting color of string and large needle to organize these threads, dividing them into bunches of four:

organizing the warp

organize the warp

The red yarn goes around each bunch of four threads.

The bunch of yarn is attached to the notched stick by the red yarn. The stick will help to hold the yarn bunch.

Set up ready for weaving

Set up is ready for weaving

Attach the whole affair to a fixed point. In the picture above, I attached the yarn bunch to a chair across the corner of my work table.

Now pick up two threads from each bunch of four.

The first shed

Two threads from each bunch held in the hand

Begin spranging.

The bag begins

The bag begins

After weaving about 8 inches (20 cm) I figured this part was long enough. I now returned to the initial shed at the stick.

Return to the initial shed

Return to the initial shed

I removed the stick, and slipped a knitting needle into the first row. I am thinking that I should have put a ‘safety cord’ in the first shed to facilitate this a bit. This spot will be the very bottom of the bag. I’ve spranged one side of the bag, and will now sprang up the other side.

Spranging the other side

The spranging continues

I left the red yarn in marking the place where I turned around. It marks the place of the bottom of the bag. I work in this direction, the piece grows in length. I continue to sprang until the red yarn is at the halfway point:

Now long enough

The piece is long enough for my bag

I tied the warp strings in groups of four, catching the draw-string cord.

The sides are sewn up, if you’re careful, it can be an invisible seam.

invisible seam

sewing up the sides

The pros and cons of a sprang frame.

The frame hold the threads firmly in order. It also catches the ‘false weave’ the reverse of the work. The cloth grows at a rate twice as fast. The frame can be difficult to put in your backpack for you to take and work on it anywhere.

The no-frame technique requires only a stick and a fixed point attachment site. It can be rolled up and mashed in a backpack, taken out anywhere to keep your hands busy. The novice is nervous that the threads will get out of order. With a little bit of practice, you learn to keep your eye on the previous row. An elder said, “Listen to the threads, they will tell you where they want to go. (The student said, “The threads speak a foreign language.”) Another trade-off is that the free ends do not collect the reverse work. You un-do the ‘false weave’ as a tangle near the cut ends. It’s a bit slower, but if the idea is to have a project that fills up your ‘lost time’ you are wanting a project that is not completed too quickly, right?

How long does it take? That depends on how fat the yarn, how long the strands, how big a bag you’re wanting. I’ve completed a small bag in under an hour’s time.

What’s on my loom

June 6, 2010

Taking inspiration from the local weavers group, I wove a cotton blanket for my niece. I used the kind of commercial stuff you use to knit dishcloths. I figure it will be cool and soft for the baby, as well as quite absorbent.

cotton baby blanket

baby blanket made from dishcloth cotton

I gave the blanket a wash, and was not pleased with the way the fringes melted into fuzz. I then cut off the fringes, and applied a satin binding edge.
Next up is a beaded sash. For this one I’ve taken inspiration from articles in the collection at the Rochester Museum. Beads are threaded onto the weft. The work at the loom is slow, nudging the beads into place one by one. For loomweaving it’s snail’s pace, but much quicker than fingerweaving.

Red&Green beaded sash

Loomwoven beaded sash