Archives for posts with tag: silk

I have been completely taken by the textiles here. They’re vibrant and colorful, seemingly simple patterns meld to form complex ones. I can’t help walking through the night market and want every single piece of fabric I see. But I restrain myself, because I’m a little limited for space in my backpack. Not to mention funny money. Funny money: worse than credit cards.

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I was so excited when I found out that I could take a weaving class in Luang Prabang and learn from local master weavers. Forget the cricket loom; Freshy went full speed ahead with the floor loom. And it was AWESOME. I rarely put things in caps, people. This was AWESOME. Oh, look, I did it again. On this journey of self discovery and whatever, I have decided two things: One, I want a puppy. Two, I want a floor loom. Ok, the order is actually reversed. I need a floor loom. I need it now. I need it real bad. It has to be the second most addicting craft I’ve picked up next to knitting.

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Because it’s low season I was the only person in my class (not that I was complaining…). The first thing I learned about was where they get their silk from and how they dye it. They use the silk made from the Bombyx Mori Silkworm, which can produce over 300 meters of silk filament per cocoon.

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They dyes that they use are all natural and come from tree bark, tree leaves, insect resin, fruits, and seeds. They combine them with mordants (component that sets the dye) which can be lye, limestone, mud, ash water and iron.

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I got to dye three small skeins of silk. We picked the leaves and the seeds from their garden and got to work boiling them in water, mixing them with the mordant and soaking the yarn in them.

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I have only ever dyed yarn at the Knot Hysteria retreats, so this was a great contrast to that. It was amazing to see how the silk took the colors. The water from the seeds was bright red, but as you can see, it produced a very bright orange skein.

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Before we started with the weaving lesson, I got a tour of their workshop, where many local women are employed and weave a variety of fabrics. Some were weaving simple scarves and some were doing amazingly complex tapestries. Each movement they made was swift and with purpose. There was no wasted energy that I could tell and they were cookin’! Even as they were working, though, they were talking and laughing amongst themselves, and it made me really miss craft nights with my friends.

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When I sat at my loom, I was absolutely bewildered. What are all these strings?! How does this work?! Why do my edges suck?! It was definitely a crash course on weaving, but it was so much fun and so rewarding to see the pattern motif take shape on my scarf.

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I had a weaving master help me along the way and a translator there to explain what I was doing. I definitely fumbled through for most of it and it took two days to complete the scarf. I believe it would have only taken the master about half that time, if that. I took so many pictures of the loom, because I want to be able to go home and see if I can remember how it all works. The translator told me that just to set up the loom, it takes them about 2 days for a scarf and about a week if they are weaving a large tapestry!

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The textile patterns that they weave depict stories of Nagas (a mythological water serpent with magical powers), or of spirits traveling to the afterworld. Girls would weave items as a dowry to give to their groom’s family or to boys that they wanted to seek affection from (all I can say is that boy better deserve it!).

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This is it! The edges are gross, and the picture doesn’t really capture the color correctly, but I made it! And it has led me down another hobby hole, from which I don’t think I shall ever return from. Seriously, you guys don’t even get how much enjoyment I got out of weaving. So priority number one when I get home: procure floor loom.

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This is a story.  A story about the generosity of knitters….and how procrastination pays off.

About a month ago, I found myself attending a knitting retreat for the first time ever.  I was excited to meet people who, like myself, really love yarn.  I don’t usually participate in big group knit-a-longs and I don’t spend a lot of time on ravelry forums chatting with strangers, but when I signed up for the retreat, I did.  I wanted to meet and talk to the people that I would be interacting with for three whole days and I wanted to really get involved.  So when Steven suggested that we all do a KAL with Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn, I jumped on the opportunity.  And when I say I “jumped”, what I really mean is that after initially agreeing, I then proceeded to procrastinate with said purchase of yarn and pattern.  Because, procrastination really is the only thing that I do well….consistently.

A few days before I was all set to leave for the retreat, I order the yarn and pattern.  Of course, my yarn showed up on my doorstep the day after I left.  So there I was, at the Gourmet Retreat, yarn-less for the KAL.  We were all gathered together in the sun room, introducing ourselves whilst happily knitting away on our own projects (many were casting on for the KAL, I shamefully worked on some other lame project that I’ve probably frogged since).  The woman sitting next to me, Tamara, was working on her cowl and I mentioned that my yarn didn’t arrive in time.  Of course I left out the part where I procrastinated, because I wanted to make a good impression and whatever.  She just looks at me and without a second’s pause says, “Well, I have an extra skein.  I’ll go get it for you right now.”  She got up so swiftly that I didn’t even have time to register what had happened.  Did a complete stranger really offer to give me her skein of yarn?  Just like that?  What kind of weird alternate universe have I stepped into?  Did I really get rewarded with a free skein of 100% silk yarn because I procrastinated?!  Well, I guess that’s one way to instill bad habits.

Tamara asked for nothing in return.  We spent three glorious days together cooking, knitting, and dyeing.  I got to know her pretty well during this time, and I have to say, she is without a doubt, a most generous and kind person.  She didn’t even scold me for procrastinating.

I was able to participate in the KAL and finish knitting my cowl before the end of the retreat all because of the selflessness of a wonderful knitter.  So, this FO post is a shout out to you, Tamara.  Thanks for making my first knitting retreat a memorable one!

Why am I posting this FO a month after I finished knitting the cowl?  Didn’t you guys learn anything?  I’m a procrastinator, and honestly, Tamara really shouldn’t have rewarded me for my bad behavior.  But I’m sure glad she did!

Pattern Details

Pattern: aCute Angle by Samantha Roshak
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Luscious Silk in My Blue Heaven
Needles: US7 [4.5mm] circular
Modifications: Absolutely none
Recommend: Absolutely yes!
Notes: Silky smooth yarn, fun simple lace pattern that’s easy to remember…what’s not to like?
 

See what other (and most likely, non-procrastinating) knitters have made at Tami’s blog.

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