Posts tagged ‘books’

I went to the book store last night for something entirely not about textiles but of course wandered over to the craft section. Much to my amazement, there were multiple books about spinning. (And, for the first time in forever, I can get Spin-Off lots of places but am having trouble finding a copy of Handwoven.)

But hidden in the miscellaneous textiles section was Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez. I have somehow managed to miss meeting Nilda on several occasions, but have heard much of her work from publications and my friend Abby Franquemont. She taught me about Peruvian weaving, which she learned as a child in Nilda’s village.

I haven’t had a chance to really read the book yet, but already there are interesting patterns I want to weave. And finally photos of how the woven edge finish works. I really like spinning Peruvian-style weaving yarn, partly because it’s totally unlike the well-behaved modern mill yarns. It has so much twist that it’s traditionally kept in balls to maintain tension. But it works perfectly for traditional fabrics that withstand decades of daily use. I just wish I had more time to spin and weave my own.

Addendum to previous entry: I found their website. The authors of Big Girl Knits have a website at (Duh.) There’s a blog and everything. And the book launch party is this weekend. But not like I’m going to be in Lansing. (Strangely, my association with The Boyfriend now means I am, on occasion.)

I decided to buy some yarn to give one of these a try while I contemplate handspun. The Boyfriend approves of curve-hugging sweaters on big girls, too. 🙂

I picked up a new book today, one that leaped out at me at the store and chased me down. I wasn’t planning to buy anything other than the Spanish phrase book I went in to get. A knitting book, of all things. It’s Big Girl Knits by Jillian Moreno and Amy R. Singer. It’s a collection of mostly sweaters designed for fat chicks, from a bunch of different designers. There’s even one from online SpinningFiber friend Emma Crew.

I’ve been thinking about making a sweater for a while. I haven’t really done knits with any kind of shaping, although I well understand the theory from sewing. And what I saw I really wasn’t liking: big rectangles. If I wanted to wear a garbage bag, I’d go get one from the kitchen. Boxy is not at all a good thing for a short fat chick with a big ass. Oh, and narrow shoulders. Anything dropped shoulder is just a bad idea, I don’t need the shoulder seams hanging around my elbows. I know it’s possible to knit in shape, I just wasn’t looking forward to the twenty-seven attempts it would take to figure it all out myself and develop a pattern. Remember I said I’m not all that much a knitter?

Here is a whole book without a single drop shoulder oversized box. They all have shaping and, more importantly, lots of directions on how to make things actually fit. No “Sweater in a Weekend” super chunky yarn, either. A lot of that stuff doesn’t even look good on skinny women. The authors are sassy and in-your-face and make no excuses about being fat, they just get on with it. My absolute favorite line in the whole book: “Black is not magic. Black does not make you look thin; black does not give you a shape. black makes you look like a fat girl wearing black.”

I’ve known about short rows, Lily Chin did an article for Threads a long time ago and I still have it someplace. And increases and decreases are a beginner basic. But getting it all together the right way takes trial and error. I expect it will take a couple tries to get something that is perfect, particularly when I start changing yarns and such, but this is a huge head start.

Today was my spinning guild meeting, so I got to hang out with a bunch of spinners. The program was on handheld distaffs so I got several more pictures for the distaff page. One member was impressed with my photographic professionalism because I brought a black cloth to use as a backdrop. It’s the same one I’ve been using all along. It also happens to be one of my spinning lap cloths, too. I look at my yarn when I spin, and I can’t see it very well if I don’t have a contrast background. There were also several comments about my matched set of wrist supports. I don’t currently have major trouble with repetitive stress injury from spinning and I’d like to keep it that way. I was applauded for figuring this out beforehand and doing something about it. I’ve been meaning to write something about spinning ergonomics but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I’ve now got the borrowed charka. A very nice piece of equipment, I must say. Everything the Bosworths make is perfectly finished and finely tuned. I can’t come up with enough good words about their stuff even if it’s pricey. The fit and finish of the charkas just can’t be compared to the Indian ones, people I know who don’t care at all about spinning admire them for the engineering. I spent the meeting with the same brown cotton — I didn’t bring anything else knowing I’d have the charka. I even remembered to bring a towel to fold up and sit on, because they work best on a large flat surface and in this case that can only mean the floor. I’m not sure where I can set it up here because I can’t sit on the floor without something to lean against and floor space is already at a premium. Maybe I’ll go find a quiet corner at the library. One very nice thing about all the charkas is they fold up and fit in a small bag. The book charkas are quite literally that, less than the size of a good hardcover trashy novel.

I was also able to get a few more items from the guild library, I returned the copy of Spinning Designer Yarns and picked up some old Spin-Off issues and Fleece in your hands. I needed that book for some last details on wools for one of the tables. I could tell that the author of the wool table had it, as much of the required information comes directly from it. One thing I’ve noticed is that if you locate the correct book, filling out the tables is easy. Between Fleece in your hands and The essentials of yarn design for handspinners, I think I could almost do the whole wool table right there. But, ever the engineer, I have to look elsewhere to confirm that what I find reflects current reality. That was really important for the colored cotton data as much has changed in recent years.

One of the magazine issues had an article about one of the few sheep not covered, Tunis, and another on rare breeds (although I already have what I need about those.) The other has Rita Buchanan’s article about woolen and worsted and why she thinks the terms and the concepts both need to be allowed a graceful demise so the rest of us can move on. There was also the results of the 2000 reader survey, which I vaguely remember submitting. I recall at the time I was getting frustrated by the growing number of knitting articles. I added my own write-in reply of nÃ¥lbinding for what I did with my yarns. I guess few other people did because it wasn’t mentioned. (It’s a looped needle technique somewhat related to crochet and far predates true knitting.) There are about a dozen issues in the guild library and going through them is both fun and frustrating. I started thinking about what I was working on at the time and that the reason I was rummaging through the box in the first place is because almost all my books are still in storage back east. With one exception, I own all those issues but I only have access to the ones since I moved to California. Same thing with Fleece in your hands, which is how I knew I would find the information I needed in there. I try not to get too whiny about that but it is annoying that my temporary storage is now three years and counting. Several details of my COE work, not to mention everyday life, would be much simpler if I had the things still sitting in Atlanta.

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