Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Ladies Who Go To Yarn Stores March 25, 2017

IMG_2733  Janet and Susan outside NW Yarns in Bellingham Washington

IMG_2734  Window display, NW Yarns


IMG_2735  Colors!

IMG_2728  Knitted 3D Piece by Textile Artist Ann Maki – on exhibit at Social Fabric, Bellingham Washington, March 2017


Start Your Day……. March 24, 2017

17342655_774545312711136_7201039594426454023_n  Start your day with this beautiful photo of Spring in Ireland – a contrast of green and yellow – thanks to Sarah Rubalcava of Rubalcava Horticultural Services.

Sarah’s mom (and my friend) Magda Rubalcava is an award winning internationally renown tapestry weaver – wouldn’t this make a spectacular tapestry?


When Things Go Wrong May 15, 2011

Filed under: Flowers,Gardening,Knitting,Tapestry,Textiles — Janet @ 12:58 am

I have spent a rather frustrating day, off and on, trying to get the scanner to work properly and transfer some simple images to the computer – work that the scanner usually does quite easily but today I just couldn’t seem to hit the right buttons.  But now, at last, it seems to be working and I have scanned a couple of not very old photos.

  According to the date stamped on the back of this photo, it was taken on May 12, 2000.  That date might be approximate but I know for sure that it was taken in the gardens at Airfield in Dundrum, Dublin, Ireland.   Note all the pretty bluebells (if that is the right term).  Well here we are in midMay 2011 in Seattle and everywhere I look there are bluebells like these.  It’s such a pretty flower – and profuse.

My other test photo for scanning doesn’t  have a date stamped on the back of it but I know it was taken at Airfield also.

  would this field of daisies been later in the year?  One of my favourite flowers.

I miss Dublin but Seattle is wonderful and the month of May is great for so many colourful flowers coming into bloom.  The azaelias are especially spectacular.

  these were actually orange blossoms, the photo was taken last night around 5:30 p.m.  I was on my way up to the Greenwood Art Walk, and particularly The Fiber Gallery, a local yarn store, where a fibre artist friend was exhibiting her work.

  my mode of transport – my bike.  That hill in the direction toward which by bicycle is pointing is steep.  Needless to say, I walk the bike when I am going up to Greenwood.  My destination was  The Fiber Gallery.  (For readers in the wider knitting world, The Fiber Gallery is where Franklin gave one of his workshops when he visited Seattle a few months ago.  I didn’t know at that time how close The Fiber Gallery was to where I live.)

  Ann Maki and her lovely knitted tapestries.  The photo doesn’t do justice to the work but you can get a hint of what it was like.  This is her website.  at the Finnhill Fiber Art Studios.  For my Irish textile friends, think of Gerda Teljeur years ago although here weren’t exactly knitted.   Three dimensional textile art.  I think the 595 Group would like Ann’s work.

Back to the more mundane, I miss the discipline of going to Kilternan Market each Saturday morning in Dublin and the rhythm of the seasons according to the flowers, fruits, and vegetables that were brought to the Market each week, or not as the case might be.  So instead of the Market today, what did we do?  We went out and bought a car – more on that anon.


A Bit of History – Postal, Textile, Economic, Personal February 20, 2011

In sorting through my various papers, I’ve come across a bit of correspondence that I had back in June-August 1976.  We were in Fiji at that time.  I was just getting into serious weaving.  Wool was not readily available so far as I knew.  So I must have thought of writing off to Norway to get some samples.

  the envelope which contained the reply – note the stamps

  the samples of the different types of yarns which the company stocked

  tne price list in Norwegian kronor

  and the accompanying letter describing the different types of yarns and their uses and the postal rates by weight and destination.  I don’t know what the exchange rates were at that time nor how the prices would compare with prices and exchange rates today

Searching for the firm on the internet today I find that their main business is fabrics for technical use, they employ 1-10 people, and they are still in Grimstad Norway.  A nice photo of their yarn is on Flickr.  Now I must check my old labels and see if I’ve used any of their knitting yarn recently.  I do like Norwegian knitting yarns.

And looking at the Google map, I find that Grimstad is located in a very southern part of Norway, south of Bergen, south of Stavenger, and near to Denmark.


Textile Exhibition at the Burke November 7, 2010

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Gardening,Jigsaw Puzzles,Textile History,Textiles — Janet @ 2:30 am

Before I write about a recent expedition, in the lashing rain, to the Burke Museum here in Seattle, I want to give a link to a 48 piece jigsaw puzzle, Sciurus carolinensis, the common grey squirrel, the type who frequents our garden.  link to the puzzle.   (Incidentally, I did this puzzle in about 6 1/2 minutes, slightly a minute more than the average.)  I haven’t been able to get good photos of our squirrels so this jigsaw puzzle will have to do for now.   Our squirrels certainly get up to some funny antics, stretching like trapeze artists and swinging upside down on the bird feeders.  They nibble away at all the food I put out for the chickadees and tits and stellarjays.  Lately I’ve been putting out cracked corn in hopes of attracting some larger birds.  This morning I had a fleeting glimpse of a medium sized bird (about the size of a thrush in Ireland) – the bird had white underneath, red on its head, a dark back and it had a beautiful glide and distinctive wing flapping to get to the very top of a tall fir tree nearby.

Now for the textile exhibition.  The Burke is The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and it is on the campus of the University of Washington here in Seattle.  The main campus itself is lovely, even in the pouring rain.  My cousin and I trudged along and found the Burke building.  We didn’t know what was going on there, just that we wanted to visit that museum.  Well, were we ever pleasantly surprised to find that a major exhibition of textiles had just opened.  Textiles have been assembled from 13 countries around the Pacific Rim and these garments and wall hangings and rugs have been magnificently displayed.  link.

  map showing the countries around the Pacific Rim from which the textiles were chosen

I wish all my weaving friends could come to Seattle to visit us and see this wonderful exhibition.  It was just fantastic.  I wasn’t able to take photos, photography in the museum was not allowed, ……. but now I read that as of November 4 there is a new policy at the Burke and photography is allowed.  I’ll have to go back.


Wolf Hall June 22, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Books,History,Knitting,Lawn bowling,Textiles — Janet @ 11:55 am

Wolf Hall, winner of several prizes, including the Man Booker 2010.  When this book by Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize, it was prominently displayed in book store windows – multiple copies – it seemed to be everywhere.  I resisted – it looked too thick.  But now I have found it in paperback, still just as thick – 650 pages – but it seemed more reasonable, particularly if the store was offering it in one of those 3 for 2 deals.  I didn’t care about the 3 for 2 sticker but I did buy the book as one  I wanted to read sometime and put it up on the shelf along with Gone With the Wind.  Well, readers of this blog will know that I recently read GWTW.  Now I’ve turned to Wolf Hall.

I, like other readers, am finding it hard to put down and find it more than worthy of its prizes.  However, I find that that favorable judgement is not universal.  Some people find it hard going, and if so I recommend you turn to something else.  It is set in the 1520’s and ’30’s and explores in detail the intrigues and intricacies of the Tudor Court, as experienced through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell.  I am comparing the novel with other work that I have seen or read about this period.  The portrait of Thomas More is quite different from the man portrayed in the film A Man for All Seasons.  And I recently saw the DVD of The Other Boleyn Girl – again in Wolf Hall I am seeing these historical figures from another angle.  I understand that Hilary Mantel spent 5 years researching this novel to be sure she had her vast cast of characters in the right place at the right time.  It is obvious that her research has been very thorough.  Her use of language is a joy.  

I particularly like the way she writes about the wool trade and the textiles of that time in history.  She is constantly making references to knitting and weaving and needlework.   Several of her references about rug making struck me particularly, referring to the type of knot that was used.  I suspect that Hilary has personal skills in the area of knitting and weaving.  And also I like the way she writes metaphors referring to these arts – for example, she describes a character as appearing “small and tense, as if someone has knitted her and drawn the stitches too tight.”  Hilary might also be a lawn bowler, judging by her descriptions of Henry VIII playing a game of bowls.  Or maybe this just reflects the thoroughness of her research.


Two Exhibition Openings May 8, 2010

I have been to 2 Exhibition Openings this past week.  Both events are showcasing textiles by artists working in Ireland.  And each event was excellent.  My only disappointment was that I had nothing on display since most of my recent work is now in Seattle.   Nevermind, the shows gave me a lot of inspiration and I am eager to get weaving again.  And they also gave me a chance to meet up with many dear friends whom I had not seen for a long time.  Plus, it was especially heartening to receive comments like, “Oh Janet, hello, I still have one of your rugs………”  which I like to interpret as meaning I like your work and have fond memories of you.

The Exhibition Opening on Wednesday night was that of the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers, held in Dalkey Castle Heritage Centre.  Here are a few samples from the Exhibition.

  woven tapestry

by Patricia Gellon

  woven wall panel,    paper, cotton        by Monika Auch

  woven tapestry,    cotton, wool, silk, hemp, viscose          by Terry Dunne

On Thursday night, the second Exhibition Opening took place.  This Exhibition was put on by the 595, aka 510, Group.  This Exhibition is in Dun Laoghaire and featured not only textiles but also ceramics and wire and art work in other media.  The Exhibition is in part retrospective and included a number of works which had previously been exhibited elsewhere.

  Orange Peel flowers, in wire     by Magda Rubalcava

  Mother and daughter woven tapestry, wool & cotton warp         by Magda Rubalcava

  Welcome Mat, handwoven rug in Mary O’Rourke’s handspun hand dyed Irish wool

     Butterfly Hunt, wool & cotton warp         by Magda Rubalcava

  Handwoven floor rug, cotton    by Beth Royds


SAARC Summit Meeting in Thimphu April 30, 2010

Filed under: Bhutan,Textiles,Weavers — Janet @ 3:59 pm

I almost missed the article in the Irish Times this morning about the SAARC Summit.  SAARC=South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation, Member States Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.  Most of my regular readers will probably wonder what this is all about.  Well, 25 years ago, when we lived in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, this organization of South Asian countries was formed.  I worked as a United Nations Volunteer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  I was a speech writer for the King!  What an interesting job it was.  And I am so happy to read that the organization SAARC for which I wrote so many pieces is still going strong.

Does this have anything to do with my craft interests? – Only in that spindle spinning and weaving and dyeing were such an integral part of Bhutanese life and I was surrounded by beautiful textiles.  From my office I could occasionally hear the regular thump of a weaver working in her home nearby.  One of my favourite textiles was an unusual one – not a traditional kira or ko garment but rather a colorful bedcover in a rya style – it looked like 4 strips of colourful rya blocks sewn together.  I would see it occasionally hanging out to dry over a wirefence near our home.  When I get back to Seattle I will my photo of it and post it on this blog.

In the meantime here are a few of my husband’s photos, some textile-related, from that beautiful and fascinating country 

  Spindle spinning, Thimphu Bhutan, 1984

  Preparing a warp

  Monks dancing

  Musical instruments

  Papermaking in Bumtang

  Monks studying in Punakha

  Rhododendron along the road to Bumthang