Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Sprang has Sprung!

First, let me say that I'll never abandon knitting as my primary fiber arts pleasure. But, I'm not a monogamous crafter. I do occasionally stray off with other fiberly delights. This week I have discovered the ancient art of Sprang through the Braids and Bands Yahoo Group. Sprang has now sprung from these old fingers.

This photo is of my very first attempt to make the two primary movements of the warp strands to create an open-ended practice piece. I used some nylon cording that I have on the boat (crafts as well as boat stuff) because it is slick and smooth so will be easy to work with. One of the local carpenters made me 2 frames from the blueprint plans I got from the group so I am ready to begin a real project - whooo hooooo!

What do you think this photo kind of looks like? How about a hammock! Yep, many hammocks are made using this textile technique - how cool is that? I've often studied the hammocks that I spend a lot of time in when we are at anchor and wondered how they were made. Now I know! No, I won't be starting off with a full-sized hammock or trying any of the fancier twists which create lace. But I will try to make a little one to...to...use...use...well, to use for something, somewhere on the boat. It's not about the finished item - it's all about the act of creating it that is fun important.

But this new adventure in the textile arts world must wait for a week or so. Right now I have to concentrate on getting the boat, and us, ready to set sail for Roatan Island, Honduras. Mr. Auto Racing Team Manager, Jonesy, has his project schedule and has been checking off items every day. I knit, (feed him and murmur encouragement periodically).
GRASSHOPPER woven from palm fronds - 55 cents

Our recent professional boat survey found some issues deep inside the bowels of the boat yet Jonesy has already worked to eliminate them as potential safety threats. It was unexpected work, and took quite a bit of bizarre physical contortions on Jonesy's part to actually reach the offending items down in the (scary to me) bilge. Not only did he manage to wriggle and snake his body through all of the equipment down there, but he has emerged relatively unscathed.

Now he is up on deck installing the jib sail that we had re-stitched and showed back up yesterday afternoon along with our new dinghy chaps. (Hopefully he will still be able to move tomorrow).

On the knitting front, I experimented with some modular square knitting to create an after-thought pocket. The socks were already done but I wanted to add a secret pocket for the kid who gets these. Thanks to my crafty friend, Saundra, who suggested that the button for the closure should be red. Yep. That really works! I've tucked in a little Guatemalan coin for a surprise. These socks won't go out until next year for the 2014 Sock Challenge campaign of the Mittens for Akkol Yahoo Group.

Of course, there are already more monster socks knit with leftover yarn on the needles. I still have quite a bit of yarn from donations which I have been mixing with my own "restends" as the German knitters call the unused small amounts of yarn.

When I make these fun little darlings I usually will knit a few inches on one sock then switch the the matching sock for a few inches. This way I can get them to somewhat match as far as the yarn used. This pair has a couple of self-patterning yarns in it so the colors that show will be different from sock to sock. But the pair will (hopefully) have a cohesive appearance.

Adding just a touch of stranded colorwork (Fair Isle style) helps to not only use up the different yarn colors but also adds a little design element. I like to break up plain ole striping with simple 1x1 or 2x2 alternate stitches of two colors. It doesn't take much brain power to work these and I like how they look. The heel is worked in the slip stitch heel pattern alternating yarn every 2 rows. Because of the slip stitch it mimics the 1x1 stranded stitches used on the leg and foot of the socks.

School is out for the "summer" vacation in these parts. During what is technically the winter months is what the locals call summer. There is far less rain and the temperatures are not quite so hot. The Christmas holiday season is well-celebrated and families like to travel to be together for longer than the few days that folks in the states tend to do.

We see children more on our walks. Here are a couple of young boys who were out collecting firewood with their (young) father. Many (most?) of the local families still cook only with wood. We often have seen men and women foraging for wood on our walks. They don't need to get out and walk just for exercise as we do because they have to walk to the same place we do - and then chop wood - and carry or cart it back home.

See how this boy carries the wood in a bag with a forehead strap? This is the traditional way that loads have been carried for centuries. This is also how the local women often carry their infants!

Traditionally, these bags were made with maguey which is a fiber extracted from the agave plant. The process is very time consuming to get the fibers separated from the stalks, cleaned and spun into a usable product. These days, most utilitarian morrales (bags) are made of cheap and long-lasting plastics. Yes, I own one of the real maguey bags (which was hard to find and cost $4) and a couple of the plastic ones (50 cents to $1 each). I found this bag in the town of El Estor on the shores of Lake Izabal in the sleepy little mercado (market). For more information about this fiber check out this article by Kathy Rousso from the Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings.

Gotta go to town while the sun is shining today to pick up some last minute provisions! We are expecting a "norther" storm tomorrow to bring heavy rain so we'll be stuck on the boat. Still...life is good.

Loved seeing your photos and reading about the region.
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