Friday, September 30, 2011

Weaving at Sidenväveri

A few months ago, shortly after booking my trip to Sweden, I began combing my guidebook and then the web for anything to do with Scandinavian weaving in Stockholm.  All of my favorite weaving books (and many of my knitting books), both old and new,  are from Swedish authors translated into English.  For some indescribable reason I assumed that everyone in Sweden was an avid weaver and knitter.  I was looking forward to perusing yarn and weaving stores, purchasing those, hard to get your hands on, Swedish yarns that are always cited in my books yet impossible to find.   After all learning to knit is a course requirement in public school.  Despite my best efforts I found not one fiber store in all of Stockholm.  I didn't even casually pass one on the street.  I did, however,  find one little gem of a place, tucked away on a sleepy street in Soldermalm. Sidenväveri Museum.  A 170 year old silk mill, now museum, the last remaining of its kind in Stockholm.  Inside, the tour is mostly self guided.  On the main level the looms and warping, and winding equipment is exactly where it may have been 100 years ago.  An expert weaver takes a break from her book to demonstrate on one of the looms.
This loom is from the early 1800's.  It takes about 3-4 weeks to warp with threadlike silk at 160 ends per inch.  The cord in the middle is an automatic shuttle enabling a weaver to weave 10x faster than hand throwing. 
Beside and above the loom is the punchcard that tells the loom which threads to raise in order to create the pattern.  That huge stack of cardboard is what is required to create 1 full repeat, in this case about 10 inches.
 The 3 crown pattern.  A damask weave still used by the royal family.  I find out that the Sidenväveri not only acts as a museum but also occasionally takes on custom orders.  This piece is being woven for upholstery.  The client had to first ask special permission from the royal family before commissioning this piece from the museum.  Later, as I walk near the royal palace, I easily spot 3 crowns adorning the buildings.  
In the upstairs loft of the museum, an archive of drawings and samples are stored in large climate controlled drawers.  The detail is exquisite. I can't imagine creating something this perfect without the aid of a computer.  
 Back downstairs, my expert weaver guide shows me what she works on when the museum is commissionless.  Ivory silk in the warp and horsehair in the weft, this is exactly what I love about the Swedish design aesthetic.  The contrast of the rough hair works nicely with the luster of the silk.  The face isn't smooth, as it is in the damask samples, but variegated and almost straw like.  The frayed edges are a lovely touch. 
The back, or the front depending on how you look at it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I have been back for a couple of days now and it hardly seems as though I've left.  Everything is right where I left it, everyone just as they were.  The only proof I have are my memories and my 1000 some odd photos.  But it is hard to prove memories; lately, I sift through my files trying to figure out the best way to share an experience, as fleeting as it may be.   I realize that I have a million sights, senses, thoughts and feelings that want to permeate their way through my keyboard and into cyber space, but somehow they get scrambled along the way.   Every attempt I make disintegrates before my eyes.  I need time to process.  Time to reconvene.  For now, I let these images speak for what I cannot formulate into coherency.  They are the images I find most inspiring-some inexplicably so.

Friday, September 16, 2011

While I am gone

Today I leave for Sweden.  This trip, like Fall and everything else, seems to have snuck up on me.  Of course, this week is also the moment when my tomatoes decided to be marginally more productive.  If only I could have 1 more month of summer.  With cooler weather, shorter days,  threatening frost, and upcoming vacation plans I plucked every single green tomato off the vine, determined to get a few last garden tomatoes before the official end of the season.  So, dear tomatoes, while I am gone please do me a favor and ripen!  And, my boys, please try not to jump on my tomatoes, knock over my vases, step on my computer, or treat my house plants as an open salad bar.  I'll be back before you know it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Have I ever told you...

Have I ever told you about my friend Beth?  Some people tease me that she is my "work crush", which is a little excessive, but slightly true.  I just think she is super awesome and like to tell everyone that and she just happens to be one of my favorite people at work and outside of work.  Anyway, I made this friendship bracelet for her birthday, which just happens to be only 3 days after mine making us both Leos.  I got the pattern from the handmade section of the Free People blog.  Check out my beautiful Thank you card she made for me.

 I found this on my desk last week.  It's so nice to get a little hand written surprise amidst a busy workday.  It brightened my day and lifted my spirits.
My hand drawn card featured one of my favorite motifs.  Cats!!  Here is a small excerpt.  "DEAR KIM,....We should definitely continue hanging out outside of work because we are LEOs & we have fat cats that are gray and we like to do a lot of the same things :-)."  I totally agree!  But for the record Box Spring is just structurally large.  :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Empty Nestin'

It's been a wonderful summer of butterfly raisin' and releasin'.  Overall, I released 12 Eastern Black Swallowtails and 94 Monarchs.  This has been my 3rd summer raising butterflies, but only my first logging and keeping track of them.  I found that writing down my observations has been exceptionally helpful in learning more about these amazing creatures.  Here is what I learned.

*They are extremely resilient.  My butterfly, caterpillars, chrysalises and I traveled to and from Wisconsin 5 times this summer

*Before molting a caterpillar will stop eating and often climb to the roof of the cup.  This process may take 1-2 days and is no need for alarm.

*As the caterpillar grows the skin stretches out and the stripes become wider. After molting, the stripes are very narrow and almost wavy due to excess skin.

*Eastern Black Swallowtails are much more feisty.  As caterpillars they enjoy fighting and crawling all over each other.  As butterflies they are anxious to take flight.  It was rare for me to snap a photo before they fluttered away.

*When agitated the Swallowtails evert their osmeterium, a fleshy orange forked structure that is normally hidden on their forehead.  This emits a foul smelling secretion which can be best compared to the smell of turpentine.  Although not as noticeable when outdoors, indoors it is quite strong and almost sickening.

*It seems that in big groups the caterpillars sense each other's metamorphosis.  Although they all make chrysalises on different days they often emerged on the same day.

*When the caterpillars are ready to molt for the final time into a chrysalis, their bodies hang limp and their antennae are ragged and limp.  Their bodies slowly undulate from the bottom to top in an almost alien fashion.

*I released 15% more females than males and found that males are much more reluctant to fly away.

*Butterflies seem to sense the weather.  On rainy or overcast days, they are content to spend an extra night indoors.  On sunny warm days they are much more anxious to take flight.

*Towards the end of the season, a butterfly won't emerge if the weather is too cold.  They remain in their chrysalis until the day warms up.  Indoors they always seem to emerge in the early morning, however when camping in the cooler weather, they wait until later in the day when the afternoon sun can naturally warms their bodies, and then they emerge.
My empty nest.
One of my last batches to fly the nest.  On my best day, I released 14 butterflies.  The weather was overcast, so most of them were willing to stick around for a photo shoot.
 Ronnie and Bon Bon.  My twin Monarchs.
 Bon Bon and Donald
 Blackberry, munching methodically on some dill.
Bea and Rue.
Federica.  I found her chrysalis on the bottom of the aquarium.  It seemed that she may have fallen during pupation.  One side was flattened and the other side had a slight crack.  I strung her back up and hoped for the best.  Fede is the Italian word for faith. Fittingly I decided to have some faith in her survival.  She was my last butterfly to emerge from her chrysalis and I could tell from the first 10 seconds that she would struggle for her life.  It was a sad way to end the season, but I am happy that she at least had a chance.  In the wild she would not have even made it this far.
I dream of the last of my brood flying to California for the winter.  Every time I bike past a fluttering Monarch, I wonder if he or she were one one of my own.  I value and love each one of them.  Until next summer.... I'll be ready and waiting.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Be inspired: At a wedding

A few weekends ago I attended a beautiful country wedding in Wisconsin.  Everything was so perfectly detailed down to the last ribbon; I was happy to be a part of such a lovely day.
 Canning jars strung up with twine over the guest book.  Ball jars were also used to hold bouquets of zinnias and snap dragons. 
 I loved the bike cake toppers!

 Guests were asked to tie a ribbon onto the family's lilac tree.
I can't remember the last time I danced myself so silly.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Be Inspired: At the State Fair

After my volunteer shift, a stroll around the fair was in order.  My favorite building is Creative Activities;  I am so impressed with the effort put into all of the submissions.  Maybe one day I will enter something into the fair, for the pure novelty of the spectacle.
 Instead of walking, you can take the lift clear to the other side of the fair.  Maybe next year I will test it out.
 Happy sunflowers planted for the Little Farm Hands activity was a welcome reprieve to the hot sun.
 Check out these colors.
 Rows of cakes, each with a lovely chunk removed.
 Woodcarving demonstrations 
 Cats are a big theme with crafty folk.  There was a whole display case devoted to these sweet felines.
 Butterflies were another popular theme.  This filet crochet table runner was pretty impressive.
 Finally, the quilter's corner.  I always seem to gravitate towards these white grounded quilts with fancy stitch work.