Monday, 3 December 2012

Indigo and Persimmon Silk Knits.

Several kilograms of silk laboriously dyed with persimmon tannin last summer were headed for a loom but somehow are ending up on the knitting machines. (Perhaps a tad prematurely.)  It will take a few months to get the hang of the small sock knitter. There are so many mysterious mechanisms on mechanisms that perform some subtle function. One of the old craftsman told me that more than a few of the gears and levers and feed lines were never used in the past 40 years since he has been operating the machines. With this said, my hope to master the whole machine and knit process, was left with a few runs in it. (Like the runs in socks when a needle is slightly off kilter.)

Liza and I fed and re-fed the machine with wool and linen and silk and cotton of different gauges to take some of the guesswork out of the finer tuning nuances of the machine. We learned something but it will take many hundreds if not thousands of hours standing beside the machines and trying new things out to play it well. Learning the scales so to speak. And then by chance, some masterpieces of subtlety might even appear.

The shinier of the persimmon dyed silk (It had been de-gummed more.) worked beautifully with a random gradation lightly indigo dipped spun silk thread. The excitement of the possibilities of the combination of these two threads gave me a splitting headache. Too many synapses firing at once. Overheat.

Unfortunately the persimmon dyed thread is slightly too thick. Dyeing  thinner thread will have to wait until May until the ultra-violet rays are strong enough to dye.  What a dream to have the shelves at the shop full of indigo and persimmon dyed silk of all gauges and shades.

These are a start. The stripes are borderline court-jester and have to have their density and width adjusted. To do that, the plier pulling out and changing of  a few dozen small pieces on the machine will have to wait until more pressing techniques are more familiar.

There is a hole in my life with Snoopy gone. I'll go pick her ashes up tomorrow from the pet crematorium. Next weekend we will have a Snoopy farewell get-together outside the front door and put her in the garden there next to the little Buddhist stone sculpture and near the plum tree. She will be close by and I can 'toss her an imaginary dog biscuit' whenever I come and go from the house.
I like to think of her like this. Coming back from a walk by herself. Smiling.

 I think the last paragraph of Charlotte's Web went something like this:
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte although he loved her children and grandchildren deeply. None of the new spiders quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. 

As Snoopy was.... It is not often a dog comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Snoopy was both.


  1. bittersweet times for you to accompany the autumn
    on the other hand life's pushing you into a new adventure with those knits.

  2. Bittersweet. The exact word. Thanks Neki.

  3. I am glad Snoopy will return to the Indigo Hotel and be nearby. I am not a "dog person" but I can feel how you must be missing her, and having met her I know how special she was, a one off.
    Good luck with the knitting machine! I know I wouldn't have the patience to get to know the quirks of the mechanics, although I like the results - a bit as I was on the loom :-)

  4. it's comforting to think of Snoopy, still in the thick of things, watching the comings and goings.
    the knitting machine looks terrifying, think I'd better stay with looms. Can we see a close-up picture of the knitted fabric? Think you are crazy using that precious silk for first experiments.

    1. Jean, that was the thread I should have sent you. You are right it was crazy. I read your blog about using the best materials one could afford. I will get some close ups up soon.
      Snoopy has a shrine set up with incense and her bones/ashes container, a lot of flowers and love letters, cash envelopes and the regular Japanese funeral goods in my room.

  5. snoopy's (and your) story has helped me with my own dogstory. ** i love the striping, i have a "thing" about stripes and often wove them in the miniature tapestries i wove for many years. many good wishes and fewer headaches as you learn this machine.

  6. These knits are absolutely beautiful!

    It seems Snoopy fulfilled her purpose on this earth...she obviously touched many hearts.

  7. Dogs and even moreso cats, keep us quite close to the veil....although you miss Snoopy so much, she is even closer than you know. The animal world lingers and floats...they are quite ethereal and attentive to our suffering.