I've found my happy place. I get to play with geometric puzzles and see the results as patterns in cloth. Initially I experimented with my fingers playing in the threads, always asking "what happens if...". As the designs became more complex I couldn't hold them in my head and finally relented and started writing the patterns down.
It's time to start sharing my work, both in-person and here online. My most recent lace labyrinth is part of the Duluth Art Institute's annual member show for the next month.
Unfortunately the lighting is not very good and I'm still struggling with how to display lace, so the pattern does not show up as well as I'd like.
Here's a better view of the pattern on the twin of the sample on display.* I've finally learned to modify a classic seven-circuit labyrinth from the middle outwards and am having great fun creating labyrinths in different shapes.
You may notice that the bottoms of the two pieces are different. There's a story behind that...
My original plan was to cut the cloth apart at the middle and tie fringes to secure the loose threads. This works well as long at there's enough string left at the middle; it's really hard to tie knots with less than three inches of thread to work with. When the last rows of the labyrinth pattern were complete I had only five inches of thread between the two labyrinths. Not enough for easy knot tying.
While ruminating on my options, I attended a felting group at the Duluth Fiber Guild. I had heard that needle felting was a possible way to secure sprang ends, but had no experience with the technique. I received assurances from the experienced filters that the technique was easy and tools were minimal, and even came home with a scrap of wool roving the same color as my yarn.
After watching a couple youtube videos and visiting the local yarn store to buy felting needles I was ready to felt. I cut the pieces apart: three inches on one side for tying knots, and two inches on the needle felting side. The felting worked so well that the felted piece found its way to the art show and I have used the technique on several other pieces.
*Because I'm twisting threads that are secured at both ends, cloth forms both above and below the twists. So for every row of cloth I create at the top of the frame, there's a mirror of that row that gets pushed to the bottom. Often I keep the cloth whole to create scarves or bags, but this time I decided cut it apart.
What a beautiful weekend for sharing my creations IN PERSON! It's the first time I've been able to share the breadth of sprang with a group of people who could touch and interact with the cloth. In honor of my husband's elevation to the Order of the Pelican* I offered sprang pouches as tokens of the occasion.
In the weeks preceding the event I sewed every scrap of sprang I could find into a pouch, then added a matching drawstring. Much to my surprise, even the lace patterns make reasonable pouches, as long as no one expects them to hold small items. In the end there were 80 pouches, many of which are displayed on this table.
The larger items, and those I was less certain of passing on, I hung along the edges of the tent. I enjoyed numerous conversations with people, some of whom had tried sprang and others who were being introduced to it for the first time.
My husband finally had a chance to wear the sprang leggings I made last year. He reports that they work quite well, especially with the addition of garters to keep them from sagging.
*The Order of the Pelican is the highest honor for service in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). He was elevated to that order in recognition of his decades of service in the SCA, doing whatever is needed to help people learn and gather.