Sunday, November 05, 2017

Weaving and more travel

Here's a look at my latest weaving project. This picture is from a few days ago - I finished weaving the scarf yesterday and now need to wet finish it, then trim and twist the fringe. 

The fiber is alpaca wool, purchased at a local yarn store and packaged under the store label, Kiko

The loom wasn't empty for long. I spent a few hours this morning sleying the reed and threading the heddles - weaving terminology for some of the tedious steps in getting the warp threads tied onto the loom. The next project is also a scarf using knitting yarn; this time it's a wool/silk blend. Even with setup of the loom, weaving a scarf is much faster than hand-knitting one. I'm planning to give these scarves as Christmas gifts, so time is short. 

And now a bit more of the travel log...

Day 3: Millau to Andorra

I'm an engineer, so I appreciate when challenging and difficult problems are solved, especially with something as cool looking (at least to me) as the Millau Viaduct. I had watched a show on TV, perhaps it was this National Geographic Megastructures episode, that showed how they built it, so I specifically routed our trip so that we could drive over this bridge (a viaduct is a bridge that has multiple spans supported by towers). The bridge was built in 2004 to ease congestion along this Paris-Spain route, which is well used by trucks as well as vacationers. 

Seven masts - the highest is 343 meters, making this the tallest bridge in the world

View from below

The town of Millau looked nice, but we didn't stay long enough to really see much of it. We did take a quick walk through their large market the next morning, where I bought some mohair/silk yarn. The yarn comes from a co-op of small farmers who raise goats - here's a link to their website (in French):

Just south of Millau we stopped at La Couvertoirade, a fortress built by the Knights Templar in the 12th and 13th centuries. We were there during the mid-day, when just about everything was closed, so I didn't get to see what was inside this shop with a spinning wheel in the window and a sign that says "hand-made fabrics." 

Spinning wheel! Fabric sign! Too bad it was closed! 

The sign may have been for this shop, which was closed for the mid-day break:

Picture taken through the window of the closed door. I spy a loom! 

It was still pretty fun to walk around this old, very well preserved place. I felt like I was stepping back in time. 

Castle towers

Medieval streets

Just the cats are out in the mid-day sun

Our next stop was unplanned. While on our way to Andorra, we came upon the high walls of a medieval town and many cars trying to find parking outside of the walls, so we decided to find a parking spot also.

The fortified town of Villefranche-de-Conflent was founded at the confluence of three rivers in the early 11th century to protect the valley from invasion. In the 17th century it became a strategic point between French and Spanish conflict so it was further fortified. Today you can walk the ramparts and shop for souvenirs inside its walls.

Weaver Street - but unfortunately no weavers in sight these days

The ramparts

Church tower

Day 4: Andorra

Andorra is a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains sandwiched between Spain and France. The country is about twice the size of Washington DC and they have a population of about 77,000. Tourism is very important to Andorra, with most visitors skiing, shopping, or both. We stayed in the capital city of Andorra La Vella, where shopping is the big draw. Andorra has no sales tax, so many Spanish and French go there to buy cheap alcohol, cigarettes, gasoline, chocolate, clothing and other stuff. 

We arrived in the evening to find nearly everything closed. It turns out that there are four days out of the year when stores close and we happened to be there for one of them - National Day, also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Merixtell. We really didn't come for the shopping, but most of the restaurants were closed as well, which presented a bit of a challenge. The next day, a Saturday, was packed with shoppers, perhaps because they couldn't shop the day before or maybe that's a typical Saturday in Andorra. Other than looking for a warm jacket for me, we didn't do any shopping. And I wasn't even successful finding a jacket. 

Salvador Dali sculpture near the main shopping area

The mountains surrounding the town are very lovely, and there is a very small old-town area.

Esgl├ęsia de Sant Esteve - church built in the 11th-12th century

The rest of the city is more modern.

As usual, I was on the lookout for yarn and fabric stores and found a few listed in town, however, one of them had gone out of business and the another one didn't really have anything I liked. I did see this statue of a young bobbin lace maker out in front of a church.

Statue of a young girl making bobbin lace

We left early the next day and on the winding roads north through the mountain pass we were treated to the first snowy peaks of the season:

My next travel post will include some very, very old art, a visit to Spanish Basque country, and a lot of sand.


  1. Your scarf weaving is amazing :) It's so pretty. Can't wait to see the finished product!

    1. Thanks! It's off the loom now but I still have to finish it.

  2. Love the colors! That was a fun day going to that shop together! I can't wait to see it complete!