Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fiber Festival the Michigan Way

It’s summer. In Michigan. That means the Michigan Fiber Festival is on the horizon. The festival is held every August at the bucolic Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan. This year the festival is Saturday & Sunday, August 15 & 16. Activities include competitions for various kinds of fleece (wool, mohair, angora, pygora) and skeins. During these competitions, the audience gets to watch and hear the judges do their work. There are animal shows and sales (if it’s an animal that yields fiber, you’ll find it here!), a fiber arts display, fiber arts demonstrations, herding dog demonstrations, shearing demonstrations, kids activities, music, and more! Parking is free, and admission on Saturday & Sunday is $5, or you can get a weekend pass for $8.

Oh, did I mention the vendors? Over 120 vendors will have their wares for sale. It’s a fantastic opportunity to talk to farmers and makers; examine the near endless types of fiber, fiber tools, and fiber arts (with a good dose of soaps, lotions, baskets, paintings, and pottery); and soak in the love of fiber.

In addition to the weekend festival, there are workshops offered Wednesday through Saturday, August 17-21: spinning, knitting, crochet, weaving, basketry, felting, soap making, rug making, and MORE. It’s a distinguished line up of instructors. If I weren’t teaching, I would most definitely be taking some classes.

Yeah, I’m teaching some workshops: Mechanics of Your Wheel on Wednesday afternoon, Beginning Spinning on the Wheel on Thursday, and Spinning Wools of North America on Friday. That last workshop I usually teach over two or more days, so it’s going to be a whirlwind to spin test all the wools.

Also on Friday, over 60 vendors are open, and admission that day is free!

So, go. Just go there. Have fun. Have fiber fun. And lots of it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

10 x 6 = 60

Here is the fifth of twelve sock patterns in my journey of 60 stitches. The featured stitch pattern has a 10-stitch repeat. So, 6 repeats equals 60 stitches total. I’ve used a lace stitch pattern that I found in Debbie Tomkies’s book, Knit Stitch Dictionary (Interweave, 2015): pattern #57, “Thistle”. Rounds 6-9 of this sweet lace pattern create a scalloped effect that I adore.


This is another one of those patterns that involves yarn-overs between other than two knit stitches. If that is new to you, you might want to refer to an earlier blog post.

I used Skacel CoBaSi yarn for this sock pattern. This yarn is 55% cotton, 16% bamboo, 8% silk, and 21% elastic nylon. This is a great yarn for summer socks. I’ve made several pairs of socks from this yarn, so for this sock pattern, I used leftover bits (deep turquoise, kiwi, gold crest, ripe raspberry, butter cream). If you use just one color, it’ll take 2 skeins (220 yards, 50 grams per skein).

I got my gauge (7 ½ sts per inch) using US size 1 (2.25 mm) needles in the “Thistle” stitch pattern. I got 25 rounds per 2 inches in st st.

Cuff (This is a short cuff):
Loosely CO 60 sts. I used a long tail cast on, with US size 3 (3.25 mm), then changed to US size 1 (2.25mm) for the sock. I used a set of 4 double pointed needles and distributed the stitches so that there were 20 sts on Needle 1, 20 sts on Needle 2, and 20 sts on Needle 3.

Round 1: knit.
Round 2: purl.
Round 3: knit.
Round 4: purl.
Round 5: knit.
Round 6: *yo, k2tog; rep from * around.

Leg:
A couple of notes about this stitch pattern:

1) I changed color after each 16-round repeat of this pattern.
2) If you work this sock on double points, there will be two rounds (6 and 11) where the last stitch on each needle is a yarn-over. It’s easy to forget the last yo of the needle.
3) The s2kp may be new to you. Here is how it’s done: slip 2 stitches as if to k2tog, k1, pass 2 slipped sts over.

Round 1: knit.
Round 2: purl.
Round 3: knit.
Round 4: purl.
Round 5: knit.
Round 6: *k1, yo, k3, s2kp, k3, yo; rep from * around.
Round 7: *k2, yo, k2, s2kp, k2, yo, k1; rep from * around.
Round 8: *k3, yo, k1, s2kp, k1, yo, k2: rep from * around.
Round 9: *k4, yo, s2kp, yo,k3; rep from * around.
Round 10: *k2, p2, k3, p2, k1; rep from * around.
Round 11: *k1, yo, ssk, p1, yo, s2kp, yo, p1, k2tog, yo; rep from * around.
Round 12: *k3, p1, k3, p1, k2; rep from * around.
Round 13: *k2, yo, ssk, yo, s2kp, yo, k2tog, yo, k1; rep from * around.
Round 14: *k2, p1, k5, p1, k1; rep from * around.
Round 15: *k2, p1, k1, yo, s2kp, yo, k1, p1, k1; rep from * around.
Round 16: *k2, p1, k5, p1, k1; rep from * around.

Here is the pattern charted:

Work these 16 rounds five times, or until desired length, end having finished a Round 16. Leg measures approximately 6 ½ inches.

Heel Flap:
(I used the deep turquoise for the heel flap and heel turn.)
Knit the first 15 stitches on Needle 1. Place the next 30 sts onto 2 needles. Slip the last 15 stitches from Needle 3 onto Needle 1. The heel flap is worked flat on the 30 sts on Needle 1. The 30 sts on the other two needles constitute the instep.

Row 1 (WS): sl1, purl to end.
Row 2: *s1, k1; rep from * to end.

Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until heel flap is approximately 2 inches long, end having finished a Row 1.

Heel Turn:
The turned heel is made up of “short rows” with decreases. This process shapes the heel. As a result, for each row you will work a different number of stitches, and you will end up with fewer total stitches than you started with.

Row 1 (RS): sl1, k16, ssk, k1, turn work.
Row 2: sl1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn work.
Row 3: sl1, k to 1 st before “gap”, ssk, K1, turn work.
Row 4: sl1, p to 1 st before “gap”, p2tog, P1, turn work.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 18 sts remain, having finished a row 4.

Next row: sl1, knit across.

Gusset:
(My colors for the foot: kiwi, then gold crest, then ripe raspberry, then butter cream, leaving turquoise for the remainder.)

Pick up and knit 19 sts along the right side of the heel flap. To do this, insert right needle under the first edge stitch (under both strands of the stitch), wrap the working yarn around the needle, and pull a stitch through (one stitch has now been picked up and knitted). Repeat this process until 19 stitches have been picked up.

Slip the following 30 sts onto one needle. These stitches constitute the instep of the sock. Work these 30 sts following Round 1 of the instep pattern (see below).

Pick up and knit 19 sts along the left side of the heel flap.

Onto this same needle, knit the next 9 stitches (from the remaining heel stitches). Slip the remaining 9 heel stitches onto Needle 1 (with the right side gusset).

You now have 28 sts on Needle 1, 30 sts on Needle 2, and 28 sts on Needle 3. The middle of the heel falls between Needle 3 and Needle 1. Consider this point to be the beginning of the round.

Round 1: On Needle 1, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, work Round 2 of instep pattern. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

Round 2: On Needle 1, knit. On Needle 3, continue working instep pattern as established. On Needle 2, knit.

Rep Rounds 1 & 2 until there are 15 sts on both Needles 1 and 3 (60 sts total).

Instep Stitch Pattern (worked on Needle 2):
I worked Rounds 1-5 of the Thistle pattern all the way across the instep, but I worked rounds 6-16 only on the middle 20 stitches of the instep. I used stitch markers to help keep track (thus the “place marker” that is in Round 1).

Round 1: k5; place marker, k20, place marker; k5.
Round 2: purl.
Round 3: knit.
Round 4: purl.
Round 5: knit.
Round 6: k5; (k1, yo, k3, s2kp, k3, yo) twice; k5.
Round 7: k5; (k2, yo, k2, s2kp, k2, yo, k1) twice; k5.
Round 8: k5; (k3, yo, k1, s2kp, k1, yo, k2) twice; k5.
Round 9: k5; (k4, yo, s2kp, yo,k3) twice; k5.
Round 10: k5; (k2, p2, k3, p2, k1) twice; k5.
Round 11: k5; (k1, yo, ssk, p1, yo, s2kp, yo, p1, k2tog, yo) twice; k5.
Round 12: k5; (k3, p1, k3, p1, k2) twice; k5.
Round 13: k5; (k2, yo, ssk, yo, s2kp, yo, k2tog, yo, k1) twice; k5.
Round 14: k5; (k2, p1, k5, p1, k1) twice; k5.
Round 15: k5; (k2, p1, k1, yo, s2kp, yo, k1, p1, k1) twice; k5.
Round 16: k5; (k2, p1, k5, p1, k1) twice; k5.

Foot:
After completing all the gusset decreases, continue working even, and continue repeating the instep pattern for as long as you want. I worked four repeats of the pattern, then Rounds 1-5 again. Then I continued in st st. Work until foot is 2 ½ inches shorter than desired foot length.

Toe:
The toe is 30 Rounds total.

This toe is shaped so that it gradually narrows. To achieve this effect, you will work a “Decrease Round” more frequently as the toe progresses.

Perform a Decrease Round on Rounds 1, 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 30. On all other rounds, work even.

Decrease Round: On Needle 1, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, k1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

At this point, there will be 4 sts on Needle 1, 8 sts on Needle 2, and 4 sts on Needle 3. Now, knit the next 4 sts onto Needle 3, leaving 8 sts on Needle 2 and 8 sts on Needle 3.

Graft the toe using the Kitchener stitch:

Cut the working yarn, leaving a 20 inch or longer tail. Thread this tail through a darning needle. Orient the sock so that the 2 needles are horizontal, the instep side of the sock is facing you, and the working yarn is coming off the right side of the needle in the back.

Step 1: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Step 2: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until all stitches have been worked and slipped off the needles.

Weave in all ends.

If you have any questions – or if you find any mistakes – you can either leave a comment on this blog page or email me: atyler@centurytel.net or amy@stonesockfibers.com

This pattern is free, but it is still copyrighted. So, feel free share a copy of this pattern or knit these socks, but please do not sell the pattern or sell socks made from this pattern. Thank you.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Interlochen Action

I have a nice line-up of teaching events scheduled for this summer: a couple in Michigan, one in Wisconsin, and one in Ohio. Today I’d like to share some information about my July gig at Interlochen. Folks who live in this corner of Michigan are incredibly lucky to have the Interlochen Center for the Arts  in this neck of the woods.

Interlochen was established in 1928. Since then it has hosted a summer arts camp for students in grades 3 through 12 in music, dance, the visual arts, creative writing, the theater arts, and the motion picture arts. During the school year, there is an arts boarding school for students in grades 9 through 12.

The campus is lovely. How could it not be? It’s situated on the shores of Green Lake, and nestled in the woods of northwestern lower Michigan.

All year round, the campus offers concerts at several performing venues, both indoor and out. There are two Interlochen public radio stations (my car radio is almost always tuned to IPR new & information channel). And, there is an adults arts program.

A couple years ago, the adults arts program began to offer fiber arts classes as part of the visual arts offerings. I’ve taught beginning spindle spinning, beginning spinning on the wheel, and diversity of wool.

This summer I’m teaching a 1-day workshop, Fiber Preparation for Spinning, on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Here is the description on the Interlochen website: “Well known for her animated and engaging teaching style, Amy Tyler brings fiber preparation to life in this one day workshop. Amy will cover techniques such as using hand cards, hand combs, and a flick carder to prepare clean fibers for spinning. Students will work with washed wool locks, as well as learn strategies for combining wool with other fibers, or how to blend prepared fibers. Students will be presented with techniques for preparing fibers without equipment as well as preparing and blending fibers on a drum carder. This workshop is suitable for anyone from beginning to intermediate level in spinning.”

This ought to be fun. I’ve got loads of different fibers to play with, and I’ll bring hand cards, hand combs, flick cards, and a couple of drum carders. There are so many ways to get fiber ready for spinning! And July is a delightful time to visit.

Interlochen is also going to have a Fiber Arts Weekend, October 14-16, 2016, conveniently scheduled very close to peak autumn color season. Details of that event will be posted soon. So, mark your calendars.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Two Travel Wheels for Sale

I am helping a friend sell two more of her many spinning wheels. She has re-evaluated her spinning needs and has decided to sell two travel wheels because she just doesn’t travel that much.

Holiday Wheel

 


One is a “Holiday Wheel” made by SpinAway Wheels. This charming travel wheel is most unusual. It weighs about 8 lbs. It’s double treadle. It works as a double drive wheel, but there is no drive band on the drive wheel. Instead, the drive wheel has some sort of internal gear connection that allows it to drive an accelerator wheel (four rotations of the accelerator wheel for one rotation of the drive wheel). And there are 2 bands: one is elastic and attaches the accelerator wheel to the flyer whorl; the other is inelastic and attaches the accelerator wheel to the bobbin. There is one tensioning screw that moves the bobbin/flyer away from or toward the accelerator wheel, thus adjusting the take-up tension. Another unusual feature is that the bobbins do not have a pulley groove. They physically lock into a pin on the spindle assembly.

This wheel assembles and disassembles very easily. Disassembled, its dimensions are approximately 16” x 14” x 8”. Quite compact!

This wheel is made from lovely cherry wood. It comes with 4 bobbins (all with new leaders), and extra drive bands. And I’m adding some non-skid shelf liner to put under the wheel. (Because of the wheel’s light weight it has a tendency to slip on a smooth floor.) It treadles very comfortably. It requires no lubrication. It has been used very little.

SpinAway is not currently taking new orders for this wheel. My friend told me she waited 4 years for her wheel. I don’t know when she actually got the wheel. The current price on the makers’ website is $775. The asking price here is $700.

Bee
the Bee, folded


the Bee, unfolded
The other travel wheel is a “Queen Bee” made by SpinOlution. This wheel folds up in a snap to a tidy 12” x 19” x 9”. It weighs about 13 lbs. There are 3 bobbins (4 ounce capacity). The special thing about this wheel is that it has a huge range of drive ratios: theoretically, there are 12 of them, but practically speaking, there are 9, ranging from 1:5 to 1:35. With such a wide range of drive ratios, along with pegs instead of hooks on the flyer, and a hook for an orifice, this wheel is capable of making all kinds of yarns.

This wheel has two bands: one that connects the drive wheel to an accelerator wheel, another that attaches the accelerator wheel to the flyer. This wheel has a scotch tension drive mechanism, with a brake on the bobbin controlled by a tensioning knob. The treadling is unique to SpinOlution wheels; the balls of the feet push on the treadles and produce a sort of side-to-side rocking motion of the treadles. It’s nice and quiet. The wheel has a built-in lazy kate (the rods can be removed for travel).

This wheel has been very lightly used. The current retail price for this wheel is $759. The asking price for this wheel is $700.

If I ship either wheel, the buyer covers packaging, shipping (USPS Priority), and insurance costs. I am willing to drive a bit to deliver or meet. I live in Lake Ann, MI. Zip 49650. You can contact me at atyler@centurytel.net

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

4 x 15 = 60

I meant to post this during the month of May. That means I'll be posting two sock patterns in June. Here is the first; it's the fourth of twelve sock patterns in my journey of 60 stitches.

The featured stitch pattern has a 4-stitch repeat. So, 15 repeats equals 60 stitches total. I do love slip stitch patterns, and I’m using two here: one in the cuff (“Double Mock Ribbing” from the Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches and one for the leg/instep ("Slipped Rib I" from the same book).


For these particular slip stitch patterns, you do not need to move the yarn for the stitches that are slipped. If the yarn is in front and the next stitch is slipped, just leave the yarn in front when slipping. If the yarn is in back and the next stitch is slipped, just leave the yarn in back when slipping.

The yarn I used was a birthday gift from a friend. It’s Socks That Rock yarn (lightweight) in “Cables of Wrath” colorway, in a skein of 5.5 ounces and approximately 405 yards. I used one skein. This yarn is 100% superwash Merino wool. I got my gauge (7 ½ sts per inch) using US size 2 (2.75 mm) needles in both slip stitch patterns. Since much of the foot is in stockinette stitch, I switched to US size 1 (2.25mm) needles for the foot. I got a gauge of 7 ½ stitches per inch and 21 rounds per inch in stockinette on US size 1.

Cuff:

Loosely CO 60 sts. I used a long tail cast on, with US size 4 (3.5 mm), then changed to US size 2 (2.75mm) for the leg of the sock. I used a set of 4 double pointed needles and distributed the stitches so that there were 20 sts on Needle 1, 20 sts on Needle 2, and 20 sts on Needle 3.

Round 1: knit.

Round 2: purl.

Round 3: knit.

Round 4: purl.

Round 5: *k2, p2; rep from * around.

Round 6: *sl2 wyif, p2; rep from * around.

Repeat Rounds 5 and 6 until cuff measures 2”.

Leg:

Knit 1 round. Then start the “slipped rib I” pattern:

Rounds 1 and 2: *k1, sl1, k2; rep from * around.

Rounds 3 and 4: *k3, sl1; rep from * around.

Work these 4 rounds until sock measures ~6 ¼ inches, end having finished a Round 4.

Heel Flap:

Knit the first 15 stitches on Needle 1. Place the next 30 sts onto 2 needles. Slip the last 15 stitches from Needle 3 onto Needle 1. The heel flap is worked flat on the 30 sts on Needle 1. The 30 sts on the other two needles constitute the instep.

Row 1 (WS): sl1, purl to end.

Row 2: *s1, k1; rep from * to end.

Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until heel flap is approximately 2 inches long, end having finished a Row 1.

Heel Turn:

The turned heel is made up of “short rows” with decreases. This process shapes the heel. As a result, for each row you will work a different number of stitches, and you will end up with fewer total stitches than you started with.

Row 1 (RS): sl1, k16, ssk, k1, turn work.

Row 2: sl1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn work.

Row 3: sl1, k to 1 st before “gap”, ssk, K1, turn work.

Row 4: sl1, p to 1 st before “gap”, p2tog, P1, turn work.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 18 sts remain, having finished a row 4.

Next row: sl1, knit across.

Gusset:
Here is where I switched to US size 1 (2.25mm) needles.

Pick up and knit 16 sts along the right side of the heel flap. To do this, insert right needle under the first edge stitch (under both strands of the stitch), wrap the working yarn around the needle, and pull a stitch through (one stitch has now been picked up and knitted). Repeat this process until 16 stitches have been picked up.

Slip the following 30 sts onto one needle. These stitches constitute the instep of the sock. Work these 30 sts following Round 1 of the instep pattern (see below).

Pick up and knit 16 sts along the left side of the heel flap.

Onto this same needle, knit the next 9 stitches (from the remaining heel stitches). Slip the remaining 9 heel stitches onto Needle 1 (with the right side gusset).

You now have 25 sts on Needle 1, 30 sts on Needle 2, and 25 sts on Needle 3. The middle of the heel falls between Needle 3 and Needle 1. Consider this point to be the beginning of the round.

Round 1: On Needle 1, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, work Round 2 of instep pattern. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

Round 2: On Needle 1, knit. On Needle 3, continue working instep pattern as established. On Needle 2, knit.

Rep Rounds 1 & 2 until there are 15 sts on both Needles 1 and 3 (60 sts total).

Instep Stitch Pattern (worked on Needle 2):

I used stitch markers to help keep track (thus the “place marker” that is in Round 1).

Round 1: k1; place marker, (k1, sl1, k2) 7 times, place marker; k1.

Round 2: same as Round 1 (except for the “place marker” bit).

Rounds 3 & 4: k1; (k3, sl1) 7 times; k1

Rounds 5 – 8: same as Rounds 1 – 4.

Rounds 9 – 12: k1; p28; k1.

Foot:

After completing all the gusset decreases, continue working even, and continue repeating the instep pattern for as long as you want. I worked five repeats of the pattern. Then I continued in st st.

Toe:

The toe is 28 Rounds total.

This toe is shaped so that it gradually narrows. To achieve this effect, you will work a “Decrease Round” more frequently as the toe progresses.

Perform a Decrease Round on Rounds 1, 6, 10, 13, 16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, and 28. On all other rounds, work even.

Decrease Round: On Needle 1, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 2, k1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On Needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end.

At this point, there will be 4 sts on Needle 1, 8 sts on Needle 2, and 4 sts on Needle 3. Now, knit the next 4 sts onto Needle 3, leaving 8 sts on Needle 2 and 8 sts on Needle 3.

Graft the toe using the Kitchener stitch:

Cut the working yarn, leaving a 20 inch or longer tail. Thread this tail through a darning needle. Orient the sock so that the 2 needles are horizontal, the instep side of the sock is facing you, and the working yarn is coming off the right side of the needle in the back.

Step 1: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Step 2: Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and slip this stitch off the needle. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and leave this stitch on the needle.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until all stitches have been worked and slipped off the needles.
Weave in all ends.

If you have any questions – or if you find any mistakes – you can either leave a comment on this blog page or email me: atyler@centurytel.net or amy@stonesockfibers.com

This pattern is free, but it is still copyrighted. So, feel free share a copy of this pattern or knit these socks, but please do not sell the pattern or sell socks made from this pattern. Thank you.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Transformations

I used to be very active and slim until I injured my back around 1990. Since that time, I’d become quite a slug and I put on a good amount of weight. In February 2015 I got health insurance, thanks to Obamacare. As an obligation to the health care provider, I was required to get an annual physical exam. I went to my local clinic for that. Blood tests showed good kidneys, good liver, good blood sugar. But very high cholesterol. Ack. I did NOT want to take any statins because of the increased risk to liver and blood sugar. So, I decided to start exercising, modify my diet (no bacon, no pepperoni, less butter), and lose some weight. I scheduled a cholesterol re-test for 4 months later.


I started slowly. My housemate has an exercise bicycle. I started using it daily. The first week, I cycled for 5 minutes a day. It was a shock to my system. The second week, I upped my time by one minute a day: 6, then 7, then 8, then 9, then 10. The third week, I stayed at 10 minutes a day. The fourth week, upping again by one minute to 15 minutes. Stayed at 15 minutes for another week, then incrementally upped to 20. Then I started increasing intensity. I started incorporating the occasional “sprint”. I’ve stayed at 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes I do a 30-minute bout.


I made minimal changes to my diet, trying to add more nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Really, I did not feel food deprived.


I lost weight and I felt much more like myself. At the re-test, my cholesterol levels were WORSE! I still did not want to take statins. I got re-tested again 4 months later (still exercising and losing weight), and the cholesterol was a bit better, but still not good. Here’s how I look at it: high cholesterol is only one of many risk factors for cardiovascular problems. I am slimmer (BMI = 23), I eat well, I exercise regularly, I don’t smoke. I can’t help the getting older part or the genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. I will not take statins.


So, I’ve transformed. And it’s stuck. I lost about 30 pounds and they have stayed off. I’ve become more active. And it’s stuck; I feel weird on the days when I don’t get some physical activity.


At this time of year, my main physical activity is gardening. My housemate has an enormous perennial garden. Over the years it had become seriously overgrown with grass and periwinkle, and a seriously aggressive spreading rose, and don’t get me started on those bloody spiderwort! Two years ago, I started reclaiming the garden. I have essentially had to dig up nearly everything, remove the bad plants, and re-plant the good plants – which provided me the opportunity to re-design the garden. It’s been rather like very slow choreography. The first year I was able to fix about ¼ of the garden. Last year, another ¼. This year I’ve made good progress. The garden has transformed. I am pleased. I like gardening and it’s great exercise.



My housemate has decided to downsize, so she’s putting her house up for sale. This means two things to me: 1) I will be moving, and 2) someone else will be enjoying the rejuvenated perennial garden. I’m ok with that.


More on the moving bit later.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Panic. Don't Panic. Panic. Don't Panic.

About a year ago, I gave a keynote speech at the Ontario Handweavers & Spinners 2015 Conference. The topic of my talk was “Sources of Inspiration”. It was a great opportunity to ruminate on my own personal sources of inspiration. Among those sources, I listed “deadlines” and “proposals”. I also told the audience that to keep myself inspired I say “yes” when asked to do something new, and I say “no” when asked to do something old. After such a public announcement, I have felt obliged to abide by this strategy.

Here’s how: last year I was asked by Anne Merrow, editor of Spin-Off magazine, if I’d be interested in making some instructional spinning videos for Interweave. That was something new, so I said yes. After a number of conversations, we agreed that I’d do one video on “spinning woolen yarns” and another on “spinning worsted yarns”.

Now, I have years of performance and presentation and teaching experience. Years and years. Although I do feel a healthy dose of adrenaline when I present, I do not experience stage fright to any great extent. In fact, I feel lively and a little bit wicked – in a good way – in front of or interacting with an audience. But. I am camera shy. Really, really camera shy. The very thought of having my picture taken turns me into a stiff, panicked deer-in-headlights. The very thought of being videoed – for all to see – for all eternity – made me feel I was suffering from a severe virus. Sweats. Chills. The whole thing.

I agreed anyway. After all, I had several months to prepare. And I do feel quite comfortable with the topics: I teach them frequently, and I’ve written about them extensively. I prepared. I devised outlines. I created samples. I practiced. I got excellent advice from Anne, and Jill Brooke (talent coordinator for F&W), and Lindsay Smith (the instructional designer assigned to me). I also got encouragement and some good tips from Galina Khmeleva and Patsy Zawistoski, both of whom have made numerous excellent videos.

The dates for the video shoots seemed so far away, but those months went by. Fast.

Panic.

I flew out to Fort Collins, Colorado last Wednesday. The videos were shot on Thursday and Friday. I flew home on Saturday. It happened. I did it. It was scary. It was scarier than my dissertation defense. They said I did fine. They said the make-up (which I don’t wear in real life) looked fine. They liked the linen blouse that my friend Becky made for me. They said I was very well prepared. The two people who were actually in the studio while the cameras were on – Lindsay and the camera man; I’m terrible with names – were calm, kind, and very helpful. I couldn’t have asked for more.
 
 
Don’t panic.

Even though I’m done with the videos (tentative release dates in July and August this year), just writing about it is bringing back some of my anxiety. High Anxiety. I am not ready for my close-up, Mel Brooks.

Panic.
 

By the way, Fort Collins is charming. I hadn’t been there since the late 1970s. I did get to walk around the old downtown district: a used bookstore, a coffee shop, a gem/rock shop, and – of course – a yarn shop. The weather was delightful. The people were delightful. My meals were delightful. The margarita at Buena Vida was delightful.
 
 
Don’t panic.