Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September is Super Fiber Filled

It all started with the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. That was last weekend. And what a weekend it was! I taught, I shopped, I ate, I talked. This was the first time that I had a half day off from teaching so that I could get some serious shopping done. I bought fiber, of course (Bluefaced Leicester wool, Cormo wool, silk hankies), and I bought yarn. I was pleased to see so many vendors with breed-specific yarns. I got yarns made from Lincoln, Teeswater, Border Leicester, and Tunis. I’ve added these to my large bin of breed-specific yarns at home. Very satisfying.

And I got some hemp yarn. It was in a discount bin in the Interlacements booth. It’s very very skinny yarn. I had no idea what I was going to do with it until I saw a woman with a skinny inkle woven strap for her reading glasses. That’s what I’m going to do. Yes!

Another purchase was a small beaded purse kit. It was so cute! And I’ve not done any beaded knitting before. High time, then. I also got a couple of pieces of pottery: a very large mug/soup bowl with “buttons” on it from Alison Wheeler, and a “whiskey cup” from Jenny the Potter. I’ve already used both pieces.

But there’s more! I am busy this month. Really busy. Really. Here’s the schedule:

Fiber Fallout. This is a spinning retreat in Johnsonburg, New Jersey, sponsored by the North Country Spinners, Inc. It’s held every other year. The dates this year are September 19-21. I’m teaching Variations on Long Draw, Spinning & Knitting Energized Singles, and Spinning Marl Yarns. This is my first time at this event and I do look forward to it!

September ends with a bang! The weekend of September 26-28 contains multiple events of interest to the fiber enthusiast. I will be involved in a new fiber event, the Interlochen Fiber Arts Weekend. It will be held at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. I’m teaching multiple sessions of Beginning Spindle Spinning and Diversity of Wool. These are short workshops, only 75 minutes, just enough to pique your interest. This event also includes a panel discussion about growing a regional fiber-shed, some vendors, and mini workshops on spinning, knitting, weaving, and crochet.

In addition to Interlochen, there are other events that may interest you. The beautiful northwest corner of the lower peninsula is the site of the Greater Traverse Area Yarn Shop Hop, September 26, 27, and 28. Hours are Friday, 10 am to 7 pm; Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm; and Sunday, 12 noon to 4 pm. Passports are $5, The participating stores are: Yarn Quest, Traverse City; Lost Art, Traverse City; Plover Dunes, Glen Arbor; the Yarn Shop, Glen Arbor; Wool and Honey, Cedar; Warm Fuzzy, Alden; Thistledown, Suttons Bay; and the Yarn Market in Beulah.

If that’s not enough for you, the Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm is hosting National Alpaca Farm Day, Saturday, September 27, 1-5pm. Chris and Dave Nelson have a lovely farm and fiber boutique at 4907 River Road, Frankfort, Michigan.

But wait! There’s more! This very same weekend is the weekend of the Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival, at the very lovely Ogemaw County Fairgrounds in West Branch, Michigan. Vendors, classes, shearing school, and more.

If you’ve ever wanted to spend time in northern lower Michigan, and you love fiber, this is the weekend for you. Take advantage. Do!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer Teaching Nearby

I get to stay home much of this summer. That means more time in the garden, more time at the beach, eating more local produce, and likely more mosquito bites.

But I will be teaching workshops reasonably close to home. Here are some places within my wonderful home state of Michigan where I’m teaching:

Great Lakes Ranch  is where Brad and Jandy Sprouse raise suri alpacas and Tibetan yaks. And they have a fiber, yarn, and fashion store that is open on Fridays and Saturdays during summer months.

I’ll be teaching Knitting Petoskey Stone Medallions, Thursday, July 17, 2:00 – 5:00pm. The fee is $25. Tracie Herkner is the person to contact to sign up for the class. Her phone number is 231-642-1414, and her email address is .

In August I make my annual pilgrimage to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan. I’m scheduled to teach Wednesday through Saturday. I sure hope I have enough time to shop! You can register through the Festival’s website. Here is a list of my workshops:

Creating the Yarn You Want, Wednesday, August 13, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Mechanics of Your Wheel, Thursday, August 14, 9:00am – 12:00noon
I Heart Duplicate Stitch, Thursday, August 14, 1:00 – 4:00pm
Beginning Spinning at the Wheel, Friday, August 15, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Seams to Be, Saturday, August 16, 9:00am – 12:00noon
The Surprising Yarn-Over, Saturday, August 16, 1:00 – 4:00pm

In October (ok, so October isn’t exactly “summer”), I am headed once again to Yarn in the Barn. This weekend event is sponsored by Briar Rose Fibers. I will be teaching spinning workshops and Anne Hanson will be teaching knitting workshops. And there will be a few vendors in addition to Briar Rose Fibers. You will find workshop descriptions and registration details on their website. My workshops are:

Spinning Silk: Brick and Hankies, Friday, October 3, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Variations on Long Draw, Saturday, October 4, 9:00am – 2:30pm

These three events are confirmed. I will mention that there are tentative plans for a fiber event in Interlochen, Michigan in September. If that materializes I will let you know!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just Curly. No Moe. No Larry.

On my recent trip to Minnesota I got to drive through Michigan’s upper peninsula. I took advantage of that route to stop and visit with Sue Kapla at Fiddle Knoll Farm near Skandia.

She showed me some of this year’s lambs. All too cute for words. And she sold me some Romney roving; one pound of creamy white and one pound of light grey. I’ve already spun 2 skeins from this lovely stuff.

The sheep have not been sheared yet….way too cold. But she did tell me that I’ll be getting a fleece from a one-year-old CVM ewe named “Eve”. A very lovely light light brown. I can hardly wait!

I was expecting all this lovely woolness. What I was not expecting was her horse. I saw the horse in an area behind the sheep. She told me she’d gotten him last fall. She’d always loved horses but she’s allergic. Then she heard of a type of horse that is hypoallergenic. They’re called Curly Horses. They have curly hair. All over. Sue’s horse, “Boris”, is a lovely chestnut color. His mane and forelock were quite short, but curly.

This is the time of year for shedding, and Sue indicated she’d saved a bit of his hair. “Do you want some?” she asked. Of course I said “Yes!” So, she gave me a bag of about 5 ounces of Boris’s hair.

Today is a lovely late May day, perfect for washing fiber. Here is a picture of the hair in a mesh bag before washing:

I did one soak in the hottest tap water with some Orvus paste. And two soaks of only hot water. The hair is right now in the second soak. I’ll spin out the excess water in the washing machine and then I’ll put the hair on a drying rack. I expect it’ll be ready tomorrow.

I’m thinking I’ll blend it with some sturdy wool and maybe make some work mittens. Or, maybe I’ll weave something.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Now...Where Was I?

How could I have gone so long without posting a new blog entry? Well, I got busy. After the mad rush to finish some writing, I took a breather. That turned into procrastination. What’s another day going to hurt? Then, my mother died at the end of April. Then, I got busy again. Then, I was on the road for 8 days, buying fiber and fleeces, and teaching workshops at Shepherd’s Harvest. (Very fun, by the way.)

My mother’s memorial service is tomorrow in Midland. Although we were never close, I do have to thank her for teaching me the knit stitch and the purl stitch long ago.

I will get back to regular fiber-related posting next week.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hankie Heaven Update

My copy of the Spring issue of PLY Magazine  arrived in yesterday’s mail. It’s all about silk. And there are three articles in it that I wrote, about silk hankies. Two of the articles contain spinning and knitting details of a pair of fingerless mitts that I designed. The other article is about technical issues of spinning silk hankies.

And today the sun is shining. It’s still cold here, around 20degF, and there is plenty of snow on the ground, but at least the sun is shining. Good for taking pictures. So, here’s a picture of my mitts. The pattern is included in the article (PLY Magazine, Issue 4, Spring 2014, pp 59-60).

Oh, here’s another picture I took today: the socks I finished during last month’s Dog Sitting Fiber Retreat.

Next week I’m doing another dog sitting fiber retreat. Seven days in a house with Bob (golden retriever) and Ted (Llewellyn setter) on the shores of Green Lake. Cable TV. And several fiber projects. What fun I’ll have!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Resurrection: Middlemarch Reborn

Marty works fast. Last month I handed off that dreaded sock yarn and unfinished pair of socks (My Middlemarch).  And last week, Marty showed me her solution.

She’d unraveled the sock-and-a-half. Then she took the yarn and added more Z-twist to it. Then she spun up a Z-twist singles from some Merino wool that she’d purchased from Stonehedge Fiber Mill. Then she plied the two together. A star is born! Here’s a picture of one of two skeins that she spun.

I am thrilled to see new life come to a project that I rejected. I don’t know what her plans are for this yarn, but I look forward to seeing what magic will happen.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March and April Workshops in Lake Ann

March and April are typically quiet months for me; I’m not scheduled to travel next until late April. So, this is a good time of year for me to offer spinning and knitting workshops at my house in Lake Ann, Michigan.

The fee for each workshop is a very modest $15. All workshops start at 1:30pm and go to 3:30 or 4:00pm. (I purposely chose this start time so that anyone interested could stop for lunch at the nearby Stone Oven.) A minimum of 2 folks will be needed for each workshop to “go”. The maximum is 6.

If you are interested, please contact me by email, or by phone 231-640-4424. If there is a topic that interests you, but you’d prefer a different date, let me know; there may be some wiggle room.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Surprising Yarn-Over: A “yarn-over” is a fundamental element in knitted lace, but there is more to the yarn-over than lace. The yarn-over is a surprising and versatile element in many forms of knitting. We will explore the use of yarn-overs to make beautiful edges, interesting cords, straight and wavy fabrics. In addition, we’ll cover variations on the yarn-over and how yarn-overs are created in a variety of knit stitch patterns.
Bring 100-200 yards of yarn and knitting needles appropriate for the yarn.

Friday, March 14, 2014
I Heart Duplicate Stitch: Duplicate stitch is one way of adding bits of color to knitting, allowing you to “paint” on your knitting. Other forms of multi-color knitting, such as intarsia and Fair Isle, may seem more “knitterly”, but there are times when duplicate stitch can achieve certain effects in a much easier way. When done well, duplicate stitch can add an expert air to your knitting. We will practice techniques for making duplicate stitch smooth and even. We will play with effects of yarn size and yarn texture and the knit stitches used for the background, so that you will come away with an appreciation of the special advantages of duplicate stitch.
Bring a swatch knitted in stockinette stitch that is at least 30 sts wide and 50 rows long (a solid light color works best), some yarn of the same type as used for the swatch but in a contrasting color, knitting needles appropriate for the yarn, a darning needle.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Creating Crepe Yarns: Crepe yarns are 3-ply yarns in which the twist direction and order of plying is manipulated. We will cover a variety of these yarns. We will do some spinning of singles, but mostly we will ply.
Bring 2 bobbins partially filled with Z-spun singles, 2 additional bobbins, your spinning wheel, and a lazy kate.

Friday, March 28, 2014
Q & A: Spinning: Here’s an opportunity for you to determine the content of the workshop. If you have specific topics or questions about spinning, preparing fibers, or finishing yarns, please supply them to me at least 24 hours before the workshop – BY EMAIL, PLEASE. We will cover topics as I receive them. Or, feel free to bring your projects or questions to class and we’ll cover them there.
Bring your spinning wheel, a couple of bobbins, and any projects or tools that you have questions about.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Spinning Wheel Maintenance: Do you want to get the most out of your wheel? A bit of maintenance will most certainly help. We will cover how to care for wood, drive bands, oiling/lubricating, and trouble shooting. Your wheel will thank you.
Bring your spinning wheel, oil, rag, and one bobbin.

Friday, April 4, 2014
Creating Cable Yarns: cable yarns are 4-ply (or more) yarns which require plying twice (or more). We will cover a couple different techniques for creating these yarns, and we’ll discuss color issues, twist issues, and fiber content issues.
Bring your spinning wheel, 2 bobbins partially filled with Z-spun singles of different colors, 2 additional bobbins, and a lazy kate.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Q & A: Knitting: Here’s an opportunity for you to determine the content of the workshop. If you have specific topics or questions about knitting, your knitting projects, understanding patterns, blocking, or yarns, please supply them to me at least 24 hours before the workshop – BY EMAIL, PLEASE. We will cover topics as I receive them. Or, feel free to bring your projects or questions to class and we’ll cover them there.
Bring some yarn, some knitting needles, and whatever project/pattern you’d like.

Friday, April 11, 2014
Knitting Petoskey Stone Medallions: In this workshop we will knit a medallion inspired by the state stone of Michigan, the Petoskey stone. The medallions are flat circles, knitted from the center out. When a series of these medallions are crocheted together, you can change the circular shape to 4-, 5-, 6-, or more-sided pieces.  We will cover a circular crochet cast-on, how to knit circularly with 2 circular needles, 2-stitch cable patterns, and crocheting medallions together. With this approach, you can make scarves, afghans, hats, pillows, and more.

Bring 100 yards or so of yarn (1 or more colors), 2 circular knitting needles of the same size (but can be of different lengths) appropriate for the yarn, a crochet hook similar in size to the needles, and a darning needle.