May is a month of distraction. Although I am getting some knitting and spinning done, it’s not nearly as much as I would like. I’m too distracted by Spring.
Spring arrived late, and very slowly, this year. But its tardiness has been outweighed by its lavish verdure. I enjoyed daffodil blooms for nearly a month. Here’s a picture of some of the last to bloom.
My rhubarb plants have provided me with a bumper crop. I’ve already baked two pies and one cake. I plan to bake another cake tomorrow.
This little plant, a “Lewisia” has been right at my front door for a couple years. Aren’t the flowers sweet?
I have three large chives plants in my back yard herb garden. I try to keep the flowers trimmed from them so that I can harvest chives all summer. Last year, I put a few chives plants into one of the flower beds in the front yard. I will let them bloom and enjoy the lovely flowers there.
Late last summer I put in a plant called “Speedwell”. It didn’t do much then, but this spring it has begun blooming, and I am lovin’ it!
Each day I find new treasures and surprises in the garden. Ah, May!
Ideas for my fiber projects come from many sources: from nature, from dreams, from my dog, from my friends, from science, and more.
Sometimes the fiber or yarn just speaks to me directly. I am at the beginning of a few projects right now that have started with the fiber talking to me. Let me share a few examples.
For my birthday this year, my friend Carol S. gave me a tiny jade plant in a pot that her son, Vince, had made. A lovely gift.
She wrapped it in tissue paper and tied it with a strand of a ribbon yarn. That tidbit of yarn Spoke To Me. Here’s a fuzzy picture of it. (My camera does not like close-ups.)
I put the yarn bit on my desk next to my computer and fondled it frequently, wishing I could have more of it. I wanted to knit it. Bad. I had developed quite a crush on that yarn. Ultimately I asked Carol if she could part with the yarn. And! She agreed! I now have the yarn sitting on my desk. I know I will knit some drapey, tunic length cardigan, with ¾ length sleeves. I don’t know when I’ll knit it, but I will.
Another example. Last weekend, at the Spring Fiber Fling, the fiber cupid struck. Joanne Dufour was one of the vendors. She raises alpacas. One of the fibers that she’d brought was a blend of true black alpaca with a goodly amount of multi-colored silk noil. I was smitten.
My plan is to create a marl yarn with one ply of this alpaca/silk and one ply of a light blue-to-light lavender Polwarth wool roving. I’ve already started the spinning. Mmmmm.
One more example. Many years ago, I bought some mohair boucle yarn at Personal Threads, a terrific yarn shop in Omaha, Nebraska. The yarn was being discontinued, so the shop had it in a sale bin. What luck for me. It’s a lovely raspberry color with splashes of many other vibrant colors including lime green, brown, many reds, turquoise, and peach.
I did not have to fondle the yarn for long before I bought it. This yarn has been maturing in my stash since then. On occasion I would open the drawer that contains the yarn and consider its future. At first I wanted to knit an oversized pullover with a dramatic cowl collar. But recently I got an idea for an afghan with an asymmetrical zigzag lace pattern. The swatching and designing are done, and I started knitting it last night. Oh, ah!
Finally. I get to open the jar of peaches (Canadian Harmony variety).
Last fall, Lois Robbins gave me one jar of apple butter, one jar of peach preserves, and one jar of peaches. She said the apple butter and preserves were intended to nourish me as I wrote up the pattern for the “Dream Shawl”, but I could only open the jar of peaches after I’d actually finished writing the pattern.
Well, today, I picked up 15 copies of the pattern at Staples. So, I get to open the jar of peaches!
I am not particularly timely in writing up my knitting patterns. (Hey, I do get other things done.) This shawl pattern has been a long time in the making, and I’ve been nudged by a number of people to Get It Done. This pattern will be making its debut at the Spring Fiber Fling in Pickford, Michigan this weekend. Lois is one of the organizers of this event.
Here’s a picture of the shawl in question.
I call it the “Dream Shawl” because the pattern for it came to me in a dream. How awesome is that!?
If you would like to buy this pattern, contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org The price is $12 plus first class postage.
Fliers for fiber events just keep comin’ in the mail. Yipee!! Next month, I’m headed to the Midwest Weavers Conference, “Northern Wefts”, in Hancock, Michigan. I so look forward to visiting the Keweenaw Peninsula again. This conference is going to pack a punch. The line up of instructors is quite impressive (and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them!). There are workshops for everyone. There are also tours to go on and many exhibits to see. I’ll be teaching a three-day pre-conference workshop entitled, “The Spin-Knit Nexus”. We’ll be exploring ways of spinning combinations of yarns that would be difficult to find among commercial yarns, and then knitting swatches and figuring out ways to use these yarns in knitted projects.
I then have one day off. My plan has been to spend most of that day at the Seaman Mineral Museum on the campus of Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Michigan. My first visit to this amazing museum was a few years ago. I spent hours there, and I only saw half of the exhibit. I can hardly wait to see the rest! Unfortunately, according to their website, the museum is currently closed for renovation and won’t be open again until July. How disappointing! I guess I’ll just have to visit it some other time. Then I teach two 1-day workshops: “Beginning Spinning”, and “Blending Colors at the Wheel”. Both so fun!
Another flier that recently arrived is for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in Jeffferson, Wisconsin. This’ll be my fourth year teaching at this wonderful event.
I love taking the ferry across Lake Michigan, I love seeing all the fiber animals, and I love all the fiber and fibery people!!! I’ll be teaching: “Creating the Yarn You Want”, “Spinning & Knitting Goat Fibers”, “Spinning Marl Yarns” and “Mechanics of Your Wheel”.
It’s a delightful drive (although it takes 2 days to get there) and a delightful event. I’ve enjoyed the folks who organize everything, I’ve enjoyed the folks who vendor fabulous mechandise, I’ve enjoyed the other fiber arts instructors that I’ve met there, and I’ve especially enjoyed the folks who’ve participated in my workshops.
This year I’ll be teaching: “Creating the Yarn You Want”, “Spinning with Commercial Yarns”, “Spinning Marl Yarns”, “Mechanics of Your Wheel”, "Spinning with Silk Hankies", and "I-Cord Edges and More!". A swell line-up.
So, go to one of these events. Revel in fiber. It’s good for the soul.
The drive back from Duluth was under much nicer weather conditions than the drive to Duluth. The first day of my outbound trip it rained all the way to Marquette, and the second day it snowed almost all the way to Duluth. On the way back, all was sunny and bright!
I stayed with Judy and Jim McL. I’ve known Judy for a number of years. Judy and Jim summer in Beulah, Michigan and winter in Duluth!
Judy is part of the Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild, and she was responsible for encouraging them to invite me to teach some workshops. I’d been there three years ago to teach, and I was delighted to be invited back. The workshops were held in one of the Duluth Art Institute locations.
In addition to the workshops, the Guild asked me to give a talk the night before the workshops, in conjunction with a potluck dinner. I prepared a presentation that I titled, “The Value of Process”. This presentation prompted me to put together some of my thoughts on learning, mindful practice, creativity, and the process-product dichotomy. I took the opportunity to draw from my experiences in dance and neuroscience, as well as my work as a fiber artist. I hope that these disparate disciplines came together for the audience as well as they come together for me.
Earlier that day, Judy took me on a stroll around the boardwalk area of Duluth. Here is a picture of Judy near the lighthouse there.
Saturday’s workshop was “Spinning With Commercial Yarns”. Here’s the metaphysical question of the day: When you take a commercial yarn that is Z-spun and S-plied, and you re-spin it in the Z direction, are you “adding twist” or are you “un-plying”?
Sunday morning’s workshop was “Plying for Texture”; the afternoon’s workshop was “Spinning With Silk Hankies”. Everyone enjoyed the “hand spa” at the beginning of the afternoon session; I had everyone use a scrub on their hands called “Silk Spinner”, a Dermalove product. Makes for the smoothest of hands! Oh, on Sunday, it snowed. I’d like to point out that on my visit three years ago, it also snowed…at the beginning of May. Could this be the start of a tradition?
Monday, Judy and I did some more sightseeing. I picked up rocks along the shore of Lake Superior just north of Duluth. Here’s a view:
Then, we visited a charming yarn shop in Knife River and later ate lunch at the Lighthouse on Homestead. I had an excellent grilled cheese sandwich with tomato-basil soup. By the way, they make the Best Potato Chips Ever.
The day’s highlight was our visit to Church Road Farm, owned by Marie and Paul Glaesemann. Marie and Paul have a wonderful spinner’s flock of sheep. Here are a few of this year's lambies:
I’ve been buying fleeces from them for several years now. I am happy to report that I was able to snag Lucy’s fleece again this year. And I was able to snag a picture of Lucy on this visit. Well, I got a picture of her rear end as she enjoyed her lunch.
Here’s a picture of Marie with her 30-year old Morgan horse, Winston. They raised and showed Morgans for many years.
I also bought Lizzy’s fleece, and Judy and I are going to split Puff’s fleece. All three fleeces will be processed into roving at Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill. Tuesday, I started the drive homeward. On Wednesday, I made a few stops at Scenic Outlooks along Lake Michigan. Here is a picture somewhere between Epoufette and Brevort, looking southeast onto the lake.
And here’s a picture of the Mackinaw Bridge from a couple miles away, still in the U.P.
All ‘round, a great trip! I do hope to travel Duluth-way again. Maybe next time without snow…