Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stones, Snow, and Spring

It's Spring? Yes, that's a question mark. Yesterday I awoke to this world:

Despite the winter views, I am getting ready for this year’s Spring Fiber Fling. It’s a weekend fiber retreat held each year in Pickford, Michigan (in the eastern Upper Peninsula).

This year the dates are May 13-15. And the registration deadline is April 23. If you want to download a pdf file of the brochure, go to my website. Or, contact Lois Robbins,, 906-632-3689.

I’ll be teaching two workshops: “Spinning With Silk Hankies” and “Knitting Petoskey Stone Medallions”. This’ll be the first time teaching the petoskey stone workshop. I’ve been knitting medallions like crazy lately to make sure my pattern directions are correct.

Here’s a picture of a pile of mostly petoskey stones in my front yard perennial garden (before the snow fell):

And here’s a picture of a pile of recently knitted medallions and the yarns I’m using.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sylvia's "Sylvia", Part 5

Last year, I started a fleece-to-socks project. The fleece was from a CVM lamb named “Sylvia”. I got 6 ounces of the lovely raw wool from my friend Sylvia (for whom the lamb was named). You can see my blog entries about this project starting with July 12, 2010.

“Sylvia” lives at The White Barn Farm in Blanchard, Michigan with several other CVM/Romeldale sheep. If you want to see classic pictures of this distinctive breed, go to their website.

Most of this project was completed in July of last year. Then it stalled. I was having trouble designing the sock pattern. I tried several stitch patterns before I stumbled onto the stitch that inspired me.It is stitch pattern “I.21” on page 17 in The Harmony Guild to Practical Knitting Stitches (1983)

This stitch pattern is made up of just knits and purls. No slips, no twists, no yarn-overs, no increases or decreases, no fancy loops. Just knit and purl.

But what a pattern! I would never have guessed that a knit-purl stitch pattern could surprise me so. As the pattern grew on my needles, I saw a wonderful construction of gently curving horizontal welts. The pattern as written has a modest amount of asymmetry, but it could easily be revised to be symmetrical, or even to be more wildly uneven.

Isn’t knitting amazing? After so many years of knitting, I can still find newness and excitement in the basic building blocks of this craft.

Here’s a picture of “Sylvia” with the two lambs she had this spring.

Here’s a picture of the finished socks.

Here’s a closer look at the stitch pattern.

Sylvia will soon receive her “Sylvia” socks as a belated birthday present.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lots of Lambs

On my return trip from Wisconsin I made a brief stop at Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill. Carol and Paul Wagner run the joint (see my blog entry about this marvelous place September 14, 2010).

They raise Coopworth sheep. Lots of them. And now is the height of lambing season. I arrived just minutes after one lamb was born. What an amazing sight!

Because the weather was still on the cold side all the lambs were in the barn, making photo taking (with my wimpy camera) a bit of a challenge. I wish more pictures had turned out, but here, at least, is one sweet pic:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Toby is Ten Today

It’s Toby’s birthday today! She’s a “mature” 10 years old now. And as cute as ever. Here she is in her youth:

And, here’s a more recent picture of her, upon her throne (aka, the sofa):

Now, to keep this in the realm of fiber arts let me show you what’s currently on my inkle loom. A few weeks ago, Marty Fox lead a program on “Inkle Weaving the Alphabet” for the Northland Weaving and Fiber Arts Guild. When I watched Marty show the pick up techniques involved, my first inclination was to avoid the alphabet and just stick with plain weave. But! I gave it a try. She had set up my loom in advance with my name (A M Y). During the program, I started weaving Toby’s name. I got as far as T O B.

I will finish the Y before the end of the week. I swear!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Travels

I’m hittin’ the road next week. I’m travelling to Pewaukee, Wisconsin to teach at the Wisconsin Spin-In. I’ve heard loads about this event, but this will be my first time in attendance. I am looking forward to it. Starting on Thursday, April 7, there will be workshops, vendors, and spinning! What could be better?

I’ll be teaching three workshops: Spinning Marl Yarns, Mechanics of Your Wheel, and Blending Colors at the Wheel. Look!

So, that’s the beginning of April.

At the end of April (Apr 30, May 1), I’m travelling to Duluth, Minnesota to teach two days of workshops at the Duluth Art Institute: Spinning With Commercial Yarns, Plying for Texture, and Spinning With Silk Hankies.

This will be my second visit to Duluth. Two years ago, I was there at the beginning of May. It snowed. And Duluth is a city on a hill….a very steep hill. Slip slidin’ away!

For both these trips, I’ll be travelling through the Upper Peninsula…for the second and third time this year. And I’ll be headed up that way again in May and again in June. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Can you tell that I love the UP? I’m even getting used to driving over the Mighty Mac! (My mantra: “Don’t look at the water; look at the road….Don’t look at the water; look at the road….")