Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Three on a Match

Tomorrow I start a series of three teaching trips in quick succession. I’m delighted to be teaching so much, yet I’m a bit nervous about keeping up with the planning, organizing, travelling, and being “on”.

First, from L.A. to L.A. I leave Lake Ann, Michigan to fly to Los Angeles, California. The Greater Los Angeles SpinningGuild  is hosting me, April 25-28. I’ve got four workshops and one lecture. This guild has both wheel spinners and spindle spinners. It’s unusual for me to have a “mixed” group. On occasion, I’ll get one spindle spinner in one of my workshops, or I’ll have someone with an electric spinner. I look forward to sharing some of my ideas with spindlers.

My workshops there include: Creating the Yarn You Want, Blending Colors at the Wheel, Spinning With Silk Hankies, and Spinning & Knitting Goat Fibers. So, we’ll be playing with all kinds of yummy fibers.

And my lecture is The Value of Process. I first gave this lecture a few years back in Duluth. So, I’m updating it and thinking about process anew.

I then head to Minnesota. I’ll be driving through the Upper Peninsula, and I’m hoping to stop at Fiddle Knoll Farm on my way. They raise Romeldale/CVM and Romney sheep. I wonder if I’ll be leaving their farm with a fleece (or two)….  I’m then driving to Duluth to visit my friend, Judy McL. We will be stopping by the farm of Marie Glaesemann so that I can pick up eight fleeces that I’ve already reserved. Woowee!

This trip continues as I head to Lake Elmo, for Shepherd’s Harvest. I teach on Saturday and Sunday, May 11 & 12: Spinning Super Stretchy Wools, Diversity of Wool, and Mechanics of Your Wheel. It’s very easy to get excited about these classes. I’m especially looking forward to Diversity of Wool. I just recently taught this half-day workshop at Midwest Masters. I really should rename this workshop, The Amazing Diversity of Wool. It’s specifically geared to knitters, and I’ve lately been gathering many, many breed-specific millspun yarns to share in this workshop. Participants will get over a dozen samples to take home to knit.

It’ll take me nearly two days to drive home from there. Then I have just a few days to prepare for my trip to Pickford, Michigan (in the U.P.) where I will be teaching at Spring Fiber Fling, May 17-19. This is a delightful weekend retreat for fiber fans. It’s sponsored by the Country Spinners & Bridge Shuttlers  guild. I’ll be teaching one knitting workshop, Seams to Be, and one spinning workshop, Mohair Locks Rock! I’m already planning on taking advantage of the vendors who’ll be there. I predict my future will contain some linen yarn, new knitting needles, notecards, and Corriedale fleece & yarn.

I need to pack. Then unpack. Then pack again. Etc., etc., etc.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Adj.  hard to wield, manage, handle, or deal with, as because of large size or weight, or awkward form.” ~ Webster’s New World College Dictionary

Unwieldy. A good word to describe my current knitting project. I’ve been working on an afghan since early March. It’s a big afghan. 266 stitches per row. I’m about 4/5 done.

The beginning went so well. 266 stitches didn’t seem like much. Until I’d knitted about 20 inches. For some reason, the rows seemed to take longer to knit at that point. And when the afghan was about halfway done, I felt I was knitting in place, going nowhere.

But the afghan continued to grow. Did I mention it’s a big afghan? Well, it is. It now weighs 2 ½ pounds. After every 20 stitches or so, I need to shift the whole thing to get to the next stitches. Unwieldy. And warm.

Fortunately, it continues to be winter here. It is snowing right now. So, it feels good to have 2 ½ pounds of wool on my lap.

I have to say that I am very pleased with how this afghan is working out. It’s a “sampler” of rib-welt stitch patterns, so it’s very elastic and will be a delight as a winter nap blankie. After I get this done, it won’t take me long to get the pattern written up. Then I’ll share.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of the work in progress. For now, I’m showing you just a Big Pile o’ Knitting.

I’m using a lovely yarn – “Charity” –by Chris Roosien of Briar Rose Fibers. I think it looks like molten copper. Makes for an even warmer afghan.

Monday, April 15, 2013

This Survey's for You

Every few years, The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA), surveys fiber folks to get an idea of the current state of fiber madness. This year’s survey is going on right now. They need YOU and your answers.

The data that they collect are then used by members of TNNA in improving business strategies, writing legitimate business plans, and preparing grant proposals. That means these data will then help you – the consumer – in satisfying your yarn and fiber purchasing needs.

So, take the survey. It takes about 10 minutes. And! After you’ve taken it, you can enter a drawing for a $100 gift certificate.  Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TNNAfiber  to read more details and to take the survey.

But you need to do this by April 30, 2013.

Take it. I did.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Want... I Wish...

I’ve spent a good deal of time lately looking at knit designs that are not of my making. I should always do that, but I don’t always have the time or inclination. But, right now, others’ patterns are making me covet.

I mentioned a sweet dress pattern in my last blog entry. I haven’t hunted down a copy yet, but the information is near the top of the pile on my desk.

And I just looked through the Spring 2013 issue of Interweave Knits over breakfast this morning. I think most of the patterns in this issue are overly feminine, unwearable, and awkward. But one pattern really spoke to me. The “Bayswater Shell”, designed by Cheryl Niamath, is a tunic length sleeveless thing knitted in Euroflax Sport Weight. I want. I want. I want. I will make it.

Another source of design envy is the latest big news in knitting:  The Fiber Factor , a knit design contest sponsored by Skacel. Twelve contestants have been selected. I watched the “Meet the Contestants” video on the website yesterday. A couple of the designers are doing some very cool things. For example, the scarf/cowl that Talitha Kuomi  was wearing in her video introduction is very very cool. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. And she’s funny too.

And I love the hat that Rachel Henry is wearing in her picture on the website. I love it so much I wish I had designed it. Yeah, that much.

I will continue to watch The Fiber Factor; perhaps I’ll even swatch once or twice, if I’ve got time. I wish all the best for all the contestants, and I look forward to seeing what they create.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There and Back Again

It’s been a busy and scattered month. I enjoyed much of my dog-sitting sabbatical, but it was difficult to keep up with computer work, such as this blog! Since I last wrote, I’ve not only finished the dog-sitting, but I’ve travelled twice for fiber teaching.

In March, I went to Kalmazoo, Michigan for the Michigan Fiber Arts Symposium. I thoroughly enjoyed my workshops. And I got in a bit of fiber shopping with the vendors: some yummy roving of an interesting mohair and llama blend, some Wensleydale yarn, and Merino yarn, and Mohair locks. All good! The Radisson in downtown K’zoo was a very nice hotel. Carol Wagner (of Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill) and I shared a few meals in the hotel’s pub, where, by the way, they were celebrating Bell’s brewery. I got a free Two Hearted Ale button. And I did stop at MacKenzie’s Bakery for a couple of delicious donuts.

Just last weekend, I took another road trip, this time to Neenah, Wisconsin. Barb Cattani, proprietor of the lovely yarn shop, Yarns by Design, hosts a wonderful event, Midwest Masters. I’d taught at it a few years back and I was delighted to be asked to teach again this year.

To get to Neenah, I drove over the Mackinaw Bridge  and through the Upper Peninsula, where I was greeted by a classic lake effect winter squall. Fortunately, it was a small – albeit powerful – storm. The rest of the 8-hour drive was quite peaceful.

I taught classes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was thrilled to teach two slip stitch classes:  Exploring Basic Slip Stitches and Extended and Manipulated Slip Stitches. To prepare for these workshops, I did a lot of revising of my handouts, mostly adding stitch patterns. In the process, I inadvertently mistyped one of the stitch patterns. I told the workshop participants that I would put the correct instructions on my blog. So here it is.

First, a scan of my swatch:

Butterfly Stitch (from Barbara G. Walker’s, A Treasury of Knitting Patterns)

Multiples of 10 stitches plus 9

Rows 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 (RS): K2, * sl5 wyif, K5; rep from *, end sl5, K2.
Rows 2, 4, 6, 10: P across.
Row 10: P4, * on the next st (which is at the center of the slipped group) insert right-hand needle down through the 5 loose strands, bring needle up and transfer the 5 strands to left-hand needle, purl the 5 strands and the next st together as one st; P9; rep from *, end last repeat P4.
Row 11, 13, 15, 17, 19: K7, * sl5 wyif, K5; rep from *, end sl5, K7.
Row 12, 14, 15, 18: P across.
Row 20: P9, *insert needle down through 5 loose strands, bring them up and purl them together with next st as before; P9; rep from *.

Oh, I did make some yarn purchases at Barb’s shop. I bought several skeins (i.e., a purposely unspecified number) of an interesting sock yarn that is made from cotton, bamboo, and silk, Hikoo CoBaSi. I do hope it’ll turn into some very comfortable summer socks.

I also bought a skein of a charming silk yarn: Silkindian Maharaja Silk Yarn. I might weave with it.

And I got 3 big skeins of Celestial Blue Faced DK, a Lucy Neatby yarn in “Easter Bonnet” colorway. I’m in desperate need of spring colors.

One other thing about this trip: On Saturday night, there was a banquet and fashion show. One of the event participants showed a dress that she’d knitted. I was completely wowed by it! I must get the pattern. It’s a Skacel pattern, “Zauberwolle B Swing Dress” . I will have one by the end of the year. I will. I will.