Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Teaching

The Summer Solstice was last week. It’s officially summer. And here’s my official summer teaching schedule.

In July, I’m off to Millersville, Pennsylvania for the MidAtlantic Fiber Association Conference, “A Kaleidoscope of Possibilities”. Dates are July 20-23, 2017. MAFA is a biennial event, with all workshops in a 2 ½ day format. In addition to the workshops, there is a marketplace, fashion show, and the keynote speaker this year is Madelyn van der Hoogt. 2017 marks my fourth time teaching at this conference. I’m teaching “Woolen-Worsted Continuum”.

In August, I’ve got my annual pilgrimage to the Michigan Fiber Festival. This delightful festival is held at the bucolic Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan. Workshops are Wednesday through Saturday, August 16-19. Some vendors will open on Friday, August 18. All vendors will be open Saturday and Sunday, August 19-20. Also on those two days, there are demonstrations, exhibits, fleece and fiber animal judging, and more! I’m teaching Wednesday – Friday: “Beginning Spinning at the Wheel” (sold out), “Knitting Petoskey Stones” (also sold out), “Diversity of Wool” (3 spaces left), and “Creating the Yarn You Want” (3 spaces left). So, I will have Saturday and Sunday to enjoy all the festival goodness.

September is the month for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, in Jefferson, Wisconsin. This is a terrific festival. Fiber, farmers, food. Fun! There are some workshops on Thursday, September 7. And the full festival continues Friday through Sunday, September 8-10. I’m teaching a one-day version of “Woolen-Worsted Continuum” and I will be teaching “Blending Board: Basics and More” twice!

At the end of September (ok, I know it’s officially past summer but it still may be warm enough to swim in Lake Michigan), I’m headed to Petoskey, Michigan to teach some knitting workshops at Cindy’s Northern Crafts. I’m teaching a full-day version of “Knitting Petoskey Stone Medallions” as well as two half-day workshops: “I-Cord Edges and More!” and “The Surprising Yarn-Over.” I stopped off at the shop in May to deliver my Petoskey stone wall hanging for display. 

I hope you can join me on some – or all – of these fiber activities.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day at the Museum

My visit to Indianapolis and the Midwest Weavers Conference, “Textiles at theCrossroads”, was a delight. After an 8-hour drive, I arrived late Wednesday afternoon. When I got out of my car, I was blasted by the 92degF temperature. Oh, and the humidity. But the fiber fun – and other fun – more than made up for the melting heat.

There are two things in particular I want to mention about the conference. First, there is a lot of volunteer work that goes into making a successful fiber conference. And I want to thank all of the volunteers for their efforts. They really helped me personally – to make sure I had my workshop space in order, to help me load and unload all my workshop materials, to direct me to locations of vendors, exhibits, coffee shop, and cafeteria. They were all tireless, cheerful, and effective. I do so admire them and, again, thank all of them.

The second thing I want to mention is my visit to a local museum. I had arrived a day early, so I had Thursday to spend as I wished. This is an unusual opportunity for me when I travel to teach; often I arrive, I teach, then I leave.

Nora, Tammy, and Nancy invited me to join them for breakfast at Café Patachou, followed by a visit to the Eiteljorg Museum. This museum has as its focus Western American art and Native American art and culture. I was mesmerized. I took some photos with my phone. I want to share some with you, even though some of the photos are fuzzy (or worse).

One of the first things I saw was a triptych of paintings by Wilson Hurley, “October Suite, Grand Canyon”. The paintings are large. They are beautiful. I was especially struck by the “blurb” posted next to the paintings. Here:

So, George James was wrong; Wilson Hurley was right. Here are the paintings.

Just after spending time admiring those paintings, I glanced at another which at first didn’t strike me as all that interesting – until I read the title of the painting, “Shadows”. Then I took some time examining the painting. It’s beautiful, and aptly titled. I can’t quite decipher the artist’s name from this photo.

In one of the rooms, there were several sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. I was quite familiar with Remington, but not of Russell. I have to say that I preferred Russell’s work to that of Remington. The pictures I took of the sculptures were a disaster, but here is some interesting commentary comparing these two artists:

The museum was hosting a special exhibit, “Dogs. Faithful and True”, that focused on the role of dogs in the West and in Native American cultures. There were several pieces that I just loved! And I loved reading the commentaries that were posted, such as these:

Here is a picture of a painting by John James Audubon, “Hare-Indian Dog”:

There was a magnificent bronze sculpture by Alan Houser in this exhibit. I loved that it was beautiful from all angles. Here is one picture (the others are too crappy to share), and description:

It was a marvelous day at the museum. I didn’t get to see everything before we had to leave. If I ever get to Indianapolis again, I will most certainly make another visit to this museum.

I arrived home late Sunday afternoon and was greeted by 72degF temperatures. Ah!

Something to look forward to: the next Midwest Weavers Conference, “Uncommon Threads”, is scheduled for June 17-22, 2019 in Grinnell, Iowa. I can hardly wait!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Three Weekends in a Row

How is it that the busier you are, the less you get done? I was home this weekend after being away from home the previous three weekends. I got some things done, but I still have some catching up to do.

My travel-to-teach season started three weeks ago when I drove north, across the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge), to Pickford for the Spring Fiber Fling. Travel went without a hitch; a small miracle with my aging car. In fact, I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. When I pulled up to the toll booth to pay my bridge toll for the crossing north, the toll worker informed me that the driver in line ahead of me paid my toll. That was the beginning of a sweet, sweet weekend.

The attendance was down a bit, but that was nice for me. I liked the extra room to spread out knitting and spinning projects at the lodge tables. It was fun to see what others were working on: beading, basketry, embroidery, quilting, crochet, and more. How delightful!
I taught two workshops: Variations on Long Draw on Saturday, and I-Cord Edges and More! On Sunday. I teach the long draw class a lot. It’s been awhile since I taught the I-Cord class; I’d forgotten how much fun it is. In the class, we knit a miniature version of a wrist wrap that I designed that features I-cords in several ways. Last week, one the folks who took that workshop, Åsa Chong, sent me a picture of a full-size wrist wrap that she’d finished. Here it is:

Another highlight from this trip: I bought a fleece from Selden Collins. She lives in Pickford, and she raises Corriedale sheep. Her fleeces are fantastic. I snagged Wilma’s fleece. Selden told me that she’s saving the fleece from Wilma’s twin, Willy, to possibly enter in the fleece competition at the Michigan Fiber Festival in August. Selden’s fleeces won best in show and other awards at last year’s Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I am so looking forward to playing with Wilma’s wool.

The following weekend, I traveled to Wooster, Ohio for my first time at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. Again, a nice, eventless drive. Except. On the way there and on the way back, I saw more dead deer along the side of the road than I have ever seen on any trip. Dead deer are not an uncommon sight in Michigan, but the numbers this time were first alarming then exhausting. 

The Great Lakes Fiber Show was Great! The folks in my workshops were enthusiastically engaged, so my teaching experience could not have been better. Oh, wait. Yes it could. And it was! My classroom was in the fairgrounds Dining Hall, near the Grand Stand and the track where there were harness race practices going on! I’d never seen sulkies in person before. It was very exciting for me.
Even though this was my first time at this show, I did see many friends that I know from other fiber festivals. I came to appreciate the practical advantages of gaining friends in the fiber festival circle: I got some excellent driving direction advice from Chris Roosien of Briar Rose Fibers (“Don’t pay attention to Mapquest. Going to Wooster, just follow US23 south to US30 east and that’ll take you right to Wooster – without a toll!”) and from Edie Bowles of Spinning Moon Farm (“Ignore the gps directions to the motel. Just take a right at the gas station and go straight through town and the motel will be on your right.”) These two bits of advice made a huge difference in my driving comfort.

Hey, on the way home at the end of the weekend, I was heading north on M115 and I noticed that The Frosty Cup is no more! I’ve been travelling along this section of highway nearly all my life. The Frost Cup was the place the family always stopped for an ice cream cone on either the way to the cottage or going home from the cottage. That joint had been there for over 50 years. When was it demolished? Anyone?

The following weekend I stayed in Frankfort to do some dog sitting. “Auggie” is a very handsome and fantastically well-mannered Weimaraner. I got to walk Auggie a couple times a day, which gave me an opportunity to learn a bit about Frankfort. It is a charming town. And how nice it is to get to a Lake Michigan beach with a 5-minute walk!

This weekend I had planned to catch up on chores: make granola, garden, laundry, put winter sweaters away. But, you know, I ended up watching Netflix and knitting. I’m nearly done with a vest that I’m making from some handspun.

Now I need to turn my attentions to the finishing touches of preparations for this week’s trip. I leave on Wednesday for Indianapolis and the Midwest Weavers Conference. The notebooks are ready. Today I’ll gather supplies, tools, and samples. More fiber fun! Woowee!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Used Loom For Sale

Let’s get real. I can’t do everything. I spin. I knit. I’ve done some weaving, mostly inkle weaving and rigid heddle weaving. I really want to do more inkle weaving. I really want to learn card weaving. I really want to do some tapestry weaving. I really want to do more rug hooking. I really want to get back to some sewing.

That’s a lot.

I do not have the same “really want to” attitude about weaving on my table loom. So, I’ve decided to sell it.

It’s a Schacht table loom, 4 harness, with a 25” weaving width. I came into possession of this loom 4 years ago and I have not used it at all. It’s probably vintage 1970’s-1980’s. I’m the second owner. It seems to be in very good condition.

In addition to the loom, I’m including two 11-inch boat shuttles, 13 bobbins, 2 extra heddles, assembly instructions that I’d downloaded from the Schacht website, and the book A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison.

The current retail price for this loom alone is $954. I’m asking $350 for the loom and extras. Pick up or meet only. I live in Interlochen, Michigan. You can contact me at atyler@centurytel.net

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Fling and Beyond

It’s been a quiet year so far for teaching. I have given a few private lessons, both spinning and knitting, and I will continue to do that. Next month begins my travelling for the year.

My first trip is to Spring Fiber Fling in Pickford, Michigan, May 9-21, 2017. This weekend retreat – hosted by the Country Spinners and Bridge Shuttlers  – includes camaraderie, food, shopping, show-and-tell, and workshops. I don’t get to go every year; last year I missed it because I travelled to Colorado to shoot some Interweave videos. I do so enjoy this weekend in May, partly because of the drive. North! To the UP!

I’ll be teaching two half-day workshops: Variations on Long Draw, and I-Cord Edges and More! You can find a pdf file of the brochure here.

That same weekend, a new fiber festival takes place in Petoskey, Michigan: Tip of the Mitt Fiber Fair. I’m hoping to stop by on Sunday on my way home from Pickford.

Later in May (May 27-28), I head to Wooster, Ohio for the Great Lakes Fiber Show. This will be my first time teaching at this event. I’ll be teaching Diversity of Wool, Beginning Spindle Spinning, and Spinning With Silk Hankies. How could I not have fun?!

June contains another trip, this time to Indianapolis for the Midwest Weavers Conference. This conference is a biennial event sponsored by the Midwest Weavers Association, with workshops offered over 5 days, June 11-17. The last time I attended this conference was when it was held in Hancock, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. I had a blast. And I plan to have a blast again this year. I’m teaching Creating the Yarn You Want, and Blending Colors at the Wheel.

That’s just the beginning. I’ll share more July-November events in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Stalled Sock Saga

I am no longer 60 years old. I turned 61 about a month ago. Perhaps you have noticed that I did not complete my self-imposed project of designing 12 sock patterns based on a cast-on number of 60 stitches. I have finished – and presented here in my blog – 10 of the 12. Only 2 more to go. I do plan to complete this project, albeit belatedly, but those 2 patterns will have to wait.

I am also a bit changed, and I have found it difficult to decide how to blog about it. Last November held 3 events that have been major life stressors. First, the election of POTUS45, an event which has kept my blood pressure elevated ever since. I do try to calm down. I do try to be civil. I do try to be active in expressing my concerns for the soul of this country. I do try to still find beauty in the glorious environment around me and in the heart satisfying fiber arts. It used to be that my near daily posts on Facebook were largely dedicated to fiber arts, all arts, and the special beauty of northern Michigan. I still share posts about those topics, but now I also make a healthy dose of posts about social and environmental justice. I try to stick to facts and calmly expressed opinion.

Second, I moved shortly after the election into the house that Dick and Jill built for me. It’s a beautiful house that I love. I’ve been heating with a wood stove this winter, and that has been so much more satisfying – and warm – than I expected. As wonderful as this all is, moving is a giant hassle. I am still trying to straighten out all my fiber stuff in the second bedroom.

Third, I started working part-time at a chain department store in Traverse City – on the very same day that I moved! My fiber arts schedule was unusually sparse this winter and I really needed some supplemental income, especially with a new house (and new expenses). This job has the advantage of being relatively low stress, but it has required more energy and time than I expected. At least I’ve been able to still buy groceries and pay some bills. The job has also helped me clarify my thoughts on the value of kindness, and the problems with conspicuous consumption and throw-away purchases. My last day at that job is April 5.

So, that’s why I’ve been on the silent side since fall. I am sorry for that. I will do better.

I’d like to mention two recent fiber-related events in which I participated. In February, I was one of three local fiber folks participating in a panel discussion at a potluck (I took some home made bread) sponsored by Grow Benzie, an organization whose mission is to enrich “.. our region by fostering positive action to increase access to healthful foods, jobs, life skills, and each other and by providing a community place that supports and nurtures these activities.” After the panel discussion and dinner, we got to watch the compelling movie, The True Cost about the social, economic, and environmental problems with current “fast fashion”. I was able to share my thoughts on the value of making, using natural fibers, and attending fiber festivals. It was a special evening that will stick with me and has prompted me to flesh out my thoughts on slow fashion.

Last week, I was the presenter at the March meeting of the Northland Weavers and Fiber Arts Guild in Traverse City   . The topic of my presentation: Drop Spindles. Now, I am much more skilled spinning on a wheel than with a drop spindle. But as I presented some history, showed various types of drop spindles, then demonstrated a couple of spinning techniques, I kept thinking that I really enjoy spinning with drop spindles and I really should do more of it!

I will soon write about my spring and summer fiber events as well as ongoing fiber projects. Soon. Really.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Used Lendrum Spinning Wheel and Accessories for Sale

In my ongoing efforts to simplify my life, I’ve decided to sell my Lendrum folding wheel and accessories. I got the “complete” package new in 2012: double treadle, regular flyer, 4 regular bobbins, tensioned lazy kate, plying flyer, 1 plying bobbin, drive band for plying flyer, and fast flyer.

Since then, I’ve purchased 3 additional regular bobbins (for a total of 7), and the very fast flyer (with one bobbin and orifice hook).

All parts are made from maple. This wheel has a Scotch tension drive mechanism, with drive ratios on the regular flyer of 6:1, 8:1, and 10:1. Drive ratios on the plying flyer are 5:1, 7:1, and 9:1. Drive ratios on the fast flyer are 12:1, 15:1, and 17:1. Drive ratios on the very fast flyer are 26:1, 30:1, 36:1, and 44:1.

I have not used the plying flyer or the very fast flyer.

I really do like this wheel, but I’ve got two other wheels that meet my wheel spinning needs.

The wheel is in excellent condition EXCEPT that I’ve written my name (A Tyler) on the bottom of the wheel, on the fast flyer, and on all the regular bobbins with a sharpie pen. I’ve also written the bobbin’s weight on each regular bobbin.

The current retail price of the double treadle “complete” is $790; the current retail price of a regular bobbin is $20, and the current retail price of the very fast flyer is $199.

I am asking $750 for all. I’d rather not ship, but if I did, buyer would also pay S&H and insurance (I’m guessing that’d come to $40-$75). I’ve got the original box, but not all the cardboard bits that go inside that box. So, I could ship the wheel in the original box and all accessories in a separate box.

I live in Interlochen, Michigan (zip 49643). If you are interested, you can contact me at atyler@centurytel.net 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

3 X 20 = 60

I know I’m behind. I did indeed finish knitting these socks in October, and I fully intended to post the pattern in November, but I just got too busy. Anyway, this is sock pattern Number Ten in the series of twelve sock patterns to celebrate My Year of Being 60 I have to say that I am especially pleased with this pattern. Its subtle texture and flow from one stitch pattern to the next resulted in a nice looking sock and a delightful knitting experience. And the pattern suits the yarn. Or, the yarn suits the pattern….

This sock has a stitch pattern with a repeat of 3 stitches. Twenty repeats of a 3-stitch pattern equals 60 stitches total. After fiddling around for 3 or 4 days, I made up the stitch patterns I used. The main stitch pattern is as follows:

Main Stitch Pattern:
Rounds 1-7: *k2,p1; rep from * around.
Round 8: *yo, ssk, p1; rep from * around.
Rounds 9-15: *k2, p1; rep from * around.
Round 16: *k2tog, yo, p1; rep from * around.

I used a delightful yarn, “Squish”, from Yarn Hollow in the color “Mushroom”, a subtly variegated grey. This yarn is 60% merino superwash wool, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon, with 434 yards and 4 ounces per skein. I used one skein. I got my gauge (7 ½ sts per inch) using US size 1 (2.25 mm) needles in the main pattern as described above.

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 21 sts on Needle 1, 21 sts on Needle 2, and 18 sts on Needle 3.

Rounds 1-3: purl.
Round 4: *k2, p1; rep from * around.
Round 5: *k1, p1, k1; rep from * around.

Repeat Rounds 4&5 until cuff measure 1 ¾ inches, end having finished a Round 5.

Repeat Rounds 1-3.

Next round (I am calling is a “wrap round”): *insert R needle between the 3rd and 4th stitches on the L needle from front to back, wrap working yarn around R needle; pull the wrapped yarn through to the front; place this loop on the L needle; k this loop tog with the first stitch on the L needle; k2; rep from * around.

Work in the main stitch pattern:

Rounds 1-7: *k2,p1; rep from * around.
Round 8: *yo, ssk, p1; rep from * around.
Rounds 9-15: *k2, p1; rep from * around.
Round 16: *k2tog, yo, p1; rep from * around.

Work these 16 rounds twice, then Rounds 1-15 again.

Round 17: “wrap round” as described above.
Rounds 18-20: purl.
Round 21: knit.
Round 22: “wrap round” as described above.

Leg of sock should measure about 6 ½ inches in length.

Heel Flap:
Knit 14 stitches on Needle 1. Place the next 31 sts onto 2 needles. Slip the last 15 stitches onto Needle 1. The heel flap is worked flat on the 29 sts on Needle 1. The 31 sts on the other two needles constitute the instep.

Row 1 (WS): sl1, purl across.
Row 2: sl1, k1, *sl1, k2; 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, k15, ssk, k1, turn work.
Row 2: sl1, p4, 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 17 sts remain, having finished a row 4.

Next row: sl1, knit across.

Pick up and knit 16 sts along the right edge 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 33 sts onto one needle. These stitches constitute the instep of the sock. Work these 31 sts following Round 1 of the instep pattern (see below).

Instep Pattern:
Rounds 1-7: p1, *k2, p1; rep from * to end of instep needle.
Round 8: p1, *k2tog, yo, p1; rep from * to end of instep needle.
Rounds 9-15: p1, *k2, p1; rep from * to end of instep needle
Round 16: p1, *yo, ssk, p1; rep from * to end of instep needle.

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

Onto this same needle, knit the next 8 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, 31 sts on Needle 2, and 24 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 2, continue working instep pattern as established. On Needle 3, knit.

Rep Rounds 1 & 2 until there are 15 sts on Needle 1 and 14 sts on Needle 3 (60 sts total).

After completing all the gusset decreases, continue working even, and continue repeating the instep pattern for as long as you want, end having finished either a Round 1 or a Round 9. (I worked 4 repeats of the instep pattern.)

Continue instep as follows:
Round 1: k1, *k2, p1; rep to last instep stitch, k1.

Repeat this Round to the very tip of the toe.

The toe is 30 Rounds total.

Because there is a different number of sts for instep and sole of the foot, Round 1 of the toe contains 2 decreases as follows:

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

This toe is then 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 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 30. On all other rounds (except Round 1 as described above), 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.

After all decreases, there will be 18 sts rem: 5 sts on Needle 1, 9 sts on Needle 2, and 4 sts on Needle 3. Now, knit the next 5 sts onto Needle 3, leaving 9 sts on Needle 2 and 9 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. Thank you.