Seven Weeks of Summer

Growing up my parents always had some good sayings from my Great Oma (my father’s maternal grandmother), the main one was “we are too poor to buy cheap things” and another was “you don’t want to be a musician because then you are working while everyone else is having fun”.  I firmly believe in the former statement, I only want to buy things once and as a result I have nice equipment but I don’t feel the need to replace it frequently. As to the latter, this summer has been a great example of this.

Living and working in a place where people go on vacation is both fun and frustrating.

The fun comes from the fact that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world (at least according to National Geographic).

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Lake Rosseau in Minett

The frustration is more around trying to accomplish things when everyone else just wants to be at the cottage and far away from computers and cell phones.

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Abbey’s Bake House in Minett.

So on Saturday I ended up on a magical mystery tour, which is what my mom would call it when we would go off to an adventure to find some specific spot that was outside our usual stomping ground, or when we would get lost.  Magical mystery tours would often start with a goal and then have a moment of “hey, I wonder where this goes”.  When I was in university I would do this on the bus and on foot in Kingston (Ontario) and always had a good time.  This time I needed to go to the Village of Rosseau and instead of heading straight back I decided to take the twisty road that runs between Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph.  Then I saw the sign for Abbey’s Bake House, which is a bit of a local landmark, and I’m so glad I stopped.  Not only was it beautiful (as you have seen above) they have AMAZING butter tarts. No raisins or nuts and all butter tart goodness.

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Mmmmmmm…butter tart and knitting.

While sitting there, watching the lake, eating a butter tart and knitting I overheard a grandfather mention to his grandson that there had already been “seven weeks of summer” and asked if he had enjoyed them.

At that moment I realized that there had been seven weeks of summer and I haven’t gone swimming yet, or really done any summery things.  So I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this, but all I know is that according to calculations there are only about two weeks left of summer left and I want to get out and enjoy them.

And for those keeping track, I finished Carla’s shawl a week or so ago and I still haven’t picked a final pattern for mine as the one I wanted to make has a stupid cast on and I’m not burdened with an over-abundance of patience these days.

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Summer Slump

For the past couple of years I’ve found myself slowing down with my fiber habits and this year is no exception.  In the past I’ve associated it with different things, like a new job, always being on the trail, or just starting up with new hobbies, but I think after a third year of this I think I just don’t have mojo in the summer.

Work has been crazy and the last two weeks particularly so and while the heat from last week has broken, I’ve been totally listless in my fiber doings.

The one bright spot, is that I’m making some serious headway on Carla’s shawl.  I was hoping to have it done by August 1st, but that’s unlikely considering the week I have ahead of me, however I do expect it to be done in the next couple of weeks.

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Also, my Dropcloth samplers have arrived, and I’ve been playing around with embroidery, which has been lots of fun.

Four new samplers

Four new samplers

Just starting out

Just starting out

Getting the hang of the stitches

Getting the hang of the stitches

Doodling on my own

Doodling on my own

 

I’ve been sorta spinning.  I got a new coffee table (and a television) two weeks ago and I haven’t figured out the best spot to spin with the new furniture. But I’m making some headway on spinning Angel.  I want to have it done before our first guild meeting in September so I can show it off to Heather (the shepherd).  I don’t think I’m going to make it back to the Rosseau Market this year, so I may have to email her to see if she has fluff for any other of her sheep because they are an AMAZING spin.  Also, there are little bits of VM (vegetable matter, mostly grass) in the fluff which reminds me of where yarn come from and makes me smile.

 

Angel on the wheelI also tried to distract myself with a bit of crochet and for some reason I wanted to make the African Flower hexagons.  They are fun to make but my heart just wasn’t in it, so now I have some motifs with nothing to do, I might make a couple more and sew them together and give them to my friend Kristen’s two-year old daughter Taylor who can use them for a doll/stuffed animal blanket.

Crocheted Hexagons

I’m hoping to get Carla’s shawl/veil done soon because I still need to knit myself a shawl as well as I haven’t made a pair of socks in ages.  I’ve put most of my other knitting on hold to get this shawl done and I have a few things that have been taunting me for ages and stash that is just dying to be knit up.  However, my stash acquisition hasn’t been too bad this year (and I’ve been destashing slowly) so I’m not feeling the relentless push to keep up with my stash this year, which is probably good for my mental health.

Wait, when did June end?

There really is a Toshie picture for every possible situation.

There really is a Toshie picture for every possible situation.

This is the question I have been asking myself for the past week.  June has been an absolutely crazy month, first I moved my apartment, then two weeks later we moved the office.  Both these moves happened during the hottest, humid-est days we’ve had in a very long time.  It made for some very long days and some very early evenings.

Gifts from Muskoka I took home to Parry Sound for the long weekend.

Gifts from Muskoka I took home to Parry Sound for the long weekend.

Also, I haven’t finished anything (knitting or spinning-wise) in ages.  I’m hitting the part of the year where my knitting drive is at its lowest and I’m in the middle of a bunch of really long projects.

However, I did finally increase to the 576 stitch round on Carla’s wedding veil/pi shawl and so I figure I’m about 1/3 of the way done the project. It’s enjoyable knitting (and the 100% silk yarn is really nice) but I really want things to be perfect so I really have to focus on it. Also each round takes about an hour to complete at this stage.  While I have till end of September to finish it, I have to knit myself a shawl for the occasion and I really don’t like leaving things to last minute.

But June (and early July?!?) have brought all sorts of fun, on top of all the trouble.

On June 20th I got a chance to take a weaving workshop with one of the best teachers around, Jette Vandermeiden. Jette is a well known member of the weaving community and an excellent instructor.   The workshop was designed to teach Summer & Winter, a block weaving technique, but I used it as multi-harness weaving 101.  I’m eternally thankful to my fellow guild members who lent me a guild loom, loaned me a warping mill, taught me how to wind a warp, then how to warp the loom.

Summer & Winter block weaving from the workshop.

Summer & Winter block weaving from the workshop.

Jette was great to learn from, she not only taught (or re-taught) us how to hold our shuttles, deal with our selveges, but also the theory behind block weaves so that we can not only weave what she brought for us, but other block weaves.

I was interested in the sampler but I wanted to get more of a handle on weaving in general and thanks to the Craftsy class “Floor Loom Weaving with Janet Dawson” I have a whole bunch of twill drafts so I decided to cut off my Summer & Winter sample and re-threaded for a twill and keep playing.

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I tried out a few different patterns but found that I really enjoyed the look of a 3/1 Point Twill so I kept playing with that technique.

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But it hasn’t been all weaving.  Yesterday, I made my way to the Rosseau Market, which is an amazing market with farmers and hand crafters and bakers and my favorite booth, Pondering Rock Farm.

Pondering Rock Farms

Pondering Rock Farm is the family farm for the Darlingtons and produce yarn/fluff, handknit socks, honey and amazing nature photography.  Heather is the one who manages the sheep and yarn and is a wonderful shepherd, spinner, knitter and fellow guild member.  I stocked up on some yarn and fluff from her sheep.

Pondering Rock Treats

The yarn is a worsted-y weight wool/alpaca (75%/25%) blend that comes from a sheep named Nipper, who is grey but blended with a tan/fawn alpaca.  I also got 200g of that fleck-y creamy coat from Angel, one of Heather’s sheep who died in the spring, there are little flecks of grey and dark brown in her cream coat.  The last bundle of fluff (400g worth) is from Mocha, which is a great description for his coat.  My plan is to spin it into a fingering weight yarn and use it for a Brooklyn Tweed pattern in place of Loft.

Booth 1 Booth 2

There were Unfortunately Heather’s booth isn’t quite as jampacked with fantastic wools as in past years, as she had much of her fleece at Belle Valle when they had the fire.  She lost a huge portion of her 2011 shearing she was telling me that she will be pretty well wiped out by the end of the season.  Although she is already talking about next year’s blends, including a wool/alpaca blend lace (well light fingering/heavy lace) that will be a great substitute for Loft.

So that should have us pretty well caught up to the present, hopefully I will be getting a few more things done in the next month.

Previously on …

So I’ve been having a wild and crazy month, and after enjoying/squandering my day watching the new Arrested Development I feel the need to do a bit of a recap on my life for you folks.

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L to R: Sudden Valley, Rita, Hey Brother, Caged Wisdom

So after learning about Nancy passing away I went on a bit of a yarn binge and bought a whole bunch of the Arrested Development themed sock yarn from Cakewalk Yarns.  She was having a sale and I was having a rough day and I ended up placing an order.

I also placed an order with Tanis (of Tanis Fiber Arts) and got more yarn. And the May club shipment showed up as well, but Carla and I did a swap so that each of us could make a large shawl out of the club skeins.

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But I did finish a pair of socks, this pair is from the TFA Year in Colour Club shipment.  The color and the pattern were named Patina.  The color is exclusive to the club but the pattern will go on sale sometime next year.

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Meet my new wheel, Claudia. She is named for Lady Bird Johnson, who was actually named Claudia and founded the Wildflower Center in Austin where I worked and does amazing work. She was a neat lady and it seemed a good a name as any.

I also have a new addition to the family.  I had a Monday off a couple of weeks ago and I made the drive to Gemini Fibres to try out different wheels and figure out which one I wanted.  Instead of waiting, I decided to take home my new wheel, a Schacht Ladybug.  I strongly considered the Lendrum Double Treadle wheel, but the Ladybug really was the best fit.

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We are already making beautiful yarn together.

 

I’ve also cast on for a new pair of socks, but my knitting mojo is totally bleh right now.  Which is very unfortunate because I have some serious knitting to get done.

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I’m looking forward to knitting and wearing these socks, the pattern is Harvest Dew by Rose Hiver and the yarn is Muskoka Sunset from Blueberry Pie Studio.

On top of that knitting I have a wedding shawl to knit for my sister and a shawl for me to wear at her wedding.  I had cast on several weeks ago with the beautiful gold yarn she had ordered from Sweet Georgia Yarns, but I couldn’t make myself knit it.  However, my reticence was a good thing, because after some serious wedding planning with Carla and our mom last weekend we realized that it would be better for me to knit a pi shawl out of a cream colored yarn to be used as a veil rather than a shawl. The pattern I’m using is Heliotaxis Pi Shawl by Renata Brenner and the yarn is an undyed silk from Handmaiden Yarns that Carla bought on her trip down east last summer. I ordered a second skein so that it will be a full sized pi that can be used for future big events, like babies.

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Another big thing going on is that I’m now a proud owner of two boat shuttles, because I’m borrowing one of the Trillium Handspinners and Weavers Guild Dorothy table looms for a workshop with Jette Vandermeiden in June.  The guild had the  loom but not shuttles, but now I’m worried I’m going to enjoy multi-shaft weaving a bit too much and want a table or floor loom.  Also, the guild has a brand spanking new website, www.trilliumguild.com, which I created.  It’s still a work in progress, but this is a big step forward.

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The biggest thing going on, and a likely cause for my lack of crafting mojo, is that I’m moving on June 1st.  I found an apartment in Downtown Bracebridge, within walking distance of work with a balcony that faces the Muskoka River.  I’m currently in the process of packing all my things and getting ready to go.  But living in the mess I’ve created is really impacting my mental health.  The new spot is amazing.  It doesn’t have nearly as fancy floors but it has closets and cupboards that close and I can store my yarn in a far more useful and attractive way. I can’t wait to get moved into my new place and get my life back to normal again.

So, today was a great day of packing, Arrested Development and an impromptu visit from Carla and Jim (which included lunch at the Old Station, a peek at my new office and a trip to the Muskoka Brewery’s new location). I’m hoping this week goes quickly because I wanna get moved and get out of the mess I’ve made for myself in my apartment.

 

 

And on the seventh day

I have enjoyed many of Paulo Coelho’s books, starting with The Alchemist, his best known work.  I heard it first when I was at summer camp as a teen and it was read out loud to us each day at lunch.  I know that sounds cheesy but it was an amazing opportunity to take a mid-day break and stories read aloud are really special.

Paulo has written many other books over the years and most are variations on a theme but one theme (and set of books) I have been thinking about is his “On the Seventh Day” series where he drops the reader into the life of a character for just a week as the protagonist experiences transformative change. The idea being that everything can change in just one week.

While my week has not exactly been extreme, it has been a “helluva” week (for lack of a better term).  Last Saturday I was at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto and enjoying a wonderful day with my sister.  Sunday was equally quiet, but then Monday I found out I got a new apartment in Bracebridge, which lead to a week of signing a lease, notifying my current landlady, making arrangements for moving and all that.  At work I was in 5 days and working like mad because we had two big events this week, saw the new office space we are moving into in June, making plans for the other large events we have coming up in the next few weeks.  And the big bomb dropped Thursday, when I found out that a woman who I sang with in the choir had died of cancer that morning.

Well, that pushed a busy week into an overwhelming week, oh and cancer fucking sucks.

Nancy, who was in her 60, was a friend of mine.  We were in the same section of the choir (2nd Soprano/Lead in barbershop arrangement) and often butted heads about pitch and timing.  She was a incredible, wild, amazing woman who gave so much to her community and sang her heart out, despite only being on pitch some of the time.  She knew she wasn’t a gifted singer, but what she lacked in natural ability she made up for a thousand times in spirit, caring and general gusto.

Since finding out on Thursday I’ve been intermittently crying (which I am right now as I write this) and singing some of her favorite (and a few of her most hated) choir songs.  Her funeral is tomorrow and so I’m heading to Parry Sound this afternoon to spend a bit of time with my sister today.  I will be singing with the choir at the service.

It feels like a lifetime ago that I found out I got the amazing apartment.

Oh and knitting, I do that too, but with all the upheaval this week and spending time at the gym I haven’t made it very far into my knitting.  I’ve nearly finished another pair of socks (half a foot and two toes) but I started up a new shawl with some of the madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Astrid Grey I got at the Frolic.

Astrid Grey

 

I also rescued a few items from the frogging pond, and already had several other project on the go.  Oh and I need to make sure that I have Carla’s wedding shawl done before the leaves start changing color so I have time to make my shawl as well.

So, seven days.  A whole lot can happen in seven days.

Day 7: Looking Forward

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One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

This could be anything from mastering a technique (broomstick lace, entrelac, etc), trying a new yarn or skill, or a long term wish to crochet only from your stash, or knit every stitch in one of the Harmony Guides. Maybe you have no desire or plans for your craft at all, no new element of knitting or crochet that you dream of mastering, in which case write about why that might be. In a year’s time participants will be asked to look back to see if they achieved any goals, no matter how general, and see which house conquered the art of looking forward.

Looking forward has always been a big part of the new year on my blog.  For the past few years I’ve been setting goals, for 2013 my goals are …

Quantities

  • Spin 5lbs of fluff
  • Use up 10 miles of yarn
  • Create 40 items (knit, crocheted or woven)
  • Knit 15 pairs of socks
  • Knit an adult sweater for myself

Techniques

  • Complete a project in Tunisian Crochet
  • Learn and complete a project that uses Broomstick Lace
  • Learn and complete a project in Brioche Stitch
  • Learn and complete a project in double knitting
  • Complete a tatting project
  • Give stranded colorwork another try
  • Complete the sampler in The Weavers Idea Book by Jane Patrick
  • Complete a weaving project using overshot techniques
  • Compete a weaving project for something OTHER than a scarf or cowl
  • Spin a semi-woolen yarn (long draw from a combed top)
  • Spin an “art yarn”
  • Spin a laceweight yarn
  • Give needle felting another try
  • Give DPNs another try

Yarn and Stash

  • Use my handspun yarns in knitting, crochet and weaving projects
  • Use more yarn than I stash — More specifically get my stash ratio to less than 1.0 for 2013 and try to get my lifetime ratio to less than 2.0 by the end of the year (as the end of 2012 it was 2.43)
  • Destash yarns I don’t absolutely love and probably won’t ever use

I’ve already accomplished a few of these goals, well I’ve knit a brioche scarf, woven a pickup stick sampler scarf, and I’ve finished 3 (nearly 4) pairs of socks.

A few others I’ve already tried and discarded, like giving needle felting a try.  I tried again and ended up giving away my needle felting supplies. Also, double knitting, unless I find a project I love I didn’t really like the technique.

So for the purpose of KCBW, my goal for the year is to make sure that I enjoy my crafting and that I didn’t push aside my enjoyment of fiber to meet some artificial goals.  Also, to make the Mascot Projects that I  wrote about on Day 2.

And as another successful Knitting & Crochet Blog Week draws to a close I have to give a big shoutout to Eskimimi for putting together a fantastic blogging event, here’s to year 5!

Six Months From Now

Toshie

This little puppy, Toshie, is going to have married parents.  My sister Carla and her … Jim …  (I find the word fiancee a bit overwhelming and betrothed is just pretentious) are getting hitched on October 5th, and I’m so excited and happy for them.

So I have a big project ahead of me, I’m knitting her a wedding shawl. It is 100% silk lace custom dyed by Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns and it showed up late last week.  I’m not sure of all the logistics from the dyeing, I’m just the knitter, but her shawl is a gorgeous gold color.  As a gift to me as her Knitter of Honor (and also I’m signing for her) she got me some silk lace yarn to make a shawl for myself in the other wedding color, aubergine.

So I’m still finalizing the pattern I’ll be knitting both these yarns into, but there are so many choices and I really want it to suit the dress (which is super pretty but a secret until the big day). So I will be spending a few more hours trolling Ravelry and deciding what I want the gorgeous yarns to become, but I will be casting on soon because I need this to be done by the mid-summer so I can finish up my own shawl and whatever wedding knitting comes my way.

Two weeks, three pairs

After not finishing a pair of socks for me since last August (during the Ravellenic Games) I finished up two pairs of socks for me and a pair for my sister Carla.

I love making socks, but it took a little kick in the pants to finally get back into the swing of things. I find them the perfect project.  They are small projects (meaning they are quick to finish when I actually work on them), but they can be intricately detailed (but they are knit in the round so all knits), and they eventually wear out which means you can keep making more.  I’m finding I’m reaching critical mass of scarves, shawls and stoles, they spend far too much time in a chest by the door and I forget to wear them.

So I’ve already cast on for my next two pairs, because I really need to alway have a pair on the go.

My latest pair of socks, Patina Socks from the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club.

My latest pair of socks, Patina Socks from the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club.