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.

 

 

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!

Day 6: A Tool to Covet

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Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

Sorry for the delay in posting this, Friday was just nuts and yesterday I was up at 5:30am to get to Toronto for opening at the Knitter’s Frolic. Back to yesterday’s scheduled program.

Right now the fiber object I covet most is a new spinning wheel.  It’s not that my current wheel isn’t great it just isn’t great for me.  The treadles are too close together for my hip and so spinning for long periods of time makes my knees twinge.  I’m on a hunt for a new wheel and a home for my current one and right now I covet having one that works well for me.

Last summer I had a chance to spend some time spinning on a few different Schacht wheels and all three (the Ladybug, the Sidekick and the Matchless) all felt like a dream.  I found that the Sidekick worked best, however the higher cost and lack of versatility (no double drive) means that it is great as a second or travel wheel.  I think I want to get a Ladybug but instead of making the same mistake as last time, I’m going to try out a few different wheels before investing.

I think I’m going to head to Gemini Fibres one weekend in the next month or two as they have the best selection of wheels around.  The are about an hour and a half drive south of me so it will make for a nice Saturday adventure.

However, I’m using the guild loom for a table weaving class in June so if I’m not careful a table loom might be the next tool to covet or possibly a drum carder as I love spinning from carded batts.  What can I say, I have a problem.

Pick Up to Warp Drive

I love my little Cricket loom.  It is a powerful little bugger, and didn’t cost me a fortune (which is always appreciated), and I can make excellent, although narrow, cloth on it.

A person could spend a life time simply playing with color and plain weave on the loom, stripes and plaids and even houndstooth … but that world seems so limiting once you have taken a look at the awesomeness that is “The Weaver’s Idea Book” by Jane Patrick.

The Weaver's Idea Book

This books shows you that a rigid heddle loom can be even more magical than you would think.  While the two heddle projects are not possible for me (the Cricket is too small to accommodate a second heddle, but the Flip loom as designed for one)  there are hundreds of pages of ideas for finger controlled weaves and pick up stick patterns.

Yesterday, after many months of hemming and hawing I finally got the pick up sticks I had ordered from Paradise Fibers (who shipped to Canada at a reasonable cost and didn’t get hit with duty, which is a plus!).  I know you can make pickup sticks from paint sticks and pieces of wood, but I wanted something that was prepped for the job.  Also, I only wanted to buy them once, as in I didn’t want to find myself after spending time, energy and money making something spending that amount of money to buy them.

So tonight, I warp my loom with some of the sock yarn I have lying around and do a pickup stick sampler.  My plan is to warp the loom with my 10 dent reed, warping the full width and doing 48 ends of white and 48 ends of green (and working each pattern using first the white weft and then the green weft) so that I can see how the colors and textures work together.

I’m excited to get more out of my RH loom, as I’m going to get my chance to work with a table loom in the next few months.  My local guild, the Trillium Handweavers and Spinners based in Hunstville, Ontario, are hosting a workshop with Jette Vandermeiden and I’m signed up.  I will get to borrow a table loom for the workshop and I’ve been watching the Craftsy class “Floor Loom Weaving” with Janet Dawson to help get me oriented to these fancy beasts.

I know that I want a floor loom, someday, but for now knowing that I can do more complex fabrics with my Cricket and a couple of sticks is pretty impressive.

FIFO, FIFO, it’s off to knit we go

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So, if someone were to look at my workspace, kitchen, dresser, car, hard drive you would make an educated (and accurate) guess that I’m not an overly orderly person.  On the whole whole, my life has taken the “long way ’round”, totally without order or plan.  Which is why my obsession with FIFO (First In, First Out) is so deeply odd.  Although, I do eat the frosting (my favorite part) last when I get cake, so maybe not that odd.

For some reason when I get a new awesome yarn, I can’t just ball it and knit it, I feel the need to keep going with the oldest yarns in my stash.  I’ve been working on this issue, I managed to knit some TFA Red Label in Dove within 2 months of getting it, and it didn’t kill me.

So I’m stating it here, I’m not throwing away my goals for the year, but I’m taking them with a grain of salt.  My tendency would be to attack the list in order (and use the oldest yarns in my stash) and then see what I get to do for fun after the “work” is done.

I have finished, or released myself from, all my obligation crafting (knitting/crochet mostly) and I’m going to do what I want, when I want to.  For the rest of tonight, I think I’m going to sit down at my wheel for the first time in months, and maybe do some reading in my new copy of The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Design. Maybe later this week I will re-warp my loom, or not.  I’m going off script, and the adventure awaits.

2013 and Looking Forward

Not actually today but a close likeness

So, here we are at the end of the the first day of the year and I guess it is time to let all of you know what to expect from me this year, although if last year is any indication my results and my goals bear very little resemblance to one another.

This year instead of classifying by craft, I have set my goals by type.

In 2013, I want to …

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

So, it looks like I have a few awesomely cool challenges ahead of me this year, and I’m sure I will dream up a few more in the next 12 months.

2012 and Looking Back

2012 Knitting

For the last two years I have been doing retrospective and looking forward posts as the years end and begin, and this year is no different. I am using December 30th, as the cut off day for finishing projects in 2012.  Unlike last year I have some projects carrying forward into 2013 and I’m okay with that.

So 2012 in numbers looks something like this, 2011 and 2010 numbers are in brackets. Note, that this year I added a loom so these number include woven projects as well.

2012 by the Numbers:

  • 20.56 (14, 23) miles of yarn acquired during the year
  • 33 (22, 18) miles of yarn currently in my stash
  • 8.7 (6.2, 4.5) miles of yarn knit/crocheted/woven into projects
  • 1.82 (2.15, 3.93) Ratio of yarn acquired to used
  •  1,092 (2,771, 426) yards of handspun yarn
  •  2.5 (6, 5.7) pounds of spinning fiber acquired
  • 12.7 (12, 5) pounds of spinning fiber in stash
  • 1.37 (2.85, 4.68) ratio of stashed fluff to spun yarn
  • 1 (6, 7) pairs of mittens
  • 4 (5, 14) hats
  • 7 (3, 6) shawls or stoles
  • 10 (0, 3) scarves
  • 0 (2, 2) bags
  • 0 (2, 0) blankets
  • 8 (6, 1) cowls
  • 13 (3, 1) pairs of socks
  • 1 (10, 0) dishclothes
  • 2 (0,1) baby sweaters
  • 3 (0,0) toys

The big difference this year was the addition of socks, in a big way, to my repertoire.  Ultimately, I acquired more yarn this year than almost any other but I also used much more than any year.  I also had the smallest fluff acquisition ever, but I did hardly any spinning. I found that with my crazy work schedule I never was all that compelled to sit at my wheel, I’m hoping to change that in 2013.

So to see how I did on the goals I set for myself in January 2012.  I didn’t often look at this list when making decisions about what to make this year so, I think I didn’t do very well meeting my own expectations, but I had a great year in knitting, crocheting, weaving (and an okay year in spinning) so this is just an exercise in curiosity at this stage.

In 2012, I:  (goals I have met are struck through)

– Spinning –

  • Participate in the Tour de Fleece in July – NOPE didn’t even try
  • Spin a truly woolen-spun yarn – Not this year but I will try again next year
  • Spin a useable sock yarn – Didn’t even attempt this one, but I have some ideas on how to accomplish it.
  • Spin a 2-ply laceweight of at least 800 yds from 100g of fluff – Nope, another one for 2013
  • Spin at least 3lbs of fluff – I did 1.8 lbs, so more than halfway, which is good for not really spinning
  • Tailspin some locks – Nope, but didn’t get my hands on any locks so that was extra challenging
  • Spin hand carded fleece Yep, but I hated the yarn I was making so I just tossed it, but I do want to get a drumcarder one day because I do prefer spinning carded batts to combed top.

– Knitting –

  • Knit 12 pairs of socks during the year – I have all the yarn in my stash – YES, and you can read about all my socks HERE.
  • Finish one large shawl/stole, more than 1000yds of laceweight – Nope, I had nobel ideas, but none came to fruition, I am going to relist this goal for 2013 as I have a crocheted stole lined up to use about 1,200 yards of laceweight I hope to have done before summer.
  • Design a pattern that is appropriate for submission to an online knitting magazine – Nope, but again, I have some ideas that are at least suitable for self-publishing, something I want to set as a goal for 2013.
  • Participate in at least one Knitalong – This goal was kind of a gimmie, because I was already planning on participating in the January TFA KAL and then I went on to do several more through the year, one of which actually won me a prize.
  • Knit more than 10 miles of yarn – With 8.7 miles of yarn used, I am short of my 10 mi goal, but I think I still want to aim for it, because I have big plans for 2013.

– Crochet –

  • Start a sock-yarn Babette Blanket from my scraps – Nope, but I got a RH loom which I have been using to use up scraps and I LOVE it.
  • Crochet a shaped item (mittens, hats, shrug, etc) – AMIGURUMI are fun!  I had no idea that might be what I made in shaped crochet, but I have more yarn and patterns on the way to make many, many more.

– Fiber/Yarn –

  • Take undyed fluff and turn it into a finished object, which will included dyeing, spinning and knitting.
  • Process some raw fleece, preferably from a local producer.
  • Knit down my stash
  • FAILED on all these counts, however, a chaotic summer (with a daily 2hr, 100mile round-trip commute) killed some of my inertia to accomplish these during the summer.  

Looking at it I didn’t really accomplish many of my goals for 2012, however I don’t see this as a failure, but a representation of how hard it is to see into the future, when I was sitting at my desk in January, I had no idea that I would be where I am today.   So I will set goals for 2013 and post them here tomorrow, January 1st, but here are some of the things I accomplished this year which were not on my list for 2012.

Also in 2012, I:

I still have a few 2012 FO posts to share in the next few days as I get better pictures (or in one case block and take pictures, its a lace shawl so it really needs blocking), but I am ready to dive into a new year of fiber fun!