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.

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Uh, oh here comes trouble

A Rainbow of Fun

 

Thanks to a few posts by Susan B. Anderson and some tweets I came across Rebecca Ringquist’s Etsy shop, and fell down the rabbits hole of embroidery.

I ordered the starter kit, as well as the paisley, colorwheel and the DIY Love samplers. I like the look of embroidery and also, it doesn’t really take up much in the way of space (unlike the table loom I’m borrowing right now and is sitting on floor in the corner of my apartment because I don’t have space for it).

So today, I headed to Orillia to run some errands and just go on an adventure (including a visit to Target).  One of my stops was at Michaels where they have an amazing wall of DMC threads.

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Also they have some amazing pearl cotton and tatting thread as well as six bijillion colors of embroidery floss.  After feeling quite overhwelmed, I started picking the colors that attracted me.  Then I started trying to balance out the tints, tones and shades to get a good mix.  I think I did alright.

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One of the great things about having a computer in your pocket (aka my iPhone) is that you can use photo software while you are in the store to take picture of your potential stash and convert it to B&W which will let you know if the colors will play well together in the finished object. I heard about doing this from quilters, but it works great for people interested in color work knitting and all the stitching arts where you don’t have a preset color palette.

 

I’m currently watching the New Girl and winding my floss onto bobbins, it is quite the relaxing way to spend the evening.

My spinning is also going well.  I started spinning Angel after finishing up yesterday’s post and I’m already more than halfway into the first 100g bag (which I’m trying to spin all onto one bobbin, so far so good) and her fleece is absolutely beautiful.  There is a bit of VM in the roving, but to me its a great reminder of where fluff comes from, animals.

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I’m not going to be able to make it to the Rosseau Market this coming friday, but Carla will be there so I may have to get her to get me more of this roving, there was one sheep who I didn’t get any from, and I may have to get it because it is such a joy to spin this fluff.

So my dropcloth goodies are getting mailed out this week so I should have them just in time for the busiest day of the year at work, so hopefully I can get stitch on it on my well deserved long weekend following that event.

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.

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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.

 

 

Meet Huggy

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Meet Huggy.

He is the new friend of my boss’s son. I know this because my boss texted me a picture of her son holding Huggy (as the monkey was named as soon as the son saw it).  Apparently since getting the monkey the night before he hadn’t let the stuffy go and was planning to bring it to school later that week for sharing circle.

The picture of Huggy at his new home warmed my heart.  This little boy, who is in Grade 1, and his whole family have been having a long spring.  Without sharing details that aren’t mine to share, the family has been having a tough time and there was really nothing I could do to help them, (other than be an awesome employee).  But I wanted to do something more and this is what I came up with.

I love when the things I make are loved.  Whether it is a dishcloth for my Grannie or socks for my mom, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to see the things I make in tatters because they have been used and appreciated. I think that is part of what appeals to me about knitting/crocheting/weaving/spinning is that the art I make is usable and is ultimately consumed by use.  I can’t imagine what amateur painters, sculptors, and others do with all the things they make.

Well Huggy, welcome to the world; I’m so glad you are so well loved.  And if you want I will make you more bowties in other colors.

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Project: Huggy the Monkey and Huggy’s Bowtie

Pattern: Owen by the Monkey by Stacy Trock of FreshStitches

Yarn: KnitPicks Brava Worsted in Umber Heather, Camel Heather and Red

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 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.

Day 3: Infographic – Stash Table of Doom

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There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information.

Make your own infogaphic (no fancy imaging software needed, you can draw it on paper and photograph it if you want) to convey any element of your craft(s). It can be just for fun or a thoroughly researched presentation of an idea/finding.

In Miles of Yarn

In Miles of Yarn

In yards

In yards

A ratio of 1 means an equal amount of yarn purchased and yarn used

A ratio of 1 means an equal amount of yarn purchased and yarn used

In grams

In grams

1.0 means equal amount of fluff in as yarn made

1.0 means equal amount of fluff in as yarn made

I blogged about the creation of these infographics way back last May, when I created the fiber tracking stash table of doom (or yarn tracking as it is so innocently named in my system).

But basically these are representations of the current state of my stash and is my way of feeling in control of my yarn stash.  These are tools to help me tell myself a story, also for some reason I really like creating tables and working with data.