Getting to Know You

Morning Sunrise

I’m in my new apartment and it is delightful. I’ve been spending the past two weeks getting sorted and organized in the new place.

I’m right across the road from Bass Rock, a park in Bracebridge right on the Muskoka River.

Bass Rock

Apparently the swimming is really good, but I haven’t been in yet.

Muskoka River

Also, the high water from our spring flooding is still evident in the really high flow of the river.

Not only have I been getting familiar with my new apartment (pics to come once the couch arrives) and neighborhood, I’ve also been getting comfortable with my new spinning wheel.

Claudia, my Ladybug, has been an absolute dream to spin on.  It’s like there was no learning curve to get the yarn I wanted from it, and in fact I have spun up two yarns in the past week.

Left: 2ply semi-woolen Aran weight - Shetland - dyeing by Northbound Knitting, color Pablo Honey. Right: 2 ply semi-worsted sport weight - blended batt of merino, BFL, bamboo, and angelina - dyeing by Bohoknitterchic.

Left: 2ply semi-woolen Aran weight – Shetland – dyeing by Northbound Knitting, color Pablo Honey. Right: 2 ply semi-worsted sport weight – blended batt of merino, BFL, bamboo, and angelina – dyeing by Bohoknitterchic.

The yarns turned out just the way I wanted them too and I’m really excited to actually make them into something. Because they have such similar undertone colors, and totally opposite textures, that they would make for a really interesting woven scarf. I’m not sure who wants to be the warp and who wants to be the weft, but they go together nicely.

My Ashford wheel has found her way to her new home.  One of the women in the Trillium Guild was looking for a more modern wheel to spin on because her heritage wheel is a little fragile.

So I’m getting settled in to my new spot and I’m enjoying the sound of spring peepers and my little deck from which I can see glimpses of the river and I can spend the evening reading or knitting and enjoying the wonder that is summer in Ontario.

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.

 

 

Inspiration to Spin

Amongst my spinning people

Amongst my spinning people

My wheel and I have had an up/down relationship, but thanks to a Spinning and Colour workshop yesterday held by the Trillium Hanspinners and Weavers I’m feeling much better about my spinning.

The first thing is, my wheel is not the best fit for me.  So I’m going to start looking for a new wheel and a new home for my Ashford Traveller (if you are in Muskoka/Parry Sound and are interested in a really great wheel leave me a comment and I will get back to you).

My Ashford Traveller

My Ashford Traveller

However, I’m still able to make some pretty amazing yarn on it.

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But with respect to the workshop, it was great to actual learn from a spinning teacher, in person.  I’ve been able to find lots of great books, videos and online instruction but they don’t “talk back” or help you correct errors, like criminally under-plyed yarn.

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Properly plyed (or even slightly overplyed) yarn just off the wheel

The theme of the workshop was Spinning and Colour and while the color instruction was helpful, for me it was learning way more about the wheel.  But on the color front I learned a few tricks for combining handdyed and solid rovings to help stretch special yarn.

The original multi on the far right, the two samples are on the left, where it has been plyed with a cerise red or a dark blue.

The original multi on the far right, the two samples are on the left are mine. I plyed my single  has been plyed with a cerise red or a dark blue.

I decided to give it a try with some of the leftovers on random bobbins from past projects, and I’m not totally sold on the high-contrast handspun, I prefer a painterly tonal look, but it is something different.

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The pink from the yarn showed above plyed on the Opuntia braid I spun up a couple of months ago.

So I’m going get back to my wheel and see what other beauties I can whip up before she finds her new home and I find a new wheel to make friends with.

P.S. The 4th year of the Knit and Crochet Blog Week is starting tomorrow and I’m going to be participating, so don’t be surprised that there will be posts here all next week.

Why craft when you can procrastinate?

So, through the month of May I had some big fun stuff going on of late, like deadlines for volunteer projects and job interviews, and projects I have to finish from my last job (I volunteered to finish because I wanted it done right).  During  that time I have been spending quite a bit of time at my desk, and instead of actually working I have been doing all sorts of useful things, like figuring out how much excess yarn I have, and how much each year since 2009.  Not because I’m embarassed, or think I need to buy less yarn, but because I’m crazy and love a good excel table, and I want to know how close my purchases match my use.

I managed to destash a bunch of yarn I was never going to use back in February and it felt great and it has put me on a stash kick, because by using up stash I can buy more of it, and much my yarn tastes have changed since I started knitting, so I want to use up what I have so I can get more of what I want!

So it seems that I’m doing really well this year, based on a ratio of yarn in to yarn out, in the form of knitting/crocheting/weaving/destashing (including handspun, which I only count once, as in just the handspun and not the fluff, I did my fluff/yarn calculations separately and based on weight not yardage).

Initially, I did these calculations in May, however I have been diligent in updating them as I have stashed yarn and fluff , and spun and finished projects.  As of July 1st, 2012 I have 46,038 yds (26mi) of yarn and 5.248 kg (11.5 lbs) of fluff.

Beyond the simple volume issue, there is the matter of the fact that if I knit a whole bunch I can stash a whole bunch, so the ratio between yarn in and out is more important on the side of things.

Now, it is important to note that a ratio of 1.0 means that I have acquired the exact same amount of yarn that I used.  Greater than 1 means I stashed more than I used and less than 1 means that I used more than I stashed.  Ideally, I’d like to keep my lifetime ratio to about 1.0, however that would require more destash and knitting than is feasible, so I plow on, being mindful of the ratio as I pick yarns to stash and projects to make.

As of July 1st, 2012, my lifetime ratio for yarn is 2.32 but for 2012 it is 1.37.

This is the lowest year yet with the closest being 1.85, from 2007-2009, when I was just in the early days of my knitting life. The hightest by contrast is 3.93, from 2010 when I discovered first KnitPicks and then Eat.Sleep.Knit and handdyed yarns other than Malabrigo like madelinetosh. I think my low 2012 is due to destashing almost as much yarn as I have knit.

For fluff it is lifetime, 2.64 but for 2012, 0.78.

My fluff is a bit better on the issue of scale but not in ratio, my fluff to handspun ratio is more like 3.26. In late 2010 I started spinning so I bought a bunch of fluff that I didn’t really spin much of till I got my wheel at Christmas 2010, so for 2011 I bought a whole bunch and spun a whole bunch, but mostly discovered all the goodies to be had out there, and hit it hard!

So what I am aiming for is for the next year or so, getting that number below 1, because then I am using more than I am buying, but to get the overall number to between 1 and 1.25.  Then I can have a nice sustainable yarn stash, full of things I love.

FO: Warm Winter Wishes

With a year of spinning behind me now, it took a good friend to make me knit with the yarns I have made.  My good friend Tiff was in town for the Dragon Boat Festival back in June and she admired the yarn and when we made plans to go camping/adventuring this weekend, I knew I had to make it into something for her.

I think the bear really makes the cowl color just pop.

The yarn I made it out of was a batt I got from Diana the genius behind Fiber Fancy.  The batt was beautiful, and soft and fantastic, and the color was just so warm.

The Fiber

I spun it into a really soft, thick/thing single. It was my first attempt at woolenspun yarn, however, it was really inconsistent. So in the areas that are silky it is thread thin and in the more alpaca-y areas it is bulky, so the simple lace pattern actually highlights the yarn really well.

The Yarn

I have had this pattern in my queue forever, and it was a great knit.  And it is just so wonderfully warm and fuzzy, the alpaca makes it warm and it has a shedd-y halo that just makes you want to pull it on.

The Unfinished Object

By the time this post goes up the recipient will have it in her hands, and I hope she loves it as much as I do

The Finished Object

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Project Name: Warm Winter Wishes

Pattern: Ptarmigan by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed

Recipient: Tiff, a good friend of mine

Yarn: Green Bean’s String, my handspun single made from a Fiber Fancy Batt, Winter Sunrise.

Modifications:

  • I stopped after row 20 of chart B so that I didn’t run out of yarn

New Skills:

  • None, although it is my first time knitting with my own handspun yarn.

Feedback: Nice pattern, and of course being a Brooklyn Tweed pattern, it is a great pattern and has beautiful photos and graphic design.

Re-Knit?: Possibly, however, it is a nice base for a new cowl design, the ratios are solid from cast on to bind off edge.

The back shows off how the blocking makes the handspun look so nice.

TdF: Finish Line

So, I crossed the finish line of the Tour, with three yarns, one short and fluffy, one firm and silky, and a spindle spun yarn.

My Three TdF Yarns

As a reminder, here were my goals:

  • To spin every day, for a minimum of 10 minutes
  • To spin one yarn with a pattern in mind, which means being intentional about my spinning technique, yarn weight and trying to aim for specific lengths.
  • To spin some silk successfully
  • To spin at least one yarn:
    -Long Draw
    -From the Fold
    -Chain Plyed
  •  To spin with intention, and make sure that no matter what I enjoy the activity
So I succeeded at a few things, I enjoyed all my spinning during the Tour, and I spun some silk on a spindle. I also spun most days, and I have learned how calming I find spinning and how helpful it can be at dealing with stress.

My Golding Spindle and a Tussah Silk Sample

I have been much more successful in the week following the tour than I was during the whole tour. I spun some  semi-woolen/long-draw singles, which I haven’t chain-plyed yet, also I  have silk singles spun on my wheel, soon to be plyed.

Three Bobbins Full: Two Silk and one BFL

I have even started my first art yarn, a corespun using crochet cotton and my Golding Ring Spindle to manage the core (something that was keeping me away from corespun yarns).

My First Intentional Art Yarn: well at least one that I didn't dread making.

I look forward to next year’s Tour, but I have a hard time putting aside my knitting and crochet projects to spin, so I think I need to clear my calendar so I have a clear run at my spinning.

On July and Checking In

So, what has the first have of 2011 looked like from a fiber perspective –

2011 FOs as of June 30

Fibery –

  • Don’t buy as much yarn as last year
    Getting there, although most of my stash acquisition was during the summer and fall, however, I have been more selective on what I buy which I think it the main issue of my stashing, it was somewhat mindless, now I try to get only things for projects and things that are too great to miss out on. I elaborated about my stash back on Day 3 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week and a few weeks earlier.

  • Spin regularly and improve my spinning techniques
    Since the start of the year I have spun about 1062g (or just about 2.3lb) of fluff.  I have spun from both batts and combed tops, done both woollen and worsted styles of drawing, done singles, two-plys, three plys and chain-plys.  I have even done some art yarn, although most of it has been a result of mistakes and flubs, although I did make a coil yarn, something I won’t do again for a while.  My spinning is getting more consistent, but I still have so much to learn and more bobbins to buy at some point.
  • Try out dyeing so that I can cut down the cost of spinning
    I have all the tools, but haven’t had the initiative  or the space to dye, however with it finally being summer I may try some outdoor solar dyeing.
  • Improve the techniques I learned this year, including stranded colorwork, lace and cables
    I have done some cables without a cable needle using Glenna C’s directions which rocks, and she has videos! I had originally learned how to do cabling without a cable needle for the Shifting Silt Scarf I made for my grandpa for Christmas. Also, I did some more advanced stranding (which better results) making my Endpaper Mitts this spring.  I did circular lace in my Christmas Shawl and short rows with my Annis Shawl.

  • Learn new techniques, like intarsia, double knitting, and others I have not thought of yet.
    I am a process knitter, as opposed to a product knitter, so I am drawn to new techniques. So far I have tried sock making, which has ended with me doing two at a time toe up socks. I made a pair of mittens where I just used the pattern as a guideline.

  • Try out crochet, I love the idea of being as bi (tri?) craftual as possible, or just become the Capt. Jack Harkness of crafting.
    I am crocheting and loving it, my crocheted hexagon blanket is moving along.

  • And, make a pair of mittens a month, like so many self-imposed sock of the month clubs.
    – I haven’t picked the patterns yet, but the first two pairs to finish will probably be my current WIPs (which include cabling for one, and colorwork/doubleknit for the other).
    -I think that half the mittens will come from the Woodlands Mitten Kit from Knit Picks.  Which includes six charts for mittens and enough Palette yarn to make them.
    This has NOT happened and is unlikely to happen, however I do need to get cracking and making the Woodlands Mittens, because I want to wear the October pair in October.
  • Document my fibery activities (knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing?, crochet?) with better pictures and blog posts.
    I think this has been happening, with my FO posts,  WIP Wednesdays and hopefully Fiber Friday starting up soon (the spinning version of WIP Wednesday) I have been more diligent about documenting all the fun I have been having.
So where does this leave us?  I am going to make some bold proclomations about the second half of 2011, which we will check in on New Years Eve so I can make my plans for 2012.
I will:
  • Knit something out of my handspun yarn
  • Spin a yarn intentionally for a specific project
  • NOT do any commission knitting
  • Make a fancy pair of socks (either a Glenna C or Cookie A pattern)
  • Make a pair of thrummed mittens
  • Design a Pattern

FO: Peaches, Theatre and Christmas

Peaches: Peachy Keen, DK (11 wpi), 55g, 70yd. Worsted Spun, Chain Plyed. My second chain plyed yarn.

Theatre: On Broadway, Sport (12wpi), 65g, 120yds. Worsted Spun, Two Ply. Was my first balanced yarn, needed very little blocking to hang straight.

Christmas: Orchid Christmas Twine, Worsted (9wpi), 40g, 40yd. Woolen spun, Chain Plyed. This is the inside of the orchid batt, and it was my first chain plyed yarn.