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.

 

 

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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.

Public Health Alert: I have OFATAS

So after posting about my new loom, I got a really nice comment from siberianstarbeads warning me about a communicable disease that has been spreading, OFATAS or Obsessive FiberArts Tool Acquisition Syndrome.

OFATAS is characterized by the acquisition of needles, hooks, nostpinnes, spindles, wheels, looms, carders, handcards, combs, shuttles and all manner of fiber art paraphernalia.  Warning signs of the onset of this disease is an excessively large stash of yarn, fiber and fleece, as well as a growing collection of books on fiber arts.

Well, I have a serious case of OFATAS, which is quite visible by my growing stash of tools.  I have two full sets of interchangeable knitting needles (wood and metal), two full set of 32″ and 47″ sock needles (wood and metal), crochet hooks, a niddy noddy, swift, ball winder, blocking kit (mats, wires and pins), three spindles, a spinning wheel, extra bobbins, lazy kate, hand cards, rigid heddle loom, tatting shuttle …

I have it bad and I couldn’t be happier.

For me working with my hands with these tools to create objects, useful objects, frivolus objects, one of a kind objects is really gratifying.  Considering how much of my life and work exist only in computers and theory this is a very real thing.  I imagine gardeners feel the same way, their hands can create something great and special or woodworkers or painters.

The most important thing about these tools is that they not be garbage.  My great-Oma, always said “We are too poor to buy cheap things” and this is a mantra I have taken on for many things, from food (why eat garbage, real food is so much better), to computers, to shoes, appliances and fiber art tools.  I understand needs changing, but why buy a practice spindle for $30 when the one you really want is $80 and you are eventually going to buy it anyway, save the $30 buy just buying the good tool first, or the one that won’t need replacing.

So I have a confirmed case of OFATAS and considering that Cricket Loom is not likely to treat the condition for long, I think my next item will be drum carder but I need to get a permanent job position before that can happen.

What is that loom-ing on the horizon?


Photo Courtesy of Schacht Spindle Co. (as I don't have mine yet)

A new addiction perhaps?

Now that the weather is warming and I am trading my knit cowls for factory woven scarves/stoles/pashminas my mind starts to go to weaving.

When most people think of weaving they think of looms the size of rooms, and that is very much a part of weaving however I wanted to start weaving on a Rigid Heddle loom.

After much agonizing over which one, I decided to get a Schacht 10″ Cricket.  Partly because it was in stock and a quick ship, but also because I think I am going to enjoy weaving so I would like to get a larger loom later. Also, I wanted to make sure I didn’t “overbuy” and find myself with redundant equipment.  I was glad to find out one of my favorite yarn peddlers, indigodragonfly, is a Schacht dealer which is big trouble for me as Schacht makes some of the most awesome spinning wheels and looms.

I am now waiting for it to get in the mail and wing its way to me, I am hoping it will arrive before the Easter Weekend as my Staked Socks will be done (although it is seeming less and less likely that they will be done in March, but hopefully before the end of the weekend as I am only halfway through the cuff of the second sock.