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.

On Books and Shelf Space

I love books.  Full Stop.  However, since moving a half dozen times since I went to University, I am somewhat hesitant about collecting books because they weigh so damn much.  Since starting knitting I have started a small book collection, choosing very deliberately to make sure they are good ones.

With the existence of Ravelry, independent publishers like Cooperative Press,  fantastic online knitting magazines like Knitty, Twist Collective, and Knitcircus (I know there are more but these are my three favorites) and designer blogs I have very little need to buy traditional pattern books. In fact, if a pattern is only available in a printed book, I am likely to just go find another one.  I am happy to pay for good content (you can ask my bank account every time Ysolda, Anne Hanson, or Jared Flood come out with something new and fantastic), but I don’t want to have to carry a book when I can just save a pdf instead.  In fact, I am willing to pay more to NOT have a book, considering that a book with 15 pattern could run around $20,  makes each pattern cost just over $1, while I am fine with paying anywhere up to $8 for a single pattern, if it is the right pattern.

So the books I have on my shelf are either technique books, informational books, or pattern books that are so beautiful I want to put them on my coffee table (I’m looking at you Knit.Sock.Love by Cookie A).

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to share the contents of my knitting book shelves and share which books I would leave behind with my local library when it is time to move again (and it seems I move about every 3 years, so that will be sometime in the next year or so).

Here are a few of my absolute faves to start out with …

The Harmony Guides:

I have a complete set of The Harmony Guides, the final book Basic Crochet Stitches arrived yesterday!

The first one I picked up was the Cables and Arans book at Book People in Austin.  Living in Austin seems half a lifetime ago, but it was only two years.  Since then I have picked up the rest.  I really like the selection stitches and the fact that they are themed, because when I want cables, I really don’t want to look through lace.

My only wishes would be that the patterns be listed in some sort of logical order, like alphabetical or by size of repeat, and that more of the designs were charted.  I do like that the crochet motifs are largely charted, as I don’t know how to read crochet chart and having both in front of me would make learning how to read charts much easier.

The Knitters Book of …:

The Knitters Book of Wool was my first introduction to the specifics of wool, crimp, micron, breeds, spinning style, were all introduced to me in an easy and fun style. The “Yarn” book has so much information about how the type of yarn, from weight to fiber content to spinning style directly impacts the finished object. The “Socks” book is just as wonderful and informative as the others, giving all sorts of crucial details on why to make socks and how to make them to work best.

Oh, and in addition to fantastic information Clara Parkes, of Knitter’s Review, has included an excellent collection of patterns by some of the biggest names in knitting, including Cat Bordhi, Evelyn A. Clark, Nancy Bush, Adrian Bizilia, Nora Gaughan and Clara Parkes herself.

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

This book is awesome.  I still haven’t even scraped the surface of the information in this book. But it takes The Knitter’s Book of Wool to the furthest extreme, highlighting every breed of fleece bearing animal, and showing off their original form and then their yarn pre-wash, washed, carded, spun and swatched.  Book like this remind us that there is no such thing as wool, as a single monolithic entity.  I feel like this is the handbook of wools, and while a person could knit and spin for a lifetime without knowing these things, it would be like a cook not knowing how plants are grown and animals raised, you can do it, but knowing your materials makes you a better artist.

These are just few of the books on my shelf, but some of my favorite.  They are key reference books that I find myself going to when I need a question answered or to look for a stitch pattern to start modifying pattern to my liking.