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.

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.

Looking for some inspiration

I have been in a bit of a creativity slump the past little while, between the stress of work, the stress of my contract ending in May and it being winter I haven’t been feeling the urge to create.  I finally started spinning again over the weekend, after cleaning and polishing my wheel (she is unfinished so I have to moisturise her on semi-annual basis).  I am not loving the yarn I spun.  It is too hard and picky, it is wensleydale combed top so it not surprising, but because my main style of spinning is inchworm, I have yarn that if woven could probably stop a bullet, never mind abrasion resistant, this stuff would abrade me if worn.  I like rustic wools, wool that still feels a bit like the sheep it came off, but because I spun this stuff worsted instead of woolen it doesn’t have any loft, whoops.

This all said I am in a bit of a spinning rut, so when I finally remembered to order Spin Art from Amazon it was a no brainer.  I have Get Spun, another art yarn book from Interweave, but this one looked different and it has a DVD.  While, I was there I picked up the Knitters Life List which I had seen a book store before Christmas.  It seems to filled with inspiration and mountains to climb, with suggestions about techniques and yarns that every knitter should try.

In addition to my spinning slump I am totally stuck on my knitting projects, and I have been trying to use up some of  the yarn that has been weighing on my mind and I the balls of yarn are the left overs from my crocheted blankets that I am thinking I am going to turn into Chubby Chirps, an adorable, free pattern from Rebecca Danger (who has the amazing monster patterns).  However after a week I have yet to cast on, so I need to get kicked into gear as it will fill my need for a quick finishing pattern and also use up some stuffing I have lying around.

I am also looking for inspiration in my non-fiber life.  My contract is up the first week in May and I don’t have anything lined up for afterwards, I am applying for jobs but nothing yet.  I am going to re-read the Sand Country Almanac because it inspires me so much and informs so much of my feelings on environment.  Maybe that will inspire me to finish Understanding Ordinary Landscapes, a book I skim read (a common crime of mine) in school that deserves a closer read.

Hopefully the new books will help kick me into fiber inspiration that will in turn fuel my personal inspiration, because winter isn’t over yet and having the blues during the winter just sucks.

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 Sliding and Flying

As a treat to myself, inspired by the Tour de Fleece, I finally got some accessories for my wheel, namely a sliding hook flyer and a lazy kate, and oodles of bobbins (for the new larger flyer).

The Lazy Kate shows how much larger the new bobbins are.

Neither of these things were totally necessary, I could make do with the standard flyer and the built in lazy kate on the front of my wheel, but it sure makes things are more fun.  Although I do like the larger bobbin, I can hold a full 4oz of plyed yarn on it, which is awesome!

The Sliding Hook Flyer in action, with a fantastic BFL top from Gale's Art

 

I ended up getting 8 bobbins (one came with the flyer), mostly because I wanted to be able to get into all sorts of trouble, and work on two projects at once.

Bobbins, bobbins, and more bobbins. I love this shot and all the potential it holds.

TdF: Week 2

So I am totally failing at the Tour de Fleece.  Never mind all those lofty goals I set, I am finding it challenging to spin every day, I didn’t spin at all on Monday or Tuesday. Never mind that I fell into bed at 9pm both nights, but I could not even bring myself to look at my wheel.

The reason I was so exhausted was that I helped out at the Angry Seagull 24-hour adventure race that happened in my town.  I was responsible for CheckPoint 7, which means I got a text at 2:30am on Sunday to get out to a spot about 5km south of town and sit there till noon waiting on teams.

 

My 2oz Golding Spindle with a Tussah Silk Sample from Gale's Art

I did get some spinning done, imagine the strange looks you get when you are sitting in the back of your car, looking like you woke up at 2:30 and have a spindle going.

I managed to spin and ply a small sample of tussah silk that I got from Gale at Gale’s Art back in the fall.

The three finished bobbins of Bohoknitterchic Merino/Silk that I have been working on for a week now.

Since Wednesday I have perked up on my spinning, first because a box of goodies I ordered from Gale’s Art back during the Postal Strike finally arrived and yesterday the Sliding Hook Flyer and Lazy Kate I ordered arrived.  I bribed myself that I can’t start anything with the new flyer until I finish up the singles of the Bohoknitterchic Merino/Silk that I have been working on for a week now.  So Thursday night I managed to get halfway through the second (of three) bobbins of singles.  I will use the new flyer to ply because the bobbins are so wonderfully large.

Between my 8 new large bobbins and the 4 old smaller bobbins, I now have the ability to get into lots of trouble.

The TdF is really poorly timed for me, as someone who works in recreational trail management, I spend most days in the summer either outside doing trail maintenance or figuring out what sort of work needs to be done next.  Also, it is currently the nicest and busiest time of the year in Parry Sound, with all sorts of activities from classical music festivals to dragon boat races.

However, I move on to week three of the Tour and it is time to see whether I will crash and burn any worse than the riders this year.

Day 2: Skill + 1UP – 2kcbwday2

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Last year for KnitCroBlog Week we were asked a question about what sort of skills we wanted to improve … Let’s see how we did (full post here)

The two main skills I wanted to learn/improve were spinning and continental knitting.

Check and Check.

My Spinning Wheel

My Handspun Yarns

While I don’t have a picture, I do pretty much knit continental by default. Only when things get really tough or I have a whole WS purl row to complete do I use throwing rather than picking. I do surprise myself at times that I move into picking hand shape by default when I pick up my knitting.

Generally, my skill level has improved, mostly from practice, but I also discovered blocking and swatching (well I knew they existed before that, but I only started practicing them regularly this past summer).  This has been an easy way to make my projects look and fit better without knitting more stitches.

This time last year I had done mittens, bottom-up hats, and entrelac.

My Knitting Before KniCroBlo Week Last Year

Since finishing up school in May I have made lace shawls, baby sweaters, top-down hats, Mobeus cowls, fair-isle hats.

Knitting from the Past Year

I don’t know where, but my father always quotes the fact that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become truly proficient at an activity (that works out to about 1 year, but taking into consideration the realities of life can be about 3 years of hard work).  I have put in quite a few number of hours knitting since last year, but I am still many, many years away from my 10,000 hours.  I also have expanded my color palette.

This year, some of the things I want to accomplish are re-learning how to crochet and planning a project from fiber to yarn to finished object.  As far as techniques, I want to work on my colorwork and double knitting and since getting Cookie A.’s Knit.Sock.Love. I have been tempted to try socks, or maybe see if I can turn one of her sock designs into a pair of mittens.  Oooh and dyeing yarn and fiber … and tatting and making art yarn and … you get the picture.