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.

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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.

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.

 

 

Day 7: Looking Forward

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One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

This could be anything from mastering a technique (broomstick lace, entrelac, etc), trying a new yarn or skill, or a long term wish to crochet only from your stash, or knit every stitch in one of the Harmony Guides. Maybe you have no desire or plans for your craft at all, no new element of knitting or crochet that you dream of mastering, in which case write about why that might be. In a year’s time participants will be asked to look back to see if they achieved any goals, no matter how general, and see which house conquered the art of looking forward.

Looking forward has always been a big part of the new year on my blog.  For the past few years I’ve been setting goals, for 2013 my goals are …

Quantities

  • Spin 5lbs of fluff
  • Use up 10 miles of yarn
  • Create 40 items (knit, crocheted or woven)
  • Knit 15 pairs of socks
  • Knit an adult sweater for myself

Techniques

  • Complete a project in Tunisian Crochet
  • Learn and complete a project that uses Broomstick Lace
  • Learn and complete a project in Brioche Stitch
  • Learn and complete a project in double knitting
  • Complete a tatting project
  • Give stranded colorwork another try
  • Complete the sampler in The Weavers Idea Book by Jane Patrick
  • Complete a weaving project using overshot techniques
  • Compete a weaving project for something OTHER than a scarf or cowl
  • Spin a semi-woolen yarn (long draw from a combed top)
  • Spin an “art yarn”
  • Spin a laceweight yarn
  • Give needle felting another try
  • Give DPNs another try

Yarn and Stash

  • Use my handspun yarns in knitting, crochet and weaving projects
  • Use more yarn than I stash — More specifically get my stash ratio to less than 1.0 for 2013 and try to get my lifetime ratio to less than 2.0 by the end of the year (as the end of 2012 it was 2.43)
  • Destash yarns I don’t absolutely love and probably won’t ever use

I’ve already accomplished a few of these goals, well I’ve knit a brioche scarf, woven a pickup stick sampler scarf, and I’ve finished 3 (nearly 4) pairs of socks.

A few others I’ve already tried and discarded, like giving needle felting a try.  I tried again and ended up giving away my needle felting supplies. Also, double knitting, unless I find a project I love I didn’t really like the technique.

So for the purpose of KCBW, my goal for the year is to make sure that I enjoy my crafting and that I didn’t push aside my enjoyment of fiber to meet some artificial goals.  Also, to make the Mascot Projects that I  wrote about on Day 2.

And as another successful Knitting & Crochet Blog Week draws to a close I have to give a big shoutout to Eskimimi for putting together a fantastic blogging event, here’s to year 5!

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.

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.

FIFO, FIFO, it’s off to knit we go

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So, if someone were to look at my workspace, kitchen, dresser, car, hard drive you would make an educated (and accurate) guess that I’m not an overly orderly person.  On the whole whole, my life has taken the “long way ’round”, totally without order or plan.  Which is why my obsession with FIFO (First In, First Out) is so deeply odd.  Although, I do eat the frosting (my favorite part) last when I get cake, so maybe not that odd.

For some reason when I get a new awesome yarn, I can’t just ball it and knit it, I feel the need to keep going with the oldest yarns in my stash.  I’ve been working on this issue, I managed to knit some TFA Red Label in Dove within 2 months of getting it, and it didn’t kill me.

So I’m stating it here, I’m not throwing away my goals for the year, but I’m taking them with a grain of salt.  My tendency would be to attack the list in order (and use the oldest yarns in my stash) and then see what I get to do for fun after the “work” is done.

I have finished, or released myself from, all my obligation crafting (knitting/crochet mostly) and I’m going to do what I want, when I want to.  For the rest of tonight, I think I’m going to sit down at my wheel for the first time in months, and maybe do some reading in my new copy of The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Design. Maybe later this week I will re-warp my loom, or not.  I’m going off script, and the adventure awaits.