Fibrary from Fibre East

Deb Robson’s 2-day Introduction to Wool Types at Fibre East was fantastic. It wasn’t exactly a beginner class, but I was helped and encouraged to keep pace and gained some great skills. After all, I only learned spinning so I could take this class!

Everyone else there was an experienced spinner and most brought their own wheels. They knew much about breeds already, and Jane of Woolsack.org is even a shepherdess with her own flock of Boreray up in Orkney. I was well in the deep end, and they were swimming, while I was wearing inflatable arm bands. I did get lots of help with my spindling, from other workshop attendees, and Deb showed me how to use the tools. It was amazing and worth every minute.

So much more to say about the workshop and Fibre East, but I wanted to start *somewhere*.

Meet My Fibrary

We came home with many samples. I said to my husband that I now owned a fibre library, to which he said, “You mean A FIBRARY?” Indeed!

Deb had organized them to contrast differences in the down breeds with longer locks; and samples with kemp and hairs so we could recognize them and understand how to work with them. We each got a small sample bag and a ‘tasting notes’ card. Deb encouraged us to open the locks, inspect the crimp and try different preparations.

In that way it reminded me of wine tasting. The contrast helps you compare and discern differences you might otherwise miss if you lumped “down breeds” together, for example. I loved the crescendo on Day 2, looking at the crosses, and learning about breed development.

This photo shows the samples we received, and in the order we reviewed them. I’m heartbroken my Lonk sample was lost :(

Fleece for Deb Robson's workshop

  1. Rouge
  2. Hampshire Down
  3. Ryeland
  4. Hebredian
  5. Romney
  6. Lincoln (no pack sample, but a lock was handed out)
  7. Oussant, two colours.
  8. Texel
  9. North Country Cheviot
  10. Badgerface (Day 2)
  11. Lleyn
  12. Lonk (lost this sample, so sad!!)
  13. Soft Fell
  14. Saxon Merino
  15. Corriedale
  16. Polwarth (samples handed out, but not in a sample pack)

Here you can see a sample card showing Soft Fell, and as you can see I didn’t even get to finish my tasting notes. We had to move pretty fast. This is the sheep of the week in the Ravelry Blacker and Beyond group, where you can find notes and pictures about this special sheep. Not yet a recognized breed I think?

Soft Fell - Deb Robson's workshop at Fibre East

Pretty much everyone oo’d and aah’d!

Until now, I only used commercially prepared combed top. My attempts to MacGuyver tools out of household combs and cat brushes were not successful before, (try making a tiny rolag on a cat brush with combed top, when you have no idea what you’re doing).

Fleece prep tools

When I checked my bag, the attendant asked if I had anything sharp in it. Uh.. yep.

Adding to my fibrary

I also added to this by getting a range of fibres from Griffiths Mill, adding to my fibrary even more. They process small batches of fleece, sell their own yarns and fibres from many British breeds, and raise awareness of rare breeds for conservancy. It’s an amazing service they provide for small holders and spinners alike. Looking forward to playing with these :)

  • Border Leicester
  • Kerry Hill
  • Lleyn
  • Polwarth

 

And I bought a fleece from Michael at http://sheersheep.co.uk/ 

OK, OK… I bought TWO. But the second one isn’t here yet, (so it doesn’t count?) One is a Corriedale, the other is from Daniel, a cross: Llenwenog (mom) x Oxford Down (dad). I will write more about Daniel and seeing him shorn, and all about picking the fleece…  but already this post is too long, I have fleece to wash!

Look at this lovely bag :)

fleece-corriedale-bag

This is the corriedale from http://sheersheep.co.uk/

I’m following Deb Robson’s instructions for washing fleece.

The big points: (1) Don’t worry. (2) Don’t agitate. (3) Don’t let the water cool off too much between baths.

I nicked a couple samples of the Power Scour she had on hand :) So that is getting me started. It smells lovely! Right now I’m on the 2nd wash, and I’ve got a rinse or two to go.

fleece-washing

Getting ready to wash fleece for the first time!

Time to go rinse!

Lightfrost shawl in all Fyberspates yarn

This pattern, Lightfrost by Louise Zass-Bangham, alternates silky stripes with translucent stripes. My recent attempts at other knitting projects reminded me I’m still very much a beginner. So I decided to try this super simple triangle shawl. The graphic effect of the stripes is a good pay off for something rather simple. I’ve also learned I really like sh*tloads of stockinette, and I’m OK with that.

lightfrost shawl finished

Some modifications

The original pattern calls for Debbie Bliss Party Angel, (4% Metalized Polyester, 72% Mohair, 24% Silk) for the contrasting (transparent) colour. But around the time I started thinking about this pattern, Fyberspates came out with Cumulus, (74% Alpaca, 36% Silk). It’s a heavier weight and less yardage than Party Angel.

It’s also *exactly* the same colour as the main yarn. This means the design has a more subtle effect. Because of the yardage, I needed two balls of Cumulus. I wasn’t able to finish 8 rows of the final repeat. So it was pretty close. You could possibly just skip the last repeat if you wanted. But I really wanted to stick to the pattern.

I cast off with an “Icelandic bind off” which I found in the “Cast on, Bind off: 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting” book. It comes out sort of “round” on the end, and it blends nice with garter. It was listed as a stretchy bind off.

icelandlic-bindoff

I hadn’t worked with something so light and fluffy before, but I loved Cumulus. Though it was hard to read. I did realize much later that I had dropped stitches, which meant ripping out 10 rows of knitting

20140618-085949-32389499.jpg

dropped two stitches. trying to show where this was.

I was at a knitting meet-up at the time, and generally we all thought it would be impossible to rip out. But it came out smoothly, which was shocking. Maybe it’s because of the loose gauge? Frogging was bit of a set back, but I learned to be more careful in checking my stitches more frequently.

I liked the idea of buying the yarn from the same company, and supporting them. Here’s a nice interview that the designer Louise did with Jeni from Fyberspates. Jeni’s very driven and works pretty hard. Her mother also works with her dyeing yarns. Though I think Jeni is stepped back from hand dying so she can grow and scale her business. Pretty exciting!

About the designer: Louise Zass-Bangham

Under the label “Inspiration Knits” and for her clients, Louise has 50 tempting patterns. Many accessories, which is nice! I also bought the Song of the Sea cowl pattern. I had seen the stitch pattern elsewhere, but I liked how she had graduated the sizes of waves.

Louise is hosting a mystery cowl KAL, which released clue-by-clue on her blog. The Fyberspates team recommens some yarns for the mystery cowl KAL. We’ll see how I get on with other projects, but it would be nice to pick up some Fyberspates in person at Unwind :) Which is tomorrow!

I wanted to post this FO so I can say I have at least something done. I suspect it’s so I can justify a yarn purchase. Eeek!

 

 

lightfrost1

p/hop: putting the fun in fundraiser at unwind brighton

So Saturday morning, at Unwind Brighton you can find me at the p/hop table from 11am. p/hop is a knitting fundraiser for MSF. The slogan is pennies per hour of pleasure. There are volunteers slotted in all day, so the load isn’t too much for anyone.

“Choose your pattern, enjoy your knitting, make a donation. Turn your joy of knitting into vaccines, midwives, malaria treatments… See more at: http://www.p-hop.co.uk/”

There are currently 52 patterns you can purchase via donation. The first time I heard about p/hop was when I saw this lovely Southfields Sweater design by Miranda Jollie. They’ve done really well! Raised: 95% of target £45,325.47 raised of £47,500.00. I’m curious to find out how much they raise this weekend.

Volunteering for selfish reasons is OK, right?

They do calls out for event volunteers on their Ravelry group: p/hop. If you’re going to an event and have some extra time, do check it out.

I have to admit, I offered to help partially for selfish reasons! I have a fear of going to events and not talking to anyone and just being my generally shy self. I remember at a primary school event I went into the kitchen to help do dishes and the ladies were saying how nice I was. Truth is, I just feel better DOING something, and having a purpose. So I think sitting down to help sell some patterns is going to make it easier to meet people. And good people they are!

I just realized that p/hop’s fundraiser page is organised by Nathalie Fergie of the Yarn Yard, which has some wool and fibre I’ve been admiring. There’s lots of great people involved, likely very busy anyway, but they find the time to do this too. Pretty cool!

5 very good knitting podcasts

this is a scene from where i walk

this is a scene from where i walk nearby

This isn’t ALL the knitting podcasts. These are just the ones I’ve really gotten into and listened to consistently. Some of these hosts are going to be at the Podcaster Meet-up at Unwind Brighton. 1pm, Saturday 12th July in the Mezzanine Café at the Corn Exchange. More info on A Playful Day. I actually thought it was just for podcasters, but it’s for anyone who wants to find out about podcasts! So I’m hoping to discover some more when I’m there.

I like to listen to podcasts when I knit, or when I go for a walk. I used to listen exclusively to audio books. I have a hard time following fiction, so I usually listen to some popular science flavour of the month about happiness and brain science. I also listen to work-related podcasts, and was chuffed recently to be interviewed on a few. I like podcasts which have interviews, because they are conversational and engaging. The new “No Such Thing As a Fish” podcast from the QI elves is soooo good!

Here are a few of my favourite knitting podcasts.

Knit British

Well to be fair, Knit British was the first knitting podcast I’ve listened to in any dedicated fashion. There’s minimal music, mainly at the end, and some nice natural sound effects to offset the sections.

Knit British is a great podcast just about knitting. I’ve heard Louise’s needles clacking, and I was knitting while listening. Sort of felt like sitting with her. What I imagine it would be if I had a close friend that knit. She talks about what she’s working on, things you shouldn’t miss. And she also now does fun “on-location” interviews, and she has exclusive news she shares about events or other offers. I keep on forgetting she’s NOT coming to Unwind Brighton. :(

Get a flavour: Episode 8.5. In her latest episode, she shared some news via an interview with Jess James, of Ginger Twist Studio, and designer Clare Devine about a new pattern series with a discount code. In Episode 8, she interviews a yarn dyer, George from Yarn Garden.

Curious Handmade

Because this podcast comes out frequently, you sort of want to follow along. I get sort of wrapped up in her story, and I’m cheering along for her. In one episode Helen spoke about quickly whipping up a design to enter in a contest. I was delighted she won! I had actually voted for her design before I connected it to her podcast, since I didn’t know her name at the time.

Each episode has certain segments so she does talk about her current knitting projects. I thought it was hilarious that she shared her experience of locating a knitting pattern for a sweater, and then in a later episode: PLOT TWIST, it really turned out not to be the right design for her. Just the way it evolved, it had me laughin :) But along the way you’re learning too. Helen has recently been recapping her experience Squam, which just sounds like a Shangri-la of creative fun.

Right now, on her blog there’s a “Design along”, where each week you can vote to choose the next direction for the design. This week: Lace or Textured or BOTH?

Helen WILL be at the Podcaster meet-up in Unwind Brighton, yep.

Get a flavour: There are loads of great episodes. Just go subscribe! Episode CH 31: With Squam Art Workshops founder Elizabeth Duvivier, CH 28: Mindful knitting and a review of Love at First Stitch

A Playful Day

This podcast comes out frequently (2x a month), and there’s lots of news and up to date info about events. I just realized I don’t even know her name and I can’t seem to find it anywhere! She also speaks and writes about life in general too. We actually went and made pesto after I saw the pesto recipe on her blog. The Playful Day blog has also been coming down with tons of contests and freebies, so it’s certainly worth subscribing to.

Her blog has features of small companies in the yarny world and independent designers. She’s been re-blogging great posts about being a small “indie” business. For example, this post Love Our Indies: Karie Westermann. It’s nearly infuriating to hear how difficult it is to do work in a sector where the handwork is so devalued. I feel like A Playful Day has a strong message and point of view. And it’s damned inspiring. It also makes me think about supporting the little guy and how I spend my time and money.

And A Playful Day is organizing the Podcast meet-up, so she will certainly be there.

Get a flavour: Interview with Emily Wessel of TinCanKnits – basically just dig into the archive!

Electric Sheep

this is a scene from where i walk

what i see when i’m out listening to podcasts. hard to find visuals for “podcasts”

Electric sheep seems to come out when it feels like it. So while Katie doesn’t have a consistent schedule, there’s great content if you dig into the archives. This means if you are new, there’s plenty to listen to!  In most of the podcasts, it sounds like she’s reading to you. This means the words are well-considered and it’s more like listening to a radio program than a podcast.

I’m not sure if she’s coming to the podcast meetup.

Get a flavour: Listen to Episode 111, an interview with Jared Flood.

Knit.fm

Knit.fm reflects the hosts’ style. Hannah Fettig’s designs with pure stockinette, and nothing to hide behind; or Pam Allens brand style. Sometimes you can see good artists have an incredible consistency to everything they do.

I have to admit, I have a new pet peeve about too much music in podcasts. Some of the video podcasts are trying to be like breakfast television with long intros and over processed fluff. Not really for me. I decided I don’t really like video podcasts right now.  So my next podcast recommendation is Knit.fm… Oh it’s refreshing in the minimal sound editing, so you have long unbroken stretches of chatter, and a little back tracking, as happens in real conversation.

I know there is editing and they do plan the shows. But it has a very spontaneous feeling to it. Pam Allen and Hanah Fettig just start talking, all about yarn/design/technique. Not about events, not about life. They just get down to business. They start the series talking about Gauge, then Yarn, then design. It’s fascinating from end to end. Anyway I’m going to keep on the lookout for friendly, natural and relaxed podcasts.

This team is based in the US, so I’m guessing they aren’t coming over, nope.

Get a flavour: Basically listen to ALL of them, starting with Episode 1.

 

 

 

 

Designing sweaters WITH kids

We zipped by and visited our nieces this weekend. I showed them the baby sweater I was making, and let them guess what the funny shapes were (spoiler: sleeves!) I also showed them the pattern I drew. So we quickly came up with the idea of them designing their own sweaters!

I think there’s a slight risk whenever you make something for anyone that they won’t like it. The saavy advice on Brooklyn Tweed’s blog is “to involve the child herself in the planning and execution of the knitting.” I also like her idea of letting the kids knit some of it too.

Here’s the designs we came up with… I drew the “body” of the jumper and they drew on the designs.

Gold stars and waves

R’s has one white sleeve, one with read and white stripes. Then light blue waves and gold stars. Not yellow, but GOLD, has to be shiny gold. She drew them like that, but made it clear she wants them to look like real stars, it’s just that she can’t draw them like that :)sweater-design-stars

Stripes and waves

C’s has diagonal stripes. And of course some GOLD stars like her big sister’s! She asked me to draw on the stars where she pointed.

sweater-design-stripes

Now I’m not sure my skills are up to snuff right now, but I love the idea. We had fun anyway and then we can see what can come of it. I think I’d knit a swatch or sample before going whole hog. Who knows, they might be over stars by the end of the summer!

My first sweater and why I want schematics

OK, this isn’t my first attempt at a sweater, but it will be the first I finish, by gum! It’s for my grand-nephew. The first in his generation. If I was a really great great aunt, I would have started a baby jumper when I first heard my nephew’s girlfriend was having a baby. I keep on thinking “babies having babies” but mum is 25! It’s me that’s getting old. So I’m making this a 6 month size because well, I have a bad track record for slow knitting.

Here’s my progress so far…

about 1/3 through. sleeves and part of the back.

about 1/3 through. sleeves and part of the back. link to ravelry project.

I was attracted to a simple drop-shoulder jumper from “What to knit when you’re expecting”.

I started on the sleeve, because then I could sort of double it as a swatch, and if it worked, yay! But it didn’t work. I had the right stitch gauge but my row gauge was waaaaay off. The sleeve was come out very narrow and long, I knew something was wrong. Because there no schematics in this book, you don’t have an easy way to check. So you count the number of stitches x gauge to find out I should have been making something that would be 5 inches x 10 inches. And this was coming out more like 5 inches x 15 inches (if I had kept on going).

sleeve coming out too long

Matching gauge?? That would take magic!

I was told “swatching” is a dirty word, and now I can see why everyone is frustrated by this. I mean what are the ODDS of actually getting the same exact gauge as the designer?? I’d say pretty slim. Even if you used the same exact yarn and the SAME exact needles. And the trickiest part of the  pattern I’m attempting is a simple trapezoid sleeve… What about patterns with loads of shaping?

That’s why I’m excited about Dani Sunshine’s workshop for Unwind Brighton: Do I really need to swatch?

I can’t change my needle size in this case to “match gauge”, and I don’t think I’d want to. The fabric with this yarn is just fine. I bought it in the US at a local yarn shop near my sister’s. With 4mm, the fabric is firm, but flexible and springy.

Holiday Yarns

So I made up my own pattern, as you do

This doesn’t seem advised for a beginner, but I was surprised… turns out a drop-shoulder pattern isn’t that hard.  I found this really great tutorial on SlippedStitches blog: Baby Sweater Sizing Standards What You Need To Know Before You Buy A Pattern The author gives standard baby sweater pattern sizes with schematics so you can make up your own.

Now I calculate how many stitches + 2 for seaming, and I was off! I used graph paper were 1 sq = 1 inch to make it easier to visualize.

schematic

Well there was some back and forth with frogging, but I finally have two sleeves, and starting on the body now. Since it’s straight it’s just smooth sailing.

I wish I had just done it in the round, but I think practicing seaming will be good.

Finding baby patterns that DO have schematics

What I’m confused about is… doesn’t a knitting designer have to make schematics anyway? Why didn’t the publisher include them? I don’t think I’ll knit anything else from “What to knit when you’re expecting”, well unless I make up my own schematic for the patterns. But but but… why not just include them… *sigh* saving paper? I have no idea.

So I asked the kind folks on Ravelry for some tips on baby patterns and books that DO have schematics.

I was looking for fun funky stuff, rather than just the twee usual suspects. I found this awesome site: 100 Baby Sweaters. Stephanie, the designer, said that ALL her patterns have schematics. She also has some free patterns in both crochet and knit. Like this cute cat hoodie in knit or crochet. And LOOK, Andy Warhol for a kid!

(image used with permission) #35 Marilyn - http://100babysweaterpatterns.com/portfolio/34-marilyn/

(image used with permission) #35 Marilyn – http://100babysweaterpatterns.com/portfolio/34-marilyn/

Finding patterns on Ravelry with schematics

I’m assuming there must be more, but it would be helpful if publishers opted to include schematics AND if they also marked their patterns as “has schematics” in Ravelry.

If they do that then their patterns will show up in a search for that pattern attribute: “has schematics”. Voila!

search for schematics

 

 

What I did for the Pinterest competition at Love Knitting

I actually had loads of fun with this Pinterest competition by Love Knitting. The idea was to tell “A Midsummer Knit’s Dream”, pin anything you want love and dream about. And of course pin some stuff from LoveKnitting.com, which isn’t hard :)

Pinterest is an image sharing network where you clip images into boards, as I wrote before, it’s blogging boiled down to its essentials.

Here is the winner’s announcement. I really like the two other boards chosen for prizes as well, by Jan Smith and Danielle Dammes. Actually, no kidding: when I saw those entries, and realized they had taken the Shakespearean interpretation. I thought I had misunderstood the competition! Theirs were full of lovely fairies and mystical magical elements as you’d find in the comedy.

So I’m really pleased my idea came through. Thanks to the team for picking my board!

What I did with my Midsummer Knit’s board

Guys, I spent a lot of time on this. It’s kind of embarrassing.

Tip: As you pin the items they stay in the order you pin them, and you can’t rearrange them. So if you want to pin and tell a story, you have to pin in the order you want the pictures to appear. So first I made one board, collecting all the stuff I might want. Then I re-pinned to a second board, editing anything that didn’t fit and to put them in order: yellow greens / seaside nautical / dream blues / faded end of summer.

I wanted to tell a colour story from the start of summer to the end: bright yellows of gorse and iris; to seaside fun to the faded summer colours of high grasses. I combined my own photos with pins. I also wanted to mix in my own plans for summer: to go to Rathlin Island, and have a few days this summer knitting by the beach. Along the way I got inspired by some artist’s work. And I also found some cool items and patterns on the Love Knitting.

I was especially inspired by this image of the Clover wool roving from LoveKnitting.

Doesn’t it look exactly like this photo of the coast?

I was so excited when I finished the board, I actually showed it to my husband. I think he did nod politely. It’s nice someone else thought it was worth a prize :) Thanks to the team at Love Knitting!

So now I get a shopping spree. I’m planning on getting some nice yarns for children’s jumpers for Christmas. (It’s not too early to start, right?) Oh and of course this fun travel sized hook for some spontaneous rock crocheting on the beach :)

Loom for Sale

Heather:

This looks like a great deal. Mind you, I know nothing about weaving!

Originally posted on The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers:

One of our members has a beautiful loom for sale. It is a floor loom made by Grewelthorpe Handweavers in Yorkshire and is in as-new condition. It has a matching weaving stool with storage under. Asking price: €500.

The same member is selling two good spinning wheels – an Ashford Traveller and a wheel similar to the Ashford Elizabeth.

For more details please email hello@weavespindye.ie.

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Going to Unwind Brighton! Knitting, yarn and crochet festival

I found out recently I’m going to be in London for a work related week of intense work/fun/production. So I could easily rationalize getting to London on the Friday before to check out Unwind Brighton. Quel coincidence! Minor problem is that I had *already* rationalized booking into Fibre East one week later in July. Why so much good stuff all at once?!
Wooly people need to spread all this good stuff around better. There’s some months which are sorely lacking.

Unwind Brighton fun workshops

Unwind Brighton is a weekend event with a marketplace and workshops. There’s also apparently a printed guide planned which will include nice things like a free pattern by Joji Knits and the design contest’s winning entry by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade.

There are many classes and workshops during the event. There are still workshops with some places and 2nd runs of some workshops have been opened up.

I signed up for a workshop by the lady organizing the event, Dani Sunshine.

Do I Really Need to Swatch? with Dani Sunshine

Sunday, 13th July 2014 12:00 – 13:00 Register here £10.00

I’m excited to see the results in the workshop. As “homework” before the event, you have to bring a swatch in sock weight yarn; 40 sts, 50 rows on 3.75 mm needles. How cool will it be to see everyone’s results?And I have no business in the workshop about Contiguous Method of sleeves with Susie Meyers, but she’s like, a knitting unventor, which is kind of amazing.

Map of Unwind

On the Unwind chat thread, a user named Dutte created a map of the locations. That is super handy.

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z4P2_8kHQeQ0.kXj6VMsas37M

FOMO

Admittedly it is a far hop down to the south of England. Even Louise of Knit British spoke of suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Which is a terrible affliction. I only just heard about it, but I know exactly what she means.

I get FOMO everytime there’s a DrupalCon (open source software event) on and I’m not there. But events like that are really expensive. I had to call it quits on DrupalCons when my husband copped on to the fact that it doesn’t count as a holiday. Since I am there run off my feet from 8am in the morning til 3am the following morning…. Each day. Somehow I sense Unwind isn’t going to be that insane. However, there’s also the added danger of purchasing wool when you get near places like this. It will be my first fibre-related festival or event. So we’ll see if I can survive the temptation.

Brighton is beautiful

I’ve been to Brighton before. It’s lovely. I’m sort of at the “what to pack stage now. I have to bring work clothes for the following week, so I’m going to look like I’m at work unless I pack some extras… but YARN and FIBRE needs space. These are good problems to have. If the weather is really fine though you could actually swim! I can bring a swimsuit just in case.

Here’s a good map of the beach there, it made me laugh!