The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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Some wins, and a fail(ish)

July has been crazy.  Life got reshuffled once I said yes to the job (see: about page for that minor detail), and DH sprained that right ankle of his – twice.  It’s taken me a good 2 weeks to adjust to sitting behind a desk all day but as Kurt Vonnegut lets you know in Slaughterhouse 5:  so it goes.  Hamilton is as colourful as ever, and I know & respect the people that I work with.

How is Toby you ask?  Well.  Fine, actually.  In fact, he seems to think that all is well with his world again.  Routine it seems, trumps company.  The wretch!

The one thing I had to let go of was the Tour de Fleece 2010.  It was beautiful when I had the energy to spin, take pics, and post everything on Ravelry.  That 1st week of work did me in though.  It was rough.  Each night I was searching & searching for all that stuff I never thought I’d need again.  Trying to find my court tabs?  Like finding a needle in a haystack.  I did break down & get a new pair but even now I’m itching to find them…  So, yeah.  I watched & spun through the whole tour (to DH’s great amusement) but not posting made it feel pointless.

Being a rookie fail in the TdF10 you can imagine my excitement when JessaLu told me I had won a SbJL bucket bag from her birthday blog contest!  This is her post on the winners, and I have ordered her lovely Frolic bag.  It will be brightening my days at the office with a spindle & fibre for sure!

This was a June knit made for the Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  It’s an Anthropologie Shrug in yarn that I just love, Colinette Iona.

Am a sucker for top-town raglan:

With just 2 skeins, I had just enough to get the width (with coughnegative easecough) & the less I say about the length the better…

Judging from the mad compliments, it’s all good!

This shawlette was comfort knitting from start to finish.  The yarn is my own handspun BFL wool 2-ply from Fleece Artist roving.  I only had 300 yds, and made a Three-cornered Scarf by Ruth Hollowell from JMM’s The Intentional Spinner.

I’m going to block this one out for more size.  My mods were to use the rick rib lace from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and to only have 4 rows of garter in between each 2 row lace repeat.  The border is a series of the rick rib rows + garter + a YO edge.  I also single crocheted the raw top edge.  I have a purple wood button that may be the closure on this one.  Destined to keep me warm at the office!

Have a great long weekend, y’all!  Happy Emancipation Day when it comes to my Jamaican friends!


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Act of kindness

I experienced the most amazing act of kindness this week, and have been bursting to tell!  There is good in this world, and really, this town.

It all started 2 weeks ago when I went out for a Sunday spin-in at the Fibre Garden in Jordan Village.  Life had been incredibly hectic straight up to the night before but really very little comes between me & these spin-ins.  Jordan is in wine country & is quite the tourist town, so the shop is open on the Sundays when we go out to spin.

The shop is a charming, brightly painted historic home that really stands out.  The freshly painted spinning wheels on the front porch apparently drew an Oakville family indoors on their way to lunch.  I was facing the front door, spinning on Wee Peggy & happily caffeinated.  We chatted about Oakville’s spinning guild, and I raved about the daytime knitting group at the Wool Bin.  They were all very nice, and then left.  On his way out the man cracked a joke about us having painted toe-nails.  Pleasant and par for the course at the FG…

Well, the next Saturday, Jane from the Wool Bin wrote me.  The older lady came in for some yarn, and wanted to get in touch with the “young spinner in Jordan.”  Jane was sure that was me (35 y.o. & called young at every turn!).  The lady wanted to give me her unused spinning wheel!  I was excited but fully prepared to be presented with a dud…

This is a beauty.  Not a dud.  Can you imagine my joy when I walked in, and saw this in the lady’s living room?!!

Pristine working condition.  A Canadian Production Wheel.  Could I contain myself?  Um, no!  Thirty years ago, her husband has business dealings in Quebec.  It was a gift, packed and sent to her from a grateful businessman.  She made 3 moves with this wheel, always taking excellent care of it, and now she wanted to see it go straight to a spinner.  Her family had researched the wheel on-line, and she knew it had value.  Even so, she declined my offer to pay.  She said that it was a gift, and none of her children would use it.  The family agreed with her wish to give it to me, a perfect stranger.

I must have hugged her 5 times.  I explained that never in my wildest dreams did I hope for such a wheel (seriously, I thought a Lendrum at best!).  That I am a self-taught lace spinner on spindles, and that the CPWs are built for that type of spinning.  That I have secretly wanted one but never knew how I could find a good one.  I told her about Ravelry & the following these wheels have is not in auction houses but in the spinning community.  I even told her about how spinners will pass these wheels along like an underground railroad to get them safely cross-country.

She helped me get this into the car, and I have promised her a skein of handspun wool.  Heck, she can have a lifetime supply of handspun from me!  I told her how much this means to me because I am returning to work shortly after 1 ½ years, and it’s been a total wrench to think I am dropping out of the spinning world.  “Heaven sent” were my exact words.  She has my promise that this won’t ever see a garage sale if I can help it.  And that, friends, is a fact.

So, what do I have?  The maker’s stamp is on the wheel bed, Philias Cadorette from St. Hyacinthe, province of Québec:

It would have been made circa 1922.  The Spinning Wheel Sleuth has some information about these wheels here.  For current market price & another happy owner this blog post was cool.

There is no wobble in the 30″ diameter drive wheel.  It runs true, and the wheel joins look good to me:

The wheel has the usual 12 spokes with the lovely turnings.  The footman is a hooked iron rod that goes over a superb C-shaped crank:

The drive band is chunky, came with the wheel, and is still going strong…

The wheel has beautiful patina, and bears the yarn-etchings of a well-used flyer assembly:

The orifice is so narrow that I had to use an unbent paper clip to thread the wool through!

By yet another stroke of serendipity, I found out that this is a sub-set of the CPWs that has the Canadian innovation of tilt-tensioning.  I have been working through 8 or so old copies of Spin-off magazine from my guild, and just stumbled on William Ralph’s article “Canadian Tilt-Tension Production Wheels” in the Fall ’94 issue.  So, 16 years ago he wrote:

If you find one in good condition you are really in luck.  These wheels are still relatively inexpensive and are among the finest tools ever made for spinning wool.  They are remnants of a unique cottage industry which flourished in Québec Province, beginning about the turn of the century and ending shortly after World War II.

Instead of a screw that is turned to move the whole flyer assembly (Mother of All) forward & backward to add or remove tension from the drive band, the maidens are tapped and tilted in an arc.  You just loosen the wing-nuts, and tap until they are adjusted to the right point.  When William Ralph wrote that these wheels are, “exceptionally fast, with a strong pull & rapid wind-on,”  he wasn’t kidding.

Thanks to KnitMe’s post about her Philias Cadorette here, I got a clue about how to remove the whorl & bobbin.  I was scratching my head on that one!

I am still on cloud 9, and probably not liked very much at the moment by the other spinners.  Ah, well!  The previous owner is a Very Good Person in my books, and I am forever grateful for her act of kindness.  Such generosity is rare but not extinct!


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Life gets out of control!

I have been away from my WP dashboard for entirely too long!  Each year June is pretty auspicious – my anniversary & birthday are within a week of each other – but this year was off the hook.  It all began with a nasty cold.  Thank you Air Jamaica seat-mate.  My immune system enjoyed your coughing & sneezing into your rag-cum-hankie.

As soon as I got over said nasty cold, it was full-steam ahead for MIL’s visit.  In my world this typically inspires a greater degree of order, and cleanliness in my house.  It is a lesson I have learned well over the 6 years we have lived here in Canada.  There are certain steps one can take to reduce the chances of hearing the words, “Well, my mother always said that a little dirt never killed anyone.”  I now know that stash, etc. is best stuffed in far-off closets.  And that’s easier said than done in our small house…  Ace DIL that I am, I now have a mental list (no paper trail, see?) of food she will willingly eat, and food that gets the up-turned nose.   There’s much more to this than well-spread beds & clean towels, and you won’t find it in a book.

Had a wrinkle though… I was also going away that weekend for my first-ever Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  That jaunt did wonders for all concerned.  MIL had quality time with her only child & I came back high on life & spinning.  The OHS had good programming, and I loved the fiber-fest atmosphere in the vendor’s hall.  I left inspired, and with a few friends.  It’s run entirely by volunteers, and I really appreciated its independence from the guild system.  A few vendors congratulated me on being a young person, so you can see where it could use some improvement!  Speaking of vendors…  Defeating the purpose of hiding stash, I went & bought some more!  I bought this year’s raw fleece from Julie at Sunday Creek Farm.  It’s primo white Romney from an ewe called Buttercup (Aww!).  It’s ½ a fleece at 3 lbs 5 oz.  Let me not rhapsodize…

Julie has registered Romneys and even a novice like me can tell this is a spinner’s flock!  She was also good enough to put me onto Triscour soap from Wellington Fibres.  She’s right – it’s a great scouring agent!  Triscour at work this afternoon:

And here is some drying out in the hotter-than-Hades sun today:

I am ¾-way through this job, and am impressed with how little chaff & other stuff is sitting in the wool.  Julie also plans to coat some of the flock.

Great to have 20 serious spinner’s vendors all under 1 roof!  The 1st night I found a sister for my Kundert spindle.  It has a walnut whorl with cherry accent wood:

A much better tool for splitting the Rambouillet hand-dyed roving.  I had been lagging with my friend’s Turkish spindle by Ray.  Even with a growing cop of yarn, I found the spindle to light to have a good spin.  Then I had a sleepless night in a cooooold Queen’s University dorm room.  Actually huddled with 1 finished sock:

Good thing I brought it along for some knitting 🙂

I almost missed this Tabacheck Compact Deluxe spindle.  It was at the back of the Yarn Source‘s booth.  I have coveted one of these ever since reading the Bellwether’s Productive Spindling.  It’s a key member of her spindle Dream Team!  Mine is cedar with a cherry shaft.  It weighs 0.79 oz & has an amazing spin:

I don’t think that I have very good pics from the weekend.  It was a rainy, dreary affair.  My Saturday workshop was ‘Around the Whorl.’  The instructor was Catherine & her blog is here.  The class was full, and Catherine taught us a bunch of tips & styles.  I was pretty tired but woke up when I saw the swag on our chairs!  Catherine obviously worked really hard on the bags/ contents, and her lace spinning was awesome!

On Sunday, I skipped the spin-ins, and went to the Shepherding panel.  Good choice!  The Shepherds were Frank Misek of Greystones Farm in Wilton, Tracy Asseltine, and Donna Hancock of Wellington Fibres.  They stressed farm management, what we should look for in choosing a fleece for spinning, mill processing, and adding value to their fibre.  Both Tracy and Donna raise Angora goats, and are involved in mill processing.  It was very informative, and straightforward enough for a mere pup like me to understand!

I do have a whole bunch of birthday spindles to show-off, and some knitting that I am wearing all over creation but haven’t had time to write about!  Life’s going back to normal now (for a few days at the outside), so I’ll have to get my act together & blog again soon!