The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Proof of fit, and other updates

Every now and again, I get a blog photo shoot.  Just to keep you on your toes.

The buttonholes may need reinforcing in time.  For now, I am good with checking up on them.

What you couldn’t see when it was flat on the table in the last post.

I was running too late to push my luck for pics of the now completed Laar Cardigan (yep, finally).

The Seriously fun spin

In the crunch that was my lead-up to the Tour de Fleece this year, I didn’t write about this super spin.  It’s The Painted Tiger‘s 40z braid of corriedale, Koi Pond.

We met Brooke at Stringtopia this year.  These colours inspired me to try my first fractal spinning.

I used my Watson Martha wheel in double drive.  Remarkable because just days before Martha was not in spinning condition:

When the bobbin/ flyer array of your dream wheel jumps off, hits the wheel frame and falls broken you might want to cry.  One frantic call later, Mrs. Watson assured me that her son Andrew would help.  Andrew did more than help, and I thank him.

Andrew said that it looked like an older partial break.  He took a week to repair the flyer, and make Miss 1988 like new.  Andrew also graciously showed me his personal wheels, and spoke with me about the business’ history as well as how to care for Martha.

Approx 392 yards all in!  If you are looking for a new indie-dyer then definitely give Brooke a try.  The fiber was not compacted at all, and the dye caught every last corner.

What Moms are For

My brother’s yeoman service did not end with delivering the backstrap loom to me.  He also brought this up from Mom.

It’s crunchy handspun from her trip to Scotland this summer.  Unique selling point for a card:  Real Sheep’s Wool!

She also got me 100g each of organic Hebridean & Shetland wool from Garthenor.  She might actually listen when I ramble on about “breed-specific” this and “breed-specific” that…

A weekend Happy

Finished my Jacob spin on Wee Peggy.  No breaks were taken for cooking or dishes.

Approx 197 yds of 3-ply.  I picked out kemp, spun it using scotch tension, and plied on my Martha.  Grey Jacob is already on the bobbin.  The idea is to make the Horatio & Oren mitts from this fall’s Twist Collective.

A little housekeeping

The blog’s “About” page was pretty dated, so I gave it a little edit over the weekend.  I love writing posts, and may be making some small changes to the blog in the next little while.

Where I’ll be:

  • The Spinning Loft, September 22, 23 for workshops with Deb Robson.  Beth promises that my Martha will meet her Martha!
  • The Woodstock Fleece Festival, October 13.

I’d love to know if you’ll be there too!


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Stringtopia the Second!

Stringtopia 2012 was a blast!  It was April 27, 28, 29 at Ohio’s oldest hotel, The Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio.  The best view I have yet to see from a hotel parking lot…

 It was a wonderful weekend.  I took off my blogger hat shortly after arrival but not before I took pics of the Golden Stringtopia Welcome waiting in our room.

As you can tell Sandi was also pleased with hers…

… after 11 or so hours navigating with me from Ontario to Lebanon.

Look what was inside the mug!

We shared the John Quincy Adams room.  Our welcome letter says that he stayed at the hotel on November 7, 1846.  I bet our view was better than his!

My first class was All Spindles All Day with Abby.  I am more excited than ever about spinning with spindles for All the Things.  Abby masterfully took us from how an Andean child learns to spin to plying.  She gave us equal parts passion, instruction, and jokes.  It was amazing.

Proof of concept:  low whorl spindles do not need a hook, a knob or a notch in order to function perfectly well.  We won’t talk about Woolwine’s feats with cotton during this class.  Let’s just say she was giving trouble.

This year’s Kick-Off Bash was on Friday night, and little did I know what Feorlen aka Andrea (sitting) had in store for us.  She has a Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning from the HGA, and brought all of her materials for us to see.  It was astonishingly masterful work, and her presentation on Saturday was very interesting.

 The highlight of the Bash was when Janet won her maple Bossie!  This kicked-off epic spinning of an entire Abbybatt in a cool 48 or so hours.

Hands-down the best part of the weekend was the Friends of Abby’s Yarns super surprise presentation of Abby’s new hand-everything kimono.

Ellen filmed the entire presentation

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This is what I mean about the singular generosity of the spinning community.  Two years in the making, and Abby didn’t even suspect a thing!

All the remaining door prizes were thus handed out in style.

Angela received that one, and was seriously Over the Moon.

My prize was generously donated by Musewings aka Nicole the Hot Blonde, and I love it!

N, who is not known to gush over fibre, praised the colours on sight!

My other classes were with Beth Smith who was also the event’s vendor.  I took Spinning for Lace, Drafting, and also Long Wools with Beth, and am so happy that I did.  She not only helped me with my Martha spinning wheel but expertly took us through many breeds with different preparations.  And by many, I mean…

Uh-huh.  Yes, Qiviut came with the Spinning for Lace materials!  It was glorious.

I did have a cry-worthy time of it with the cashmere though.  This is how I know that Beth is a superb teacher.  She did not push.  She did not single out.  She let me into her already-full Drafting class to learn me some long-draw.  As she said, “Because of Love.”

She sold us some of her Horned Dorset so that we could keep practicing long-draw.  And seriously, in the Long Wools class, Beth Smith Pink got me to sample my yarn!

If that’s not one superb teacher, then I don’t know who is.

It was a totally awesome event.  I’ve met people who are, as Brooke put it, part of my tribe.  We learned.  We teased Josh.  We made Abby cry, and now she has her pockets.  And now, we are home again.


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To Good Starts

The year is young but it’s been a good one so far (knock on wood).  Of course, I rate as good any winter that gives me this vista so deep into January:

But I digress.

The good start has a lot to do with an extremely fun knitting event in the province.  My friend, Sandi Wiseheart, invited me to travel with her to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild meeting on January 10th.  She was their main speaker, and the Guild had graciously agreed to let her bring a friend.  I was psyched to hear Sandi’s talk on Finishing Techniques, and it was fabulous.  Complete with slides, which were in turn complete with pictures of her cat, Tim.  Sandi’s blogged this already.

There was yarn stashing before the event (and even before lunch).  It was a first visit to the lovely Shall We Knit for the both of us.  I could rave, and rave.  Karen gave us such a warm welcome.  Seeing Sandi in her element was worth every minute but I also managed to find time to browse.  String Theory!

A skein of Caper Sock in the Vert colourway with its new bestie, Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts by Hazel Carter.  Not to mention the purpleness of this Della Q bag.

Yes, that is a creative use of my Ott light, thank you.  Like I said, it’s rainy today!  I also bought a set of DPNs.  I suspect Sandi’s purchases are in the Cone of Silence.

We had a lovely dinner with Annie B., Johanna, Lianne and Angela, and headed over for the meeting.  Sandi showed her Lotus Leaf Mittens – those are sparkly nails in the grainy pic.

I had the presence of mind to take a pic while she was setting up.

And once more during the presentation.

After that point, I was all ears and knitting.  How good was this talk?  Sandi made zippered knits sound totally doable, that’s how good!  And what is this talk called? It’s  After the Bind-Off:  Finishing a Garment you can be Proud Of.  I am sure that she’ll be asked to give it again.  Soon!

Further evidence that 2012 is pretty chill…

Last year’s Masham wool singles grew up & became almost socks.

It’s a 4 oz braid dyed by Waterloo Wools spun by yours truly up to 135 yards of 3-ply goodness.  I gave it a ton of twist in the plying on my Watson Martha wheel.  It still has a halo, and feels strong but somehow supple.

My Abby Batt is all spun up.  I finished plying the skein on my Golding Tsunami drop spindle on January 6th.  This lace yarn is for keeps!

I don’t have any SIP pics but the batt was a 38g ‘Leaf Pile’ of 30% corriedale wool/ 30% huacaya alpaca/ 30% tussah silk/ 10% merino.  I spun it by alternating 2 spindles – a Spindlecraft bracken & a Spindlewood olive square whorl.  All over town.  That’s 274 yards.  I’ll spin another fibre for a lace project down the line.

There’s more in my spinning life but I’ll round this out by showing the 60% wool/ 40% flax blend that I raced away with last week.  100g spun on my Philias Cadorette CPW currently gracing toilet paper rolls.

An experiment in over-twist?  Perhaps!

I’ll save the knits for another post.  Which I want to write now lest that promise fall flat.


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I told you!

The Yarn Harlot blogged her Toronto book launch here.  I told you I had front row appearance – that’s me 2nd from the left in Stephanie’s Hello Toronto photo!  I love her pic of Megan & the charming Miles (aka Monkey).

I have a ton more knitting & spinning to blog but am dashing to rake leaves.  A storm is forecast for this afternoon.  Why I need to hustle:  this is my backyard with only ½ of the leaves dropped.

Those got raked.  Here’s what’s currently on the ground:

The firebush was beautiful this year.  Yes, past tense.

And so, I kid you not when I say there is raking that needs doing.  Before rainfall would be ideal.


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All Wound Up, Toronto Launch

Last night, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee‘s All Wound Up book tour finally reached Toronto!  In a very uncharacteristic move I was Knitter No. 1 on the scene at the Chapters.  And I saw that their powers that be are still in the dark about how much of a crowd the one & only Yarn Harlot is going to draw in her hometown.  Yes, dudes – even on a cold Thursday night more than 40 chairs are required.

Teresa, Meg & the hugely popular Monkey (8 weeks old) soon arrived, and we nabbed front row seats.  No zoom required, see:


Meg took our picture – very much knitting & happy.

I do have another knitting friend also called Teresa.  This confused DH to no end, so I thought I should point out that the Teresa pictured here is not the same person who is getting my spindle-spun laceweight yarn.  This Teresa is knitting a gorgeous Helix Scarf.  I was knitting a new sock.

Monkey is a superbly happy baby!  Meg chalked up his good behaviour to the sheer cushyness of his blanket but I think he’s just a good little fella.

Mom and baby will be totally featured in the Harlot’s next blog post… she took a pic of them after signing!

I was thrilled that Stephanie read from her book!  It was hilarious to hear the stories in her own voice.  Thanks to her earlier tweet, I can also tell you that she was wearing sparkly handknit socks.

Proof of the lovely meeting that happened afterwards:

Now, I was way too shy to speak in entire sentences.  I tried gathering my thoughts but it was no use.  If I had my wits about me I would have told Stephanie a huge Thank You.  Her books and her blog got me out of my head knitting, and into the wild world of meeting other knitters.  I was brand-new to Canada back then.  Finding Knitting Rules changed everything, and then I had the good sense to get out to her Casts Off book launch to hear what she really thought.

Just for the record, Chapters:  this is what the turnout for a Yarn Harlot event in Toronto is going to look like.  Always.  Even if it rains.  Got it?

 


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Woodstock Love

The 3rd Annual Woodstock Fleece Festival was this past Saturday in Woodstock, Ontario.  It was bigger, and a lot of fun!  Last year there were no raw fleeces but Willow Farm brought last week’s clip!

Josslyn Richardson helped me to pick Phoebe’s fleece out from the rest.  This was after she explained about the mark-up in the Royal Winter Fair’s fleece auction.  To wit, $19.00+/lb more than her Woodstock prices.  Sold!

The fleece weighs 3lb, 5 oz unwashed.  I love the light greys and the crimp.

Josslyn & Norm also sell their Romney and Icelandic in lovely roving.  I give their Icelandic tog & thel roving 2 thumbs up.  I have a 2-ply fingering yarn in production from last year’s Woodstock haul and love it.

The crowd seemed bigger to me this year, with more knitters curious about this thing called spinning.

    

Reed’s restored wheels were seriously crowd-pleasing.  This fuzzy pic is the best I could get for all the jostling – Reed’s the man on the right.  You can’t really see but he was having a blast.

What’s a fibre festival without animal exhibits and equipment for sale?

    

Back in the main show room, I was also busy shopping for the fibre needs (and wants).

L → R:  Pachuko organic cotton in ‘vicuña’; carbonized bamboo fibre; alpaca roving & hand-dyed bombyx silk top.

My LYS haunts would never carry these 2 finds so I sprung for them – Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock & Fleece Artist Saldanha Two – from Feather Your Nest.  The pattern is Barb’s Koigu Ruffle Scarf from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  I wanted to ditch the pattern but am glad I didn’t – 320 yards is perfect for using my hand-spun yarns.

Last but not least were these 3 books on clearance from The Yarn Source, and a lignum vitae Tabachek diz (not shown).

Again L → R:  New Twists on Twined Knitting by Laura Farson; Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney (!); and How to be Owned by an Antique Spinning Wheel – A Practical Guide by Peter H. Fowler.

This is why friends let friends shop on their own at a fibre festival… Shelley surprised us all with buttons!

Mine was already joyously pinned on my Leaflet Cardi:

Yah, I shall show you Leaflet properly in another post.  Shelley braved strange looks in getting the buttons since she also got a few for herself…

And lastly, the obligatory closing animal pic!


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Woodstock bound

Tomorrow is the Woodstock Fleece Festival!  I had a blast last year – sans camera – and have been counting down the days.  It’s the best local event for spinners, and in year 3 is growing from strength to strength.

I am rushing to make an appointment this evening but want to show Pippi off to you.  Her first blooming in 2 years!

She definitely approves of her re-potting this summer.  A second spike!

I promise you some pictures of Woodstock – the smaller camera’s battery is charged!  I may even be honest about the haul.