Building the resource library

I finally pulled my spring/summer shoes out of deep storage this weekend as I went out for teaching gigs.

I finally pulled my spring/summer shoes out of deep storage this weekend as I went out for teaching gigs.

Well, after a very long, cold, winter, it seems that spring might actually come. With highs of +16C, and clear blue skies, it was a perfect weekend.  What made it even better for me was that I got to teach new rigid heddle weavers on Saturday and Sunday!  

I teach a beginner rigid heddle weaving class every couple of months at my local yarn store in Bracebridge, Muskoka Yarn Connection.  The class is about 2hrs and we get through as much as we can, going over the parts of the loom, warping up a loom (sometimes the store loom, sometimes my loom, and sometimes a students loom) and then the very basics of weaving.  Somehow, that two hours is never enough.  There is always one more skill, one more tip, trick or technique that feels so essential in that moment I realize I don't have the time to cover it.

So in the interest of helping my students, and other new rigid heddle weavers out there, I've been trying to build a Resources section on my website with my favorite blog posts, videos and links that show valid techniques in a clear way.  

I know that some instructors are wary of suggesting students go to YouTube, and I completely agree with this.  You don't know the quality of the instruction and if the technique the person on the internet is using is valid. However, with a sense of what you are trying to learn, you can find some great videos out there that will help you along the way.  Generally if the video is by a known brand, Schacht, Ashford, WEBS, KnitPicks, Lion Brand Yarn or a great content providers like Interweave Crafts, KnittingHelp and Craftsy .  There are great independent teachers out there putting out videos, however there is a whole bunch of crap, bad quality, bad instruction and bad technique.  So if you do decide to dive into youtube, please use a critical eye and if something seems off or wrong, it very well could be so check a few other videos before you go all in on something crazy.

 Because of where I live, in Near North Ontario (my mom is from Kapuskasing, so I really can't pretend we are in Northern Ontario, even though the people in the GTA think that we live in the barren north), there aren't the density of LYSs or workshops that you find in other areas, so when I went to learn a whole bunch of things, I turned to books, videos and the internet.  I'm mostly self-taught from these resources.  Learning in person can be amazing, and I've loved all the in-person workshops I've been able to attend as part of our local spinning & weaving guilds, but those are few and far between, and I wanted to learn so much more than these groups had the ability, or budget, to provide. So it is possible to learn techniques this way, however, without feedback you might be using the wrong spinning wheel and when a real spinning instructor sees you, their first words to you are "that wheel is too small for you".  But on the balance, the internet has been very good to me.

So, go check out the Resources Page, I've started linking up my favorite resources, with Rigid Heddle Weaving 101 and Sock Knitting to start, but I will be adding to those as I remember all the videos and resources that have made my learning easier.

So, what are your favorite resources?  Let me know your fave resources in the comments so I can add them to the list.

Gotta love a busy weekend

I'm getting organized to head out and give my Ravelry 101 talk to the Pinecone Treadlers Guild here in Bracebridge today.  I'm excited to share Ravelry with the amazing ladies in the guild.  I'm a firm believer that anyone can use Ravelry, but I know it can be overwhelming for those folks who aren't as comfortable with web applications as I am.   So I'm hoping today I will be able to give these ladies a few tips and tricks to help make Ravelry work for them.

Ravelry 101 is just one of the talks I have in my ever-growing roster of classes, you can see more about them on my Workshops page.

However, that's not what was keeping me busy this weekend.  I managed to finish off two projects over the weekend.  My Rainbowllenics Socks and a scarf woven on a rigid heddle loom, which I'm calling my Olympics Medal Scarf.

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I did get my Rainbowllenics Socks doing during the Olympics, which I ended up watching more of than expected.  I don't have cable, just internet and AppleTV, so watching the Olympics wasn't super easy, however with the Men's and Women's Hockey games being ubiquitous here in Canada I ended up doing some streaming.

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I'm really quite pleased with these socks, they fit perfectly and I got to do my first afterthought heel.  

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I can't see myself switching over to all afterthought heel, however the fit is good for me so I will probably use it on striped socks to preserve the striping. If you have't done one before and a short-row heel fits you fine, consider an afterthought heel.  I followed the video by The Knit Girlls and found it to be helpful and correct. 

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The other project I started, and finished this past weekend is a woven scarf.  I wove it out of a single skein of fingering weight yarn, and I have to say it is the PERFECT use for those high-contrast multis I just don't like to knit with.

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I ended up screwing up my calculations so my weft ran out well before my warp, but the scarf is still a nice length.

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While I did take nice pictures of it on my lady, the scarf isn't quite finished yet.  I still need to trim and twist the fringe and then do a wet blocking.  When I taught  rigid heddle class back in November the group was shocked, shocked when I said to "block" your scarf after finishing your weaving.  I know there is some disagreement out there around the words, particularly what is involved with blocking.  However, for me, every finished object needs to go for a swim before it is done. 

Think about it.  That project in your hands, the fleece was shorn from a sheep, then cleaned, combed/carded, spun into singles, plyed into yarn and then wound into a skein, where it was wound into a ball and then tied in knots by your needles and hooks or stretched half to death on your loom.  If you had been through that wouldn't you need a bath to get yourself right with the world.  Also, I don't know about you all, but I don't only knit after having washed my hands and always sit in a clean sterile space to work.  I have a cat, he LOVES yarn, my projects are FILTHY by the time they fall off the needles, they need a good washing just so they aren't gross anymore. Even my weaving projects aren't safe from the cat.

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So no matter if your item needs pinning/stretching or not, a bath is a very, very important of finishing every project.  Also, if you ever plan on washing it, you are going to be blocking it, might as well know whats join to happen when you get it wet.

With weaving the project "plumps" up, and all those little gaps you saw in the weave will disappear and I will have a perfect, plain weave scarf.

So block your knits, I remember my terror the first time I wet blocked an item, now I can't imagine not sending my finished objects for a swim.


Project Details:

Rainbowllenics Socks
Pattern: Jaywalker Socks by Grumperina
Yarn: KnitPicks Felici Fingering in Rainbow (sady both the colorway and yarn are discontinued)
Previous Blogged: February 7th, 2014 - Rainbowllenics Socks

Olympics Medal Scarf
Pattern: Plain Weave @ 10dpi  - 9.5" warped
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Fire Opal

 

Wait, when did June end?

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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. IMG_0911

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.

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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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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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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!