Two lessons for the price of one scarf

This week I learned two lessons in one scarf, the first is don't leave your warp under tension and then cart the loom all over tarnation and let your cat pull at it, you will kill the warp.  The other think I learned, precious yarn is best when it's been used.

The scarf and the little ball of yarn add up to two big lessons that I seem to need to learn over and over and over again.

The scarf and the little ball of yarn add up to two big lessons that I seem to need to learn over and over and over again.

So both of these lessons are encapsulated in a single scarf.

The first lesson, about the warp, is one that I knew but managed to be willfully ignorant of the consequences.  By the time I decided to deal with it this week, my choices were to trash it, which seemed wasteful, or to weave it and see for myself the impact. 

One end of my scarf is weft facing fabric and the other end is warp facing.  This kids is why you don't leave your warp under tension!

One end of my scarf is weft facing fabric and the other end is warp facing.  This kids is why you don't leave your warp under tension!

What happened is that despite having the exact same beat, one end of this scarf (the end that was under tension) is practically a warp-facing fabric, and the other end of the scarf (which was nicely wound around the back beam) is a weft-facing fabric.   Because of the smooth transition between the two, it almost looks like a design feature, but it will work as a great teaching tool.

Now, the second lesson is about using that special skein of yarn.  We all have them, tucked up in our stashes, that skein that captured our imagination and were a bit of a splurge.  Mine was a skein of The Sanguine Gryphon Codex in Rachel Wall, now sadly discontinued.  A worsted weight single of 52% silk and 48% BFL, the yarn had the slink and shine like nothing else.   But it was also virtually useless for my knitting, too floppy for a hat, and with only a single skein it was too little for a shawl or garment.  

The original skein - from 2011

I bought this skein in the spring of 2011, when I first discovered hand dyed yarns, not knowing anything about The Sanguine Gryphon (or much about yarn at that stage).  I have caked and reskeined it many, many times, because I could never find the perfect pattern for it. 

However, when I looked at the poor, abandoned, overstretched warped, I thought, I bet that skein of Codex would be a nice complement to the laceweight warp.  And really if it's awful, its not like I've lost anything because it will still be a warm scarf and I had all but given up on finding a pattern for the Codex as is.

Jack loves to weave

And, then something amazing happened.  

Finished scarf

It turned out beautifully, albeit a bit off on the beat, but I'm declaring that a feature, not a bug, to borrow a term from one of my students from last weekend who is a software designer.

So the two lessons of this scarf are, always take the tension off your loom if you getting up from it for more than a couple of minutes, and don't let those precious skeins sit on the shelf, waiting for their prince to come.  Because sometimes you just have to make them into something unexpectedly awesome.

Thursday Things: Embroidery with Rebecca Ringquist

In the summer of 2013, I had my first exposure to embroidery, through the blogs and social media of the likes of Susan B. Anderson and Jillian Moreno (of Knitty), among others.  I was intrigued so I went digging and I found the samplers of Rebecca Ringquist of Dropcloth Samplers.  And I'm so glad I did. This week, her new embroidery book has been released and what a wonderful book it is.

Thursday Things: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshop

I find embroidery to be the perfect counterpoint, or balance, to knitting.  For me knitting is about precision and math, because as a part-time technical editor and designer I can't help but think about the structure of the knitting and pattern as the enjoyment of the knitting. By contrast, embroidery is totally freeform, yes the pre-printed samplers do give you guidelines, so much more of the design work is up to the stitcher.  I find this freedom enjoyable and totally terrifying.  While I know, intellectually, there are no wrong answers in embroidery, I can't help but think that I'm doing it wrong all the time. 

Thankfully, Rebecca Rinquist's Embroidery Workshops reminds me that there are some proper ways to make stitches, but other than that you can follow the mantra of the book "A Bend-The-Rules Primer" and just make your art.  And that the embroidery police aren't going to come and take away your work because you decided to try something strange and new. 

Also, that I need to throw caution to the wind, because some of what has been holding me back on the samplers I already have, is a bit of analysis paralysis.  I can spend a lifetime working out the right colors to use on a sampler, when really, all the samplers I've done so far are just fine, wait, no they are kind of awesome. 

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Things: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

But back to the book, it is broken down into 6 sections: Get Ready, Stitch, Trace, Draw, Layer and Finish.  Get Read, Stitch, Trace and Finish beautiful job showing the tools, stitches and techniques you need to get stitching and displaying your work, while Draw and Layer highlight the beautiful embroidery work of Rebecca and gives you projects and inspiration to go beyond the sampler.

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Things: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

So whether you are a totally new to embroidery, or have lots of experience, the book is suitable. For those of us who lack inspiration, her projects all have ideas on how to start.  

My favorite part of the book is that it is filled with Rebecca's lovely little illustrations.  

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Thing: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

They are so adorable and approachable, and makes the book feel like it's a gift from a friend who just wants you to get out and make art. The binding, a hardcover without a slipcover, is beautiful and the endpapers are printed in electric orange.  

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Things: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

And, there is a stitchable sampler right there in the book!  I will be leaving my safe and sound for now, because my pile of unstitched samplers is a bit large, much to my embarrassment.  But thankfully samplers pack up a whole lot smaller than a yarns stash does.

As a subscriber to the Dropcloth Stitch of the Month and Colorburst Samplers, and someone who owns nearly all of Rebecca's samplers that have been available since I first found her shop, I have a whole bunch of stitching to do, but this book serves as both inspiration and guide to help me make my way through them.  

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Things: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

I think what I might do is try to commit to doing at least one sampler a month, because it helps me turn off my knitting brain and engage with a completely different skill set.  I already have a head start on April's, but mostly because I think I started it last summer. 

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Things: Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops

So keep your eyes on my instagram feed, that is where I usually post my latest projects and finished designs.

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.

Trying out Tatting

There are as many ways to make as there are people making. And by this I mean how you experience your making, whether it is a touchstone at the end of a long day, or if it is a means of income.  Some makers can make the same item over and over and over, while others can't keep focused on a single project for more than the time it takes to get a whim to start something new.  Some makers have learned the craft they love and stick with it like a lover, while others flit from one craft (or technique) to another, always looking for a new "fix".

Me, while I'm always committed to my first love, knitting, I can't help but sneak out and try all sorts of new stuff with the opportunity and interest arise.

And this weekend I started trying out something new, Tatting.

Trying out Tatting

For those unfamiliar, tatting is a technique for making lace that can use a needle or shuttles.  It's not a currently popular technique, however I've been seeing it pop up more and more in the last little while.

My first introduction to the idea of tatting through my grandfather back in 2011.  Apparently when his father, my great-grandfather, was a young man he was ill and learned how to shuttle tatt lace.  My grandfather offered me his father's shuttles, which he had been storing since his mother died.  However, when he went to find them they had been lost.

My first shuttle (taken from the Etsy listing), unfortunately it got dropped when moving and the shop is closed and so I can't get another.

My first shuttle (taken from the Etsy listing), unfortunately it got dropped when moving and the shop is closed and so I can't get another.

My second set of shuttles, Aero-type that have been "improved" by an Etsy Seller (LaCossette) both sides have different designs, so it is easy to remember which side is "up" when wrapping to do the first half of the stitch.

My second set of shuttles, Aero-type that have been "improved" by an Etsy Seller (LaCossette) both sides have different designs, so it is easy to remember which side is "up" when wrapping to do the first half of the stitch.

Not to be deterred, I went to the internet and bought myself a shuttle and the now-unavailable Craftsy class on Shuttle Tatting.  And I found that it was a confusing technique to learn and the available designs a tad ugly.  So I set aside the shuttle.

Tatting Books

However, about a year ago, I found that there were new books on tatting that had attractive projects. So this past weekend I decided to pick up the shuttles and try something new.

Here are the results of my labor.

Tatting Experiments

So it's not much to look at, and it is slow going at times, but I'm enjoying the challenge of learning something new.

So I'm going to keep plugging away at this and make some fun little bits of lace that I might be able to work into a piece of embroidery.  I'm using KnitPicks Curio #10 crochet thread because it's what I have on hand and all the colors coordinate well. 

KnitPicks Curio Thread

So did you try something new this past Easter weekend?  Have you ever bobbin tatted, any good resources to suggest?

Little knits for little ones

For those of you who follow my sister Carla over at Georgian Bay Fibre Co., you may already know this, but I have some baby knits in my future, because I'm going to be an Auntie!

My sister is having a baby in August and as the designated knitter, I already have a few things on, and off the needles for the future little one.

So far, I've completed two sweaters, a Newborn Vertebrae and a Beyond Puerperium both by Kelly Brooker.  Both have been made out of Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK, in club and OOAK colourways that have been hanging around my stash for ages.  Because Carla hasn't had her gender scan yet, I thought that sunshine yellow (aka Saffron) and autumnal red-orange (aka Paprika) would be perfect for any baby, and great for hand-me-downs, because these little knits really don't last very long, because babies have this nasty habit of growing, or so I hear.

NIco at 6mo in his brown sweater - he is turning 3 on his birthday this month!

NIco at 6mo in his brown sweater - he is turning 3 on his birthday this month!

Up next I have plans for another, fingering weight, Vertebrae that is, in a 6 -12mo size from some yarn in my stash.  Many years ago I made one for a friend, and apparently it was one of the best clothing items she had for her son, Nico.

Another one I'm excited to knit is the R&R Hoodie by Tanis Lavallee. I snagged some Kilcoursie Aran in Asparagus in the April Fools Day sale at Georgian Bay Fibre Co. that will be just perfect for a spring hoodie in the 6-12 month size.

Also, my big knit for the baby is a blanket.  I will be using the Heirloom Chevron Throw pattern from Fancy Tiger Crafts and downsizing it for a baby.  Carla and I are still picking out the colors (some part of her regular collection and a couple of OOAKs) but I expect to be knitting it on the Kilcoursie DK base.  With superwash BFL and nylon, which will be awesome for an item that is going to get a whole lot of wear and tear, and trips through the washer and dryer.

So, what other baby knits should I be adding to my list?  Parents of little ones, what knitted items did you appreciate the most, and which ones were more trouble than they were worth?  Please leave your suggestions in the comments so I can tailor my to knit list to just the most useful items.