Monday, December 14, 2009

My Blue Heaven

I couldn't help diving into this gorgeous Romney fresh from Yorkshire Rose Farm. Bess from Make 1 is a genius and is getting product from these folks who have just started selling their fabulous fleece.
Oh. My.

I was lucky enough to be able to test-spin up 2 oz. of this gorgeous Romney lamb batt on Saturday (Second Saturday of the month is Spin-in Day at M1). The pictures do not give the tactile experience, though.

See all those little fuzzy hairs? They are not anything but soft, soft fuzz. Imagine a baby lamb. That's what it feels like. And the lovely long staple - and sproingy crimp - of the Romney makes it pure joy to spin.

There is some gorgeous natural gray, the blue-with-gray I tried out (along with my uber-talented fibre friend Dawn known as MagicNeedles on Ravelry) and some pretty pink-with-natural white.
If you don't go get some, I will take it all home.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A bit of bamboo...or Trying to Hang Onto Summer As Long As I Can

Here's a bit of bamboo/merino roving, from Twist Of Fate (she calls it "Panda Bear Likes It" for bamboo reasons), and this gorgeous greeny-blue colour just reminds me of lakes and the green stuff that grows by them. And the blue sky of summer. Which sadly, I've not seen a lot of this year.

It's been a whirlwind summer; we got off to a cracking start in May with a trip to Ottawa, and then back home just in time for Aurora to finish school, and head to Edmonton for outdoor adventures for a bit with her woods-loving uncle. And I renovated the house.

And then we did the last bit of Stampede - good fun, but stolen time - and Aurora went to Montreal for three weeks. And I finished the renos, and put the house on the market.

And now...Aurora's home, the house is nearly sold, we are looking for a new home, and we are, thankfully, going on holiday to the Shuswap for a gigantic Time Out. And I am planning my knitting and spinning projects. Last weekend, Erynn came in to Make 1 with this big basket and this roving just peeked out at me, and jumped into my hands. I've been feeling the weather; despite a brief heat wave for a week or so, it's been petulant - feels like grey skies more than blue. I desperately needed a dose of summer. And so I sat on Saturday, and Sunday, spinning this lovely stuff. Silky and easy-to-spin, and gentle colour gradiation like water-to-sky. I felt like I was swimming.

So...I plan to firmly esconce myself on the dock, on the lake near this cabin I've never been to, and just sit, and soak up some sun, and dip my toes in the lake. And finish spinning up some summer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hands down

So I think I've figured the thumb out. I like it - now for the second one.

They match this beret:P1070850

So it's nearly a set. And at the risk of showing off, they're in the window at M1. All out of one skein of DK weight (yellow label) Tanis Fiber Arts from Montreal - a fabulous base yarn that she's beautifully dyed...makes my knitting look heroic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I am all thumbs

I'm trying to design this something I'll call Lacy Handsleeve, and so far I like it.

But I've knit & ripped the thumb several times - and now I'm here. Trying to figure out how to close the thumb and keep the integrity of the lace pattern - and keep the thumb join stable. Previous attempts have left it gapey, or pulling. I started with a not-quite afterthough thumb, but that pulled the lace pattern. It was too ugly to photograph, so I ripped it. Late-night attempts last night won't even be discussed.

This little beauty is all in the attempt to use up the rest of the sample skein of Tanis Fiber Arts, after finishing up the Spring Beret (happily sitting in M1's window right now), and the lace pattern for the glove is borrowed from that (which is probably borrowed from elsewhere, as well)!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pretty pleased

I was pretty stunned when a friend mentioned to me on Facebook that they "saw my ribbon" at Stampede. I couldn't wait to get down there to do my volunteer spinning and go see the Exhibition - and see my pretty little rosette. Third place in my section, amongst the fantastic knitters on display?

What were those judges thinking? (apparently, good thoughts of my knitting...who knew?)
I am so honoured to be in the company of some fantastic knitters. I am in awe of Marilynn Bonar's lacemaking prowess and ability, and Annie's quiet but graceful way of getting things JUST right, from fibre and pattern choice to just how gorgeous they feel and drape. (By the way, Annie/Spinknit, along with Opera, are fantastic wool judges and did some great fleece judging in the Stampede - for more, read Spinknit's July 15 entry.)
And to be in the company of my other fellow knitters' bravery in showing off this year's creations. Few who see the work on display actually know that these bits are mere snapshots of a larger passion, and the choices to show - or not to - and what to show - or not to - are something that defines each knitter's art.
I was so glad to be able to share my love of fibre, in the opportunity to spin along side a fantastic spinner in the barns, and again, with my guild in the Exhibition. My fellow Sheep Creek Weaver guild members were demonstrating some fantastic wet-felting and pin-felting, plus spinning. I'd like to think those who stopped by are a little wiser for their foray into that cabin, and look a little closer at any knitting or fibre art they next encounter.

By the way, mark your calendars because the Sheep Creek Weavers' annual sale, as we told anyone who would listen, is coming up October 24. Some fabulous one-of-a-kind items, beautifully handmade, and all local, will be at the Millarville Race Track.

Friday, June 26, 2009

In the Fibre Rodeo

Well sort of. Five bucks an entry for possible bragging rights at Stampede is a pretty good investment. Finally got up the gumption to throw my hat in the ring, and enter my quota of two items in the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase.

Tough call, though, to decide what to show. There are so many talented knitters out there, I'm really looking forward to see what everyone puts in! I probably should've entered some spinning but didn't manage to get up my nerve.

And for my two items: I elected to put in my first-ever finished lace project - I knit an Arrowhead lace shoulder shawl start-to-finish (in sport weight hand-painted Mountain Colours Swizzle in blue/purple jewel tones) for my mother in honour of her 60th birthday (pics to come) and my Entrelac Cap, seeing loads of people loved it. I've spent a lot of time on Entrelac this year - and I fear a few of my students will put my simple squares to shame - but it's all about the journey for me. This year, I conquered that fear of lace, and learned entrelac well enough to teach it.

The best news of all: I get to BE at Stampede, spinning my heart out, with the Rare Breeds sheep, in the Barns (the Ag building) for two evenings (July 7 & 8) AND with the Sheep Creek Weavers on July 11 in the Round-up Centre. I shall have photos...and (greedily rubbing hands together)...some Rare Breeds fleece!!
This week: Up to Olds Fibreweek on Sunday to learn Natural Dyeing with Jen Black - good fun!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A taste of fibre

One might argue I do have enough fibre in my diet, but I don't think so.
Especially when I've been tempted with a gorgeous Fibre Tasting hosted by Bess at Make 1 Yarn Studio, with fibre courtesy of another fabulous fibre friend (can you say that 5 times fast?), Erynn Carney, of Twist of Fate, now in Kamloops, BC.

It's just one of the fun events Bess has going on at the shop. (Let's not forget about World Wide Knit In Public Day - this Saturday, June 13, in Calgary - a co-host with The Knitting Room. We're meeting at Make 1, leaving from Bridgeland LRT station at 11:30, and ending up at Riley Park. Bring a lunch and hat and other necessities for the jaunt.)

This Yumminess Orgy happened at Tuesday knit night yesterday - oooh....too much to ponder. Yes, I certainly petted the 'Tosh.

But there was a gorgeous fishbowl full of some fibre yumminess. With samples of things that had fabulous names: sock yarn in Walk The Line (left) (80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon = YUMMY) and Mermaid's Tale (right) (70% Superwash Merino and 30% Seacell - gorgeously soft).
And in fibre clockwise here: Blue-Faced Leicester in Rumble (gorgeous blues, greens & burgundy), 100% alpaca in Vision (blues), oh-so-soft superfine superwash merino in Cherry Bomb (our dear AnneKatrin, lover of all things red & black made off with this after we had a go), Organic Wool in Ooh, My, and hand-dyed Tussah Silk. What you don't see (or maybe peeking through on the spindle is some lovely pink-black Superwash Merino & Bamboo called "Panda Likes It".

And my new little medieval (reproduction from a true relic) pewter-cast dropspindle (quite a tiny but mighty wee tool) had a fabulous time learning how to spin with me, being wooed by the luxury fibres: superfine merino, seacell, silk, a touch of cashmere, organic wool...we became better friends. (We'd been having a difference of opinion since I brought him home; he was behaving all belligerent and wobbly but turns out he just needed a little fibre in his belly to settle him out.)

All to show a little fine food will take a friendship a long way.

And for me, although it was little tastes of everything all night (well sometimes a plateful), thanks to Bess' generosity, I (and my spinning bag) certainly went home full.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Tale of Kale

I realize the entire world does not necessarily know about Madelinetosh yarns even though they should. I have just discovered them in person, and even before I met my first skein, I was already in awe.

The chatter on Ravelry recently about them has been intense, and I noticed many online retailers were selling out of it faster than it came in. It is touted as soft, soft, soft for a hand-dyed yarn, and with colours deeper and clearer than you can photograph, due to a glazing technique and layered dyeing. Truly an artisan's yarn.

So...imagine my delight when, smack in the middle of my Birthday Month of May, kindly after my return from Ottawa, Make 1 Yarn Studio's new owner, Bess Mullaney, managed to wrangle a shipment to the shop. (I believe this makes Make 1 the only Canadian brick & mortar retailer of this fabulous yarn.)

What they say is all true. I am deeply, agonizingly in love. My tale of the Kale (colour pictured here) is a classic one for yarn lovers everywhere.

It all begain when the gorgeous yarn came in, and was situated on the table at the back, for meets & greets. I wandered over and met every colour, surreptitiously perused each skein. I was considering one colour, Oxblood, as a distant possibility and then...peeking out from under the more outwardly flamboyant single skeins...was Kale. A whole six skeins of her. I introduced myself, and although we both behaved casually, there was a knowing. Straight away. And, perhaps because of that knowing, or an instant faith that the Kale was mine, or maybe because of the side distraction of the Tilli Tomas I'd actually gone there to meet, I inexplicably left the yarn store that night without the Kale. I knew I'd be back, I knew she'd be there.

And so, the next day, after some guest appearances in my dreamtime plus a few hours' worth of increasingly obsessive online pattern and yarn research (of all the Kale images online, none matched my memory) and amount decisions (the whole six? maybe only three? could I justify all six? I wanted to do the Mara Shawl at the very least, leaving some for mitts and a hat, or a shawl expansion ) I marched to the yarn store ready to do my worst and take that Kale home where she belonged.

The table where we met was already thinned out; many skeins had gone home where they belonged. I spied one lonely skein of Kale and frantically searched for the rest. Where was the rest? Why wasn't she here? I refused to accept the possibility that she'd gone with someone else, hoping against hope she was there somewhere, just coquettishly hiding, or hanging out in a different part of the store. She was not. Past store policy has been "no holds" particularly on new yarns, so that was out, too. Not wanting to present myself as a high-needs customer to the lovely new purveyor of yarn splendor, I didn't even bother to ask, and kept my reaction diffident.

Inwardly, I was crushed. Much more than I ever thought I could be - this was yarn, after all. Just string with colour. Except it was not, no matter what I tried to bully myself into believing. This outcome was not what I had expected. Kale and I had made an agreement. Unspoken, yes, especially to Bess, the all-important keeper of the cash register, but still.
I had the one skein, firmly clasped against my chest. Feeling its softness, I tried to soothe myself. One skein of Tosh. Perhaps we could still make something. Maybe even a shawl. Perhaps, even though it would never be the same, I could mix that one skein with a couple of comparable colourways. It was already feeling painful. Bess tried, she really did, to help me decide what would go best. We found a reasonable match, a bit of greeny Bungalow and paler skein of purply/burgundy Oxblood. But it just wasn't the same. They came home with me, sat and had a visit with Kale, and then we talked it over and realized it just wasn't going to work.

I went to bed, feeling pretty despondent. All night, I kept dreaming of those other 5 skeins, that they were calling me somehow, telling me it was all right, that they would be there. I dreamed someone had bought them by accident and brought them back. Or that they'd managed to escape and hide from the hordes looking to snatch up some Tosh Stash. Or that there was a holds bin. That's when I knew I was totally losing it.

I woke, and knew I would still have to make my shawl, but maybe not with the green in it. What made the Kale for me was the purple with just the hint of pale green, peeking out just like its namesake. So I went back to the store, and Bess kindly exchanged, and we came home with the Oxblood. It was a better match for the Kale, but still, my heart sank, knowing it really was not what any of us wanted. I was trying to be grateful, after all, because I now had FOUR skeins of Madelinetosh and how lucky is that, and the Oxblood was there, happy to be with me anyway (she'd been kindly turned down the other day by her most likely choice, who was wisely practical and had far more restraint than I). Just like the other day, the Kale and the others sat, talked it over, and tried to find a way to make it work. I couldn't shake the feeling it just wasn't meant to be.

The next day, determined to have eyes half-shut after the purchase and practicing feeling grateful, a surprise post appeared in my Ravelry inbox. From Bess. At Make 1. With tagline "Kale". She had already promised to let me know if she could get more in, or if it came back to the store. Neither of us was hopeful, and with the hand-dye batch process, it was gonna be tough, either way. We both knew that last one was the batch for me. It was time to move on.

"I have all this Kale in the holds bin," her note began, and my heart began to pound. "And it was YOU I was holding it for!"

I was stunned. Giddy. Happy. Unbelieving. Kale was there! I KNEW it! Kale had been telling me so, all along! The chaos of the flurry of ToshStashing had Bess, that Seer of Truth, who had known what I denied in that moment, re-instate a holds bin, and then, with the confidence that happiness was secured, promptly put her agile mind to other more pressing details for the unrequited, and forgot.
What a lesson - and what joy! Had I bared my proud soul and simply inquired after a holds bin, Bess would have been prompted. Never again will pride come between me and the yarn meant to be mine!