Welcome to December! This is my favorite time of the year – as in, I had the house decorated for Christmas by Black Friday. Here’s some odds’n’ends since September.
Montrose Farms I had a fun time spinning at National Alpaca Day at Montrose Farms. My friend Heather came with and we demonstrated spinning. I about have all my blue singles finished. I’m planning to ply it (two-ply) and then knit a shawl with it and a gray.
Ann Tudor Stitch Markers As a charter member in the Collectors Club I get first access to that month’s set. Above are the September and November sets and I love love love both. Ann is so creative and her work is beautiful. Her website is here.
Needle Case Labels I’ve been collecting a few needle organizers from Erin Lane Bags for the purpose of organizing all of my fixed circular needles. I also wanted to label each pocket so I’d know where needles went, and be able to find them without a needle sizer. So I bought some Avery iron transfer paper on Amazon and made sheets of labels. Then I cut out the labels and ironed them on. I’m very happy with how they turned out and will definitely make more if needed.
Jessica Knits In early November I had a work conference in Scottsdale, Arizona and due to flights, I got in many hours before the conference started. I found online a local yarn shop not too far away from my hotel and headed over there early Sunday afternoon. The local yarn shop is called Jessica Knits and I loved it! They had a good selection of different yarns, including some local yarns. The burgundy and gray skeins above are from Gherkin’s Bucket, a local indie-dyer. So, I was excited to buy some “vacation” yarn. The dark purple is some Malabrigo Rio to go with orange in a hat. I also hung out for a bit to knit with their Sunday afternoon knitting group. What a wonderful group of ladies! They were so welcoming and kind to a stranger.
Sewing Next week I’ll go into detail about my numerous sewing projects. There are a lot of them!
It’s almost fall. We’re almost there! I love fall – cinnamon, apples, fallen leaves, the slight chill, plaid shirts (which apparently is “in” this fall”) and more apples. I might have already put out fall decorations and stocked up on cinnamon as I gear up for a busy September.
New Bag I ordered (another) custom bag from The Silver Shed on Etsy. The proprietress Ann is always so great to work with and this time was no exception. I found this Supernatural (as in the tv show) themed fabric on Spoonflower and was dying to have it as a bag. So, I reached out to Ann, ordered and shipped her the fabric and POOF she made me a bag. One of the things I love about her shop is the ability to customize the bag by adding different types of exterior and interior pockets. I love the big clear vinyl pocket on the outside for storing my pattern. I couldn’t be more pleased.
Upcoming Design I’m wrapping up a cozy autumn/winter shawl that has mesh and a slipped stitch texture designed to show off highly variegated yarns. It should go out to test knitters by the end of the month – if you’re interested in test knitting please shoot me an email or/ message me on Ravelry. Test knitters get a free copy of this pattern PLUS a free copy of any other of my patterns of their choice.
- September 16 – I will be at Nomad Yarns in Plainfield, Indiana during their Santa Knits in September event for the debut of my new pattern with Malabrigo. You can choose from a selection of Malabrigo yarns and get a free copy of the pattern.
- September 17 – I will be in Yellow Springs, Ohio for The Wool Gathering fiber festival. This event does not offer classes/workshops so I will NOT be teaching there.
- September 23 – I will be at Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch in Brownsburg, Indiana to demo spinning alpaca during their annual open house event. There will also be a fiber processing demonstration, alpaca photo booth and all the cute farm animals.
Upcoming Blog Posts I’ve been thinking a lot about fixed versus interchangeable knitting needles, how to organize my needles, books I read last month, squeezing in a little yarn dyeing and some fun fall recipes. Is there anything in particular you’d like to hear about?
I spent some time in December thinking about my goals from last year and my goals for this year. I felt last year like my time for fiber arts was being ruled by my goals. Finish x many designs, knit x many yards, and so on. In some ways, it sucked the fun out of it. I think it was a combination of too many goals and being too optimistic. So this year I’ve dialed back and instead of focusing on quantity, I’m focusing on learning new things. That sounds way more fun, right?
A couple notes about the blog – I’ll be staying with the blog posts every other week, with a focus on them being shorter. They’ll also be published on Sunday going forward.
Review of last year:
I knit 3,500 yards across nine projects. Six of those were my own designs, with one not yet released. Four were shawls, two were cowls. I finished one spinning project but have several more on the wheels and bobbins. I released five new patterns, the most recent being the Sybil Ludington shawl, which may be my favorite. I taught two new classes (Lace Knitting 101 & Bead Knitting) plus one old one (raw fleeces) at two different fiber events.
About setting goals:
I posted year before last about setting SMART goals, particularly as they rely to fiber artists. That post is here. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time relevant. While I think its a valid method, its not what I used this year.
- Write and submit one article
- Develop and teach two new classes
- Design and publish two new patterns
- Learn how to knit entrelac
- Learn how to knit brioche
- Learn to spin with beads
- Spin a consistent worsted weight yarn
It’s almost fall. We’re almost there! I love fall – cinnamon, apples, fallen leaves, the slight chill, plaid shirts (which apparently is “in” this fall”) and more apples. Seriously, I’ve already dehydrated five pounds of apples and made chili.
Small Stash Swap Weekend before last my friend brought over some yarn she wanted to swap. She had received some yarn from a family member that she couldn’t use (she’s allergic to wool – how tragic is that?). In particular, she was hoping for some Knit Picks Stroll I had in my stash. So, I traded for the beauties pictured beauties. Left to right: 1)Sassafras Sock in Jack’O’Lantern from Hiwassee Creek Dyeworks; 2)Vesper sock in Tartan from Knitterly Things; and 3)Bounce in Here We Go from Fibernymph Dyeworks. So far I’ve avoided skeining them up, but that’s coming.
New Bag Here is my very large custom bag (think sweater size) from The Silver Shed on Etsy. The proprietress Ann was so great to work with and had the custom bag off to me so quickly. One of the things I love about her shop is the ability to customize the bag by adding different types of exterior and interior pockets. I also was able to choose to the interior fabric. I couldn’t be more pleased.
Upcoming Design I’m wrapping up a cozy autumn shawl that has mesh, lace and some simple cables. It should go out to test knitters next weekend – if you’re interested in test knitting please shoot me an email or message me on Ravelry. Hopefully it will be released around Halloween.
Super Secret Project I’m not ready to disclose any names or details but I’m excited to be starting on some possible design work in collaboration with a yarn company. They’ve sent some skeins and, after I finish the autumn shawl, I’m going to work on some sketches and swatches. Hopefully I’ll have more to tell you about this next month.
Upcoming Events I will be demoing spinning and/or fiber prep at the National Alpaca Day open house at Montrose Farms on September 24th. I have it on good authority there will be wine there 🙂
(above – Woolee Winder flyer gear)
The good news is I finished something since my last On The Wheel post. The bad news is one of these items is still on here. My default wheel is still my eSpinner and thus I haven’t been spinning on my Kromski Sonata nearly as much. Both my Sonata projects are in my bin for this year. I set aside (out of my stash baskets) enough fiber (that I really want to spin) to meet my ounce spinning goal for the year. It is sort of a “Spin the Bin” thing but a bit more relaxed.
This is my next, not even quite on the wheel yet, fiber to spin on the miniSpinner. Although it might be on the wheel by the time the post goes live. The fiber is again from Fiber Fancy (which I believe is now defunct) and is a 70/30 blend of merino/alpaca.The colorway is called “Dark Spectrum” and is a natural gray alpaca overdyed with red, orange, yellow, green and blue. I have 4.2 ounces and intend to complete it as a two-ply yarn. The second ply tentatively will be solid black alpaca.
This is 4.2 ounces from wooliebullie and is a 50% merino, 50% mulberry silk blend. The colorway is Beaujolais – a deep purple/magenta. Buttery smooth top to the touch. I’m aiming for a 2-ply lace or light fingering. My default 2-ply is a sport weight so the lace is a challenge for me. It’s slow going – I’ve been pre-drafting a lot to keep it consistently thin. I divided the top in half (one for each ply) and am still on the first half. I will finish both bobbins of singles and then ply on the eSpinner, I think.
This is fiber from Tomorrow Farm for the Once Upon a Time Spin Along. I bought two different colorways from this spin along – Emma and Snow White. My Snow White (eight ounces) became this shawl. The Emma fiber is proving a bit more challenging (I’m blaming the tencel). The fiber includes alpaca, tencel, merino and faux cashmere and is a pretty blend of blues, white and grays. As with the purple above, I’ll finish spinning the singles on the Sonata and then ply on the miniSpinner.
Bamboo blends. I keep trying to love them – I really do – but they don’t love me back. I stuck with it though and finished this braid.
The Process (Ravelry page)
- 50% merino wool, 25% bamboo, 25% silk combed commercial top
- Combed top from Fiber Fancy (it appears her Etsy store has been closed)
- 4.1 ounces unspun; 3.8 ounces spun
- 494 yards / 2080 yards per pound
- 19 wraps per inch (light fingering)
- Spun on my Hansen miniSpinner on the lace flyer, plied on the Woolee Winder
I tore the top into strips for predrafting, mostly because I prefer predrafting and wanted to make sure the bamboo and silk were opened up. Also, some of the bamboo and silk bits were short and didn’t draft out smoothly. I spun the singles together as a two ply.
What Will it Grow Up to Be
Hmm. I liked the fall colors initially but did not expect so much orange. I’d like to tone it down a bit but I’m not looking to overdye this one. Instead, I think I’m going to knit this yarn in stripes or block with an olive green yarn. I think that combination would make a nice fall shawl or cowl.
Fiber arts wise last year was interesting. Things were different than I expect and new opportunities presented themselves. I can only hope 2016 is just as exciting!
Review of last year’s goals:
I won’t go through each 2015 goal but I do want to talk about what I learned from my goals. I set a knitting goal to improve knitting efficiency but once I researched different techniques, I wasn’t as interested. I might some day in the future, but not now. Next, rather than stating a number of projects to knit, a better measure would be based on number of yards knit. I set a goal to design and publish four patterns and fell short
Rather than review each 2015 goal individually I want to talk about what I learned from my goals. For one, sometimes interests change, and one shouldn’t feel required to fulfill a goal just for the sake of meeting a goal. Second, sometimes a new opportunity presents itself and that might require the sacrifice of time that might otherwise be dedicated toward a specific goal. And you know what? That’s ok. Third, and last, don’t set too many goals! Focus on what’s most important to you.
About setting goals:
I posted last year about setting SMART goals, particularly as they rely to fiber artists. That post is here. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time relevant.
- Organize fiber arts studio to allow for storage space
- Design & release six patterns
- Propose three articles
- Develop two new classes
- Knit 5000 yards of yarn
- Complete one brioche project
Spinning & Fiber Prep
- Clean remaining fleeces (1 merino and 1 alpaca) by March 31, 2016.
- Process 144 ounces of raw fleece (including cleaning).
- Spin 48 ounces of fiber.
- Spin two ounces with beads
Does anyone know where the summer went? I feel like I need to place a ‘lost’ ad for it.
Interweave/Spinning Daily Webinar Recap My webinar with Interweave/Spinning Daily was earlier this week. Despite my apprehension about presenting in an environment where I had no feedback to judge interest and engagement, it was actually pretty good. There were about 20-25 live attendees and more than registered to watch it offline. If you missed or couldn’t attend the webinar it’s available as an on-demand download from the same link (on my classes page).
Upcoming Design I really thought my next pattern would be a shawl. I had this stitch pattern I wanted to center it around but that stitch pattern had a mind of its own. So it’s going to be a beaded cowl. If you’ve never added beads to your knitwear before this will be a great pattern to start with since the lace pattern is so repeatable and beads are only placed every few rows. It should be released in September.
I Won Some Yarn (and by some I mean a sweater’s worth) My stash increased again since Stitches Midwest but I promise I didn’t buy the yarn. The Buffalo Wool Company held a Facebook/Instagram Contest to see what sweaters people would make out of their Buffalo Skies DK yarn. I found out last week that my entry won and the yarn arrived Friday. Want to see a pretty picture? 8 skeins of Still Water. Upcoming Events
I actually don’t have any classes or events scheduled the rest of this year (unless you count a vacation in October). I’m always available though to schedule some teaching either in person or via Skype if you’re interested
I’ve alluded a couple times in prior posts that I have some exciting news. I wanted to wait until I had more information to share and now I do! Spinning Daily (part of Interweave Press) asked me if I was interested in presenting a webinar on raw fleeces. Of course I said yes, so on August 24th at 1pm Eastern I will be providing a one hour overview on selecting and cleaning raw fleeces!
As with my other classes I’ve put all the details over here on my classes page, but let me give you the skinny. In contrast to my normal three hour live classes, this will be a one hour overview via a powerpoint presentation. It’s $20 and slides will be able to all attendees after the live webinar. If you can’t attend the live webinar, an audio power point version will be available afterwards. So, if you’re ever the least bit curious about buying and cleaning your own fiber, this is a perfect introduction to get you going.
If you’re interested and would like to sign up, please click on the sign up link on my classes page here. If you have questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait for August 24th!
Here’s the summary of the webinar I put together with Spinning Daily.
About the Web Seminar:
So you want to buy your first raw fleece, but which one should you choose? Then what do you do with it? Do you have a stack of fleeces in your garage you’re unsure what to do with? Processing a raw animal fleece gives you control over the progression from animal to finished object. Choosing a raw fleece and processing it can be an intimidating process. Understanding the process, and how the fibers and methods impact you choices, will help you maximize your results.
Courtney will guide you through an overview of what to consider when buying a fleece and what options are available for cleaning your fleece. She will discuss wool, alpaca, angora and mohair to learn what constitutes a great raw fleece. Then, she will walk viewers through the process of cleaning a fleece – skirting, washing, drying and flicking the locks. Drawing on her fiber processing experiences, including lessons learned the hard way, she will cover what to watch out for when buying a raw fleece, what types of soap work best, different drying methods and tools used for flicking tips. Using close up photos, see exactly what Courtney does to select the perfect bag of fiber and produce a clean fleece with confidence.
What You’ll Learn:
- Select a raw animal fleece that meets your needs
- Understand different types of animal fibers including wool, alpaca, mohair and angora rabbit
- Skirt a fleece to remove veg matter, short cuts and other undesirable pieces
- Wash and dry a fleece for superior results
- Flick locks to prepare the fiber for spinning, combing or carding
Who Should Attend:
- Handspinners who want to buy their own animal fleeces with confidence
- Handspinners who would like to clean animal fleeces
- Knitters or crocheters who want to buy their own fleeces for processing at a fiber mill
- Fiber animal owners who want to understand what spinners look for in a raw fleece
Its officially summer and things are heating up (ha-ha) so I thought I’d take the chance to write a post with some odds n’ ends – quick updates, a revised blog schedule and things to look forward to.
Back to the Old Blog Schedule Well, twice a week blog posts didn’t happen. For the forseeable future I’m going back to one a week. If there’s something exciting I might have two, but for now, one is more reasonable.
Upcoming Webinar Some very exciting news I’m not quite ready to go into detail about yet (I just sent in the signed contract last week). I was contacted about teaching a webinar on raw fleeces in August. So, if you weren’t able to take one of my classes in person, now’s your chance to get a condensed version. I will post more about this later as the details are firmed up but I’m super excited!
Upcoming Events Stitches Midwest is now less than three weeks away and I’m already giddy with excitement. I’m going with two friends for what will end up being about 2.5 days. I just signed up today for a beading class. BIG NEWS. This will be the inagural year for a Stitch Marker Swap at Stitches Midwest. Erin Lane Bags is doing the bulk of the organizer. If you’re going and wish to participate, see the thread in the Ravelry Stitches Midwest group. The general idea is you bring a large number of stitch marker you made and then you swap them with others who made some. Several of the vendors are participating and you will get a little button to signify you’re a swapper. Shawl Pattern Coming Out in August My first shawl pattern should be coming out on Ravelry in August or early September. It will again use one skein of sock yarn and be based on the pi shawl design.
Family Vacation Well, sort of. My mother couldn’t go due to her dad having some health issues so I went with my dad and brother. We had already rented a KOA cabin on Lake Barkley in western Kentucky and couldn’t change the reservation. I’ll leave you with some fun photos.
Giant Chess Set – I had challenged my dad to this as soon as we knew we were going. Game ended in a draw. We each had one rook and our kings. Out on the Water