Saturday, 26 September 2009

Spinning Mojo

I had a heck of a time spinning from the split roving last weekend because I had forgotten to bring my carding combs. I finally took some time this evening to start spinning the hand-painted Corriedale I had bought on eBay a while back.

This evening I finally sat down and prepped the yarn for spinning and things worked a lot better.

This is almost exactly half of the roving. I'll spin the other half up and ply it and I'm sure it'll look very spiffy. It is the most consistently thin yarn I've ever spun. The key was to draft the fibres a bit longer and allow more twist in the yarn.

I'm getting all geeked up about the upcoming Warkworth Guild Spin-In in Campbellford, ON on October 6, 2009 from 10 'til 3. Weather permitting, Skip and a couple of friends will drive up with me. They'll golf 18 holes while I'm spinning. If it's raining, I'll just drive up there myself and enjoy the fall colour tour.

I've also been looking at the discussion boards on Ravelry about the upcoming New York Sheep and Wool Festival October 17 and 18, 2009 at Rhinebeck, NY in the Hudson Valley about a hour south of Albany.

Skip and I attended in 2007 on a beautiful fall day. Now that I'm spinning there will be even MORE stuff that I'll be interested in seeing. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a spinning wheel in my price range that I'll be able to bring home.

Here I was posing with the roving (pun definitely intended) Blue-Faced Leicester mascot - the 2007 featured breed.

This year's featured breed is the Leicester Longwool. Maybe there'll be some Longwool roving I can bring home with me.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Christmas Planning Already???

Last Christmas at Starbucks, they had a very cool wreath featuring balls of yarn interspersed with glass balls.

Suzanne sent me a link to a website that gives instructions on how to make a reasonable facsimile thereof at home. One day in November, Marion, Elaine and I are going to have a craft day and make wreaths for ourselves.

If you make one sometime between now and Christmas, and you want me to show it off, send me a me a message, I'll tell you where to send the photo and I'll post it on my blog.

I continue working on the second Lehe shawl using the Kiwi yarn.

I'm a little over half finished the centre square.

I also found some deeply discounted, lovely Australian superwash wool for the Lace and Cables baby blanket in a nice, soft green. It is for a former colleague's first, long-desired, much anticipated baby due November 3.

The designer is Stephanie Ament and the pattern is free on Ravelry. It will measure about 30" x 30" when finished.

My only modification was adding 8 rows of k1, p1 moss stitch along the bottom and 6 stitches of it on both sides to prevent the edges from rolling.

Last night at our knitting group at Kniterary, we met an artist/spinner/knitter, Robyn Love, who is working her way across Canada interviewing groups of knitters. Her project is called Knitting Sprawl whereby she explores ideas around community, suburbia and knitting in Canada. The project includes video, photography and knitting, of course! Her German friend, Sonya Schönberger, took care of videotaping the goings on. I'm not exactly sure what the product of this project will be like but Robyn's blog can be followed here.

I'm preparing my lessons for my lace-knitting classes which I'm teaching at Myrtle Station Wool & Ferguson's Knitting on October 3 and 34. I just realized that the first class is next weekend already! Yikes! I decided to break the bank and purchase Knit Visualizer 2.1 from Knit Foundry as I find I'm designing and instructing more and more and it will certainly be a helpful tool. It costs $185US. Right now our Canadian dollar is not doing too badly so I took the plunge and am learning to navigate my way through the program. It is pretty user-friendly. There is a demo version that can be downloaded and previewed.

Now I need to knit up a few swatches for the class next Saturday.

By the way, there are still a couple of spots still available in the class. Call the shop at (905) 655-4858 to save yourself a spot and you can pay the $60 fee which includes your yarn and both classes when you get there. Bring a variety of needles from 3.75mm to 5mm and a printout of Branching Out from

Monday, 21 September 2009

Spinning and Artists and Yarn, Oh My!

On Saturday, Suzanne and I ventured eastward to Port Hope for the World Wide Spin in Public Day in Memorial Park.

I only stayed about an hour but there were a dozen of us already assembled by then including Jody (Gypsy Spinner) from Lakefield and several other spinners whom I met at The Black Lamb event back in July. We discussed the Knitter's Fair that had just taken place last weekend at Bingeman's in Kitchener. Laurie Goldiuk from The Black Lamb thought it would be a great idea to have one east of Toronto, possibly at the Ajax Convention Centre (which has an adjoining hotel) sometime in the month of August as September and October are already so full with knitterly events. If you want any input or want to let Laurie know you support the concept, don't hesitate to drop her an e-mail. If the event does get off the ground, many volunteers will be needed, too.

What does one wear to an event such as this? As much hand-knit stuff that the weather permits. I'm sporting my Must Have Cardigan and recently completed Charade socks.

After an hour or so of spinning, Suzanne and I set out to Brighton for lunch and then to take the scenic route to Prince Edward County for the 2009 Studio & Gallery Tour. We managed to get to 10 of the sites which included fibre artists, artists who worked in oils, water colours, wax, glass and other media. It was a beautiful sunny day and the temperature was perfect.

I found the towns of Bloomfield and Picton to be thoroughly delightful. They were chock full of artsy fartsy stores and galleries. I was really surprised at the traffic congestion in Picton; it was bumper to bumper in both directions. While in Picton we stopped in at Rose Haven Farm Store on Main St. There was a dazzling array of yarns including a variety of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns. I managed to get out of there with only a skein of

Misti Alpaca Lace yarn that I hope to overdye,

a skein of Fleece Artist Somoko (65% Merino, 20% Kid, 10% Nylon, 5% Silk) sock yarn in my favourite jewel tones,

and the current issues of Spin-Off magazine and the Weekend Special Issue of Interweave Knits.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Knitting Survey

Here's a knitting survey I found here this evening. It originates from somewhere in Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Needles of Doom (and added to). I just thought this was a fun way to see what I've done and what I have to do, knitting-wise.

Bold are the things I have knit; italics I plan to do sometime. After 'Knitting in public' near the bottom of the list, I added a few items. Feel free to copy and paste it into your blog.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting (I'm not sure what this is)
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit (do teenagers count?)
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, bathmat)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns (bleah - magic loop for me)
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Fulling/felting Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Rug (does a big bathmat count?)
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift (many pairs of socks, hats, mittens, gloves and at least one sweater)
Knitting for pets (catnip mouse!)
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Knitting with milk fibre
Knitting a sample for a yarn shop
Spinning yarn
Plying yarn
Attending a sheep and wool festival
Attending a 'knitting in public' event
Attending a 'spinning in public' event
Attending a YarnHarlot book event (have been to 2)

Hearts and Hands

Last night at the Trillium Embroidery Guild the finished quilt was revealed that incorporated the squares we stitched last spring in honour of one of our members who succumbed to breast cancer.

It measures 52" x 61 1/2".

It will be on display at the CreativFestival this fall and then will be auctioned by The Quilt, "a spirit-raising visual celebration supporting people living with cancer". There are over 400 quilts in this year's collection.

My square is in the top row, second from the left.

This is a closeup of the bottom left corner.

The piecing and sashing were very cleverly done to accommodate our 22 squares. The smaller hearts shared a square.

I'm really proud to have been part of this project.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Stitching Art

My sister recently discovered the simple beauty of the works of Ojibwa artist, Benjamin Chee Chee. She found a Stitching Studio cross-stitching pattern of one of his works, "Learning". Skip has a print of the original above the desk in his office.

I offered to stitch it for her. It's pretty simple and is stitching up pretty quickly. There are quite a few 3/4 stitches but the backstitching goes pretty quickly.
Stitching the solid parts with three strands is a bit of a pain but the backstitching is with two threads.

The finished design size will measure 11.1" x 9.4" on the 32 count Belfast Linen over 2 stitches.

To make the edges look smoother, I'm going to backstitch all around the solid parts.

Tonight is the September meeting of the Trillium Embroidery Guild at the Whitby Public Library. I'm glad I'll have something interesting to stitch. Also, the top of the 'hearts' quilt should be there for us to see.

Monday, 14 September 2009


Last week Skip and I drove up to the Muskokas to spend a few days with Francey and Rich who drove up from Georgia and Lorna and John. We were fortunate enough to have the use of a lovely cottage on over 200 feet of frontage on Lake Muskoka north of Bala.

This is the view from the main deck.
You could just feel your blood pressure going down the longer you sat out on the deck listening to the gentle rustle of leaves in the trees and intermittent call of a loon.

The guys enjoyed a few holes of golf. Here they are posing in front of Skip's new car.

Skip returned home on Wednesday as he had a golf tournament there on Thursday.

The rest of us took a lovely lunch cruise of part of Lake Muskoka on the Segwun.

It was a lovely sunny day.

There's nothing quite like spending some holiday time with long-time friends.

Dyeing - Part II

The blue-faced Leicester is a lovely wool with a good twist. Yesterday at the dyeing workshop, I picked the analogous colours of yellow, orange and kelly green for this yarn. The kelly green was more of a lime green and after painting my skein looked somewhat like a flag of some African nation.

Once rewound into a skein the kelly green was more of a chartreuse or lime green.

The seacell yarn was dyed with Sky Blue, Violet and Spruce.

There's enough yarn to make a small shawl or sizeable scarf.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Dying to Dye

Yesterday Marion, Elaine and I ventured to Uxbridge to participate in a yarn dyeing workshop at On The Lamb. We each had our own work station under the gazebos at the back of the shop.

We were each given three types of yarn: a sock yarn, 100% blue-faced Leicester wool and 100% seacell. The yarn had to first be soaked for about an hour in Synthrapol, an agent that opens up the fibres and allows the water to penetrate the yarn completely. After pressing the water out we laid the damp yarn on Saran Wrap and selected our colours to start hand-painting it.

My first attempt was painting the sock yarn with kelly green, violet, sky blue and a few splashes of turquoise which was in limited supply.

We used foam craft brushes to literally paint the yarn.

For the blue-faced Leicester wool, I used orange, kelly green and yellow.

On the seacell, I used sky blue, violet and spruce.

Once finished 'painting', we then rolled up the yarn in the Saran Wrap lengthways and then rolled up the long tube like a jelly roll and put it in Ziploc bags. The Ziploc bags are then put into a big pot and steamed for an hour to set the dye.

During this time, we were served a delicious lunch catered by the Tin Mill Restaurant.

After our yarn was steamed, it was removed from the bags and cooled down. Then the hanks were given a rinse in sythrapol again to remove any residual dye that had not adhered to the fibres. Then the water was again pressed out of the yarns.

Here is what mine looked like at this stage.

We were told to rinse the yarn once more at home with Dawn to make sure the last bits of residual dye were rinsed free and rinse again in clear water with vinegar to set the dye one last time.

Here we all are with our beautiful yarns.

After the final rinses, it took a while for my yarns to dry. I then rewound the yarn into a skein to show off the blending of the colours.

This is my beautiful sock yarn.

The whole process was lots of fun but I now have a greater understanding why hand-painted yarns are more expensive.

Now for the perfect sock pattern.....

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Scarf With No Name

I have been asked to test-knit a lacy scarf using a luscious new 80% merino/20% cashmere yarn from Uruguay called Punta Yarns Mericash. It is fingering (4 ply) weight and just calling for a nice, soft scarf to be made from it. I thought I'd try a (gasp!) non-Estonian scarf for a change and have decided upon this pattern:

It's a free pattern on Ravelry called "Scarf With No Name". I liked the lacy, leafy pattern and added one more stitch to each side for the garter stitch edge and will pull points on the sides when I block it.

The yarn comes in several colourways in solids, handpainted, and variegated called 'thousand colours'.

Myrtle Station Wools and Ferguson's Knitting just got a bunch of it in as well as a worsted weight in a variety of colours, as well as sock yarns in solids, space dyed and handpainted. The yarn is not plied, it's like the softest handspun singles you could ever create. Ahhh.

Any suggestions for a real name for this scarf? Please don't hesitate to suggest a name in the comments. I'll keep posting pictures of the scarf as things progress but starting Monday, I may be incommunicado for a few days so stay tuned...

Oh yeah, I'm going to be teaching a 2-class 'learn to knit lace' course at Myrtle Station Wools and Ferguson's Knitting (Hwy 12 north of Brooklin) on two Saturdays coming up - October 3 and 24. Call the shop at (905)655-4858 for more information or to sign up. The fee is $60 and includes the skein of yarn for your project. I will be using the Branching Out pattern and will be covering needle size selection, casting on choices, reading a knitting chart, increasing using yarnovers and various decreases. In the second class I'll review these concepts and cover finishing the scarf and demonstrating wet blocking.

Also a Durham Region yarn crawl is being organized so I'll post the date when it becomes known. Possible participants will be On The Lamb in Uxbridge, Myrtle Station Wool & Ferguson's in Myrtle Station (Ashburn), Kniterary in Whitby, Never Enough Wool in Port Perry and Soper Creek Yarns in Bowmanville.

Friday, 4 September 2009

A Brush With Greatness

I finished the first 'Practice Makes Perfect' sock yesterday. I really like how the cables worked with this striped Regia Kaffe Fassett yarn.

I ran a plain cable down each side of the foot. The cables mirror each other.

Here's a closeup of my favourite 'eye of partridge' heel:

I posted a photo of my sock as my profile photo on Facebook and got a comment from the cable goddess herself, Fiona Ellis, who is also one of my Facebook friends.

Fiona: Lovely spiffy sock!
Geri: I'm glad you like it, Fiona. The cable is from your "Practice Makes Perfect" scarf. :-)

Fiona: Wow..I'm thrilled to hear that.

Cool, eh?

I'm beavering away on the second sock and am about an inch from starting the heel flap.

Here's a recap:

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

After knitting the Earl Grey socks, I thought I'd knit another pair with more intricate cables up the side. I liked the Moon River socks but on closer inspection i figured I could design a pattern just as nice. I looked through the books I have with cable patterns and happened upon the 'Practice Makes Perfect scarf in Fiona Ellis' "Inspired Cable Knits". So I'm making 'Practice Makes Perfect' socks loosely based on the scarf pattern. I've had this Kaffe Fassett sock yarn in my stash for some time and think they look quite smashing.

I'm on the 'eye of partridge' heel flap and am still deciding what cable pattern to run down the sides of the foot.

Today Skip and I test-drove the '06 Subaru Forester for the last time and made the deal to buy it. The '08 7-seater Rondo would have been nice but we didn't need the 6th and 7th seats, the leather interior or the moon roof. Instead we went for quality, reliability and low kilometrage. We pick the Forester up on Thursday. The '96 Subaru probably would have done the Texas trip again without any problem, but this way we have peace of mind and a reliable vehicle that should last us at least 10 years.