Monday, November 30, 2009

Fair Isle Frenzy

Suddenly, everyone at the shop seems to be knee deep in a color work project. Jenn is working on an intarsia bag out of 1824 wool - chosen because of the wonderful, rich, color range. Sorry, I don't have a picture of that one, you'll just have to come in to see it. The rest of us have been working on Fair Isle, or Stranded color projects. It is freakishly fun and addictive. Yeah, knitting is addictive anyway - but somehow this is grabbing my attention extra hard at the moment.

Here I am beginning one of Judy's Colors Christmas stockings. I plan to hang it this year - and make one for every family member, at the rate of one per year. This one is probably going to be mine.

Kelly picked out "Autumn Rose" by Eunny Yang. She then picked out all the colors from the big basket of Elemental Affects hand dyed shetland. The colors she chose are turing out a little cooler and richer. It is going to be lovely. As this is not a Christmas present, I am working on it as a reward in between other projects. It is that much fun.

Luann is knitting "Little Sven" by Cottage Creations - out of Heilo from Dale of Norway. Isn't that going to be adorable? It will be a child's pullover, worked from the bottom up.
Meg designed the "Traverse" hat and mitten set shown here. I love these! We had kits available during the shop hop last September, and there are just a few left - but you can also buy the pattern and yarn separately. The yarn used is Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fibermill, a Michigan company.

If you've been thinking trying a stranded color work project, dive right in! We're here to help you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spinning Guru dispenses wisdom at Woven Art

Patsy Zawitoski, the Spinning Guru, gave us two workshops this past weekend. Saturday we focused on woolen and worsted spinning. These are spinning techniques that result in very different yarns. A woolen yarn is lofty and fuzzy, where a worsted yarn is smoother. An important aspect of this is how the fiber is prepared. Worsted yarns are made from combed fibers, where woolen yarns are better made from fiber that has been carded. I learned how to use combs (you should see my knuckles), and hand cards. I learned how to doff, meaning, I learned how to take the fiber off the cards. I tried using a longer draw, because, even though the fibers are often short for woolen yarn, you use a long draw, allowing quite a distance between the fiber hand and the one letting in the twist. This, I can see, will take some practice. I reverted immediately back to thick and thin yarn. Partly lofty with areas of string.

On Sunday we learned more about fiber preparation, and moved quickly to exotic blends. Yes, we used exotic fibers, like Yak, silk and bamboo. We also cut up some thrums from my latest weaving project, threw in a little angelina, and combined some colors you might not normally put together. I made twelve inches of an amazing yarn with cut tussah silk, yak and cut up warp threads.

We broke into teams. Each team was given a prepared bag of 4 ounces of stuff. My stuff was called "potluck" - literally some fibers left from previous projects, plus some handpainted silk and some angelina flash. Another team had an all white mix of silk, wool, linen and again with the angelina. All the blends made beautiful batts. Everybody got to take home about half an ounce of everyone else's blend. The proof will be in the spinning - which I plan to do this week.

Here are some pictures:

Michelle and Helen making their blend, called Autumn Sunset.

Jenn and Faina carefully planning their all white blend. This one is so elegant.
These are Rhonda's hands - carding some wool.

This is Pat and Patsy - what a pair! They are blending black mohair with soy silk and purple merino. The mohair and soysilk don't like each other at all, but they were tamed, and co-exist in one roving. I wonder what will happen when it is spun?

And finally, Patsy Z herself, unfurling some wool for us to learn with.

It was a great weekend. I got so much out of it. I improved my spinning knowledge so much, but more importantly, I got to spend a lot of time with wonderful people. Really, really fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We had a full weekend of workshops at WovenArt! Andrea Wong was here on Saturday, to teach us the ins and outs (over and arounds?) of Portuguese style knitting. I personally really enjoyed learning a new way to knit. This is the easiest and fastest way to purl, for sure. While I am not sure that "fast" is an ideal goal for all knitters, it sure will be great for me. Because of the shop, I am constantly knitting shop models, class samples, and, natch, presents! So, for me, fast is good. For others, learning a new way to knit might be beneficial as a way to prevent knitting fatigue, or a way to tease the brain a bit. I love brain work! There are all kinds of studies that prove that new challenges are good for your brain.
This is Andrea, showing two students how to get the correct angle. See the pin? Well, see the yarn, tensioned from the shoulder? It is around a pin.
Here is the pin! A nice view of the knitting pin on Jennifer. What a pretty smile! Thanks for posing, Jennifer!

On Sunday, I taught a full day workshop on Rigid Heddle weaving with two heddles. It took the morning to set up the looms, and the afternoon was devoted playing around with different color and weave variations. I was teaching, and didn't have a chance to take pictures, but if you pop over to Carol's Blog, you can find out more.