Thursday, June 30, 2011

Olds Fibre Week

[Photo: Nunu felted peacock dress]
One of the things about being at Fibre Week at Olds, is meeting such interesting and creative folk. Last night I was sitting watching the fashion show (check out the nuno felting peacock dress) and a few seats down there was Syvia Harding knitting another fabulous shawl (check out her lace designs). Down a row was Carol Balogh who has some great knit kits available at her online store Nature's Knit-ch(click here to see some of them) And Barb Brown (one of the guest speakers at Sock Summit 2011), a very gentle soul and well known for knitting knee highs, was there with her book Knitting Knee-Highs, plus the socks in the book! One could findle them. Here's Barb's web site: Wild Geese Fibres.
I also met Caroline Sommerfield, a master of support spindling. If you aren't sure what support spindles are, check her web Ancient Arts Fibre and her book Spinning Exotic Fibres with Russian and Tibetan Spindles. Caroline it turns out also knitted a couple of the socks in Barb's book. It was sandle weather that day, so I did not bother to check out what socks she was wearing on her feet. I took Caroline's advice and bought a Russian spindle or, as Caroline puts it 'I liberated a spindle for the sake of the people'. This woman is persuasive if not downright subversive by converting every passerby into a spindler. The spindle is a walnut one (feels 'right' in my hand and is made by Dick Carney in Kamloops. To go with it, I bought a bowl with an ironwood centre made by Jim Leslie of Calgary. The bowl will fit on my lap.  
With a trip to Scotland, the Orkney and Shetland Islands coming up, and support spindle homework on my list, I justified these purchases as I will have something light and portable to take with me. She also sells fibre and I bought a mixture of Lllamam, mohair and merino but I was sorely tempted to get some mixtures of yak, bison and silk but ran out of cash. I am not too worried, there is always the online store.  
[Photo: Elizabeth aka Zemmie (Ravelry)
with her handknit traditional
Shetland shawl]

[Photo: Putting the shawl through
her grandmother's wedding ring]
Speaking of the Shetland Islands, Elizabeth from North Vancouver, who was in my Level 1 Master Spinners course in Victoria, was there wearing a hand knit shawl she had done in traditional Shetland-style. A true Shetland Island shawl is made from Shetland sheep wool (go figure) and must be spun so fine, that the whole shawl will slip through your wedding ring. I guess maidens are not good enough spinners. It must take years of spinning experience to accomplish yarn that is only a few fibres in diameter.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Note to self: Read Course Supply List at least two months in advance.

[Photo: Spinning in front of Mt Rundle]
So there I was, the night before we leave for year 3 of the Master spinners course. I had not packed, nor finished my homework when I read the list and start throwing things into bags. Scissors, check. Niddy noddy, check. Lazy Kate, check. Dye pot, check. Gloves, check. 25 skeins, 10 meters each of hand spun, tied off and labeled ready for the dye pot Monday morning. 25 skeins! Holy cow. That's 250 meters! And it is needed for first thing Monday morning. 

[Photo: 23 skeins drying in the
motel washroom]
According to homework assignment #38 - Calculating time needed to spin-- that is about 250 minutes for a 2 ply, or just over 4 hours of spinning. It will take a day and a half of driving to get there which will give me a day to spin, but I have to finish my homework, re-paginate everything and double check all the assignments, as well as checking out the fleece judging. That cuts it pretty fine for spinning 250 meters.
So I spun in the car, I spun in the motel in Revelstoke. I spun with the spindle in the car from Kamloops to Banff. I spun while admiring Mt Rundle. I spun from Stony Plain to Olds. I spun in Olds. I spun up all the mohair roving I brought. All 230 meters. Yes, that is right, I am 20 meters short!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Homework - D-Day is coming

[Photo: Starting with this]
Today is Friday. This means I have only 7, seven, s*e*v*e*n, 7, as in one week, 7 days left, that is seven working days, to complete my homework before heading back to Olds College for Fibre Week to start my level 3 Master Spinners course.  
[Photo: To do]
There are two problems with this.
First, I work. And I am away on Sunday. Away, as in 'away from my spinning wheel'. And I am the steers person for a dragon boat team (i.e. I steer and if I don't turn up 22 paddlers will beat me with their paddles) and we have 3 evening practices in the next week. This means I really only have Saturday and 2 evenings in which to finish my homework! You may well ask what the heck I am doing right now spending time telling you this when I should be doing homework. That, is a good question.

Second, this means I only have 7 days before I get assigned another YEARS worth of homework! And the whole darn thing starts all over again.
[Photo: Done!]

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NOT Art yarn

[Photo: Jacey Boggs, wearing a
beehive coil-to-be]
I spent the weekend on Quadra island with an inspiring instructor -- Jacey Boggs, and 11 other students. We were there to learn 'hardcore and softcore' spinning, which is another name for textured yarns and is NOT another name for Art Yarn. Jacey rues the day when she coined the term 'Art Yarn'. The term was originally meant for yarn with integrity, yarn with structure, yarn that is usable and not just something to put on the mantelpiece. But that meaning has been lost and the term is now being used for yarn that is pretty to look at but not much good for making anything. For two days we learned how to create yarns with structure, with integrity. We learned how to make textured yarns, interesting, beautiful to look at, fun and usable yarns.  
[Photo: Stephanie's beehive coils]
We used some wonderful fibres. A beautiful hand painted merino top (sponsored by SpringtreeRoad) which we used for thick and thin yarn and for coils and an incredible batt from Sayra of Atomic Blue. You have not seen batts until you've seen these! Check out their products with the links embedded.
[Photo: AtomicBlue batt and yarn samples.
Much more vivid in real life]
Jacey has a book coming out this fall (December?) on making textured yarns --Spin Art: Mastering the Craft of Spinning Textured Yarn. I think this will be one of 'those' books that will have a tremendous impact on spinning. It will take spinning to a whole new level. I suspect it will generate a lot of buzz and a lot of new spinners. Keep an eye on her blog for this and for her new DVD (her current DVD covers this workshop). Heck, check her blog anyway. She's one of those special people that will inspire you and leave you envious of all her energy. 
[Photo: Michelle getting a kick out
of  being loaded into a tiny boat
and kidnapped]
I came away from the workshop just as energized (v. 1. to make energetic, vigorous or active. 2. another word for overspun kinky single yarn ) as the yarns we made. I also came home with Michelle, my soon to be Master Spinner Level 3 instructor! I have her tucked away in the guest cabin known as the Hilton. Yes. My own private spinning instructor. I may not let her off the island.