Saturday, January 26, 2008

7.5 pounds of wet wool

It doesn't sound like a good time, seven and a half pounds of wet wool, but it depends on what wool, and why it's wet. Check out what I spent 5 hours doing yesterday:

It's hard to tell until it's spun, but on that rack are rovings that will become new batches of Kyoto, Gummy Worms, and Time Held me Green and Dying, as well as a bunch of new colours. Also coming soon, the return of Booberry. I got a couple skeins just right, and four that are too pale -- I'm calling those Son of Booberry.

I'm off to class this morning, and I'm theoretically looking forward to it, but if I had a time machine and could freeze this day a little longer, I'd do it. I have a pounding head, a dripping nose, and a great sense of being very sorry for myself.

Knitting will help, surely. It usually does.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Classes Starting This Week

I really love teaching knitting, it thrills me like I can hardly explain. I've been in love with knitting since I was a little child. I loved sitting quietly and knitting away, feeling like I was producing something, and I loved experimenting. I've never stopped experimenting and trying to learn new things. There have been times when I sat back for a few months and just made stuff with the skills I already knew, but I was never satisfied for long doing the same thing. Fast forward 27 years from the day I learned, and here I am, with a ton of experience under my belt, able to produce just what I see in my mind (give or take!), and able to empathize with knitters at all skill levels as they go through their own learning curve. Able to give all kinds of useful tips and tricks, the ones I wish someone had been able to tell me when I was figuring out this or that on my own.

So having the opportunity to teach these skills, for decent pay no less, at a lovely establishment two blocks from my house, on my own schedule? It's like I'm living in a happy fiber dreamland.

Which is all to say, here is a little reminder that my classes are starting this week. When I checked last week, the Sweaters class had 4 people and the Knit Cafe had 3 -- so there's room for more, if you're interested. Or if you know a friend.

I'm also planning my summer classes. I'm thinking of taking a scattershot approach, and offering a ton of fun, short, workshop-like classes. Most of them will be 2 hours each class, and the emphasis will be on practising the skills taught -- lots of swatching, lots of experimenting, lots of hands-on playing with yarn.

So far, I'm proposing the following:
Knit Cafe: 5 classes
Adult Beginner Knitting: 5 classes
Stranded Knitting 1: 3 classes
Stranded Knitting 2 (steeking!): 3 classes
Sock Knitting 1: 4 classes
Sock Knitting 2: 4 classes
Freeform Knitting: 3 classes
Basic Sweaters: 8 classes
Cables 1: 2 classes

I'd love to hear ideas and opinions. What sorts of skills do you like to learn in a class? That is, what will cause you to take a class in something rather than buy a book and try it on your own? What length of time do you think is good -- is 2 hours too much? Is 1.5 hours too little? Do you like single-day classes, 2-3 day classes, or longer sessions, like 8 sessions to complete a larger project?

I have big, if vague, plans for the Fall too. I'm hoping that I will have had enough people take my Basic Sweaters class, and some take the Stranded knitting and Cables classes, so that I can offer an Advanced Sweaters class which includes work in cables, colourwork and steeking.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I didn't mean this to be a knitblog...

And yet the compulsion to take pictures of my projects in progress and report to you on the techniques, materials, etc. is overwhelming. Ah well. I'm gonna go with it until someone complains.

I have been feeling this mania to try new things lately, and my latest experiment is with double knitting. This is a technique whereby you knit a two-sided fabric, working with two contrasting strands of yarn at the same time. It's not actually all that hard, but it is fiddly. I'm refining my technique of holding two yarns on the same hand, and knitting with just one at a time. Here is my scarf in progress:

And here's the magic part -- here is the back of the same piece:

Ta da! Reversible. The pattern is my husband's -- he's a computer programmer, he said something about "Life" (the way he said it made it sound like it ought to be capitalized). It sounded like some kind of pattern that appears in some sort of life-behaviour simulator? I'm unclear. I said he could guest-blog to explain it, when it's done.

But to return to the knitting -- isn't that awesome?! I'm very taken with this technique. The scarf is just the beginning. You can use double-knitting to knit two socks, at the same time, on the same needle, one inside the other. I know -- magic. I wanna do *that* magic trick.

In other people's knitting, here are Inara's mittens, done with my wool and pattern. Aren't they pretty? Like stained glass.

I've been dyeing all week, and I have a bunch of new BFL that will be posted this week. I have a bit of new corriedale dyed, and I have 10lbs in the mail, on its way to me. And for those of you who are local -- Three Bags Full will be getting a new delivery of my rovings on Monday. Anyone wanna meet me on Main Street for coffee and knitting?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back to the steam

Today, I'm hitting the dyepots, and hitting them hard. Three Bags Full has indicated that they want more rovings, and Fibrefest is coming, so I'm trying to keep the stock high. I'm also low on sock yarn, so I'll be snagging a few braids for my own spinning.

It's nice to be back to it. My daughter finished with her daycare at the end of November, so I had all of December and the first two weeks of January with her in the house, as well as Christmas visitors. I can spin under those conditions, but dyeing requires unbroken time to get anything useful done. Today -- I have unbroken time. And a full pot of coffee!

Here are two pots full of wool and dye, cooking away:

The Farmer's Market yesterday was better than last month, in terms of sales and the warmth of the room. I was prepared yesterday with wooly tights, wool socks (handknit), jeans, boots, a tank, a very thin sweater, a thick sweater, a scarf, arm warmers (handknit Koigu), a hat (handknit handspun), and mittens (handspun handknit). I'm nothing if not a walking advertisement for the benefits of wool, and the joy of knitting. Needless to say, I didn't find myself needing all of those things, which is great, because when I'm wearing all of them, I look a little bit like I'm the victim of some sort of knitwear pile-on.

The Winter Market is getting a number of the regular visitors, those who frequent the summer market, but there are new faces too. I continue to enjoy talking to the various crafters who visit my table and tell me about their projects. I'm afraid I was slightly in "pounce" mode though. More than one person heard me respond, seemingly casually, "You know, I teach knitting at the Port Moody Arts Center.. I managed to give out all of the brochures I brought with me, and there seems to be interest in my classes. Not that I didn't enjoy the 3-4 students per class last term, but more would definitely be better.

I didn't trade yarn for anything, but I bought 3 loaves of bread from an amazing baker, a few pounds of organic fuji apples, eggs, carrots, strawberries (thank the flying spaghetti monster for vendors who freeze their stuff so they can sell it in the winter!), ethically and organically raised beef, and fig stuffed olives.

Lastly -- I did indeed write up the pattern for the colourwork mittens. It's available on my shop for a small fee, but free if you buy the yarn from me. Here's a suggested colour combo that I really like:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

In which I totally brag about my own stuff

I had so much fun making the purple and grey stranded mittens, that I wanted to make them again. I decided to make them out of my regular corriedale singles, and I couldn't be more pleased by the results. Here are my new mittens:

I made them out of natural 2) and Pink and Brown. I like the effect so much that I'm considering making a whole sweater with a natural foreground, and a background in maybe multi-blue, or shades of orange. There is some undyed fiber all measured out and ready to be spun -- I suspect I'll want a lot of it around, for myself, and hopefully for the people who will see these mittens at Three Bags Full and the Coquitlam Farmer's Market, and want to make their own. I'm even considering writing up an actual pattern. I don't really enjoy writing patterns, I'd rather teach someone how to knit without one, but I do enjoy selling the patterns, and I do get requests for the things. So there may be a write up. A comment or two expressing an opinion on this matter would help me to decide.

I somehow put the thumb on the same side on both mittens. I can only blame temporary insanity. I swear, I checked, but I think when I checked I was holding one mitten upside down. Anyway, I was too lazy to totally undo the mitten to the provisional row that forms the thumb opening, so instead I took down the wrong thumb, grafted the life stitches of the thumb opening together (and not all that well, as you can see), then snipped a stitch in the middle of where I wanted the thumb to go and opened it up. This is an Elizabether Zimmerman technique, one she uses for afterthought pockets on sweaters, and afterthought heels on socks. The Yarn Harlot wrote about the afterthought heel last week.

Here's my picture of the altered mitten, close up:

I have printed off the entry forms for the Abbottsford Fibrefest in March. I'm a bit intimidated by the idea of sending off the entry fee and committing to a big show like this, but when I look at it realistically, it makes sense. I pay $35 for a table for a day at the Farmer's Market, and it's only a small percentage of patrons there who knit and are interested in buying yarn on that particular day. Fibrefest, *everyone* is interested in yarn or fiber, and if they're like me, they enter the building fully expecting to spend a minimum of $200 before they leave. So all in all, I think I can expect sales to be good enough to justify the entry fee. But it's still a bit intimidating.

Hey anyone know of a flat pack, easy to assemble and disassemble, and repeat many times over a season, fairly inexpensive shelf? Doesn't have to be that attractive, I can cover the ugliness with fabric and yarn, but it does need to fit into my rather small trunk of my rather small Subaru.