Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Natural Progression

After considerable time spent in front of my wheel, listening to audiobooks and Massive Attack, I have spun 60 new skeins of yarn. Here are 40+ of them, drying outside -- actually drying, not just dripping until they match the ambient humidity of the Pacific Northwest outdoors in spring. I do love the improvements in the weather -- I was having a hard time staying happy, with all the grey skies. Sun make Kirsten happy.

This is all in preparation for Got Craft? this Sunday, May 4th. I'm looking forward to the show. I've been watching the vendor profiles go by on the show's blog, and I'm excited to be in such creative and accomplished company. If you're in the GVA on Sunday, it looks as though this show will be well worth the $2 admission.

Tomorrow -- labeling! My least favourite job, but a necessity.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Moving too fast to blog...

I just looked in my little dyeing notebook -- I keep something resembling actual records now, which is a big shift for me -- and it tells me that I have dyed 19 3/4 lbs of wool this week. That's probably a record, although of course I can't be sure since I just started keeping this notebook. It's a lot of wool, in any case. More than 50% of that will be sold as fiber, but I aim to have a good 30% of it spun up by Thursday of next week (the last day I can have skeins in the water for finishing, and still have them dry by Sunday). My to do list -- it's colourful, but it's long.

So I'm moving a little too fast to blog at the moment. I would love to show you what 19.75 lbs looks like, but honestly, some of it is in my spinning basket, some of it is already braided up, some is piled up waiting to be braided, some is still wet outside and one pound is still in my oven. I can show you what Day 1 of dyeing looked like:

My big success this week is finally creating a "Ianto" roving that is exactly what I pictured in my head. This colourway involves two shades of purple, and my violet dye is one of those that intensifies 10x in the dyepot -- purple has often defeated me. My solution was to stop using that dye to try to create purple. Instead, I use red, magenta, turquoise, and cobalt in various combinations to get the shades I want. So I'm very pleased. Not only did I get the roving to turn out just like I wanted it, but I know what I did, so I can reliably duplicate my results. Probably. Won't know until I try again! I also (to continue the Whoverse theme) redid my Tardis colourway and got results I'm pleased with -- but I'm still going to refine that one. I'll post my Tardis roving tomorrow on Etsy.

Lastly, my BSJ is finished except for blocking and buttons. It should fit a largish 2 year old, and it took 5 skeins of Yummy Yarn. It's sooo cushy and pretty.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BSJ progress

Just a couple pictures. Here is the project as it appeared on Monday -- yarn chosen, pattern available, cast on done:

The yarn is my own, in colours Grape Jelly, Rose-A-Lee, and Mocha-Chocolata.

Here it is today:

Another day or two, and the knitting will be done. The Baby Surprise Jacket done with thick yarn -- delightful. The thing I love about instant gratification knitting is that the gratification is so, well, instant.

It's coming out about the right size for a two year old, which is what I expected. I may lengthen the sleeves a bit with a perpendicular garter stitch border; I may not. I don't know who will eventually wear the jacket, but it's a lovely demo piece for my yarn.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Studio Tour, and a Sunny Day

I had an excellent day today. It was one of those sun-is-shining spring days where all the neurons are popping, and I feel electric with ideas and possibilities and optimism. The sun is just part of it. Today, I had my third spinning class, and I think I finally have sorted the difference between woolen and worsted, both as fiber preparations and drafting techniques. It remains to do some scientific experimenting -- use the same fiber to spin roughly the same weight of yarn in four different ways (woolen prep/woolen draft, worsted/worsted, and both semi-worsted yarns), then knit them, then examine them in lots of light and possibly given all 4 swatches a serious wash and rub to see how they wear.

Usually I'm not very scientific -- my dye mixing technique is solidly in the "a little of this and a little of that" camp, and note taking is an occasional afterthought. But I can't yet see some of the differences I'm looking for, but I want to be in control of the yarn that I spin so that I can make decisions about technique to produce a desired effect. I need to do what it takes for me to be able to see the differences.

I'll keep you posted on this project.

After my spinning class, I visited Three Bags Full to deliver some promised rovings, and I found all four of the Elizabeth Zimmerman books that I had wanted to see in person. I settled on The Opinionated Knitter and Knitting Around. The Knitters Almanac frankly doesn't contain projects that interest me, although I'm intrigued by the concept of knitted tights, and the book based on her TV series is a bit redundant, since I have the DVDs.

EZ always gets me inspired. The new books, along with my teacher's exhortations to be seen knitting my own yarn more often, are combining to inspire me to make my first Baby Surprise Jacket with my own soft-spun yarn. As soon as my husband comes home, I'll head out to the car (I ought not to leave the three year old alone in the house) to bring in the rest of the yarn that's still in the trunk from the weekend show, and choose my colours. I'm thinking two or three purples, and a lovely brown.

The Studio Tour was cool -- i met some neat fellow artists and artisans, I explained how to make yarn to a lot of kids, and I explained the mechanics of the spinning wheel to lots of all kinds of people. I really enjoyed myself, but I'm wiped, as usual.

No rest for the self-employed though. Today's full schedule of class and a sales call was technically my "day off," and tomorrow I have to hit the dyepots -- I'm completely out of fiber. If you want my fiber, head down to Three Bags Full, they have everything.

Friday, April 11, 2008


This is attempt #1 at dyeing a TARDIS colourway, and I'm pretty pleased with the first attempt. My next attempt with make the greenish parts a little more blue, and will add some of the darker tones, but hey waddya think for a first try?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Coming Events

I'm doing a couple public events in the upcoming weeks, and they are these:

April 12-13, noon to 5pm: The ArtsConnect Port Moody Studio Tour. This annual event is a chance for the public to visit many of Port Moody's several artists in their own studios, or, in the case of those without public-friendly studios, in public venues. I will be at the Station Museum with my wheel, my yarn, and my fiber. To get the map of the whole event, click here.

May 4, 11am to 5pm: The Got Craft show on Commercial Drive. The Got Craft blog is profiling all the vendors one at a time, so check it out!

May 18: The Coquitlam Farmer's Market begins its 12th season on May 11, and I'll be there as a vendor on May 18. I intend to be there every three weeks, all summer.

And as always, my yarn and fiber is available at Three Bags Full.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Dear Brown,"

Dear Brown,

I'm sorry to have to write this letter, but I'm afraid we have had some complaints with regard to your behaviour.

I am afraid I must ask you to stop impersonating Orange. You are not orange. I'll grant you, there is a striking resemblance sometimes, but on close inspection, you are about as close to being Orange as a drag queen with visible stubble is to being a beautiful woman.

If you do not cease trying to be Orange, I'm afraid I shall have to take measures. Your job can be done perfectly well if your duties are split between Green and Red, with some occasional help from Black. In fact, given your consistently spotty performance, I am tempted to replace you right now, but as there is some time left in your contract, please consider this to be a stern warning, and try to fulfill your own job function, and no one else's.


The Dyepot

I'm doing it all wrong

"Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly."

This has been a mantra of mine for a long time, ever since I read it...somewhere...and I'm reminding myself of it today. Because yesterday, I learned that I was spinning badly. I'm doing it all wrong. And it's the lesson I expected to learn -- I am self-taught after all, and I'm not usually big on autodidacticism, I think it leads to bad habits and stunted skills. So I wasn't shocked and offended or anything, but even still it was a bit of a tough pill to swallow.

It's hard to learn new things at any stage, but when you're a child, there are so few things you know, and even fewer that you know well, so it's not quite as much of a risk to the ego to try doing something new. As we grow older, though, we learn what it feels like to master skills, learning sets, facts, and paradigms. We put it all on the line when we try -- and risk failing at -- something new. It takes, I think, a greater deal of bravery to try something new the older you get. It's why some people simply stop trying new things.

The rewards are tremendous, though. Today, I feel that childlike sense of possibility and confidence, the voice that says, I can't do this, but I'll practice, and then I'll be good! And that feeling is why some other people keep trying new things. When I was little, my mom expressed admiration for an 80-year old friend of hers. For her 80th birthday, this friend asked for an 8-volume set of the history of China. Because she didn't know anything at all about China, and wanted to learn. I was kind of inspired then, and I continue to be now.

The fact that I clearly have so much to learn, more than I thought I did going into this, is good news in one way though. These classes are pricey. They're the perfectly correct price, given that they're comprehensive, thorough lessons taught by a highly skilled instructor, but it's a chunk out of my budget to be taking them, which is one of the reasons I waited this long to sign up. So the good news is this -- since I have so very much to learn, I am definitely getting my money's worth.