5KCBWDAY7 – Looking Forward

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Today is day 7 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. The topic of the day is Looking Backward, Looking Forward.

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I have three fleeces, three luscious fleeces

Bought at a festival last night

A Jacob, a Corriedale, and a Rambouillet-cross

I’ve got my work cut out for me, all right.

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Honestly, that’s as much of my knitting and spinning future as I can foresee. I have three fleeces sitting in my living room. I need to skirt, sort and clean them so I can get them out of my living room.

This is not crafty ambition. This is physical necessity.

Thankfully today is a sunny day, perfect weather for fleece sorting out on the lawn.

I’m starting with the Jacob first. It’s the cleanest.

5KCBWDAY6 – My Knitting Hero, a Tribute in Lego

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Welcome to day six of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

For today’s topic, I am writing about a knitter I admire: Alice Starmore.

Alice Starmore’s work is true art. Her patterns are not only lovely, they also seem to express ideas. They have a voice and story inside them.

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A Brief History of Alice

Alice Starmore was born in Scotland on the Hebridean island of Lewis. Her family worked as fishermen and spoke Gaelic at home.

Garenin Black House Village, Isle Of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland Image from http://wallpaperweb.org

In 1975, she became a professional textile designer, her work heavily influenced by the fiber crafting traditions of her home. She immersed herself in the textile traditions of Scandinavia and began to write books of knitwear patterns. Her first book, Scandinavian Knitwear, was published in 1981. This book was followed by 17 others, as well as variety of other publications.

Today, Alice Starmore is world-renown as a knitting expert. Her books on Fair Isle and Aran knitting are regarded as standards in the literature.

In particular, this book.

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How I Came to Love Alice’s Work e subjects, and she has taught and lectured extensively throughout Britain, Europe and the USA.

I was first introduced to Alice Starmore’s work while searching for boyfriend sweater patterns. I drooled over several gorgeous cabled sweaters, but wisely decided to tackle a simpler project. I was ambitious as heck, when it came to my knitting, but not deluded. I still have a few of those patterns in my “some day” pile.  I’ll know when I’m ready.

The patterns I’m really enchanted by, though, even more than the cables, are the colorwork. I’m just blown away.

Lindisfarne Sweater by Alice Starmore, as seen on Ravelry and in The Celtic Collection.

Oregon Vest by Alice Starmore as seen on https://www.virtualyarns.com

 

This last December I happened up on a copy of The Celtic Collection in a Friends of the Library shop. I snapped it up. I had no immediate intention to knit anything from it, it was just something I had to have. A piece of raw inspiration to feed my creativity. Like a book of Da Vinci sketches or a print of Monet’s water lilies. I read the book in bed, some nights, lost in the world trapped between the pages.

A Tribute to Alice Starmore’s Work…in Lego

It may seem a bit odd to pay tribute to this artist’s work in a non-fiber medium. But I was fascinated to see how well the intricate Fair Isle patterns could be translated into rows of colored PVC bricks.

I started with one of the simplest patterns in The Celtic Collection, a child’s sweater called Ardagh. 

Ardagh Child's Sweater in Celtic Fretwork. Photo of page 47 of The Celtic Colelction.

Ardagh Child’s Sweater in Celtic Fretwork. Photo of page 47 of The Celtic Colelction.

I chose a small section of Chart A for my experiment.

Child's sweater

I used a combination of different types of tiles and plates. I tried to choose colors close to the yarn colors used in the sweater. Some color matches were better than others due to the colors available in our home Lego supply.

Next, I tackled a slightly more complex pattern, the Kells sweater.

Kells sweater by Alice Starmore, as seen on page 50 of The Celtic Collection.

Kells sweater by Alice Starmore, as seen on page 50 of The Celtic Collection.

I chose a small section of the Chart that showed the intersection of four multicolored diamonds. I ran into difficulties with my color selection, but eventually produced this:

Adult sweater

Early on, I attempted to render one of the more complex Fair Isle sweaters in Lego, but had to quit due to a shortage of pink and purple plates.

So What Was the Point of This?

I won’t deny it, I spent an entire Saturday afternoon playing with Legos. Playing with legos and not knitting.

What I learned is that Legos can provide a very useful medium for trying out new patterns and color combinations. It doesn’t necessarily take less time than swatching. In fact, it probably takes a lot more time. But the advantage is that you can reuse Legos over and over in infinite combinations. And you’re not limited by the colors of yarn you happen to have on hand, only the colors of your Legos.

It’s true that, in this experiment, I ran into some issues with the colors in my Lego supply. But that was because I had not planned to use Legos in this way. The Lego collection belongs to my husband. He buys his bricks with shape in mind more than color. Were I to invest a little money, I could amass a collection of colored plates and bricks exclusively for color work experimentation. And baby, you’d better believe me when I say, there are lots of options out there. Take a web-walk over to Bricklink sometime.

Not Done Playing Yet

I recently took a class in Norwegian stranded color work and am absolutely obsessed with Selbuvotter mittens. This is, perhaps, a better application of Lego experimentation than the Alice Starmore sweaters. One could actually construct a complete mock-up of a mitten (minus thumb) in Lego before knitting it.

Also, perhaps more helpfully, one can play around with various different motifs in a very modular way, swapping things around until you get a sequence that pleases you.

Here's a current experiment in progress.

Here’s a current experiment in progress.

5KCBWDAY5 – Wool Festival Bingo

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It’s almost summer and wool festival season is upon us. In fact, I’m going to one this weekend: Shepherd’s Harvest. 

Today’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week topic is “Something Different.” So I thought I’d try my hand at creating a game.

Wool Festival Bingo

Challenge your fiber buddies to a game the next time you attend a festival.

Consider making things interesting with a wager.

bingo

Let the games begin!

May the odds be ever in your favor. 

5KCBWDAY3 – Ready for a Closeup

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This week I’m taking part in the fifth annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, hosted by Eskimimimakes.

 

Today’s blog topic is Experimental Photography. 

I’ve decided to approach this topic by getting up close and personal with my projects: one-to-two inches. My hypothesis is that there are delightful things to learn about your stitch technique, your fibers, and your yarn structure when you get really, really, really close.

Getting to know my hand-spun.

I’m a fairly new spinner so I freely admit I have worlds of technique to learn. But most of the time I couldn’t care less. I’m delighted with my hand-spun babies. The colorful swirls, the smooth coils, the woolly scent–I love it all, even if it’s not perfect. I’ve often blogged about projects I’ve knit from hand-spun, but this is the first time I’ve examined my fiber through the magnifying reality of the camera lens.

 

This Ishbel shawl was knitted from a finely spun polawarth/silk blend.

This Ishbel shawl was knitted from a finely spun Polwarth wool. This was my first lace-weight hand-spun. I remember how pleased I was with how it had turned out. At that time, it was easily the most regular yarn I had ever spun in terms of grist, twist, etc…

 

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This Marigold shawl was knitted from a Polwarth/silk blend. it was a little bit less even in terms of twist and such. In fact, parts of it were downright kinky. I love the sheen that the silk lends to the Polwarth.

asdfd

I knitted this Stripe Study shawl using a combination of hand-spun and commercial yarn. The purple is my hand-spun BFL yarn. I used a fractal color technique. It’s interesting to see how it shows up in the yarn in closeup as well as from a distance.

 

sdfds

Here’s a recent experiment in core spinning. Such fun. I haven’t found an application for it yet. Close-up, you can appreciate the variation in textures and types of fiber in the original batt.

 

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I love how Wensleydale feels in my hands. I love how it spins. I only wish I could wear it comfortably. It’s delightful to see its character close up. All long, crisp fibers. Delicious.

 

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This one isn’t actually knitted from my hand-spun, but I included it because I love looking at all the twists and open spaces in the lace. And of course, I love the rich sheen of the merino/silk 50/50 yarn.

5KCBWDAY2- Dating Profile For a Boyfriend Sweater

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Boyfriend Sweater Age: 6 months Active within the last 24 hours

Name: Boyfriend Sweater
Age: 6 months
Active within the last 24 hours

I’m a total romantic. I think it’s important for me to be up-front about that.

I crave that perfect fit, just like Monica Partridge talks about in her poems.

But I understand that love is sometimes more like “you fit into me” by Margaret Atwood.

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My mentor is Ryan Gosling. The version of him who says:

hey girl

I’ve been unlucky in love lately. I was gearing up for a relationship that I thought was going to be the real deal. But it didn’t work out. So I’m still looking for that special someone. Someone I can cuddle up with next to the fire and listen to Song for a Winter’s Night.

Six things I could never do without:

  • Warmth
  • Devotion
  • Bubble baths (followed by lying around on a bed all day)
  • Listening to what you pinned on Pinterest, while I rub your feet
  • Watching TV with closed captions so you can use your sewing machine
  • The 5 senses, particularly touch, plus my sixth sense for what you need

I used to say “ocean/beach,” but I’ve learned I would give up the beach for some daily cuddling.

I spend a lot of time thinking about:

  • When will more men start knitting girlfriend sweaters?
  • Is there really any such thing as a sweater curse? Is it permanent?
  • How to keep my shape through life’s wear and tear.
  • What would that sheep think if she could see me now?
  • How complex and twisted life can be.
  • Why more people don’t convert their spare bedrooms into craft rooms.

You should message me if you’re looking for someone loving and fun who knows which scissors is for fabric, and which scissors is for paper.

Sweater image: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/spamily/1352342117/”>Spamily</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

5KCBWDAY1 – T-Rexes Aren’t Evolved for Stranded Color Work

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Welcome to day one of the 5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week,  hosted by Eskimimimakes. I’m thrilled to be taking part and look forward to reading everyone’s posts.

The topic for Day 1 is “A Day In The Life.”

Describe a day in the life of a project that you have made, or are in the process of making.

I’ve decided to chronicle a day in the life of my Norwegian stranded color work mittens–specifically, the day I cast them on. It all began at Yarnover 2014, where I was taking Fearless Two-Color Mittens with Mary Scott Huff. I went to class feeling completely clueless and awkward.

Dinosaurs

I left class still clueless and awkward, but not about Norwegian stranded color work.

This T-Rex is out there in the wilds of Ravelry, stalking for prey. It’s got a taste for color work now.

It’s coming.

By the way, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the original source of the art above, I want to let you in on the joke.  The art is from Dinosaur Comics, a constrained web comic by Ryan North. The comic’s gimmick is that it every strip uses the same artwork; only the dialogue varies.  A couple of years ago, Mr. North shared an unwritten comic panel online and invited fans to make their own Dinosaur Comics. You can too. 

What I’m Excited About In Knitting Right Now

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1. Yarnover is coming up this weekend. I’ll be driving up to attend with my mother, another yarn-junkie. We’re both taking classes (fearless two color mittens and spinning cabled yarns).  I’ll  try to restrain myself while shopping in the market, but I don’t promise anything. When I went to Yarnover two years ago, I had no idea what these colorful hankies were for, or why so many vendors were selling them. They seemed oddly luxurious and yet wasteful as nose-blowing tools.

Fiber is so hawt.

Fiber is so hawt.

That was before I started spinning. Now I know what they’re for and I’m planning to pick up some of my very own to play with.

2. Next weekend, my knitting group is taking a long-anticipated trip to a local winery. (Stupid winter). We’ll sample the wines, eat a nice lunch, knit and gab and have a grand old time.

Four Daughter’s Winery

 3. My animal shelter fundraiser (which ends on May 6) is getting some good participation.

I’m giving away a hand-knitted shawl as a prize. I’ve received so many lovely comments. It warms my heart.

I did it! We have always had rescue animals — eight cats so far and three dogs, every one of them a delight. When our boys were still at home we used to foster litters of kittens every summer. I am also on the board of our local humane society. Clearly, I HAD to donate 🙂 Thanks for doing this.

orion window

I just completed my donation payment online! Paws and Claws is a wonderful organization of truly compassionate people! Our family adopted our fuzzbutt, Elsie, last year from a wonderful woman assisting a local shelter as a foster home. Our sweet little Chihuahua was not quite one year old when she came home, and I was concerned for her transition. But due to the amazing care and love she received from the shelter and foster home, she transitions with ease and great health! We have a feisty pup in our home that is always looking for a warm snuggle when she is not cruising her kingdom and playing. Thank you for donating your great time, skills and resources to promote this great cause! 

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

I made a donation to Paws and Claws. This is a wonderful contest! I would wear this shawl with pride if I was the lucky one. The animals win either way! Thanks so much for your generosity.

4. The 5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Starts May 12

This blog carnival is always so much fun and is such a good opportunity to meet new bloggers and stretch my blogging muscles. I’m already plotting some outrageous ideas for my posts. Maybe something involving duct tape and Legos.