3 Unexpected Mothers Day Fiber Encounters

Standard

I wasn’t expecting a fiber-filled Mothers Day visit when we drove to La Crosse today to visit my mother-in-law.  But in one four hour visit we encountered three splendid, unrelated displays. No discernible Mothers Day theme, here, other than the joy of serendipity.

1: Seen while driving to Mothers Day lunch at Taste of India. We stopped to talk to the homeowner. He said the blanket had been created by his mother last year and displayed at a local cemetery. It disappeared briefly, but was recovered by the groundskeeper and returned to the family. His mother had passed away in the year since all this occurred. So the family decided to display the blanket on a tree in their yard in loving memory.

This is a yarn bombing tradition I can really get behind. Something you can display and add to every year.

 

2: Seen at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse student library. An exploration of interesting topological shapes created using crochet. There are lots of topological surfaces that can be difficult to manufacture, I understand. However, many of them can be knit or crocheted. A journal article was published on this topic in 2009, and I saw another in American Scientist magazine. If I ever wanted to branch out beyond sweaters and shawls to knit other types of objects, I might be more inclined to make this sort of thing than to make toys. Patterns can be accessed here, or on Ravelry.  Cool, huh?

Topological experiments in crochet. #knittersofinstagram

A post shared by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

3: Crocheted coral reef. Who wants a fish tank with real fish you have to feed and water you have to change? Crochet yourself a display like this and the most you’ll need to do is shake them out and dust them occasionally.

Crocheted coral reef. #knittersofinstagram

A post shared by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

5 Truisms About Life That Aren’t True About Knitting

Standard

1. In life there are no do-overs. But there are in knitting. All the time! I started over on this Evenstar shawl five freaking times.  And every few rows I find something that requires me to tink back a bit. I do this more with lace than with any other type of knitting. Is lace somehow the antithesis of life?

My Evenstar. Oh so many stitches to go.

2. Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them. The person who said this never tried to bring their dropped stitches or messed up cables to my knitting group. Always bring your knitting problems to knitting group…20% can help you fix them and the other 80% are glad you asked because they have the same problem.

3. Enjoy your own life without comparing with that of another.  I derive great enjoyment comparing and sharing my knitting with others.  4 million+ other Ravelry users agree.

 

Rav

4. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. I find that my knitting shrinks or expands in unpredictable ways. Because gauge swatches lie!  It’s got nothing to do with courage and everything to do with the gremlins who come out at night and stretch my sweater arms out of shape.

5. Life is wasted on the living.  Try inserting “knitting” in place of “life” and you get a very creepy statement. All I can think of is my lovely knitting projects getting buried underground and full of rot and maggots. Yech!  When I die, pass my sweaters out to living people who can still appreciate them. Vampires don’t count (they don’t get cold).

 

Happy knitting, everyone. Remember not to take life/your knitting too seriously.

That’s one truism I’ll keep.


Shearing a Sheep in Photos

Standard

You have to admire an expert sheep shearer who knows exactly what he’s doing. Firm but gentle, so nobody gets excited.

I think this sheep was more anxious about her audience than she was about being sheared.

Sheepshearing1 SheepSheering2 Sheep Sheering 4 Sheep Sheering3 SheepSheering5 SheepSheering6

It’s amazing to me how little of the sheep’s skin/hide seems to get a pass from the clippers. It’s probably my imagination, but watching the shearer, it looks as though he knows where all the sheep’s hidden zippers are. Make a pass here, a pass there, and voila! Naked sheep. Ready to go Boundin’. 

Image from Pixar short Boundin’. Image retrieved from metatube.com

Appreciating the Small Things: A Shout Out to Imperial Yarn

Standard

Imperial Yarn, I am taking this opportunity to publicly applaud you for two things you are doing right.

Thing 1: The way you tie your tags

The tags are securely attached, but with a firm bow, not a knot. That means I don’t have to trim with a scissors. That’s a little bit more yarn that doesn’t go to waste. I don’t always have the patience, or even the ability to untie the knots that yarn companies use to bind their hanks together.

20140712-110349-39829240.jpg

Thing 2: Tags that can be re-purposed

I greatly appreciate it when companies make thoughtful choices with their packaging. Some sort of label or tag is necessary when selling commercial yarn. Ball bands are secure and provide lots of surface area for printing text and images, but they’re fragile and easy to lose. And they really have no utility once they’ve been removed. Tags are often not much better, in my opinion, as they are too stiff to roll up and stuff into the center of a yarn cake and too small to be re-purposed as anything else. Plus, a lot of yarn companies (hello Quince and Co.) attach them to their hanks with such long loops of yarn attached that they seem to be promoting this tangling problem.

Imperial Yarn uses nice large tags, bound closely to their hanks, so they don’t tangle.  And those tags are exactly the right size and thickness to serve as coasters. I don’t know about you, but I think a home can never have too many coasters. My knitting is usually accompanied by a drink of some kind: hot tea or wine in in the winter, a cold beer or iced tea in the summer.  As an added bonus, knitters like me are littering their homes with free advertising for Imperial Yarns. A complete win-win, in my opinion.

20140712-110350-39830141.jpg

 

Hats off to you, Imperial Yarn.

Shepherd’s Harvest Wool Festival, in Photos

Standard

My Saturday at the Shepherd’s Harvest Wool Festival in Lake Elmo, MN.

Rabbit Agility, it’s a thing.  4-H shows off the skills of their highly-trained rabbit athletes. They all seem to like to hide in the tunnel at the end of the course. 20140522-092403-33843080.jpg

Spinning wheels galore.  I had plans to try out that great wheel, but never got around to it. Next time… 20140522-092431-33871222.jpg

Luscious yarns and kits. I managed to be really good this time and didn’t buy much yarn. Just a couple of hanks from a favorite vendor, Winterwind Farm, who sells CVM blends. 20140522-092500-33900394.jpg   20140522-092457-33897497.jpg   20140522-092502-33902176.jpg

The grand prize for rebranding . Because anything that says “Cashmere” has to be a luxury good. 20140522-092503-33903042.jpg

Where I went a little crazy, was in buying fleeces. Pretty, pretty fleeces. Nice presentation too. It looks like they climbed a tall ladder and snipped a bit of cloud out of the sky, then wound it up and plopped it into a basket. I started with just one, but then ended up winning a couple more in the silent auction. I honestly didn’t expect to win either of them.

20140522-092501-33901346.jpg

 

Animals 

I wonder what breed of sheep this is?

20140522-095307-35587102.jpg

 

This male llama had to be kept penned separately from the herd. He was also the only one who hadn’t been sheared. A bit aggressive perhaps?

20140522-095308-35588724.jpg

 

Mama goat and her two kids, I assume?

20140522-095307-35587912.jpg

 

5KCBWDAY7 – Looking Forward

Standard

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

*     *     *     *     *

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.

*     *     *     *     *

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

Standard

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.

*     *     *     *     *

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.

*    *     *     *     *

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.