Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pop Quiz

Time for a pop quiz. Can you name this knitting designer?

Shouldn't be too difficult if you take a close look at the background of the photo. I took a class from her last month at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. For some time, it's been a goal of mine to knit all of her shawl designs. I've done her Sampler Stole from GOL, Violets by the River, Tiger Eye, and the Spider Queen. Yes, that's's Hazel Carter.

She was a very thorough teacher with a delightful accent and terrific sense of humor. The class was on designing Shetland shawls so she had many lovely examples there for us to see. In her patterns she usually suggests soaking the items in a starch solution before blocking. I had never done it because it seemed like it would make the shawl too stiff. However, her examples were very nice and soft, and were all knit out of Shetland cobweb singles yarn, of course.

Besides her patterns, several years ago she also authored a small book on Shetland lace. It is nothing like the Heirloom Knitting book written by Sharon Miller; just a small spiral bound volume with only 50 pages. It does have photos and charts of the most traditional patterns and explains the traditional (and a few modern) methods of construction. It was also very interesting to look through her copy of the Shetland lace book written by Sarah Don and see Hazel's handwritten notes in the margins. Wish that one would be reprinted as I'd love to have a copy of it.

Other than buying Hazel's Shetland book from her, I didn't do much shopping at the festival market. I found some lovely Shetland roving for sale in one of the sheep barns, but unfortunately, they didn't have enough of any one color to use for a sweater (and it didn't dawn at me at the time to spin singles out of 2 colors and then ply them together ), so I purchased 8 ozs. of silver and several more of white and black for maybe FI mittens/hat and then enough Coopworth roving from Hidden Valley Farm to knit a sweater. And, I found some raw Wensleydale from Gray Haven Hills Farm and since I've been having such fun spinning the prepared top dyed by Lisa, I bought a pound to see what it was like to process it myself. The shepherd said to be careful because it was very easy to felt. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Perendale Puppet

It's been a long time since I've opened up a knitting publication and seen something that's made me want to sit right down and cast on for it immediately. But, that's what happened when I saw the puppets in the summer issue of Spin-Off.

They looked so fun and I had just finished spinning a skein from the Perendale fleece I bought last winter from Treenway. The skein was made with all sorts of different methods--combed, carded and then flicked locks, and also done keeping the different shades of the fleece separate and blending them together. It was a truly experimental skein. It's stranded with my first merino handspun skein. I didn't know if those two yarns would blend together properly but figured it wouldn't really matter for a puppet. If any of my readers have good sources to learn about how to successfully use yarns from different breeds of sheep in the same sweater, I'd love to learn more.

This was a fun a little project; the gauge was small, but so is the item. If I still taught in an LYS, I think it would be an ideal class, as it's part glove, part sock (the head is done just as you would turn a heel), stranding, knitting in the rnd--lots of stuff for knitters to learn.

Sadly, no farther progress was made with the fleece as other spinning projects took precedence. Though just picking up the puppet to snap the pic has made me want to get back to processing it. I absolutely love the color!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pretty in Pink

Look at what was waiting for me this afternoon when I arrived home from seeing the dentist. A box from The Wheel Thing. Inside of it, wrapped up in pink tissue paper and surrounded by pink styrofoam peanuts was this lovely spindle.

It's a Tabachek compact deluxe. The whorl is made from Santos Rosewood, the Shaft from Pecan, and it weighs 36g (1.27 oz.). The rosewood is a little darker than it appears in the pic, but I love the way the grain of the wood swirls around the whorl.

The end of the shaft is beautiful turned and the entire spindle just feels good in your hand. I've given it a quick sample run and it spins fast and true. It doesn't show in any of the photos, but the hook is a nice size and open, so it's easy to get the yarn in and out of it.

When I was trying to decide what size spindle to buy, Kerry sent me a picture similar to this to compare the size of the compact deluxe Tabachek spindles to some others. I found it very helpful so this is my version in case anyone is wondering about the same thing. The Tabachek is in the middle and there is a Mielke to the left of it, and a Kundert to the right.

As you can see, my spindles are empty but there's nothing like getting a new one to help get fired up about spindle spinning again. Maybe I'll even find some pink fiber in the stash to use on the new Tabachek--it looked so pretty surrounded in pink.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Goats on the Roof

What's that you say? There are goats on the roof?

Yes, indeed, I took a drive last month to just such a place in Door County, which is the peninsula in Wisconsin that juts into Lake Michigan. It is a very popular tourist area and many people have summer homes there. It also has an ideal climate for growing cherries, both sweet and sour but it is probably more known for the latter.

Well, probably just as well known as the cherry crop is Al Johnson's restaurant in Sister Bay. When I visit I always make a point to stop there for a lunch of Swedish pancakes with Lingonberry jam. (And, always bring several jars of Lingonberry's home, too.) But, the place is probably best known for the turf roof on it's log cabin building. During the summer, they allow a herd of goats up onto it to mow the grass.

It's quite a sight.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation

Since summer has officially turned to fall, I guess it's about time I turn in my report on how I spent my summer vacation (because it certainly wasn't spent blogging).

It was an eventful summer, filled with good times and bad--births, deaths, reconnecting with old friends, missed opportunities to meet new friends, long days spent spinning, even longer days spent worried about people in hospitals, the sound of airplanes in the air, excursions to vacation spots, a mad online shopping spree and an almost finished website (I tried hard to get it finished but had a setback after a big *oops* a couple of weeks ago when I wasn't feeling good). In the upcoming days, I'll try to write with more detail about some of these experiences, at least the positive ones because there's no sense dwelling on the negative.

But throughout the summer, the one constant was the Saturday morning Farmers Market. From the early weeks of June with the plethora of sugar snap peas to the booths filled with pumpkins today. It's difficult to believe summer is over, it seemed to fly by so quickly.

I'll leave you with this photo of the bouquet I picked up this morning--the last of the summer flowers. Until next year.