Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Color Festival

It was actually the Michigan Fiber Fest. But, for me, it was a festival of color.

Since first thinking about attending this event last April, it's been an ever present wonder if my eyesight would hold up. Just being there felt like a gift and I indulged in all the glorious colors presented by the vendors. It wasn't as costly as it appears, as most of these things are small amounts destined to feed my spindles.

However, I did get enough of the big turquoise-y green bump of Columbia X to make a sweater. The color just called to me. The apricot/pink is Coopworth/Mohair from Hidden Valley. Their displays are always so appealing, someday I'd like to make a Fair Isle out of all their colorways. A Sheep 2 Shoe kit in Lapis, some Ashland Bay Merino/Silk in Sea Mist and several skeins of Claudia's fingering handpaint in Sea Dreams rounded out my visit to The Fold's booth. I have a few more skeins of the Claudia yarn from my visit to her shop in July and these were the same dyelot so I'll have enough to make a shawl now. I also bought two batts of Angora/Cormo/Silk from Jean Womack--there was no way to resist their softness and from Tracy Bunkers, some Merino/Bamboo and Merino/Tencel in Flamingo and Dragonfly. My new vendor find was Yarn Hollow. She had the most incredible handpainted rovings and yarns. Most of the roving flew out of her booth early on Friday. I was lucky enough to get that gorgeous braid of BFL and some 100% Bamboo rayon during the morning break from my class. They are almost too pretty to spin!

The class was taught by Patsy and was all about Spinning the Silkies or the manmade fibers made to imitate silk. We spun Merino/Tencel, 100% Tencel, Soy Silk, Rayon from Bamboo, Ingeo, Silk Latte, Optim and Black Diamond. We also spent over an hour conducting burn tests on these and other fibers. It was so interesting and a real eye opener! Definitely makes one thing twice, even about the fiber content of ready made clothes.
Did you catch that we worked with Ingeo? Yes, that evil "I" that caused me so much difficulty last January. Patsy and I had a long talk about it over dinner during the Folk School class in Feb and she was prepared for the possibility of me tossing the samples right across the barn. ;) But, she found a way to make it behave a little better. First, to get around the very blah look of the solid dyed colors, she suggested blending a couple together to give them a little life. And, to make it behave; blend in some cotton! It's sort of like putting together the two things I dislike to spin the most, but it certainly did improve the strength of the Ingeo so that it didn't snap just by looking at it (well, you know what I mean). She has hope they'll continue working on improving the fiber as they did with Nylon which she found also had problems when it first appeared on the market. Actually, that's one of the great bonuses when taking a class with Patsy. She's been spinning, and writing about spinning for so many years that she can easily relate how things have changed over time. But, it never comes off as being a know-it-all. As always, I highly recommend her class.

The other fibers in the class were fine to spin, except Silk Latte--that one is almost as bad as Ingeo. But, can we talk about Optim?! I think I could be happy spinning Optim, forever! A one lb. amount would probably last that long, too.This is the rest of the little sample amount I received in the class that I've been spinning since returning home from Michigan. It's 120 yds and weighs .2 oz; the single measured 88 WPI and the plied yarn comes in at 53 WPI. I wasn't trying to spin fine at all, just letting it flow through my fingers at a comfortable pace. But I imagine I could go finer if I tried. I love this stuff! So smooth, soft and and silky and makes yarn finer than laceweight. Yep, I could be happy spinning it forever!

Okay, I'm betting you want to know if I bought a fleece. Well, I sure did! When I was at the festival 2 years ago, I remembered an outdoor booth that had big brown paper bags containing fleeces. It wasn't at all tempting then, but this year was different. Turns out, Moonshadow Farm bring their fleeces all the way down from Chisholm, MN! That's w-a-y up in northern MN.

And, I found one I loved!A CVM/Lincoln in a deep charcoal color with silvery highlights. It has about a 6" staple length and is very, very soft. They didn't say it was a lamb fleece but sometimes I wonder since it has a sort of little lamb curl on the end in addition to the softness. It's from a jacketed sheep and makes a wonderful yarn when flicked and spun with a worsted draw. It also makes a very lofty thick woolen spun yarn. I'm also thinking about trying to blend it with some other fibers, maybe silk or alpaca. Time will tell what it will become.

My last purchase was another set of buttons from Jenny the Potter (another MN native). The red ones pictured with the St st pattern are the ones I bought at camp and the blue garter st patterned ones are from Michigan. She's even making me a few additional ones of the latter so I'll have enough for the cardi I want to use them on.
The buttons are laying on a hand woven cotton towel from Centennial Farms. I've never had the least desire to weave, but think if I could learn to make something as lovely as this, it would definitely be worth it. Anyone know anything about looms? specifically, what type is used for something like this?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Knitting Camp Wrap-up

Seems impossible that it's been over a week since knitting camp wrapped up. I've been hard at working finishing up the project started there--a Tomten for my little great-nephew Keegan's 1st birthday. His big day is Saturday so it'll be heading out the door this afternoon.

The yarn used was Cascade 220 Superwash--every bit of 3 skeins. It gave me migraines! This has happened to me before with superwash yarns (Mission Falls 1824 wool) but I absolutely hate using worsted weight cotton and knew it would be better to send a washable garment if I wanted it to be worn. And, I hope this one will fit and be worn alot.
Here's a shot of the back. With all garter stitch, it was a good thing to knit on at camp and still be able to take in all the glorious show and tell.

I wasn't a very good blogger because I didn't take pics of many of them. But, here are a few. Mary A (who has 150 spindles!) with a very pretty sweater. We'd met once before through our mutual friend Kerry. Now I'll envy every time she talks about visiting her as she's one of the nicest ladies ever!
Betty wearing her Circumnavigated Cardigan along with Medrith Glover, who designed it. I ordered this pattern from Medrith as it looked like it would be great to use with handspun. Betty was so interesting--she's played the bagpipes for years, and Medrith has one of the all time great laughs as well as being a great designer.Debbie New in her Ouroborus jacket. She gave a quicky little seminar on the construction and after 4 classes of hers at Stitches East a couple of years ago, happily, I was able to follow it. She is such an inspiration (as were many of the campers) in that she's always wanting to explore and learn more.

There were so many campers I didn't get any pictures of at all. I didn't even get one of Liz who sat right next to me. Let me tell you, she has more energy than anyone I've ever met! And talent just oozes right out, I predict big things for her! Didn't get shots of Sara, or Carol, or Nina, either! But they all made my camp experience so much better than I'd imagined.

Okay, so what am I working on now? I hope to complete some little samples using techniques we learned in the mini-workshops, mostly so I can remember what they were. And, I'm up to date with the clues in the Mystery Stole 3.Don't think I've blogged about it before, but I fell down that rabbit hole when it was the topic of conversation on my favorite knitting discussion group. I ended up dyeing some Zephyr (it's actually a much darker color than shows in the pic) and am using silver lined crystal beads. And, I'm knitting the wing! Despite the lack of symmetry, I like it.

My next two projects from camp yarn are shown here. The darker purple is Meg's new alpaca/wool yarn and I'm making a little garter shawl thing that many of the campers were wearing (Cheryl Oberle gave them the pattern last year at camp). Heck, I watched with my own eyes as Marge knitted one in 2.5 days! It is soft and cushy yarn and I'm not usually a purple lover but this one has lots of heather in pink and blue shades.

The lavender yarn is destined to be Dale Long's Felted Footed Slipper. I loved this color (Fundy Fog) of Briggs & Little Regal as soon as I saw it, but it would look horrible on me as a garment, so at least I'll get the pleasure of knitting with it by making his fun slipper design.

Not too much spinning has been going on, but I'll try to catch up with that in my next post.