Sunday, August 21, 2016

hap knitting, workshop planning, looking ahead

My summer knitting's been all about shawls. One's waiting for fringe and blocking, soon to be shown. This one's  a hap shawl- a construction and style I've been meaning to get to forever. It's the right knit at the right time for me - and apparently in the right place with the right project bag too, as you can see. So matchy-matchy, that's me.
I'm making a Hansel (Half) by Gudrun  Johnston. Because if I'm going traditional Shetland shawl, it should be from the source. Ok , not really.  It's actually because she is a lovely person and her designs are so wonderful. You start with a garter stitch triangle that grows with a yarn over preceding the 1st stitch each row. Those edge loops will be picked up, making a lacey connection to the borders, which is varied width stripes in an old shale lace. I'm knitting it in Starcroft Fog, which comes from the Nash Island sheep. Loving. Every. Single. Stitch.  I can't say enough about how much I adore having this yarn in my hands. I'm just about at the pick up the border stage, and plotting what order my stripe colors will be.

In other news  and we're going bullet style here with lots'o'links

- Craft Industry Alliance -  Joined! If you are a maker who sells, designs, offers services to the creative community or is contemplating any of the above, do yourself a solid and check out this group. Craft Industry Alliance.  It's sewists, knitters, jewelry makers, surface designers, writers, dyers, graphic artists...you name it.  Learned about it while teaching a webinar for them on Creative Consistency: Your Words & Pictures Online with Beverly Army Williams. They have a nice set of resources including forums, webinars, and their blog and  newsletter.

- Fiber College of Maine coming soon, Sept 7-11th. You  could sign up for my classes ;-),  but if you don't want to make Haiku Photo postcards or do a Creative Vision Challenge photo workshop (fun! can't do it wrong!), there are tons of other options.  I also heartily recommend the event as a fab way to end the summer and get a kick of inspiration for the new season. The setting, on Penobscot Bay in Maine, is so worth the ride. More here.

- Spending lots of time this summer giving the rental side of our 2  family home a facelift. It's looking pretty good now.  As Mr Rogers says "Won't you be my neighbor?" . 
It's this whole side of the house, sort of a townhouse style rental. You have to love beach neighborhood lifestyle, being in a village. It's a 1 minute walk to private beach, there's a low key pizza place on the corner, and it has that 100 year old house, old wood floors, shabby chic vibe. And a lot of space to store your yarn. Pass it on if you know anyone in my area , shoreline CT east of New Haven- or maybe someone who wants a weekend home that isn't deep in the woods.  Zillow listing here.

Friday, August 05, 2016

fiber college coming soon, new workshops this year!

I can't ignore that September is rolling around soon. A couple of events I've been looking forward to are just around the bend. The first?
I'm teaching two new workshops. I'm pretty excited about them.They're also, I think, very much in the spirit of Fiber College.  Which is to say inspiring, fun, a chance to break away from the norm with no pressure. The photo above promotes a photography class aimed at anyone wanting to stretch their image making muscles: Creative Vision Challenge.  We'll be talking about ways to get out of imagery ruts, and provoke new ways of seeing. We'll be shooting challenges to make sure that happens. I am a firm believer in cross-pollinating your making experiences, it helps you grow This class should be amazing for anyone looking for a little jolt.
This image promotes a workshop called Haiku Postcards, co-taught with friend and frequent partner-in-workshop-crime, Beverly Army Williams.  We've come up with a project based class, one that lets you walk away with something in hand. We will be thinking about single shot imagery, photographing (with our phones-or cameras if you insist) on the beautiful grounds. We'll be printing images, placing them on  on postcard paper and then under Beverly's guidance, writing haiku to go with them. We can't wait to roll this one out. Sign up from the link on top or here.
(From the Oh, Natural Tahki Yarns collection I shot, just releasing. Love, love , love this hat.)

There's an interview with me on Fiber College blog. I keep returning to teach at Fiber College. It never fails to inspire, create community, and send me into the shortening days time of year with a good attitude. I leave Searsport full of ideas and the beauty I take in on  Penobscot Bay.  Also, full of lobsters, and wine and blueberry pie...but that is not strictly  required :-)
I've posted raved about Fiber College here, here, here and here, too. One important aspect: unlike other creative retreats and events, you do not need to pay one big fee. You can come and take just one class, or just pay to enter and stroll the grounds and try the mentored dye tent or other "pop=up" experiences, and shop, or you can take classes every minute you are there. 
So...next post..a big something else coming in September, too.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

my cladonia shawl

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Once upon a time (2013) , in a land far far away (Nashville), I succumbed to a spell cast by a dyer (Denise of Lost City Knits). Although foresworn to never buy single skeins just because they are pretty, especially never if they look questionable next to  my skin, the spell was strong.  A skein of yarn, so soft, so golden that it glowed, bearing the fairytale name Rumplestilskin came home with me. The skein lived happily. Though not ever after.
Peering deep into the bottomless pattern wishing well (Ravelry ), I was entranced by  Cladonia. So many Cladonia shawls, some solids with contrasting lace trim. My gold could be the trim, and cast no sallowness on my flesh! But what yarn was worthy of the golden skein?
Two months later, I was teaching at Fiber College of Maine, near Swans Island Yarn, with its busy fairy dyemothers. I was overcwhelmed with options in their shop,when my fellow teacher Kirsten Kapur herself, selected a yellowy grey and declared it the Cladonia-est in all the many shelves. (She later admitted she was just worried about time and chose it randomly- but I like to think it was alchemy.)
 When 2014 rolled around, I cast on, taking my shawl WIP  far and wide. The shawl went back to Maine, to the Hudson Valley, to New York City, to Indiana, Vermont, New Jersey, to Delaware and Washington and Long Island and Rhode Island and Nash Island... . So many many islands..though none tropical, which made the shawl very very sad...oh wait, that was ME .........
Cladonia became The Project to Work On Between Other projects.  I tired of grey, breaking out the Rumplestilskin for stripes.  In 2015, the Cladonia had a no-growth spell. I knit, it stayed the same size.  In  2016, the Cladonia grew and grew. If not the fastest Cladonia, then maybe it would be the largest one in all the knitting land.

I crossed the enchanted eyelets row between stockinette and lace border in May. It went quickly, buoyed by my fairy knitting god mother (the designer herself) who reassured (knocked me upside the head)  when I had my inevitable freakout on the 14th of 16 lace rows, that row 3 looked weird and maybe I should rip it all back.  Kirsten pointed out that the stitch count and pattern would be a hot mess if I had skipped YO's.   (DUH!)
I started to cast off..and the lovely glowing golden skein ceased being endless. I visited my collection of leftover fingering weight yarns.  Don't you all save your leftover skeins , in the YouNeverKnow box? and chose a Lisa Souza  vermillion from this project for that last row with its picot and looped detailing.  That is how my shawl shall live. Blocked, and happily every after.





Wednesday, July 06, 2016

nash island roundup & shearing 2016

At the very end of May,  the Nash Island roundup and shearing. Downeast, Maine.
 It's my favorite day of spring. It's beautiful, it's elemental, it's timeless, it's all about community and fiber and friends and work, and the light and smells.  I shoot sheep shots and hold lambs and I am pretty sure, smile all day. Here's the Nash Island flock's history.
6 am-ish, dawn, by the dock on the mainland. No one but the sheep live on Nash, we ride out on lobster boats.
It gets festive quickly, with about 25 or so family members and friends of the Wakemans (who own the island) and Jani Estell (who manages the flock) bustling down to the harbor with coolers of food for the potluck lunch, shearing gear, and many layers of clothes and boots. The year's clip is what Jani spins in her Starcoft Fiber Mill to make yarn.  The island has no docks, we clamber into smaller boats when we get close to shore, ferry over and hop out in shallow water.  This year's crew includes knitwear designers wearing plenty of handknits. L to R on the boat: Gudrun Johnston, Carrie Bostick Hoge, Sarah "FiberTrek" Hunt* and Mary Jane Mucklestone**.  (I don't know what  great hat Gudrun has on, but Sarah is wearing a Rivington Cowl designed by Kirsten Kapur, who is also aboard).
You don't see many sheep at first--the island is hilly and the sheep are shy. Plenty of gulls swooping and calling, though.
And the views are stunning, though quickly eclipsed by the irresistible lambs.
Everyone gathers around the camp (the solitary building on the island) while Alfie Wakeman lays out the plan for roundup, assigning areas of the island to small squads.  The next generation of Wakemans, on the left, work hard . Wren Wakeman, in overalls, joins her mom Eleni(on the right in blue), and two other women, as shearer.
My squad (mid island,cough mid aged women) are assigned an area where we squat in tall grass or on hillsides, slowly creeping forward till all the sheep have been spotted and nudged toward a ridge of the island. On a cue, we all stand up and make ourselves large, then converge running  behind the flock, toward a corral. I am amazed, every time, that this works, and works well.The sheep run noisily into the corral by the water, and the gulls scream overhead, warning us off their nests..
It takes some shoving and catching and chasing, but the end fence piece of the corral finishes pushing the sheep into the pen, where they stay, just till sheared. The other 364 days of the year they roam free, grazing on seaweed and grass.
The first order of the day is sorting all the lambs out from the adults, and getting them into their own pen. This is the first time they'll be counted this year. They all call for their moms, it's very noisy and a little sad.Thought that one in the middle right seems smiley...
To separate the lambs, 3 people are in the corral quickly handing out lambs to the rest of us. We run a  parade down the hillside, over and over till all 80 lambs are moved to their own pen. It is the very best part of the day.  The lamb poo that inevitably covers your shirt is your merit badge.Here's Grant Estell doing double lamb duty. (no pun intended).
Knitwear designers wearing lambs. Gudrun on the left, and Kirsten on the right.
Pretty sure Kirsten was trying to sneak this one home with her. 

While the lambs are tended to and then released to wander baaaaing for their moms, the shearing starts up. Wren Wakeman, above, grabs a sheep to shear
Lily Wakeman and her cousin spend the day wrestling and carrying sheep over to the shearers, keeping order by the gate, and sitting them up for shearing (here, by Donna). You can see how much lanolin is in the fleece, by how shiny Donna's hand gets.
Sarah's job, upper left, is to catch the sheared fleeces, pull off the daggy parts, and then toss the fleece onto the skirting table, where a group of us stand ready to quickly pick out any seaweed or grass.  Jani (upper right) oversees and grades the fleece, calling out "Yarn", "Fog (her fabulous airy fingering weight lamb yarn)","Handspin" , the categories. The skirted fleeces are rolled into towering burlap bags- or if handspin quality, lovingly protected in bedsheets. You cannot imagine how much light gets bounced down and then back up off these fleeces. Or how easily our hands get sunburned, but soooo soft, covered in the oils from the sheep. This year's skirting table crew looked stylish, though, right?
It's noisy, and fun, and hard work and so so beautiful.
The lambs, who have all been released from counting and ministrations,  gather around our feet, looking sweet and baaaa-ing their little heads off, waiting to be reunited with their shorn moms.
There's a potluck lunch break that rivals any fine restaurant, and time to take a quick snooze on the warm beach stones. Or, as Kirsten did, break out your spindle and do the irresistible,  as a handspinner surrounded by pure fresh fluff. (For the record, I lay down and close my eyes on the warm stones).
By late afternoon, the skirting table has a mountain of discarded wool bits, Jani triumphs as the last of 111 sheep are shorn, and Mary Jane and Grant tie closed giant bags of fleece.
Back down to the boats we go.
This time the bags and rolls of fleeces get ferried out to the lobster boats, followed by us.
 Back on the mainland dock, waiting for the truck to take the fleeces to the Starcroft Mill. That's a Stopover sweater on Kirsten, and Sarah's wearing a gorgeous Cockatoo Brae knit in Starcroft Tide wool, from the island sheep.

Pretty much a perfect day. This is the 4th year I've helped at the roundup & shearing on Nash, the 4th year I've photographed it, and the 4th year that I am sure no imagery or recording can really capture it. But I'll keep trying. 
Here's a Yankee magazine story that narrates the day well. 
If you have a chance, try to knit with some of the Starcroft yarn, it is special and soft and strong -and even  if you didn't  meet the sheep and  know the story, as a knitter you'd know it by the feel. 
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*Check out Sarah's Fiber Trek TV YouTube channel for her adventures with all things sheep. I'm so happy to have met her. And you should see her knitting, I did a poor job of documenting all the great sweaters on the island that day.

** Mary Jane is wearing her Nash Island sweater, based on a traditional style, you can't get a better match than that. Another sweater that I didn't manage to show much of. Grrrr.  She often designs with Jani's yarn.  (Among many other wonderful things, Mary Jane designed the Stopover, which was my island wear choice for the day.)


Thursday, June 16, 2016

finding models to pose for you

Follow my blog with Bloglovin(a quick post till I catch up with myself!)
Steph, a professional model I adore working with.
I was interviewed by Abby Glassenberg for her Craft Industry Alliance blog, about finding and working with models. It's a really good helpful piece.. As is Abby's newsletter, helpful and interesting. If you own or are considering having any kind of a small handmade/crafty related business, you want to subscribe. (it pops up when you follow that link to her blog).
FYI Steph , above, is wearing  the Tobay Top from the Tahki Sea Breezes collection.
Josephine, a real person model I also truly adore.  

FYI Josephine is wearing  Holland, a fab sweater design from Maureen Clark of Green Mountain Spinnery. Rav linked from pattern name

I hope you find the article useful-or at least interesting! It's kind of fun to know the details of other peoples' work, even if you have no need to hire a model evah. 
I should be back in this space soon with lots of swoon-y sheep and lamb photos from the Nash Island shearing earlier this month, and blab and other yarn-related  goodness I have been up to. Like,... um, knitting.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

my noncho

Nope. It's not a poncho. Just don't call it a poncho.
Last month, the confluence of a gift of beautiful yarn from Barcelona, a craving for some mindless knitting,  desire of a wrap-like garment that was secured on the shoulder but wasn't a big blanket thing (see my links at the end)--and a couple of long uninterrupted knitting opps all came together.
I didn't achieve ombre -you need to actually blend the changing colors to make that happen- but I'm pleased enough with my colorblocking  softened by carrying a strand of laceweight merino along through three different skeins of DK weight alpaca.
The button!  Also a from- Barcelona gift. It's just for decoration. A finishing touch. Helps me to find the right orientation when flinging it over your head. I want to be all je ne sais quois- not some dork lost  in my noncho trying to find the front end up, as I toss it on.
I felt like I had a knitting success but I wasn't sure I had a style success until Yliana commented that if I couldn't find it around the house, it might be because she stops by and sneaks it out to wear it next fall, when the weather gets cool. Sweet words from my sometime-skeptical-of -the-knits 21 year old photo helper, right?

Details-  3 skeins of alpaca DK weight (each approx 230 yards) and 1 skein of Anzula Wash My Lace laceweight merino.  Knit on size 10.5 US needles, in a big rectangle, with a 3" border of beaded rib on each end, and a 4 stitch border on the long edges. After blocking, about 24" x 55"-ish, folded in half and sewn on one edge, leaving  a 12" opening. I decided the reverse stockinette side had a more woven look so I called it the right side.

If you want to knit one, I don't think the dimensions are all that strict, nor the stitch pattern you choose. You could buy some inexpensive jersey fabric and make a mockup to see what size works for you. I just wouldn't  want the knit fabric too loose, or saggy- or too dense and stiff.  Go for it!

I'm not sure I have this concept entirely out of my system! Check out L'Enveloppe , Petal Capelet,
The llama II, Gale and if I can find that saved search with other not-quite-sweaters/not-quite-shawls, poncho-like garments, I'll share that too.....

PS Photos by the entry to Knit New Haven, my LYS. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

'tis the season! CT Sheep & Wool Festival



It's that time of year, to see all our favorite fuzzy faces and appreciate their fiber. For us, the Ct Sheep and Wool festival starts the spring and fair season. It's just a teeny little fiber festival, a mere smidge of a gathering. But it means winter is done.
My report:  Purple is big this year, no surprise there. The vendors here are smaller farms and local or regional dyers. I always admire  Tidal Yarns skeins. I love her patterns, too. There was a pullover sample at her booth I spent some time admiring *. You know how you look and think "ooh nice" but then the next day you're thinking " oooh nice and I really want to knit that.....it's stuck in my head....". Even though I've got my knitting pretty well planned out for the short term.  Note to self: follow her to another fair and do it.
There was some herding, of sheep.  And of a four year old.
My fave thing this year was Dancing Stick Man, and the dude who pulled the string as he played banjo.
The banjo playing was at one of our fave booths too- old timey stuff including what sister Lulu, who joined the fair-going expedition, called folk art and little spirit jugs. Many had faces on them, or tiny paintings.  You'll find a couple in our flower garden, if it ever gets warm enough to plant.
There was also  the Wearing of the Amazing Knits, Folks in Renaissance Clothes Doing Impossibly Intricate Needlework, Spinning In Group Formation, Shearing Demos and Really Good Buttons, along with all of the above. Want my 2¢ Get out to some up and coming fairs .
- Maryland Sheep and Wool  May 7 & 8  --the big mama of east coast spring festivals

- Shepherds Harvest in Minnesota May 13-15 -  worth the trip from wherever you are

- New Hampshire Sheep & Woool Festival - May 14 & 15 - bring a sweater! it's in the woods- my memory of my two visits to this one is brrrrrr! and also- beautiful yarns & sheep

- Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair May 28 & 29th-- super charming

Taking a curtsy before we leave. Hope to catch you sipping lemonade and watching the sheep smile back sometime soon.

Just for funs : although I rarely miss a year of this festival, I sometimes skip blogging about it. oops! my first visit to this festival 11 years ago , back when my blog was a secret and I was purposefully posting small not terribly well made photos, to keep it separate from my professional commercial work (why? insanity??!!) . And also another,  sunshiney  lovely year there, on the blog seven years ago.

* so this pullover? It was worsted or DK weight looking, nice deep raglan sleeves, boxy cut, slightly scooped neck and an inset pocket (with contrast lining, I just love that)  on one side of the lower front. It was shown with color blocking near the lower quarter of the body but it'd be charming solid....