Friday, November 30, 2012

Let me 'splain...

Wow. Has it really been almost three years since I posted anything of substance on High Fibre Diet or Scarfaday?? That's just... wow. At least I can honestly say that it's for a good reason: I've been super busy doing all manner of exciting - really exciting! - fibrey things. Things I was keeping under my hat at first until they really got going, and then they got going with such wild abandon that I just haven't found the time to stop doing it long enough to sit down and tell you about it.

"What ARE these things?" you might ask. Well, I shall tell you! The biggest and bestest one I can sum up in three little words: The Bobbin Tree. That's right,

It's my (not so) new (anymore) business venture. My new baby. My love! It is all about fibre and people and doing stuff! I haven't given up on the Weaver's Palette entirely, mind you. I still weave. Some. A little. Okay, not much. Mostly on my rigid heddles, actually. (Though that didn't stop me from buying a 10 shaft, 64" wide Glimakra Standard with one plain beam and one sectional last spring, or an 8 shaft Schacht Baby Wolf at Christmas. Ahem.) But I have completely changed tacks with my professional life and I could NOT be happier.

You may recall that motivation to weave has always been a struggle for me, hence Scarfaday. It was such a problem that I even wrote an article about it in Handwoven. I love to teach weaving. I love to plan weaving projects. I love to dress the loom, even. But actually weaving? On my own? In the basement? Not so much. Not enough to keep the shops that were carrying my products happy, at any rate, which meant I always felt guilty about not getting things done, which meant in turn that I always felt bad about myself and the way I spent my time (i.e. online, not weaving).

I am a people person. I need face time. I am like a second generation Sim with a really high social score who needs a steady diet of little green pluses from interaction with other Sims to stay happy and keep my mood diamond shiny green. This is why I love teaching. This is why I love getting together with other weavers and spinners to talk about what we're doing. This is why, when I was part of Mixed Media Artisans, I enjoyed running the shop (as long as there were customers around) far more than making stuff to put in it.

Clearly something needed to change.  Take it from me, when your struggles to motivate yourself to do your job are so well known that you're asked to write an article about it for an international publication, you're doing the wrong job. When Mixed Media closed I was this close >< to throwing over the whole idea of making a living at fibre and get getting an office job somewhere instead, though that made me sad, too. I love having my own business. Worse yet, a "real job" might give me the face time with other people that I wanted, but it wouldn't net me much fiber time. I wanted both!

Enter the Bobbin Tree.

...No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

M'yeah, so all that up there? I wrote that a YEAR ago. More, maybe. The first paragraph said "a year and a half" before I changed it just now, so it must have been around then.

As you can see, I'm still struggling with finding the time to blog, and as before that's because of doing many exciting things instead of talking about doing them. A really great sign that I'm finally doing the thing that's absolutely perfect for me. :D So... hooray!

As mentioned previously, in 2010 I started The Bobbin Tree. For the first couple years I operated it out of my living room closet (though, much to Ron's dismay, it tended to leak out all over the house a lot of the time). I had some classes at my house. I went to markets and conferences and retreats and events all over Cape Breton, the Mainland, and into New Brunswick and PEI. Got my (business) name out there. Met amazing people. Made amazing friends. Had a BLAST. And thought more and more about opening an actual retail location, perhaps combined with some studio space so I could weave and spin and, most importantly, teach classes.

That's a really brief synopsis of of 2010 and 2011, which brings me up to 2012. I want to tell you all about 2012 but I'm afraid if I do it properly I'll get sidetracked and it'll be another year and a half before I hit post, so I'll go month by month and stick to the highlights:

Dec 2011/Jan 2012: Ohboyohboyohboy Ima open a shop! SO EXCITED!! ...Except then the landlords' plans changed and suddenly I wasn't opening a shop anymore. SO BUMMED. A few tears and lots of very sad faces. Fortunately this was all temporary, as you will soon discover! Also, the shop I was going to have is now my friend Joan's NeedleIt, and it is super cute and filled with all manner of great things and if you are in North Sydney you should go there and buy her stuff.

Jan/Feb 2012: Weaving classes with mydearolmum at her Willingham Weavery! This was our third kick at the can and hands down our best year yet. Week Two focused on profile drafting. I rocked the profile drafts, letmetellyou. (Psst: we are teaching more in Jan/Feb 2013!)

Some of our Weaving II students dressing their looms from B2F with practice warps. Notice how diligently Susan is playing on her phone working on her loom?

A major highlight was that my best imaginary friend, Susan, came all the way from Kansas to take our class! Susan and I met via Twitter back in ... uh, back in History, around the time that Google Wave failed to crest, whenever that was. We have chatted almost every single day since, but this was the first and only time we've been in the same place. And that place had looms in it. HOW GREAT IS THAT?

March 2012: Mom and I went to John C. Campbell folk school and took Laura Fry's Efficient Weaver class. OMG, the Folk School is the best thing evar. I wish I could afford to go all the time. The weaving studio that Pam Howard maintains is every weaver's dream come true: dozens of looms, fabulous equipment, big work tables, space, light, and fab people to hang out with. I made a some really great new friends that, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I've been able to keep in touch with. And of course it goes without saying that the class was great, because Laura is great. An amazing teacher. A bottomless font of weaving knowledge and expertise. The whole week was made of WIN. Laura is teaching more classes at the Folk School in 2013. You should go!

Five days of working, learning, chatting and not a small amount of weaving = FUN TIMEZ.

March/April 2012: Road trip with my friend Sandra to the Maritime Fibre Arts Retreat in Chester Bay, NS. Tons of fun! Can't wait to go back next year! Sandra and I already have our reservations. In fact, so do something like 80-100 other people. I'm pretty sure we've got the entire hotel booked for 2013. Uh, not Sandra and me personally, but folks going to the retreat. Right.

I took a little bit of fibre and yarn with me.

April 2012: The Helping Herd auction! In late March, a not-very-far-away cashmere goat farm burned to the ground, leaving its owners, Chris and Christine Silver, with fewer than half their herd and other farm animals, no outbuildings at all, no vehicles, utilities cut off to their home, and no insurance. The tragedy was terrible, of course, but you know what was wonderful? In April, my friend Mimi Fautley (of The Loop in Halifax) and I organized a Facebook auction to raise money for the Silvers, and HUNDREDS of people raised THOUSANDS of dollars! As you might imagine, the auction started out with a fibre focus, but it quickly expanded. There were over a hundred really amazing items up for auction, many of which were hand made by the donors. We raised $7,000! I think I am more proud of that auction and what we were collectively able to do for the Silvers than anything else I've ever done.

Moar April 2012: Also, I got shingles. That kind of sucked. And PayPal totally screwed me over because of the Helping Herd auction, and my accounts are STILL frozen. So that also sucked. Meh.

May 2012: HOLY COW, I won a Women in Business Award! In Arts & Culture, even! On my birthday, even!

Best. Birthday. Present. Evar.

Moar May 2012: HOLY COW, this time I really DID open a shop! (Are you noticing the "holy cow" theme here? Good.) The Bobbin Tree put on its big girl pants and moved out of the house and into the brand spankin' new Artisans In the Attic in downtown Sydney. Seriously, you guys! I have a shop! FOR REALZ! It is SO GREAT. You will hear tons more about it in its very own blog post, probably in lots and lots of blog posts, so that's all I'll say here for now. In the meantime, you can read all about it and everything else Bobbin Tree related right here.

My honest to goodness, big girl shop!

June 2012: Field trip for a fibre getaway weekend at Adairs with my NB fibre peeps. TEH FUN!

March-June 2012: OMGomgOMGOMGOmgomgomg! I was approached by the lovely Liz Gipson, formerly of Handwoven, and Schacht, and author of her own weaving books and videos, and asked if I wanted to make a floor loom weaving class for! First I had to go see what Craftsy was about and then I fell all over myself saying OHMYGODYES. But, you know, calmly so that I didn't sound like too much of a fangirl loon. One must at least pretend to be professional, right? M'yeah, not so much. So anyway, with Liz' incredibly helpful guidance and Ron's incredibly helpful insights, I worked my tail off for a few months planning a project and an outline, and by June I was ready to go...

July 2012: ...OMGOHGMOGHOMGomgoMgOMG I'm going to DENVER to FILM A CLASS! I think filming might have been my very favourite part of the makin-a-class process. Big cameras. HOT lights. Tryin' to remember what I'd just said and whether it made any sense. Freezing in place while the B camera zoomed in reeeeaaaaallly close on my hands or feet or shuttle or whatever needed to be really clear. Laughing. A LOT. Propping up looms with candy bars (no word a lie!). Panicking over whether we'd have enough time. Agonizing over what made it in and what got cut. It took four and a half days to film what turned into almost 9 hours of class, and every scrap of it was a blast. I didn't even mind getting up at 6:30 or whatever gawdawful hour it was, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it. Nicole and Shawn and Liz and Danica and every single person I met at Craftsy and Sympoz are super nice and so good at their jobs and obviously really love what they're doing so I couldn't help but feel the same way! Oh, and the hotel served milk and cookies every night. Heaven.

My Craftsy set! Not the ladder, you understand. That's just there 'cause Shawn was adjusting the lights. Notice Camera B over on the left. I'm standing next to Camera A.

Oh! And Ron and I got to actually go to Schacht and meet Barry Schacht and Judy Pagels (the super sweet lady I deal with when I order stuff) and all the other folks who work there and make the wheels and looms and everything else, and to go through the factory and actually SEE them being made. I even got to see the ladybugs! The actual ladybugs that actually go on the actual Ladybug wheels. Also, they have a community veggie & flower garden! And beehives! How can you not love a company with gardens and bees!?
Unfortunately, most of the pictures I took at Schacht - and all the ones that had people in them - turned out blurry. Here's a not too terribly blurry shot of some panels and treadles that are going to be Sidekicks when they grow up.

August/September 2012: Shop's busy! Cruise ships! Craftsy class is live! Look, students! Holy crap, hundreds of students! @.@ Eeee!

October 2012: The Maritime Spinning Retreat in Miramichi, NB. Ron came with me! SO MUCH FUN! And the Hub City Spinners that organized it asked The Bobbin Tree to provide the wheel and a bunch of goodies for the participants' goody bags. Made me feel SO GOOD. :D

And then of course there was Thanksgiving and a busy fall with the ships and the shop is doing so great and holy crap life is really, really good, you know? Which isn't to say that it's perfect, 'cause I'm still far from perfect, but I'm pretty sure the lesson of this past decade is that I don't have to be perfect. I still haven't found a way to love housework as much as ... well, anything else I might do with my time, and I'm still juggling way too many balls and occasionally dropping a few but, mindful of the Shingles Experience(tm), I try to cut myself some slack and allow myself some downtime. Not so good at balancing that yet; I seem to go feast or famine with the downtime. Maybe that will be my lesson for the next decade?

So there you have it: the last three years in one honkin' big info dump. Hopefully now that I've got that out of the way, I can get back to blogging on a regular basis.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bwop! Bwop! CBRM Knitters Needed!

One of the Torontonian Stitch & Bitchers and the giant pair of Noro(??) undies they made for Brent Bambury during the Feb 27 taping of Go!

Oh MAN, how DO I get myself into these things?? Well, not those things (i.e. the giant undies shown above) but these things meaning... well, read on and you will see.

Who: Local knitters with pride! (Even those who don't yet know how to knit.)
What: A taping of Go!, on the topic of "Giants of Canadian Rock"
Where: The Savoy in Glace Bay, 116 Commercial Street
When: 6 pm (the show starts at 7pm but we'll gather in advance)
Why On Earth?? Well, here's the deal...

There's a show on CBC Radio called Go!, on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., hosted by Brent Bambury. On February 27, the subject of the show was Lobbying for Hobbying1, and Brent invited four people to "show their passion for their pastimes" and convince listeners that their hobbies should be our hobbies. The pastimes in question were laughter yoga, playing the ukulele, naked photography in abandoned buildings... and knitting.

Okay, so right there you can maybe see my point. Laughter yoga, while actually it sounded really fun on the show, perhaps isn't very widely known. Playing the ukulele is kind of the textbook Lame Hobby - no disrespect to the ukulele but you've got to admit: that's how it's shown in pop culture. Naked photography in abandoned buildings... that is Seriously Obscure, as hobbies go. Now, Toni Wallachy's photography is really stunning (check out her Flickr photostream, too), so as art this naked photography in abandoned buildings bit is lovely. But as a hobby? I'm thinking there probably aren't a lot of participants. No, not so much.

So what was knitting doing in this obscure company? It was ROCKING, of course! Even so, I felt as though Bambury ... well, that he belittled knitting as a frumpy, granny sort of thing to do - in spite of the young and obviously hip Stitch & Bitchers who were there with Stephanie (or perhaps she was there with them?). I felt this way because of things he said, such as: "Knitting? Really, is this right? We're going to talk about knitting? I thought we were doing cool hobbies." And also: "I think knitting is something you do when you're too old to change the channel."

Now, in his defense, he was probably just making fun chit chat to drive the conversation along, but as a knitter I felt snubbed. Maybe I'm just a hobby snob and resented them lumping knitting in with what I considered to be Weird Hobbies when really I should have just been thrilled that knitting was getting some airtime, but there it is. Stephanie, who is always hilarious ("Knitters aren't knitters because they're patient, they're patient because they knit... We do this so that we don't have to be rude or drunk all the time.") and the other Stitch & Bitchers represented us well but I still felt like we got the short end of the needle, so to speak.

ANYHOO, during the conversation, Bambury gave Stephanie and the S&Bs this challenge: "Two weeks from now... Go! is going to be taping in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia... It is going to be cold on the Cape, so Stitchers, by the end of today's show, I want you to knit me some sexy, woolly undies - woolen underpants that I can wear out on the Cape."

And they did. See above.

So anyway, I listened to all this and, with knitter's pride bristling, decided that those of us within spitting distance of Glace Bay really ought to go to this taping on March 12 and make sure Himself has got his Noro on. Or at least in the studio, if not on his actual person. And I thought we ought to go with our needles and demonstrate that the knitting isn't all that obscure, thankyousoverymuch, nor frumpy.

I think we've got about half a dozen folks that're planning to go, but Chris (of Knit-a-thon fame) has let the CBC Information Morning guys know that we're going to be there so, on the off chance that the show organizers get wind of us coming, I'm really hoping we can get together a really big group of people so that we can make our point with pride and emphasis and NUMBERS.

I have let the Go! folks know that I'll be there with a knitting posse and requested tickets for us. Hopefully we'll be able to get a bunch of seats together - we'll be armed with sharp pointy sticks, so I think we'll be able to convince the nice folks at the Savoy to do that for us. They're actually going to save seats in the front row for anyone willing to sing on air but only a couple people called in to Information Morning this morning to do that, so I'm secretly hoping we can have the balance of the front row. If not that, then perhaps the second row?

The show is free and the topic is "Giants of Canadian Rock". Taping starts at 7pm but the audience is supposed to get there a little early; we knitters are going to gather at 6pm so that we can make sure to get seats together and also so we can teach any wannabe knitters the basics so they can be knitting with us by the time the show starts.2 Bring your needles and whatever project you have on the go. (ha! Go!) And wear or bring something hand knit if you think of it!

Please please please, if you are a Cape Breton knitter, let me know via a comment here or by RSVPing to the Facebook event. If you know any Cape Breton knitters, please spread the word!

[Edit: Woo hoo! As of 11 am on Thee Day, we are now 14 knitters strong, plus various husbands and friends coming with. :D Bronwyn at Go! has been absolutely great about putting our names on the reserved tickets list in little dribs and drabs as people confirm, and I'm hopeful we'll get a good place to sit together. - J]

1. You can hear the entire audio of the show here. Look for the Feb 27 broadcast. The knitting bit is from around 14:00 to 23:30 or thereabouts, plus a bit at the end when they discuss the finished undies.

2. I'm not above bunging knitting needles and just-started projects into the hands of non-knitters to beef up our numbers, either. I shall come prepared!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My latest indulgences

Ron and I just spent five days in Halifax and I've got all kinds of new goodies I'm anxious to show off!

This beautiful stuff I got at The Loop on Barrington:

The fleece is a romney/lincoln cross and comes from the happy flock of my friend Pia Skaarer-Nielsen, who dyes the wool herself. I bought 100g of my favourite colour in the morning and went back to buy the rest that afternoon but someone had beat me to it. I just discovered this afternoon at our Unspun Heroes gathering that "someone" just happened to be my friend Kimberly who had also traveled to Halifax last week. So I guess if I'm desperate for another 100gs of this lovely fleece I can go camp on her doorstep and refuse to leave until she sells it to me.

That's actually all the fibre I got while in Halifax. I was trying to be good, you see. I did get a 47" Addi Turbo circular needle and, following these most excellent instructions, manage to cast on a pair of socks 2-at-a-time using the magic loop method, but for those I used yarn I already had. (Yes, I packed a ridiculous amount of knitting yarn, all my knitting needles and my warped Knitter's Loom. No, I didn't use any of it, except for those two balls of sock yarn.)

On the way home, though, we took a detour and went to Sun Mercantile in Tatamagouche where I succumbed to the wiles of these two skeins of yarn:

At $30/skein, that top one was a total indulgence. I saw it as soon as I walked up to the yarn display and fondled it lovingly but then put it down 'cause it was so pricey. And I looked at a couple other things, then fondled that one again. Then looked at some other stuff, when I spied some other gorgeous stuff... and discovered it was the same skein of yarn that I'd put down in the wrong place. This happened at least half a dozen times, me falling in love at first sight over and over again with the same skein of yarn, until I finally just put the thing in my basket. A 60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon blend, it is absolutely gorgeous. It came with a Mountain Colours sock pattern of my choice included in the price, so I've convinced myself that it was money well spent.

The second one is a fingering weight 50% alpaca, 30% merino, 10% silk, 10% nylon sock yarn by Misti Alpaca. I've been eyeballing the Misti Alpaca lace weight for ages and ordered a couple skeins of the chunky weight that my yarn supplier sells, but I hadn't seen the fingering weight for socks before. This particular colourway really spoke to me, so into the basket it went as well.

Either one of these may wind up as socks, but I've also been really anxious to knit myself some fingerless gloves. I'm really hoping to win this contest on JL Yarnworks' blog and get the pattern for these babies...

...'cause I'm hankering to knit some cables and I really like fingerless glove patterns with a proper thumb hole rather than just a slit in the side. I did buy myself a really cute pair of handknit fingerless gloves done in Fleece Artist yarn at the craft market weekend before last but they're quite bulky and I like the more delicate look of these. Am thinking I might try to 2-at-a-time ML them as well to make sure they're the same size.1

In spite of the fact that I was expecting 8 lbs of combed top in the mail and had just bought 100g of Pia's lovely fleece, I was also seduced by this beautiful roving that was hand dyed by Janine, who works at Sun Mercantile:

My justification for this is that it's a merino/silk blend and none of the top I'd ordered had any silk in it. Merino, yes - I'd ordered 2 lbs of that. Merino/bamboo and merino/tencel, yes - had ordered a pound of each of those, too. But merino/silk? None whatsoever. It only seemed right that I get some to compare to the others. *cough*

I got a couple other goodies from Sun Merc, including a hand knit hat that is SO CUTE I've barely taken it off since I bought it.2 I also got a bunch of books at various bookstores that I'm excited about, including Sock Innovation by Cookie A, The Handweaver's Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon, and Spin Control by Amy King.

Of course, I got home on Friday night and discovered the parcel pick-up slip for the 8 lbs of combed top I'd ordered from Fat Cat Knits waiting for me on the table. I picked that up the next morning so now I'm drowning in amazingly beautiful fibre for spinning, but that's a story for a whole separate post.

1. True Confessions: It drives me nuts when a pair of socks or gloves don't fit exactly the same way - I find it really distracting and uncomfortable. Can you say OCD?

2. Srsly, I've hardly taken it off. I have, however, put it carefully on the bedside table at night rather than sleeping in it. There are limits.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Long time no see!

Just popped over here to find some pics of an old project and, as I skimmed several pages, I realized how much I really miss posting to HFD! I've gotten so sucked up into Scarfaday (even though it's only sometimes scarves and it's certainly not every day right now) that I've been neglecting my first baby. What kind of blog mother am I, anyway? At least I left things on a nice note with those super keen little videos! So anyway, as I sit here listening to "Art" again, I think I'll upload some shots of some totally non-scarf related projects from the summer, including some of the aforementioned old one.

You may recall that I wove some yardage back in January; it was soooo pretty and I was sooo worried that I'd screw it up in the wet finishing that it's been gathering dust ever since. I've shuffled it from one place to another over the past 10 months and have patted it lovingly a time or two but didn't dare take the plunge. Well, now it HAS taken the plunge, as of a few minutes ago when I finally shuffled it into the washer. I took one last shot before it went into the drink, just in case I muck it up completely and it never looks the same again:

Hopefully it'll come out of the wash okay. I have no idea how much agitation it'll require; I keep checking it but it's like waiting for a watched pot to boils so now I'm over here writing again... I just hope I don't turn around and find it's boiled over!

I also got a fair bit of spinning done over the summer - first what seemed like miles of Falklands for the Unspun Heroes' milling blanket project (actually only 300g) and then, since I was tired of undyed white and brown and starved for colour, some scrumptious hand dyed Merino from the Fleece Artist that I picked up at Baadeck Yarns last spring:

I couldn't decide which pic I liked best, so you get all three! :D Sadly, the pics of my other spinning projects aren't so hot and don't do the yarns much justice - I took them outside on a bright day so they're stark and contrasty. Oh well, you'll still get the idea.

First, the above yarn once it was plied:

This is just a tiny little skein made of what was left on one bobbin after the bobbin I plied it to ran out. (The full skein was in a Teacher/Student show at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design at the time I took these pics.)

Next, another skein of gorgeous Fleece Artist stuff, wot my friend Chris gave me as a thank you for weaving her a set of placemats at the last minute for a wedding gift:

When I first saw the roving, I thought, "Oh, that's pretty but, you know, not my colours." As soon as I started spinning, though, I fell head over heels in love. Chris (the spinner from our co-operative) knows her stuff, she does, and picked me the very prettiest stuff I could have asked for. I love this yarn, and plan to use it on my Ashford Knitter's Loom some time soon.

Next, more nummy gift rovings that I simply :

Mom gave me this scrumptious stuff for Christmas a couple years ago, before I was spinning as much as I do now. It's a merino/bamboo blend and soooo soft and silky! I LOVED spinning this stuff, so am really excited that I'm going to be ordering more merino/bamboo from Fat Cat Knits soon.

And finally, a couple more mouldering projects, finally dusted off this summer. This was some top I bought in Victoria, BC and spun a few years back but then never plied. I was still pretty new to the whole spinning thing and had never worked with a sliver before so didn't really know what to do with it. As a result, the yarn was really thick and thin and I was frustrated with it at the time, tho' I think it's pretty wonderful now. I couldn't decide what to ply it with for a long time but finally this summer I chose a fine 2/32 wool that I had kicking around and plied it with that:

I gave the finished skein1 to my friend Marie who, time after time this summer, drove an hour and a half and brought her rigid heddle loom to my place or the shop and kept me company while we both wove. Was GRATE to spend that time with her, so I wanted to give her something special as a thank you. :)

Last but not least, some Shetland roving that I bought at the Maritime Spinner's Retreat FIVE (5!!) years ago:

I started spinning it at the time but I had a pretty hard time with it. I figured it was because I was a newbie spinner, so I stuck it in the closet and left it there for many years. This year, feeling much more sure of my MAD SPINNING SKILLZ, I got it back out and tried it again. First I plied the stuff I'd already spun before and then I started spinning new singles. Turns out that it's just not very well prepared - lots of second cuts and the roving separates into light and dark. Or maybe I'm just spoiled by the gorgeous Fleece Artist stuff and the roving that Mom gave me and have unreasonable expectations. Either way, I'm not loving it, though there is a certain satisfaction of finally getting it done. I bought an entire fleece worth of the stuff, so there's lots to do.

So that's spinning... there was also some dyeing - with Kool-aid, of course! First at my friend Kimberly's house, where we had a lot of help from her daughter Min (and wound up with very stained hands):

Kimberly was dying roving but I was dying some frogged yarns, which turned out like this:

I did some more koolaid dyeing just a couple weeks ago when the Unspun Heroes met at CBU for a spinning & dyeing day. This time I did roving, too:

It looks pretty garish and Halloweeny before it went into the microwave 'cause the black cherry looks very black rather than red, but once the dye had set it was a really pretty mottled red. I'm spinning this stuff now - it's mystery fleece and not very soft but it'll make a nice hat or pair of mits or something.

Phew! That'll do for an update. I'd better go check on my fabric! I'm not sure if it's fulled quite enough yet but I figured I could always full more but could never full less, so I let it spin out a little while ago. Will keep you posted!

1. Oops. I just realized I never washed the yarn once it was plied, so not entirely finished I guess. I should maybe warn Marie? *cough*

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Links to inspire you (and me!)

WOW, just saw this on the CBS News website - I guess it's from a Sunday morning art spot or something? It's a video about a pair of artists who are weaving some really incredible pieces out of glass rods that they make themselves. Sooooo amazing!

Watch CBS Videos Online

I found it via Twitter - I've got a TweetBeep alert running right now that alerts me to tweets related to weaving. Most of them are actually about really bad drivers on the freeway (weaving in and out of traffic is the general idea) but there are a few gems that are actually related to weaving on looms or weaving baskets and I'm finding lots of really interesting people to follow.1 :) One of those tweets was actually about this video and I'm so glad I went to check it out!

And, on the subject of videos I've found beautiful or inspiring, here's another one I like even more:

I have watched it over and over and over and over1 and listened to the song even more. The art in the vid is really lovely and gentle and sincere but the lyrics of the song are like hearing the soundtrack that goes on inside my head - and, I'm sure, inside the head of any artist or artisan who aspires to make.. well, if not a living then at least a life out of his or her work. Maybe even those guys in the glass vid, except that at $4-12k per piece, I doubt they've got doubts any more.

That one I found in this blog by Betz White, which is one of my new faves. Another blog I've recently found and fallen in love with is How About Orange. I recommend them both! I'm turning into quite the blog junkie lately, as you can see from my much-expanded blog lists in the sidebar!

Now I really ought to head downstairs and work on the blankets I've got on the loom, but man, oh, man it's a bright sunny day outside and really warm (11 degrees!) so I'd much rather be out than in my dungeon of a basement. What to do, what to do...

1. Here's a tip for you weavers in the crowd who might like to do the same: to us "shuttle" means that thing that a bobbin of yarn goes in but to everyone else on the planet it means the Space Shuttle. And all those other people? They talk about space shuttles a LOT. Also "warp" means time warp. You'd be amazed at the number of Rocky Horror Picture Show fans out there. Seriously.

2. ...and over and over and over and over and over...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Little ideas = Big things

Remember when I said that my theme for the moment is "little by little"? This idea continues to play out in fascinating ways. Case in point: I had the little idea a while ago that it'd be keen to have a blog ring populated by local artisans. I mulled it over myself for a while, and then I mentioned it to a friend. Then I forgot about it, and then later remembered and mentioned it to someone else... and now there are a couple others who are interested, and I've taken the first few baby steps towards the big picture... but for the time being it's still a small idea and that's just peachy.

I said as much to Laura Moore,1 one of the artisans who's going to join the ring. What I said, in fact, was this: "I think it could be the seed of a much larger affiliation down the road, a little tiny beginning of something that could be big... or could just stay small and still be a good idea. I'm all about dreaming big and working small these days." It seems this resonated with her too, and she sent me the link to this poster by graphic designer Frank Chimero:

I cannot tell you how much I love this poster! Ooo-arrr, talk about an idea resonating. I can feel it thrumming in my gut. It repeats what I've been thinking about so much lately: that a small idea can grow into something big and maybe even that the best big ideas come from small seeds. That big ideas come about incrementally. Its "little by little" all over again, and in one of my favourite colours to boot.

Still, it's the second half that I can't get out of my head. I keep interpreting it in two different ways, both of which really speak to me:

#1: An idea that's too big may collapse under its own weight (and become so small it vanishes).


#2: Big ideas are really just a lots of little things combined.

I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of time mulling this over the days and weeks ahead... and maybe even forever, since I've just ordered the poster from Mr. Chimero and it is winging its way to me As We Speak. I'm looking forward to framing it and hanging it where I can see it all the time.

You see? Little things really do add up to bigger things. The original "hmm, I should have a theme!" idea was a little thing. The idea for a blog ring was a little thing, too, and even this poster is a little thing. And yet, it feels like it's all starting to add up to something pretty big...

Huh. No mention of dietary fibre anywhere in any of that, was there? I'm scratching my head trying to think of what random thing I can bung on the end here to justify this post and I'm coming up totally empty. Sorry about that! I promise to make up for it with an extra fibery post next time, honest!

1. FYI: Laura and Teena Marie Fancey have an absolutely fabulous show on right now at CBU Gallery One, called Redux. Painting + found objects = FANTASTIC. If you live in the area, you must Go See This Show!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Knitting [& Knit-a-thon!] Update

First, the knit-a-thon update. I got a very nice thank you letter from McConnell Library with the final tally (at least the current final tally) on knit-a-thon goings on:
  • 450+ balls of yarn were donated,
  • 260+ finished items were donated to the Clothe A Family campaign and half a dozen tiny caps were taken to the premie ward at the hospital,
  • over $900 was raised to support the children's lit programs at CBRL,
  • hundreds of knitting needles were donated, and many are still waiting to be given to new and aspiring knitters,
  • 30 door prizes were donated and then won by very happy knitters,
  • and lots of good [donated] food, fun and conversation were had by the many many knitters who participated in both locations.
Isn't that great? Congrats and thank you to everyone who donated and/or participated. And hey, guess what! It's only 11 months until the next knit-a-thon!

I was lucky enough to win a door prize myself and, although there were tons of beautiful kits to choose from with enough yarn for e.g. an afghan, a lace shawl or even an entire sweater, I was a good little girl and picked the one, scrumptious ball of Noro you see above. I just loved the colours and one of my knit-a-thon objectives was to destash, not restash. Well, at least as far as yarn goes. I got heaps of new needles - everything from size 2 dpns up to 25 mm needles which are presumably meant for broomstick lace but won't ever be used for that by me! (At least, not unless someone tells me what broomstick lace actually is...)

I also scored a whole whack of needles for my friend Amy, who knew how to knit in theory but hadn't done it in practice for a long time. She came to the knit-a-thon to lend her support and keep us company but had zero (0) intention of knitting anything, but I bunged a pair of needles in her hands and a ball of yarn in her lap and she was away! She left with left with many balls of yarn and a hat under way and has since started another. I can be very persuasive!

Knitting continues apace on my March socks. I was really hoping to knit some monkeys for March since they're having a March Monkey contest on Sock-A-Month but, alas, I don't think I'll have time so I'm sticking to my original railroad rib socks. I knit the leg of both socks first and then intended to knit the heel flap of one and then the other so that they'd be exactly the same but I really like doing the heels and just couldn't stop! As you can see, they've gotten a bit out of synch so now I have to decide whether to just finish #1 and then go do the heel and foot of #2, or whether to play catch-up so that they're the same length. Tricksy! I must admit I'm not loving the colours quite as much as when I started. The pooling makes them look like camouflage socks - NOT the look I was going for. Oh well!

Another piece of knitting news: you may recall from my Feb 8 spinning pics that Sidney was knitting (yes, that's Sidney. Now You Know.) She had with her that day a really neat little book of Luxury One-Skein Wonders. This little gem was filled with tons of patterns for things you could knit out of a single skein of yarn. Now, this is perfect for me in many ways: 1) I really only get one or two skeins of yarn spun at a time before I get distracted by doing other things, so projects to use up these orphan skeins are much appreciated, 2) I can't knit anything very heavy without the ol' CTS acting up, so lightweight projects that use only a single skein are easy on the wrists, and 3) my attention span lasts about one (1) skein. Granted, my handspun is not anything luxe, but the idea was a good one.

Turns out there are a few different books in the series, so I am now the proud owner of 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders, which you can see behind that yummy Noro above, and I got a copy of One-Skein Wonders: Yarn Shop Favourites from Coast to Coast for Chris for her bday.1 AND Donna has a copy of one of the One-Skein books - not sure yet if it's a fourth one or one of these three, but at any rate our little spinning/knitting group is well covered by wonders of one-skein or less! So now I need to pick a lovely pattern to use my new yummy Noro on!

Incidentally, I see that Chapters has all three titles on for 34% off right now, and a 20% discount on their irewards memberships. If you buy a lot of books, I heartily recommend it - it's not nearly as good as it used to be but nevertheless Ron and I always keep our membership current and get loads of coupons in the mail.

Only other thing to mention knitting-wise is that I finally finished that blue feathers and fan scarf but I think it's a bit short, so I'm going to take out the casting off and make it longer. I was worried about the length so I never cut the ball off, which means I can take out the CO and then just keep knitting until the ball is consumed. Which it will be before long!

Oh, and I was also given this totally fab vintage knitting bag that I'd been drooling over during the entire knit-a-thon as a thank you for helping to organize and get the word out. It came in as a donation, completely filled with needles which were divided up for door prizes, gifts and general use during the knit-a-thon and on Fibre Fridays. I told Chris that she ought to put the bag out for a door prize itself but she played skeptical - I think maybe she was saving it for a gift all along, the sneaky bugger. Not that I'm complaining: I. Love. This. Bag. It's vintage, it's my favourite colours, it's plenty long enough to fit a pair of straight needles into with knitting still attached, and it even matches my current project of that description. What's not to love? (Those are my new enormous 25mm broomsticks needles and my yummy Noro in there with the fan scarf, by the way.)

Okay, that's it for me for another week or so. I think I'll try to post something worthy at least every weekend since Scarf A Day is taking up my weekday blog-energy. Hopefully by next weekend I'll be able to impress you all with pics of the blankets I'm weaving on Mabes right now. :)

1. I tried to get pics of them all lined up side by side, but just couldn't figure it out. This has caused me grief in the past and will no doubt continue to do so in the future. Any Blogger users out there who can help me out?