Monday, 22 January 2018

“So What Do I DO With This Stuff?”

Congratulations! You just bought a skein of beautiful handspun art yarn.

It looks unique.

 
It looks artsy.

It looks…like nothing you’ve ever used before! So what do you do with it, other than admire it?


First of all, let the yarn speak for itself. Avoid stitch or weave patterns that are too complicated and don’t let the yarn shine.

Next, get to know it (check the tag, or look at the yarn itself):

*How does it behave? Do the materials and techniques give it a lot of stretch, very little, or none? Go ahead and give it a gentle tug to see if it springs back. Stretchy? Use it in just about anything including hats, cowls, etc. Don’t use it in hard-wearing items like socks and mittens. Not so stretchy? Try an infinity scarf, shawl, scarf, or wall hanging.

*Are there threads or loops that you’ll need to work around if using knitting needles or a crochet hook?

Then check how much you have to work with - art yarns tend to be put up in smaller skeins. You can stretch your yardage by using patterns that allow you to use every bit of yarn, by combining it with another skein of yarn, and/or by using a larger needle or hook gauge (just remember that if you use too loose a gauge knit and crochet work can look sloppy. 10-15 mm is a good range.

Here are some basic knitting ‘recipes’:

Cowl: Using 10-15mm 16” circular needles, CO 20 stitches. Join in the round and knit in a rib pattern of your choice (so it doesn’t curl) until you have just enough left to bind off.

Or, cast on 12-16 stitches, knit flat in a rib pattern of your choice for 16”, bind off and stitch the ends together, with or without a twist.

For a shawl, choose a needle size appropriate to the yarn weight (6-8mm for bulky, 8-15mm for super bulky, 20mm and up for jumbo).
Cast on 5 stitches.
Row 1 (RS): k1, yo, k1, yo, k1 (mark this st as centre st), yo, k1, yo, k1.
Row 2 (WS): k all stitches. Row 3 (RS): k1, yo, k to centre stitch, yo, k1, yo, k to last stitch, yo, k1.
Repeat rows 2 and 3, switching row 2 to stockinette as you please. Be sure to end with a few rows of garter stitch before binding off. This is a great place to use a commercial yarn and use art yarn as an accent.

 
Hint: it can help to purl any stitches where you’ve reached a large bead, lock, or flower, regardless of what your next stitch should be.

Art yarns are great for weaving, especially wall art and scarves.

Art yarns can be worn in a loop as is like a cowl, or crocheted into a necklace or lariat.

Here are some suggestions for knit and crochet patterns you can find on Ravelry:

Cobble Hill Hat (Lion Brand)                                           
Burrow shawl (Lisa Mutch)
Through Thick and Thin cowl (Mari Chiba)                    
Flourish cowl (Ashley Martineau)
Brenhines shawl (Katie Weston)                                     
High Flying Kite shawl (Anna Clark)
City Chic hat (Nancy J Thomas)                                      
ASAP cowl (Taiga Hilliard)
Hominy cowl (Berroco)                                                    
Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf (Tamara Kelly)
Tail Spun Cowl (Lucca Dot Yarn)                                    
Bloom Striped Cowl (Sharyn Anhalt)
Ayuthaya Cowl (Petra Breakstone)                                 
Tailspun Tease shawl (Esther Rodgers)
Cocoon Pixie cowl (Amy Small)                                      

Also check out THISyarn.com, a whole site dedicated to weaving, knitting and crochet with art yarn.

 
Caring for your art yarn projects:

Always check the tag to see if any additional care needs to be taken. In general, you will want to wash items only when necessary. Fill your basin with tepid or cool water and no-rinse wool wash. Gently submerge the item, and let it soak for 10 minutes or so. Carefully lift it out, supporting the entire surface. Gently squeeze, or better yet use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Gently roll in a towel to remove more water, then lay flat, well-supported, to dry.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Shop your stash

Shopping your stash seems to be a big thing in knitting (and spinning - more on that later) this year, and I think it’s fabulous!

Shopping your stash is the crafter’s equivalent of the general societal move towards minimalism and reducing commercialism. This concept encourages you to use what is otherwise sitting around rather than purchasing new project-specific yarn. 

Many of us have the tendency to purchase one skein of hand-dyed yarn at a time as we discover new dyers and colourways. Often this isn’t enough to make anything more than a hat or cowl. We also (or at least I do) tend to gravitate towards the same same colour families, so we then have numerous single skeins of not-quite-but-almost the same colourways. And do we really need four not-quite-but-almost the same hats/cowls/shawlettes?


Luckily, there has been a trend in knitting design to boldly blend these single skeins in previously unconsidered combinations into larger projects such as sweaters and full size shawls. Andrea Mowry’s “Fade” designs come to mind. 


So, if you suffer from Single Skein Syndrome as I do, head over to Ravelry and take a look at the bold new ideas there (some good search terms are “fade” and “colour melting”).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Spinning 'Til I'm Dizzy

That's what the manhunk says whenever I tell him I'm going to sit down and spin a bit. I just started spinning this year, and one of the problems I saw with my equipment was that it wasn't....pretty enough! Especially the orifice hook that came with my wheel. It was just a bent piece of metal. No fun. So The manhunk took a piece of metal something or other from the garage, fashioned one end into a hook, I blinged up the other end, and voila! A pretty hook. It has silver roses and pink purls (Roses & Purls, get it?) and I love it. So we collaborated on a couple more prototypes, and I've listed them in the shop:





I have beads to try out a couple more designs, once this pesky university thing gets out of my way!

I've also been enjoying spinning some beautiful batts that I purchased on Etsy, which has me itching to try making some of my own. I love the ones that come in little "nuggets;" they're easy to divide and also they help me moderate how much spinning I do in one sitting (several car-accident related upper body injuries + 1 wrestling injury + getting *ahem* older = unhappy shoulders and neck when spinning!).

So I've ordered some lovely bits and bobbles of fibre and will head to the LYS this week to pick up some fibre to dye. Now if I can just convince the manhunk to build me a hackle.....

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Oh Deer

Well, things are still crazy around here; I've been writing 2000+ word essays every weekend in an attempt to finish my qualifications upgrading, which hasn't left me much time for anything else. However, last weekend I had a stroke of inspiration and started designing some new stitch markers in my beautiful idea journal.


I went through several versions of the design and lists of parts needed, but didn't have time to put them into action. Then yesterday on the way to work I was unfortunate enough to hit a deer on one of our back country roads. All three of us (me, the deer, and the car) suffered damages, and though it was certainly not how I wanted to start my Friday it did give me some more time to work on my plans. By the end of the night I had prototypes made up, and was finally able to post them in the shop today.



I've loved Tolkien's work since I was a small child; The Hobbit was the first book my Dad and I read together. My favourite characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and thoughts of them were what started the idea for these stitch markers. I wanted to capture the rich emerald green of Goldberry's dress and the golden curls of her hair, as well as the earthiness but otherwordliness of Tom. From there I thought of Galadriel and Arwen, ethereal, beautiful, and delicate and they seemed naturals to represent through beadwork. Lastly I made a set to symbolize Legolas, one of my favourite characters in the film adaptation.

It feels good to have some fresh ideas up in the shop, I have some larger sewing designs I've been working on but progress has been stalled due to the course work which has been frustrating. What I love about the stitch markers is that they are small and quick to make, and I can spend time with the hubby while working on them (he paints fishing lures at the dining table while I'm making my markers). In fact, I also designed a cheeky set of stitch markers with that in mind.

Also this week I finally found the perfect craft fair to start vending live at. The Hazelwood Centre Fall Harvest Craft Fair takes place Sunday, September 9th and is a manageable 4 hour, 1 day event in a beautiful setting. It draws a good amount of traffic, but won't be overly busy, which is perfect. I've been drafting lists of what I'll bring (I need the right balance between the ability to produce the items in bulk in a reasonable amount of time with good value added, and to choose things that will be easily portable). I'll be bringing stitch markers, sari scarves, and a new item which is silk flower pins.

Hopefully in another month, I will be able to finish up my new designs, and blog the progress. Happy knitting!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

All Quiet on the Homefront

Well, it's been awhile since I last wrote; I've been busy with my history courses, and hubby was in the hospital for a week. All seems to be going well now, so hopefully I'll get caught up on some of the work I've missed.

I've been doing some more spinning; I abandoned my cheap-o spindle which didn't spin very long, was not heavy enough, lacked a notch, and had too short a shaft. I ordered a Golding Tsunami and I love it. I don't have any of the issues I had with the junk spindle. Right now I'm spinning through some Masham for an Expand Your Horizons spin-along. I spun up about 100g and am in the midst of plying; the fibre is very hairy so I don't think I'd work with it again but it drafted beautifully. I'm working on putting some more overspin in my singles to avoid the un-spinning that was happening before. I also had to go back to park and draft to deal with the slippery fibre, but it wasn't so bad.
To help me along I purchased some e-books and downloaded the Kobo e-reader; I bought the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, the Knitter's Book of Wool, and Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece. I like the e-reader so far (especially the search option) but some some things tricky - like finding specific pages by page number as they're numbered in sections, not by the whole book. I also purchased Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning in a paper copy and have been working my way through it. Next on the spindle after I ply off the Masham will be some Polwarth as I have not tried that fibre yet.

I've also purchased a ridiculous amount of fibre of varying types; I appear to have a new addiction.  I ordered more BFL blends and Falkland as well as some more exotic breeds like Black Welsh Mountain, Black Jacob, Grey Jacob, and some batts (I got a sample with my Golding and loved it).
Here are the etsy shops I've been frequenting:

Unwind Yarn Company
Inglenook Fibers
Edgewood Garden Studio
Hilltop Cloud


On the homefront the hubby and I are on a new food regime to help alleviate the health issues that put him in the hospital, and I've been feeling much better myself and have lost some weight. We've been looking for a new (larger) home, but the real estate market here is tight. We watched Off the Grid
together last night (available at TopDocumentaryFilms.com) and I just picked up  Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich. It's really making me want to find a place where we can live simply and inexpensively, and pursue the things we truly enjoy, rather than working just to pay for a house. I bought the book at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN  where we went for a daytrip yesterday. I grabbed a catalogue of their course offerings and look forward to trying something new this summer. While we were there I also found a great little guide to making custom home-made mukluks adn will be trying that out this summer.

Knitting-wise I'm still slogging through the Lady Kina sweater and the Milk Run Shawl, but I'm getting closer to the end. I'll be casting on a new sweater soon for the spring term of the HPKCHC. I'd also like to find some time to sew; I bought some new fabric for knitting project bags and some welding hats for the hubby, and have some items I'd like to add to the Etsy shop.

And lastly, I have to gush about the new product I tried this month; I purchased Skin's Shangri-La from my local Lush store and can't say enough about it. My skin has not been liking this change in seasons and the cream is doing wonders for my face. I also found out that I can order my favourite sunscreen from the British Lush and have it shipped (I was so sad when it was discontinued here!) Apparently was used to be called Ultralight here is called British Nanny there, so I will be having some sent my way! (I had ordered some Ladival from Germany which I haven't tried yet, trying to find something to replace my Ultralight with).

I'll update soon with pics of the roving, spindle, and WIP's. Back to the homework for now.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Year's Resolutions

My crafting goals for 2012 are laid out below; I'll follow up on December 31 with the personal projects I've accomplished, and post my business-related accomplishments as they happen.


Personal  goals:

4 knit hats
1 knit infinity scarf
1 copycat of the Duchess of Cambridge’s green shopping shawl
5 Sweaters
1 pair Felted boots
At least one pair of socks
Several aprons and welding beanies for gifts

WIPs to finish: 2 Falling Snow Christmas stockings, and the sweater my grandmother began over 20 years ago, to go to my nephew.

 Business goals: I’d like to have my products in 2 local retailers by the end of the year, and I will do one Christmas craft fair.

Here's to a successful 2012!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Solidarity


I set out this morning, in the midst of our first snowstorm of the year, to meet a friend for some shopping and lunch. I was the first one to brave my sideroad; there was untouched snow until I came to the first concession that meets our dead end. Here a set of tracks came out, and I followed them. I passed a driveway and another car pulled out, following my tracks. As I drove home, I passed a neighbour who was plowing the road with his own truck, as the municipal plow had not made it this far yet. Another neighbour was doing the same with his snowblower. It reminded me how important community is, and how much it benefits the whole when we all do our bit. As I shopped the small, independent merchants and handcrafters this morning, I felt the same sentiment. It is so important, in this age of box stores and mass commercialism, to support our local shops. Particularly for those in the handcraft business, it is important for us to support each other. Whether it’s shopping at the local cooperative, spreading the news about a local crafter, or joining a local Circle on etsy, we are supporting our own industry when we shop local and buy hand-made. Now as I sit in front of a cozy fire, the kettle is on the woodstove and I’m boiling water to make 40 Below Tea from the Boreal Forest Teas here in Thunder Bay (http://borealforestteas.ca/pages/our-tea-blends.php). I have a million new ideas in my mind (which I’m sketching in my gorgeous new leather notebook from The Fairy Garden http://www.fairygarden.ca/), and just need the time (and a good cleanout of the sewing room) to put into place.

I’ve ordered more vintage silk saris for my infinity scarves, and need to get sewing. That is the plan for tomorrow when it is daylight.  I’m looking at images of Victorian Caroling Capelets and thinking this would make a wonderful winter accessory here in the north, an extra layer of warmth that doesn’t have a gap between hood and scarf for the cold, snow and wind to slither into.  For these and the matching armwarmers I’d like to make I’m looking at traditional Scandinavian and particularly Sami designs, I’m thinking the images of the hardy northerners in Lappi are a good inspiration for those of us here in Canada.

On another note, my Jordana Paige L.J. Kaelms bag came in, which will help me stay organized and make my knitting more portable!