Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FO and Some Fun

The Ode to Cristi toe up socks are finished. Pause while I eat some more words. I had some interesting discoveries with these.
You can do a heel flap heel in a toe up sock. The directions for this came from Wendy Johnson's Seaweed Sock pattern. It is easy to do (well written instructions) but the flap is a bit short. I will think about that some.
The sock on the left was the first to be started and I was using the pattern in Wendy's Seaweed, but I couldn't really see it in this yarn. Sometimes it works best just to go with plain stockinette. Doing so did not hurt the impact of this design and it sure made them more portable. I wear so many clogs that a plain foot is often preferable.
I finished these in Canada. You need to know that because of the cuff design. I didn't want to knit a stockinette cuff--too boring, so I decided to knit a design I have used before on an unreleased sock pattern. Surely I could remember it. Yeah, well.

I fiddled and messed up and kept knitting and then looked down and liked what I saw. It isn't what I intended, but is something I like. I am still playing with this 10 st design, because it can be even better. I'll let you know when I've finished swatching and then you can try it.

Major discovery: If I knit toe up, I can save the best for last. The cuff is always the most interesting part for me. Now, if I can just find my perfect heel.

Yarn: Schachenmayr Nomotta Regia Bamboo Color, 2 skeins
Needle: Size 0, 32" Magic Loop technique

Another new design rattling around in my head is this.This is a building in Toronto and the picture was taken through the bus window. Look at the pinkish building. It's a sweater--even has a V-neck. The windows can all be the same contrasting color, or multi colored, or ascending tints of the same color. I used to take lots of vacation pictures of architectural features that could be quilted; now it's buildings to knit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Georgian Bay and Cottage Industries--yeah, Yarn!

On the way to Georgian Bay, we stopped at Shelridge Farms.
Inside the workshop, one wall held most of the designs done for Don and Buffy by Lucy Neatby and Maureen Mason-Jamieson.

Most of these are available in kit form in their yarn (It ain't called Soft Touch for nothin'.) at their website.

How do you choose? And this comes in Worsted, DK, Fingering/Sock, and Lace.

Don met us at the end of their driveway which was too small for the bus. However, Barbara Spohn had let them know about my knee problem, so Buffy drove her car down to save me the walk on the unpaved drive. Isn't this why we love fiber people so much? Would a stock broker have done that?

Buffy set up the dye table that she uses each day to dye their product and members of the group were invited to dye up some stock.
Foreground is Maureen who talked about her design philosophy some and just played with us. She is a marvelous teacher. I've had several classes with her and I like how she structures and controls a class.
Don and Buffy's daughter has a bakery. Aren't these adorable?
And i bought 10 skeins of Soft Touch W4 to make a jacket or sweater or maybe just to sit and hold for a while. It really is amazingly soft---beyond Malabrigo.
More important that the product is the cottage industry process they have created. Scan back at the photos and try not to look at the yarn or people. Look at the workroom. It isn't all that big. Maybe a three car garage with very high ceilings. Yet they manage to run a business to support themselves and their family with only two employees--Don and Buffy.

Koigu wasn't any larger, if as large. Maie and her daughter and another artist create all of the Koigu yarn that is sold in the world in a small building in the woods in Canada. That is astonishing to me.

The courage it takes to begin one of these businesses leaves me very humble; I know I don't have it. This trip has caused me to wax philosophical about the role of the Small Business in the creation of American society. In this scary economically volatile time, I'm not asking what is best for the people, but what is best for the small business owner--like Remi at Charlotte Yarn and Donna at Harding Realty. They are the people who risk and give back and create the caring communities that make life better for all of us.

Sorry, but I'm reading about the FairTax and I'm convinced.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fiber ART makes me smile

The Textile Museum of Canada is located in Toronto. The museum is small and (this won't surprise you) managed by a passionate group of people many of whom are knitters. Nora and I were leg weary when we arrived, so decided to go to the gift shop (only broken legs keep me out of museum gift shops) and wait for the others.

Thank goodness one of the DKC knitters was volunteering that day. She insisted we go down the corridor and see just one exhibit involving knitting. Here are the clue pictures:

The complete pieces in the exhibit follow:

Well, of course, I lost it. The bobble suit alone had me laughing tears. And just think--Halloween isn't far off. Does this suggest a knit-a-long?

But it isn't over. The room next to this wasn't much knitting, but it was fiber---fake fur, and lots of it. Here's a clue picture:

From the bottom . . .

From below . . . .
From the side . . .
The Full Monty with our DKC volunteer (lt) and Barbara, our tour guide who owns Traveling Together who stood near for scale.

Next time you hear, "One big mother" you'll know what it means.

The only funnier part of this day was watching some of our more staid group members enter this room. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Toronto's Downtown Knit Collective; LYSs, Yarn

Guilds of the world--listen up.

The Downtown Knit Collective (DKC) sets the standard. About 50 of their 280 members hosted the Vogue tour group for a fantastic fiber afternoon at the University of Toronto.

Carly Scott, Executive Editor of Vogue Knitting, is with us and she brought many of the pieces in the Fall, 08, magazine. I hadn't seen too much of interest in the magazine---that's changed!!! In person, like great art, sweaters can truly be seen and these were works of art. She even brought a few pieces from Nicki Epstein's new book and they were dynamite. Sorry, no pics.

FYI -- I wasn't aware of the videos and commentary by Carla on the Vogue website. It allows you to see the garments from all sides and moving. Check them out here.

Linda Pratt, who used to own Great Yarns in Raleigh was also there. She now does marketing for Westminster Fibers (Rowan, Kertzer, etc,). She brought sweaters from Rowan and Nashua publications.

After some mighty swanky refreshments, the speakers began.

Fiona Ellis
shared some of her work. I was most interested in her design stories.

Some lesser known locals including Kurt Dunn who is knitting three stained glass windows, one each of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Kurt studied with Kaffe Fassett and the windows literally glow because of the blends of colors and textures. They will be huge and stunning.

My favorite knitting mind, Debbie New, was there and was hilarious. In the past Debbie has knit portraits, stained glass, a one-strip sweater, and a boat. Now she is knitting kaleidoscopes and sort of whirligigs. Incredible.

Lots of door prizes. I won a package from Soak--a big bottle, about 30 single wash size packets and a stunning baseball hat.

Dinner at the Royal York together and a special gift--another bottle of Soak.

Knitting purchases for this day. A copy of the Nashua magazine just released. I had to beg and plead with Linda Pratt to sell it to me, but I got it.

Sunday we went shopping!

The first time we got on the bus this lovely young woman came up to me and said, "Jane Prater, my name is Beth Levine from Boston, and I read your blog." Well, I was just blown away. She had discovered me through the blog of the World Renowned Turtlegirl76. ( Is there anyone out there who doesn't read Cristi's blog?)

Today when we got to Lettuce Knits, Beth insisted on a "yarn harlot" moment and her mom took our picture.

Louise is a great lady, but not much of a photographer. She is seated on my right and Beth took this picture.

If you look closely, you can see the young owner of the shop with her 5-week old baby tied to her front. She opened just for us and gave us 10% off --and--wait for it---several packets of Soak!!

I purchased one skein of Handmaiden Casbah. This is the first time I had encountered this yarn. It is 80% Merino, 10 % Cashmere, 10% Nylon;
325 m/115g
Machine washable, sport wt.

Feels luscious, so it will probably be a scarf thing.

I was disappointed that she only had a few skeins of the hemp I had hoped to buy.

Next stop was Romni Wools. Romni is reminiscent of the 7th Avenue shops in NYC. Thousands of cheap plastic bins stacked to impressive heights. They carry just about everything you ever heard of, but not Allhemp3--the object of my quest.

I managed to adhere to my goal of purchasing responsibly. I bought
1. Rowan Mag #37

2. One skein of Classic Elite Alpaca Sock Yarn which I had never seen. According to Rosemary, the Chicago winters are tolerable only if you have several pairs of socks in this yarn.
60% alpaca, 20% merino, 20% nylon
100 grams = 450 yards
8 sts/in on #2

Handwash-----definitely a scarf.

3. One skein of Malabrigo sock yarn!
100% merino superwash, kettle dyed
3.5 oz. = 440 yards

Soft? It's Malabrigo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Royal Ontario Museum and fiber--Sat. morning

Okay, now a bit about yarn and stuff. The Royal Ontario Museum has a small, but quality textile department. I only spent a little time there. Just took pics of things that interested me and moved on.
This is a pine and walnut four shaft loom originally from Northern Ireland. It arrived in Lake Huron County in 1845. Samuel Pentland became a professional weaver and used it to weave a variety of woolens for garments and the home.

I learned to weave on a loom of similar design and antiquity at the Hezekiah Alexander home in Charlotte. But not in the 1800's.
This tapestry loom uses rocks to weight the warp and provide tension. Looking at looms through the centuries always make me respect the intellect and ingenuity of fiber workers. I'm going to build one of these some day and weave this way just to see the problems.
This is a two shaft strip loom common in western Africa. The weaver suspends this from a tripod and ties the warp to the house to maintain tension. Like Kinte cloth, the final yardage consists of many of these strips sewn together to achieve the desired width.
This is a vertical single heddle frame loom. It was typically used in Togo and Cameroon. The yardage is wider than the loom above, but still needed to be joined together to get more than a table runner.

I'm not just a weaving freak. I also love antique clothing. Can't you just see turtlegirl76 in this. It is handmade.
I skipped the lectures on kimonos and costumes. I've seen that often. Instead I headed down to the First People's exhibit. I'm a nut about Native American stuff. On the way, I was stopped by some Chinese art. This Buddha was impressive and very decorative.

This is a Chinese tomb mound--specifically the tomb mound of General Zu Dashou ofYongtai Village near Beijing. 1656, Qing dynasty. Inside is stone coffin platforms for the General's body and for each of his three wives. I had to wait until someone showed up so I could put them in the photo to show the scale of this thing. (see guy in left lower corner)
I loved the carriage. Always do. The red earthy colors remind me of lots of yarn in my attic.

Check out this detail of the wheel. I think I can knit both the wheel and the side panel.

Yes, most of my photos are for designing purposes.

At the First People's exhibit, I found this inspiration.

And for a friend . . .
In the gift shop--I can make that!!!