Tag Archives: yarn

Yarn Love – Yarn Love Challenge

It took me a little bit about what to write about my ‘yarn love’ and then a Facebook memory popped up that told me exactly what makes me love yarn the most – it’s community. Yesterday I was reminded of a lost friend, Janice Rosema, She was this incredible fiber artist, a freeform crocheter who loved colour and interesting art in general. She had a way of getting to know other fibre artists sort of quietly and then when you would talk to her she would mention the different things that you had created or shared over the years, and it made you feel special because you were in the presence of this amazing fiber artist…who knew YOU. I have a lot more to say about this, but I will keep it short in order to honour her memory, and share the words of a great friend, and the talent of many others.

My friend Naomi, of Ryono Creations shared a beautiful little post on this day in 2013 that mentions a lot of us that have flown in the same circle for years, and it really warmed my heart.

on goodbyes and thank yous...
as my friend kimberly mcalindin said,

“The world is a bit less colorful today….fiber artist and friend Janice Rosema is gone.”

yes, the fiber community lost a creative force yesterday. she was not as visible recently as she had been in the past due to her poor health, but she was an inspiration to many. janice, her creations, and her creations to be, will be missed.

i only met up with janice a few times but she always had the nicest smile and a warm hug for me. i felt heavy throughout the day yesterday, but it also made me think of the wonderful artists i have met who inspired me when i first started playing with fiber back in 2007.

michelle snowdon told me today…

“It is a blessing how the passing of a dear person allows our hearts to open towards those who have touched our lives.”

so, as i say goodbye, i would also like to thank these artists who came before me and inspired me early on in my fiber pursuits (in no particular order)…

the yarn wench (lynn wigell)…may your dye pots never stop simmering…aaarrrrrrrr matey!

laura mayotte…your themed handspuns floor me every…single…time

tracy hudson…art yarns on a spindle anyone? and ambassador for the art yarn movement

stoneleafmoon (linda scharf)…she encouraged us to look within for inspiration to create our own unique yarns

studioloo (cindy cole bennett)…whose barbie doll yarn totally freaked me out but opened my eyes to endless possibilities

wooldancer (michelle snowdon)…your name perfectly fits your whimsical, free spirited creations

chef karen barnaby (kaybee)…who pushes boundaries and whips up playful spingredients into the coolest handspuns to answer any spin challenge

holly braddock…who encouraged me to grab a handful of locks and just spin, baby!   (Rest in peace, my beautiful friend)

lexi boeger…handspun revolution anyone?

natasha fialkov (luxe)…where my love for flower yarns came from

reenie hanlin (now peculiar ambitions, used to be material whirled)…how could i not be inspired by someone who spun troll dolls into her handspun?

yarnpunk (elizabeth o’ donnell)…talk about rad handspuns!!

hobbledehoy (elizabeth stottlemeyer)…she had me at her batts way back when…and still does

thank you for your inspiration and for your contributions to the fiber arts community.

“without you i would never be me

you are the leaves on my family tree”

– from “sing together” by train

Oldest Stash – Yarn Love Challenge

My yarn stash lives in 4 double tall giant Ikea basket towers in my studio. It is organized by colour and I try not to think about the age of my yarns. My tastes have changed a lot over the years and I do go through my yarn every few months and often take some to Knitomatic’s monthly yarn swap. I pull from it often to use random yarns for different things and I am not stressed about my yarn stash; though I do feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I finish using up a skein of yarn. It’s this concept of ‘1 down, ??? to go’. I have always laughed at the term ‘SABLE’ – Stash Aquisition Beyond Life Expectancy – but at the same time it helps me not worry too much about what to use my yarn for. I no longer feel like I have to qualify a project’s greatness to use that precious skein of Wollmeise or whatever. The truth is my favourite knitting is done with my own handspun. I also no longer go insane for yarn – because I have so much. I still buy yarn to support small producers, and for major projects. I will always buy yarn. I am a firm believer in if you want something to be there, support it! This applies to local business – bookstores, libraries, museums, art galleries, independent things, farmer’s markets, theatres – the things that keep us unique as a species, the things people put their hearts in to.

What often strikes me however, is the endurance of certain projects. I work on a lot of big, long-term projects, that I pick up and put down. The Beekeeper’s quilt by Tiny Owl Knits is a really good example of this. I still love making the hexipuffs for it – but I need about 1200 for a King sized quilt, and I think I have about 550 completed. It’s a great project to work on in confined spaces or when you don’t need to think hard.

Another long term project I am working on is a weird carpet I am weaving in circles. Last year I bought a larger round weaving loom so I will likely begin to work on it again.

When it comes to my own yarn that I dye and spin, if it doesn’t sell, I don’t let it hang about. I repurpose things in many ways. Lately I have been auditing my handspun art yarns and found a few that have managed to not find a home for a couple of years. I think it’s important to always have fresh things for people to appreciate at shows, and select for their own. So lately I have been crocheting hats out of the older yarns – and giving them their potential to become beautiful things. This is currently the yarn that has hung out the longers – almost 2 years…with no love. So, it’s becoming a hat.

 

Tools – Yarn Love Challenge

In my journey with yarn, the most important tools I have, are my hands. I am using them constantly and they are necessary for everything I do. I love them. They are small, kind of chubby, a little worn out, with bitten and chipped short fingernails, and usually a few little cuts and such – because they are the most used things I own. I would not have it any other way. I am not really someone very concerned about things like fingernails and having beautiful hands. I am not a pianist or a hand model. I do worry that as I age that all this using my hands will catch up to me in the form of arthritis, but I do try to take care of them by massaging them, soaking them in warm salt water, and resting them – but typically only when they hurt. I need to get better at that. I have invested in many solutions such as ergonomic keyboards and mouses – so that the boring computer stuff I do in life has a smaller impact. I wear gloves when I dye yarn. I do my best.

It would be hard to know where to start to talk about all the tools I use in my creation of not only yarn, but other things. I have endless amounts of things – fabric, fibre, yarn, beads, pottery supplies, papers, found objects, stationary, sketchbooks, paints, glues, a hackle, drum carders, knitting needles, gauges, scales, a skein winder, ball winder, swift, needles of all kinds, threads, buttons, and so on forever and ever.

I also have many spinning wheels but I would be in denial if I didn’t pick a favourite brand, and state clearly how I create my yarns, and just how important the Spinolution spinning wheels are to me. I was an early adopter of this brand – I bought one of the first models of the Mach I and I still use it today, though less often as I am now spoiled with both a Firefly and a Hopper. The best testimonial I can offer for this brand, as I am a dealer (so hit me up if you are interested in one), is the many yarns that I am able to create. There is nothing I cannot do with these wheels. I can spin anything from laceweight to the mega bulkiest yarn you have ever seen. I can spin handfuls of fiber, or I can spin wet linen. I can add whatever I want into my yarns and not worry about them being caught up in my bobbin or being stuck behind an orifice. There are no limits.

From the day I unpacked my latest wheels, I was stoked to really get to learning to use all the new features they are equipped with – and the excitement over the fact they have lazy kates that attach to them, and yarn winders – I feel so spoiled.

The Firefly especially has gotten me through beautiful times on vacation, but also darker times when I was on bedrest dealing with a complication with my pregnancy. It is small, lightweight, portable and so easy to spin with.

This was one of my favourite times with my Firefly, on vacation – staying at a little chalet in Quebec the weekend of the Twist festival. I hope to have a similar time this summer.

Stripes – Yarn Love Challenge

I really love the look of striping in knitting, and understand the craze of self-striping yarns. I have dyed some self striping yarns myself, but I find the process somewhat too time consuming for an indie dyer. The trouble with self-striping is that you have to dye a continuous strand for a good amount of yardage in a single colour, before changing colours. This is because otherwise you will get the dreaded pooling that can make it so that some yarns can’t be used for certain projects with happy results. The part that makes this kind of dyeing challenging is that when a yarn is in ball form, it can’t be dyed properly – and when in skein form, the loop itself is not formed in a way that you can dye one long section, and use many colours. As such, you sort of have to divide the skein into the number of colours you want and dye them seperately ensuring not to contaminate each colour with any drips or drops of other dye colours. So, it’s a bit of a dance. I do it in small batches but without some kind of technology (I have ideas and drawings) I won’t get very deeply into dyeing this kind of yarn.

I have had some fun with dyeing self-striping yarns, but in different ways – such as the sushi yarns that I made a couple years ago.

I also find that I don’t mind working with multiple yarns to create stripes, or if using only two colours, carrying each colour along the project so that I can create stripes. I know some knitters don’t like having to carry a strand, or sew in multiple tails at the end of the project – but these things don’t really phase me. I purchased a really nice kit from Lovelyarns in Baltimore, MD, dyed by Knitted Wit, and I loved working with it – all squooshy and worsted. I knit up this adorable sweater from the kit that came along with the yarn – it’s called Rainbow for Frances. My wee one is almost big enough to wear it and I can’t wait!

Back to what I was writing about using multiple yarns. I had always been looking for ways to use up my leftover sock yarns from the various projects I knit so I designed a simple Totem Pole Sock pattern that is available for FREE on Ravelry and will produce fun striped crazy socks and use up that extra stash.

I also really enjoy spinning self-striping yarns and have a line of yarn that I spin called ‘Transcend’, usually spun up in 5 complimentary coloured fibres. They are fun to spin and knit up really nicely. They are a simple bulky yarn.

Speed – Yarn Love Challenge

These days, I feel like I do almost nothing with much speed, and definitely without disruption….but that’s OK because it’s the cutest disruption ever – my little Matilda Bee. It’s been a huge adjustment for me to be at home for this year with my baby. While I love it to bits, it has also really shown me what a busy, independent person I have been my whole life. I am pretty sure that I have not relaxed in years – like, really relaxed …while not doing something with my hands. Whenever I watch TV, listen to music and basically do anything where hands are not needed I am doing some kind of artsy thing.

I used to pride myself on my fast spinning. I still sort of do. Over the years I have managed to be able to spin very fast – on a fast speed, fast whorl, fast feet and hands, and produce several yarns in one day. Nowadays however, my yarns are more complex and take a lot more time; they are also much larger in yardage which I think is a result of the amazing Spinolution spinning wheels that I use – they have huge bobbins which allow me to push myself as an artist and create very wild and very bulky yarns.

On the topic of both speed and spinning, I have also been endeavouring to spend a bit more time making garments out of my yarns to answer the eternal ‘what do I do with this yarn?’ question. The one thing I can say is that with art yarn, because of both it’s bulk and it’s interesting elements, it allows for the very quick creation of lovely things. At the top of this post is a hat that I made from my yarn – and it was completed within 2 days. I think in some ways I am really spoiled to have access to nice handspun yarn that I can make myself so I get a bit less excited making garments from commercially spun lightweight yarns. You just end up with such interesting, and totally signature garments when you use your own yarn.

 

 

Stitch n Kitsch this Weekend!!

This weekend is Stitch n Kitsch! I will have a lot of new yarns, limited edition and never before released! So, come on out and see us at Stitch n Kitsch – my setup is right inside the entrance door. There will be a lineup of amazing local artists from the Kitchener-Waterloo area with lots of goodies for your holiday shopping, or to spoil yourself a little! Hope to see you there!!

snkposter

 

Kitsch it Up, Water it Down!!

kwkg fair badge vendorThis weekend is Kitchener-Waterloo’s annual KW Knitter’s Fair!  We will be there in booths 69 and 70 and I will have a ton of new things for this show – including a few new small batch lines of yarn and some other goodies!

The  the map can be found below:

KW Fair vendor outline 2015

Busy Bees of Summer

Summer is finally here! Lots has been happening around Studio – major house renovations and all sorts of stuff. I know the website has been a little quiet lately, and I have been opting to take a bit of a hiatus from Ravelry, Facebook, and any other social networking. I just find it all a bit overwhelming and it tends to detract from actually getting real things done. So, these days I am focusing things, getting lots done, and focusing on more in-person shows, and stuff. But, very soon I will be revamping my office to allow me to do more daily website updates, blog updates, etc. I still likely won’t be on social networking much – except for Studioloo blurbs and pictures on Facebook and Instagram. It’s really working out nicely for me not to spend hours of my day scrolling through stuff. We have to balance life…not make ourselves too available all the time. For me, it’s especially important as I have a day job, dogs, family, and so on.

Last weekend we had a big yard sale and managed to knock out Phase 2 of cleaning out the garage – getting rid of old artwork and antique stall stuff that we no longer want to hold on to. It was a fun, successful day. Having a yard sale is a great way to connect with neighbours and meet people.

 

Most of what I have been doing lately has centred around home renovation and preparing for Twist Fibre Festival in August. I have been dyeing loads of yarn, and still have a lot more to dye, and I have been washing loads of fleeces from my haul at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

This week we are also putting in hardwood floors in our living room, and painting away all the ugly beige. My to-do list is a little bit of a nightmare but I am working through it.

So, if we haven’t chatted in a while ….this is why. I will return to civilization shortly..I promise.

Summer buzz!

I know this blog has been really quiet, and I sort of have too. I guess that is what happens when life it this crazy whirlwind of summertime activity and building my house into the happy little nest that I need to make my brain work. I have been on many adventures so far..making the nooks of this new house more comfy for me, my husband and our fur-family. I have a lot of fun things coming up however. I updated the ‘upcoming shows’ section of the website so you can keep up with me. A great place to find me or my stuff is the Art in the Open event every Saturday in front of the Rose Theatre in Brampton. It works in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market so you can see me, get yarn, and stock up on awesome produce in one fun morning!

 

The studio is coming along nicely with most parts pretty much ready for production work now. The last thing to get done really is the installation of a big restaurant kitchen sink that I indulged in to allow myself an easier place for all of the dyework. This week I am hoping to get it all setup so I can start dyeing up some new yarns. I am going to have a new line of bootsie-loo sock yarn and lots of mini-loo mini skeins fresh off the presses in a couple of weeks.

This upcoming weekend I will be at Art in the Open on Saturday and then heading down to Peterborough for Lang Pioneer Village’s Festival of Textiles. I will be selling my wares and doing art yarn spinning demonstrations. There will be a lot of other fun things going on – natural dyeing demos, live music, animals, historic buildings and other fun museum stuff. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday.

 

This summer has been nice but really busy. I am looking forward to taking a bit of vacation soon because things have been really non-stop, but in a good kind of way. I have been working a lot and trying to find a new balance living in a different city with a different routine. I have not been online a whole lot as I have so much real life stuff to get done. I think I am somewhat addicted to working on projects around the house. There is just so much to be done, in phases. The next big project will be putting my library together – a room I have dreamed of having for ages. It’s safe to say that I have a lot of books and it will be nice to have them in their own little home where they belong. That way I won’t feel so guilty for having so many books. I think it will be a nice room to relax in, leave your troubles at the door and get lost between the covers of a good book.

It’s also almost Wordwide Spin in Public day – September 21st! So, I am in the process of doing a lot of planning and populating http://www.wwsipday.com with lots of activities!

April 27th – DKC Knitter’s Frolic and Stitch n Kitsch

Happy Spring!

This Saturday Studioloo will be at 2 shows!

DKC Knitter’s Frolic 

Marketplace: Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court, Toronto, Ontario

http://downtownknitcollective.ca/wp/?page_id=14

 

Stitch n Kitsch in Waterloo

http://www.stitchnkitsch.com/