Sometimes Life Doesn't Go the Way You Expect


Sometimes you drive to North Carolina excited to teach at SAFF, with a car full of fiber and a shopping list buring hole in your pocket.

You spend part of a day setting your classroom up, and then head to downtown Asheville to prowl around. Then a call comes that throws a proverbial monkey wrench into the works.

My daughter, Isobel called earlier in the day to say she thought she had kidney stones and was at the hospital. That made me twitchy, but I didn't consider it an emergency. Then she called crying saying they found a cyst the size of a softball on her ovary and were considering emergency surgery. That is an emergency.

I rushed back to my classroom and packed it. Thank goodness Beth was driving! I told the wonderful folks at SAFF what was going on, and their universal answer was "Go! We'll figure it out".

I went, and it was one of the longest drives of my life. They didn't do surgery, but the doctors are not ruling it out. For now her doctor is trying to shrink the cyst with drugs. I was so grateful I could be here for the doctor appointments and to take care of her.

Isobel is uncomfortable and is in some pain (she does have kidney stones too), but it's the waiting that's the hardest, especially since she can't dive or train until the cyst shrinks.

Thank you to everyone at SAFF, and to my students for understanding. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me to share their cyst story or send love.

Savage Hart-Savage Heart Sweater Spin

savage hart sample (1).jpg

I am still more than a little smitten with the idea of making a Savage Hart-Savage Heart.

Part of me wants to wait for the most perfect project in the world (to be named at a later time) to use the Corriedale roving I talked about last week. There is a louder, bossier voice that is saying what's more perfect than a Savage Hart-Savage Heart.

Savage Heart Cardigan by Amy Christoffers, photos by Amy Christoffers.

Savage Heart Cardigan by Amy Christoffers, photos by Amy Christoffers.

For those of you just tuning into my brain argument about spinning, I bought 2 lbs of Corrie lamb roving from Savage Hart Farm when I was in Vermont. That's a pretty rare thing, to stumble on. I have also been circling Amy Christoffers Savage Heart Cardigan. Putting the two together seems like a perfect pairing, no?

I did a quick sample, on my Flatiron, draftng the roving woolen, but not long draw. I relaxed into the spin, letting it be inconsistent and enjoying the hell out of the delicious and perfect prep and fiber.

savage hart sample closer.jpg

It is even preitter spun, it goes from lookng mostly brown in the roving to deep mysterious brown with charcoal undertones in the yarn. I knit my bit of yarn, and it's spot on the gauge of the sweater.

I knit the swatch using needles bigger than I would if I had spun the yarn from top or if it was a commercial yarn. Why? It had incredible spring, and sponginess.

It's the magical combination of roving plus woolen draft. It makes a yarn with enough air, and Corriedale is a breed with enough character, that the yarn works at a variety of gauges.

I'm off to SAFF (actually I'm there right now), and then I go to Florida to teach at the Magical Fiber Retreat. I have a few weeks to mull it all over, to study the pattern, and to plan my next samples.

What are you working on?

Vermont S&W Fiber - Corriedale Lamb Roving and Cashmere

I promised you a post on the fiber I bought at Vermont Sheep & Wool, get ready for fiber lust. I shopped at two booths and am thrilled and itchy-fingered by what I bought.

VT cashmere bumps.jpg

The first day I taught, another teacher was sharing the space with me. She taught spinning cashmere and raised cashmere goats.

The moment I touched her samples, I knew I would open my wallet in her booth. I did. I bought 2 oz of 100% cashmere (on the right) and 2 ounces of a cashmere/silk blend (on the left). The farm is Boreas Farm Cashmere from Newark, Vermont. She doesn’t have a website.

These are earmarked to become something for my husband. My man has developed a wool allergy, wool around his head or face makes him congested, so cashmere it is for him.

VT corrie close.jpg

I went to the Savage Hart booth to look (and probably buy) yarn. I love Amy Christoffers’ Savage Heart Cardigan that she knit out of Savage Hart Cormo yarn. When I got to Peggy’s booth I found out she raises Corriedales and she had a big bag of lamb roving….you know what happened. I asked for two pounds and one of my students, Vicki (hi!) who was speed shopping with me, got the other two pounds.

Look at it! I may have done a little dance around it in the booth. This may well become a Savage Hart Savage-Heart Meta Cardigan this winter.

I am not going to Rhinebeck this year, please hug each other for me!

Tiny Weaving Samples

12 EPI, left and 10 EPI, right

12 EPI, left and 10 EPI, right

I did two small weaving samples while I was on the road. They may be small, but they tell me enough for a simple scarf. I used two colors of Harrisville Shetland, plum and lime, and two Wee Weavers from Purl and Loop, with setts of 10 and 12 epi.

My sample are tiny 3”x 3” - ish, but they told me what I wanted to know. I was curious about hand, and how to work my colors. The sett I liked is 10. 12 showed the color effects better, but was just a little stiff for a scarf. It would make great fabric to sew. I was all set on the 12, but then I finished the samples and the 10 bloomed so nicely.

pur-green sample close.jpeg

I threaded the little looms with an inch in each color, an inch alternating colors, and wove then in the same pattern. My edges are still a work in progress; I’ll get there.

I originally thought I would do several patterns in the scarf, but now I’m not so sure. I really like the bits that are mostly purple with a hit of green - center bottom and middle left, with my next pick being the center one.

Since the middle and bottom center are threaded in the same pattern I’m going to focus on those.

I could do the scarf half and half horizontally or vertically. Edge in one and use the other for the center, or split the scarf vertically by pattern and switch the play of colors halfway through the weaving.

What do you think?

Did you say, sample more? I thought so.

Vermont Sheep and Wool, Heaven on Earth

vermont collage.jpg

I’m on my way back from teaching at Vermont Sheep and Wool, and it was glorious. It’s a smaller show, which I’m finding I like a little better than the giant shows, people have more time to talk and shop, and it moves at a lovely pace.

Or maybe that’s just Vermont. Vermont is one of those place I feel at home when I go, the people and the whole of outdoors there, it feels good to me.

My students here had more questions than anywhere else I’ve taught this year, which is great. I usually tell my students that for each class I have a road I travel on, but I love all of the side trips that questions bring. They even helped me design a another color class!

I ran into Amy Christoffers (and her mom!) who lives nearby. Between hugging and talking about books we’re reading she assisted me in a little shopping. You can see her over there with Peggy of Savage Hart Farm in her Savage Heart cardigan.

I picked up my Carbeth cardigan yarn at Green Mountain Spinnery, Weekend Wool in Pumpkin. I can’t wait to start knitting. I bought some fiber too, but want to spin some samples before I show you. Of course, no eastward trip is every complete without a visit with Isobel in Buffalo.

Now to finish my drive back to Michigan!

It Takes So Long To Learn New Things

Just some of Austin Kleon’s words of wisdom.

Just some of Austin Kleon’s words of wisdom.

I read and enjoy Austin Kleon's newsletter every week. I always find something interesting and fun to read, watch, listen to or think about. He talks about being creative and doing the work of a creative person. I also like his books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work, they are short, pithy and I think about the ideas in them a lot.

Every once in awhile there's something in his newsletter that makes me say "Hell, yes" out loud. There was one of those in his newsletter last Friday. It was link to one of his blog posts called A Willingness to Be Bad.

The part that resonated with me like Wile E. Coyote getting clocked with an Acme anvil is how hard it is to learn things. Not just learn new things, but get better at something. Right now I am feeling so much of this. I'm trying to learn something new, weaving, and get better at things I've done for longer spinning, knitting, stitching, and I'm just sucking at it all.

After reading Austin's post and all of the links I realize that I've stopped having patience with myself for sucking (or just staying the same). I'd forgotten that learning is a process that's not always fun and creative, but sticking with something, having that patience to keep trying is how I learn, and really what I enjoy. I'm very much a process not a product person. It was a relief to be reminded.

Check out Austin's blog (he blogs every day), and sign up for his newsletter(it comes out every Friday).

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool - What I Bought

border leicester sm.jpg

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool is always a delightful show, the people, the vendors, the sheep, the food, all are always excellent.

The weather even turned for the show from lots of muggy rain to sunny and cool enough to wear a flannel shirt, a little Wisconsin magic.

wheel collage.jpg

I taught four full classes this year. It was great to see familiar faces, and to have students that took more than one class with me. I am so very grateful for their support.

That Louet was painted by one of my students, when she was injured and couldn’t spin, gorgeous.

Wisconsin spinners are speedy and very clever. They spun a lot of color over the weekend, and everyone was excited to get home to rethink their stashes. There may have been braid shopping too.

cvm lust sm.jpg

There was so much beautiful CVM at this show. I was really, really tempted. Before I commit to a fleece I want to have the time to process it , and just a tiny bit of a plan.

One of my students bought two unbelievable CVM fleeces. She let me pet those and dream during class.

WI haul.jpg

I did do a bit of shopping. My big purchase was a Majacraft hackle, I’m ready to blend fiber and colors! I bought 4 braids of Merino/Yak/Silk from Gale’s Art, her colors are so pretty. Before you ask, yes, I’m going to combine them, I’m just no sure how. I bought some crazy soft Cormo to use at my Spin and Nosh class this weekend. I bought a pound of organic dried lavender to make more lavender sachets on my Zoom Loom for gifts.

I alluded to my love of Green Mountain Spinnery yarn in my last post, and confessed to ordering a bag+ of Weekend Wool in the Pumpkin color to make a Carbeth. I also bought a skein of Yarn Over and two skeins of their new Ragg-Time marled yarn to play with.

I’m sad I won’t be able to teach at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in 2019, I have a conflicting deadline. I will be teaching at Susan’s Fiber Retreat in Wisconsin at the beginning of March 2019, I’ll let you know the details when I know them.

Green Mountain Spinnery Weekend Wool - I'm a Smitten Kitten

WW beauty small.jpg

This weekend I taught at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival (more on that next week) and it was wonderful. The last thing I expected to happen was to fall hard for a yarn. How hard? Please, I'd-like-a-whole-bag hard. The yarn is Weekend Wool by Green Mountain Spinnery.

It's been around for awhile, but not on my radar. I bought a couple of skeins to swatch for a Carbeth Cardigan (I held it double). I made sweet knitterly love to it by winding it by hand, swatching and even blocking my my swatch. The next day I asked Maureen and Kate for 12 skeins for a Carbeth. I'll be picking up my new yarn love at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.

WW close up smaller.jpg

What makes it a great yarn to me? It's soft and sturdy. The blend of breeds is genius, some Rambouillet, Columbia, Corriedale, Romney, and a big helping of Targhee. The Targhee and Rambouillet make is soft and crazy sproingy, the Columbia, Corrie, and Romney make it strong and give it good stitch definition.

It's woolen spun, so even doubled, it's light. Did I mention it's tweedy?

Can you see me doing a Snoopy dance?