the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fiber Fair Photos

say that title three times fast ! hah! This was the beginning of Madrona Fiber Arts Festival
We are still in 'recovery' mode, but I thought I'd start off with a few photos.. you know, the kind that shouts.."Wish you were here". (grin)

we went from this:

to this:

(and it only took about 6 1/2 hours to set up!)

After the set was done (and every evening after the classes and vendor market closed) we could be seen hanging out with friends in the hotel lobby. There were small groups of people like this everywhere. These photos were early on into one evening. By the time 11pm rolled around, there were about 30 of us hanging out in each small group. I wish I had gotten more photos of everyone together, but I was having too much fun playing to be serious with my camera :-) It was fabulous! Wish you'd been there too!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Happy and Weary

We just got back from Madrona Fiber Arts Festival.
Is there a word for how wonderful it was?...... perhaps one: Wow.

More posts will follow in a few days - just as soon as my very full brain absorbs it all.

There is so much to share, I'll be doing a post on each class :-)

Okay, okay (big grins here)... if the suspense is too much, here are a couple of highlights: we played hard with friends - I got smarter (yay!) - we hired more hand spinners (double yay!) - we sold a bunch (and had lots less to schlep home) - we picked up several new product lines of goodies we think you'll love (I do) (think hand dyed sock yarn you've never seen and a new line of dyes that is amazing and some other cool stuff), we met an incredible number of wonderful spinners and knitters who shared their joy and enthusiasm for this wonderful art we do, I taught a few scazillion people to spin on turkish drop spindles.. there is just so much to tell. I promise, I will sort through all my class notes and the bits of paper that I've written incredible ideas on, and share it all with you...

Thoughts for the wise: if you can get to this fiber festival next February... do not stop, do not pass go, get on their mailing list now.

Stay tuned. Pictures and great stories - great tips to follow soon.
P>S> I'm turning off "comments" on purpose... we need a couple days to recouperate (smile)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Getting ready

We're in the process of getting ready for our first show of the season; Madrona Fiber Arts. It is a fun show. For any of you who live in the Seattle area, please come by and see us. This show is held in Tacoma, and is definately worth attending.
One of the things I love about this show is the amazing classes - and I'm taking 5 of them this year (yes, perhaps I've gone a little around the bend, but we knew that anyway - right?) Klaus will be manning the booth, and I'll be off playing. Now doesn't that sound like a fabulous gift from him to me!
Here's the lineup of what I'm taking:

Lapland Hand Garments: The Mittens of Rovaniemi - by Susanna Hansson
This class suggests that we bring our patience, for it involves knitting mittens with 11 balls of yarn!

Morphing Cables by Fiona Ellis
I'm excited to meet her in person!

Modular Knitting by Ginger Luters
I have a couple of ideas about what I will do with this technique - but that's a surprise for the future.

Color Progression in Plying by Judith MacKenzie McCuin
I've taken spinning classes with Judith before, and they are without a doubt the absolute best. I would pretty much take any class that she's teaching. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her, just do it!

Two Colors, Two Hands by Sally Melville
I just bought myself the new Alice Starmore book and there are at least 4 sweaters in it that I want to knit. I'm hoping to learn an easier way to manage two colors at once while I'm in this class.

I've got all my supplies together, and done all my homework. I'm set (I think).. perhaps all except for the part where the "Mittens of Rovaniemi" calls for "expert" knitting ability ! I will be sure to bring along my humor.

We're taking along some wonderful new products to this show - many new fiber blends, and several items that have been hand made by local artists. For example... I was gifted with this cool handmade wristaff at Christmas time from my friend Beki (sadly blogless).
What's a wristaff, you ask?

It is a spinning tool used by drop spindlers. It hangs from your wrist, and holds the fiber out of your way when you spin on a drop spindle.
This particular one is very clever. Beki has made a bracelet of silver and spectacular glass beads, and then hand felted the bottom part that holds the fiber. like this.. see?

Now here's the cool part: the bracelet is detachable! So not only do you have a marvelous tool, you have a lovely piece of jewlery as well.
Beki makes these in sterling silver, brass and copper. The silver one sells for $35 and the brass and copper ones sell for $25. I'd be delighted to take orders if any of you would like one - just give me a shout at:
teyani AT crownmountainfarms DOT com

On the knitting front, after my epic shawl project (which I will be proudly wearing at the fair) I have been finishing up my sock "mates" from all the single socks I made last year out of the Sock Hop Yarn. (and yes, I'll be wearing all of those as well- cozy toes!) Two pairs complete, and a third 'second sock' is on the needles.
See you in a week or so! Tally ho!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


They say that a picture's worth a thousand words.... well, how's about 8 pictures?

Although the nupps aren't quite perfect; I could have used a blocking wire but none was handy; the light outside was poor, and it was raining a bit as the goats looked on; it is my first ever completed lace shawl...... and I love it.
Swallowtail - pattern by Evelyn Clark - as seen in Interweave Knits.
Paprika Lace Weight Alpaca - by Dicentra Designs

And to think it all began here.... with this lovely gift from Lisa (the hand dyeing artist). You can get your own Paprika Lace Weight Alpaca. Colors will vary slightly in each batch- from a light golden to a deep rust. thank you, Lisa, for the inspiration :-)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Escape from Nupp

Success! I've completed the nupp rows... and with MLK Day coming up, I feel like shouting (respectfully of course) FREE AT LAST!
Many thanks to all the blog friends who's handy comments on my previous post were of great help. (I get by with a little help from my friends)..... silly me, I'm thinking in movie titles, speech phrases and song. Can you tell that history is floating around in my mind today? !
No photos of nupp rows (yet) - I will wait until I have blocked it.

So a few thoughts about nupps:
first: if you are going to knit this shawl, I would highly recommend that you first practice nupps with the yarn and needles that you are planning to knit the shawl with. Learning to knit nupps (say that ten times fast, will ya!) when you arrive at them in the middle of the shawl is not wise. (hmm, wonder what that says about me. ho ho ho!)

second: With the suggestion of "knit loose, loose, loose" from Ann, I did just that. It helped alot. Then after a few more rows, I tried a slightly different thing... When knitting the nupp, I pinched the stitch just below the right hand needle, after I had wrapped, and while wrapping the next section. (does this make sense?) What it did was to keep the wrap and stitch from tightening while I did the next stitch and wrap. I found that this was ultimately the jazz - and I breezed through (quiet... no loud laughter) the remaining 16 nupp rows - with no additional hooks/needles required.

third: I wish that I had practiced before beginning the shawl, as the nupp size is varied throughout the rows. The last few rows are the best of all.. (refer to first suggestion) I am hoping that the magic of blocking saves the day...Silly me!

Will I rip it out? naaaaahhhh - I'll just wait and wash/block it and see what happens. You know, alot of floppi-ness comes out in the wash (so they tell me!) AND, I plan on making another one of these shawls right away. I just need to find the yarn for it. I want to try one with a heavier weight yarn, so the shawl will be larger. It's a fabulous pattern.

So, to make up for a lack of shawl-nupp-photos, I will entice you with this.............
It's been snowing and cold here (brrrrrr.. not above 32 for a long time)

So what's a wizard to do when it's cold outside?? Come up with new colorways, for sure!

This one's a sneak preview of just one color in the nine new superwash roving colors that will soon be available on our website.. it's called "Do You Wanna Dance" and I created it for my blog buddy Jane,
who had this request one day not too long ago...

I promise to have some decent 'daylight' photos soon - but I couldn't wait to share.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend all. I'm off to spin and finish knitting on Swallowtail. more pictures soon.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Lost in the land of Nupp

I have noticed so many lovely lace shawls on the blogs of my buddies, I decided to take the plunge and try my own. Last seen, this little beauty was nothing but a scribble (as Margene puts it) - cute eh? !
The yarn was a gift from my friend Lisa - it's 100% lace alpaca that she has hand dyed in the colorway "Paprika". I love this color - it dances among various shades of copper red to burgandy to a few spots with a golden hue - and totally lives up to it's name.
The first 14 repeats went along pretty well. Although, I admit to talking out loud, saying the stitch pattern over and over as I knit along through all the odd numbered rows. The pattern? Swallowtail by Evelyn Clark (as recently featured in Interweave Knits.)
The pattern is so well written - even a beginner like me can tackle it, and follow along........... right up the part I have affectionately title .............
"The Land of Nupps".
Thus far, I've done 2 sets of "nupp" rows, and I had to quit for the day. Not because of lack of time, nor lack of desire, but I set it aside to beg for mercy. (Last time I took a peak, there were about 16 more nupp rows.. sigh)
Here's the little nupp itself (actually there are two of them on two different rows)- close to the pin in the middle of the photo. See those little bumps (right above the green lifeline)?
What's a nupp you ask? well (since this is a publically published pattern, I can refer to it here without breaking any rules.. I hope...thanks Evelyn) On the knit row, the nupp reads: K1,yo,K1,yo,K1 all in the same stitch. Then when you go back and purl the next row, you purl those 5 stitches together.
Now we enter the Land of Nupp - often followed by crossed eyes, tongue in cheek, holding one's breath and almost ripping the thread of those 5 little stitches.
Hmmm - why, you ask?
The knit part of the stitch seems to pull tighter and tighter as you try to put the needle back through it to purl. (insert some more frustrating noises here, along with evil laughter and the words " You'll not beat me you little nupp gremlin!")
I finally resorted to digging out my size 0 dpn, and lifting the 5 stitches off the shawl needle, with the hope that I could ease them gently together without any further massacre. It worked. (and also took over an hour to purl back on that one row.)
There were many deep sighs and walks around the house after that first row of Nupp Land.

Ever the intrepid fiberwizard, I pressed on..... (are you sensing disaster.. you can relax. All stitches are still safely on the needle, and nothing's been broken anywhere close by :-). I knit the second row of nupps, and this time made the stitch enormously loose ; reasoning in my little brain that I must have just pulled too durned tight the first time. Silly me. 90% of the little nupps again pulled too tight on themselves. Aarrggh.

So I send a small plea out to my blog friends who are lace pros....... am I making the stitch incorrectly? Is there a lace-knitter's-trick-book that I can buy right away?

I suspect that I may have fated myself to a few dilemmas when I set out to knit this little beauty up in less than a month - I am so wanting to wear it to this show that is coming up within a couple more weeks.....
So thanks - in advance - for all who jump in with ideas and help. I might not be able to write back (if I don't already have your email... blogger doesn't give it to me) But please know that I will be cheering and clapping on this end.

In the mean time, I think I'll go back to my true first lace shawl (which I began somewhere around early November) This is the Bird's Nest Shawl from the wonderful little book "Folk Shawls". I've almost finished the first of the three repeats. It's a 90% silk/ 10% cashmere yarn, in the most yummy shade of soft yellow.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you, as I stitch my way through the bog in the Land of Nupps.

Friday, January 5, 2007

January 007 Snap a dozen Days

I have just joined Stephanie and Margene's newest brainstorm 007 Snap a Dozen Days. What a marvelous idea they have. Each of us shoots a photo , that represents that month, and then writes about what it means to them. Please join me now for:

January in the Pacific Northwest

The bleak mid-winter has settled over the Pacific Northwest – rather like a blanket of wet that shrouds the normally rich green foliage of the trees. We have been stripped bare of all we normally hide behind –left to show our bones to the sky.

The trees; maples, alders and birch, that normally hold their canopies of leaves enfolding each other’s limbs, are now standing solitary against the backdrop of endless grey. The wind blows through them, rain pummels their branches and trunks – leaving nothing untouched by the wet.

I often feel like this in winter – devoid of the rich greenery that hides my limbs. I am exposed, chilled by the soggy damp of the rain – yet beautiful in all my solitude. We stand alone mid-winter, yet surrounded by the beautiful solitude of others like us. Each vulnerable and singular in the cold. Winter is the time of setting our roots deep, and dreaming of spring.

Is this snow, you wonder as you drive briskly past in your car? No, indeed not. The subtle life that wraps each tree is delicate moss lichen, epiphytes to be exact; a non-harmful plant that is supported by the host tree, exposed to our view during the winter.

Beautiful unto itself, and normally hidden from view, it creates an eerie green light in the defoliated forest.

Life under life – this is winter in the northwest. Winter exposes us – strips us bare of our outer trappings, and exposes beauty that is normally hidden.