Not All Fibre (NAF) – Folklorama

Life isn’t all about knitting and spinning around here.

With the Flatlands Collection out in the wild, I returned my attention to coordinating performances for the Scandinavian Pavilion at Folklorama.

Costumes have been mended.  Rehearsals were had.  We performed for the athletes and other folks at the Canada Games.  It was a busy week even before our pavilion opened. Hosting a pavilion for Folklorama is a lot of work and requires the hard work of many dedicated volunteers.  It is also a lot of fun and worth it when the show is on.

My eldest has been dancing with the Scandia Young Folk Dancers for 5 years now, since we moved here.  The youngest pair joined when they were 3.  I joined the adult Fun Folk dancers last year.  I had no costume to perform in, so early last summer I created 4 new costumes – one each for me and my girls.  Since we are part Icelandic, I based my pattern on photos of Icelandic costumes.  My vest needs to be improved and one day I’d love to embroider my cultural attire, but these versions will keep us on the stage for now.  This year I had to add extensions to the girls’ vests because while I prepared the skirts for growth, I did not similarly prepare the vests. There isn’t enough time in my schedule (or brain cells available, it seems) to make another attempt at sewing vests from scratch.  I like to think of it this way: back in the day, would someone toss a perfectly good item of clothing just because it was short? That sounds wasteful. If it were me, I’d add an extension if I could.  Or I’d have planned ahead better. (Next time; lesson learned.)

We don’t seem to stand still long enough, together, to get a photo. However, I did set up my camera on a table tripod last night and had my hubby video some of the show for family afar. I’ve edited it down for some clips to share as a single video.  I’m in the red vest with gold accents and orange apron. My girls have dark skirts like mine, black vests with yellow, pink, and blue ribbon accents and yellow-purple, pink, and blue aprons (in that order of appearance).

Only 2 more evenings (Friday and Saturday) of performances and I can return to my Manitoba Fibre Fest activities full swing.  There are KALs to corral, handspun skeins of yarn to solicit, prizes to gather… (and a test knit of my own to wrap up in case any of my Lace Enhancement workshop students are interested in a pattern that utilizes all the techniques I teach).

Manitoba Fibre Festival – Come on Down!

I published a post over at the Manitoba Fibre Festival page today concerning why you (and everyone you know; fibre-enthusiast or not) should attend the festival.  I won’t be redundant. I’ll simply send you over there.  If you haven’t checked out the webpage, you’ll want to because it is packed full of information about the vendors, workshops, events, Flatlands Collection, features… go see.Screenshot_2017-08-11-23-44-00

KAL-ling the Flatlands

It has been 4 days since the Manitoba Fibre Festival Flatlands Collection was launched on Ravelry. If you haven’t snagged a pattern (or more) yet, quick – the discount ends soon on August 6 (end of day, CST)

I’ve cast on for an Aura shawl, designed by Susie of Knit Natural. I like the bright colours she used, but I wanted to CO ASAP, so I went stash-diving.  I didn’t have to look far to find the skein of Merino-Yak-Nylon fingering I snagged at the Blue Hills fibre fest this spring. Tammy of Manjusha Farm prepared the most glorious rich colours that I’ve been aching to knit.

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For my other two colours, I’m imagining a skein of the 2017 Manitoba Fibre Festival colourway dyed by Cloud 9 Fiberworks. It will be available at the Festival, but there are also some early opportunities to buy a skein (in worsted or fingering weight), including next week at the Wolseley Market. (Details at the bottom of the colourway blog post linked above.)

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I don’t have the yarn on hand yet, so I was using the logo while imagining the colours together. I believe the MFF colourway will provide a lovely middle contrast with my dark yarn. To add to that, I have some handspun singles (dyed by WildWind Naturals) that will provide a lighter contrast. I finished spinning the last bit of fibre today, despite the best efforts of the new kitten.

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After that, I’m not sure what I will CO, but I’m leaning towards CoCo’s path as a winter gift. It looks wonderfully squishy.

Flatlands and Open Fields

I love living in the prairies.  I’ve visited the mountains and they aren’t for me.  I’ve lived in Ontario and on the east coast.  I adored where we lived in Ontario (K-W) and it was almost home, but family called us back. I truly enjoyed living by the ocean, but still I longed for the prairies.

When I heard the call for designs to be featured in a local collection titled Flatlands and featured at the Manitoba Fibre Festival, I knew exactly what I wanted to contribute.

I envisioned the open fields of wheat and canola, the wild purple flowers that line the roadside, and the blue skies that blanket it all.

My favourite medium to design with is handspun yarns. I enjoy encouraging other spinners to use their handspun yarns, especially those single skeins of a one-of-a-kind colourway.

Sometimes those precious yarns seem limited in their use due to having relatively short yardage.  A solution I like to employ is to work with commercial-spun and hand-spun yarns in a project. Alternating between the two extends the yardage of both.

The call came out in winter, so I decided to test out my idea with some yarns on hand. One was a bulky single that is sold as like-handspun.  The other yarn happened to coordinate nicely.  I was very happy with the result and chose to submit my idea for the collection.

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Eldest kindly agreed to wear it one chill day while walking the dog.

I was paired up with the delightful Daria of Cloud 9 Fiberworks for yarn and fibre support on the project.  I sent her some images of the colours I was imagining: fields of wheat, of canola, of flax, of purple wildflowers, and, of course, the ever-present open blue skies.  Daria responded with golden worsted weight yarn (which I named Bugarup Blonde in honour of our shared love of Discworld) OctarineGrass

for my wheat background and fluffy merino in purple, blue, and canola yellow, with green accents (Octarine Grass).

The first yarn that I spun was an autowrap single. I wanted to experiment. I had an alpaca-silk lace yarn with the flax colour in it that beautifully complimented the fibre.  I love the yarn, but ultimately it wasn’t quite spun thick enough for my design preference. I wanted the official sample to have more punch and the thinner spots were not bold enough for me.

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Autowrap single above; 3-ply below.

For the second yarn I chose a chain-plied 3-ply to fatten it up. I prefer spinning and knitting lace, so spinning thicker is a challenge for me. Spinning multiple plies is my most reliable method for achieving a heavier yarn even after I aim for thicker singles. (Otherwise I would still have a light fingering 3-ply.)

I changed the gauge (and thus the stitch count) to accommodate the new yarn being lighter than my bulkier stash-based sample. It wasn’t long before I had a new design ready to share. It is a quick project with some fun style options for wearing.  The highlight, for me, is being able to show off some handspun yarns; I love watching the colours emerge as I knit.  A neutral background in a commercial-spun yarn will let the hand-spun yarn shine. A palette of prairie fields won’t be everyone’s choice; I look forward to seeing new colour interpretations.  If you chat with Daria at Cloud 9 Fiberworks I’m sure she can hook you up with a custom kit.

I would encourage spinners to embrace their yarn. It doesn’t have to be perfect for this. The first autowrap yarn looked fantastic with its thick and thin variations; it was only my own particular vision that wanted to make sure my thinner spots were less-thin and I’m simply not very good at spinning those singles.  It is also a fun opportunity to show off any favourite buttons in your collection.  I used some locally crafted wood (branch) buttons made by Andrea Mantler.  I am hoping there will be some local button makers again at the Festival.

 

My lovely sister was kind enough to model for me out by her Manitoba farm. We caught a few rays of sunlight in the midst of a storm.  I knew she could wear the golden yellow since she chose the yellow-gold dress as my bridesmaid.  She’ll be inheriting this cowl when the Festival wraps up.

You can see more of the designs on Ravelry and read more about the contributors (designer, dyers, tech editors, and so forth) in the LookBook.

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Fidget Spinners for Fibre Folks

At first I thought it odd when I received Instagram comments from Fidget Spinner accounts.  It took a moment to realize that the hashtag Spinning was now being used by this sub-culture of gadget-spinners.

Aside: This begged the question for me – what hashtag do we fibre-spinners use now?

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One of my kids’ spinners. I prefer the yarn-spinning kind.

If only those gadget-spinner-folks knew how much more fun they could have if they put their spinning-inclinations to use spinning fibre.  Perhaps we can convert a few to the fibre-side.  We have shiny, spinning gadgets galore.

Road Trip pt 2

Home!

It was a fantastic whirlwind of fun, visiting, and travels. I wasn’t very good at getting photos. For example, I met up with the KW Uptown Knitmob and I have no photo proof. However, I did have lovely chats.

Also had a BBQ with friends – no group photo. Fail. Stayed with an old friend – no photo. As I type this from my hotel room in Ottawa I am realizing I really wish we had taken more photos.

I did capture some of the fun at Canada’s Wonderland and at the Museums we visited in Kitchener-Waterloo (with the kids; so they are mostly kid-photos).

I knit on the road, but there was little opportunity to knit on stops.  I also gifted several items from my “unclaimed knits” collection. Now I have room to knit more! fewf.

 

Now that I’ve wrapped that trip up, it is time to get back to the Manitoba Fibre Festival fun.  The Flatlands collection releases soon. Test knitting should be wrapping up. KALs will start. Lookbook of designs and contributers is coming.

Plus, there is the handspun skeins competition to think about.

Oh, and Folklorama. I should also focus on fixing costumes and rehearsals and other entertainment coordinator duties.  Good thing my hubby is taking off to England for a couple weeks soon, without me, and I won’t have to schedule plans I make for kids and I around his work schedule. #silverlining

One of these days I hope to be able to go with him on a business trip, but work keeps scheduling these things at the most inopportune times (for me).

 

Road Trip

DAY 1

You know you are serious about long distance driving – with 3 kids in back – when your first coffee of the morning (barely, at 11:30) is in Dryden.  

Hit the road in Winnipeg shortly after 6:30am with a sac full of fleece to deliver to Wellington Fibres (for Cloud 9 Fiberworks – stay tuned), a van full of kids, homemade banana muffins, and handknit gifts to share with family. We are on our way to a wedding on Lake Huron, then over to visit friends in our former-home-town of Kitchener-Waterloo. We will be visiting Niagara Falls (more family) and Canada’s Wonderland (coasters!). Next couple of stops will include Kingston and Ottawa (because we’re this far already) before heading home and relieving our family of house- and pet-care.

Forgot to mention the quick stop at Wellington Fibres between the lake and KW.

Caravaning (in our Caravan) with my parents. We are leading the way and pushing on, to much protest. Loooong days.

DAY 2

I brought 5 WIPs including 2 pullovers (one lace-weight, one fingering weight needing sleeves) and 3 shawls.

I gave grand imaginings of finishing a cabled stole for a friend by Wednesday. I am a little of a quarter done. 

I did succeed in finishing one shawl today. 

DAY 3

Made it to the wedding destination. Let the fun begin.

Sneak Peeks – MbFF (what’s that?!)

Among my many hats, I wear one that helps in organizing the MbFF. What’s that?!

Manitoba Fibre Festival.

I’m a wee bit excited about this event – and it’s 3 months away. Still 3 months? Only 3 months? Depends one what we’re talking about needing to do.  If I’m waiting to see all the exhibits or attend a workshop – “still” / “yet” / “sadly” would all be appropriate adjectives.  If I’m considering all the stuff that is to be done between now and the end of the Festival, well, “only” is my choice.

This year features another exciting array of activities and I can’t wait to share all about it. Stay tuned with the MbFF e-list newsletters (sign up here) and Twitter and Instagram and the Blog; oh, and we’re on Facebook.

Coming soon: my favourite peeks into the Flatlands Collection of designs that will also be featured in a KAL in August leading up to the Festival.  As tech editor I’ve seen a few of these designs and I look forward to sharing them!

I promised a sneak peek. How about this video I created for the Handspun Skein competition? It’s a double-peek into some Festival info and my spinning corner.

knediting

It occurs to me that designing for knitwear – at least for me – is really an exercise in knediting. (BTW, it is my prerogative to make up words on my blog.)
My designs typically start with a yarn & a project idea.  I find it difficult to seek out “the perfect yarn” for a particular project idea. Instead I will have a beloved, inspiring yarn (or yarns) and a general idea of what I will knit.  Next I swatch & sketch – knediting as I go – adjusting the swatch, changing needle size, changing the stitch pattern slightly (or drastically), updating the sketch.  There is usually some (or much) frogging – ripping – restarting.

I take plentiful notes. Even if I am not intending to share/publish the pattern, I try to keep notes in case something doesn’t work and I need to go back and change things. Notes help me identify what I should fix and how far back to frog.

Last night’s knediting found me whipping up a new sample for an old design. As I am updating old patterns I am discovering that I have lost the original files to an old computer. I can pull the text from the published PDFs but I need new photos. The original Noro version of Really Want You in My World (Step by Step cowl) was gifted long ago.  A new sample was thus required. It has become my MO to first turn to handspun yarns. This skein of bulky BFL locks was begging to model the design. Who am I to argue with yarn.  It just happened to match the CD I had decided to include in the photo this time. (Last time it was still in storage while we were between homes.)

Really Want You in my World
Really Want You in My World

Previously I had hinted at the name-origin in my description. With this round of photos I was explicit.

Really Want You in My World
Hand-spun BFL locks meet Step by Step pattern for skwooshy goodness.

Stepping up. Engaging. Check.

Updating patterns – one down… (several more mid-edit).

Stepping Up & Engaging

Decisions Decisions.

We’ve all been at that cross-roads of life – multiple times.  “Adulting” is a legit word now, even if it hasn’t found its way into the dictionary yet.  I admit to liking it better than “ain’t”, which is now in the dictionary. (That addition fudges up my indignant rhyme.)

Since taking a drastic turn in my career choices (and then back-peddling a bit through part-time engagement with my original career as a university instructor) I have wondered what I am doing or should be doing or could be doing.

Who am I? What do I have to contribute to this lively community?

I am a knitter. I knit wonderful, beautiful, inspiring things. I enjoy showcasing indie-dyers.

I’m a designer; a part-time, casual, no pressure to meet deadlines, sharing my love of knits with others when inspired) designer.  I particularly love lace and designing for handspun yarn.

I’m a spinner. I’m not a new spinner. I’m not a master spinner (despite what my sister may say).  I’ve been engaged with the wool-to-yarn process for some time now. I work small-scale. I have dreams of fancy time-saving tools such as a large carder or at least a blending board.  I have one wheel,  a handful of spindles, and a pair of carders (thanks D).  I enjoy my tools.  I’ve certainly not invested greatly in my spinning supplies; my stash (besides a few raw fleeces) is quite limited.

I’m a fibre-enthusiast-instructor.  I share my skills in diverse ways. I particularly enjoy offering short skills workshops to inspire my fellow fibre-enthusiasts to try new things and to give them an opportunity to ask questions in person.  Longer and extended workshops are great too.  I’ve taught everything from the basics of knitting and spinning to brioche.

I’m a tech editor.  I apply my decades of experience working with a wide range of patterns and (even more) decades of editing writing and being a perfectionist with a keen eye for mistakes and inconsistencies.  It started as trading favours with friends and associates until I was asked to tech edit for a local collection of designs.  With that step, I find myself  considering if I want to take the plunge in putting myself forward, publicly, as a tech editor.  I am more than capable of doing the editing; the question I ask is if I want to run a business promoting my services.

Moving Forward

I am taking the first step to edit all my old patterns. Back in the day, before everyone was an indie-designer, I truly did not care much about how pretty the layout looked so long as the instructions were clear to the average knitter, and mistake-free.  To be honest, I still don’t care much for pretty layouts or too many photos that waste ink if I want to print (no e-reader here). Nevertheless, I do see the value in consistency and so I am currently engaged with reformatting my small collection.  I’ve also learned over the years that I really shouldn’t take “common knowledge” for granted in the knitting world (or any world).  Since I started sharing my designs, I’ve learned that it is now expected that I explain what “K”, “sts”, and “SSK”, etc. are short for.

The university-level instructor that-is-me balks at having to explain such basics.  The teacher-who-wishes-to-help-others that-is-also-me understands the importance of supporting developing knitters.  Teacher-self wins. I can take the time to include a few more explanations.

In light of the fact that I am updating all my patterns and including new social media links, etc, I thought it prudent to get a recent post up and start this new venture.

Should you have happened upon this; and if it’s the only post (except for that really old “hello” from when I was a guest blogger); and if you are curious about my previous blogging – you can find me back at http://mandyzmoon.blogspot.ca