I used to knit A LOT. Every day. I had projects with me at school, at work, getting my oil changed, sitting in church, in the evening, etc. But my hands and wrists started to protest, so I slowly transitioned away towards other things. Also, I got bored. I felt bad for not wanting to do it anymore.
In the last two years, since opening the Shop, I’ve come back to knitting. Not just that, but I’ve been exploring crochet much more too. And I’m loving it again! My latest FOs have been more for my own enjoyment and curiosity. My new favorite yarn is ENID, the DK weight Blue-Faced Leicester that I’ve been dyeing. I’ve made three shawls and a hat so far.
Starting in February I have decided to offer knitting classes twice a month. So often people stop in and want to learn how to knit, but I haven’t had anything on the schedule. I’ve been leaving it up to you – the customer – to pick the date and time. It seems like this can be overwhelming for some people, so I’ll be conducting an experiment over the next two months. There are two scheduled beginner knitting classes on the schedule now. One is on Saturday and one is on Thursday. You can sign up for them at anytime. As always though, if those don’t work for you, you are always welcome to contact me and schedule a private lesson.
Maybe you have a small group of friends interested in a private spinning, knitting, or needle felting class? I can do that too! Just let me know what topic you have in mind and we can make it happen!
For several years my business card has said “lessons”, which of course prompts people to ask, “You teach knitting? I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit!” And I mumble something vague in return and then nothing ever happens after that. I have never really pursued the lessons/classes aspect of knitting and spinning for a few reasons. The main reason was money and then after that things just escalate. How much to charge? Do I force them to come to my chaos house or do I waste my gas driving to them? Do we meet in some neutral middle place like a Panera? What about follow up classes? What if I can’t teach them? What if I’m actually just a bad teacher? From there I spiral into self-doubt. And inactivity.
With the new Shop in operation, I have decided to give classes a genuine effort. It provides a central space to hold them, so location is no longer a sticking point. And for some reason having that issue resolved makes me more confident to move forward with the rest of it!
We’re starting this month with Beginner Spindle Spinning Thursdays at 2 pm. Dates are July 9, 16, and 23. They will resume again in August. These afternoon classes will be $15. We will be using a Turkish spindle which you will have the option to purchase at the end of class.
Starting on August 12 I will teach Knitting Basics on Wednesdays at 10 am. We will cover casting on, binding off, knitting, and purling (time permitting). This first intro class is $15 and includes needles and yarn. Follow up instruction will be $10 per lesson. You can drop in or email me to reserve a spot (email@example.com).
Let me clarify – these are not “summer” hats. These are most definitely cold time hats. But I made them for the Summer Festival of the Arts this weekend in hopes of encouraging wool purchases during July. Hats are more of an accessory, right? People wear them all the time… right? Honestly, I don’t care at this point. I’m loading up the car today. We’re selling tomorrow, so if my merchandise is wrong, it’s too late now.
Regardless, I had a blast making these hats. I ended up with a whole pile of super chunky yarn, most of which were my corespinning experiments. I knew they were too thick for mitts and perhaps a little too coarse for neckwear, but I thought they could work in hats. Combining them, in my typical way, with neutrals, each hat contains a funky yarn full of different fibers and a nice natural shade of wool or alpaca. Now I have some good examples of what you can make with a 40 yard skein of corespun super bulk! Even though I have a lot of experience knitting hats, I had never really gone from brain rather than patterns. This was also a good exercise in hat shapes and learning how many stitches to cast on. For each hat I kept casting on fewer and fewer (some ended up pretty big) until I was down to about 40 or 50 stitches.
Thanks to Instagram, I am now documenting everything down to the last insignificant moment of my day. I baked muffins? Photo! New shoes? Photo! Cute kitty pose? Photo! Project in the house? Photo! Spinning yarn? Photo! It may get a little dull sometimes, but the up side is that when I am in the midst of a knitting project, there are many more process shots.
I finally finished the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief using approximately 250 yards of handspun Shetland wool and size 8 needles. For each section I used a different color of yarn. The pattern was so easy and quick. Although my measurements didn’t come out quite as the pattern suggested, it’s much wider than any other shawl/kerchief I’ve made. I didn’t make any adjustments, just followed the instructions as is.
Despite the weather, I had a nice time at the Winter Market last weekend held at the B&O Station in Youngstown. I’ve been purposely building up my home base and it seems to be working! Along those lines, I will be setting up this weekend at the Good Life Fest at the Calvin Center, just down the street. In addition to what you see below, I’m going to bring more of the “yarn show” inventory, such as spindles, Eucalan, etc.
Remember that lovely, natural, spindle-spun Shetland I blogged about a few weeks ago? I finally got around to knitting it! I started it last Sunday while I was at the Winter Market. All afternoon I would knit a bit, count, and realize I had messed up. It’s actually a very easy pattern, but I was distracted by shoppers and the constant picking up and putting down of it. Once I had the opportunity to focus a bit, I made a lot of progress and now it’s almost done!
I am super excited about the new GE logo tote bags that arrived last week! I’ve wanted to have a nice thank-you gift for my big spenders, plus I have to admit a bit of envy when I see shoppers carrying around logo bags for other businesses. After shopping around a bit, I ended up having these done by VistaPrint since I could get all the colors instead of just one. They are $10 each, but if you spend $75 or more, you will get one for free! They are not available for purchase in my Etsy shop because I’m not sure if I am “allowed” to sell them there or not. Do they even have rules anymore? However, if you really want one and will not be at any of my shows, please send me an email and I will get one out to you!
Speaking of Etsy, if you feel the desire to make a purchase in my shop this month, use the coupon code YarnSchool to get free shipping. I decided it was time for some continuing education (and inspiration), so I signed up to attend Yarn School in Harveyville, KS at the end of April. I was worried that it might be just beginner stuff, but then I was reading on the Ravelry group about how many people go back again and again. It can’t be too dull/easy/basic then, right? I’m excited to get out of my corner of Ohio and see a new state! I’ll be flying out there alone, which is an adventure all on its own. And I’ll have to be friendly all weekend. I think that is scarier than flying! I tend to get weird and distant in situations like that (roommates, group lunches, chatty classes, socializing with strangers). Let’s just hope I can keep my mouth shut and learn something new!
Contrary to popular belief, every now and then I make something that isn’t fingerless mittens. Sometimes I make hats! Actually, I do that rather frequently since they are also small, quick projects. In December I started a hat using a pattern by Lee Meredith called Scant. It is worked top-down without swatching, so I thought it would be perfect for my handspun!
I finished it in two days. Unfortunately, my measuring skills are not so great and it ended up too big at the brim. After having the recipient try it on, we decided I would pull out the ribbing and decrease a few rounds to bring it in. In fact, it was really easy to adjust since it was knit top-down.
I decreased a total of 12 stitches over three rounds and used a smaller needle to get the ribbing even tighter. Once I reworked it, it fit great. I think there is more volume in my hat than was originally expected according to the pattern, but the new owner of this hat is very happy with it. I love the way the colors came out. I definitely will use this pattern again!
I’ve been sitting on this yarn for at least two years. No wait, I got the fiber on our first visit to Rhinebeck in 2008. Good heavens!
It was all spun using my drop spindle. Initially I thought it would be perfect for a shawl. However, at the time I had never made one and perhaps felt intimidated or that I wouldn’t wear it? Now I’ve made two, so I think I can handle it (and I know I like triangle over half-circle). There should be around 6 ounces all together, though I’m not sure on the yardage. I went through my Ravelry queue to see what patterns I had saved the last time I got shawl fever. I came across the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief. It has three sections, so I thought that would work well. Now I just need to get it on the ball winder! And then cast on, of course. It’s time to do some stash busting!
Basically I’ve always lived on the edge when it comes to my knitting. I don’t do gauge swatches. I don’t worry too much about matching up my yarns. I don’t do a whole lot of counting and calculating. So far there haven’t been too many circumstances where this has come back to bite me in the ass, but last week, it did.
The funny thing is that it was and wasn’t my fault. I knit two fingerless mittens using the same needles and diligently counted the rows. When I was done, one was little and the other was big. I counted and recounted, but I had the same number of stitches. Waaah!? The gauge was off, but it wasn’t simply a tension issue. The yarn had actually increased in size! And here is where it was my fault. I spun that yarn. It was a navajo-plied yarn, so if the single had gotten thicker as I went, the ply would have gotten thicker and thicker too. Looking at the two mitts, I knew I couldn’t block them to match, so I knit another mitt. With barely enough yarn, I managed to complete a third mitt. It was just slightly larger than the second. Aarrrrg! Thankfully, the difference is minimal and I should be able to block them to match.
Here they are: my Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear mitts!
Or at the very least, turning white fiber into colorful fiber. It feels like I’ve been spinning more in the past three weeks than I have all year. Totaled up, I got 10 new skeins done. Some have already found new homes, but I’m going to keep at it this week because I’m not quite done yet.
This past weekend I went to Pittsburgh for Indie Knit & Spin and it was a fantastic day. When the right people are there, ready to shop, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, it just doesn’t get any better. I sold the Country Craftsman spinning wheel, so now my living room is a bit more spacious (just in time for Christmas!). The totes and bags I just filled with fiber are already empty again, so I see plenty of dyeing in my future, although that can wait until January!
Even though I am done for the year with fiber festivals, I have one more event to attend. I am participating in a local art/craft show this weekend. Many of the other vendors are friends from my days in college, so it will be nice to be “back home” this holiday season. For this event I will need primarily finished goods, but I’m going to bring yarn and a bit of fiber to help fill in the space. I’ve been trying to get as much knitting done as possible, but I always wait until the last minute. And where I should have 50 pairs of fingerless mitts done, I only have 12. My goal is 15, so this week I will be doing a lot of frantic knitting, some felting, a bit of carding, and some spinning.
After all the hubbub dies down, I swear I’m going to start crocheting more. I bought those two books from Knit Picks and I just haven’t had the time to really sit down and work with them. My December and January are clear right now, so I’m looking forward to taking a breather, washing my fleeces, conducting some experiments, and learning a few new things. Sadly, when you are in production mode, you don’t always have the time to explore. But if you don’t, then your work can get dull. It’s a delicate balance.