Spring Trip to NYC

While I don’t normally head into New York City on a chilly day in early spring, I found myself having to do so for a job interview. After my interview was done I took advantage of already being in “the city” and got some shopping in that of course included yarn!

First, I went to Tinsel Trading Company. I discovered Tinsel Trading Company years ago at a fly tying show. I actually wrote about the company in a earlier blog post. The antique French tinsel they sell is perfect for not just fiber arts, but fly tying as well. It is a charming little store full of vintage ribbon, tinsel and other unique items. They are in the process of looking for a new store location from their small space on Lexington Avenue. I hope they find a new location. It would be a shame to lose such a unique shop that has been around for close to a decade.

String YarnsAfter finishing up my shopping, I had to, of course, find a yarn shop nearby. So I hoofed it uptown about 10 blocks to String, a great little place. There is something always so inviting about independent yarn shops. I don’t know if it is the space, the lovely yarns you just don’t find in the “big box” stores, or the great staff, but I just love going to them.yarn

Their yarn options were just amazing! Of course it took me a bit to settle down and focus. The staff was incredibly nice. We chatted about the different yarns and about attending Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. I picked out a few nice yarns and they made them into sparkle yarncenter-pull balls for me. I then headed downtown to meet some friends for dinner, which was a lot of fun. After that, I headed back to the ferry to make my way home.

Once the weather is a little warmer, I’ll head back into the city and go downtown to visit more shops, but for now, this was a great unexpected visit!

Book Review: Indispensable Stitch

To everyone who is a first time visitor for National Crochet Month – welcome! I am happy you joined in the on the fun!

As many of my regular readers know, I have a HUGE library of fiber arts books. I am lucky enough to occasionally get some from publishers to review and then I get to give them away! Today, I get to bring you my review of Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection.

I absolutely love stitch collections and this book doesn’t disappoint. This book is full of great stitch patterns complete with step-by-step directions and charts. The photos are nice and clear so you can see each part of the stitch.

The short introduction provides suggestions on how to use the book and read the patterns. There is also a nice added section about designing from scratch and shaping pieces, which will be a huge help when using these stitches to making a special garment. The stitch patterns in the book are broken down by category: solids, shells and fans, openwork and lace, textures, and edgings. The end of the book has a help section with how to complete stitch.

There are several patterns I liked in this book. As slow as working in single crochet is, I love the look of the alternating front and back loop single crochet and the Soft Moss Pattern. The Rose Trellis pattern is especially lovely and delicate. And I always love textured patterns and use a basket weave pattern often. Some day I plan to tackle crochet cables!

Overall, this is a great book. Of course, as my readers know, I have one pet peeve – it is perfect bound. Especially when you are trying to follow a specific stitch pattern, I always feel that a spiral bound book is important. But other than that, you will not be disappointed with the patterns in this book.

And now as usual, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, March 19th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

And again, to those of you who have visited my blog for the first time, I say thank you. I hope you visit often!

2017 National Crochet Month Blog Tour

2017 National Crochet MonthOK, I know. I haven’t been doing a very good job blogging regularly. I’ll spare you the excuses and get right to it. If you are a fiber fanatic, especially when it comes to crochet, March is a VERY exciting month!

March is National Crochet Month. And of course Amy and Donna at Crochetville have done another awesome job putting together an exciting event full of blog posts, giveaways, and more. Check out the official National Crochet Month Facebook Group for all the latest information. Find out about the latest info from crochet designers, local yarn shops, and indie dyers and spinners, and find out about new patterns, sales, coupons, giveaways, and free patterns and tutorials! It is always a great event!

My post for National Crochet Month will be on March 16th. I’m lucky enough to share the day with two heavy hitters – Vashti Braha and Marty Miller. I love reading the posts each day throughout the month. I always learn something.

I hope you will check it out! I promise you will not be disappointed. You may even win one of the great daily giveaways!

My 2016 Fiber Arts Christmas List

So it is that time of year again. I’m going to tell Santa I have been a very good girl this year, so I have a a few special fiber toys on my list.

Celtic Swan ForgeThis one has been on my wish list for quite awhile and some day I am going to break down and purchase it. The silver crochet hooks from Celtic Swan Forge are true works of art. Each hook is hand forged made of silver. It is then hammered while hot and twisted to create beautiful designs. Celtic Swan also makes lovely knitting needles, and even drop spindles! Like I said, someday I will make this special purchase.

I have been trying to find time to do more weaving. I especially love some of the “on the go” weaving tools that have become popular as of late. I recently came across Hokett Tapestry Hand Loom Kit on The Woolery’s website. I also love the “Minnow” Small Hand Held Loom Padauk Caddyfrom Eden Bullrushes Inc. from Eden, NY. These tools are just so lovely and I’m sure they are fun to use!

I have also wanted a hook holder for awhile and I think I found something I really love. The Padauk Caddy by
Hornshaw Wood Works from Holland, Michigan. I absolutely love the deep wood!

Spinning The Yarn by Antonio BorsatoIf price was no object, I would have to go for this beautiful “Spinning The Yarn” by Antonio Borsato. It lists online for about $1,000, so I don’t see this turning up in my curio cabinet anytime soon. But how beautiful is this piece!?

 

Something I am currently bidding on is the Snowbabies figurine “Sheep, Wool, Yarn.” There are several yarn-inspired figurines from Snowbabies and hopefully over time I can collect them.Snowbabies Sheep Wool Yarn

So like I said Santa, I’ve been very good this year so if you want to send some fiber toys my way I would be very appreciative!

What is on your wish list this year?

Using Tinsel in Fiber Arts

So I will first apologize for being woefully overdue with posts. It has been insane – I’ll spare you the details. Nevertheless, I have some great topics so I hope you’ll come back and give them a read.

French tinsel
Beautiful vintage tinsel

As some of you know, in addition to being a fiber fanatic, I am also a fly tyer and angler. My husband and I are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in different tying events in the northeast. For those of you who aren’t familiar, fly tying materials are just great to combine with your fiber craft. One of the great materials is tinsel.

At the recent Fly Tying Symposium, I had the opportunity to see a vendor I had not seen in several years Her name is Marcia and she is the owner of Tinsel Trading Co. on Lexington Avenue in New York City. The last time I saw her a fly tying show I picked up tinsel for not just tying, but to mix with my crochet. I was very happy to see her again and, of course, had to stock up!

Such beautiful metal tinsel!
What wonderful colors!

In 1933, Arch Bergoffen bought the Old French Tinsel Company,

located in the Garment Center of NYC. He was a serious collector by the time of death, 55 years later, he had amassed a fantastic collection of antique thread, trim, tassels, and ribbon, all made out of metal tinsel. Most of the stock was from France and Germany from the 1900s. When he passed away, his granddaughter, Marcia, took over the business and continues to provide these fine materials to designers, fiber artists, and anyone who appreciates the quality of these materials.

Vintage French tinsel
It was hard to pick my favorites!

Marcia and I were able to chat for awhile and I could just feel her passion for this business and how much she loved sharing such beautiful tinsel.

I left the show with several spools of different colors and textures. I plan to use them in my crochet and my spinning, as well as my fly tying. I know they will make my work even more unique! I hope you will check out Marcia’s amazing collection for sale. The next time I head into NYC I am going to stop into her shop and see her entire collection. I also liked her Facebook page so I can keep up to date on all she has available. I hope you will too!

Book Review: Customize Your Knitting

Customize Your KnittingAs you learn more about different fiber arts, whether it is crochet, knitting, or something else, you begin to develop favorite people, designs, and styles. One of my all-around favorites is Margaret Hubert.

I met Margaret in-person for the first time over a decade ago at a fiber arts convention. I met her virtually a few years before that on the International Freeform Crochet Guild discussion group. From the beginning, she has always been a great teacher, mentor, and friend. She is a wonderful woman and I am proud to know her.

Over the years she has published many articles, patterns and books. One of her most recent books is Customize Your Knitting: Adjust to fit; embellish to taste and as always, she hits it out of the park!

We all know how much time and effort it takes to create an article of clothing. There is nothing worse than finishing a project and it doesn’t fit. We wind up offering it to someone else who may, or may not, appreciate all the work you put into it. Margaret helps solve that problem.

Her new book takes you through all the different body types and the all-important taking measurements. She then moves on to specific pattern examples for each type. She provides suggestions on developing “good habits,” joining new yarn, and weaving in those pesky tails. She then gives you beautiful ideas to customize your piece so it has your own special personal touch!

Margaret HubertAll the directions are presented in easy-to-understand language. Even this very basic knitter could understand the concepts within the book. It ends with steps on how to create buttonholes, pockets, and the all-important seams. It even includes embellishments and motifs! They are just great!

I will say, as my usual complaint, it is a perfect-bound book. HOWEVER, it lays flat VERY well! It also has an extended flap so you can keep your place as well as keep the book fairly flat. This may seem minor, but it is great! We have all been there when you are trying to work out of a book that keeps closing on you and you lose your place.

As a basic knitter, I think this is a great book. If you are a more serious knitter, you will LOVE it!

And now as usual, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Thursday, August 18th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

What do you do When you hit a Slump?

We’ve all had it – the slump. You can’t focus. You can’t take ideas you’ve had and act on them. Almost zero creative spark. You sit and watch television and can’t do anything else. Except sleep. You are a champion sleeper. And the migraine’s aren’t helping.

slump
Source: Jones, G. (2002) What is this thing called mental toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sports Performers, Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, volume 14, issue 3.

That’s where I am at the moment. I keep saying “I should be blogging,” but it doesn’t happen. I look at the pile of books to review and giveaway and just can’t motivate myself to do any of them.

The slump. It’s rough.

Maybe it’s the heat. If you live in Jersey, you know how ridiculous the heat has been lately. It does make it hard to focus.

So I know I am WAY overdue to post. I just want you to all know I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ll be back…soon.

What do you do to help get out of a slump? I would love for you to share!

Rose’s New Sister – Wee Peggy

Recently, I headed to The Spinnery for a class about how to make slubs, think and thin singles, and coils. It was a great class.

Wee Peggy at The Spinnery
Wee Peggy at The Spinnery

While chatting with my fellow classmates, the discussion turned to different types of wheels. I mentioned how I would love one day own a Wee Peggy. Well, after the class was over and I was waiting for my turn to pay, I of course, wandered the shop to check out all the fibery goodness. And what do my eyes see before me? A Wee Peggy! I asked if I could give it a try and Betty said “of course.”

Well, the downside to my attempted spinning? I was so hungry I couldn’t focus. My head hurt and my hands were shaking. I put the wheel back and went to eat.

On the ride home, all I could think of was that beautiful wheel. When I signed on that night, I sent Betty an email and told her I was interested in talking to her about it. She helped me negotiate a price and I told her I would be in on the weekend to give it a try.

It looked like I went there in the nick of time! Someone was in her shop that morning asking about it. Betty let her know that someone was coming in to give it a try and that it didn’t work out she would let her know.

My first bit of spinning on the Wee Peggy,
My first bit of spinning on the Wee Peggy,

I arrive with my wonderful husband to give it a try. Betty had set up the wheel and a chair for me. First, she demonstrated how to spin on it as well as how it differs from my beautiful Rose. Wow is it different! Unlike my Rose that has a lot of metal, the Wee Peggy is all wood and a small piece of leather to help the treadle move. It took a little practice to get used to it. This is a single-treadle and focuses more and heel and the middle of the foot, while my Rose is a double-treadle and focuses on the toe.

The Wee Peggy has a long and fabled

Peggy in the back of the truck on the way home.
Peggy in the back of the truck on the way home.

history and is considered an incredibly collectible wheel. Designed by John Rappard in New Zealand, the Wee Peggy was made from Southern Beech, a lightweight but strong and easily worked wood. I rarely see them come up for sale. So I knew I had a unique opportunity in front of me.

So the end result? I love her! My husband carefully packed her into

the back seat of his pickup. She came home with us. She is now in our living room next to Rose. I gave her a spin yesterday morning using some Frenchtown-area Mohair. It was great.

I still need some practice on the treadling, but I know we will soon work together as well as I do with my Rose.

So Rose has a sister now – and her name is Peggy.

Now sisters - Peggy and Rose.
Now sisters – Peggy and Rose.

 

Book Review: The Knitting Answer Book, Second Edition

Years ago I picked up a copy of The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask (Answer Book (Storey)) by Edie Eckman. It was a great pickup for me. The title was correct – it answered plenty of crochet questions. I knew there was a knitting version, but I never picked it up because I don’t knit very much.

Since that purchase, there has been a second version of the crochet edition and the knitting edition.

The Knitting Answer Book, 2nd Edition: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask is an updated version to the another great book to help knitters with all of the troubles they encounter as they work to finish projects; as well as learn more.

This book is perfect for knitters, regardless of their ability level. It starts out with basic concepts like how to cast on, basic stitches, and how to bind off. It then moves on to how to read yarn labels and reading patterns. Finally, it moves on to more advanced topics like circular knitting, garment shaping and fitting, and how to make different embellishments. It is a very comprehensive guide!

As usual, it is subject to my complaint of a perfect-bound spine as opposed to a spiral bound book. I feel this is especially important for this type of book as knitters try to follow the guidance of the book. That criticism aside, this is a great book!

And now you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, July 8th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

Coffee, Create, Sleep