So as children around the world write letters to Santa, I make sure to send in my letter as well. Mine, however, always has a fiber theme to it!
My 2017 Christmas list starts off with what else, but yarn! I have always wanted to spin qiviut. If you aren’t familiar, this is the inner fiber of the muskox. It is incredibly warm and very soft. The down side is that it is very expensive. I would love to spin some qiviut for a special project. Maybe a short neck scarf with some pretty buttons!
If you crochet, you usually wind up collecting hooks! So of course I need to put a hand made hook on my list. The hooks from Nelsonwood look just wonderful! I especially love the rich look of the wood on their Olivewood hook.
From the “if I hit the lottery” part of my list, I would definitely need to ask for a beautiful spinning wheel from Golding Fiber Tools. Whenever I get to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, I always stop by their booth to see what is new and wonderful. A particular favorite of mine is the “Architecture” wheel. A handcarved single flyer cherry spinning wheel with ebony and walnut accents and a hand-rubbed bronze plated ring. Their designs are just amazing! Even if you can’t afford their fiber tools, I highly recommend you check them out if you have the opportunity to see them in person.
Another new find this year at Rhinebeck was Shaker Boxes for yarn by the Suffolk Shaker Shop. I’ve always loved Shaker style furniture and woodwork, so these definitely caught my eye!
So there’s my list. Short and sweet. I hope you enjoyed reading my Christmas list to Santa. What’s on your list? I hope everyone has a warm and wonderful holiday season!
A little more than a week has passed since the 2017 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. Instead of taking the train up for the day, I decided to make a weekend out of it. So hubby and I booked and AirBnB (will never do that again!) and headed upstate.
The weather was just glorious! It really gave us the opportunity to check out the area. We spent Saturday visiting some of the lovely open spaces and antique shops. We picked up a paper while enjoying dinner in Rosendale and even the locals were looking forward to the event! Every individual we met was incredibly nice. We were offered suggestions on where to have lunch, different areas we should ride to, and even the history of the large bridge that was recently built!
Saturday’s exploring was very nice, but let’s face it; we were there for the Festival on Sunday. We were about 20 minutes outside of Rhinebeck. After a nice breakfast we headed over to the Fairgrounds. We knew we were getting close when the traffic started to back up and we saw this billboard!
Now I have been telling the hubby how huge the event is but he was still surprised when we walked into the Fairgrounds. As usual it was packed, but not as busy as Saturday from what I was told by those who attended both days. Everyone was very pleasant – and why not? After all, we are all there to enjoy everything fiber-related!
As always, there were plenty of wonderful little furry creatures to visit. And they certainly know everyone was there to seem them! There were a few young alpacas that were quite friendly and wanted to check out everyone. There was also a beautiful sheep hanging out that was just really interested in sitting comfortably letting everyone take his picture.
This year they held a live auction for used equipment like they do at the Maryland Sheep and Wool. Unfortunately, it was only held on Saturday so I missed it. The one time I went to Maryland I checked out the auction and it was great fun. I even won a few items! I hope they do it again next year and maybe offer it on both days.
Obviously there were wonderful items in every building and barn. Of course there were a few items that really caught my eye. Over the last few years, more and more people are using yarn bowls to try and tame project yarn. Well this year I saw beautiful shaker boxes from Suffolk Shaker Shop
that do the same thing. I love Shaker style, so I had to stop and check them out.
A “must stop” booth for me is always Golding Fiber Tools. They create the most ornate spinning wheels and spindles I have ever seen. But they are not just a pretty face. They spin like a dream! I am the proud owner of one of their spindles and I always need to try out the latest wheels they have on display at the Festival. A Golding Spinning Wheel is at the top of my “if I hit the lottery” list – and of course a matching chair must go with it!
One of my last stops of the day was to the Author’s Section to have a quick visit with the great Margaret Hubert. She is not just a talented fiber artist – she’s a good soul. Someone I don’t get to see nearly enough.
She is always more than happy to share her knowledge and offer encouragement to fellow fiber fanatics when they are struggling with a project or specific stitch. She recently published her 31st book – Customize Your Crochet – so I had to pick up a copy and have her autograph it!
Finally we headed out for the day. We didn’t get to see everything, but it was just great. I am already on the wait list at one hotel for next year and will continue to check out other hotels in the area to see if we can book a legitimate room next time.
So what did I buy you might ask? Hubby bought me a few presents! First, a lovely antique box full of thread spools. Second, two antique cameras! Yes, I know. Not exactly fiber gifts, but I have several analog-based hobbies. I’ve always wanted some older cameras so I am now the proud owner of a Kodak Duaflex II and an original Polaroid still in the carry case! So cool!
So, I wait with fiber-filled dreams until next fall.
Regular readers of my various blogs know I am a proud New Jerseyan. I even have a blog about how much I love New Jersey. Well, yesterday I had a great opportunity to head to Jockey Hollow in Morristown for a yarn spinning demonstration at the Wick House.
For those of you who are not familiar, Morristown played a key role
in America’s fight for independence. There are multiple sites within Morristown that are part of the National Park Service. Known as “Where America Survived,” Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.
When you head into Jockey Hollow, you quickly leave modern day behind. You see the expansive acreage that made Henry Wick the largest land owner in Morristown. The trees on Wick’s property attracted Washington’s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking.
After a short walk to the Wick House, I found a wonderful spinner happily explaining the importance of spinning during the American Revolution and dispelling a number of the myths associated with Revolutionary living.
My first surprise is that prior to the American Revolution, a number of products were still imported from England; including fabric. The restrictions on sheep raising and wool manufacturing, along with other limitations, such as the Stamp Act and other taxes, contributed to the Revolutionary War.
The colonists fought back in their own protest and boycotted the use of fabrics from England and went back to spinning yarn to make fabric. Women would meet as a group, spin together, discuss the happenings of the day, mostly politics, and became known as the Daughters of Liberty. As a result, spinning and weaving were considered patriotic acts. It eventually became popular to wear hand-spun and woven clothing from America. You may even consider this the first “made in America” movement!
I also learned that when the men went off to war, some of the women followed and assisted the soldiers as they moved from battle to battle with duties such as nursing, darning socks, laundry, and yes, spinning yarn for later weaving into fabric.
I certainly learned a lot during this very informative demonstration. I also enjoyed spending some time at Jockey Hollow again as it has been quite a while since my last visit.
If you are in the area and want to learn more about Morristown’s role in the American Revolution, I hope you check out all the great historical locations throughout the area; and maybe learn how to make yarn while you are there!
In July, another fiber-related even is taking place at the Wick House – Clothing an Army – which will discuss the role of weaving played during the Revolutionary War and why the colonies needed France to contribute to their uniform needs. I hope to check it out!
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.
After 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.
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 center-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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!
So I love making wish lists related to my love of fiber arts. Since this is National Crochet Month, I figure this is the perfect time to share my wish list for 2016. This list is focused on just crochet as opposed to my greater love of fiber arts in general.
The Hay Farmer’s Wife: Of course my list will have to include a few crochet hooks. This hook artist is relatively new to Etsy. The Hay Farmer’s Wife makes crochet hooks from branches pruned from her apple orchard. I love the rustic look and that they come from a fourth generation apple orchard.
Celtic Swan: This hook as been on my list for awhile now and some day I will break down and purchase one. The Celtic Swan makes hand-forged silver hooks that are simply stunning. Some day I will break down and purchase one.
Batsford Book of Crochet: This is a classic crochet book with a focus on free form. This book can be hard to find and occasionally quite expensive. I just found a copy and ordered it this morning, so while I “technically” own it, I felt like I should still include it on my list.
Hook Holder: So once you have all these wonderful crochet hooks, you need to have something to show them all off. Rparishwoodworks makes beautiful hook holders.
Walnut & Cherry Hook: Of course, I have another crochet hook want. QuinnHandMade offers a beautiful hook that shows off the beauty of natural wood.
Buffalo Wool: One of the most amazing fibers is bison. And the Buffalo Wool Company provides some of the best bison yarn available. I have felt it in person at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival and it truly lives up to expectations!
Qiviut Yarn: Another truly decadent yarn is made from Qiviut. What is qiviut yarn you might ask? It is the undercoat of the muskox and is eight times warmer than wool and finer than cashmere. Extremely rare, Qiviut is hypoallergenic and will not shrink. There are several different brands and I honestly can’t recommend one as my favorite brand has been discontinued. But it is definitely worth the hunt!
I hope this gets your create crochet juices flowing. What is on your crochet must-have list?
So I am a little behind on my blog posts lately. There’s been a lot going on here in New Jersey with LOTS of fiber arts activities! I wanted to share this great blog post that was submitted to me. I hope you all enjoy it!
Technology has done wonders for the modern-day knitter. Where in the past you had to scour and pore over old knitting books for your patterns or ask your knitting circle for ideas and help, we now have the convenience of the internet and hundreds of thousands of websites dedicated to knitting, and now you can even use your phone as a tool to help you knit.
The company behind gaming website Spin Genie, observed that “There were an estimated 1 billion Smartphone users at the end of 2012, representing 17% of total mobile users”. Because of this, app developers have made everything you could ever need, and there’s truly an app for every niche now. The knitting community has also come together to produce quality apps for every knitter’s needs. If you’re interested in using your smartphone as a tool for knitting, check out these three apps:
1. Knitting Patterns Database Knitting Patterns Database (KPD) is a great app that does just what it advertises – it gives users easy access to thousands of knitting patterns. But that’s not all. Providing “the functionality of over 20 knitting apps all in one place”, the app also catalogs the patterns and allows users to search based on Gender, Garment Type, Yarn Type, Yarn Weight/Length, Needles, Gauge, Rating, Notes. You can even catalog your own yarn stash to keep things organize.
Perhaps the closest we will ever get to an iKnit app, knitCompanion arranges and combines knitting patterns, keys, charts, and written instructions into one easy-to-navigate piece. There are also row markers and row-based reminders, audible reminders, counters, stitch markers and more. Sure, the app looks a little drabby, but it more than makes up for that with functionality.
3. Ravelry Mobile
While not an app per se, the mobile version of Ravelry is a sight to behold. If you’re already a user of the website, you can log into it using your mobile phone, and the website that’s been optimized for smaller screens and slower internet connections has just about all the functionality of its full-sized counterpart. Right now you can upload and download pattern PDFs, upload photos of projects, look at your queue, search for yarn stores, and browse and reply to threads in the forum.
Do you know of any other apps that help satisfy your knitting needs?
I would first like to welcome all the readers who are following the blog tour for National Crochet Month. I want to say a special “thank you” to the team at Crochetville for doing all the heavy lifting to get this together. They have a great site and I hope you check it out. For all the tour happenings, you can check out this link: http://crochetville.com/category/events/.
I am lucky enough to receive a large number of books to review. I get to see the latest and greatest in crochet, spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, and more. I love the opportunity to tell you about what is coming out, provide some feedback, and hopefully, help you make a decision as to whether or not the book is a good fit for you. My favorite part, however, is that I give the books away to my readership! I thought another book review and giveaway would be a great way to celebrate my day on the National Crochet Month Blog Tour. Today’s book review: The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Dora Ohrenstein is the founder and editor of the online magazine Crochet Insider. She creates beautiful crochet designs for all levels, so no matter if you are a beginner or an expert, she can help you create beautiful pieces you will be proud to show off and give as gifts.
Her book takes you from the very beginning with understanding your yarn. She reviews yarn weight, fiber type, yarn twist type, and how different yarns behave in different ways. I absolutely love the first section of this book! It is definitely packed with information you may not even consider when heading out to make a yarn purchase.
She next moves on to hooks, holding your hook and work, and has an important section on “hand health.” As someone who has wrist issues, I especially appreciate that section.
She then moves on to the important foundations for building your crochet skills. She also covers different problems you typically encounter, regardless of your skill level. For example, I absolutely hate joining/changing yarns. She has a section to help! She also has a section on the all-important, and often frustrating, shaping of a garment.
She then begins to move into amazing swatches of different stitch patterns. Each swatch has bold photos that are nice and close up so you can see each step clearly. The directions are very well written and also come with a diagram of the stitch pattern. Diagrams are another great way to understand the different stitch patterns and the two together prove to be a great skill builder!
After all the great stitch patterns, you move on to the all-important skill of finishing. From different seam options, to edges, to blocking, you will be confident in the skills you are building with Dora’s help.
The book closes with some great patterns. I have always been partial to cowls, so I especially liked her Marguerite Cowl.
From cover to cover this is a great book. I was so happy to have a chance to check this out and share my thoughts with you. And of course, now is the really special part. You can win this book!
As always, 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 all four winners on March 19th. Good luck and thank you for joining me on National Crochet Month’s Blog Tour!
Margaret begins with understanding both a written pattern and a schematic. Her book then moves into measurements, yarn selection, fixing mistakes, and even adapting a pattern to meet your specific wants and needs. The big beautiful photos really show the details of each technique. If my basic knitting skills were a little better, I am confident this book would give me a greater opportunity for project success.
Chapter seven, Putting It All Together, makes sure that all your hard work on each individual piece will turn into a finished project that will be a work of art!
Margaret answers every “why” and “how do I” knitting question that you may ever have. I promise you, you will have a great level of confidence in your knitting after reading this book.
My only complaint is my usual – lack of a spiral binding so the book can lay flat. However, it isn’t quite as important in this book since I consider it more of a “reading” book than a “pattern” book. Regardless of the binding, it is a book worthy of reaching into your pocket to make a purchase.
But you may not have to make a purchase! I have not one, but TWO copies to give away! As usual, 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 two winners!
I’ll pull the winners on Friday, February 6th. Good luck!