30 August 2014

I bought a sheep...sort of

Yes, I went to the Twist Fibre Festival in Saint-André-Avellin last weekend. It may seem strange but this was actually my first time at such an event. Maybe that's weird considering how relatively close Montreal is to some of the major ones? I never really had much of a desire to go, and in the past few years, it been out of my holiday budget.

However, I've had an idle interest in getting a good quality fleece to play with since I dug out the rather dirty Outaouais Arcott I've had for a while and started processing.

And after having such a lovely visit with Kathy Chapdelaine a few weeks prior, I had pretty much made up my mind that going to Twist would be a good idea. Not exactly like going to Rheinbeck, but a good place to start.

So Saturday after work, I hopped on the Metro & met up with my brother & rode all the way to the other end of the line. We took a bus out to Fairview Point-Claire & got a ride from the friends we were staying with who have a small farm near Rigaud, who were also interested in going to Twist to check out the animals.

We got to the festival around lunch time on Sunday. The festival was indoors, inside the community's hockey arena. At first it didn't seem like it was that big of a festival, but we it took quite some time for us to make our way through them all.

Jon and I spent a lot of time looking through the books and spinning accessories at the Gemini Fibres booth. He had ordered some hard to find knitting books from them in the past. I probably would have bought some hand cards or other spinning accessories if I didn't have them already and took a good look at the lazy kates they had. I also looked through their spinning books, but didn't see much in the "so you've been spinning for 5ish years and want to level up" category. Of course this might have been because we were there on the last day.

We stopped and chatted with Céline from La Maison Tricotée here in Montreal and Jon chatted with Julie from La Julie Factrie in Nicolet, QC, both former Effiloché colleagues. Later we also chatted with Kathy & David of Domaine Chambord & saw pictures of his latest rope braiding machine which was pretty cool.

I was happy to see that Céline carries Jamieson & Smith as well as some other hand-dye brands that I have recently come across online Hedgehog Fibres and Jill Draper Makes Stuff.

The yarns at the Absolute Shetland booth were really nice, but it was kind of crowded and I moved on after a bit. Jon bought 2 skeins of their pale & charcoal grey Shetland to make some stranded mittens with. It's really nice stuff.

From Trailhead Yarns

My first purchase of the day was from Trailhead Yarns & Fibre (who seem to be setting up their online presence). I bought some lovely purple Correidale roving & a screen printed project bag.

I was pretty surprised that most of the roving or top I saw for sale was Merino. There weren't a lot of other sheep represented which I thought was too bad. But again this could have been because it was Sunday afternoon.

From l'atelier de Pénélope booth

I also bought some really nice 38-count linen from L'atelier de Pénélope and some great neon BFL sock yarn from the Violette Yarn Co. booth.

Super BFL Sock

And my big purchase of the day (mostly because of the size) was this amazing fleece from Hopeful Shetlandsfrom Embro, ON, who seemed to me to be the only ones with raw fleeces for sale. And I was kind of surprised at how many they still had. Though maybe there just aren't that many spinners?

She had 3 really lovely darker wool fleeces that attracted me right away, one was a BFL Shetland cross, the other two were different shades of Shetland. But I had a hard time deciding which fleece to get, especially as I have no experience in what to look for in a fleece other than it would be nice for it to be cleaner than the Outaouais Arcott fleece I already have. In the end I ended up picking out a different, lighter grey fleece altogether which was so nice that I said "Woooooooooow!" as I unfurled it on my floor to take pictures. I think it will be an amazing first fleece to play with.

I bought a sheep

Want to know how to get immediate cred at a fibre festival? Walk around with a big bag of fleece. It seemed to be a conversation starter for the rest of our visit. This probably would have been more of a normal sight at a bigger deal festival.

Bag 'o' sheep, memories from Twist 2014. #weekendinthecountry #fibredweeb

In the artisanal area, we spent a lot of time at the Infuse booth, from Sutton QC, hearing about they traditional folding & dyeing techniques she uses to make the wonderful motifs on her scarves. I'm often drawn to the soft, light hues that result from working with natural dyes.

Jon also chatted with the woman from Meliooa about the process for her crocheted toques.

We spent some time looking at the animals out front and solved the mystery of the angora goat. We stopped at an LCBO & casse-croûte in Ontario before getting a ride back to Fairview to catch the commuter train back into Montreal.

Imports from Ontario. I better start working on the house cocktail list. #travelontario #weekendinthecountry Lunch break. #travelOntario

Waiting for a train. #weekendinthecountry #cicadachorus

Overall a nice weekend excursion to the country. And I have plenty of fluff to keep me busy for quite a while.

28 August 2014

Recent Acquisitions

Somehow in the past few weeks, without much intention to, my fibre and yarn stashes have grown somewhat. Since I currently work as a yarn shop girl, it is an occupational hazard for some yarn & fabric to follow me home, I've been very good about it (for the most part).

But besides a ball or two of sock yarn, or a few meters of fabric now & again, I really haven't added much to my stashed materials in a big way for quite a while. The stash is already quite healthy enough. Most recent additions in the past few years have been from visits to shops while travelling. And this month started like that too.

First of the acquisitions were from a recent trip to the county. While my parents were visiting in early August, we all went out to stay at a house in country near Cookshire-Eaton, QC for a few days.

Without fully intending to, we managed to work in a trip to a small yarn shop to round out our day of cheese tasting, junk shop scrounging & ice cream eating. Because my Mom needed some needles to knit mittens with, we ended up seeking out La Shoppe de Laine in Moe's River, QC. And I'm very happy that we did.

I guess I should say that this isn't really a typical yarn shop, mostly because the shop is located in an out building on the farm where Kathy and David raise a variety of animals and have yarn produced from their coats.

While the shop does stock some commercial & locally dyed selections which my Mom was drawn to (she loves angora), I had trouble selecting which of Chambord yarns I was going to buy. In the end I went with a skein of Rambouillet & a skein of Shetland/Baby Doll blend.

Chambord Shetland/Baby Doll Chambord Rambouillet

Also stored in the shop was raw fibre waiting to be processed & spun. Kathy mentioned that she was preparing for the upcoming Twist Fibre Festival and sold me some Lincoln Longwool Locks & raw Rambouillet fleece sort of as a preview to the festival.

Loose Lincoln Locks Rambouillet Raw Fleece

We also got to see some of her husband's collection of Victorian sock knitting machines that had been set up with dates and information about each machine. He collects & refurbishes the antique machinery and also makes socks & leg warmers for sale. We stayed and chatted for about an hour & even met one of her cashmere goats.

Overall a wonderful discovery.

I think I'll leave our visit to Twist Festival to another post.

11 July 2014

Hooked on crochet

J. & P. Coats "Knit-cro-sheen" 250 yds

I suppose it was inevitable. Especially with how taken I've been with crochet lately. And I blame a project I've been working on at Effiloché, but this week I've been really taken with this crochet doily I've been working on.

Considering how much I love working on knitted lace, this really should be no surprise. But making doilies isn't really something I've ever explored much, or even thought of making.

The white doily, made with fine crochet cotton & tiny hook on the top of a well polished antique table is the pinnacle of grandmotherliness for me. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd find at my great-grandmother's apartment, along with the porcelain figurines and complete set of collectible porcelain teacups, all inside an antique glass case in the dining room.

Doily time

The associations I have with doilies is probably the sort of association most people have with granny square blankets, maybe. For the record, great-grandma preferred rippled crocheted afghans to granny squares, and if something were made from scraps, you'd never know it. Her version of "home made" projects were properly tailored, double-breasted peacoats & matching over-trousers for all the children, grand children & great-grand children which, I'm told, were sometimes made from old overcoats.

What was I talking about? Doilies. Right. So I've seen my share of aged, once white doilies in my time that it's not something I would consider having on my dresser or sideboard (I'm not big on porcelain figures or china teacups either). I think mostly because I'm not a big knick-knack kind of person, although I'm sure part of it is the association with old stuff (though usually I'm quite the fan of old things). I guess doilies get a bad rap, and now that I've been working on one, I'm not sure why. Hooking this doily has been satisfying the same part of me that lace knitting usually does.

And I often joke that I'm a cranky old lady anyways.

5 July 2014

Speaking of Hexies

This is an epic project. There is no way that this wasn't going to take years of work. And here we are in the 5th year of English paper piecing this project.

It grows slowly. A little section at a time. It gets picked up and worked on a bit here and there over the year. And it keeps going.

Working on the layout

When preparing the randomized layout for the latest section, I snapped some pics. I always have to take a reference picture of the layout because inevitably I get the hexagons out of order somehow while I'm piecing them together (every time!).

For reference

The Stats!

Hexagon size: 0.875 inch a side
(It's a weird size measured like this, when I was picking a size, I was measuring the diameter across from flat side to flat side).

Finished Quilt Width: 83 inches (55 columns of hexes)

Finished Quilt Length: 106 inches (81 rows of hexes)

Which gives a GRAND TOTAL of 4384 hexagons

This diagram shows the current progress. Not counting the hexagons in the current piece I'm working on, there are 2,005 hexagons pieced in this top this far. That makes this top 45.7% done.

My floor is too small

This quilt is getting kind of impressive looking, taking over my studio floorspace.

3 July 2014

Not Another Laceweight

Hey, so I guess I forgot to talk about this yarn I made? I think I mentioned it over here but never elaborated huh?

Gobbler Loose

Well I followed the advice I'd read in The Intentional Spinner about changing wheel ratios & using a higher tension to effectively change yarn weights, and it seemed to work out pretty well. At first I was consciously trying to pull out more fibre as I was drafting, but even when I settled into mindless-zombie-drafting, it still worked out to be bigger yarn. Crazy stuff, I know!

Prepped for spinning

This is also the first of my Hello Yarn fibre stash that I have spun and the first time that I've spun Cheviot too. It has a pleasing crunchiness to it as I spun. It's hard for me to articulate, but I found it an enjoyable spin.

First half spun

As I'm still on my previously mentioned WOOLEN FOREVER, WORSTED NEVER! kick at the moment, I treated this top differently than my previous go to method. I started by dividing the top in half (I even weighed both halves to be sure they were close to even), and then pulled out staple length poufs from one end & spun them from the fold.

Singles in progress

Not laceweight

I ended up with long sections of each colour. But as I didn't do any compensation to be sure colours would line up, this yarn turned out very barber pole-y as a result. It's fine by me. My only plan for this bump of fibre was for a larger gauge of yarn, and that's what I got.

Finished Skein

2-ply
'Gobbler' by Hello Yarn
Fibre Club for October 2012
100% Cheviot Top
Woolen spun from the fold
Start Date: May 14, 2014
End Date: June 11, 2014

16 June 2014

My Brindle Pony

Yesterday while I was at work, I decided to crochet a pony. This isn't such a crazy whim to follow through on since I'm currently working at a yarn & fabric store here in Montreal and Sunday afternoons aren't so busy.

I had just finished making some crocheted flowers for the shop and had an appetite for more crochet.

Work #selfie from yesterday. Crocheted flower hat & corsage.

I've been curious about amigurumi for a while, but somehow I have never tried it. After cruising some patterns on Ravelry, I found this pony pattern, grabbed a 3 mm hook and some random oatmeal fingering weight wool and got to work.

Amigurumi workshop

When I got home last night, I grabbed some left over aqua blue Fleece Artist I had from knitting a shawl for my mom a while ago.

Brindle Pony

Today, I continued working on the pony while hanging out on my front balcony, sewing each piece on after I was done crocheting it. I just finished it up this afternoon.

Brindle Pony

The only thing I found a bit strange was that each piece is made separately, and then sewn together. My understanding of crocheted toys was that each piece could be picked up and worked off the next? Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Brindle Pony

Pattern: Pony by Stephanie Jessica Lau
Materials: Mystery Oatmeal Fingering, Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Aqua
Start Date: June 15, 2014
End Date: June 16, 2014

Quite a quick little project.

9 June 2014

The Secret Language of Hexagons

Once in a while, there's something in a movie or TV show which will catch my eye. I secretly love when crafting is referenced in pop culture, even in jest.

Heck, I even get excited when really nice handmades gets used as set dressing or costumes (Juno had some awesome sweater vests).

Most recently I noticed this amazing crocheted hexagon blanket while re-watching Wayne's World for the first time in a loooong time.

I'm sure the average set dresser saw this as the usual ugly granny square blanket that would live in the typical basement rec room. But these be some truly bodacious granny hexagons!

There's also this wonderful scrappy hexagon quilt used in the movie About Time.

It's hard to tell from this picture that the fabric here is more than the usual printed cottons. There are some velvets used as well which makes me think this was probably built from old clothing scraps. Oh and nice hexagons too right?

What's the big deal with hexagons you ask?

Current piece

Well, back in 2009 is when I first became enamoured with the shape. It began with the Jelly Bean Afghan early in the year and continued with the Hexagonal Quilt sometime over the summer.

Little did I know the effect these projects would have on me.

You see hexagons are kind of spectacular. They are one of three regular polygons that can be used to make regular tilings, but somehow don't seem to be used that much. Or so I thought.

Once I started working with the shape, I began to notice it everywhere. And they are truly EVERYWHERE once you start noticing them. Those who know me in real life have likely noticed me whisper "hexagon" to myself, and perhaps take a picture of something random with no further explanation. Or even with too much explanation. It's become my own meme of sorts.

At some point I started collecting the results of my personal hexagon scavenger hunt over on Pinterest. Many of the images are snapshots taken while travelling. I've had friends and coworkers forward me links to projects, products, articles and images based on their use of hexagons. It's that kind of thing.

Most often I come across a wonderful old hexagon tiled floor. But strangely enough, hexagons also get used in futuristic settings too. Used in Amazing Spider-Man films (I haven't seen 2 yet, but it shows up in search results).