Jillian’s Spinning: Yarn Fest and More Spinning Videos

Wow. That about sums up my trip to Yarn Fest. I taught 122 students over 4 days. The students are Yarn Fest were excellent spinners to start, I am honored that they chose to take my classes to add to their skills. We had a lot of fun in class, lots of stories, learning and spinning. Here’s a peek.

Spinners spinning!

Spinners spinning!

Yarn Fest was a big hit, I saw a ton of smiling faces knitting, spinning, weaving and crocheting. There are already dates for next year. I hope I get to teach again!

While I was in Colorado I taped two spinning videos at Interweave one on spinning batts and one on spinning variegated braids.  They’ll be released this summer.

Filming at Interweave!

Filming at Interweave!

Did you go to Yarn Fest? What did you think?

Geek Socks

I’m a sock knitter. You might know that.  And I have a particular weakness for self-striping sock yarns. It’s fun to move to the next color, sure… but after a while, you’ve got a drawer full of pretty similar socks… stripe, stripe, stripe, stripe.

How to make it a bit different? How to vary up the patterning without up the difficulty level (or indeed creating a million loose ends to be woven in)?

First-time Knitty designer Wei S. Leong has come up with a simple yet clever solution (my favorite kind) in this slipped stitch color pattern, The Geek Socks. A well-place pattern of slipped stitches makes wavy-wiggly stripes. So easy to knit, and yet so utterly wonderfully different.

She writes about them here. How good is this rainbow version?

Fantastic!

Obsession Thursday: Freaking out over 3D printing

I am, without question, an early adopter. But I’m also a skeptic. So I’m not the earliest adopter. I need to see how something makes sense to me before I want it. Twitter, Instagram, even the Internet. I knew about them for at least a year before I joined in.

3D printing is another of these amazing things that is just starting to make sense to me, and of course the gateway drug was bling.

I’d been following NervousSystem for years, but didn’t realize they’d come up with software that allowed you to design your own ring or bracelet.  If you’re like me, you’re lost in this brilliant toy already and have stopped reading. Just clicking on that last link allows for some mesmerizing time wasting.

Voro Ring No. 1

Voro Ring No. 1

But what if you want to wear something you’ve created? Do you trust your skills to make something wearable? I imagined making something so bulky I wouldn’t be able to close my fingers. So I went looking, and found Shapeways.

This is the Voro Ring No. 1 by 90grad@gmx.ch. Who clearly knows what she or he is doing. It’s a rendering of what it might look like in stainless steel, and it’s priced at a ridiculous $19. How could I not order it? It was an affordable gamble. Since I know what 3D printing looks like in plastic, I wanted to see how a metal object would come out.

They’re printing designs in stainless and even silver and gold. How is that EVEN POSSIBLE?

My in-the-flesh 3D-printed Voro Ring No 1.

My in-the-flesh 3D-printed Voro Ring No 1.

A few weeks later, my ring arrived at my doorstep. I am fascinated!

Yes, it’s a little yellower than I expected. But it’s solid and strong (I tried to crush it…it won’t crush). It’s rough and it’s super light. And it’s really comfortable to wear.

And it was spewed out of a printer. Does that not make your head explode?

Well, not exactly spewed. The printer emits a thin layer of metal powder in the shape of the design, and then a laser fuses it. Another layer of powder, and then the laser again. Eventually, the design is complete.

Here’s a video of the process, sort of. They’re not showing much. Is that on purpose? Dunno.

I wonder if it’s the bronze they infuse (like they show in the video) that’s made my ring slightly yellow. Dunno.

I do know that I love this thing and may have it plated in something shiny — otherwise, it looks like heavily tarnished sterling silver. Mostly, I’m just really impressed that this exists.

WWW: Fundraiser Dishcloth, Building Cozy; Crocheting with Paint?

Lorilee Beltman is doing a good thing. She’s selling a knit dishcloth pattern for $2, with all proceeds going to support the Special Olympics. Her late brother Mark was a participant, and she does this in his memory.

Lorilee says that Mark’s enthusiasm would sometimes get the better of him: he would disqualify himself swimming by standing in the middle of the pool to wave to everyone.

Buy it here.


Ok, we’ve all seen mug cozies and tea cozies and tree cozies… how about a building cozy? Well, ok, it’s only a scarf. But it’s still 700ft long.


Fantastically cool: Artist Angela Teng crochets with acrylic paint.

Jillian’s not Spinning: Rebecca Ringquist Embroidery Book Giveaway

I learned to embroidery from Rebecca Ringquist’s Creativebug class and  I haven’t stopped stitching since. I’ve spent a year stitching her samplers and stitching on just about everything I can get a needle through. She is a creative hero of mine.

I am so excited that she has a new book out!

Creative inspiration!

Creative inspiration!

I reviewed the book in this issue of Knitty:

Rebecca Ringquist’s Embroidery Workshops
by Rebecaa Ringquist
STC /A Melanie Falick Book
$29.95, hardcover
Rebecca Rinquist’s mantra for teaching embroidery is “Don’t worry, just stitch”. This book is like no other how-to embroidery and for that I am very grateful.
I learned to embroider from Rebecca a few years ago through her Creativebug class and it was exactly the revelation I wanted. Embroidery doesn’t have to be a litany of do this, exactly this way and no knots ever; it can be as relaxed a creative pursuit as I wanted it to be.
This book is filled with exceptional teaching and beautiful examples of embroidery, and it opens with a photo of the back of a sampler stitched by Rebecca herself. Guess what it shows? Knots, and threads stretched from one working area to another, not the “back should be as clean as the front” school of embroidery.
Rebecca teaches the basics of embroidery stitches using a sampler (included in the book). In her teaching, she takes the rich tradition and history of embroidery in a new modern, relaxed direction.

This book is divided into four main sections: Stitch, Trace, Draw and Layer. Stitch breaks down the families of stitches how to create basic stitches and how to make many variations. Trace explains a variety of ways to transfer images to embroider, including the best methods for different fabrics. Draw teaches the basics of mark making, creating original images or lines as a supplement to an existing design or as a freehand design on fabric. Layer explores methods of embroidering over already embroidered fabrics.

Each section has several projects designed to instantly try out the lesson taught in the chapter. They range from ones that can be completed in an afternoon to ones that require thought and the possible scouring of flea markets. Highlights for me are the Single-Stitch Patches, Portrait Napkins, Angela’s Stitch Doodle Bracelets and the 3D Embroidered Buckle Brooches.

The main sections are bookended with a beginning chapter on Supplies, including supplies for machine embroidery and an ending chapter on Finishing: how to mount, frame, stretch and hang your work.
All of the how-to is overflowing with step-by-step illustrations and photography. It is abundantly clear what to do and what it should look like when you are finished.
The book is packed with beautiful pictures of embroidery, particular stitches, projects to make, Rebecca’s mixed media art and all the color and texture of embroidery supplies. It is impossible to look through this book and not want to play along.

I have one copy of Rebecca’s beautiful book to giveaway.  Leave a comment before Sunday April 19th 2015 to be entered for a chance to win!

Spring & Summer Issue WIPs & FOs

CanadianNeedlesMylui Lino top is coming along nicely. This just makes me crave warm summer sunshine.

Simple elegance. A great yarn substitution!

FiatKnitter‘s Mia tank is coming along well.

Fantastic colour choice.

KnitPearlKim‘s Nahant scarf.

A minor variation – narrower to make sure the knitter had enough yarn. But just as wonderful!

And I adore this version, in handspun.

Can’t wait to see it grow.

Love these rainbow-tastic Geek Socks by OnlyLouise.

So much fun!

And this close-up of the lace and beads gets me very excited about TNTknit‘s Hybrid Vigour project.

Beautiful yarn and bead combo. Subtle and sophisticated.

WWW: Readings on the Ethics of Wool; Fun Facts About Sheep; On Yarn Substitutions

A very helpful and clear guide to yarn substitutions… an excerpt from Margaret Radcliffe’s book ‘The Knowledgeable Knitter‘.


Everything you need to know, in one image. (Borrowed from the Berroco yarns website.)

Another important topic: on measuring yourself for a garment, by Amy Christoffers on the Berroco yarns blog.


Top Ten Facts about Sheep. I think the first one is the best…

Sheep have excellent memories for the faces of both other sheep and humans which they can remember for several years.


If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve had a couple of conversations recently about the issues of animal welfare as it relates specifically to wool. In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked by a few people – some knitters, some not – about the ethics of wool. I honestly didn’t feel sufficiently well informed to speak to their concerns. I am, of course, sensitive to animal welfare issues. But I also know that there is a lot of misinformation floating around, and a lot of confusion about a very complex and layered issue. And it’s an emotional issue, too. I feel strongly that, just as with meat-eating and fur-wearing, everyone must make their own decision about it. I do believe the best approach is to learn as much as you can.

When chatting about this on Twitter, fiber expert Deb Robson weighed in with a pointer to a blog post she’d written on this topic a number of years ago, and then created a blog post from a recent email exchange.

Some other good reading: The Guardian’s ethics and green living experts, answering a reader’s question on the ethics of wool.

No matter your own feelings on wool/meat-eating/fur and other related topics, I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of those in the fiber industry agree that “large-scale, industrial production harms animals, humans, and the planet” (Deb’s words, she puts it so well.) Not all producers engage in the same practices, and in this, as with everything, information is your best ally.


Related: I did rather enjoy this picture, found on Twitter.

Jillian’s Spinning: Classes in My Own Backyard

It really is shaped like a mitten!

It really is shaped like a mitten!

I am guilty of ignoring things that go on in my own fiber backyard. I dream of Maryland Sheep and Wool, Rhinebeck, Taos, Madrona, but events that are closer to home I tend to ignore. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they don’t seems as special if I’m not traveling for days (and spending all that extra money to travel)? This year it changes. In August I’m going to take classes at the Michigan Fiber Festival.

It looks like there are 60 classes to choose from.  There are several classes that I want to take and most of them are at the exact same time, so I’m mulling. I know I want to take one of the weaving classes offered and a spinning class with Ester Rogers, beyond that it’s still misty.

Are you taking classes close to home this year?

 

On Hybrid Vigour & A Traditional Shawl Variation

Have you see the beautiful cover design in the latest issue? Mary-Anne Mace’s Hybrid Vigour. It’s a hybrid design, in that it’s a shawl that is partially closed, to be worn like the most elegant poncho ever.

A poncho, but not a Poncho, y’know?

I mean, I do like a poncho. They’re particularly great at this time of year – for transitional weather. But I wouldn’t use the word elegant to describe them. Mary-Anne has made a practical thing beautiful. And we love her for it.

Of course, you might want to just wear it as a shawl, too. Mary-Anne has kindly produced notes and instructions on how to work it flat, if you’re so inclined.

Just beautiful!

Obsession Thursday: Conquering slipperyness

Who puts a window INSIDE a shower? Well, it's mine and I'm gonna keep it clean, dangit.

Who puts a window INSIDE a shower? Well, it’s mine and I’m gonna keep it clean, dangit.

You may think this post is about knitting. It is not. It is about sticking things to a tiled surface.

Said tiled surface, in this case, is the wall of my shower. And everyone knows you knit happier when you’re clean. Whatever. Work with me here, people.

So I have a completely tiled shower with a big inset window. And everyone in the building puts their shampoos and stuff on that window ledge. I don’t like. It’s messy and unsightly and a breeding ground for mold.

Instead, I wanted to hang up my shower-stuff rack. Maybe it could hang from the shower head, but I don’t find that logical. Don’t want to reach through a stream of water to get at my stuff. The opposite wall is where it belongs. But with a fully tiled wall — HOW?

Stupid stupid stupid things. Great when they work. But they often don't.

Stupid stupid stupid things. Great when they work. But they often don’t.

Attempt 1 (and 2 and 3): Command hooks. Prepped the surface properly, let it cure for a few days and was thrilled to see it work, for 6 months. Then it failed at 3 am. CRASH BOOM BANG.

Unimpressed.

Prepped attempts 2 and 3 properly as well (including cleaning the wall fully and letting the hook tape set for more than 48 hours before putting weight on the hook). Same thing. Command hooks, you have betrayed me one time too many. You are dead to me.

Then I remembered something I’d seen on a recent shopping trip. A ridiculously over-engineered bit of brilliance. Look at this thing:

Meet Immeln. Which, as far as can tell, means absolutely nothing in Swedish but seems to have its etymological roots in the word for "fog". Which is kind of appropriate. This is another really long caption, isn't it?

Meet Immeln. Which, as far as can tell, means absolutely nothing in Swedish but seems to have its etymological roots in the word for “fog”. Which is kind of appropriate.
This is another really long caption, isn’t it?

What you have here is Immeln, a line of suction-cup-based hooks by IKEA. What you can’t see is that it works like this:

1. Unscrew the white knob thingy in the front.

2. You will have 3 pieces. A suction cup with a big metal washer and screw in the center, the long white plastic hooky thing and the front white knob thingy that you screwed off in the first place.

3. Clean the surface. (Duh.)

4. Press the suction cup thingy on the wall. Pressy pressy pressy all around the edge of the suction cup thingy to fully adhere it. It’s already a little sticky, too.

5. Cover with the long white plastic hooky thing.

6. Screw the white knob thingy back on. Tightly.

What’s happening? Is that as you screw the thing together, the suction cup is being activated big time as its center is pulled away from the wall. But the outside stays stuckified.

It’s genius. And it’s working.

There’s a whole line of Immeln bathroom stuff, with attached baskets, mirrors and towel rods — but the hooky part they’re currently selling looks very little like the pictures on the IKEA website. I think they’ve done some redesign of the over-designed thingy into its current state, which is fine with me. I’ll gladly pay $9.99CDN for two hooks that actually, really work (that was the price I paid yesterday — not sure why the website is outdated. How very un-IKEA of them!).

Anyway, back to my triumphant success. Wanna see?

Ta-daaaa! Yes, now  you can see my bath products. I don't think that's a huge invasion of privacy. It's not like there's a bottle of Joe's Anti-Foot-and-Mouth disease cream on there or nuthing.

Ta-daaaa! Yes, now you can see my bath products. I don’t think that’s a huge invasion of privacy. It’s not like there’s a bottle of Joe’s Anti-Foot-and-Mouth-Disease body wash on there or nuthing.

Signed,
Your clean and non-frustrated Editor.

P.S. Jillian says I don’t have to write such long blog posts. I keep trying. I’m not doing very well at the brevity part yet.