Sunday, September 30, 2007

And Now For A Brief Musical Interlude...

We are on the road again, this time the whole lot of us. We are moving Number One Daughter out to Vancouver, then we are taking a bit of a family holiday. Lots of car knitting, which is good because I have a couple of baby sweater commissions to bang out and there are not a lot of distractions in the car.

I did, however take a brief break from the madness to go to the Loreena McKennitt concert in Edmonton on Thursday night. I have been a fan since the eighties (OMG, I'm old!) and this was my first opportunity to see her live. Amazing is the only word I can use. I love the music to begin with, but to hear it live just adds a dimension of depth that no stereo system can recreate. The staging and the lighting were absolutely masterful, but the best part was the sheer joy and exhuberance of the performers. Everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives, even though they were nearing the end of their tour. And the joy shone through in the music. All in all a magical evening. I'm glad I sat still for the 2 hours! If you don't know Loreen McKennitt, check out her website at Quinlan Road.

Of course, I did have one little problem. This is the music I listen to when I spin, so I found my foot treadling and I actually had to clench my hands a couple of times to keep from drafting! You know you are a spinner when....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Rainbow Connection

I mentioned the Wild Rose Retreat in a previous post. And I mentioned the workshop led by Colleen Hovey in using plying to combine colors. And I mentioned that I would post my results. So without further ado......

The Rainbow Ripple Scarf! Sit back from the monitor a bit and unfocus your eyes to get the best effect. :>) Yay for optical blending!
For those of you who were not there, I will offer a bit of an explanation of the technique. We were first invited to chose three colors from a big pile of baggies filled with Corriedale top. Being the clever bunny that I am, I chose printers primes--magenta (aka fuschia), cyan (aka jade), and yellow.

We then weighed out sections of the top, according to the clever little chart system that Colleen has devised. Then we spun each of the little weighed bits onto three bobbins in sequence. When three bobbins were filled, we plied, then refilled the empty bobbin with the next little weighed bit. We worked our way through the chart, simply spinning the next entry on the chart each time there was an empty bobbin and plying when all the bobbins were filled. Some of us needed an extra week to spin our little fine singles, but look at the results!

So, the plying pattern goes 3 plies of all one color, then 2 plies of that color with one ply of the next color, then 1 ply of the first color with two plies of the second, then 3 plies of the second, and so on. The "orange" looks more like this up close.

And the "green".

I used the pattern that Colleen included in the workshop material to knit up the yarns, dividing each color into two and starting with solid yellow and working through the color system back to yellow. Then I reversed it. Up close, the stitches show the individual colors...

...but from across the room, they blend into a rainbow.

The end result is fabulous! There is already a line-up to claim the scarf, but I think I'm just going to hang it somewhere and admire it until the snow flies. Let's hope for a long autumn!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Red Alert!

I am a color junkie. I am addicted to playing with, manipulating, and staring at color. I also think a lot about it works, why it works, what colors mean.

I have been pondering these questions again this week because I once again watched talented and intelligent individuals freak out about combining colors at the retreat last weekend. I have an inate sense of color and, I am told, a wider perceptual range. That is, I can discern finer degrees of variation between shades than most people. I know it is a gift, and I am grateful to have it. But having this gift, I am always startled when I see someone else struggling to match colors. I just do it and it doesn't occur to me that others need to think about it. So on the drive home, I worked out a plan for a workshop to teach the simple tricks that I take for granted to others. (If you would like information on the workshop, email me!)

The other color issue that I have been pondering for a while is color ruts. We all get into them. We call them our "signature colors", but really, they are ruts. For the past 10 years or so, I have been the Queen of Green. Kelly, lime, avocado, chartreuse, forest, moss, khaki, kiwi, mint, call it what you

Then one fine morning in April, I woke up and decided that I needed a red sweater. No good reason, I just wanted one.

I knew my Mom had some vintage red mohair in the basement...the pattern magazine stuffed in the bag was dated 1968. So I started scheming around a red mohair sweater. The only problem was that this particular mohair itched like a bitch. Then came the scheme to knit it together with another yarn. I space-dyed some lovely Polwarth in reds, plums and blues and started to spin. Then I got sidelined by my Dad's stroke and spinning 1500 yards of sportweight went out the window.

Then one day on a break from hospital duty, I wandered into a Value Village in search of props for the Odd-Lot Puppetry Co. and there was this sweater. Cotton chenille, exactly the same shade of red as the mohair, with spots of purple and orange. Closer examination showed me that it could be unravelled, and that it was 2 singles knitted together, so there was twice the yardage! And it was $3.99!

The unravelling began that night and the knitting began the next day. I used Sally Melville's Einstein Coat pattern, which is a million miles of garter stitch, but it was mindless and fast. There was precious little knitting done on it when the summer temperatures soared past 30C, but August got cool and rainy and things clipped along nicely again.

Ta da!

However, this red sweater triggered something. Our new couch is...


Then there was this dahlia that the boys brought me...

which sat proudly in a vase beside my spinning chair for nearly 2 weeks.
And then, of course there is the red shawl from a previous post, woven off, fringed, washed and awaiting a good pressing.
I'd better be careful, or it looks like red will become the new green!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Not as in "back away hastily", but as in "getaway". I'm just back from the annual
Wild Rose Fibres spinning retreat. This is their fourth retreat, but the first one I have actually been able to get to. I'm hooked and already pre-booked for next year!

The retreat consists of two days of workshops-one with Judith McKenzie-McCuin and the other with a rotation of guest instructors. This year the second workshop on plying to blend colors was presented by our lovely hostess Colleen. She uses a fiendishly clever system to ensure that there is always the right amount of singles on your bobbin when you go to ply. I am still working on the samples, since I decided to spin at my usual spider-web grist instead of at the worsted weight that Colleen's samples were produced in, but I am so intrigued by the method that I plan to work on them until they are done and make up the sample scarf. Eventually, I'll post the results, but don't hold your breath--you've seen how frequently I blog!
In between the workshops, we had fabulous food and a themed banquet. Luau!
Judi got into the spirit. I have a much better picture, but I am saving it for blackmail purposes!

It's just wonderful to get out of isolation and commune with people who understand what it is that I do. With no local guild and little to no appreciation of art and fine craft in the community, it's sometimes difficult keep perspective on your work. Going out to these things sort of validates all that time and energy spent making woolly things instead of scooping oil sands out of the ground like everyone else. As one woman told us "I've found my tribe".
So, recharged and revalidated, I spin!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More Travels

Yes, I'm home from yet another journey. This time, I went out to Vancouver to help Lexi find an apartment in preparation for her move out there. I really hadn't even recovered from interPLAY when I packed up and left, so I forgot my camera. No eye candy for this post, no pics of the FABULOUS apartment we found, nada.

We drove out in my wee car--lots of fun going through the Coquihalla pass with a 4-cylinder engine! Just me and Lexi. Two days driving to get there and two days back, which left us 3 days to hunt for apartments, check out the job situation and connect with some old friends and family. Which we did.

The first plan was to check out White Rock as a possibility, but Lexi found it a little to far from the action and that the work environment was filled with people a little older than her. However, my best bud from my high school and college days lives in White Rock, so we met up with her and her gorgeous 5-year-old daughter. It was as if the last 25 years had never happened-gabble, gabble, gabble! Fortunately, her usually shy daughter took to Lexi and the two of them kept themselves occupied while us old gals caught up.

Our next step was to check out Kitslano. Nice neighborhood near UBC, close to beaches, easy access to downtown, low vacancy rate. We scouted the papers, not much there. We drove around writing down the numbers for buildings that had vacancy signs. We walked around neighborhoods. Then we made phone calls. Most of the apartments had already been rented or were waaaaay outside our budget, but we found two that suited us. One had an open house the next day, the other wasn't immediately available.

We drove past the first place and thought.....okay....Then we went looking for the second place. It was in a neighborhood we hadn't even been to, but looked promising. We are still not too sure how we got the number, but the manager was cheery and helpful on the phone, and the building was in a GREAT location.

We spent some time touristing, going to the Aquarium, walking the seawall, trooping up and down Robson, then we went to the open house. There was a line-up (well, one person when we got there, but 4 more waiting when we came out) and the apartment was....okay....We tossed the application in the back seat and went to have supper with my brother-in-law Brad.

Brad and my sister have been legally separated for about 13 years, and we haven't heard much from him since then. Until he looked me up on Facebook. So here we were meeting him for supper. It was a little awkward at first, but once we got past the past, we had a great time!

The next day was our last to be apartment hunting, so we went off to the viewing with high hopes. I had a good feeling about the place from the first phone call to the manager, and that proved to be accurate. What a great apartment! Views of English Bay and the mountains above West Van, walking distance to beaches and shopping, well-kept building, refurbished kitchen and bath, and a cheery, mother-hen manager. She offered us the place on the spot, and we took it! Mission Accomplished! Moving in on October 1.

We had another fantastic visit with my pal, who promised to keep an eye on Lexi once she moved out there, then hit the road back to Alberta. A stop-over in E-town to shop at Ikea for cheap apartment furniture, then home to a birthday party, a long weekend and back to school.

And in all this madness, I managed to finish my silk shawl and my Einstein jacket and fill a spindle with Louet's Tropical Skittles top. But more on that another day...