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There is a school for yarn, I kid you not. I have recently returned from my pilgrimage to The Harveyville Project Yarn School.
Imagine, if you will, a summer camp full of adults doing all the naughty things kids can only dream of… Late nights, indulgent food, our favorite activities, all the friends at which a person could shake a drop spindle. Cookies, cheese, booze and sheep. You can’t swing a ball of yarn at Yarn School without hitting a small clutch of people laughing, talking and creating.
Yarn School is perhaps best described as a small spinning retreat hosted in the Harveyville, KS school-turned-residence-sometimes-camp owned and operated by Nikol Lohr.
I went to a place for spinning and I don’t spin. Much. I certainly didn’t (erm, things might have changed when I fell, swiped my credit card and bought a Fricke) own a spinning wheel. Yarn School for the uninitiated can be a bit intimidating. There is a bit of a cult following here – people who have been to many, many previous Yarn School weekends. When one walks into the old gymnasium there is a circle of spinning wheels whirring contentedly while their operators chat merrily.
I was at a loss.
That didn’t last. Once I got over the chilly temps in the “Seven Dwarfs Room” where I was sleeping, once I acclimated to dinner at 10pm, once I let go and got okay with no schedule that was easily discernible I learned to LOVE Yarn School. People cared. They asked why I wasn’t spinning. They offered to let me try their wheels. They helped. One lovely attendee even sang at me once I’d made my first yarn. I had my own personal sound track and I loved it.
There was dyeing with Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn. There were alpaca courtesy of Alpaca of Wildcat Hollow. There were bunnies thanks to Little Angora House on the Prairie. But really there was just a tiny fiber of life, plied tightly with people who had found their place and dyed with the experience of a lifetime.
*cough* So, in a couple of weeks you might be seeing a post on my new spinning wheel. What can I say? I’m a sheep.
I found 100% cotton fingering weight yarn on etsy that I fell in love with. I knew it had to be woven, it sort of ‘told me’ that it needed to be woven, not knit. (all of you fiber artists out there, I KNOW you have had a similar experience) I decided to jump right in to weaving a fingering weight scarf as my second project so I pulled out my 10 dent heddle and went to work warping! This time though I had the help of my trusty assistant, The Boy, who was so sweet and helpful as I wrapped what seemed to be a thousand strands of yarn and wound them on to my loom….
2 hours later my loom was warped…
It took me about a week of obsessively weaving and checking my edges to created a very very long scarf, that I LOVE!
I purposefully chose a yarn that made it’s own stripes. It worked for me! I will definitely be doing this again 🙂 I used every bit of yarn! There was maybe a foot left afterwards.
I think my OCD tendencies really helped with the edges this time. I was very careful to check after each strand was woven to make sure there was no pulling or extra yarn. It took me a bit longer but it was worth it. Who wants to start weaving now!?!?
Now when the box containing my new Cricket arrived it was HUGE! I mean they could have fit 3 looms in there if they wanted to and I briefly panicked about having ordered the wrong size. Thank goodness they just felt like shipping it in a much larger box. The Boy was in a bit of a snit until I opened it and a small little loom was inside all lonely looking.
Here are all the parts of my cricket all laid out and ready to be put together!
I spent a while going back and forth about whether or not to stain/paint or seal my cricket before putting it together. However as I was considering this the polymer chemist in me kicked in (and I am going to go all super nerdy on you here for a bit so feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you don’t care). In order to stain my cricket I would most certainly get some on the heddle portion. The plastic in the heddle is ABS – acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – and while this is a very good and strong plastic, it has absolutely ZERO resistance to oils. This means that the oils can weaken the plastic and cause it to crack at any stress points… which for a rigid heddle is basically everywhere… so after fretting for a while I just decided to skip that step and thus my Cricket is naked and probably will be until I get up the courage to dress it up. However after doing lots of ABS failure tests involving stress and oil where the ABS fails in under an hour, this may take a while for me! Also a naked Cricket isn’t a big deal. I don’t leave it out in the sun or pour water on it… at least not on a daily basis.
So I was able to very easily assemble the loom. The instructions were clear and I had a working Rigid Heddle in about 20 minutes. However, that is the easy part! After staring at it for a while willing it to tell me all of its secrets, I gave up and I ordered a class on Craftsy that would hopefully enlighten me as to how to get a warp on to my Rigid Heddle. The warp consists of the strings that run through your heddle so that you actually have something to weave on… and without that, I just had a very cute little piece of wooden art. After watching the course (it isn’t that long and is super informative) I decided I was good to try and I could of course warp all by myself! Who needs a second person??? That would only limit my weaving time right? Wrong! I REALLY REALLY did need my second person but I was seriously too pig-headed to stop after I had started and wait for The Boy to come home and help me.
So I plowed on alone… (and oh how I wish I had photos of this!)
After a few hours of cursing and working tirelessly I did in fact, finally have a WARP! It seemed okay…? I really had no idea though, but I certainly wasn’t going to re-do it! I wanted to weave right then! So I did…. and I wove for a few days and ended up with a beautiful acrylic scarf (who wants to waste the good stuff?) that curves to the left… and really isn’t all the beautiful… but I love it anyways
Lesson learned – I need help to warp. I NEED help to warp. Other people may be able to do it on their own, but they are superhuman. I swallowed my pride and asked The Boy to help me warp my cricket for the next attempt – on which I decided to use BEAUTIFUL cotton yarn on… because I have several crazy bones in my body.
To be continued. .. Soon!
I have always loved scarves.
I really do mean LOVE. When I go on vacation, I don’t buy knick-knacks or post-cards to remember where I was – I buy scarves… and I have a ton of them! My fiancé thinks I’m a bit strange and I am now banned from purchasing more (except souvenirs) as I have plenty of yarn to make my own with (he doesn’t get it)
Now, I love knitting and knitted items. Don’t get me wrong. However, for some reason, I do not wear my knitting scarves like I do my fabric scarves. My two all-time favorites are hand-woven summer scarves that I bought in Belgium while I was working overseas a few years back.
Here is one of them (and isn’t it gorgeous!):
While browsing Ravelry one day I came across the Weaver’s Marketplace group and did a little bit of research and found out about Rigid Heddle weaving. This meant that I could use my beautiful yarn to make my favorite type of accessory!!! Hand woven scarves and pashminas and shawls! After a little bit of scrimping and saving I found a great sale on a small Rigid Heddle loom – a 10” Schacht Cricket and snapped one up! As I hit pay I had just the slightest negative thought that went something like “What the heck are you doing!? You don’t know how to weave! And there is no one nearby you that weaves and would be willing to help when you inevitably make a giant mistake. Why are you doing this!?!”
But at that point it was too late and I had already started my way down the slippery slope of weaving.
To be continued soon…
It is 2013, did ya know?
I thought 2013 would launch itself upon me with silk and cashmere, but it sneaked in quietly totally lacking fanfare.
I think I want all of my knitting this year to behave the same way. I will not be making elaborate plans. I will not be making detailed lists. I will not be obsessively adding new projects. I am going to knit. Quietly. Enjoyably. Peacefully. A bit like a knitting zombie…
One of the things I have discovered in 2013 is the knitting videocast Stockinette Zombies. I luuurve it. I wait (im)patiently each week for their new episode to be released. I hit play on my iPad and knit away merrily while watching. They are funny, interesting, and cool. Damn, these ladies knit fast. The number of projects – sweaters no less – that they roll through from week to week makes my head spin. Please note: they will be dangerous to your yarn diet. They seem to have an endless list of indie dyers from whom they order yarn. Then they show the beautiful yarn on their videocast making me want to buy. all. the. yarnz.
I plan to stumble, zombie style, through the year – knitting, spinning and dyeing. Bring your undead self along for the ride.
I did it. I’m proud. A bit tired (no, not really). Very much surprised.
I promised to use up at least 7 out of my 10 different winter yarns. It happened, actually, I used up 8, in 16 different projects. Strangely enough my stash refused to shrink significantly, due to some accidental or even planned purchases. But the composition of the said stash got much better, there are more hanks from each type of yarn, and overall, the yarn is younger, less depot-like, and that was the aim of the whole project: to have a more useful stash that can provide real choices.
I am so very proud. Not only that I performed my promise, but also that I enjoyed the process. I chose projects for the yarns instead chosing yarns for projects, but I successfully avoided compromises. Most of the time. I just dont want to talk about that vest-thingy, let’s just pretend it never happened.
Now I’ll have to decide on my 2013 stashbusting goals. Summer yarns need some serious re-organisation too, I’m afraid. I think, this system will work for me, to appoint 10 yarns and try to make something out of them. It leaves enough moving space to buy some yarn when necessary, but it would also help to maintain circulation and avoid letting yarn sit in stash for ages.
It’s like all other big circles of life, yarn comes and goes and all we have to do is ride the waves and keep ballance. How poetic.
Carolyn ended her report on the Travelling Scarf in November when it continued it’s journey from New York to Washington. There waited Meghan, who added a truly wonderful colourwork section and introduced green to the scarf.
Then there was some re-organizing, as the next recipient in line, Suzie, was in another continent. So the scarf left America and come to Europe at last. It was one long journey, but it finally arrived to travelled to Sweden. where Ida added some recycled delicate bouclé mohair yarn and a drop stitch pattern.
And the scarf finally arrived to Brussels, which makes me stop No.7.
I collected some nice lace patterns, but when I saw that piece of art in person, I had to realise that none of them fits the scarf. Or me. If lace doesn’t fit, then let’s keep it simple, I thought. So, I decided to use the simplest knitting pattern of all, a good addendum to all those wonderful different sections and something that represents the depths of my personality. So, garter it is.
I searched my stash for some green yarn that would fit the red in the last section and would give some Christmas-y colour sheme, but, of course, no green yarn was found. I found some white instead, and some blue, but mostly browns and beiges. So the best I was able to do to chose the white and two blues and to make some stripes.
I made only one twist. The scarf already grew very long ad there are 13 ladies waiting to work on it, so I decided to make it wider instead of knitting it longer. I like the result, but I’m also afraid that it dominates the scarf too much.
So, this is it. It’ll spend Christmas in an envelope, somewhere between Belgium and England.
After several weeks of impatiently waiting, I FINALLY got my chance to knit on the now famous stashdown scarf, more commonly (and lovingly!) known as the Frankenscarf. I was the fourth lucky recipient, so we have a little catching up to do:
First our Scarf traveled to Christy in Maryland where she spun up several yards off gorgeous purple to add to Maura’s basketweave beginning.
Then after Christy’s lightning fast spinning and knitting, the scarf traveled on to Sylvia in Utah! Sylvia quickly added on a gorgeous blue lace section and again sent the scarf off a travelin’.
California was the next stop and Michelle’s daughter wanted in on the action and chose a beautiful gradient brown yarn for the next addition.
After Michelle was finished the scarf was on its way to ME!!!! All the way from California to New York! I impatiently waited for the package and was so excited when the post office surprised me by delivering it in just a few days (I take back every mean thing I have said about the USPS).
Now the hard part of my job came, I actually had to decide on a yarn to use and what pattern to knit. Since it was a stashdown scarf I wanted to use some of my leftovers if possible but I wasn’t sure which leftovers would be the best… I was also set on doing cables because the scarf had two lace sections in a row and I wanted to break that up, but that was all I had figured out. After much hemming and hawing (and finally having mean moderator Kelly step in and tell me the scarf was due elsewhere quite soon) I decided that the leftovers from my most recent project (Susan B. Anderson’s Quaker Ridge Shawl) would be perfect!! I still had some leftover beads and could add them here and there as accents. On Halloween night I sat down to knit in between children knocking on my door and came up with this after a couple of hours:
I was really hoping to take a picture of the scarf in a beautiful location (because the Fingerlakes are known for some very scenic areas but Hurricane Sandy had other ideas so.. no gorgeous outdoor photos from me)
Tomorrow the scarf again begins its journey onward to Meghan in D.C. I hope she enjoys the scarf as much as I did! It was so much fun to see everyone’s knitting in person and to actually get to feel some of Christy’s gorgeous handspun (seriously, her stuff is amazing!).
I don’t believe that just because I knit, I have to provide knitted presents for every friend and family member for Christmas. Also, I don’t believe that just because I knit, all friends and family members are obliged to accept a hat and some mitts every year, in the middle of the winter season, when they probably managed to keep themself warm already. I try to keep in mind that nobody is entitled to order handwork from me (unless he/she pays for it) and also, that I should try to keep my hobby to myself, just the way I hope that others will do (I don’t like decoupage or chatney, and I get a headhache from strong smells, so no homemade soaps or such, thank you).
So I just knit what I want and if I want to knit for someone, I do it, and if Christmas is in the corner, it’ll turn into a Christmas present, but I don’t let Christmas rule my knitting plans for months.
Last year I made one present, a baby onsies that was a lot of fun and a good present. It was a big hit, as far as I can tell. Oh, and a felted bag, that was fun to make, but wasn’t expecially nice or appreciated. But that was it, two knitted items.
This year I will be restricted too. I only plan to make an Oak Park scarf – a beautiful and clever pattern. And that’s it.
There will be some birthdays and namedays (yes, there’s such thing) along the way, and I do feel that I want to knit something that is UFO- or robot related, so I might end up with a knitted present for one of those occasions, but only because I want to do it. I would do it even if there were no reason to celebrate.
I think, this attitude has something to do with the project knitter – process knitter spectrum: I’m more of a process knitter, at least, if something is not fun, I won’t knit it. Also, I am extremely lazy. And I like to keep expectations low.