There is a school for yarn, I kid you not. I have recently returned from my pilgrimage to The Harveyville Project Yarn School.
My effort in Dye Lab.
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.
The spirit of Yarn School as seen in bathroom decor.
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.
The sheep of Cupcake Ranch (the Harveyville Project flock) are a delight.
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.
A 2013 FO: Roll Play by Susan Ashcroft knit in Three Irish Girls Wexford Merino Silk
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 thought this “going cold sheep” thing would be a lot harder than it is. Do you know how much yarn I have? (Well, yes you do – I posted a photo of my Ravelry stash count in Kelly’s Confessional.) I am not going to experience a shortage of things to knit.
Unexpected bonus: “Hello creativity, my name is Kelly”. I have been thinking differently, more broadly about what I might knit and which yarn I might choose. I like it and I don’t feel compelled to buy more yarn. I do know that I plan on purchasing a rich, heathery chocolate-brown for a cowl and legwarmers (yes, legwarmers – back off) as a gift to myself in early December. But, I don’t feel rushed to do it now.
I had the notion to go into 2013 with the purpose of using reclaimed yarn. I posted this thought in one of our (humorously failing) stashdown threads at the Back of the Bus and was surprised by the response. Most of the gals said it would be too hard. I don’t know if this comes from a place where they truly think I won’t be able to do it or an unfounded fear that I might ask them to join in. I won’t.
I am in love with the idea of creating beauty from an unloved item. We live in an age of toss-away consumerism that makes me sad and sick. I love beautiful yarn as much as the next fiber-crazed addict and I don’ t plan to stop buying the pretty. But, I do plan to take that thrift shop sweater and make it into the most amazing cabled hat you’ve ever seen. My son will have some wicked cool sweaters knit up out of Goodwill dogs.
Just you wait and see.
I broke black. That makes me sound wicked cool, doesn’t it?
I used just shy of two balls of Fortissima Socka. This actually involved ripping out the contrast toe/heel of a half-knit sock. I came to terms that I would never finish that sock, and I ripped. That is my level of committment to “breaking bad”.
– Wound in 16 inch hanks
– Soaked in .5 cups white vinegar and 12.5 cups water (1 hour)
– Striped on Wilton black
– Squished hanks to fleck color
It needed more, so:
– Dropped into slow cooker w/1 pink Easter egg tablet and 8 drops McCormicks red
Voila! I broke bad.
Sometimes I’m a quitter.
When do you give in? Give up? Get out?
I am working on a test knit for a sweater. It is lovely, and oh-so-innovatively designed. I love everything about it, but I just can’t get it cast-on. Well I can, but it doesn’t look right.
Sleeves for my DLP’s sweater – I haven’t quit on these… yet.
So here I am, a knitter of moderate experience. Experience limited in time perhaps – but not substance – struggling with casting-on. I’ve emailed the designer. She was charming and understanding. Her work is beautiful and not for the faint of heart, so I imagine she is not unaccustomed to people quitting. But when? How long should I try?
I love the design. I like the yarn. I want the sweater. Do I quit?
When do you say “when”?
I took up the knitting after the birth of my first child – my son Gummy Bear. I needed a quiet hobby. A calm hobby. A hobby that WOULD NOT WAKE A SLEEPING BABY.
Somehow the knitting has gone from something intended to fill brief stretches while Gummy Bear slept to an all-encompassing obsession of epic degree. Since the knitting onslaught began, I have had a second child – my daughter Jelly Bean. She does not like the knitting, as it is not non-stop attention focused on her. My DLP (domestic life partner – snazzy, right?) is “okay” with the knitting. He benefits occasionally with a hat or scarf. Just don’t ask about his sweater, because its work-in-progress *cough* status is something of a sore spot…
Our family rounds out with the greyhound, Kieran. Noodle. Potamus. She is ambivalent about the knitting because it is neither cheese nor peanut butter. If you would like to know more about her, her history or her race stats check out her formal name Hibest Carrie.
I will continue the knitting, for your reading pleasure.