Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'Fess Up Time

CNCH came and went. It was a good conference, lots of happy people, good organization, a very welcoming committee, good workshop rooms, great weather, a delightful bit of walking each morning and evening to and from the classrooms. It was held in Sonoma, which is an eminently walk-able town in the wine country of California, full of charming cottage homes, cheery gardens in full bloom (and full of pollen, alas), with sunshine, funny amorous ducks in the pond, families picnicking in the plaza, in short, just about picture-perfect.

Not only was it a good conference for my companions and me, there was the added bonus of eating out every night in multi-star restaurants and having The Best Food Ever (with Excellent Wines!) at any conference that I can recall, which was fabulous, of course, because as every one knows, going to these conferences is All About The Food!

On my arrival home, I found the boxes of yarns I had ordered:

red deer

That is Alice Starmore's Hebridean 3-ply in Red Deer, for Inishmore (Ravelry link).

I know. I could have planned this in handspun, or some other wool of the same grist. I did not.

Now, you might have noticed the plural form of the word box in reference to what awaited me upon my arrival. Yes. Two boxes of yarns came (er, were ordered), the second is this:

Scottish fleet

Scottish Fleet, for Kinsale. White! I may or may not dye it pale blue. White is so....white. Will dyeing change the character of the yarn so much that the knitting experience will be compromised? I may have to try a skein and see. That would involve knitting a swatch, washing the swatch, dyeing the rest of the skein and then knitting and washing that into the same swatch. I may be too impatient. But if so, I have Inishmore to knit first!

Not only do I have yarn, I now have a stash......oh Ravelry, cruel mistress.

I also have dyes. I am knitting the last of the deadline project this week, and as I do so, I will contemplate the dyeing. If you have an opinion, now is the time :).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Patterns, and Patterns of Behaviour

tiny woven star

I've been working away on a raft of things since....January 2008. The projects have taken up a lot of my creative thinking, it's been fun, and I have enjoyed every minute of it (them). But. I will be done soon.

So in the last throes of finishing things up for yet another deadline, thoughts have turned to *What Next?*

Ravelry has not been kind. There is too much *next*. I have been doing too much thinking. It is too easy to push that magic button, and have *next projects* show up at my doorstep.

Which brings me to a curious state: I have bought a few (heh) knitting patterns, and yarn to go with them.

This is an absolute first. I am a spinner. I've always spun my own yarn for knitting, and used patterns only as a guide, if anything.

Ravelry comes along, and I started using patterns with my handspun. It was good. It spurred new ideas in me, using patterns. I learned lots of things, using patterns: increases and decreases I had not used before, cast-ons I had not used before, how to knit lace; useful things.

I also have been inspired by Ravelers to buy yarn to knit with, an odd thing for a spinner. I used the yarn, I will admit, in patterns other than what it has been intended for, but really? Odd buying yarn.

Now I have fallen down the rabbit hole: purchased pattern + purchased yarn = next project, ready to start when this deadline is over. I will admit to buying white yarn which I will dye, but really? I have never in my life knit with store-bought yarn and the pattern for which it is intended. We will see if I actually follow through with this Bold New Plan.

Why is this? Because I am a spinner. I was a spinner before I learned to knit, so I just always knit with my own yarns. There have always been ways to knit without patterns: Elizabeth Zimmermann, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Jacqueline Fee.

This feels very weird. Bass-ackwards, so to speak. I wonder if I am Benjamin Button, living backwards. We shall see (although, the getting younger part? Not happening).

In other news: CNCH is this weekend. It is my *local* conference, the one I have been attending for over 30 years. It happens every year, but a decade or so ago changed format to Big Conference one year, Retreat Conference alternating years. I like the format, and this year is the Retreat year: just workshops, no vendors (waaah ,boo, hiss) no gallery, (sniff), but also? No seminars.

Somehow the usual conference format of seminars morning and afternoon annoys me. I want to visit the galleries, I want to visit with friends I only see at these conferences, and yet? I want to attend the sessions because I usually want to learn something, get a peek at something interesting without too much commitment, and use the time at a conference to satisfy curiosity.

But: I am not a fan of 3 hour sessions. Not enough time to really *do* anything, and too much time for an introduction. The Big Conferences are so busy and packed I am usually tired. Lecture in a nice warm room? Sometimes a dark room with slides? I fall asleep. I have taken to bringing a cup of coffee *with me* so I don't fall asleep.

I have to *give* these lectures sometimes. I see people drifting off, eyes closing despite their best efforts. That's when we take a break: go to the water cooler, let people run out and get coffee, take a stretch, whatever.

Be that as it may, I still looooooovvvvve going to these conferences, particularly my *own*: CNCH. I will be inspired. Someone will say something, at dinner, in passing, whatever, that will be like a penny dropping into place. I always find new ideas, fresh things to think about. It re-charges batteries. I hope I can always attend.

Last year, a long time associate approached me and asked why I did not like CNCH. What?????

I asked her where she got that impression, and she told me. The people who made that assertion have problems of their own, and jealousy is just one of them. I was glad to be able to clear up the misconception. The rumor, intentionally started, backfired. Me? not like CNCH? By what stretch of the imagination would I not like the organization that has given me so much? (Which is why this woman approached me with the rumor: she did not believe it either.) Curious.

If you have a local (or maybe not local but accessible) conference, I urge you to attend. I have been to many: Midwest Weavers, Northwest Weavers, MAFA, Convergence, SOAR, Southern California Weavers, Black Sheep.... the list goes on.

CNCH has given me more over the years than I can ever say: a forum to learn, a place to show my work, people who have become like family to me, and some of the best times with friends over the years. Go! You may need to go twice, or even three times to catch the current, but it is worth the investment of time.

Me? packing now. And fondling that box of Store Bought Yarn, which will open a whole new chapter of patterns of behaviour. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Colors of the Season



Time flies, eh?

Not really much to say, but in the interests of Certain People Who Comment When There Are No Blog Posts:

Helen's fibers

I've been spinning, dyeing, weaving, and even have a new project warped up. All in oranges and blues. Several projects lately, in fact. Orange/blue is my current color phase. I've no idea what triggers a new color phase, perhaps the season.

The fiber above is Wensleydale, from my friend Helen, of Waratah Fibers. Helen came to Bothwell as a vendor, and then stayed on to take a class. It was wonderful spending time with her again, and, like many of my friends who are in far-flung places, we picked up the conversation as if 10 years had not passed. Lovely!

More Wensleydale came into my possession:
Gnomespun yarns

This is from Gnomespun . I just liked the colors. I saw it online, pressed the magic button that brings things by UPS, and lo, it arrived, and lo, it was spun.

I also have some white Wensleydale that has been waiting to be spun up, and now I know it should be a blue, to go with the rest of this fiber. Calls out for more blue, no? The white top was sent to me from the UK by Sarah, a while ago, and It Will Be Dyed (and then spun).

More dyeing and spinning:
four ply silks

4-ply silk, currently being knitted on 000's into a bag (surprise!). The knitting, not surpringly, is Very Small as yet.

And, last, a little silk pile:

Nothing really earth shattering going on here, just time with the wheels, the dyepot, some weaving, and knitting. All in some very nice colors.