Monday, October 27, 2008

Serenity now...

First clue that I've been somewhere where wool runs free...
Granny Tan's foot.. See how small it is! No wonder she makes lots of socks for herself!

Once again I attended the Maritime Spinners Retreat. This year it was held in beautiful Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia Canada. We stayed at the Gaelic College which was a lot like returning to my youthful roots of dorm living in University... how did I ever survive?! Anyway, it was, as usual, amazing! And I don't even spin! But it's about being with this amazing group of supportive, sharing women. And it's so inspiring. Perfect to give me that little push I need as I head into the Christmas knitting rush. I'm doing the Holiday Kal Cal again this year. It's also a great motivator. Anyone can join so feel free! It's a lot of fun and there are some great prizes.

Okay, back to the retreat. We had our spinning area set up in the Hall of the Clans. The accommodations may not have been top notch but the spinning space was perfect. There was a fire Friday night and Sat. There were about 100 attendees.

Can you believe all the wheels

We had a Celtic harp playing Friday night with wine and cheese. It was a total zen moment for me as we got set up, did some spinning and said hello to the people we met last year. It was so nice to see all the familiar faces. And everyone chats to everyone else even if you aren't a social butterfly which I am not but this group just facilitates camaraderie
For me it was extra special because I got to see the Moncton crew who I don't have the opportunity to go see since I moved to Eastern Passage.

There was a table set up to do some milling. This is a process where after the yarn is spun and woven, a group gets around the table and the sign Gaelic songs and mash the cloth in to the table to sort of felt it. The cloth goes from being stiff and scratchy to being soft. This cloth was spun from one of the participants' donated fleece by the New Brunswick spinners, then woven by the PEI spinners and now that it is milled, it will be donated to the Gaelic college to be made into a cloak or something for their displays.

There was a fleece competition where fleece right off the sheep was voted on for the best. (I stayed in this room as little as possible... man could you smell the sheep!)

There was also a contest for best hand spun skein of yarn which Granny Tan won! And to really bring it all together - the prize was established and donated by Christine Stanley and her husband, Malcolm who I get all my wonderful hand pottery from (this is a spot you really want to check out!) in honour of his mother Audrey Stanley who has been knitting for many, many years and mostly knits for the poor with hats, mitts, scarves and even does bandages for the lepers. Mrs. Stanley just turned 90 and Christine and Malcolm thought this would be a good way to honour her. There was also a prize in her honour for best knitted piece from hand spun yarn. Granny Tan had entered in that category too. Hard to believe Granny Tan has a full time job... and a husband... and is working on her MBA... amongst other things.

The reddish looking skein on the right is what Granny Tan won for. But this is her knit from hand spun item. Note the felted slipper with the pea pods to the right. They were awesome.

This is the bowl Granny Tan won.
Coincidentally, this matches all the pieces I have... Now Tan has a piece just like my stuff!

I got very inspired while I was there. I tried Granny Tan's wheel. It was like trying to shove cotton balls into a meat grinder... Okay, maybe that was just me. It's very different than using a drop spindle which I finally got the hang of. I was watching some people drop spindle at about midnight on Friday night and I think I got more out of that than all my efforts previous. But that's how I learn, I see something and it clicks. And bought more. This is an alpaca/ cashmere/silk blend.
And I spun half of it while at the retreat.

It was a great weekend. And while the accommodations may not have been hotel like, the best part was there was no TV or even a radio. I didn't realize how bombarded we are with information until I came home and heard the news, all of it bad. I think we all need weekends away from the information speedway... It took me two days to re-acclimate! Now that's a retreat!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My First Vest

Wow, it has taken me over a month to knit a vest. And I'm still not unpacked. That's a little sad really. Oh well, I did finally get the vest finished. It's rustic and the yarn wouldn't have been my first choice but I had it on hand. It's not a traditional vest.


I had to do my first crochet ever. I read how to do it out of Stitch 'N Bitch, The knitters Handbook. A very usefull book by the way. It was hard to get a good pic of it but here is the inside neck.


The pattern called for reinforcing the arm holes and v neck with crochet. Once I got the hang of it, it was pretty fun. I then looked up a crochet pattern I had seen since I was having so much fun.

It says it's an easy pattern!

Then I looked at the first three rows of the pattern.

Ch 3, join with slip st in first ch to form a ring.

Row 1: Ch 3 (does not count as dc), 10 dc in ring, do not join.

Row 2: Ch 3, turn, dc in next dc, 2 dc in each dc across – 19 sts.

Row 3: Ch 3, turn, 2 dc in next dc, (ch 2, sk next 2 dc, 3 dc in next dc) across – 6 ch-2 sp.

And it looked like a foreign language so I thought to myself... maybe not

Anyway, I finished mom's birthday socks. Yes, her birthday was in April. What's your point? Here is the sock.

Okay, it's the first sock from an earlier blog but the second one looks exactly alike. Trust me.