I bought a sheep…sort of

Yes, I went to the Twist Fibre Festival in Saint-André-Avellin last weekend. It may seem strange but this was actually my first time at such an event. Maybe that’s weird considering how relatively close Montreal is to some of the major ones? I never really had much of a desire to go, and in the past few years, it been out of my holiday budget.

However, I’ve had an idle interest in getting a good quality fleece to play with since I dug out the rather dirty Outaouais Arcott I’ve had for a while and started processing.

And after having such a lovely visit with Kathy Chapdelaine a few weeks prior, I had pretty much made up my mind that going to Twist would be a good idea. Not exactly like going to Rheinbeck, but a good place to start.

So Saturday after work, I hopped on the Metro & met up with my brother & rode all the way to the other end of the line. We took a bus out to Fairview Point-Claire & got a ride from the friends we were staying with who have a small farm near Rigaud, who were also interested in going to Twist to check out the animals.

We got to the festival around lunch time on Sunday. The festival was indoors, inside the community’s hockey arena. At first it didn’t seem like it was that big of a festival, but we it took quite some time for us to make our way through them all.

Jon and I spent a lot of time looking through the books and spinning accessories at the Gemini Fibres booth. He had ordered some hard to find knitting books from them in the past. I probably would have bought some hand cards or other spinning accessories if I didn’t have them already and took a good look at the lazy kates they had. I also looked through their spinning books, but didn’t see much in the “so you’ve been spinning for 5ish years and want to level up” category. Of course this might have been because we were there on the last day.

We stopped and chatted with Céline from La Maison Tricotée here in Montreal and Jon chatted with Julie from La Julie Factrie in Nicolet, QC, both former Effiloché colleagues. Later we also chatted with Kathy & David of Domaine Chambord & saw pictures of his latest rope braiding machine which was pretty cool.

I was happy to see that Céline carries Jamieson & Smith as well as some other hand-dye brands that I have recently come across online Hedgehog Fibres and Jill Draper Makes Stuff.

The yarns at the Absolute Shetland booth were really nice, but it was kind of crowded and I moved on after a bit. Jon bought 2 skeins of their pale & charcoal grey Shetland to make some stranded mittens with. It’s really nice stuff.

From Trailhead Yarns

My first purchase of the day was from Trailhead Yarns & Fibre (who seem to be setting up their online presence). I bought some lovely purple Correidale roving & a screen printed project bag.

I was pretty surprised that most of the roving or top I saw for sale was Merino. There weren’t a lot of other sheep represented which I thought was too bad. But again this could have been because it was Sunday afternoon.

From l'atelier de Pénélope booth

I also bought some really nice 38-count linen from L’atelier de Pénélope and some great neon BFL sock yarn from the Violette Yarn Co. booth.

Super BFL Sock

And my big purchase of the day (mostly because of the size) was this amazing fleece from Hopeful Shetlandsfrom Embro, ON, who seemed to me to be the only ones with raw fleeces for sale. And I was kind of surprised at how many they still had. Though maybe there just aren’t that many spinners?

She had 3 really lovely darker wool fleeces that attracted me right away, one was a BFL Shetland cross, the other two were different shades of Shetland. But I had a hard time deciding which fleece to get, especially as I have no experience in what to look for in a fleece other than it would be nice for it to be cleaner than the Outaouais Arcott fleece I already have. In the end I ended up picking out a different, lighter grey fleece altogether which was so nice that I said “Woooooooooow!” as I unfurled it on my floor to take pictures. I think it will be an amazing first fleece to play with.

I bought a sheep

Want to know how to get immediate cred at a fibre festival? Walk around with a big bag of fleece. It seemed to be a conversation starter for the rest of our visit. This probably would have been more of a normal sight at a bigger deal festival.

Bag 'o' sheep, memories from Twist 2014. #weekendinthecountry #fibredweeb

In the artisanal area, we spent a lot of time at the Infuse booth, from Sutton QC, hearing about they traditional folding & dyeing techniques she uses to make the wonderful motifs on her scarves. I’m often drawn to the soft, light hues that result from working with natural dyes.

Jon also chatted with the woman from Meliooa about the process for her crocheted toques.

We spent some time looking at the animals out front and solved the mystery of the angora goat. We stopped at an LCBO & casse-croûte in Ontario before getting a ride back to Fairview to catch the commuter train back into Montreal.

Imports from Ontario. I better start working on the house cocktail list. #travelontario #weekendinthecountry Lunch break. #travelOntario

Waiting for a train. #weekendinthecountry #cicadachorus

Overall a nice weekend excursion to the country. And I have plenty of fluff to keep me busy for quite a while.

Recent Acquisitions

Somehow in the past few weeks, without much intention to, my fibre and yarn stashes have grown somewhat. Since I currently work as a yarn shop girl, it is an occupational hazard for some yarn & fabric to follow me home, I’ve been very good about it (for the most part).

But besides a ball or two of sock yarn, or a few meters of fabric now & again, I really haven’t added much to my stashed materials in a big way for quite a while. The stash is already quite healthy enough. Most recent additions in the past few years have been from visits to shops while travelling. And this month started like that too.

First of the acquisitions were from a recent trip to the county. While my parents were visiting in early August, we all went out to stay at a house in country near Cookshire-Eaton, QC for a few days.

Without fully intending to, we managed to work in a trip to a small yarn shop to round out our day of cheese tasting, junk shop scrounging & ice cream eating. Because my Mom needed some needles to knit mittens with, we ended up seeking out La Shoppe de Laine in Moe’s River, QC. And I’m very happy that we did.

I guess I should say that this isn’t really a typical yarn shop, mostly because the shop is located in an out building on the farm where Kathy and David raise a variety of animals and have yarn produced from their coats.

While the shop does stock some commercial & locally dyed selections which my Mom was drawn to (she loves angora), I had trouble selecting which of Chambord yarns I was going to buy. In the end I went with a skein of Rambouillet & a skein of Shetland/Baby Doll blend.

Chambord Shetland/Baby Doll Chambord Rambouillet

Also stored in the shop was raw fibre waiting to be processed & spun. Kathy mentioned that she was preparing for the upcoming Twist Fibre Festival and sold me some Lincoln Longwool Locks & raw Rambouillet fleece sort of as a preview to the festival.

Loose Lincoln Locks Rambouillet Raw Fleece

We also got to see some of her husband’s collection of Victorian sock knitting machines that had been set up with dates and information about each machine. He collects & refurbishes the antique machinery and also makes socks & leg warmers for sale. We stayed and chatted for about an hour & even met one of her cashmere goats.

Overall a wonderful discovery.

I think I’ll leave our visit to Twist Festival to another post.

Handspun 2010

I’m a little late posting these 2010 reflections, but I was on vacation which included one from computers (iPhone doesn’t really count).

2010 was the year I bought a spinning wheel, some hand cards and started playing with some freaky fibres. I even got some spinning tools for Christmas: 2 more bobbins, a flick carder and some more wheel ratios. Fiona and I are going to be busy.

1. Pandamint, 2. Crocodile Tears, 3. Glenda, 4. First handspun using the wheel, 5. Chain-ply it is then, 6. 2 scratchy skeins, 7. Juciy yarn, 8. Stormy yarn, 9. Cove skein, 10. Squishy starfish, 11. Silky skein, 12. Blue-green skein, 13. Impossibly soft yarn, 14. Soft super soft super small yarn, 15. Clumsy close up, 16. Breaker skein, 17. Locks skein, 18. Ice Mermaid Darling Queen skein, 19. Milky skein, 20. Finished Skein, 21. Skein of cotton, 22. I spun cotton sliver!, 23. Seaweed skein, 24. Nini’s Martini, 25. Clover Walk 2-ply

Fiona and I have been busy

I have been becoming very familiar with my spinning machine, Fiona the ladybug. We’ve been playing with lots of pretty fun delicious fibres and suddenly I have developed a bit of a handspun stash.

This yummy BFL silk blend really liked to stick to my clothes while spinning. What is it about silk blends that make the fibres stick to everything?

I love the barber pole effect that happens even in the singles of this yarn. And they made a nice squishy 2-ply yarn.

‘Delish’ Pigeonroof Studios
75% Blue Faced Leicester, 25% Silk
4.5 oz.

Next I got the next installment of the always fabulous CosySpins Falkland Fibre Club. I’m really developing a fondness for this fibre. No matter what, the yarn stays squishy, springy and awesome. It always plumps during the finishing and even sometimes during the plying.

The club offering was 2 related colourways braided together. I was really excited to spin it up but had to think of how I was going to treat the colours.

I ended up spinning each colour as a separate single, then plying them together.

Fibre Club for May
‘Pacific mixed match’ CosySpins
100% Falkland
4 oz.

The colours really blended together nicely in the plying. In some spots are pretty much solid. The green ended up being longer than the blue, so I Andean plied what remained on the bobbin. I like how well that works out and that you still end up with one skein. The yarn is squishy and soft and super pretty.

As soon as this delicious superwash merino showed up in my mailbox, I knew I had to spin it right away. Soooooooo soft. And I was really interested how the colours would work out in the spinning.

Turns out they turned out to be awesome! Again with the super cool barber poling in the singles. This time creating really interesting blends of colour. This would make a very interesting singles yarn—if you’re into that sort of thing. I have yet to try making a balanced singles yarn. Maybe one of these days I’ll give it a shot.

‘Collision Course’ Pigeonroof Studios
100% Superwash Merino
4.2 oz.

This yarn ended up being the most squishy and impossibly soft yarn I have made yet. I think I’ve reached the point of the ideal amount of twist in my singles so I end up with these deliciously soft yarns. It’s so deliciously tasty that I immediately cast on for a lacy baktus. Super squishy and delicious in garter stitch.

For my latest spin, I decided to try and see how fine I could go with this cormo sliver.

Turns out I can go preeeeeetty fine. The colour transitions in the singles made me want to chain-ply but I stuck to my guns of super fine yarn so stayed with the 2-ply plan.

‘Pinot Gris’ Girls like Boys like Fiber
approx. 304.75 yards
100% Cormo
4 oz.

This yarn is laceweight in places and fingering in others. It’s super soft, quite squishy and definitely plumped in the finishing. I’m going to try a Citron from this. Though I’m going to hold off the cast on until I’ve finished a few other projects.

Lately I’ve been trying a different method for finishing my yarns. Instead of simmering on the stove, I wash them in increasingly hot water (start with lukewarm and add hot gradually so that the fibres aren’t shocked into fulling themselves). It works well for my attention span and the result seems to be equally set as the simmering method. That way I only have to wait for the yarn to dry. With the summer heat we’re having, things are drying MUCH faster.

Unicorn vomit makes pretty yarn

During the weekly family phone call with my parents, my dad suggested that I spin and knit something for my mother for mother’s day. My “official” gift was finally finishing some blueberry placemats for her but as I’m now a big time spinner, I was happy to rise to the challenge. While we were chatting about it, my eyes glanced over to the bags of fibre I had bought from Loop sometime ago. I was humming and hawing over whether my mom would like the pink/orange/sparkle combination or if I should stick with the safety of mint green/aqua/sparkles. I sent her an email and while waiting for her reply I started on the orange/pink (just in case). Since I’m loving the spinning right now, having to spin more is not really a bad thing.

So I took out the spontaneous spinning cloud in Tea Rose and got to work. The “cloud” is a nebulous as working with cotton candy (I presume). I kind of separated the chunks, or took the already separate chunks and carefully drafted them into more of a roving preparation. Once I got to the larger portions, I split them roughly into largish strips before drafting them into roving. Similar to how I dealt with spinning a batt.

While working with the fibre I decided this is exactly what unicorn vomit would be like: super soft, luxury fibre with sparkles. Everyone knows that unicorns poop rainbows and marshmallows, but few know of their vomit. Unicorns eat nightmares, bad days (hair included), insecurities and mean people. Hence they need to release extra hair via vomit in a cat hairball/owl pellet sort of way.

I prepared a bit of fibre, spun it up and then prepared some more. I prefer to alternate rather than prepare all the fibre and then spin it all up. I like having a break from each of the activities but still advancing things.

I was originally thinking of 2-plying this bad boy. Spinning the singles, I noticed there were pretty large sections of fairly distinct colour changes which would be very difficult to control in the fibre prep (they’re barely perceptible in piles of pure unicorn vomit). So I did a plying test. I worked up a bit of 2-ply and knit a swatch.

Though the feel of the yarn was right, the colours were too muddy indistinct and truly vomitous.

I thought maybe knitting with the singles could work but really there’s just too much twist. It could be a thing, but not what I was aiming for.

So the answer was chain-ply. I was hoping to get a finer yarn out of this fibre, something much more laceweightish but I think it’s near worsted weight. I really have to work on being able to control that better. And I should start measuring WPIs and all that. But I think the yarn turned out quite nicely and I think there’s a decent amount of yardage to make a scarf of some sort for my mom. I was originally thinking the Morning Surf Scarf but now I’m wondering if this would make a nice Queen Anne’s Lace Scarf. I have to knit some swatches before settling on a pattern.

‘Tea Rose’ Loop
Alpaca, merino, llama, faux cashmere, nylon, ecospun, silk, bamboo, banana silk, and angelina
4 oz.

Needless to say my mom will love and brag to everyone she comes in contact with regardless that the yarn isn’t exactly what I planned.

Falkland Fibre Club – April

This lovely fibre arrived on my doorstep last week and I was sure I’d have it all spun and yarn finished by the very next day (spinning machines are super fast, I’m so glad I moved ahead to the middle ages with my spinning technology), but alas, I got partway through dividing up and drafting and it stayed like that aaaaall week. Taunting me in little wispy drafted piles.

But on the weekend I managed to get some time to spin it up! And I luuuuuuuuuuuve it. It’s SUPER soft and pretty and awesome. I did my usual split it in half, then divide into reasonable lengths and keep half of each length for each batch of spinning. The fibre was pretty dense in the braid so I did actually pre-draft before spinning.

I loved spinning this fibre so much and the resulting yarn that I’m glad I impulsively bought two more braids of a some of her other colourways in the Falkland. Yes it’s dangerous to have fibre people in my google reader list, but I’m glad that I do!

‘Croci’ CosySpins
100% Falkland
4 oz.

Oh and a shout-out to Xime in Uruguay! She’s the first comment I’ve had from South America. Thanks for the compliments on my yarn, I really appreciate it. I don’t sell my handspun as of yet. I still consider myself as a beginning spinner, especially since I just got wheel last month, but I’m very flattered. Maybe I’ll sell some when I find myself buried in piles and piles of yarn. We’ll see.

Spinning up a storm

I love a long weekend. It’s nice if going out of town is possible but sometimes even nicer just to stay home. My super-fun good friday activity was spinning. I haven’t spun for quite a while and really felt like picking up the spindle again. In one day I spun up and plied 6 oz. of yarn. That’s definitely a record for me.

I started by finishing up the spinning of some Pandamint BFL leftover from my Pamplemousse en caoutchouc days. I spun and plied the first half of this bump last fall and even started knitting a beret with it. I wasn’t loving how the hat was coming along so the motivation to finish spinning it quickly left. But since I have just the one spindle and I had a hankering to spin, this is where I got started.

The nice thing about going back to fibre already half spun is that I had already divided the roving into smaller strips and arranged them in an order to keep the colour changed balanced along the skein (as opposed to spinning one half, then the other and ending up with two related colourways. Plus my spindle was already half loaded with singles so I was finished this yarn in no time!

Next, I moved onto some roving I bought from A verb for keeping warm, starting with some very lovely purple named Glenda with Crocodile Tears as a chaser. Both of these were quite densely packed so needed quite a bit of teasing and drafting.

The colours are great, but I found my hands getting slightly green when spinning up the Crocodile Tears. And the purple bled a bit while finishing the yarn, making the Pandamint ever so slightly tinted. I was also kind of put off that these both were only 2 oz. but I understand why. Natural dyes take alot more dye than synthetic reactive dyes, raising the price per unit of fibre and one way to keep prices more reasonable is having smaller bumps.

I kind of wish that I had chain plied Glenda rather than making it a 2 ply. The lighter parts of the roving kind of disappeared into a medium purple yarn.

But I was pretty sold on the idea of making a 2-ply of the Crocodile Tears until I saw how the singles were spinning up.

So last minute chang-o to a chain plied yarn.

I’m very happy with how it turned out. Subtle colour changes intact.

So one day. 3 skeins of yarn. 6 oz. of entertainment.

Oh and my ladybug is making her way as we speak. In celebration of making the leap to a wheel, I decided to spin up all the fibre I have. Don’t worry though. I’ve signed up for a couple of fibre clubs to go with it.

Craft shopping SF style

I’m back from my holiday in LA. After picking me up from the airport while we were sitting down to a nice Thai lunch, my friend that I was visiting told me that she had a job interview up in San Francisco. A road trip was underway.

I had some time on my hands later on so I did some research on the newly discovered Yelp for fabric and yarn shops in San Francisco and I came up with a short list. I was able to coerce my friend Lisa to go with me to two stores. Peapod Fabrics in Inner Sunset and ImagiKnit in Castro.

We stopped by Peapod Fabrics first: 1314 18th Ave (at Irving), San Francisco, CA 94122. A really cute little shop really well stock with all kinds of super cute fabrics. After a little walk around gazing at all the lovely prints they have and wanting all of them, I started digging through the fat quarter bins and pretty much taking every second or third one that I came across. The shop keeper even offered to cut some more from the bolts. I took her up on that for a couple. I definitely would have had her cut a bunch more if we had more time on our parking meter. As it was, I did get a pretty great stack to bring home with me.

On Saturday after hipster brunch with friends, we headed over to ImagiKnit: 3897 18th St (at Sanchez), San Francisco, CA 94114. It’s a pretty big shop with quite a selection of yarn ranging from simple to fancy. There’s quite a selection of fancy/novelty yarns which aren’t entirely my bag. But I was quite taken with the wide selection of Malabrigo that I found there.

The shop has floor to ceiling built in shelving housing it’s wares and there were two rows from floor to ceiling just dedicated to Malabrigo worsted in a wide array of colours. The shop definitely deserves some time for proper browsing. It really was too much for me to take in.

Not entirely being in the leisurely shopping mood, especially at dragging my non-knitting friend along, I went directly for what popped out at me, some lovely speckled Koigu (I know it’s Canadian, but they had a great selection and whatever, holidays are for shopping) and some Malabrigo lace in a couple of colours. The like mauve/pink is for my mom’s Xmas present and the mint green is for me. It’s my favourite colour.

I definitely recommend these shops if you’re going to be in the area. Both are on my list of local haunts to be if I ever find myself living in the Bay area.

I also wanted to check out Britex in Downtown SF (4 floors of fabric and notions!) but on the way there, a cab clipped the back bumper of my friend’s car so we chased him down, phoned his company and then filed a police report instead. Then we went for Thai food.

I’ve got a golden ticket!

Last week I got the second instalment of the Knit it Up! Sock Yarn Cinema club. This yarn was in honour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. To me there is only the one Willy Wonka, as originally played by Gene Wilder in the 1971 production. I’ve seen the remake but frankly prefer to remember Tim Burton’s better movies from his earlier career. So it’s the earlier movie that I feel this yarn and the forth coming socks are in honour of.

Fibre: 100% Superwash Merino Wool
Colour: Chocolate Covered Gobstoppers
Sock Yarn Cinema Club: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Skeins: 1
Yards: 390/skn
This month’s package included the very lovely Chocolate Covered Gobstoppers yarn, a Wonka bar with a golden ticket wrapped around the bar and a little note go to with. I didn’t realise until I read the letter that there were only two golden tickets that were sent out. That’s when it occurred to me to look at the back of the ticket and realised that it was a $20 gift certificate! What a great surprise! I spent the next hour or so going through the Etsy shop trying to pick something worthy for purchase with a golden ticket. I’ll show you what I picked out when once it arrives.

To add to the awesomeness of getting a gift certificate with my monthly dose of yarn and chocolate, Ms. Knit it Up! included the cost of shipping for the yarn I picked out though it bumped the final total beyond $20. I really feel that was just the nicest thing ever! I gave her some Etsy love and hope that you all go take a look at her shop. There’s some super nice note cards in addition to her terribly tasty yarns. I have to say they are terribly squishy and fabulous.

I better hurry up with those stripey socks so I can start on these chocolatey ones.

Sock Club Hopper

Though I don’t like to declare emphatically that I’m a sock/mitten/hat/sweater knitter I’m sure my stash would tell a very different story. I have quite the pile of sock yarns piling up and I’m afraid that it’s only going to get worse in the near future. That’s right, I’m taking part in a sock club. Actually that’s not entirely true. I’m taking part in TWO sock clubs. I know. I can go a little over board sometimes.

The first sock club I’m participating in the Sock Yarn Cinema club from Knit it up. I love the idea of having colourways custom dyed for movies, and the list of movies when I came across this sock club through some Ravelry browsing one day so decided to join up. Now we’re two months into it and it’s been super fun!

December’s movie was Rudy. The yarn came in plastic trophy case and came with some delicious caramel hot chocolate mix. December was a pretty hectic month for me so I didn’t get around to taking pictures or even casting on for the socks. Nope, haven’t rewatched the movie yet either. I did have the hot chocolate right away and it was super yummy and the packaging has already been repurposed as a spare button container.

Fibre: 70% Merino Wool 30% Silk
Colour: The Fighting Irish
Sock Yarn Cinema Club: Rudy
Skeins: 1
Yards: 440/skn

It wasn’t until I got the package for January that my sock needles were liberated and I cast on for a new pair of socks. To be honest I was kind of stumped of what kind of pattern to use with this yarn. In the end I decided a simple pair of ribbed socks were in order. Toe-up (this time short row) and magic loop are my preferred sock tendencies these days. I know I know all wrangling an octopus aside, I find that the brainless aspect of working from both ends of the skein lends itself nicely to the portability of a pair of socks in progress.

If you know me at then all you know that I’m entirely opposed to anything that changes my habits established ESPECIALLY if I think it’s in any way trendy or fashionable. But I will often completely turn that initial emphatic negative reaction entirely around after I’ve tried whatever and found it to be not so bad. It’s just as stupid to never use a method JUST because it’s trendy as it is to proclaim it for the same reasons. I don’t like to get caught up in hype.

In this case, I still don’t think Magic Loop is the best thing since sliced bread, but I do like that working two socks or sleeves at the same time means I don’t have to pay as close attention that they’ll end up to be the same length or gauge. And portability lends itself to socks getting finished in my life. Being able to drag them with me to work, on a plane, while in a waiting room or getting a pedicure is the key to me getting another pair of socks to wear especially if they’re stockinette or find themselves to be tending towards knee high length.

But these socks are coming along quite quickly. The Knit it Up! Silky is super nice to work with. And I am kind of super excited to move onto the January sock yarn once these ones are finished up…