Saturday, March 09, 2019

Back to Portland

That's Portland INDIANA, not Maine or Oregon, where the Jay County Fiber Arts Festival is held each year. I skipped 2018 because I went to PlyAway in Kansas City. This year, I decided to take a class with Kate Larson, to see what all the hubbub was about, bub.

Among my spinning and weaving coterie there are several fans of Kate Larson. My SO and I visited Moontree Studios to view her show there. Now Kate is the editor of Spin Off Magazine, but she continues to teach.

I decided to take the class that met Friday afternoon, partly because it was the only one that specifically mentioned needing to know how to spin and ply, partly because it suited my lazy retirement schedule. The class was Gradient Yarns: A Spinner's Study in Shifting Shades. I wasn't sure what to expect, but given my still rudimentary understanding of spinning yarn, I figured I would learn something new. And I did.

Most of my spinning is of fiber in its natural colors - natural, gray, brown, etc. So working with gradient colorways was a fun change of pace for me. I do know that color is an optical thing - some colors look brighter or sadder or even like a different color, depending on what they are paired with. My favorite anecdote that illustrates this is how I painted my bedroom lavender, then installed gray carpeting. The gray sucked the blue right out of the walls, turning them pink. A more recent story involves some red Tunis wool I am spinning - the gray that is mixed in disappears by the time it is spun and plied.

Below are three samples of the same colorway. The one on the left is thread plied - a single plied with a single thread of silk, the one in the middle is simply a single spun worsted, and the one on the right is core spun - fiber spun around a thin core of something relatively sticky like silk/mohair lace weight. See the difference?

Another example of one colorway, thread plied on the left, a spun single on the right. Now I am wondering what will happen if I thread ply a single of the red Tunis with white, gray, or black. Must sample to find out.

In class, after warming up with a luscious yak-silk-merino blend (three fibers that play well when all together, not so nice in twosome combos), we spun three singles, then thread plied one and marled another with gray. Obviously, the gray saddens the colorway, but the black thread brightens it. Magic.

I also received a bit of a goose regarding documenting one's spinning. Kate had a range of office supplies to assist with that, including sticky dots. By wrapping the yarn around a folded index card, then attaching the sticky dots, the fiber can be mounted onto a heavy page and put in a binder.

I also tried my hand at adding beads while chain plying. No pix because the result was quite a mess, but I will try again with some fiber I am more familiar with. Kate also demonstrated core plying, something else I want to try. In fact, I was wondering how that might work for creating a rug yarn.

This type of class really opens my eyes to many new possibilities when it comes to spinning yarn. The class size was much more amenable to the learning process, compared to PlyAway. Also, Kate is incredibly personable, friendly, helpful, encouraging, and knowledgeable. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from her, DO IT!

A visit to a fiber fest is also the opportunity to BUY STUFF. When I first arrived, I ate lunch (sloppy Joe, Fritos, and PIE), then cruised the vendors for ways to spend my money. I kept running into people I know, which slowed me down a bit, but I saw a frame loom I was interested in. Alas, when I returned after class, the looms were apparently all sold out. I resisted all the fiber, so the only item I purchased was Kate's book, Wool: the Practical Spinner's Guide. Only after arriving home did it occur to me I should have had Kate autograph it.

One more lesson learned: when I attended PlyAway, I signed up for as many classes as I could. By the time we left, I was exhausted. Yesterday, on the drive home, I was wishing I had enrolled in Kate's other two classes. But then I realized how tired I felt. A novel I read uses picking raspberries as a metaphor - you don't need to pick all the raspberries to savor the one in your mouth. Also, my brain felt full enough of new ideas - no need to overdo it.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Walnut baby cable rib socks

I knit both my SO and me a pair of baby cable rib socks lo, these many years ago (2011) in Fortissima Socka Degradee Color fingering yarn. I really liked how they turned out because of the gradient colorway. Alas, they did not hold up very well, wearing thin on the soles. So I decided to knit us some more. I finished mine about a year ago, and just this past week, finished my SO's.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, and baby cable rib, by Charlene Schurch.
Yarn: S.R. Kertzer On Your Toes 4 Ply with Aloe Vera, in brown, and unknown base yarn, hand dyed with black walnut, by Little Shop of Spinning
Needles: US1
Modifications: not really

Even though I have knit these socks before, this time I ran into a lot of (self-inflicted) trouble, especially with the toes. The dark brown yarn was difficult for my old eyes to see. Then I also did dumb things like continue the rib pattern across the sole instead of using plain stockinette. But I persevered and eventually got 'er done.

I've already cast on another pair, as I always like to have a portable knitting project on hand. But I would also like to complete some mittens to match a scarf and hat and sweater. Hopefully, both mittens and wool socks will become unnecessary soon, if this wacky weather ever decides spring has sprung.