Friday, April 25, 2008

Maryland Sheep & Wool...

I'll be at Maryland Sheep & Wool next month, so if you would like to meet face-to-face, come to the main tent where the fleece sales are. Then, listen for whirling sounds amid lots of laughter, and you'll be in the right place That is where the circular sock machine Crank-In is being held on Saturday.
If you are one of my customers and you'll be there, please come up and introduce yourself. It is always so much fun to put a face with a name!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Flatbed Knitting and Dyeing

Yet another Internet seller is showing handdyes using knitting machines. (Google 'flat feet yarn' to see what I am referring to.) A couple of months ago, I wrote about 'dyeing in the fabric' -- a method of dyeing swatches of yarn which have been knit up on a flatbed knitting machine. I had just 'invented' the same method, without knowing about Nancy Roberts's work and classes, when I came across her beautifully dyed fabric. My experiment was knit up on my circular sock machine, and I was able to knit up a chevron vest with long swaths of color. Either way -- knitting up fabric on a circular sock machine, or a flatbed machine, or even one of the automatic sweater knitters on the market now -- the idea is the same and the results are pretty spectacular.

We all know that to get long swaths of color and to blend it nicely into the next long swath, the skeining process is the key. Dyeing a knitted fabric takes most of this difficulty away. Simply knit up a fabric to the weight measurement you need, dye it, and unravel it as you knit. You might want to wash the yarn before knitting to get the kinks out of the yarn. (I did not do this, and my vest didn't seem to suffer, but this is strictly up to you to decide.)

Great fun, and a fun twist on the dye process. Oh, and it was so neat to hear from many readers who had also 'invented' this method on their own. Great minds think alike.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Knitting Retreat and DyePot.Com

My life is just like everyone elses ... rushing around, completing most of the items on my ToDo list, grabbing knitting time at every opportunity, taking care of business as well as home and hearth. It is hard to remember that work is designed to increase the quality of my life, round the clock, so when there is the happy co-incidence of going off for a few days of fiber fun, I take it.

That's just what I have done with a weekend up in the Alleghany mountains bordering Virginia and West Virginia, lovely rough country where the Episcopalians decided to build a retreat more than 100 years ago. There are more than twenty buildings, a couple of community dining halls, a small lake, mineral springs, rooms with no doors, playing fields within sight of the meeting rooms, lighted grounds ... really a well put-together retreat for families and groups in the beautiful commuity of Orkney Springs, Virginia.

Virginians are inordinately proud of simply being from Virginia, and we love to discover new little spots and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Years ago, I spent ten years in Los Angeles. It seems like another lifetime ago, now. When people would ask me where I was from, and I'd say 'Virginia' nearly every one of them had something nice to say about my corner of the world.

But, I digress. This little knitting retreat was the third consecutive annual weekend get-away organized by Christina Parham, of There was nothing formal about the weekend, but everyone showed up with food to share, donations for drawings, and stash to share. We took tons of interesting roving -- BFL Superwash, Tencel/Merino blend, Baby Alpaca -- and some dye kits, and I made up some sample packets of three different sock yarns in one package. I took mini-sock blocker keychains, and some books from my fiber library which I knew I would never read again. The mini-sock blocker keychains sold out! and most of the books went! I don't think there were many dyers there.

Except for Christina Parham, of course. It was such a revelation to see the amount of work which one dyer can put out. I was in awe of the sheer amount of handdyed yarns and spinning fibers that she brought. Beautiful colorways, and creative names! 'Sicilian Harvest, Sweet Violet, Clay Pots, Sahara Sunset' are the ones I bought. She has a great knack of choosing just the right names for her colorways.

It made me realize how much work the handdyer actually does to produce a line of handpainted yarns or fibers. Only once have I made a big effort to supply a yarn store with a line of handdyed sock yarns, and I learned to respect the art and craft of the handdyer! No, I will leave that work up to my customers, and continue to dye for my own pleasure.

Check out Christina's website: