Blue Hills Fibre Fest was on June 9th - which was also World Wide Knit In Public Day. Jeremy and I spent the day in Carberry with the always amazing Manitoba Fibre Community. If you haven't visited a fibre fest before, you MUST add this one to your list. It may be smaller on scale but it is overflowing with amazing vendors, classes, fleeces and pie! This was my booth all set up and ready to go. Aside from our regular items we also had Straw into Gold kits and Cog Yarns hand dyed skeins for purchase. I am always overwhelmed at the generous support from the people in Manitoba. You all made my day so bright and one I can say I honestly enjoyed. Looking forward to next year already
I was very happy to judge the wool show this year. There were 16 fleeces in all and wow (!) most scored pretty high. Manitoba wool is exceptional.
Here are the first place winners as well as some of my favourites. My phone was a bit greasy so sorry about the shiny pictures hah!
I had a few new skeins to bring with me. Watch for an update in my Etsy shop very soon, were I will be listing the skeins I have. You can also find some at The Naked Sheep Yarn & Fibre Emporium.
If you are ever in Winnipeg then you MUST go to Baked Expectations. The cakes are so unbelievable, you will need to decide on a few to go as well. Jeremy had the Tia Maria torte. Next time I might get the Red Velvet cake and likely another cheesecake or chocolate cream pie. Also, take it from me - the hot chocolate is one of the best!
I did well. I could have bought soooo much more. The quality of vendors was outstanding and such a great variety. A new knitting wedge bag from Dragon Fibre Bags, project bag, sock yarn and t-shirt from Long Way Homestead, Sock yarn from The Sheep-ish Spinner, darning mushroom from Natural Knot Woods, french spindle from Homespun Tools and a cork wedge pouch, cedar/grapefruit handmade soap and merino hand dyed fibre from Last Dance Ranch.
Oh I love it all!!
I wanted to send out a big Thank you to those who stopped by the Etsy SK Winter Market on Dec 2nd at the U of R. This was the 3rd sale I organized at this venue and it still is my favourite. I had a good day talking to a lot of great people and meeting new vendors as well. I bought some yarn from Midknit Cravings; some to make another Aura shawl and a sock appetizer (pics below). I also got some fat quarters from So Sweet Quilts which I am planning on making some quilted mug rugs. A hand blown glass tumbler from Glassy Eyed and some beautiful notecards from Sparkling Medusa. Thanks to my chronic pain, after the sale I slept from 9 pm on Sat to 2:15 pm on Monday.
I also finished 2 pairs of socks using the Straight Up Socks pattern again. One pair was for my dad's birthday and I used good ol Kroy sock yarn. I really like knitting for him because he truly appreciates it. When I gave them to him (as he was going out the door) he cam back in, took off his boots, ripped off his socks he was wearing and put my handmade socks on. I love that.
My other pair I made in only a couple days using some new yarn from Midknit Cravings. It is one of their appetizers as I mentioned above. The colourway's I used were Bad Mood Monday and Wine Not! You get 50 g of the main colour and 20 g of a contrast colour. I was waffling between doing an afterthought heel, or maybe just tube socks but thought I would try to see how far I could get with the Straight Up Socks recipe and was left with 5g of the main colour and 6g of the contrast so I could have been ok. I just love them! Can't wait to make more.
I also sewed a brand new dress!! It is the Fen Dress from Fancy Tiger Crafts and I highly recommend it! For starters it comes in a bunch of sizes and it has POCKETS! You can also make a shirt. I love the hem line and it is SO comfortable. I will be making more of these as well. I also just bought the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated so it will be my next sewing project for my handmade wardrobe. It also has pockets and it is reversible.
Jeremy and I had SUCH a great time at the Manitoba Fibre Festival this past weekend. From meeting new people, teaching fun classes and seeing old friends, Winnipeg was the place to be. Since I was teaching during the set up, Jeremy was in charge of getting my booth up and running. He is my main man when it comes to shows as he supports me in all aspects.
The Flatlands Collection was available for all to see and I was happy to see that Aura was so well represented. Thank you to all who purchased kits and patterns. Ally and I still have a couple more if you are interested!
I was SO looking forward to being able to wear my Aura for the first time at the end of the festival. I have plans to knit another.
I also got lots done on my Liplatus shawl with some of Ally's yarn as well.... just a few more rows to go!
Of course I had to make a stop at Wolseley Wool as well. They have a superb selection
Some knitting time at Baked Expectations (a must see)
Thank you to everyone who came to the festival, supported us all and continue to. You are what make all the difference. I appreciate you all and can’t wait for next year!
My treasures from the festival: Flatlanders Soap, Raiment Resource, Natural Knot Woods, Feet of Clay, Hilori's Magical Yarnorium, Wolseley Wool, Mandyz Moon. There was soooooo much more I wanted <3 SO many amazing artists.
Manitoba Basset Walk 2017
Jeremy and I were invited to attend the Manitoba Basset Walk (#mbw17) as we have been meaning to go for the past few years now. As some of you may know, we have a basset hound named Jenny, and meeting other basset owners and seeing their dogs is something we love to do. They are all so different yet all the same haha. There were even 2 basset puppies that were adorable! We adopted Jenny when she was 2 so we never got to see her extra-long ears hanging from her domed head as a baby. We had a great time petting every dog and soaking up the drool. There are a couple basset rescues that raise funds for other dogs in need. You should have seen the great prizes! We are trying to plan next year to bring Jenny so she can do the walk with her as we really wish she could have been with us. She was sleeping over at the best friend Harley’s house and this is the state she was in while we were away….
That’s our girl, classy all the way but look at that smile. She is always pretty tired out from having fun with Harley but was excited to see us when we got home.
I have been wanting to tell you all about a podcast you need to add to your list (if you don't already subscribe). There is no doubt why The Bakery Bears podcast hosted by Dan and Kay Jones is so popular!! Each episode is full of inspiration to get your needles clicking, funny moments that will make your cheeks hurt and interesting trips through their UK countryside including history and more are a feast for the eyes. Dan and Kay have such chemistry and have captured the attention of many around the world.
They have recently posted up Episode 53 so if you haven't watched, they are seriously binge-worthy! This latest episode was a special one for me because I make a guest appearance - or shall I say, Dan and Kay make an appearance in my studio!
I "met" these two a few years ago when they first mentioned my Bankhead hat on their show. Since then, it has been knitted over 2200 times! I wanted to do something as a bit of a thank you and sent them over a box of Canadian goodies including 2 skeins of handspun specially spun for them.
Kay knit these gorgeous mitts and Dan knit... a Bankhead!!
These were my FO for their show, I knit these socks for my new nephew on the way and finished them just in time the night before while at a Sask Rider football game. It was so much fun to talk to Dan and Kay and we had to coordinate it so that we both had daylight, so I talked to them on Canada day in the morning which was around suppertime for them. We talked on Facetime for quite a while and I was sad to have to say goodbye. Seriously awesome people <3 They have a patreon program for people who want to keep them going and also get in on some extra goodies like tutorials, monthly prize draws, discount codes, behind the scenes videos and more! While you are at it, you should find them on Facebook, favourite their Etsy shop and join their group on Ravelry so you can keep up with all the news and happenings on the way!
Thank you to everyone who came out to Carberry this past weekend and shared in the day surrounded by the wonderful people in the Manitoba fibre community. There were lots of great vendors, workshops, a spinning circle, demonstrations and of course a nice number of fleeces up for grabs in the wool show.
I judged the wool show again this year and we had 12 fleeces entered including a silky angora fleece from one of Barb Mulock's Mohair goats! Congrats to the winners were: Brian Greaves - Polypay/Ille de France, Gail Kasprick - Dorset, Gerry Oliver - Costwold X, Barb Mulock - Shetland and the Angora. Thank to the Wool Growers for sponsoring the show and donating prize money to the winners.
Follow Blue Hills on Facebook so you can keep up with their plans for next year. You really want to add this one on to your schedule. I'll be back in Manitoba this fall and look forward to seeing everyone again!
I was so excited yesterday as I watched my Cosmic Cozy pattern work its way up the top 20 list on Ravelry's Hot Right Now section in the Patterns tab. I was hoping to make it into the Top 5 and I did!
I wondered why this pattern became popular so suddenly and I saw the front page of Ravelry. In the Community Eye Candy ChristalLittleK's "Nid pour ratous" is featured and what an adorable little rattie peaking out!
This cozy was also featured in an article in Issue 92 (May 2015) of Let’s Knit magazine about knitting for pets (and if you know me you know how much I LOVE animals). The base is crocheted and then you pick up stitches along the sides and decrease quickly to create the shape of the roof which is knit quite densely to hold its shape. Wool yarn is a great choice for this cozy because it has a natural absorbency which will eliminate the smell of urine, wick away moisture and if you use a superwash wool it is easily washable.
The pictures were taken by my sister Nancy and the rats (Isabelle & Grace) in my project pictures belong to a sweet girl named Bryn.
I had been watching my way through The X-Files while making this and its design reminded me of a UFO which was also the inspiration for its name. If you have a small animal why not consider making a Cosmic Cozy for them to snuggle up in. You can find the pattern for FREE in my Patterns section and also on Ravelry.
Thank you SO much to everyone who came out to support local artisans at the Etsy Sask Bring on Spring sale yesterday! It was a wonderful day and I was happy to talk to lots of people about my process, my yarns and wool in general. I met a lot of fellow Etsy Sask team members and even Elaine, who is one of our Team Leaders. Erin, Elaine and I organized this event and were happy to see so many people supporting our very talented bunch of makers. We had something for everyone and I even came home with a few goodies myself.
This Necessary Clutch Wallet above has been on my list for a while and it has yarn balls in it!! I saw it in Dear Leora Designs' booth and I quickly grabbed it and had to have it! Kathryn even said she had me in mind when she made it :D SO perfect.
I had a great time in Saskatoon this weekend! Jeremy and I met a friend of ours who was down from Edmonton and we had a great supper at Samurai. My first time trying Teppanyaki and man, was it amazing! It was also really great to be able to hang out a bit more with Erin and get to know her a little better, We have talked quite a bit on Facebook but never really had the chance to have coffee and talk.
On Sunday I was helping Erin, the Team Captain for Etsy Sask to organize a Holiday Pop-up Market. We did it in 2 weeks and had about 25 vendors. I brought some new skeins, hats, buttons and felted soap along my regular items. It was such a great day and the Farmers Market where we set up was a wonderful venue! Thank you to everyone who came out! We hope do do more of these types of sales.
I've updated my logo slightly. I wanted a more natural look, and the colours in the Venn diagram are of actual sheep - including the blackish outline. This also creates a more unisex label to attach to my handknits. The font was and always is the hardest part. After looking through hundreds and hundreds of fonts which start to make "Knit Natural" look misspelled I think this one looks good on all accounts. I was going to use my own handwriting and make it into a font, but who wants to read that chicken scratch?
I originally decided on the Venn Diagram because it encompasses everything I was looking for. By definition, these circles represent a collaboration of ideas or concepts which as a whole can come together or not. I am a spinner, knitter, crocheter, weaver, designer and more and I incorporate parts of these skills in each item I make. It is also a simple and clean image and much like my designs or projects I like to keep the "beauty in simplicity" moto in the back of my mind.
I am very lucky because my sister Nancy is my graphic designer. Her company is called Landlocked Design and she has done all my graphic work from my banners, tags, stamps, stickers and advertising. I am very lucky to have her expertise on my side. She also looks pretty damn good in Knit Natural! If you are looking for some work done from a simple ad to a full blown redesign of your business this is your girl. She can even tolerate my flip-flopping over every little detail, with re-assurance or new ideas.
I am happy to see my business progressing forward and this updated look feels fresh and more centred around a natural theme.
First of all Happy New Year!
Now before I talk too much about that, there are several things that I meant to say already but never got the time to do so.
I wanted to talk about the Markerspace Conference that happened late last November. It was held at the library and there was SO much to both see and do there. Everything from 3D printers, animation, trades, programming, and so much more I didn't think half the stuff even existed in Regina. I talked to some women about their trades and signed up for a course I will be taking starting this month for Women in Trades. I was there with the Guild and we were showing how we make stuff; from yarn to cloth and by using primitive and advanced equipment to do so. There was one person that really sticks out in my mind. She was there with her daughter and they had come to Canada from Nepal. Her mom used to weave and hadn't seen anything like it since they moved here. She was so excited to see the loom and the spindles and wheels she couldn't stop smiling and talking about what she used to make and the intricate designs and what they meant etc. Her daughter tried weaving and got quite a bit done and took home her sample to show her teacher. The staff at the library, who see them on a regular basis said they have never heard the woman talk nor seen her smile and they were excited that they had come in that day. In the survey the library took about the conference, it was asked which booth was the most interesting and the majority of people said ours was the best!. I thought that was pretty cool because there was SO much cool things there and I didn't expect the people who make string and cloth to come out on top :)
December was a very busy month as I had a lot to finish up along the lines of Christmas gifts and we went away this year (which was a first). I did not get done all that I needed and I'm beating myself up over that, but I have also been sick - as this time of year always brings for me.
I worked on my quilt which I started early last year and have all the 1 foot squares sewn together. I just need to press them and start piecing them together. This is new for me. I am learning how to sew. I'm not going to talk a lot about it on this blog but the quilt has been a big project for me this year that always seems to get placed on the back burner.
A major, major project I did last year which carried into 2014 was a temperature scarf for my Great Uncle Art. I started this in Jan of 2013. I recorded the high's in Weyburn Saskatchewan (where he lives) everyday. Each day I crocheted a line corresponding to a particular temperature and colour. At the end of it all the scarf measured over 7' long! There was only one day in the entire year where the high was -25C. The summer was very nice with many days obove 30C and even some over 35C! (which I didn't have a specific colour for) I seperated the months with a line of white and embroidered the year at the top of the scarf. My Great Uncle is 89 and I knew he would love this gift.
I crocheted this scarf using Knit Picks Andean Wool and used 15 colours. And if you think that was a lot of work - what took me the longest was weaving in almost 700 ends! Unfortunately he didn't receive this gift until March. He even wears it all the time. My dad told me he wore it to church one day and the Minister asked him to come up and explain the scarf to the congregation. This Christmas he told me dad it's his most prized possession. I know this all sounds like I am bragging but if you knew my Uncle that is just the best compliment I could receive. I love making stuff for him because he really appreciates it. He would rather have something handmade than a million dollars.
Now, to recap this past year; I started off pretty good with my spindle reviews. I have a backlog of those at the moment so - I'm not done yet! I didn't get any further on my sheep studies but again I will try. It was a busy year for me with Wool Judging as I was able to judge in all 3 prairie provinces! I was able to help shear alpacas and sort their fibre and check out a couple farms and spend the day which I loved. I taught classes all year and kept very busy with several sales and events that occurred in and outside of Saskatchewan. I wrote up a couple patterns for hats - with a few more to come and I spun over 100 skeins of yarn!
2015 is the Year of the Sheep and I have more in store - at the beginning, I am taking a weaving course which is offered by a fellow guild member and a fantastic weaver. I am helping promote the wool industry with All Things Wool and the Manitoba Fibre Festival and I have my Perfection Found in Nature art exhibit at the Shervin Smith Gallery.
This is just the tip of the iceberg - I have more secrets to share - but not yet ;)
Some of my resolutions last year were completed, some were not. I'm not going to stress over it. This year, I am just going to live by my favorite quote from Connaught School
"Work hard and be nice"
It's giveaway time, it's giveaway time!
Some of my favourite games are Hidden Object ones, especially from Big Fish Games like the Mystery Case Files series. I was thinking of hosting a giveaway for this season and thought this might be a fun way to earn your prize.
I have 10 questions for you. The answers are in front of your eyes, you just need to seek them out. Some questions will have multiple right answers and you must answer them all correctly to be entered to win. There are also lots of chances for bonus entries as well!
I have 2 prizes available. If not for yourself, they also make great gifts, so you can cross off a special someone from your list just in time for Christmas.
Knitters Prize: 1 skein of Hawthorne Fingering weight yarn in the colourway "Rose City", "Knockout Knits" by Laura Nelkin and a purse size bottle of Handmade Luxury Hand Creme in the Celebration scent.
Spinners Prize: Spinner Starter Kit including 4 oz of Corriedale and a maple drop spindle, "The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn" by Brenda Gibson and a 4 oz bottle of SOAK wool wash in the Aquae scent.
*Note: I will take pictures in the daylight on the weekend
You can email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will type your name to the bottom of this post to confirm your entries.
This contest is open to everyone and anyone and I will draw the winners randomly on Monday December 1, 2014 at 6:00pm (Saskatchewan time)
Good luck and thanks for playing!
1) Out of all the spindles I have reviewed, which one has received the highest rating?
2) Most of my handspun skeins are sold at sales I attend but I do have an Etsy shop and one of my favourite skeins was called "Single Malt", how many yards are in this skein?
3) I am working on sheep breed studies, what is the average fleece weight for a Romney sheep?
4) What are the 4 scents I have available in SOAK wool wash?
5) Bankhead is one of my most popular hat patterns. Roughly how many people have made this hat? Bonus entry for those who have knit either Bankhead or Cobblestones themselves.
6) I have done a few tutorials this past year, which sheep breed did I use as a sample in the most recent tutorial?
7) I am showcasing some of my work in the Sherven-Smith Art Gallery soon. When?
8) Have you "Liked" me on Facebook? Easy entry. If you haven't already, please do.
9) I post Daily Inspirations everyday and link these to my Pinterest page. Which one has inspired you the most?
10) What is Knit Natural's slogan?
Bonus entries for sharing this giveaway with your friends. For every referral you get an extra entry for both you AND your friend(s). Please make sure you tell me who notified you of this awesome giveaway.
Amy Anderson (3 Entries)
Carolynne Gould (3 Entries)
Etsy hosted their first Canadian event on Sept 27th across the country. It included Pop-up shops in 23 cities. I am part of the Team Etsy Saskatchewan and I was very happy to have been able to participate in Saskatoon. It was very well advertised and there were hundreds of eager shoppers lined up at the door and down the street before we opened.
There were about 20 vendors that had quality handmade items from metalsmiths, glass artists, fibre artists, paper artists and everything in between. It was a very busy day and we had close to 800 people through the door. I depleted my stock of handspun and sold some finished items as well. SOAK was a big seller, especially the 2 new scents; Fig & Yuzu.
I wasn't able to leave my booth for long, but I did purchase a couple pairs of earrings and a really unique shawl pin.
I want to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who bought something from me. As you may know, Jeremy and I have been taking care of a feral cat family who has been sheltering under our front porch for the last few months. Regina Cat Rescue has given us a shelter for them and will be helping us trap them so they can be spayed/neutered and adopted out. Their names are Mrs. Hudson (Mom), Sherlock and Watson. I was donating 15% of my sales from the Etsy Made in Canada day to fund the spay/neuter of these cats. Thanks to you, we raised $134.00, enough to neuter and tattoo both Sherlock and Watson!
If you weren't able to make it out but wanted to shop at some of the great vendors, you can find their Etsy shops here. It was a huge hit in every city and I hope to attend next year as well. Thanks to everyone who came by and now I must get back to spinning so I can re-stock my shop with more yarn :D
Let's be honest, I had been counting down the days until this years' Manitoba Fibre Festival. Last year was so wonderful, I was anticipating another great day and I was not dissapointed. The festival was such a success in its first year that this time, they needed A LOT more space. There were several more vendors and so many interesting workshops that they expanded the location over slightly to include the arena area of St Norbert Community Hall.
I was also excited for the wool show, as I was invited back to judge the fleeces. This year we had 17, so almost double from last year! The more the better and this also makes for a more interesting competition and class set-up. We had 4 classes - Fine, Medium, Long and Specialty. I saw Polypay, Corriedale, Suffolk, Dorset, Romney crosses and Shetland. A nice representation of breeds common in the prairies. It was also nice to see fleeces from producers from both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Grand Champion and a First Place in the Fine Class was awarded to this Polypay fleece from Manitoba Producer Gerry Oliver with a score of 95.5%. You can see that she takes great pride in her wool and the quality of her fleeces and it shows. After the show, she even told me that she was up into the wee hours the night before, making sure her fleeces were perfectly skirted and looking their best. Well worth the effort. Congrats Gerry!
The Shetland fleeces were also gorgeous, the colour ranges in that breed are lovely and the fleeces themselves were tip top.
Janet from Qu'Appelle was also at the festival, attending workshops and even entered fleeces which placed first and second. It was quite nice to see so many people from Saskatchewan attending the festival this year.
I was in the perfect location to snag a beautiful Capar tiny turkish spindle that was calling my name! It's made from Olivewood and Walnut. I must be crazy because I'm not a big turkish fan, and the little, teeny tiny ones just make no sense to me yet, I couldn't stop looking at it. They have an Etsy shop, I don't think this will be my only purchase from them. Keep an eye out for a spindle review on this one in the future.
There were also lots of demonstrations in weaving, machine knitting, spinning, and net making. You could have also brought your wheel and joined in with the spin-a-long that was happening. There was a book signing with Carol James - who is well known in the art of Sprang and finger weaving. I purchased a couple of her books at Olds a couple years ago. Her personality is so addictive, I promise that you will be so amazed with both her and her work, you will want her to come teach a workshop in your area.
Joanne Seiff, who is also one of the coordinators of the Manitoba Fibre Festival, had a couple books that I was very interested in; Knit Green and Fiber Gathering. She signed both for me and I have already delved into them and flagged several of the projects to knit for myself. I also love how both are somewhat reference books in the fact that they are chalk full of useful information and you can tell she has done her research. I highly recommend both, they would be a wonderful addition to your library.
I appreciated that Jeremy ran my booth for me during the entire day. He even said that he had a great time talking to people and sharing all the enthusiasm and passion for fibre arts that everyone bonded over. Congrats to both Margaret and Joanne for another successful festival! Can't wait to see everyone again in 2015 and thanks so much for those who came out!
Happy New Year!
2014? Hard to type that number at the moment but I'm sure I will be used to it by the end of the month. Happy New Year to each of you :) I wanted to take this time to go over the many great experiences I had this past year and my plans for 2014.
I taught several classes a month at Cindy-Rellas and met a lot of great people who I see have continued with the skill they learned from me. I was glad to see many of them share a passion for fibre and were truly interested in learning all they could about the subject at
hand. Its fun to share my love for fibre and especially when I make friends along the way. I am currently working on my class schedule for this year and it will be listed on the site in my Classes & Workshops section shortly.
As always, if there is a class you are interested in or would like private lessons or assistance in anyway you can always contact me at email@example.com and I will be happy to help. I'd love for you to come
to relax in my studio and knit/crochet or spin with me :)
I had started to play with the idea of designing. I know what I like, I see what I like and I like to make what I like. I love how
wool is so versatile and how handspun yarn can make a project really one of a kind. I had knit a couple designs this past year (both free) and they have really taken off. Bankhead has
been my most popular design so far with over 235 hats knit on Ravelry and in over 180 queues with hundreds of downloads a month and a 4.5/5 star rating. It fulfills one niche that is sometimes hard to find with knitting in that its a favourite among men. With it being comprised of ribbing, it fits a wide variety of head sizes and is easily customizable.
A couple testimonials from Ravelry:
"This is my favorite hat I’ve ever made. Ever."
"This turned out so well I’m tempted to tell the birthday person I have no present to give"
"Super easy pattern. Quick, satisfying knit"
"A wonderful pattern. In fact I am going to knit another one"
"Simple, quick, and manly"
"This is going to be my go-to hat pattern from now on"
"One of my favorite patterns!!!"
I have made a few more designs which I just need to type up "Speargrass", "Wally", "Network" Pisces Shawl and my sock design class socks (which obviously don't have a name yet and I wrote the pattern 2 years ago) need to be tested again and will be available soon. SO much more to come. I also have a crocheted hat pattern for sale at Cindy-Rellas called "Hatkuna Matata". My mind has been racing with ideas that I need to put on paper and create with fibre, so you will have lots to look forward to from Knit Natural this year. I'm 100% focusing on showcasing handspun and designs with handspun in mind, designs with wool in mind and how to take advantage of the many benefits and special powers of wool and other natural fibres. This will be an exciting year :)
Feb-May was busy for me as I spent every moment I had knitting a couple
sweaters for fashion designer Riley Lawson's Fall Collection. She showed me pictures of her designs and we discussed what sorts of details she wanted included. I went off her wonderful ideas and knit her a pullover and a cardigan which were featured on the runway at Sask Fashion Week AND she won the Emerging Designer award that weekend. I also knit her a pair of knee high socks in 6 days that were a nice accessory paired with a gorgeous wool jacket. The pullover was featured on Global News and both items are available for purchase (I will be writing a post on this experience in the next week or so).
I attended 3 wool shows in 2013 in all 3 prairie provinces and judged/scribed at each one. I love wool judging more than I expected. I'm always interested in learning as much as I can about fibre and wool in general and with all the breeds out there and all the cross breeds, wool judging lets me continue to learn with each fleece and I can literally immerse myself in greasy wool and breathe in all it has to offer. I am hoping to continue judging for as long as I can and I am going to really try hard this year with my Sheep Study on my site here. I have many samples washed and I had fallen behind in 2013.
My website stats hit an all time high this past year with over 26,500 page views and my facebook page went from 30 to 111 likes. My Etsy shop with almost 2000 views, and items included in several treasuries has started to take off. I even sold the original Bankhead hat from there last month. I am going to try and post more blog updates this year. I have a lot going on in real life and my mind that I want to share but finding the time proved difficult. I also plan on listing MANY more skeins of handspun in my shop on this site. Weebly has made it even easier to list items for sale and I'm going to have to re-organize that section a little bit. I was a featured artist on the Handmade Sask website and was also included in one of the giveaway's offered
When Kim from The Wacky Windmill came for a Trunk Show this October I
really saw how crazy... I mean, how awesome the fibre community in Regina is. I think every member of the Regina Weavers and Spinners attended and many new faces who were likely as overwhelmed as I at the wonderful selection of hand-dyed fibre, yarns, notions and more Kim brought with her. It was also exciting to host this all in my brand new house! To finally invite people over and surround myself in good friends, my favourite dyer, fibre galore and food. I was able to open my studio (which has since been moved but more on that later) and not look some kind of weird hoarder of animal hair (well at least they didn't think so).
These memories only scratch the surface of all that went on in 2013. I hope that you will continue to follow me as I share and write my experiences, designs, challenges, travels, reviews, giveaways & contests, sales etc in 2014. Thank YOU for helping me get here <3
OH and (for Jeremy) the Riders won the Grey Cup :D
The first annual Manitoba Fibre Festival was a huge success! There was so much to see and do that even though it was pouring all day the festival was a buzz of activity from beginning to end. You could come check out the demonstrations, shop in the marketplace, take a workshop, or listen in on the wool show and buy fleeces. No matter what area of interest, there was something for everyone here. People started lining up before the door even opened and we were met with so many friendly faces and all the fibre you could want. There were spindles, yarn, finished items, fleeces and so much more to pick through and I saw a few people who attend Olds Fibre Week as well and got to chat.
The wool show had 9 fleeces which also included 1 Angora Goat fleece. My cousin Susan helped me and we organized the fleeces into categories; fine, medium, long, speciality wools (Shetland) and then Mohair. There was quite an audience as I judged each fleece and lots of questions. I had to admit I didn't know much about Angora Goats as my studies have been predominantly in wool but overall every fleece there was in remarkable condition. They were well skirted and relatively free from vegetable matter. I awarded ribbons and got to talk to a few of the sheep producers. The woman who had entered the goat fleece told me she plans on doing the same next year so I'm going to have to read up on Angora goats. I highly recommend this festival. It was very well co-ordinated and there were lots of activities and demos and classes to keep everyone interested. Keep you eyes peeled for the dates on this for next year.
The following weekend I was at the Cream of the Crop Craft Sale. This one has always been my favourite, because it is the kick off to all the holiday craft sales. I got to talk to a lot of other vendors and see some really nice handmade items. Thanks to Jeremy and Lindsay for helping me in my booth and thanks to everyone who stopped by to heck out my items and talk with me about wool, knitting and fibre in general!
My next sale will be Oct 26th and 27th at the Senior Centre in the Neil Balkwill parking lot. This is the annual Regina Weavers & Spinners Guild sale. I'd recommend coming to just check out the talent the guild offers, and we will be having coffee & cookies as well. This sale is well known by many as a very good place to pick up quality, one of a kind items. Most items here will be handspun, or handwoven.
Also don't forget that if you are interested in learning a fibre skill, I have my class schedule up here. If you see a class you like which doesn't fit in your schedule or you have something specific in mind, email me and I can do private lessons as well.
And last but definitely not least, Knit Natural is hosting Kim from the Wacky Windmill in a fibre-y trunk show on Oct 17th. She is my favourite indie dyer, and I'm likely her biggest customer. The majority of my handspun yarn is from fibre that she has dyed. No only will she be loaded with fibre but she also dyes yarn, sells knitting needle and crochet hooks, SOAK wash, notions, spindles and everything you need to make a beautiful project. You can find out more about The Wacky Windmill on her website www.thewackywindmill.com, or you can check out her groups on Ravelry and Facebook. This is also your chance to buy her items before she heads to Knit City in Vancouver. If you are interested in attending, email me and I will send you directions.
This year was a big success for both the sheep and wool shows in Drake Sk. The event kicked off with a wine and cheese sponsored by Granite Quarry Farms with sheep cheese from the Cheesery in Kitscoty. I have to say the maple/chive spreadable sheep cheese was the best I have ever tasted. It didn't hurt that the wine was my favourite too :P
I spent the whole weekend surrounded by sheep many of which are common in this province and the prairie provinces in general. Down breeds such as Dorset, Suffolk, N. Country Cheviot and Arcotts are known for their superior meat but I like them more for their wool. Down/Medium breeds have wool that has bulk without the weight. Their staple lengths average 3-5 inches and the fleeces can be quite large. To many of the producers in the sheep industry, the meat is the main focus and their wool takes a back burner, even though it also has a value. The point of the wool show is to show producers that there is another side to their industry and wool DOES have a value and as a renewable resource it can be productive over and over. Rambouillet sheep are also common in this province and their fleeces can be gorgeous. I bid on one that was entered into the wool show and won. Their fleeces fall into the fine category and can weigh between 9 - 14 lbs! Next year we are promised a Targhee fleece :P I am still learning and seeing more breeds this year was great. We had double the amount of fleeces entered this year compared to last and we even had an audience. We had the fleeces categorized by fine, medium (down) and coarse (longwools). Winners were awarded ribbons at the end of the show and I chose a coloured BFL X Corriedale to win the "Judges Choice" Ribbon. Prizes were awarded at the banquet on Saturday night. Special thanks to my friend Lindsay of Wired WhimZee for helping Val and I make everything go smoothly.
My friend Val Fiddler from Wooly Wool of the West co-ordinated the show and is a big supporter of the wool industry. She has a lovely flock of sheep and brought a few for the breed display; a Corriedale ewe and her lamb (so cute!), a big, beautiful Blue Faced Leicester and a handsome Black Welsh.
I also had a booth set up with all my wool items. I sold lots of SOAK, t-shirts, yarn and all my buttons :) I even had one customer say "It's SO nice to see wool at a sheep show!". Thanks to everyone who came out, I can't wait for next year.
What a great day today, even though it POURED for a bit, the sun did come out and I spent the whole day spinning <3. In my spindle class we started off with supported spindles, I haven't had too much experience with these as I only bought my first supported spindle last year here at Olds. Our instructor gave us this cute little bead spindle and a bag of fibre to practice with. After a few false starts I got the feel for it and away I went. By lunch time I spun 4 punis and about 1 foot of pima cotton on this little bead spindle (I'm pretty proud of myself :). After lunch we focused on top whorl spindles and plying.
I also learned a few tricks, if you wind your yarn onto your spindle up and down kinda making a criss-cross pattern its faster. I also learned that making your cop football shaped you can pack more yarn onto the spindle while still keeping it balanced. If your yarn isn't all plugged up at the top under the whorl you can spin until your spindle gets too heavy. Hey Jeremy, see spinning and football DO co-ordinate :P
I was lucky enough to have one of my favourite spindle makers in my class; Ed Tabachek. He was very humble and most of the people in the class who thought themselves "experts" on spindles had no idea who they were sitting beside. I did get to have a nice chat with
him during lunch. He was plying some corriedale he had spun on one of this spindles. We talked about different woods, which spindle makers he likes and how he has always been a wood turner but just took up spinning because it was of interest to his wife (who has also graduated from the
Masters Spinners courses at Olds) He and her would go on winter trips and he found spindles were a great, portable tool and he could get a lot done even just sitting around.
The market mall here never disappoints. This year it is even bigger than it was last year! I was really excited, not only because there is so much fibre packed into one area but I got to meet my favourite dyer/fibre supplier; Kim from The Wacky Windmill. She has a very good selection of hand dyed fibres, handspun yarns, tools and everything I love. I snagged a couple braids that were calling my name. Kim also surprised me with a little gift from her angora bunny "Suzie"! Did I ever tell you how much I love The Wacky Windmill?! Its such a thoughtful
gift. I am going to try and spindle spin it and make something special. Thanks Kim :D
I also purchased some green Easy Spin cotton because first of all I had a coupon and secondly my spindle teacher runs the Easy Spin cotton business.
After leaving the college for the day, Jeremy and I had a GREAT supper at the Stonewood Grill and we picked up some wine and now we are just unwinding listening to the thunderstorm outside. Sigh, what a wonderful day. Tomorrow we are going to check out the Summer Solstice fair and watch some fireworks.
Thanks to everyone who came out to The True Knit Art Show today! I had loads of fun and talked to a lot of great people! It's so amazing to see how creative people are in our city. I will see you at the next one :)
I also made this gift set for my moms birthday; 4 spa cloths and some olive oil soap my friend Michelle helped me make. I'm loving simple patterns lately, you can do so much with them. These are totally my moms colours. I will have some gift sets like these for sale at the Cathedral Village Arts Festival on May 25th.
I received this gorgeous wheel this past weekend... (Thank you to Brenda!) stunningly gorgeous and I have always wanted a dark wood wheel. It is a Haldane, made in Scotland. To be honest I have never heard of this wheel maker before. They are not very common and stopped making wheels in the 80's to focus more on staircases. They had a few different styles; Orkney, Shetland, Hebridean and the updated Lewis. The wood is a kiln-dried European Beech with a dark oak stain. The bobbin capacity is about 2.5 oz, maybe 3 if you pack it on tight. The wheel is actually smaller than it looks in the pictures, the diameter of the wheel itself is probably just over a foot. It is a double drive and after putting on a new drive band I spun on it instantly without any trouble. It is soon to become one of my favourites. I have 4 wheels now and they have all been previously owned. They originate from New Zealand, Poland, Scotland and Vermont. Not a squeak can be heard from this beauty, and it even comes apart for easy portability win, win, win. :D I have spun some BFL/baby camel fibre on it and loving every minute.
In my quest to learn as much as I can about natural fibre (and wool in general), and since I had an opportunity to attend Fibre Week at Olds College this year, I decided to enroll in their Wool Judging course. Not only did I get to immerse myself in greasy wool (literally) I learned SO MUCH more about the fibre than I ever thought. We looked at over 40 fleeces and learned about the scientific side of wool as well as the artistic. I learned what to look for in a good fleece- not only from an artisan’s view but also what a commercial buyer would want. We learned how to count microns with the naked eye (more or less) and how to score fleeces based
on characteristics of breed. This last part is the most difficult because there are hundreds of sheep breeds and crosses within those breeds. Kemp (the coarse, usually white, kinky hairs you sometimes find in roving) is a huge point deduction in most breeds, except Icelandic and Scottish Blackface breeds. You wouldn’t dock points in this case because kemp is characteristic of those breeds. We learned about seasonal effects or health effects which can have a huge impact on the quality of the fleece for example, the fibres might break apart easily (called a broken fleece), and this is bad news for both the artisan and the commercial buyer. If a sheep isn’t sheared regularly their fibres can become matted or cotted, and this takes away from your useable content. Dyes, paints or brands will lower your overall score as well as too much vegetable matter or manure. Proper skirting is important. You may lose weight initially but the overall
clean yield is crucial, especially in a “by the numbers” judging method (which is used for a commercial judging card). Commercial buyers usually look for fine, white fleeces. This way the yarns they can make will be good for next-to-skin articles and they can dye white fibres. Whereas from an artisan’s perspective, we love all the natural colours. I also learned why the Blue Faced Leicester sheep are called that… the skin on their faces is a dark grey and with their beautiful white fibre their faces look blue. Very cool. Wool is such a wonderful fibre with so many benefits; it’s antibacterial, has a good memory, keeps you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot, it’s breathable and fire retardant just to name a few. Sheep are so cute too, how can you not love them?
This little guy was one of the sheep at the Grasslands Sheep Show in Drake Sask this past July. I was lucky enough to be asked to judge the show and I
had 13 fleeces which I had categorized from fine to coarse, and judged it with a commercial judging card. People were very interested and asked a lot
of questions and I was happy to explain what I was doing as I went along. I awarded prizes after a few hours and I was happy with the results. Val Fiddler (one of my classmates in the Wool Judging course) was my scribe and we got to get close and personal with some great Saskatchewan Sheep
breeds. She also had a good display with several of the sheep breeds we looked at for others to see, and it’s true, BFL sheep DO have blue faces. You can read the article she wrote on the Sask Sheep Breeders Blog. My picture was on the cover of their Oct issue of “Sheep Shape” and this article was in their magazine. I had a great time.
The 4th annual guild sale is back! This is the time
of year where the Regina Weavers and Spinners can sell all the things we have been working on over the year. You can do all your Christmas shopping at this sale. Items range from tea towels, scarves, yarn, felted soap, hats, pillows, bags, baby blankets etc and everything is handwoven,
handspun, handknit, handmade etc. The creativity you find here is just so inspirational. I was doing spinning demos today and talking to a lot of interested people. We are also open tomorrow Oct 21st from 1-4 in the Senior Centre in the parking lot of the Neil Balkwill Centre. I hope to see you there and did I mention we have coffee and goodies being served all day? That’s what Jeremy goes for :P