Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homage to Dad

Have you ever had one of those days when you just couldn’t think straight? The brain sits in its cozy environs and refuses to answer its email, phone or text. There’s a little sign on the grey door, in filigree script, pinned with an icicle: “Snow Day”. These are the days when I knit.

Yesterday was one of those days. I knit something very simple indeed…side to side short rowed cuff. I’ve been wearing Cassy’s Cuffs backwards, with the garter stitch end pulled up to my thumbs. It’s warmer than the lacy end which rides decoratively over my sleeves like Elizabethan gauntlets. These are my handspun merino pair, the really cushy ones that have spoiled me for all other pairs, so I’m knitting Cassy’s Cuffs sans lace or decoration or any kind. Basically it’s one long garter stitch end. These could even be guy cuffs…really…especially in Olive Medley. The yarn is similar, but in BFL, still a 2 ply handspun, still spun from the fold…softer than soft with lots of loft and character. There’s one down and one to go. I’ll finish the second before seaming them in case I have extra for a thumb or something mildly interesting. I’ll kitchener the seam closed with the tail leftover from my provisional cast on which I started like a long tail cast on, but worked in provisional instead. This geek-greek ultimately means I have one less end to run in, or have work out in the wearing.

After half a day of working without a brain to speak of, it occurred to me that perhaps the freeze was due to the fact that it was my Dad’s birthday. Dad has been gone since 2003, so all celebrating of birthdays must be done without the jolly good fellow. This makes it seem more like an anniversary of a death than a birth. Dad would say, “Forget it! Relax,” But that didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. So I knit. And it seems to me that I’ve knit through a lot of difficult times. Good times too, for sure. But knitting has served me as a heavy anchor in drifting times. I know Dad would understand this. His anchor was his model hobby…trains and planes. His business was art…animation…so when he had time off, art was the last thing on his mind, especially when he was older. He’d rather figure out how things ticked, so he’d take things apart to make them run better, or make them from scratch. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because even on brain-freeze days I’d rather design than follow a pattern, no matter how simple. So here’s to you, Dad. Cheers.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Studio Tour This Weekend, Dec 4 & 5, 2010

"Fritillary" handpainted, handspun, knitted and crocheted cowl, by Lynne Vogel
This coming weekend is a big deal here in Sewanee. People come by the busloads this Sunday to take part in the Festival of Lessons and Carols at University of the South's All Saint's Chapel. What better weekend to hold TACA's CAST Studio Tour in Sewanee and Monteagle. Local Tennessee craft artisans open their studios to visitors who come to enjoy and purchase beautiful arts and crafts. This is my first year to open my studio to this tour. Sharon Bandy and Jan Quarles will be joining me in welcoming all and sundry to see our fiber art, including knitted, crocheted, handspun, felted, and handdyed pieces, both large and small, decorative and wearable. My studio at 456 Tennessee Ave in Sewanee will be open Sat, Dec 4th from 10 AM-5 PM and Sunday, Dec 6, from noon-5 PM. The studio is in the garage, so please go there directly. If you knock on the front door you'll only incur (no pun intended) the wrath of Monk. You'll find a downloadable pdf map of the tour here. You can also find a map of the tour this Thursday via the Sewanee Mountain Messenger.

Also, don't miss the Full Cast Exhibit at St. Andrews Sewanee Gallery in Simmons Hall on the SAS Campus. All these pieces shown here are offered for sale in the gallery.
These are just a small sample of the items we'll have available in my studio. Jan will be showing an array of colorful nuno felted scarves. Sharon will have all sorts of felted items, including flower rings and flower keychains for stocking stuffers, plus felted scarves and bags. My collection includes wristers, scarves and mobius wraps knit and crocheted from handspun yarns. My favorite piece is a moebius wrap knit entirely from handspun art yarns in colors reminiscent of fresh rose petals strewn amongst winter leaves and twigs (photo forthcoming).
Nuno Felted Scarf by Sharon Bandy
So we hope you'll join us this weekend. After all, we'll have cookies!
Felt Hat by Jan Quarles

You can find more of Sharon's work in her Etsy shop "Feltware". Jan is know also as "Daily Fibers" handdyed yarns and fibers, available at Haus of Yarn in Nashville, TN and also on Etsy. I'll be listing finished items on Etsy after the tour, so check it out next week.
"Fritillary" back detail by Lynne Vogel

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soap and Vogue

As I was lathering up with Three Waters Farm Handmade True Soap this morning, I realized I've never sung it's praises. What took me so long? This is the most marvelous stuff. I don't know about you, but I have very sensitive skin and this lovely traditionally made goat milk soap is always kind and effective. Mary Ann has been tucking bars into fiber and yarn shipments ever since I've known her, keeping me well supplied. And at SAFF last month she brought me the bestest of the best bonus...a bag of soap ends! In all sorts of flavors as well. A felter's dream come true, since I can leave My hands in these suds for ages without ill effects. I LOVE it. If you haven't experienced this perfect, practical, minimalist artisan bar, go here and check it out.  It's made from purest goatmilk, milked by hand. The fragrances are delightful, but never overbearing. My personal faves are Oatmeal Lavender, Palmarosa Rosewood and Bay Rum (which is like root beer and spice...yummy) and of course unscented. Very few soapmakers these days even offer and unscented bar.
There's nothing off the wall about this soap. It's a sensible rectangular shape. I like this because when the bar gets really thin, I can stick it to a new bar and make it go longer. That isn't so easy to do with fancy shapes. It has no dyes either...a real plus for those of us who have enough dye in our lives already. And the fragrance is mild, just enough to enjoy but not enough to follow you around for hours.

Before I get off the soapbox I just have to mention how flattered I was to receive totally unsolicited mention in the Holiday Vogue Knitting. Kelly Wills writes a column about web knit offerings called "Give a Knit" in which she gave the Justify Spinning Kit a lovely plug. Thanks, Kelly!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Long Draw Question Debunked

For a spinner, things could be worse than being left holding a wad of silk. Nevertheless, I had to laugh when one of my students at SAFF last weekend said she'd been told you can't spin a merino/silk preparation from the fold because of the discrepancy in the staple lengths of the two fibers...that you'd be left holding a wad of silk in your hand. "Ha! Wad of silk my ***", I exclaimed (not able to contain myself after three days of teaching). "Hand me a chunk of it if you don't mind and we'll just see." She handed me her lovely light red Ashford merino/silk preparation. I popped off a nice piece and it came loose at the staple length of the merino, no loose silky ends to mess with. I folded and drew it out to the last little fiber. Nothing left in my hand. Goes to show...a little skepticism goes a long way.

We had a great time messing with Navajo or Chained Ply on Sunday. I'd been wanting to ply an "art" yarn with that method and hadn't gotten around to it. So here's one of my demo yarns from my Foundation Singles for Art Yarns class all chained up. Fun. Also, check out one of my Friday students, Andrea, zipping up a speedy chained ply. She's been spinning since February and just look at her go! What's more fun that watching somebody really get it in class? Zowwy.

Thanks to everyone who came to my classes at SAFF. I met so many fun new people, many of them neighbors now and even neighbors once upon a time (a fellow Pasadenan). Hope to see you all again and soon. Follow me on Twitter to learn about new classes as soon as they are scheduled. Next class on the roster will be my yearly Spin, Knit, Dye class at Harrisville, NH, first week of August 2011. Others will pop up before too long. Have even thought about organizing a weekend at Dubose this winter...maybe early February and more than likely again in May or June. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Wheel's Angels

Spinners unite! Our new spinning group Wheel's Angels had it's maiden meeting (like maiden voyage?) with our core group of 5 on Monday. It's been hard to find the right space here in Sewanee, one that is large enough, well lit and comfortable and not taken when we can manage to conviene. Thanks to Lucinda, we now meet in the Parish Hall of St James Episcopal Church in Midway, TN. And we had a blast. We all found it rejuvenating to just sit and spin with friends. I for one came home and burned on the electric guitar, a pastime I have sorely neglected. Definitely looking towards this coming Monday. Spinners are welcome to join us. It's not a class, it's just a casual spin in. Spinners only, please, since there are knitting groups on the mountain. St. James is across from the Midway Market on Midway Rd in Sewanee, TN. We go from 6:00 PM till around 7:40 every Monday evening. Ravelry users will find a Wheel's Angels topic in Twisted Friends Group.

Response is very positive for my Art Yarn patterns on Etsy. Got included in an awesome treasury and included on Magpyi's blog about same. There will be more patterns this fall. Also, remember that I'll be teaching at SAFF in a couple weeks. The Active Twist Singles class was changed to Foundation Singles for Art Yarns on Saturday, Oct 22, so if you've been wanting to take this class, here's your chance.

Oh, one more thing. If you are in the market for a lightly used 24" Ashford Table Loom with Treadle Stand and live within approx 150 miles of Sewanee, please contact me. This sweet loom needs a new home.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Indigenous is in Knitty!

The Late Fall Knitty'10 (and Knittyspin) is out today and I"m sitting here for the first time this season wearing the Baby Llama Glow version of Indigenous, which you'll find in the patterns section of Knitty's just released issue, and my white handspun Cassy's Cuffs. After weeks of weather in the 90s, it suddenly cooled and rained. Temps today are in the low 60s, but feel like low 50s after all that heat. A perfect day to pull out the knitwear and the needles.

I really love this pattern and have knit it in wool, silk, llama, handspun (like the TWF Canyonlands Bfl/Tussah version, left), millspun, you name it. It's beautiful knit as openwork lace or just as regular knitting (though I wouldn't knit it on too firm a gauge myself). Since it's modular you can knit it as large or small as you want, from a neck bandana to a sumptuous shawl. The brown version shown here at right is Three Waters Farm Organic Sportweight Yarn in Chocolate.

Indigenous has a crochet edging. I know that many knitters do not crochet and I suspect this is because they tension their yarn exclusively with their dominant hand (usually the right). Crochet is pretty slow if you tension with the right hand, goes way faster with yarn held in the left. I'm a continental knitter, so crochet comes naturally. Rather than not include the crocheted edging, I decided to include instructions for "knitchet", or crocheting with knitting needles. Knitchet is really simple to understand and work, and although it will never replace the speed and efficiency of the hook, it will allow those who have never picked up a hook the chance to finish the pattern without learning a whole new skill. It goes like this:

Here's how you pick up into the edge to form a single crochet stitch with knitting needles. I"m starting in the middle of the row so I already have one stitch on my rh needle. I'm using a contrasting color so you can see the stitches. Of course in real life you'd use the same yarn as the body of the shawl. Photo A: With one st on rh needle, pick up next st.
Photo B: Place 2 sts on lh needle. Photo C: k2tog through the back of the loop. It's that easy. To work a chain stitch, you simply return the st from the rh needle to the lh needle and knit it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Got Handspun? Check out these patterns!

Recently Claire Cabe of Lucca Dot Yarns asked me if I ever wrote patterns for small amounts of art yarns. Claire has had a booth in the Chattanooga Market this summer and her yarns are walking out the door around people's necks! She is getting return customers asking, "What can I do with 20-40 yds of yarn?" So here's my answer. Got Handspun? Here are some easy, quick ideas, now available on my Etsy Store: These patterns are perfect for TWF Thick and Thin Yarn as well. BTW, that's her lovely daughter Lauren in the photos. Lauren is well on her way to becoming a professional model.

In fact, response has already been really positive. Several handspun stores on Etsy have asked to link my patterns to their yarns. So I'm going to start listing those shops on my sidebar with links to their stores. If you want me to link you, convo me on Etsy and I'll be glad to add you to the list.

Two Way Street Scarf (photo 1): takes total of approx 75 yds, one 35 yd skein and one 40 yd skein.

Lynx: a modular scarf in three pieces. Photo 2 shows all three Lynx, photo 3 shows one Lynk with Rose is a Rose. Divvy up 100 yds of yarn into three different length pieces and lynk them together or wear alone.

Lynx Headband (photo 4): Takes approx 40 yds and a button.

Rose is a Rose (photo 2): No wallflowers here. This is one in-your-face rose. Takes 10 yds of bulky weight yarn and about 30 minutes to knit.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SAFF 2010: Hands On Color and Active Twist Singles

 SAFF (Southeastern Animal and Fiber Festival) in Asheville, NC is just around the corner. I'll be teaching two different classes there this year. Hands On Color will be all day on Friday, Oct 22, 2010. We'll cover many spinning techniques for getting the most out of handpainted rovings, including various ways of separating your fiber for color effects, different drafting techniques, and several different ways to ply. As usual, there is new stuff in my class every year. Foundation Singles for Art Yarns will be all day on Saturday, Oct 23. We'll focus on spinning fine and heavy singles, including spinning two different directions of twist, and ply them into several types of art yarns.

Hands On Color will repeat again on Sunday, Oct 24. So you have two chances to take that particular class.

If you haven't signed up yet and want to, you can go here for more information. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Don't miss Three Waters Farm booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool this weekend, May 1, 2010. Here's a preview of my new collection for the TWF Superfluity Yarn Kit. Colorway shown is Olive Medley. You can knit all these items from one kit. These are all basic patterns for any experience level of knitter. If you can knit, purl, join and knit in the round and knit back and forth and increase/decrease, you can knit them all. Included in the collection are A Fine Hat with Rose, Quick and Easy Scarf, Two Button Cowl, Touch Screen Mitts, and 3-D Flower in two sizes. This pattern will be available in hard copy at Three Waters Farm's booth in the main exhibition hall, or you may purchase the PDF online at my Etsy Shop. Yarn subs? Fine Hat with Rose takes approx 70 yds of bulky yarns (art yarns would be perf), Two Button Cowl take approx 65 yds of bulky yarn (again, art yarns...). These yarns should be heavy enough to knit on US 15/10mm needles. Touch Screen Mitts take approx 180 yds any worsted weight yarn, knit on US 3/2.75 and 3-D Flower takes approx 45 yds to knit both sizes of flower. Quick and Easy Scarf takes approx 200 yds mohair silk boucle or any other textured yarn knittable on US 11/8mm.

The bag shown is not included in the pattern. It's one of my original handspun/ hand felted bags.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wavelength Jacket

If you are going to Maryland Sheep and Wool this year, you have to check out the Three Waters Farm booth. It's B23 in the Main Exhibition Hall. They will have all kinds of new colors in yarn and fiber this year, plus many of the old faves as well. If you are a fan of the Three Waters Farm Superfluity Yarn Kit, check out this new pattern. This beautiful and flattering textured jacket takes one Superfluity Kit plus three additional skeins of mohair/silk boucle. I"ve written this pattern in regular and petite sizes, so if you think this is too long, you'll be able to knit it in a shorter version. It's an easy-to-knit side to side swing jacket that looks like a circle jacket, but with slimming vertical lines. This one is knit in Stone House colorway.

You can also find this pattern at my Etsy Shop. Handspinners, you'll love this pattern. I want to knit one in different weights of handspun yarn. It's really a great basic pattern for embellishing with all kinds of yarns. You can knit the body with anything that knits up on a size 10 needle, then use heavier yarns in the surround that knit up on 11s and 15s.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Patterns and Upcoming Events

With Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on the horizon I've been plenty busy lately. Three Waters Farm will have their booth again, and with it heaps and gobs of gorgeous new colors. I have three very cool new patterns this year and will be posting specifics about each of them this coming week.

Two of these patterns are written specifically for Three Waters Farm's Superfluity Yarn Kit. Over the past several years I've written pattern support for this kit, the most popular of them being Superfluity, this textured moebius wrap. This year we'll have a very cool jacket called Wavelength. It's kind of like Superfluity in a jacket. Even though it's knit side to side it looks like a circle jacket, the difference being that it fits better than a circle jacket and is more slimming due to its vertical lines. This year we'll have a fabulous collection of basic patterns called Hat, Scarf, Cowl, Mitts and Flowers. You'll be able to get all these items out of one Superfluity Kit. Handspinners will love this pattern collection as well, especially art yarn spinners, as several of these patterns are perfect for chunky and bulky yarns that knit up well on size 15 needles. I will be offering these patterns and more on my Etsy store within the next week as well. So stay tuned for all the new pretties.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blood Memory

The geneology bug has bitten me big-time. About a month ago, a couple days before my grandmother’s birthday, I woke up with a burning desire to visit the home where she gave birth to my mother, a now spooky ante-bellum, hand built, three-storey Georgian in the wilds of rural Mississippi. I’ve only been there a couple times, nobody home, only to stand in front of the house and wonder which room held the spinning wheel and the loom, how they lived back then. It must have been where my mother learned to knit and crochet. Family stories are sandwiched in my head so that I see my turn of the 20th century relatives running around in hoop skirts and frock coats. After a month of study I’m able to pry some of these layers apart, but it’s like dismantling a baklava.

All the women in my direct motherline were adept at textiles. Mom taught me to knit and crochet when I was very young. Grandma Jo was an incredible crocheter, who made stacks and stacks of filet crochet potholders which I use to this day. I mean, how tight do you have to crochet something that tiny so that it’s dense enough to use? Tight. Mighty tight. Check out the crochet collar in Jo's portrait photo, probably taken around 1910. I know she must have crocheted it herself. Hook size? 00000000000. Pronounced “oooooooh!” Her mother Penelopy was a spinner and weaver, most likely of cotton and flax. And she must have learned it from her mother, because in rural Mississippi there were few other options.

Spinning, knitting and crochet are a rich inheritance indeed. I have no doubt that they are genetically hardwired; blood memories. These skills that have brought me through both tough and happy times, have been as important as friends. I find it totally fascinating that all the fibery women in the family were on my mother’s side, and most of them straight down my motherline. Somehow this makes what I do even more precious, even more an integral part of who I am. My love of these crafts is indelible, inseparable, undeniable. Where are my needles? Gotta go knit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hands On Color Monteagle Returns!


This year Hands On Color Monteagle returns on June 4-6, 2010 at the Dubose Conference Center in Monteagle, TN. This weekend residential color spinning workshop was a huge success last year. This year we'll be able to use the motel-style accomodations at Dubose which are a lot quieter than the dormitory we used last year. This year we'll focus on using handpainted top to spin the yarns we really want from super thin to super thick and we'll explore color combining in two ply yarns using various angles of ply from balanced to supercoil. We'll have a spin-in again like last year, good food, great company, and tons of beautiful fiber for sale. If you would like to be on the mailing list for this event, please email me. In a few days I'll be able to send you prices and other details.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

All Downhill From Here

Life is good! I just bought an Ashford Wild Card drum carder and can't stop!!! Watch out Monk! I may come at you with a brush to add a little bloom to an earth tone! Seriously, this is a very cool little machine. It makes a super deep batt and they spin so beautifully. Wow. I'll be bringing this baby to classes for sure. It's so light...what a sweet toy.

So I've been posting more yarns and also some batts on etsy. Yesterday I spent a while taking cheesecake shots of gorgeous fibers and yarns. Wish I could tell them, "Ok, lean a little to your left. Great! Now chin on a fence!" I especially love photographing the batts. Cielo looks like an ocean wave in mid break.

News flash! We've started a local spin/knit/crochet group here in Sewanee! Twisted Friends will hold their third meeting today at 4:30 PM at St Andrews Sewanee in the library of Simmons Hall! This is really marvelous, thanks to the ever supportive Claire Reishman and the functions committee at SAS. Thanks so much for providing us with such a comfortable place to bring our wheels and needles. This isn't a class, it's just an informal gathering, but there will be spinners and knitters there. We hope our ranks will grow, so if you are in the area and interested, please join us from 4:30 to 6:00 PM on Wednesday afternoons.

Not I've gotta go card and spin. Cheers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yoda! I did it!

Yoda! I did it! You showed me a lot of these techniques years ago, especially how to tease and coil, but I wasn't ready to let go. Was it a case of art yarns before art yarns were cool? No, I think it was a case of clutzy hands and fuzzy brain. Last weekend I took this great workshop from Jacey Boggs/Insubordiknit at Falcon Feather Fibers in Nashville. Guess I was finally ready, cuz with my current level of spinning expertise it's suddenly salad. It's so funny to think back on all the times I just wasn't ready to spin these yarns. I watched Luisa Gelenter spin tailspun without a core in 1985, en pointe no less. Lost on me. Fell in love with locks at Black Sheep in the 90s and watched you and another lady spin them "TTTW". I made a mess. Absolutely drank in Judith McKenzie McCuin's novelty art yarn class at SOAR 2000, then got dyslexic and forgot half of it (one loose, one tight, one to the left, one to the right, stand up, sit down, fight fight fight). Gotta say that Judith's new book Intentional Spinner and a few minutes with Rita Buchanan recently are largely responsible for my quantum leap in twist understanding of late. Of course for me it helps to understand what and why...not always the leap of faith type here. But this week I leaped big time...found myself corespinning without a core. That's right! It just happened. How sweet it is.

Jacey's class was a blast. Great teacher (thanks for all those awesome details and fine points...and new vocabulary...sargeshi indeed), great class...lots of friends, met lovely new people. Everyone did fabulous work (test of a really good teacher, BTW). I drank up being in the audience for a change, having fun at the wheel. I LOVE
corespinning and auto wrap. Coils and supercoils are fun too. My supersmooth yarn really looked sweet in supercoils...TWF City Nights BFL. Trying to get better at things like halos and tiny coils. Practice, practice.

Here's our fearless leader sporting a sargeshi shaped mustachio, soon to become a coil on a single. What a cool technique that is. Gotta practice that one too. This week I've been autowrapping like a madwoman, teasing, fluffing, corespinning...just because I can (see basket of goodies). Sweet. I'm posting these yarns on Etsy. More photos on flickr too. Now I need to get that danged drum carder back in action.