Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Zel Update

Zel has really come a long way since Pat took her in after Christmas. Dogs who have been confined too long as she was in the Sewanee Pound will be prone to fight or flight and Zel was the former. But with steady attention, good digs, lots of food and playmates, Zel has blossomed into a very cool dog. I wish I could keep her, but she is a rough houser and would break Monk in half. So I'm still on the search for a good forever home for this dog.
Her best play buddy is Pat's mountain cur Kane. Kane is her size, caramel and black brindle like coffee ripple ice cream, and quite the shy guy. But these two love each other. Not only has Kane helped Zel calm down, but Zel has helped Kane be more outgoing. He went on his first leash walk yesterday...a real he has never been able to tolerate a leash. I brought a harness so we didn't have to use a collar for him and off we went, Kane and Zel, Pat and me. He used to just go berserk if you put a leash on him. Not any more.
A couple weeks ago I took Zel to the St. PAWtrick's Day Dog Walk in Chattanooga. I was ready to bail if things got bad but they just got better and better. We parked at Bone Apetite on the Northshore and walked across Walnut Street Bridge to Ross Landing where over 100 people were crowded with their dogs waiting to push off on the walk. I introduced Zel to Lisa Putney of Bone Apetite who had her two boston terriers. Everything was fine. We moved on into the crowd. Everything was fine. Zel was a little excited and kept jumping on me for reassurance, but she soon calmed. We started talking to Lizzy Duff, a former Sewanee student walking her huge rottie Rex. The following extremely short videos show as well as possible (heck...I had Zel's leash in one hand and an Iphone with a cheap video app in the other) how many people were on this walk and how well Zel was doing in the mix. I mean, this dog had never seen a city, a big river, a bridge, so many people, cars, buildings or dogs, or a glass bridge. Good girl, Zel.
I would like to find a home for Zel with someone who walks or runs. She is the greatest companion on long, long walks. We walked from Bone Apetite on Frazier all the way across the river to Chestnut and Riverside, up to the Hunter, across the glass bridge (undaunted, mind you), back across Walnut Street to Frazier Ave. She could have done that 10 times, I'm sure. She's great in the car too. She likes to rough house with dogs her size, loves attention, is love driven, and is reasonably clean and neat (though she likes "perfume"...what girl doesn't). She needs an able bodied adopter, a fenced yard, and plenty of attention (don't we all?). She was spayed last week, so she's ready for her forever home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mr Peabody and the Wayback Machine

These ultra cool old timey photos taken in rural Clarke County, Mississippi in the 1920s, have more than a little meaning for me. These ladies are from my motherline. On the back of the top photo Tempie writes, "Pearl, Josie, Tempie. We were just up from having measles-just after Christmas-was the first time Pearl & Josie had dressed to get out after being sick-measles did not hurt me." Josie is my grandmother and these are her sisters, dated 1924. I'm amazed that they looked so stylish...bobbed hair, dropped waist dresses. This is just about the only photo remaining of Grandma Jo from that era. I heard so many stories about these people, but never got to meet them. Tempie especially...she was quite a gal. I can't help but think of Skeeter Phelan from The Help when I see her photo. 

This second photo is the only one we could find of my great grandmother Penelope and we are talking piles and piles of photos. She stands with Pearl and Tempie (this one really looks like Skeeter to me). Penelope probably made every stitch of clothing in the photo. From mom's stories, P could spin, knit, weave, sew, you name it. No wonder my mom went to art school in fashion design and why I can't leave the fiber alone. Penelope also bore 11 children 9 surviving, ran a household, ministered to the neighboring sick and childbearing and all of this while living on a farm. Makes me feel positively idle riche to think of it. Time to get crackin'.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chattanooga River Market this Saturday.

Chattanooga River Market 2011 opens Saturday, Mar 19. Held at the Tennessee Aquarium every Saturday from now until September 24, you'll find all sorts of fun stuff here. Mainly, the Lucca Dot Yarn booth. Lucca Dot Yarn is the brain child of the infectious Claire Cabe, who asked me to teach her to spin a couple years ago and hasn't stopped since. This is her second year at the market with her wild and crazy yarns. It's so funny, because since she's a knitter, she hopes for knitters to want her yarns and of course, not all who come to the market are knitters. But they buy her yarns necklaces!...wearing them around their necks. You may remember her yarn Thruway in Knitty Winter 2010. Her yarns range from crazy to elegant...see her new shabbychic collection for elegant.

Tomorrow Claire will have a few new things in her booth. Four pair of ready to wear Fern Spiral Fingerless Gloves to be exact. I knit them up in shabby chic naturally dyed colors of Iron and Wine (taupe grey), Dahlia Flowers (gold green), Madder Root and Eucalyptus Leaves (dusty apricot peach) and Au Naturel (undyed natural ecru scoured with hand made soap). These are all colors that defy description and are difficult as heck to photograph. She'll also have a Fern Spiral knitting kits complete with one 300 yd skein of naturally dyed or scoured 100% merino wool complete with pattern.

So if you are in the Chattanooga, TN area check her out. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Direction of Twist/Food for Thought

We spinners are used to spinning to the right and plying to the left. So much so that these directions have become hardwired in our brains, hands and feet. Spinning singles? Don’t you automatically start treadling your wheel clockwise?

Let’s start thinking about direction of twist a little bit from a knitter's perspective. Ever knit stockinette in the round with a millspun singles? Have you ever noticed that it seems like it’s coming untwisted as you knit, so that after a while, you see no twist at all in the yarn as it wraps around your needle? Do you think that is a good thing? Or not? Why?

The best way to get a good idea of how different directions of twist handle is to use the singles fresh, active, right off the bobbin. Pay attention to what is happening as you work different types of stitches, patterns, cables and the like. Alternate knitting 6 rows/rnds of stockinette with one direction of twist, then 6 rows/rnds with the opposite direction. Crochet with it too. You’ll really get an idea of how much twist you introduce into your yarn, what happens as you knit with it. Don’t spin? Knit a sample with singles and with plied yarn and look for the differences.

Plied yarns, although balanced, have their final direction of twist to the left. Try spinning a singles to the left and plying it to the right. Knit with it. Now what happens? How does it differ from your usual knitting with yarn that’s plied to the left?

What happens? What you do like about it? Don’t like? Why go to all this trouble? Everyone spins differently, knits differently to some degree. There is a real push nowadays to standardize knitting techniques, language, instructions. But knitting is far from standardized in the hands of knitters themselves. Many of us still knit as our mothers or grandmother taught us, techniques that have been handed down for generations. So here’s another question: when you wrap your knits and purls, is your yarn taking the same path around your needle? Do you wrap knits counterclockwise and purls clockwise (looking from the pointed end of the needle at your hands)? Many will say yes, but I don’t. Does it matter? It depends.

Ok. Now get ahold of some ribbon…something you can knit that has no twist in it whatsoever. Knit with it as usual. What happens? It twists. What do you do to keep it from twisting?

The reason I’m not answering these questions is that I want you to notice what’s happening for yourself. Because it will give you a better understanding of how you knit, a better understanding of yarn. It also will help you as a spinner to understand how much potential variety you have at your fingertips.

I have also posted this topic on Twisted Friends group on Ravelry so that it will be easier for you to have a running discussion amongst yourselves.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Circle of Toes

Ok, fess up. Which one were you?
I'll admit it. I'm mauve, lower right corner...the obvious flipflop wearer. Mom warned me that I'd get a space between my toes. Here's proof. Of course I really like that emerald green...

Workshop Eye Candy

hand blended plied
Some examples of yarns we'll spin during Hands On Color: Fiber Salad!

You don't have to have a drum carder to get that layered batt look. Learn handblending with us at Dubose in May. We'll also play with various plying techniques and spinning an ensemble of yarns from one handpainted roving. Come and play with us!
hand blended corespun singles
handblended corespun singles and plied

a few fun plying techniques

more plying techniques

ensemble of yarns from same roving seen as single upper left

2011 Workshops: Fun Will Be Had

Kathy's rovings dyed in my Harrisville Class, 2010
HANDS ON COLOR: FIBER SALAD! Residential 2 day intensive spinning workshop, Dubose Conference Center, Monteagle, TN. Friday evening May 20- Sunday May 22, 2011.

DYE SPIN KNIT: Residential 5 day spin, dye, knit workshop, Harrisville Designs, Harrisville NH.
Two Sessions! August 1-5, 2011 and October 3-7, 2011.

Also, offering private or small group spinning lessons in Sewanee, TN in March and April, beginner through advanced. Contact me for more information.

Fiber Frenzy! Handblended yarns.
Hands On Color: Fiber Salad!
Join us for a Fiber Frenzy. Spin yourself silly! This year's retreat will focus on working with many different materials, combining them in beautiful art yarns. We'll work with roving, fleece, locks, silk, glitz, fabric, yarns, felt items,beads, you name it, learning sound techniques for joining these different materials and using them to maximum effect. Class materials include a 4 ounce hank of handpainted Blue Face Leicester wool to use as "glue" plus a large bag of mixed materials (fiber salad). Hone your manual acuity! By the time you leave this class you will probably be able to spin the phone book. There will be tons more fiber for sale as well. Come join the fun! Contact Jan Quarles for official flier and registration form.

Cynthia's fibers and yarns, Harrisville 2010
Dye Spin Knit
This year I'm offering my Harrisville class twice, once in August and again in October. This is a wholistic yarn design class, focusing on color usage: how to spin many different yarns from one handpainted roving, understanding how handpaints spin up, handpainting your own fiber, color mixing, and knitting your sample yarns. We'll focus on different types of singles yarns, plus different ways of using and plying these yarns. This class is designed to bring out your inner yarn diva and cement your self confidence in your own artistic vision. We also have tons of silly fun, like the photo somebody took of all our crazy toenail polish colors! (would somebody please email me that photo?) Contact Harrisville Designs for more information.