knit | spin

Freshly Laid Plans

January 16, 2016

And now is the time for the laying of plans.

I would like to try weaving my own plaid with hand spun yarn from local sheep that we will somehow have managed to convince the Council to run, instead of tractors to keep the grass down on our ovals and parkland. But since I have some study to do, and I would need to learn how to weave first, that will have to wait for another year. This year, the making plans are more modest.

IMG_2275I am going to get to know my new Majacraft Rose and new spinning techniques as I undertake a Certificate in Spinning at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria.

IMG_2229I am going to keep at my feat of endurance for the Shackelton CAL with FiberTrek, spinning all my old fleeces up using woollen long draw and knitting up some kind of colourwork garment. I stalled after Spinzilla 2015 when realised I really needed to re-scour the Polwarth fleece I had as much of it felt sticky and made carding and spinning difficult. It took me till December to get that done and I have been carding ever since.

IMG_2244I am going to finally come to grips with my fingering weight stash and experiment with Fair Isle to turn the stash in useful garments. This part of my stash has seemed rather impenetrable to me.

The core of it is a collection of Alice Starmore yarns that date back over fifteen years. The rest are Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift and Jamieson and Smith oddments leftover from my own and others projects. There are also a few balls from the Isle of Harris Knitwear Co. bought as souvenirs in the UK. They are all woollen spun, fingering weight, perfect for colourwork.

IMG_2227I will use these wonderful books to guide my adventures. And hopefully something beautiful and useful will emerge.

I am also hoping to keep this delightful vase made by local potter, Riverwife Clay filled with flowers and foliage from our garden and neighbourhood walks all through the year as a reminder of simple pleasures close to hand.  It is a smallish, humble vase with a heavy base and glaze like cream speckled with vanilla seeds. It was my gift to our family at Christmas.

IMG_2230

And the thesis of course.

Do tell me of your plans for this year…for January is ever the time of possibility and hopefulness.

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  1. Your goals sound absolutely wonderful! I look forward to seeing your Fair Isle creations and all your lovely spinning.
    My own fibre related goals for this year are pretty small … I would like to weave a nice scarf from my handspun and maybe try weaving cloth for a purse. Warping my loom still scares me and feels pretty daunting, so I’m giving myself the entire year to work on these two projects. 😉

    1. Oh you are weaving Simone! How exciting. Good idea to leave yourself plenty of room to progress on your weaving projects. It seems such another world and language. I look forward to watch the weft unfold!

  2. Wonderful and worthy plans. I like especially the vase filled with gleanings of flowers and foliage. Small things like this bring so much pleasure. My intention this year is to nurture community around me and to do it by actually inviting and instigating interactions rather than sitting on my bum and wishing it would just happen. ;0)

  3. I have had a hard time submitting comments lately but I’ll give this a go. I have a Shackleton challenge this year as well- a handspun and handknit cardigan. I am also working on a project for my guild’s exhibit in a local museum- handspun and handknit fingerless mitts. Our brief was Travelling Yarns so I spun it all on the most portable of things- the drop spindle- and I will use travelling twisted Bavarian cables to make a path all over the mitts.
    I want to make a jumper or two for my little son and I want to spin every day.
    I plan on re-doing my stash storage and displaying some of my favourite yarns around me so they are inspiring me instead of being tucked away.

    1. Dear Becca, I am sorry to hear you have had difficulty submitting comments. Is this a Needle and Spindle issue or something at your end? Please let me know if there is problem with the comments process. These are fulsome plans indeed and I just love how big a part the spinning is to play. The Travelling Yarns project sounds very exciting, conceptual and metaphoric…all in the canvas of a pair of fingerless mitts. Well done you! Displaying stash is an interesting idea, I find it hard to balance safe, logical storage with an open, inspiring collection. Please share your findings when you work out the balance!

      1. I think it may have been on my end, some issue with my browser. Anyway, it seems to have been resolved.

        I am very excited about our Guild exhibition. The Guild does one every two or three years and I have never gotten myself together in order to do it but my confidence and just plain desire to spin and challenge myself has grown thanks to the guild. My project was inspired by a book called In the Footsteps of Sheep by Debbie Zawinski. Here’s the blurb on the book: “In the Footsteps of Sheep details the completion of a mission the author, a Welsh-born Scot, set for herself: to travel and camp throughout Scotland, find cast off tufts of wool from 10 Scottish sheep breeds, then spin the wool on her spinning stick while walking (or waiting for ferries), and finally design and knit one pair of socks to represent each breed…all the while writing about her adventures and taking plenty of photographs.”

        I have some display ideas in mind (balance between practicality of storage and inspiration of display is definitely an issue, especially in a small flat that contains a toddler) and I’ll certainly let you know how I implement them.

        1. Dear Becca, Well I am so glad they did resolve because I am fascinated to hear about your plans for your Guild exhibition. I do know of Debbie Zawinski’s book but have yet to get hold of a copy. I know of her work through Spin.Off. I have the feeling this book will be one of those quietly influential books that moves us all somewhere unexpected. Can’t wait to hear more.

  4. The Rose is such an awesome wheel to spin with! I’m trying to fit spinning/fiber into each day, slowing down to relish the simple creation of handspun yarn.

    1. Dear Judy, The Rose and I are still getting to know each other but wowser! she can spin! Have you experimented with any of the additions like the overdrive system? Spinning every day is noble endeavour, it really takes a ritualised, prioritising of time to achieve but I imagine the benefits are enormous. It would be like a daily meditation.

  5. Certificate of Spinning…..I am SO Jealous! I have always wanted to do that. I am nowhere near any center that does this so I just make it up as I go along 🙂 What lovely plans for the year ahead and of course, the Thesis…. One of the things my tartan weaver told us was that the sett for the hand woven OLD tartans in the museums was 48-52 ends per inch. I think I gagged. I just never
    gave those women the credit they deserved. The vase is wonderful. It looks like a fabulous Squash I was given, the seeds were from Russia and this was the Sweetest squash I have Ever eaten. From Russia with Love 🙂

    1. Dear Susan, With your experience you could TEACH the Certificate! It is incredible to think of the mastery in those old tartans. I think about all the fabrics that made Ancient Rome possible, sails, sacking, soldier’s cloak, senator’s robes…all from a hand spindle and weighted upright loom. INSANE! You right about the vase. I hadn’t thought about it that way but it does have a fruit shape about it!

  6. Your goals are excellent and do-able. I also have a stash of fingering weight single skeins, as well as a lot of fiber from fleece I’ve scoured (most of which I need to comb or card). My goals this year are in keeping with the fact that I live in a climate where our winter daytime temperatures rarely drop below 14C (and our winter lasts a month, maybe) and our 28 -30C summers seem to go on for eight months. I want to knit a shawlette, pair of socks, and pair of fingerless mitts for family/friends. I also want to do more knitting for charity – caps for children and blanket squares for Wool-Aid, scarves for older veterans through the WWII Museum’s “Knit Your Bit” program. If I use the yarn I handspin, I may dye it with food dyes or indigo. I have some wool and cotton blend 4ply in my stash to knit into a baby blanket. Finally, because I’ll be attending the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY in October, I want to spin some of my fleece and knit it up into a cardigan or jumper to wear. Perhaps this will be the year I knit the tea cosy I’ve been telling myself my teapot needs.

    I love your Christmas vase. Very pretty.

    1. Dear Helene, You will have no trouble working through your plans, you are so clear and directed about what they are! The Rhinebeck sweater sounds very very exciting. It is something of a cultural institution and will be such a fun thing to plan and execute. A big deadline is very motivating I find!

  7. Love this post. It is very inspiring. I would love to learn fair isle. Perhaps this is the year that finally work on my color work phobia. Would you share what resources work for you as you embark on your fair isle mission (books, videos, patterns, etc)?

    1. Dear Monica, I am glad I am in good company in being a little daunted by my colourwork stash. That is a great idea about sharing the resources that I find useful along the way. I will be sure to post something as I make progress and I am sure other folks will contribute in comments to that post, which should culminate in a handy wee resource to jump into colourwork.

  8. These are worthy goals indeed! I can only recommend the KNITSONIK stranded colorwork sourcebook as a trove of ideas for DIY colourwork patterns that I think would really resonate with your approach… 🙂 I also am knitting down through stash at present, turning all kinds of wild looking small experiments in spinning and dyeing into wild and woolly hats and such. As ever my plans are undisciplined and it is probably best to just wait and see which actually come to fruition!!

    1. Dear Mary, I have the KNITSONIK book and I love it, only it is such an investiture in process and thought that in conjunction with the study, it feels just too much. I am trying an icebreaker project, a simple colour project with a limited palette and lots of pattern repetition. Perhaps this will be enough to free up my mind for the KNITSONIK system which I can see will be so useful in interpreting my own environment. Best wishes for knitting down the stash.

  9. If only the council would agree to using sheep to keep the grass down, they could also use goats for weeds and pigs to eat the underground roots. I too have such dreams!!! I am also uninitiated into fair isle and would love to learn. Maybe this year i can get a kate davies hat done and start that way. (the year of fair isle) I’ve been wanting to do this for so longggg. You have wonderful plans for this year. Oh!!! and i am drooling over your new Rose. She or he is such a beauty. I’m also embarking on the certificate in spinning course this year so it will be lovely to see you there. I think its going to be a busy and amazing year.

    1. Dearest Comrade, It is heartening to share such dreams! I can highly recommend Kate Davies Peerie Floorers as a first colourwork project. A mum at school did it recently and she gained so much confidence, she wants to cast on for a Kate Davies Yoke sweater! I am super thrilled you are doing the Certificate too, it will be great fun to travel the spinning road together. See you in February!

  10. I completely understand! I was so inspired reading the book… and then knit one of the designs in it, the very reverse of what the book is about. I aspire to being able to make that investment in process too. But you and I both have other processes afoot 🙂 Here’s to sheep grazing in public parks, too!

  11. I am so impressed by your undertaking of the Certificate in handspinning, Rebecca! In all my years of spinning in the UK, I have never heard of it, never known anybody embark on it. So, as well as being impressed, I’m intrigued and really looking forward to hearing what you have to do, and what you think of it. Good luck with the Fairisle knitting – I’m still stuck in Kaffe Fassett knitting land, and love multi-coloured knit-work. Whatever, may your year and your projects bring you joy – and I look forward to reading about them!

    1. Thank you Katherine. I feel very fortunate to have both the time (by including as an autoethnographic part of my study) and the opportunity to undertake such a thing. The US Guilds offer similar courses, in fact, as you can see in the comments, Wendy is undertaking her Master Spinner course. You probably don’t need Fair Isle if you have Kaffe!

  12. Oh my goodness! You will be alone busy lady! I’m still working on my level one Master Spinner homework! Breathing deeply and going one assignment at a time. All the best wth your goals for this year!

    I have to go now. I’m washing some Cheviot fleece. ?

    Best. Wendy

    1. Dear Wendy, Breathing deeply and going one assignment at a time is the best advice I could be hearing just before beginning the Certificate. In fact, they are words to live by! Glad to hear you are still working through the spinning. Best wishes for the Cheviot.

    1. Thank Alina, I will be sure to post my progress! I am very much enjoying watching your own journey developing your own design style and techniques. Best wishes for 2016.

  13. Colourwork will be just brilliant for working through that stash, and it’s too lovely to just lie unused! I’m looking forward to seeing what lovely designs you come up with.

    And I’m especially looking forward to following your progress on both the Spinning Certificate and the Shackelton quest! With the addition of the PhD, it’s going to be a busy year ahead for you, in a great way.

    I’ve plans a-plenty for 2016! Two new collections to be released, a 12in2016 sock KAL hosted by Just One More Row podcast, and some serious stashing-down of jumper quantities!!

    1. Crikey Kylie, Sounds like you have a fulsome year ahead too. Two collections! I cannot wait! Sock KAL is a great idea. I soo need to do this but maybe next year!

  14. I am a hopeless waffle-er, Rebecca. Do I make this the year of finally sewing a dress, knitting my stash to the nubs, or finally baking a soufflé that doesn’t fall. I know I’ll be easily distracted from any goal I set, but it is the month to put pen to paper and at least try to make a list. Simple is best in my case.

  15. Creative projects continue from the autumn, with the intention of trying to be a bit less ambitious and therefore finding more satisfaction in the process. I have two extremely practical plans for the year, do these count?? Renew my passport and re-do my will.

    I love the idea of keeping your vase full in the same way I’m inspired by your Waysides project. Connecting with the locality, appreciating simple everyday beauty. Would like to find something along those lines that works for me. Maybe I could start incorporating a 2minute drawing of something that catches my fancy on my morning walks. Easier once it gets warmer……

    1. Dear Polly, I like the sound of being less ambitious (of the outcome?) to leave room for more satisfaction in the process. There is something rather profound in this emphasis. Practical plans are excellent and courageous…the things we procrastinate about too often. Well done you, I bet you feel wonderfully liberated afterwards. Those two minute drawings capturing moments of your morning walk sound marvelous and will make a fascinating Instagram hashtag…you might even start something! I better go fill that vase now!

  16. My plan is to try not to plan this year … I’ve more than enough on the go to fill any free time I find. But I do hope to do more knitting – including possibly some Fair Isle – and more dyeing this year than I managed last. I also signed up for the Shackleton KAL but I fear I was left on the quay when the ship sailed!

    It sounds like you have a full year planned. And how marvellous that the spinning can be included as part of your studies.

    1. Dear Annie, Genius idea! A plan not to plan! Let serendipity be your muse this year. Don’t worry about Shackleton KAL, they are a very forgiving crew. I fall overboard for months, say a few words and then fall overboard again. Perhaps you just haven’t left your cabin yet?

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