A weekend with Nancy Bush

Wow. I’m still trying to process all the knitting I’ve done and everything I’ve learned in the last few days. It’s been a whirlwind! Our local knitting guild brought Nancy Bush in for a series of workshops this weekend, and I went to them all.

Day 1 was a full day of Estonian lace looking at the construction of a triangular shawl. The best thing I got out of this day was some actual experience with sewing on the edges. I must admit that I had previously shied away from some of the patterns in Knitted Lace of Estonia because of sewn-on edges. I won’t have that problem any more! At the end of a long day of knitting, I had this cute little sample triangle:

Sampler from Nancy Bush's class on Estonian Lace & triangular shawl construction

Day 2 involved two classes. First up was Roositud (sounds kind of like rosy-tood). You may remember that last year I used this technique to make gloves from Nancy’s Folk Knitting in Estonia book. Aino’s Gloves were quite a challenge, and at the time I thought the gauge was a challenge also. That was nothing! Nancy had some gloves on hand where there were at least 12 sts to an inch.

For me, the price of admission was worth just hearing Nancy pronounce Roositud, but what made this class extra awesome was seeing a whole table full of authentic Estonian examples of the technique. If I made Aino’s Gloves again, I probably would not double up my contrast colour. Just to play with that idea, I used single contrast colour in the first and third motifs in the class sample, and doubled the contrast yarn in the second one. I definitely prefer the single yarn sections. This is now going to be a small bag for my daughter.

Roositud sample from class with Nancy Bush

Day 2 in the afternoon was Estonian Traveling Stitches. I went into this with very little understanding of what I was about to try. Basically, these stitches are like 1 stitch cables, but unlike Bavarian stitches, there aren’t any twisted stitches. It’s fast and fun to execute, but from the wonderful samples Nancy had, it also looks best when worked at an incredibly small gauge. Hmmm.

Estonian traveling stitch sample from class with Nancy Bush

Day 3 was all about gloves. Although I’ve knit gloves before, this class was great for tips on knitting gloves that fit well. The coolest thing for me was how the fingers from the class sample lay flat when not being worn. I can’t show you that, I’m afraid, because I only got this far:

beginning of glove from class with Nancy Bush

What I’d like to do is start all over again because initially in class I used needles that were too large. And because of my rather large hands I’d like to add a few stitches to the count. And because I had so much fun doing the Estonian traveling stitches, I’d like to play with adding some of them to the glove. So many plans, so little time!

I tried to take lots of notes over the weekend, even when something seemed like such a common sense idea that I thought I couldn’t possibly forget it. I’ll go over my notes again before I pack all the papers away to try to ensure that some of this information actually stays in my brain!

If you have a chance to take a class with Nancy Bush, go for it. Her class projects were well thought out and they give you valuable experience with new techniques. She is a passionate advocate for Estonian knitting traditions. The classes all involved a few interesting personal stories from Nancy’s travels, as well as lots of information from her research.

Posted in inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday spinning update: qiviut

Before I talk about the spinning, I’ll just mention briefly that I went to my first class with Nancy Bush today. I’ll save up all my thoughts about this weekend’s classes write about them all at once early next week.

The qiviut that I started spinning a couple of weeks ago is still a work in progress. I know I’m making progress because the bobbin is filling up, but the bag still seems to have plenty left in it.

Qiviut on the bobbin

Qiviut still left to spin

I’m still enjoying spinning this fiber, especially when I manage to forget how rare and expensive it is. It’s very very light. Hopefully over the next week or so I’ll manage to finish up the singles. It’s going to be a 2 ply yarn somewhere between lace & fingering weight, I expect.

Posted in spinning | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Morgaine & Khufu

Looking back over the blog, I’ve apparently only hinted about Morgaine in the past. Morgaine is a small crescent-shaped shawl that I designed for the Wooly Wonka Fibers Small Shawl Club. The inspiration behind the shawl is the character Morgaine from The Mists of Avalon. She seemed like the perfect subject for Celtic knotwork, and I’m thrilled with how the lace worked out. The shawl is knit starting with the border (from tip to tip), and then stitches are picked up and an easy short row section fills up the body. Finally, the top edge is worked and matches the rest of the edge leaving you with a few stitches to graft.

Starting in April (yes, now!), it’s now available to everyone, so it’s in my Ravelry shop for $6.

This week I’ve also released Khufu. The name comes from the pharaoh who had the Great Pyramid at Giza built. I wound up a skein of Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4 ply sock during the Olympics and the small version flew off my needles. It has a subtle textured zig zag pattern in the body, which is echoed and enhanced in the lacy beaded border:

Khufu Shawl - Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4 ply (Kathleen Turner Overdrive)

Then I made a large version with some Cascade Yarns Forest Hills lace weight:

Khufu Shawl - Cascade Yarns Forest Hills lace

And finally, I added the option of lace body charts because some semi-solid yarns are just a tiny bit too busy for the texture to show through:

Khufu Shawl with lace border in Indigodragonfly Merino Single Lace (Kelp is on the way)

You can get Khufu for $5 on Ravelry ($4 in April 2014 with the code SPRING).

This new pattern release and packing (just over 4 weeks to the move) have kept me busy this week. I’m in for a treat this weekend, though. Our guild has arranged for Nancy Bush to come and teach and I’ll be going to the classes Sunday through Monday. I’m expecting to have a wonderful weekend!

Posted in Art Deco, design, knitting | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday spinning update: Galway and qiviut

This week I took the Galway singles and wound them up for plying. I had a great indication of how the yarn would be: lacy & airy.

Galway 2 ply handspun, 385 yds/60g

The poofy 2 ply skein is only 60g, but has about 385 yards to it. Now I’ve spun up all three 2 oz bags from Spirit Trail Fiberworks: North Ronaldsay (I wanted to buy more while I was still spinning it), Castlemilk Moorit (odd & almost felted), and Galway (easy spin, lovely air-filled yarn).

I do want to keep on buying and trying different rare breeds, but right now I need to be working from my stash. We’re getting ready to move (although it’s still weeks and weeks away), but one thing that I didn’t want to leave in its current vulnerable state was a bag of qiviut:

bag of qiviut fluf

I got this from the Cottage Craft Angora booth at the Twist Fiber Festival a couple of years ago. Truthfully, I’ve been nervous about tackling this because of the price of this rare fluff. Now, while preparing for our move, I finally found the courage to give it a test.

Test spin of qiviut fiber

So that went well. It spun up easily and I knit the few yards into a tiny delicate fluffy swatch.

Swatch of handspun qiviut yarn

With my confidence boosted, I’ve started to spin. It’s going well, but this could be my spinning project for a few weeks, with the amount that I’ve got left to spin.

In family news, this past weekend Sam agreed to a haircut, but indicated that he’d like a Mohawk. I countered, saying sure, we’ll try it and then we’ll trim it to his usual cut in one week. We got a note home from the school that the local CFL team would be coming to the school to reveal the name of their mascot, and that the kids should dress in red & black. I bought t-shirts and temporary hair dye. The haircut worked out perfectly! Zoe even made herself a red & black necklace for the occasion:

We also had tickets for a hockey game that same night, so I went to work again and changed out the logo for the evening:

Posted in spinning | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sunday spinning update: more breeds

It took a while, but I finally finished up my Castlemilk Moorit skein. It’s a bit odd, in the end. The singles were very thick and thin as you can see from when I wound them up to ply:

The resulting skein has a lot of volume. It’s 55g and about 230 yards.

I’ve now started in on 2 oz of Galway. This is another new breed to me. Here’s the super thinsheet of it before I started working:

I’m thoroughly enjoying the process. The singles are skinny and even. This is going to be a nice yarn, I can just feel it!

It’s been a busy time here. Last weekend we finally celebrated Z’s 9th birthday. We did it at the local recreation centre and they played all kinds of games and cooled down with some yoga. We settled down for dinner, cake, and presents and then it was over. The couple of hours went by in a flash, but I think they all had a good time.

You can see from the blurriness of photo how quickly they were moving!


Posted in spinning | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Deco design in progress

I showed you this lovely blue Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4 ply sock yarn before it became anything. I wound it into a ball at the start of the Olympics and I used about 90% of the skein to become this loosely knit shawl with beads:

The subtle textured zig zag body pattern is echoed and enhanced by beads in the lace border. This was a quick knit.

I also worked it up in Cascade Yarns Forest Hills lace (another silk/merino blend) with subtle black beads. It’s very light weight and when you wear it and move, the light catches the body patterning.

What this pattern lacks right now is a name. It was (as I mentioned before) inspired by a motif that I’ve seen on a few Art Deco buildings, but it’s not tied to one in particular. Here’s something similar from the Ottawa Hydro building:

I’ve had a few suggestions, but I could use more help on this. Help? Please? The pattern is yours if you come up with the right name.


Posted in Art Deco, design, inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

March Break Art Deco

We had a great March Break this week visiting my parents and splashing around at Great Wolf Lodge. On the way down I persuaded my family to stop into downtown Hamilton for a half hour so that I could run around and get pictures of a few Art Deco buildings. I’d scoped things out in advance so I had a plan of attack.

We started out by coming in over the Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge. We pulled over just before it and I got out and went for a brisk jog. I had to get a picture of these lamps.

Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge, Hamilton, ON

The view up there is pretty good too.

Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge, Hamilton, ON

My main interest was the Art Moderne Go station. Built in 1933 as the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway Station, the building has interest both inside and out.

Hamilton GO Station

Interior of Hamilton GO Station

Just a couple of blocks away is Hamilton’s Dominion Public Building. I’ve already had a look at the ones in Guelph and London. Hamilton’s version is now the John Sopinka Courthouse and it was built in 1936 (Hutton & Souter, architects).

Dominion Public Building, Hamilton, ON (now John Sopinka Courthouse)

I didn’t venture inside, but there are some lovely details on the outside.

Dominion Public Building, Hamilton, ON (now John Sopinka Courthouse)

The Pigott Building (1929, Prack & Prack, architects) was Hamilton’s first skyscraper. Although it’s not an Art Deco building it’s so interesting that I had to have a look.

Pigott Building, Hamilton, ON

Pigott Building, Hamilton, ON

And then finally I went to the Hydro building that now belongs to Horizon:

Hamilton Hydro Building

I am certain that my presence wasn’t exactly appreciated inside, but I took a quick peek.

Hamilton Hydro Building

Hamilton Hydro Building

So that’s some of Hamilton’s Art Deco structures in a nutshell. Hamilton also has quite a few private Art Moderne homes. There were also a couple more buildings that I had on my list, but we had a limited amount of time, so I’ll have to wait for another visit.

Posted in Art Deco, inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Olympic update

You might remember that I pledged to make a donation to Egale of 50% of my pattern sales during the Olympics. I’m happy to report that I remembered to pay, even if I forgot to tell you about it! I donated $65.00.

And now I’ll tell you about what I *should* have pictures of. I failed to use my camera twice in the last week. The first time I was in my LYS, Yarn Forward in Kanata, and a customer came in wearing a black Deco Raindrop Scarf with silver beads. She’d added in a lot of extra beads for more bling and it looked fabulous. I didn’t even think of asking to take a picture. And then on the weekend I was at a local seed sale. A past student of my double knitting class had done a hat with an alpaca on it (she have alpacas and grows garlic on her farm). No picture. This week I’ll be all ready with my camera & I doubt anything like this will come up!

I do have a picture of an almost-finished shawl in lace weight that I can show you. I put a little query out on a couple of social networks a few days ago to help me settle on a bead colour: black was the clear winner. The deep red of this yarn (Cascade Yarns Forest Hills Lace) doesn’t show up completely in this picture, but rest assured I’ll be taking better ones soon. I’m slightly worried about my chances for success given that the picture on the Cascade site doesn’t do this colour justice either.

Deco-inspired lace shawl in progress using Cascade Yarns Forest Hills lace and beads

Now I need to sit down for a few hours and whip this pattern into human-readable shape for testing. It’s been knit in fingering weight (< 100g) and lace weight (< 100g) so far and it’s going to have quite a few options for customization (texture vs. lace). I’ve knit both of my samples with a textured body and the shape is echoed in the lace of the border.

I was inspired, once again, by common Art Deco motifs. I keep getting drawn back to borders and trim that have this angles in zig-zags thing going on. I’m doing something similar in lace to what I did in cables in Fast Forward:

Fast Forward: a ribbed scarf in worsted weight yarn with a unique decorative cable

Hopefully I’ll have pictures for you soon, but the March Break starts this weekend and that may impact what I can get done. It’s not looking like we’re going to have spring-like weather for the break, but we’ll do our best to enjoy our time together!

Posted in Art Deco, fundraising, knitting | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Saturday spinning update: Castlemilk Moorit

This week I’ve been working on a bag of Castlemilk Moorit that I got from Spirit Trail. It’s another breed that’s new to me, bred from a mixture of Manx Loaghtan, Shetland and Mouflon. I’m enjoying the spinning, but I’m having trouble finding enough time to finish it up.

Castlemilk Moorit spinning in progress

I did find the time this week to experiment with using won ton wrappers to make dumplings. Generally I’ve been making the dough myself, but all that rolling is very time-consuming. Last week I folded the won ton squares in half to make triangles, but it didn’t seem right. This time I used an Ikea cup as a guide to cut off the corners and make proper dumplings.

The verdict? Delicious. And there are enough left over for lunch tomorrow. I toasted up the remaining corners of the wrappers and tossed them with a little cinnamon and sugar for a tasty snack.

There was more creativity in the house this week, as a Rainbow Loom arrived for Zoé’s birthday. She dove into it immediately, with only a little bit of problem-solving required.

And then success! I think Sam is attempting to shine a spotlight on this wonderful bracelet.

By the end of the night she’d already made 20. And tomorrow I apparently have to go shopping for more supplies!

Posted in spinning | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Olympic gold!

The Olympic medal count for Canada seems to have been increasing at an amazing rate, although some of the games have made me rather nervous. There’s still more heart-stopping hockey to come.

Here at home I’ve finished my knitting and I’m awarding myself a gold medal. My Scatness Tam is finished (except for the blocking). Once again, I’ve had a blast knitting a Kate Davies pattern in Shetland yarn. The great news is that I have a whole lot of it left over!

Top of Scatness Tam, pattern by Kate Davies

Pardon the slightly crazy eyes in this shot.

Scatness Tam, pattern by Kate Davies

And the inside is relatively tidy. At least all the ends are tucked in.

inside of Scatness Tam

If you look carefully, you might see that in the single-colour rows I’ve used a second strand of the same colour. The one thing that bugged me about my Sheep Heid hat was that I only used a single strand in a few rows, which changed the thickness of the fabric. This time around I alternated 3 stitches from  the inside of the ball and 3 stitches from the outside of the ball and it’s got a lovely consistent feel to it. I’m sure someone passed this tip on to me (or perhaps I read it somewhere), and it worked well.

The only thing that I haven’t done from the pattern is the I-cord around the bottom edge. I’m liking the fit right now and I’m a little worried about fiddling with it. Perhaps I’ll feel differently after the hat has had a proper bath.

My other Olympic project (that Indigodragonfly merino/silk sock yarn shawl with beads) is already finished and blocked, but it needs some proper beauty shots. I’ve passed it on to my lovely model Francine to see what would be best to wear it with.

In the mean time, I’ve cast on another version of the unnamed shawl, this time in lace weight. It’s bright red and I’ve got a million miles to go before I hit the beaded section. I’ve got no idea what colour I’m going to use. I think it’s time for a trip to the local bead store!

Posted in knitting | Tagged , , | 1 Comment