Rhinebeck meetup: Laura Nelkin

This is the first in a series of blog posts about some of the wonderful designers and creators that I met at Rhinebeck. Today I’m going to talk about Laura Nelkin, who I finally got the guts to say hello to this year. And you know what? She’s lovely, of course. Here we are (I’m on the left, Laura’s in the middle) with Simone Kereit (more on Simone later, I promise).

Natalie Servant, Laura Nelkin, Simone Kereit

I’m sure that for many of you, Laura Nelkin needs no introduction. Laura is a talented designer and teacher who loves to work with lace and beads. She’s also got 4 (!) Craftsy classes available for those who aren’t able to learn from her in person.

Laura really grabbed my attention when she did her Adorn e-book. It’s filled with clever little patterns to use yummy yarn and beads to create knitting as jewelry. I really like the Butin Collar:

Butin Collar pattern by Laura Nelkin

(c) Laura Nelkin

Laura also runs mystery knit-alongs complete with kits. A previous neighbour of mine has been on the receiving ends of these packages, and it’s always fun to see what the beautiful yarn & beads turn into. Sign-ups for her “M Club” are still open at the moment. This Mystery Kit club is a series of 4 Knit-Alongs complete with kits, beads, tools & goodies.

Laura’s also got a new book out this fall: Knockout Knits. It is a set of accessory patterns, and they introduce the reader to lace, wrapped stitches, and working with beads. I’m very fond of the Quadro Shrug, which starts with a square and becomes a rectangle that can be worn as a shrug:

Quadro Shrug by Laura Nelkin (Knockout Knits)

© Lauren Volo Photography

And the Cha-Ching Mitts that grace the cover of the book (and also have a matching tam) look like fun:

Cha-Ching Mitts by Laura Nelkin (Knockout Knits)

© Lauren Volo Photography

I hope that you enjoyed this very brief introduction to Laura Nelkin’s work. I’m looking forward to telling you more about some of the other folks I chatted with at Rhinebeck.

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Felting with Maggie Glossop

Thanks to a wonderful friend, I had the opportunity to attend a felting workshop right after I returned from Rhinebeck. I neglected my housework for yet another day and off I went for a new adventure.

Maggie Glossop is a richly experienced spinner, weaver, and textile artist. Her beautiful felt artwork has been in many exhibitions and is inspired by Canadian landscapes. First up, Maggie gave us a bit of her fibre history and explained the basic process she uses to make felt:

Fibre artist Maggie Glossop explains the basics of making felt landscapes

Then we all went into the kitchen and used a small amount of white wool to lay out a base. Maggie gave us each a rainbow of coloured wool to play with. I decided to put colour on both sides of the work, but to try different things. Here’s the before:

small felt sample, side 1, pre-felting small felt sample, side 2, pre-felting

And here’s the after:

small felt sample, side 1, post-felting small felt sample, side 2, post-felting

That was fun! Then we were given a bit more fibre and Maggie used her samples to inspire us and demonstrated some techniques she uses to create her landscapes. Time was not on my side at this point, because I had to leave early to get the kids from school. I used only the smallest fraction of her advice to create the impression of trees with a bit of a fall feel:

fall felt-scape before felting

And after felting, I was pretty pleased with the results. My kids were even able to figure out what it was supposed to be, so I consider this a success.

fall felt-scape after felting

When I told the kids that we could all do this, they were very eager. I’ve just got to pick some supplies and we’ll all be playing at making felt together. I’ll be sure to show you what we get up to. It’s fun to use fibre in a new way.

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Rhinebeck 2014

I’ve been going to Rhinebeck for 5 years now. At some point in that time, my goals have changed from it being a yarn and fiber acquisition trip to mostly visiting with people. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend money, but I’ve got a large stash and much of my knitting time for the next few months is already planned out. That tends to mellow my need for new and pretty things.

On Saturday morning we only showed up about 30 minutes before opening, which was just in time to benefit from the line being split into two.

Lining up for day 1 of Rhinebeck 2014

I already knew that I wasn’t planning on wrestling through long lineups (like at Miss Babs or Jennie the Potter), but I had a goal. I snapped up a couple of beautiful Falkland batts from Into The Whirled. I’ve already spun a few of these, but they’re fun and people seem to like the gradient yarn that they become.

Falkland Batts from Into The Whirled

At the Ravelry meet up I met a whole pile of interesting people and then went to lunch with a bunch more. I’ll tell you a bit more about them over the next few weeks & introduce some of their designs to you on the chance that you don’t already know about them. Here are some pictures of Ravelry friends zuzusunshine (Heather/aka the Cupcake Lady wearing her Peloton shawl in Briar Rose Fibers Sea Pearl) and Annimol (whose husband Thayer makes the very lovely TravelKates):

Nat & Heather Annie & Nat

The foliage was beautiful and I kept wishing that I had a real camera to capture it, but this will have to do:

On Sunday I bought some beautiful fingering weight yarn from the O-Wool booth. I had a heck of a time making a decision. First I had to choose a base. In the end I went with a nice 2-ply fingering weight yarn with the thought of making mittens.

O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in Black Bear and Paw Paw

When I went to tell you more about it, I ran into a problem. O-Wash Fingering isn’t listed on the web site yet. There is O-Wash Sport, which sounds similar. I looked at my ball bands: Lot 1. Aha! It’s a new base. A quick look at the O-Wool Instagram page confirmed this theory.

I took a long time choosing colours, but I thought that the bright, almost neon yellow of Paw Paw would be wonderful with Black Bear. I’m not sure when I’m going to get to knit with it, but I’ll be dreaming about it.

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Giftable Cowl

The Giftable Cowl was something I made up as I went along. I had some handspun yarn. I wanted a reversible cowl and I wanted to use as much of the yarn as possible. I was taking a break from pattern-writing to work on something simpler. I make more handspun than I’ll ever use, and this was a chance to use it:

The Giftable Cowl that started it all

Friends at my LYS suggested that it needed to be made into a pattern, so I re-knit it in some Cascade 220. It’s a combination of 2×2 ribbing and garter stitch and it’s a very quick knit. I’ve made 4 now (including 3 from handspun). It’s a very satisfying thing to work on in between larger projects, and I think it makes the perfect gift. Everyone’s got a neck, right?

Giftable Cowl

To celebrate gifts & gift-giving, I’m encouraging you to make a gift. Gift the Giftable Cowl to someone else on Ravelry and I’ll gift it to you as well. Enjoy it with a friend! It’s a small simple pattern, so it’s only $2 USD.

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Frond Hat and Mittens

I’ve been working on the Frond Hat and Frond Mittens set for a few months now, and I’m happy to be able to finally publish it. You saw a little snippet yesterday when I showed you Louise’s hats. Here are the mittens:

Frond Mittens - stranded fingering weight

I was inspired by a lovely Art Deco bangle set with diamonds. This knit version isn’t as expensive, but it will keep you warm in the colder weather that seems to be coming in the Northern hemisphere.

The hat can be made as a fitted beanie or a slouchy hat.

Frond Hat - beanie version

Frond Hat - slouchy version

The full hat & mitten set can be made with two 100g skeins of fingering weight yarn. I used Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply in Bruin and Sycamore for the beanie and the mittens.

I used some Lang Jawoll Solids that I had on hand (less than 50g per colour) for the red & black slouchy hat.

The Frond Hat & Mitten set is for sale as an e-book for $7 (USD):

The Frond Mittens are $5 (USD) on their own:

The Frond Hat is $4 (USD) on its own:

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A lesson in contrasts

I’m going to give you a sneak peek at a new pattern I’ve been working on for a while. The pattern started out with a pair of stranded mittens with a palm-like motif that I adapted from an Art Deco bracelet. I’m calling them Frond Mittens.

The next step was to create a matching hat pattern. After a little math and futzing around, that worked out well. I knit up my samples (a beanie + a slouchy version) and friends have been diligently working on test knits for me. My friend Louise knit up the Frond Hat.

Louise loves stranded knitting and she also loves including a yarn with multiple colours in it. This time she selected some Alegria (from Manos) in lovely autumnal colours. She paired it up with a solid grey yarn. I had a fear that the contrast wouldn’t allow the pattern to shine. Despite misgivings, Louise persisted and knit the whole hat:

Stranded knitting with low contrast

Then she did it again with the same Alegria and some darker grey yarn. Check out the difference:

It’s almost hard to believe that the same colours are being used here. The pattern stands out and the colourful yarn goes from slightly dull-looking to shining. I wanted to include these pictures as a cautionary tale about choosing yarn for colourwork.

Oh, and by the way, Louise insists on calling the hat & mittens patterns “Hands and Fronds”. I’m trying not to let it drive me up the wall. Pictures of my own knitted samples & the patterns themselves will follow later this week.

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Sunday spinning update: Briar Rose

A few weeks ago I noticed that I had a few bigger lots of fiber (more than just 100g) sitting in the stash and I decided to tackle one. Out came a 6 oz ribbon of reddish-orange BFL from Briar Rose. It’s in perfect fall colours.

I’m aiming for a 3 ply yarn and so I split the fiber into 3 even parts. So far I’ve only finished the first bobbin, but I’m enjoying every minute of it.

1st bobbin of BFL from Briar Rose

I don’t have any pictures of the things from Sam’s pockets, lately. The only thing of note since the beginning of the school year has been the beheaded grasshopper. You’ll have to take my word that a picture would have been a bad plan.

Sam has been doing a lot of activity after he’s supposed to be asleep & I’ve started taking pictures. Last night he apparently had a chess match before wrapping himself up in the black blanket at the top of his bed. I had to look twice before I figured out where he was:

After a late night game of chess, S. rolls himself into his Sens blanket to sleep



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Zipping through the States

I’m still recounting our mega-roadtrip from the summer. After our time in Halifax, we drove down to Yarmouth to get the Nova Star ferry to Portland, Maine.

It was a long day that started with some excitement. We had fantastic weather. Along the way there was a bit of seasickness (my daughter), along with eating, drinking, watching karaoke, and playing Uno. We didn’t do anything in Portland other than find our hotel and finally sleep.

On Board, before seasickness

Ferry ride

We drove on and spent a couple of nights near this lovely stadium, enabling my husband to attend a Patriots practice session.

After another day of driving we arrived in Rochester, NY, to meet up with friends and family.

Grandparents in Rochester

This was also the one stop during the trip that I was able to get to a yarn store. I visited The Village Yarn & Fiber Shop. I navigated to the store by myself in the dark with only written directions (pats self on the back) and had a few minutes to look around. I snapped up some Malabrigo Nube in “my” colours, and found some lovely local yarn from Runaway Bunny to go with it.

Malabrigo Nube and Runaway Bunny sock yarn

And then it was back to Canada. We just nipped across the border in Niagara Falls to spend a fun-filled day here:

Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls

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Halifax Art Deco

I’m still continuing to go through this summer’s vacation pictures. Last time we’d made it to Halifax. I had planned to visit two buildings in downtown Halifax. They happen to be magnificent Art Deco buildings and they’re conveniently close to each other. I managed, one day, to slip away from the family and run around taking pictures for half an hour.

The first building I went to was the Dominion Public Building. For those keeping track, this is the 4th Art Deco DPB I’ve visited (as well as Hamilton, London and Guelph). One of the reasons that this prime real estate was available to build on at the time was because of the devastating Halifax Explosion of 1917.

It’s hard to get a full shot of the “front” of the building (away from the water):

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia

But the back looks pretty from the water:

There are some metal panels that show the various methods used to deliver the mail. Don’t worry, I think the fish are purely decorative.

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mail delivery by boat and plane

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mail delivery by van

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mail delivery by train

I took pictures of a few details inside, but I really liked this light fixture:

Dominion Public Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia: light fixture

I saved the best for last. Having seen pictures ahead of time taken by my friend Yvonne, I knew that the Bank of Nova Scotia would blow me away. It’s hard to tell from a distance how special this building is.

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle)

It was designed to be the main branch of the bank in Canada. It’s another bank designed by John MacIntosh Lyle (like the smallish one with the owls in Toronto, or the rather imposing Bank of Nova Scotia Toronto HQ). There are plenty of examples of wildlife, including many marine examples:

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): whales

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): seahorses

In the lobby, there are some impressive elevator doors:

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): elevator doors

But then you walk into the main banking hall, and the space and the detail are just overwhelming.

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): Banking Hall

All of those little white figures on the ceilings are animals. The floor is marble, with a fairly restrained pattern, probably because otherwise it would be all too much. The metalwork is amazing too. After securing permission to take pictures, I went around snapping happily. It seemed like doing that made some of the normal everyday customers take another look at the bank they walk into daily. Stunning.

Here’s a close up of just one of the flowers along the edge of the ceiling:

Bank of Nova Scotia, Halifax (John M. Lyle): ceiling detail

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Quick trip through the Maritimes

I’m still going through my pictures from our summer family holiday mega-roadtrip. Last time I covered up to Fredericton. We drove another day and spent the night in Moncton. Rather than visit the Magnetic Hill, we drove up the coast and spent a wonderful half a day at the dunes in Bouctouche. Sure, it felt a little weird to be enjoying a natural landmark being preserved by an oil company, but it was the perfect day.

It was the kids’ first visit to the ocean and they had so much fun playing in the sand and finding all kinds of shells and seaweed. We couldn’t have had a better day for it.

We finally ended up in Halifax that night and spent a few days visiting with my brother-in-law and his family. We’ve threatened to visit for quite a few years and we finally made it. The kids all had a fun time together. We had a great visit to the Citadel.

Next up I’ll show you the pictures I got when I snuck away for 30 minutes and went off to see some Art Deco buildings.


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