Festival recap

Posted in fun, handspun, knitting, spinning, travel by tchemgrrl on September 26, 2012

The Finger Lakes Fiber Festival was the weekend before last, and I have now recovered enough to talk about it.

First off: Perfect weekend. Mild and crisp and partly sunny, great energy in the crowd, everyone cheerful and chatty and enjoying their surroundings. There was an incredible thunderstorm on Friday evening, but we managed to set up just before it started, and by the time it was going in earnest, we were safely at the hotel eating dinner. The storm cleared the air for the rest of the weekend, and though some things got a little damp overall it was excellent timing.

For the majority of the weekend I was helping out friends with their booth, restocking and answering questions about spindles and spinning and how much yarn was needed for such-and-such a pattern. It was super-busy, but in a cheerful fun way, never in a “oh god so crowded MUST ELBOW THIS PERSON AWAY THAT’S MY YARN YOU WENCH” sort of way.

On Saturday at the FLFF, I took a class on tape weaving, which was really interesting, and which I’ll talk about in another entry.

I won some prizes:


4th and 2nd for my spinning. (The 4th, I will tell you, was out of 4 entries, so save the standing ovation.) The judges gave detailed, useful feedback, though, which I really appreciated. I already have some ideas for submissions next year and ways to improve.

I spun on one of Susan’s batts with my spindle all weekend while helping out, and in spite of the fact that I didn’t feel like I picked it up all that often, I still managed to spin and ply most of a 150 yard, 2-ply, 2-ounce sportweight yarn.

aqualime batt

The evenness is all over the place thanks to the hustle and bustle, but hey. Significant yardage under the circumstances. I have more to say about that yarn, but I’ll save it for later.

Fun weekend, good time. For anyone who’s anywhere between Rochester and Ithaca, I highly recommend going next year. It is my Platonic Ideal of a fiber festival–right size, right number of vendors, right crowdedness, right mix of people. I’d like a few more fiber animals, but as it’s put on by volunteers from the Genessee Valley Handspinners’ Guild, I figure that if something needed to give somewhere then showing animals would be the thing I’d choose too.

On the road!

Posted in fun by tchemgrrl on September 13, 2012


For anyone in the Upstate New York region, you ought to know that the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival is happening this weekend! I actually like this one a lot more than Rhinebeck; it’s closer, and it’s of a scale where I feel like I can actually explore new things rather than have one or two very specific things to purchase and then wander around in a fibery haze for the remainder of the weekend.

I’ll be working in the Spinning Bunny booth most of the time, so stop on over and say hi!

I’m also excited to be taking a fiber related class for the first time ever! I’m taking a class on tape weaving. I’ve done some things with my inkle loom, but I’d like to learn more, and I thought this would be a fun way to start. I also submitted a few yarns to the skein competition. I haven’t done that since one time at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival several years ago, and I’m looking forward to the feedback. My fiber stash is overtaking its home right now so I’m not planning to buy any fiber, but that doesn’t mean I won’t end up with some anyhow. 🙂

Less sporty than table tennis

Posted in fun, knitting, Knitting Olympics, planning, spinning, Sweater for JJ, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on June 21, 2012

I’ve been thinking about the Tour de Fleece and the Knitting Olympics, which are coming up pretty soon.

I’ve decided that my goal this year is going to be pretty basic, but still a challenge compared to my recent tendencies: spinning and knitting take precedence over goofing around online. I’ve been spending way too much time doing way too little, lately, and have just gotten to the point where I’m getting annoyed at how much time I’ve wasted. I’d like to see how much I can get done with that “waste”, as a reminder to myself when click over to Ravelry the 30th time that day.

Some projects I’ll likely work on in the Tour:
-Finishing the yarn for J’s sweater.
-Finishing the spindle spun wool I’m doing now, and probably starting a new spindle project after that. I’ll have to look through the stash beforehand and come up with a good candidate.
-Spinning this awesome rainbow yarn for a sweater for Toddler. I have some very particular plans about striping on this one; I’ll need to know quite a bit about which sweater pattern I will use first, but once the organizational phase is complete the spinning will be straightforward.
-It seems ambitious, but if I finished all those, the next thing in the queue is some very nice Jacob roving for a winter hat for J, which I think he asked for two winters ago now. Oops.


Spot Hollow

Likely Knitting Olympic* projects:
V-Yoke cardigan, which has had a significant amount of work go into it, but which is still FAR from done.
– A sweater for toddler, if I get the rainbow yarn planned in the Tour spun up.

Inspiration from the pile of yarn that I got in the yarn swap will probably fall on my head, though, which would render any of these plans moot.

The plans are intentionally pretty low-key, like I said. My main goal is to get back into the habit of sitting down in front of the wheel instead of the computer. The main prep will be to decide on a toddler sweater pattern, pick a likely spindle spinning candidate, and clean and oil the wheel.

*Knitting Games, maybe? I wrote this just before this got started. I have no comment except “Hoo boy, don’t get knitters mad.”


Posted in Black Sheep Handspinners Guild, fun, spinning by tchemgrrl on June 13, 2012

Good things happening at my spinning guild lately.

1) Abby Franquemont is coming to the guild in November! I’ve been a fan of her spinning and writing since the long-ago days before Ravelry. Back then, she was on the largest spinning group on LiveJournal and I was but a raw newbie trying to spin laceweight Border Leicester because I didn’t know any better.

If you’re local and want some information about the class, I put it up on our guild website a while back. Registration will be available to non-members starting in August.

2) I’m teaching a class on working with hand dyed yarns this summer at the guild (probably August). I ran a class on this topic at our Roc Day celebration in January. This will be a refinement of that class, now that I know that yes, indeed, I *CAN* talk for 90 minutes straight on the topic without anyone drafting an inch. I’m narrowing the focus a little (avoiding the issue of batts entirely, frex). I’m adding more pictures and samples into my notes based on parts the Roc Day attendees thought confusing, and making some other minor adjustments to cope with talking to 32 people instead of 2. I really enjoyed the Roc Day class and it’s the kind of presentation that lends itself to a lot of other people talking about their experiences, so I’m wicked excited.

3) One of the guild members has been doing some amateur historian work on the origins of the guild and scanned a ton of beautiful notes, articles, and dye books collected by one of the founding members of the guild. Looking through the sheer quantity of knowledge is inspiring, and I’m really excited to put it on the guild website and get it out into the world. (I’ve only just started sifting through it but I’m hoping to have at least a skeletal “Spinner Education” type page up on the guild website before the next guild meeting in July. I may link to particularly cool things here too.)

I’ve been kind of a lump lately, but I feel like there are a bunch of things coming together that I’m finding very inspiring–the yarn swap, these activities at guild, some ideas for spinning and knitting project bubbling to the surface, some wonderful conversations with friends, yarnie and not.

There’s a lot of good stuff coming together and I’m happy about it.

Yarn Swap, and Inspiration

Posted in fun, knitting, planning by tchemgrrl on June 11, 2012

I had a yarn swap at my house over the weekend. I had one at my old apartment a while back, so I had a pretty good idea about how to set things up. A few notes that may be helpful to anyone else wanting to set up similar:

1) The yarn table was in a different room than the room that I expected we would congregate (my house has a somewhat open floor plan, it’s just a doorway separating the two spaces). None of us ever went into the other room. The yarn fumes must have overcome us. Fortunately it wasn’t a bad space to be in, but as the other room is larger, I may move everything in there next time. If the weather had cooperated, being outside might’ve been even nicer.

2) In the entry I linked to above, I mentioned how a little bit of generosity seemed to open the room right up. I made more of a point of encouraging that to happen this time around by putting a laundry basket labeled “Freebies” right in the middle of the room, and seeded it with a few items. Again, I think that there’s something about seeing other people’s generosity that makes people more generous. What started out as a couple of nice-quality but partially-used balls of yarn turned into a HUGE bucket that I’m distributing out in a couple of ways (a local barter-and-freebie group, charities in town.) I myself ended up with at least two sweaters’ worth of yarn and didn’t get rid of anything in the process (except the food I’d made and some freebies).

3) I still think that the best number of attendees is somewhere in the 5-15 person range. We had 8-10 folks and it felt right.

4) The other thing that seems to serve as a social lubricant is the presence of someone who brings a TON of yarn. Laura brought several tubs’ worth of yarn, most of it leftovers from her design business, and it was hugely fun to go exploring and hear her describe where different yarns came from.

On the food side of things, I also made some AMAZING popovers. I can toot my own horn on this because I made mediocre ones the night before. It was all in the recipe, which I took from Ratio. Hot pan, letting the batter sit for a while to hydrate the flour, and using plenty of butter to grease the pan made a huge difference.
One great side effect of this kind of trading environment is that it really got me thinking creatively. I try to only go into a yarn shop with very specific things in mind so that I don’t waste any money on something that I won’t use later. But when someone walks in with 10 skeins of Charlie-Brown-Sweater yellow Cascade 220, and someone else says “Wow that is amazing yarn!” and the first person says “Here, make something with it, I want it out of my house!” it sets up all kinds of interesting opportunities.

(Yes, I have 10 skeins of Charlie-Brown-sweater yellow Cascade 220 in the craft room right now. I’m thinking about a Wonderful Wallaby for the toddler. Or maybe 3 of them, with the amount of yarn I have.)

I’d also been thinking about my niece-to-be who is expected to arrive this summer, and what I will knit for her. I had these leggings:

kid leggings

(I’d bought a huge pile of them on sale and have been putting them in every baby package since because I loved putting tiny T in them. These are the last pair, since there’s been such a baby boom with my friends lately.)

I didn’t have anything that coordinated with these, but getting something in my stash to coordinate was clearly on my brain’s back burner. Because I found this yarn:

kid leggings with matching yarn

Which couldn’t have been better if I had special ordered it. It’s even sock yarn, so washable. It’s probably not enough for a baby sweater on its own so I’ll mix it with some white superwash I have. It’s still amazingly perfect. I just need to figure out the pattern.


Posted in fun by tchemgrrl on March 14, 2010

I’ve been pretty busy the last couple of weeks–going home to see family, having a major case of startitis (so nothing to show just yet), and spending some time on the most scientifically organized spinning project I’ve ever done (pictures and post once I get the samples back from the friend I loaned them to.) But the thing I’m most excited about is the spinning class I’m running. The first session was yesterday, and it went really well–I managed to tamp down on my hyperness a little and the result was 8 for-real spinners at the end of 2 hours. Like, really for-real, it was so awesome to see. It’s a multi-session class, which helped a lot; I didn’t feel like I needed to turn on the Information Firehose while everyone’s just trying to figure out how the heck this twisty-thing works. This way, the Information Firehose can just get turned on a little here and there, as needed. I can’t wait to see what the new spinners have made next week!

Yarn swap!

Posted in FO, fun, knitting by tchemgrrl on January 15, 2010

I’m not very good at out-of-the-blue inviting people over to my place without a purpose. I always need to find some kind of excuse for a get together. I like having people over, though, so once I think of an excuse, things happen quickly.

A while back my local group on Ravelry was having a spate of “Anyone want to trade X for Y?” types of messages, and it seemed like the kind of thing that would work better in person. The vast majority of fiber people have stash that someone would love, but which isn’t doing it for them–maybe they already used some of the yarn on another project, or they’re just tired of looking at it. So why not have a yarn swap? I’m including some notes on what worked and didn’t here, both for future reference and for ideas in case you’d like to try it.

The way I arranged it was to set up my dining room table on one side of a room with as many leaves as would fit, then have chairs in a circle next to it. One piece of the table was taped off as “for free”, for things that people didn’t want to take home with them (we collected unwanted orphans at the end and donated them). The rest of the table was for sale or trade. This was a late afternoon to early evening get-together, so I made two quiches, thinking that other people would be more likely to bring chips or desserts (which was right on the ball, it worked out perfectly.)

About 10 people were able to make it. This was a really good number. If there were many fewer people there might not have been enough stuff to get a free-flowing trading setup going, while if there were many more, it would have required more organization to sort out whose yarn was whose. It was a good mix of huge and tiny stashes, larger and smaller pocketbooks, more and less experienced knitters. Everyone knew at least one person, and everyone didn’t know at least one person (even me!), so it seemed like a decent social mix as well.

I seriously underestimated the amount of yarn that would show up. Some people made multiple trips up my stairs to carry it all. The table was pretty much instantly full, then there were bags under the table and around people’s feet. I did like having it all together rather than next to the owners, which could have made it feel too much like people were protecting their yarn. If I did it again I would kick the cat out and pile the yarn up in the middle of the room on the floor, maybe on a sheet so it was kept mildly organized.

Straight-out sales (as with a gorgeous Hanne Falkenberg kit) seemed to settle at about 50% of retail. One thing I worried about beforehand was whether people would be trying too hard for a 1-to-1 trade, but after the first person said “Eh, you can keep it,” the whole room really opened up. I think everyone passed along whatever generosity came their way: I gave something to S without a trade, who gave something to R, who gave something to M, who gave something to me. It all worked pretty well. This is something I’ve found at Share Tompkins; the presence of generosity makes everyone feel good and generous.

Having a computer handy was useful; my desktop is in the room we met in and there were occasional checks on Ravelry or yarn sellers to find out the fiber content of something, or the retail price, or to remind someone what weight yarn they needed for that gorgeous scarf they saw the previous week.

Overall, I think it went really well. A few people talked about making it a once-a-month thing, but I feel like a less frequent meeting is more likely to work out so we don’t all see the same unloved yarns all the time. I might do another one when the weather warms up, as a spring cleaning.

Yes, yes, all very nice. What about the LOOT?

At the end of the night I had a fabulous pile of Dale Baby Ull, to replenish my colorwork stash, a skein of kettle-dyed bright green sock yarn for socks for JJ, and some chunky wool yarn in a colorway that matched chunky wool yarn I already had a small amount of. The chunky yarn was so that I could make a cat bed for the wool-obsessed cat. Once I had enough yarn to make the bed, it came together really quickly.

punky bed prefelting

punky bed postfelting

See? Wool obsessed. I put it on the floor and she pretty much instantly claimed it.