Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Continuing Ed – Knitting, Dyeing and Spinning

Here’s a quick post on three classes I’ve taken recently. I like to take classes, even on techniques I’ve done before, as there’s always something, some little tidbit to learn from a good teacher!

Jane Slicer-Smith
Jane gave a series of four classes at The Needle Lady last weekend. Jane is best known for her swing coats, mitered squares, and intarsia sweater designs, and the shop had a trunk show for her visit. It’s amazing sometimes how much better some garments look on than in photos, and surprising that other garments you think you’d love really don’t flatter.

Jane Slicer-Smith at TNL

With a background in fashion and textiles in England, Jane now lives in Australia, and designs and markets her own line of garments, patterns and yarn at Signatur Handknits. The swing coats, full of texture in some cases and color in others, were wonderful! The intarsia is not my particular favorite, but the color combinations were really spectacular. And the purple and green mitered square wrap had my favorite colors!

Saturday morning was the Textures class. We knit a small clutch bag with seed stitch, cables, traveling stitches, embossed leaves, and short rows.

Textured Bag
Needs blocking and sewing up

Saturday afternoon was a workshop on sizing, fit, and shaping (particularly sleeves) based on actual body measurements and swatching. Lots of good tips gleaned there!

Fiber Dyeing
Sunday was a beautiful clear day to spend at an outdoor fiber dyeing workshop at Stony Mountain Fibers. Organized by the Charlottesville Fiber Arts Guild, and postponed from the middle of the heat wave in August, we had a great time. The group is composed of knitters, spinners, weavers, and stitchers of all sorts, and each brought their experience and a different set of goals for their dyed fiber – most dyed yarn, but several of us dyed roving for spinning or felting. There’s a slideshow with all the photos HERE.

We used acid dyes with a steam bath to set the colors. Some experimented with rainbow dyeing and others with a more variegated approach. Bitty stayed up late doing her homework and dyed a perfect self-striping Fair Isle sock yarn!

Bitty’s plan in action

Barbara’s new covered patio made a perfect space for the workshop and there was plenty of room for everyone to dye their skeins and then take a little break while they set.

I dyed two sets of roving, and was clearly in a purples mood – Violets and Mixed Berries!

Coopworth-Corriedale Roving Falkland Roving
Coopworth/Corriedale on the left, Falkland on the right

Spinning Silk with Beads and Feathers

FFF 2007 Spinning Silk-2

This workshop at the Fall Fiber Festival (aka DustBowl) was taught by Linda Witt from Misty Mountain Farm. First, they have wonderful hand-dyed yarns and fibers and if you get a chance check them out at a festival, online, or at their shop in Amissville.

FFF 2007 Spinning Silk-1
Linda’s class had lots of laughs

Just when the weather really got hot on Saturday, we got to sit in a nice shady breezy tent and spin all afternoon. Linda helped us with techniques for spinning tussah silk top, and we got a chance to sample some bits of cotton-silk, cashmere-silk(!!!), and merino-silk. Rather than string our beads on a spun single, we used a thin silk thread, then plied that with a silk single. Lots of possibilities there for coordinating or contrasting the bead thread, and the beads too.

FFF 2007 Spinning Silk-3 FFF 2007 Spinning Silk-4
Yes, my singles need lots more twist!

Next we learned a knot plying technique to anchor small feathers while plying. This could also be used to add bits of dyed locks, thrums, bits of cloth and such. While I don’t see myself adding bits to my yarn, I did like the knots themselves which made an interesting textured silk yarn and helped break up the barber-poling in the plies.

FFF 2007 Spinning Silk-5

FFF 2007 Spinning Silk-6

We had a great time, and now I’ve got some plans for those two balls of hand-dyed silk in my fiber stash.

Off to Stitches on Thursday! I was lucky to get into classes on Top-Down Sleeves with Lorna Miser, Cables with Melissa Leapman, and Fair Isle Knitting with Beth Walker. I’ll be in The Needle Lady booth in the Market for a little while in the afternoons, and will be checking out the other vendors too. I don’t expect to buy much, but it’s fun to pick up patterns, and maybe another little skein of qiviut.