Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

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I took a class with Sarah Swett at Madrona last weekend. The class was titled “The Undercover Sketchbook.” We started out by making our own sketchbook with 5 pieces of fabric, 6.5″ x 13″, 4 linen and 1 hemp. I used some of her hand spun silk thread to do a quick and easy sewn binding (similar to this sewn binding method).

Then we were off to start our sketches. We were to sketch with our needle and thread directly into our new sketchbooks. No pencils allowed.

Want to see the results of my class exercises?

Warm up: Taking our needle for a walk.

Sketch of my scissors (a leatherman).

3 items I never leave the house without.


The last exercise was to be a portrait. I chose to do one of Sarah (note the signature glasses!). I decided that it would be perfect for the cover of my sketchbook so I added a sketchbook, Madrona and (20)12. My entire workshop “notes” all bound up and labeled!

This was a fun way to create quick “sketches.” I definitely will be adding this to my bag of tricks!

Home from Madrona

As I do every time I return from a fiber retreat, I am full of inspiration and project ideas. I’m like a little kid at Christmas with visions of sugar plums. This year’s Madrona was no exception. I took 4 all day classes, but only attended 3.5 of them.

Janine‘s Fair Isle Yoke Sweater Design class got me all excited again about fair isle.  I will finish Anne Boleyn this year. I will finish the sampling for the fair isle sweater that I developed during my 3 day class with Janine 18 months ago.

A single day of energized singles class with Kathryn Alexander only whetted my appetite for more. Her discussion on energized vs. balanced singles make me really want to spin and knit another sweater using balanced singles. I am also determined to spin my own energized singles for the Energized Vest. There’s no photo of it on the web, but you can find the pattern in The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book. You can only purchase the yarn from Kathryn, but she no longer has the natural grey/brown produced. Only the white is available. In order to make the vest, you will need to dye it yourself. And the instructions for dyeing it while preserving the energy? Wow. A lot of work. Hence the idea that I will spin my own. It may be faster/easier. Maybe.

Down Breeds with Judith opened up my eyes to down breeds. As those who know me, I’m a delicate flower. I want/need soft-soft-soft! fibers. I’ve always poo-pooed any other sheep’s wool aside from fine wool class because they are the only thing I can bear against my skin. I have allowed Blue Faced Leicesters into my repertoire, but I’m extremely picky about those too. Not all pass muster. But the down breeds? Wow. An eye opener. The loft! The sproing! And the fabulous hand once I blend mohair, silk and/or angora? Oh. My. Word!

How much do I like it? I like it enough to fly home with a 5 pound bump of a clun/mohair/silk blend roving from Kathleen. I like it enough to ask Kathleen to hold back a clun lamb fleece or 2 at shearing next month. I like it enough that you may find me trolling the websites for a suffolk lamb fleece this spring.

The full day class that I only attended 1/2 of? It was Charlene Schurch’s Komi Knitting class. I was interested in the history of Komi knitting, the stranded color work, and how it relates to fair isle.  I also purchased her recently republished mitten book for more stranded pattern inspirations. I only stayed for the morning part of the session? My brain was full. If I crammed more in, my brain would have exploded.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I will cast on for a plain jane yoked sweater, a la Elizabeth Zimmerman, to test out my measurements. I’ll be using the blue spruce yarn that I just finished. Handspun and EZ’s percentage system are a match made in heaven.

Back to life

The past four days at Madrona was a wonderful way to wrap up my visit to Washington.  It was nice to relax and erase all the problems and heartache of the past few weeks.  Great friends, good food & wine, great conversations, great instructors, wonderful handknits.  What more could one ask for?  There are no pictures.  What happens in Madrona, stays in Madrona.  (But we need to remember the sippy cup trick for next year!)

Yvonne made a collection of small handmade bags to hang on your spinning and capture all the small crap that you pull out of your fiber.  She handed them out to friends that she sees only once a year at Madrona. (What a wonderful idea!)  Mine was a crocheted cotton bag in purple with lots of pretty iridescent beads.  Eat your heart out, Eva!  (There was a reason that I didn’t show it to you yesterday.)

Believe it or not, I was fairly restrained at the market.  I have fiber and yarn to last me through the next ice age, so I vowed to not go overboard and buy everything in sight.  I fell off the wagon a little bit at Dicentra Designs because Lisa has such a wonderful eye for colors.  A few drop spindles also fell into my bag.

I have a few more appointments with the workmen tomorrow before I wend my way south again.  Here’s to hoping no snow in the passes! I’ve planned ahead and purchased the chains for my car at the dealership in California last month.  It’s my insurance.  If I have them, then I won’t need them.

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