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.

This and That

And everything in between.

Cottage Deck

Here’s my workspace while I’m catching up. My laptop, tea, cell phone, and Kindle on the small table on my deck with the view of Admiralty Strait and Port Townsend in the distance. What more can I ask more?

Design Your Own Fair Isle Sweater

As I said in the last post, it was a great class. Janine walked us through a bit of color theory and discerning value. This was a valuable (ha ha) lesson. One inviolate rule in fair isle work is value trumps color. Repeat that mantra as you work on your design. Value trumps color.

Once we finished our value exercise, we started with our inspiration picture. I wasn’t very organized this trip. It was all I can do to pack myself, the loom and the critters into the station wagon. I didn’t have the wherewithal to pack for the class as well. So, I availed myself to Janine’s fine collection of National Geographic, and selected a photograph of a group of moss covered rocks. The rocks were blue-gray in the midst of chartreuse, plus a scattering of orange leaves on one of the rocks.

We then picked out the colors in our inspiration photo from Janine’s amazing library of yarn (entire selection of currently available color from Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson’s Spindrift, and Elemental Affects). Then without any preconceived notions, selected additional colors in the color family. Arrange the yarns in value, split it in half, then proceed to a speed swatch. From the speed swatch we can tell what colors were working, what weren’t, and what areas/values that we might be missing.

I have to say, my swatch was stupefyingly ugly. Dark browns (I was trying for the shadows), and garish oranges to capture the bright leaves. Seriously. There wasn’t many nice things other people in the class was able to say about the swatch other than “oh, that’s a nice orange…,” pointing to a single line of color, or “hmm, I like that color, I think that was what I was looking for in my swatch.” Seriously bad.

However, I was able to salvage what I had, and hard pruned my collection (from 33 colors to 15) and replaced one or two colors. Reordered them into 2 “colorways” and in arranged them in respective values. Voila! Something that was more pleasing.

Next we pored through various pattern/motif books to select our patterns. I came up with something called
“Scatness” (I kid thee not. Perhaps subconsciously naming my speed swatch.) from Postcards from Shetland by Ron Schweitzer.

May I present the my workshop results…(click for big)

Design Your Own Fair Isle Sweater samplers

Clockwise from bottom left: speed swatch, photo inspiration, Scatness chart and my color notes, and my swatch.

Not bad, if I say so myself. This is an all over pattern that I’m thinking of making in to a vest, possibly a sweater, but most likely a vest. I still want to tweak the color combinations a bit. The proportions and placement are close, but there’s a bit of finenessing still required here. I’ll get there. There’s a line of peach that I’m not fond of. I do agree that it’s necessary for the piece to pull together, but it’s where it’s place and the number of rows used that I need to tweak. Janine proposes that I call it something other than “peach”, like “Martin” to get over my dislike for the color. We’ll see.

(By the way, if you click through on Scatness, you’ll notice how different the sweater looks from my swatch.  It’s amazing the effect you’ll get just by changing the values.)

June Socks (Socks #7)

Socks 0807

My 7th pair of socks this year, using the second Flat Feet purchased at Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, knitted toe up. I’m working on a set of footlets from the leftover yarn right now.

Dye Day

Cochineal and Indigo skeinsThis is the result of my dye day at Kathleen’s yesterday. Above is cochineal with ammonia modifier. Below is half strength indigo bath. (And that’s Ellie, inspecting the results.) I’ll write more on the dye day later.

Now, I have to finish my beet salad and head to the neighborhood potluck at the pool. I’m trying to squeeze as much into my last day on the island as I can.

I have to pack up the car tonight and close up the house in the morning. I have a reservation on the noon ferry tomorrow. I need to be there at least 30-90 minutes in advance of the ferry. I know this flies in the face of my earlier post, but this being the end of a long holiday weekend, I made a reservation and need to keep it, or I might be on the island a day longer than planned. And I have commitments back in California that I need to keep.


Madrona Fiber Arts

Now that it’s officially 2008, the countdown to the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreats officially begins. 6 more weeks to the retreat! I can’t wait.

A quick glance at the website shows a couple of things:

  1. Class Supply and Homework list is up! No homework for me, just the usual spin and knit paraphernalia.
  2. Now that they’ve clean up the registration issues, there are still openings left in some of the primo classes. Now’s your chance to go and sign up, if you haven’t yet. Energized singles with Kathryn Alexander? Handcoverings with Nancy Bush and Judith MacKenzie-McCuin? Choosing Colors for Fair Isle Knitting with Janine Bajus? Come on. You know you want to!

See you in Tacoma!