Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago

Hey, are you going to Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago this weekend? I will be there at booth #220, so come say hi and fondle some yarn!

Here’s a pic of just some of the yarn in my booth last weekend at Fiber Expo.

dyed yarn in booth

I will also be demonstrating Navajo plying at noon on Saturday in one of the salon rooms on the third floor, so if you’ve been wanting to get a close up view of how that works, now is your chance. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Wondering what Navajo plying is? It’s a method of plying handspun yarn that keeps the colors together. You can make a 3 ply yarn that looks like this:

handspun navajo-plied caribbean

It’s really spiffy and one of my favorite things to do!

Fiber Expo is this weekend! Yay!

I really like Fiber Expo. It’s one of my favorite shows to do. It’s a hometown show (Ann Arbor! Woohoo!), so I get to sleep in my own bed, not travel far, and I know where the good restaurants are, but it’s more than that. It’s just got a cool vibe to it. I see even more friends than usual (both vendors and customers), Humphrey the camel will be there (coolest camel ever!), and…well, ok, probably just the fact that I don’t have to get up super early is a big plus.

I’ll be there this weekend in my big booth of Happiness, with bunches of luscious yarn, fiber, patterns, and kits. Try not to drool on anything unless you’re buying it, but feel free to fondle and grope the goods! How else can you bond with it?

I’ll keep this short because I am tired, but here’s a photo to entice you.

1409 crete merino-tencel

Handspun! I spun it from my merino/tencel combed top. Shiny…

Second Kit and Third Coast

Hey, remember I said I have kits now? I have the second one in the series now, Izzy’s Bouncin’ Blues!

izzy's bouncin' blues

I’ll have both kits and a whole lot of yarn and fiber and patterns available this Friday and Saturday at the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival on the Wayne State University campus in Detroit.

If you’re in the area, come check it out because I’ve got luscious stuff and you can fondle and grope it before you buy!

This is merino/yak combed top:

31114 hydrangea merino/yak

When I put it into people’s hands and say “Feel how soft this is,” they kind of melt. It’s cute to watch!

And this is Corrie Sock in a brand new colorway that I don’t have available online yet (soon!). It’s called “Sugar Plum Fairy.”

f 22058 sugar plum fairy

I like it. It may be my new special friend.

Hey! I have kits now!

My friend Heather Ordover, author of What would Madame Defarge Knit? and What (else) would Madame Defarge Knit?, has written a young adult novel called Grounded. The leading character is a knitter, and knitting features prominently! Grounded is the first book in a series, and I want the next book now. (NOW!!)

To go along with the book, Heather is releasing sock patterns based on each of the main characters in the book, all designed for Happy Fuzzy Yarn Corrie Sock. As each pattern is released, it will be available here in kit form.

This is Rosie’s Firestarters, the first pattern in the series. You will receive a 5 page printed pattern in a protective sleeve and one 4 oz skein of Corrie Sock in Sugar Maple, the colorway used in the pattern.

6001 firestarters

Pretty!

Adventures in Fibonacci Weaving

This is about the interconnectedness of all things.

FibonacciIn 1202, Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci, an Italian mathematician, wrote a book called Liber abaci (“Book of the abacus”). In this book he posited a problem:

A certain man put a pair of rabbits in a place surrounded on all sides by a wall. How many pairs of rabbits can be produced from that pair in a year if it is supposed that every month each pair begets a new pair which from the second month on becomes productive?

Rabbits?! Squee! Bunnies!

The answer of course is the number sequence for which he is well known, and which bears his name, the Fibonacci sequence, also known as the Fibonacci series:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on. Each number in the sequence is the sum of the two preceding numbers.

So what does this have to do with weaving?

Read on, my pretties. Read on.

The sequence describes growth. While it theoretically describes rabbit population growth (actually there are usually 5-8 kits in a litter, so he was off there), it actually does describe the way many other things grow.

sunflower 250w

Especially spirals.

Snail shells. Animal horns. The arrangement of seeds on sunflower heads and many other flowers. The spirals of pinecones. The spirals of rose petals. Pineapples. Leaf nodes on branches. Unfurling ferns. Artichokes. Hurricanes. Galaxies.

AureaFibonacci

Well, that’s really cool. But what does it have to do with weaving?

I’m getting there. Promise.

It turns out that as the numbers get bigger and bigger, they approach what Pythagoras first described as a golden ratio or golden mean. Other bigwig genius types like Johannes Kepler and Leonardo da Vinci were working with the golden ratio too, so it was a big deal. But what is it?

Technically speaking, it’s an irrational number equal to (1 + √5)/2. In layman’s terms, it’s approximately equal to 1.618.

And this is where it gets interesting.

Proportions of the human body have this ratio all over it. People vary, to be sure, but there are averages. Distance from floor to navel : distance from top of head to navel = ~1.618. Distance from navel to knee : distance from knee to floor = ~1.618.

And you know how you can curl up your fingers? The lengths of your finger segments follow the same ratio from one to the next, just like a snail shell.

Studies have shown that when test subjects unfamiliar with the golden ratio viewed random faces, the ones they judged most attractive most closely matched golden ratio proportions between the width of the face and the width of the eyes, nose, and eyebrows.

The sequence happens in nature so frequently, and in us, that our brains are sort of biologically programmed to find it attractive. It’s instinct.

This is where weaving comes in.

If you’re looking for a sequence of numbers to use for alternating colors of warp threads, and you don’t want to just repeat the same number over and over, if you want something more interesting, but you want something you know will look good, use Fibonacci numbers. Our brains like them.

riin in shawl

So that’s what I did for this shawl, which I wove using five skeins of my Superwash Sport.

I used three skeins for the warp, one skein each of Purplesaurus, Rain Forest, and Coastal (which I labeled A, B, and C, respectively), and two skeins of Cobalt for the weft.

 

shawl skeins

Left to right: Purplesaurus, Rain Forest, Coastal, Cobalt (2 skeins)

I already knew I was going to weave this on my Kromski Harp 24″ rigid heddle loom with a 10 dent reed, using the entire 24″ width. So that’s theoretically 240 warp ends. It’s actually 5 holes per inch though, and then each hole has a corresponding slat. It always seems weird to me to have one warp thread on the outside, not through a slat, so I don’t use the end hole that would require using the adjacent slatless slat that isn’t a slat but just wide open space. (Am I the only one who avoids it?) So, 238 warp ends (119 pairs of threads).

I started writing down my Fibonacci sequence, and quickly realized that if I kept on going, I would be using much more of one colorway than the others. For this project I didn’t want to do that (but for another project I might!), so after I reached 21, I started over at 1 again.

So this is what I came up with.

  • Color : # of warp pairs
  • A : 1
  • B : 1
  • C : 2
  • A : 3
  • B : 5
  • C : 8
  • A : 13
  • B : 21
  • C : 1
  • A : 1
  • B : 2
  • C : 3
  • A : 5
  • B : 8
  • C : 13
  • A : 21
  • B : 1
  • C : 1
  • A : 2
  • B : 3
  • C : 4, only because I ran out of room. If I was doing a wider piece, it would be 5.
  • Total: 119

Because I am lazy, I am a great fan of the direct warp method. When the warp is too wide to fit on a warping peg, I improvise.

stool legs as pegs

The two chairs rammed against the table hold the stool the proper distance away from the loom clamped onto the other end of the table. One half the warp wraps around one stool leg, and the other half around the other stool leg, so it’s sort of close to straight-ish.

warp rotated resized

Not bad, eh? Aside from being a really weird photo, I mean.

So this

weaving in progress

became this.

shawl width 600w

Because everything is interconnected.

Want to read more about Fibonacci and the golden ratio? Try here, here, and here.

Another pattern, new fibers, and a chance to win some yarny goodness!

Wow, I’ve got lots to tell you! Ok, first up, I finished the other pattern I’ve been working on!

Spiral Scrunch Cowl

This is the Spiral Scrunch Cowl, which I designed to use one skein of DK Silk. It’s fast, easy, and luxurious. (cough, holiday knitting, cough) You can buy the pattern separately, or if you buy at least one skein of the silk, you get the pattern for free! Sweet deal, eh?

Next up, I’ve introduced two new fibers, and they are both extremely yummy.

This is 50% merino/50% tencel combed top. It’s easy to spin, and it’s shiny.

crete merino/tencel top

And this is 50% superfine merino/50% yak. It is soooooo sooooooft! The base fiber is a natural heathery gray, so I can dye it in any of my colorways, and it will come out darker and more subtle than the same colorway on a white base.

salwar kameez merino/yak top

And so so soft!

Third up, my friend Carol Sukolski is doing a fundraiser for Summer Search, a group that mentors low income high school kids to live up to their potential. For every $5 you donate, you get one chance to win a yarny prize, one of which is a $50 Happy Fuzzy Yarn gift certificate. You can read all about the group and the work they do and the fundraiser and the complete list of prizes here.

More stuff coming very soon!

Woot! It’s a new hat pattern!

I finally finished it! Woot!

3-4 rear 500w

It’s absolutely ridiculous that I’ve been working on this hat pattern for two years, but I originally wrote it for sport weight yarn, and while a stockinette stitch hat out of sport weight yarn might be warm enough for some people, I would get frostbite on my ears in that, so I rewrote it for worsted weight. Hey, I live in Michigan. It gets cold here in the winter.

worsted front 500w

Ignore the squinting and the dorky expression. Just look at the hat. Nice hat, eh? I used about 80% of a skein of Happy Fuzzy Yarn American Worsted in the Enchanted colorway.

worsted origami hat top 500w

And I topped it off with the perfect ceramic button from Root Farm Studio. (They don’t have a website, but you can reach them at rootfarmstudio at yahoo dot com.)

You can buy the PDF here.

(And if you want to make it in sport weight, you can! You plug your gauge into the pattern, so while I wrote it for worsted weight, you can also use it for any weight yarn you want!)

What to do with one skein of bulky handspun

Often someone will ask me what they can make with one skein of bulky handspun art yarn — awesome yarn that doesn’t have a lot of yardage. Sometimes a cowl is good, other times a skinny scarf is the answer, but some times they’re really looking for something else. Something bigger.

The answer is to combine the handspun with another yarn.

I combined a skein of my corespun yarn with some of my hand dyed Merino Lace yarn to make this Scribble Lace shawl.

scribble lace shawl

Do you know about scribble lace? I first read about it Debbie New’s book Unexpected Knitting. It’s so easy, and it looks so amazing. It’s simply stockinette stitch on very large needles, alternating one row of a very thick yarn with three rows of a very thin yarn. You need to use a circular needle or dpns so when you need to start a row with the yarn that’s at the other end you can just slide the stitches to that end and start there.

scribble lace held up

I used size US17 needles for this shawl. I cast on what looked like a reasonable number of stitches (it turned out to be 42), knit till I was running out of the corespun yarn, and bound off. I gave it a quick bath in cool water, then pinned it out to dry on a large bath towel. That’s it.

You can see (and fondle!) the shawl in person, along with all of my handspun and several colorways of hand dyed Merino Lace this coming weekend at the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I hope to see you there!

 

Cool stuff is afoot!

You know what’s cool?

Cool is when you’re a dyer and someone wants to use your yarn for not one, not two, but for seven designs. So yeah, I’m pretty excited.

You know Heather Ordover, of What Would Madame Defarge Knit? and CraftLit? Behold her latest project.

groundedIt’s a young adult novel called Grounded, about a teenager who thinks she’s normal until she sets her ex-boyfriend on fire from 15 feet away, and discovers she’s…weird.

I can’t wait to read it!

She’s also a knitter, and there will be a sock pattern associated with each of the seven main characters in the book. The patterns use my yarn, and Heather and I will be putting kits together.

The book will be available for pre-order very soon. If you pre-order, you get goodies! Want to know when you can pre-order it? Join the book’s mailing list!

(On an unrelated note, my blog was broken for a few days, and while I’m pretty sure I fixed everything, could you let me know if you come across anything wonky? Thanks!)

 

What would you like to see me demonstrate?

Two bits of wooly interest! Let’s go in chronological order.

This first one will interest those in or near Ann Arbor. If you would like to learn how to make felt balls doing wet felting and using Happy Fuzzy Yarn hand dyed combed top, go to the Felt Ball Fun workshop at the Pittsfield branch of the Ann Arbor District Library tomorrow at 7pm. It’s a free, all ages event!

Polwarth combed top "Art Nouveau"

The second one will interest those going to Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago this November. I will have a booth there, and I have an opportunity to do a 15 to 30 minute demonstration. I can think of lots of techniques I could demonstrate. The question is, what would you like to see me demonstrate? I need to let the organizers know soon, so please leave a comment or send me an email.

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