Friday, January 14, 2011

Knitting Lessons, part 1

This past Sunday, I had a delightful afternoon of teaching knitting to my oldest friend, my best friend from high school in fact.  She had a bit of experience already, but had not knit for several years.  And folks, she's a natural - beautifully even stitches and a relaxed attitude.  It made teaching fun and gave me some food for thought.  I really enjoy teaching knitting and other fiber arts and I need to think about finding more official ways of sharing my love of this craft with others. 

After a lovely chat over tea & cookies, we started the knitting lesson and covered cast-on's, the knit stitch, and adding new yarn.  I wanted to make the lesson as entertaining as possible, so for yarn, I dug into my yarn samples stash.  I highly recommend this idea!  It is really fun to play with different colors and textures of yarn, using just a few yards at a time.  It instantly makes the lesson very low-stress and personal, because a student can play with the yarn from the start. 

A "new" knitter:

Fun with colors & textures:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sorry, Columbus, the world is actually flat

How do I know the world is flat?  Because I fell off the edge of it for a little while.  Between changes at work, family illnesses and surgeries, and the holidays, life has been a whirlwind and my blog was one of the casualties. But I'm back now!  It's a new year, anything is possible, and maybe the world will prove itself to be spherical after all.

I haven't finished any spinning projects since I last blogged, although I have a few more singles spun during that time... but I'll catch up with spinning news in a later post, and I'll catch up now with other fiber news in my life for the last few months. 

One great highlight is from November, 2010, when I visited Misty Meadow Icelandics sheep farm in Minnetrista, MN.  The owners, Tom & Judy McDowell, are awesome people.  Tom gave me a tour of their place, where I got to meet Judy in her felting studio, and then Tom took me to the sheep barn to meet the flock.  We both have biology backgrounds and discussed sheep breeding and husbandry very happily for quite a while.  Here's a photo I snapped of one of the back pens behind the barn.  The smallest sheep in the photo, second from the left, is a young ram who will get to service the other three sheep, all of whom are mature ewes.  The ewes weren't quite in their cycle yet, so it was pretty funny to see how strongly they rebuffed him at that time.  He ended up looking quite disgusted with these three chicks who were big enough to boss him around and had no problem reminding him of that. 

After visiting this farm, Icelandic sheep have moved to the top of my favorite breeds list, and I bought two fleeces from the McDowell's while I was there.  This is a primitive or "unimproved" breed of sheep that are genetically almost identical to sheep from Iceland & the Viking era about 1,000 years ago.  It makes them very interesting - both sexes have horns, they have lovely dual-coated fleeces in lots of natural colors, and the smarts haven't been bred out of them, so to speak.

In December, I did manage to complete one handmade gift for Christmas 2010.  Our friend Ryan gets to enjoy a double knit, reversible hat, and I have to say, I absolutely love self-striping sock yarn!

In other Christmas news, I'm extremely lucky to have family who knows and loves me, because I received some great fiber related loot this year.  My parents found a very neat knitting page-a-day calendar that offers patterns throughout the year:

My brother scored big sister points with a tahkli spindle (a steel & brass support spindle from India traditionally used to spin cotton), a ceramic spindle bowl, and 100 grams of cotton punis (pronounced Poo-nees), which are tightly wrapped rolls of unspun cotton fiber:

My sister- and brother-in-law found a gorgeous Lantern Moon basket, knitting needles, and beautiful silk & mohair yarn for me:

And my husband shocked me with a Strauch drum carder:

I anticipate many, many happy hours with my fiber art in 2011 and I can't wait to share my discoveries, frustrations, and successes with everyone.  Happy New Year!