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For a number of reasons, I’ve been away from the blog for the last few weeks. There have been some changes around here, to say the least. I:

1. Left my job – what I considered my first grownup, long-term job – at a landscape architecture office in Vancouver. It was just time. That’s not to say it was an easy decision, but I think it was the right one…I’d been thinking about it for awhile, and I’ve got lots of plans, both non-work (fixing the damn kitchen faucet, making progress on the exercise front, cooking healthy food again) and work (trying out some business ideas, designing, knitting).

2. Signed up for a summer typography class at Emily Carr. What can I say, being a student is what I do best.

While on Granville Island, I had to swing past Maiwa Supply and look at their Manos display. Just to look. Juuuust looking…

3. Picked up some knitting again – both the birthday socks and casting on a Damson shawl (shown in the top photo) with the Madelinetosh I was so excited about a few months ago. It’s hard to say how it will come out; the individual blues, browns, and greys are amazing but I worry a bit about the mud effect.

Urban Yarns is hosting a Clapo-tea Party on May 6, but just to be different I think I’ll bring my Damson shawl. Speaking of Urban Yarns –

Kynna gets ahold of my camera and photodocuments Urban Yarns sample monsters

So all in all the spring cleaning has been a bit extreme this year, but needed. Sometimes I think that people my age have a kind of learned-ADD; being taught we have so many options and that we can do whatever we want to do, we’ve taken it to the extreme and can’t settle on just one or two things.  I can’t comment on whether that’s good or bad – I’m just an in-progress demo. But it feels right to have all these changes happen this spring, doesn’t it?


Last week I got to play around for two days at Christa Giles‘ Vintage Techniques workshop. It was a treat to knit for two days straight, running down to the Granville Island market for fresh-baked or -grown snacks, and to pick up some new knitting tricks.

a table full of yarn and swatches: bliss!

Interestingly, I had been playing around for the last few months trying to figure out some of these techniques on my own, and actually came pretty close. But it was invaluable to talk to Christa about the actual mechanics of each and different ways they might be used.

We knit all the swatches together in a long Frankensteined swatch/scarf:

pleats, folds and gathers

ruching and smocking

reversible cables

At the end of the second day, we tried Cat Bordhi’s mobius cast-on. It’s neat (a mobius strip only has one side and one edge), but I’m not sure I see the usefulness of it beyond cowls. Even so, my mobius sample, a little piece of knit trivia:

It’s been an exhausting two weeks – but we made it through! The wedding was wonderful, we sadly said goodbye to our car that was written off in an accident, and I maneuvered through the Maiwa lineup to sign up for a class in this year’s roundup of textile workshops.

The class is Vintage Techniques, a knitting class by Christa Giles whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, even though she does many knitting classes and workshops around Vancouver. There were many other classes I wanted to take – natural dyeing with Michel Garcia, screen printing…but one can only do (and spend) so much. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to take all the classes in one year.

And a sneak peek of the zillions of wedding photos we had taken, because I want to share lovely L.’s lovely flowers that she so beautifully arranged for us:

20091024 colour exercise

colour bridging and composition exercises

Wow. I spent all last week at Maiwa’s Colour Institute workshop, led by Michele Wipplinger. At the risk of sounding gushy, Michele is very inspiring both personally and professionally. The whole week was simply an immersion in colour, with plenty of show-and-tell: woven, quilted, and dyed items from around the world, books, and yarns. It was like an advanced colour theory class, with tons of exercises using different colour systems (like Munsell and NCS), watercolours, and plain old paper and glue. One interesting highlight was the colour vision test, a test of colour discrimination that left me feeling a little cross-eyed.

In addition to being a colour expert, Michele also has a wealth of knowledge about natural dyes. I see a trip to her Seattle studio in my future. So I’m feeling inspired and trying to scrape together some time to put this new-found inspiration and colour knowledge to work, before it wears off. I’ll be going back tonight to volunteer at Maiwa’s Slow Clothes Fashion Show, plus a few more lectures next week. And then my love affair with Maiwa may cool down for a bit.

20091024 colour quilt

sample quilt with hand-dyed fabrics

This past weekend I did some dyeing in a workshop I took as part of the Maiwa Symposium. These Maiwa ladies, they are organized, smart, and interesting. Just look at the fun we had:
20090916 dye workshop acids

Acid dye samples on silk and wool

I’ve already been dabbling with acid dyes, but the Procion dyes for cellulose fibre and most of the natural dyes were entirely new to me. I’ve decided on a winner: cochineal. Grinding dried bugs into a bright red powder to dye my samples was satisfying in a Farmer John kind of way that the chemical dyes just can’t match. And my vegetarian views are unwavering; these are parasites, and used as food and cosmetics colorants, to boot; I’d rather have ground bugs in my lipstick than red dye no. 2.

20090916 dye workshop cochineal

Cochineal on silk, cotton, and wool

But I digress. The cochineal samples above were mordanted with iron to give bright fushia colours; if we had used iron they would have been dark purple, or vinegar, orange-red. Other samples were done in logwood, cutch, osage, and madder, all beautiful. The colour varied with the fibres we dyed, even though they were all dyed the same strength.

And now I’m sadly staring at my dye pots piled up in a corner of my office, wondering when I’ll fill them with colour. It’s hard in a little apartment to use all these dye implements, much less store them. But now I’ve got them – so I need to use them.

20090916 dye workshop scarf

Low-water Procion dyeing on cotton scarves

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