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Are you knitters shocked when you go through your stashes? I was. I thought I might have two or three skeins of yarn to take to the upcoming Knit Social Yarn Swap, but I found a lot more than that.

Should be fun – and I was happy to see that Alexa from Gourmet Crafter has a table and will be selling her lovely hand-dyed yarns.

As a teaser, for the really hardcore: that bag contains quince & co, Jared Flood’s own Shelter, a few Sweetgeorgia fibre club offerings (will I ever have time to spin again?), Cascade, undyed knit picks yarn, and unique hand-dyes from various North American destinations.

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crisp Habu fique

Did you know that it’s impossible to leave a fibre marketplace empty handed? Of course you did. To wrap up the Madrona experience, I feel compelled to document my souvenirs.

For some reason, the fique (a plant fibre from the pineapple family) above especially called to me, maybe because it’s the exact opposite of my usual favourite soft (crunchy) and smooth (stiff) yarns. My extended Colombian family tells me that fique is commonly used in South America for rope, bags, and sandals.

a small collection of Habu silks

I feel like you have to be a weaver to make the most of Habu’s outstanding range of fibres, but I’m determined to conduct experiments that will make the most of crisp 1-micron thick silk in knitwear.

madelinetosh in earl grey

No plans to even use the madelinetosh; I’ve admired her colours for a long time and bought this skein of tosh merino light in ‘earl grey’ just because it’s beautiful. Seriously tempted to just unwind the skein and hang it on the wall – the lightness and reflectivity in her colourways is amazing.

The Toots Leblanc soft soft soft merino/angora blend is destined for a hat. This company is amazing, making yarns so soft that they don’t even have to dye them. One feel and people were snapping them up left and right.

Toots Leblanc merino/angora

That’s it – I only took two classes but enjoyed seeing so many enthusiastic knitters in one place. I think next time I’ll focus on technique – I’m still trying to decide if a trip to Sock Summit is in the cards. I think the best place for me would be Carson Demers’ physiotherapy-oriented class Ergonomics for Knitters, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Knitting for Speed and Efficiency. Because who wouldn’t want to knit faster without developing a repetitive strain injury.

Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed announced his new yarn line today – Shelter, a worsted weight tweed (of course) in beautiful colours. Is there anything this man can’t do? I love that one of his reasons for getting into the yarn biz was to support US grown and spun wool. Just listening to him describe New England heritage yarn mills makes me want to pack my suitcase for a field trip.

As some of you know, I recently started spinning. I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I learned how to spin short draw and worsted weight and, after fiddling around with a variety of fibres, I sat down and got to it last weekend. I spun and plied most of a handpainted blue-faced leicester roving by Yummy Yarn and was pleasantly surprised. Ok, that’s an understatement – I am so proud of my first handspun skein that I go look at and fondle it about every half hour.

spinning

spinning on my borrowed wheel

cotton-candy-handspun

my first handspun - cotton candy coloured bfl

So I’ve found that I really like spinning, and I really like the end result. I know that many people learn to spin because they can’t buy the kind of yarns they like to weave or knit. This applies to me to a certain extent, but I think I spin mostly because I just want to make something. Typically, now that I’ve had a taste of spinning, I want to dye my own fibre before spinning and knitting it. It likely won’t stop until I’ve raised the sheep, too. I tell you, I should have been in big business – it’s horizontal integration at its best.

Now all I have to do is knit my yarn up into a little hat to see if I got the twist right. I’ll post it as soon as it’s done. In the meantime, so happy was I at my spinning success that I put down a deposit on my very own Lendrum wheel! There’s a wait period of several months, but I’ll happily spin away on my borrowed wheel until then.

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