Interweave Earth Day Bargains

It's Earth Day (please tell me I'm not the only one who didn't realise until I saw the Google homepage) and Interweave is having a sale on digital items (get it? because they're paperless).

Digital back issues and ebooks are on sale, but the big draw for me is $6.99 videos. That's only £4.65, a steal compared to their usual price.

I really appreciate Interweave's spinning videos because, for the ones I have watched at least, they cover the topics at great depth and the presenters are all very knowledgeable. They go beyond the basics and I really feel like I've ended up learning something new.

The Interweave Shop's search and filtering options leave something to be desired, so here are some of my recommendations:

Three Bags Full by Judith MacKenzie-McCuin is an absolute pleasure for anyone who enjoys processing raw fleece or wants to learn. Judith is a wonderful, calming, and extremely knowledgeable instructor and I would in fact recommend any of her videos.

The Gentle Art of Plying is another great video of Judith's. You might think you know it all, that plying is an elementary step in the creation of yarn -- far from it. Judith talks in great depth about a wider variety of topics within the field of plying than you even knew existed.

Rita Buchanan is sort of a polar opposite to Judith MacKenzie-McCuin, in terms of energy and presence. Where Judith is calm, Rita is energetic. Where Rita is lively and silly, Judith is tranquil and smooth. Both display a great passion for their crafts, and I love watching them both, though they are completely different.

Rita's In Praise of Simple Cloth video is not really instructional - It features techniques, but it's more of a conversation about lots of different aspects of crafting (spinning, weaving, knitting, and various other fibery bits). How I Spin is decidedly more instructional and full of a lot of interesting information. I have enjoyed watching and re-watching both of them, very much.

And what am I getting myself? Well, here's a few of the ones I'm picking up...
Spinning Cotton by Stephenie Gaustad, because I just re-discovered my charkha and would really love to weave myself some towels, pillowcases, a blouse...

Handwoven Garment Construction, to help me with the goal above once I've spun all that yarn

Make That Yarn, Reproducing Millspun Yarns - A topic that really piqued my interest when I heard about the video.

Respect the Spindle: The Video - I already have and enjoy the book, as well as Abby's other video on drafting (which I wholeheartedly recommend). Normally I wouldn't be sure if I would learn anything new from what is marketed as a basic video on spindles... but every time I watch or read something from Abby, I learn something new, so at this price I can't resist.

The sale ends on Friday the 24th, so I suggest picking up some bargains while you can.


How long does it take to knit a pair of socks?

People ask me this sometimes. On average, how long does it take to make some socks? Well, let's find out with some examples...

Exhibit A:

Koigu PPPM merino colorway P113 241 purples and greens. That table was in my college dorm room!

Pomatomus socks in Koigum Painter's Palette Premium Merino

Yarn purchased: January 7, 2009

Pattern chosen: January 10, 2009

First sock cast on: April 19, 2013 (4 years and 3 months later)

Second sock bound off: April 13, 2015 (just shy of 2 years after cast on)

Total time between yarn purchase and finished socks: 6 years, 3 months.

Koigu pomatomus cookie a sock pattern

Exhibit B:

Stockinette striped socks in handspun Suffolk and Swaledale with a little bit of Regia for the dark stripes and the heel

Yarn for toes spun: April 11, 2015

First sock cast on: April 11, 2015

First heel turned: April 11, 2015

Second sock cast on: April 13, 2015

Second heel turned: April 15, 2015

Bound off: April 19, 2015

Total time between yarn finished and finished socks: 8 days.

Handspun striped toe-up socks in pink and blue suffolk wool

So... statistically speaking... How long does it take to make a pair of socks? On average, about 3.13 years.
(/facetious) :)

"A statistician can have his head in an oven and his feet in ice, and he will say that on average, he feels fine."

Woolly selfie

It's finally starting to feel like springtime, but I was very woolly the other day:

Around my neck is a recently-finished small shawl, Wandering the Moor - which I spun in several shades of grey from a Shetland sheep's fleece.

On my shoulders is Layter, a sweater I finished quite some time ago and have worn many times, but have somehow not gotten any decent photos of yet. It was an easy and fun knit, and it's a great finished object as well - easy to throw on and nice and warm.

I have to wear the wool while I still can - and in the meantime, I'm knitting lots of socks to keep myself in handknits through the spring and summer.


Textiles: Everyday magic

I started learning to knit simply to give my hands something productive to do. I hadn't expected it to change the way I look at the world.

The thing is, textiles are all around us, and a lot of what we make by hand can be related to the fabrics we use every day. Before I started knitting, knitting seemed so far removed from my modern life. It was something people did in old novels. It wasn't something relevant to me, today.

The first time the magic happened was when I was knitting my second or third-ever scarf, and I noticed the tiny Vs on my t-shirt.

On the left, an everyday t-shirt. On the right, knitted stockinette: The same thing on a larger scale.
The Vs I was creating on my stockinette scarf were exactly the same, on a larger scale. Turn my t-shirt inside out, and I could see miniscule purl bumps. Examine the collar, and I could see it was actually ribbing.

Suddenly something that had seemed so far removed from me, hokey and old-fashioned, was connected to my everyday life.

It happened again and again after that: the stranding inside a store-bought cardigan. The short-row heel on a manufactured sock.
Going to museums, I always enjoy seeing examples of fiber arts and gaining extra insight about them from my own experience. But my crafts don't just connect me to the past, they connect me to the present as well.

The magic happened again when I was reading about weaving, researching to buy my first loom. I knew denim was made of woven fabric, sure, but I had never looked close enough to see the tiny twill pattern...
My weaving on the right isn't a twill, I'm not that skilled yet. But weaving is weaving

The more I learn, the more pleasure I get from experiencing the magic in everyday things. The mundane becomes extraordinary. I notice things I never noticed before: a beautiful float pattern on an old tablecloth, the thousands of delicate-but-sturdy knots in a Persian carpet, even the sheep grazing in the field as I pass by on the road.

These things have always been extraordinary, it's just that I now have the eyes to see them. The world is so full of incredible things: how many moments of magic do we overlook every day?