The Yarn Documentary

This SXSW Official Selection now has a trailer up for the public. I can’t wait to watch it!

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New Tricks

So it’s been a WHILE. I finally got a permanent full time position, moved work locations twice, blah blah.

Also took the time to learn a new crafty skill: sewing!

Danger, Will Robinson. I need another thing to stash like I need a hole in the head.

Behold, my first real sewed thing:

A project bag! I wanted something that could hold a medium-sized project (because I rarely do anything small) and the pattern and notions needed for it. I had been specifically thinking about the beaded shawl I was test knitting for a friend and the amount of stuff I needed to cart around for it: yarn, beads, a crochet hook, and a highlighter with copies of the charts (yeah, I’m old school – I actually mark off rows on a physical copy as I go). I followed the great free tutorial available on Sew Mama Sew.

London Trip

So my husband and I did this honeymoon do-over (let’s not talk about the first one, which was full of sickness and tropical storms) in August. Yes, that is over two months ago. My life has been crazy busy.

London was fantastic. We did so much in the nine days we were there, but could definitely have spent more time.

Not only did I most definitely find a knitting store:

from whence I got some lovely English yarn.

(it’s called Bowland DK by Eden Cottage Yarns. I fell in love with the colour. I also picked up a shawl pin, plus they gave me the bag for free!)

but I also chronicled my fibre-related exploits for y’all. In true librarian fashion.

The sign says:

               This door was at Westminster Abbey, if you’re curious.

I’ll start with a very cool find at All Hallows-by-the-Tower. Though it’s right by the Tower of London, it’s easy to miss. I only found out about it through an obscure blog post. Even my guide book didn’t mention it, but it’s totally worth a visit. Not just for the fibre-craft related objects I’m going to show you, but it’s a beautiful old church. In fact it’s the oldest in London. It was built on the remains of a Roman house and road, which you can still see in the basement. An added bonus? It’s one of the few churches that lets you take photos inside.

See the weird rectangle-shaped objects hanging below the pews? They are cushions: each handmade by a member of the congregation, going back generations. Here are some close-ups:

There is also this lovely weaving near the altar.

Another very cool find was the textile collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I was SO excited to see these very famous ancient Egyptian socks made for wearing with sandals (ignore the “shoes” description. That’s for another item). These socks are often cited as an example of early knitting made using one needle, much like nålbinding.

The works below are woven tapestries from Byzantium.

The above is a woven silk piece depicting a bishop. It dates to 12-1300’s Germany or Italy. The very modern (i.e.: cartoon-like) looking face (complete with what looks like spectacles!) just kills me.

These woven pieces date to early Christianity in Egypt, around 400-600:

Here is a close up of the tapestry on the left. It depicts ankhs – an ancient Egyptian symbol of life that was adopted by the Christian Copts around the 4th century.

Below we have a quilt dating to 1360-1400. Probably made as a wedding gift, it depicts fourteen episodes from the adventures of Tristan. It was hard to take in all the detail on our camera, but you get the idea: lots and lots of stitching BY HAND. So gorgeous. It really has to be seen in person.

This next one is obviously a passion of the Christ scene. Probably from France around 1400-25. Once again woven BY HAND, folks. Our tour guide told us it took a professional weaver about a month working full time (sunrise to sunset) to make 1 square meter. Remember, most of these were big enough to cover a castle wall!

By the way, if you’re curious why tapestries were so common in the medieval period, here’s an answer: no central heating. Well-to-do homes that could afford tapestries were also typically made of stone. That sh*t gets cold!

We also got to see the famous, and enormous, ‘Boar and Bear Hunt’ woven wool tapestry, probably made in Arras, France or Tournai, Belgium around 1425-30.

The last fibre arts related stop that we made was at the Globe Theatre. I was super stoked to find a whole reproduction of an Elizabethan costume textile workshop in the museum.

Can you say “heaven”?

I really doubt that the following close-up images need introduction. Fleece, yarn, dye pots, sewing, pattern drafting, embroidery and lace work, it’s all here.

Pssst: the velvet above is authentic 15th-17th century Spanish and Italian handmade velvet.

And here we have the costume worn by an actress who played Queen Elizabeth at the Globe re-opening.

Check out the handmade lace!

I’ll end with this cool video my husband took of the Swiss Glockenspeil in Leicester Square near Piccadilly Circus/Covent Garden. Not textile related, but still a pretty cool handicraft.

Up in the northcountry

Only the weekend after Rhinebeck my knitting group had our annual cottage trip.

It’s always a great time, but an added bonus was that this year was especially productive for me.

Exhibit A) I learned how to chain ply on a spindle! In beautiful surroundings, no less.

You might recognize the Briar Rose roving and David Reed Smith spindle from my last post.

PS: if you haven’t heard of chain plying, you should look into it. It is magical, time saving, and generally awesome.

Exhibit B) I  learned how to use my spinning wheel. A big undertaking considering last time I tried it was at the Frolic.

After a bumpy start I finally got something that resembled yarn 😀

Exhibit C) Happy Seamstress let me use her drum carder!

Wensleydale + second quality angora I got at Rhinebeck, plus some firestar = pretty AND pretty soft.

But perhaps the best part of the cottage is the time away from the city with friends, fibre, yarn, and good food.

Yes, that is a chocolate marshmallow. A HOMEMADE chocolate marshmallow.

I’ll leave you with the doodle Lynn left in the cottage owners’ guest book.

TTC Knitalong 2014

A little late, but I changed jobs last week so I’ve been a bit swamped.

Saturday July 12 was the annual TTC Knitalong. It’s that annual event where Toronto’s knitters (and others! I know people come from far and wide) break off into teams and travel from LYS to LYS via Toronto’s public transit system, the TTC. I was on the best team (sorry, everyone else): Team Lace. We got to visit Passionknit, Creative Yarns, The Purple Purl, and Romni Wools.

Here is a great photo of us at the Purple Purl that I stole from Lynn.

Jennifer the Happy has another version of the same picture on Instagram and Twitter:

And here is the day’s stash additions of my 3 knitting group friends and myself. Not too shabby.

I especially enjoy Alia‘s open mouth of joy and Kara’s fingering of the silk ball in the bottom right corner. I regret none of the innuendos in the preceding sentence.

There are more awesome photos in Lynn’s blog post.

Here’s what I got 😀

(click on the photo for what store and colourway/dye lot info)

100% silk! And Passionknit had 25% off all yarn so… I really couldn’t say no.

NEON SOCK YARN. Need I say more? Lynn, Kara, and I decided we had to have it as soon as we saw it at Creative Yarns. Other team members judged us, but I don’t care. At one of our knit nights we plan on all showing up with neon socks-in-progress. It’s going to be epic.

And that is all the yarn I bought. I KNOW, right? But Lord knows I have enough stash at the moment.

BUT, Passionknit was lovely enough to give out free Mirasol lace weight. Yes, you read that right.

Other awesome freebies included this gorgeous wooden crochet hook and some stitch markers from the Purple Purl,

 

 

 

 

and this cool button from Wool Gathering (then again, I love buttons) sporting a sentiment I happen to share,

 

 

 

 

 

 

as well as a bag, back-issue magazine, and yarn from Romni Wools. How incredibly generous LYSes can be.

And here is this year’s official button and bag, both of which are probably my favourite of the three years I’ve been doing this.

I also won a prize! Which floored me, because I never win anything. I won a copy of French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes and a skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Fine Merino Superwash Lace from Knitty and Diamond, respectively.

And I like almost every pattern in French Girl Knits. Bonus! I mean, how could you not. Look at this gorgeousness:

I also bought two books. This is likely not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog…

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop is a classic. The late Mrs. Zimmermann was a master knitter from a European generation who memorized “recipes” for patterns, rather than rely on following written patterns verbatim. Take this page from her instructions for The Original Shetland Shawl as an example:

Marianne Kinzel’s First Book of Modern Lace Knitting is in the same vein, albeit the lace work featured in it is so detailed, some instructions are needed. I would like to try this doozy. Wish me luck.

Of course I will be using it as a shawl rather than a dinner cloth 😉 I’ll be damned if I let anyone eat off of this sucker.

Can’t wait till next year’s TTC Knitalong. It will be the 10th anniversary!

Old stuff

I loves it.

I nerded out pretty hardcore when I saw that the decor theme at this restaurant was all vintage knitting and sewing stuff.

And at a used bookstore I recently acquired these:

   

Early American Weaving and Dyeing by J. & R. Bronson was first published in 1817. It discusses how to weave 35 designs and includes 41 dyeing recipes and tips. There is detailed coverage of wool processing, calculating thread, carding and spinning, loom operation, more.

Here are some excerpts:

Needlework as Art by Lady M. Alford is rather self explanatory. It explores the history of needlearts around the world.

Excerpts:

Remember, all of this would have been done by HAND. It blows the mind. This is why I love textiles: it’s history you can hold and use.

Another cool find recently has been a flea market with a large collection of antique crochet. Did you know that all crochet is done by hand? Machines can’t duplicate it like they can with knitting. You can have faux lace made on a machine, but it is just fibres crimped and pressed together cheaply, or in some places acrylic/plastic (shudder), but it will never be true crochet like these beauties:

 

 

 

I included the cake lifter in that last shot because it’s petit point themed. How awesome is that.

Relay Recap

Friday night into Saturday morning was the Canadian Cancer Society’s Toronto-Central Relay for Life in support of Sunnybrook Hospital’s Odette Cancer Centre.

Our team, Downtown Knit Collective, raised almost $13,000!! I myself raised my all-time best of $560! Thanks to those of you who saw my many requests and blog post and donated 😀

In a typical relay you walk around the track all night from 7pm to 7am. Now, 12 hours is a LOT, so that’s why you register in teams, so that you can spell each other off, hence “relay.” Our team, however, has special dispensation to knit all night instead.

Though the reason for the event is serious and sobering, which is at times brought home by things like the Luminary ceremony, ultimately it is a fun night of camaraderie and hope. That and lots of sugar and coffee to help you stay awake.

       

   

There were also activities you could do on your breaks, including SUMO WRESTLING (yes, again. I don’t care it’s super fun) and these gigantic inflatable bouncy pony things that became the best thing ever at 3am.

CanadianChia even cut off her hair to donate to Locks of Love. And instead of just sending donors on their way, volunteer professional stylists styled your new cropped ‘do for free!

   

New this year was a Night Market. Naturally, we knitters had some wares for sale.

Flowers by the lovely Ilana

The cuteness of this hat just kills me.