Monday, August 04, 2008

Q&A, plying, new spinning, and CONTEST

This is a very long blog post, starting with some Q&A, including a large section on how I ply. If this stuff isn't interesting to you, scroll down for a spinning FO, as well as details for entering a contest for a skein of handspun.

I tend to star incoming emails that contain questions, and I apologize for the times I haven't gotten to them in a timely matter. Or, *gulp*, at all. Blogger doesn't allow me to reply directly to commenters, so things tend to get lost in the shuffle. But here's an attempt to answer some recent questions. I hope the information is still useful to those of you who asked, and not boring for those of you who didn't:

Auntiemichael asked about what WPI charts I find to be most realistic. The short answer is that I like the chart that came with my Nancy's Knit Knacks WPI tool. I don't find it to be perfect, but it's convenient, and pretty close to my idea of what a certain wpi means. Of course, everyone is different, and I think the best way to go about things is to spin a whole lot, do very accurate wpi measurements for everything, and then knit a lot of your handspun.

Segwyne flattered me by asking if I'd ever consider selling my handspun. I could go on and on about my very torn thoughts on this. The short answer is that I don't have any plans to sell my handspun on a regular basis, 1. because I spin too slowly, and 2. because I find the going range of rates for handspun to be dreadfully low, and wouldn't sell my hard work for that little money unless I really, really needed the money.

The long answer is that I would consider selling my handspun if I got faster at it, and if I felt there were an audience of potential buyers who would actually pay a much higher rate for it. I have very, very vaguely toyed with the idea of opening an Etsy shop, as my drawer of handspun has started to fill, and I realize that some of the perfectly good and pretty yarns I've spun might not be things I would adore knitting with. If I did this (a huge if), it would probably be sporadic -- I'd continue spinning for my own pleasure, and just sell things that turn out nicely, but not quite my style. For the moment, I'm very content giving beautiful but not-me yarn away to friends. And I have more friends who need some handspun before I'll really start to think about asking anyone to give me money for it.

Mel wants to know if my Francie sock pattern is toe up or cuff down. Sorry to say (for Mel's sake) that it's cuff down. My socks were to fit my 8.75" foot, and I used less than 3 oz. of the 4 oz. skein of smooshy, or somewhere in the ballpark of 340 yards. So if you're worried about running out of yarn, I recommend a yarn like smooshy, that has generous yardage!

Molly asked if I could give more information about how I ply. I don't currently have a good setup for taking photos or videos of my spinning or plying in action. What I have found to be very successful is careful use of my tensioned lazy Kate. Enough tension that the singles don't come off of it too quickly and get tangled, but not so much tension that I'm fighting with it. I want things to flow smoothly and steadily. This means adjusting the tension as you go, as you will need less tension as the bobbins empty.

Tension in the yarn coming off of the Kate gives me control. It makes the singles behave, as there is little to no slack to get into twisty, tangled trouble. For a 2 or 3 ply yarn, my strategy is to ply a section at a time, letting the twist build up until I like it, and then feeding that section smoothly onto the bobbin. This means strong intake, though not so strong that you are in a tug 'o war match with your wheel! So I tie the ends of the singles on to the loop of my leader, and let the twist build up in the leader, pinching it off, and then running my fingers smoothly up the singles. I have the singles threaded through separate fingers of my left hand, so they don't get in each others' way. The entire process, for me, is unrushed and controlled, and feels kind of like a worsted longdraw technique - my left hand, holding the singles, is back, and my right hand is pinching off, and allowing the twist to slowly go up the singles. I've found it's important to feed the newly plied sections at a moderate or slow speed onto the bobbin, or else things can get messy. Basically, just let the pull of the bobbin pull the newly plied yarn on, keeping a little tension on it so it doesn't fly out of control. This helps keep your bobbin neat, and helps the yarn wind on tightly, so you can fit more of it on the bobbin. Make sure to periodically check out the yarn on your bobbin, to make sure you like the amount of ply twist in it. Yarn can lose some ply twist as it goes onto the bobbin, so you may find that you want to slightly overply it, to compensate.

The technique I currently use for Navajo plying (or chain plying) is somewhat different. I do Navajo plying in two steps. My goal in the first step is simply to get the chains made, with minimal twist, and to get them neatly onto the bobbin. I use my largest whorl with fairly high takeup, so the twist introduced during phase one is minimal. This lets me concentrate on making good, neat chains, instead of fretting about both the chaining and the ply twist at the same time. Unlike a traditional 3 (or 2) ply, I keep my singles on my right, and control them with my right hand, leaving my left hand to control the twist. I do this because I find it easier to make the chains with my right hand. I treadle very slowly, not being afraid to stop treadling when I need to. (This is where having a responsive wheel that you are familiar with helps a lot. Practice stopping and starting on a dime, if you're not comfortable with it already.) My left hand is always controlling the twist, as you would do when spinning worsted singles. I make the chains as large as I comfortably can, without them getting messy, which means my chains aren't super long, but that the final yarn is nicer looking than if I tried to get the chains super big. The key is not letting two of the three "plies" (even though it's really a chained, twisted single, not a plied yarn) to twist around each other, without the third. You want all three "plies" to twist around each other together, not leaving the third one to have to twist around 2 already twisted plies, if that makes sense. I think this is the biggest problem area in Navajo plying, and is why I make my chains shorter than I used to, and why I keep tight control over the twist with my left hand.

When you have chained your singles yarn, and have it successfully wound onto the bobbin, you get to add your ply twist for real. Switch out bobbins, and simply feed the chained yarn through the wheel again, on a smaller whorl (faster ratio), controlling the twist as I described above for a 2 or 3 ply yarn. The chains are already made, and if things are properly tensioned, they should stay nice and neat. This is the boring, easy part. It's obviously more work to ply twice, but unless you're really, really good at this stuff, I think it's the only way to get a really neat chain plied yarn. Because chain plied yarn isn't as forgiving as a traditional 2 or 3 ply yarn, in that the ply twist can't really re-distribute itself beyond the chain it's in, I think it's really important to concentrate on making the plying as perfect as you can from the get-go. There just isn't as much wiggle room with this stuff. Of course, not everyone has the same standards for how they like they're plying to look, and I'm not trying to imply that everyone needs to strive for perfection. I'm just giving you my take on the matter.

I hope that was somewhat helpful, even without visuals. At some point this summer or fall I may try to get visuals to go along with all of that. I've tried to do stuff like this before, and it's really hard to get good photos or videos of your own knitting. But it could be a fun challenge! I also hope that it's not too repetitive -- I know that I've done my Navajo plying spiel at least a couple of times in a couple of different Ravelry groups, but I don't remember if I've done it on the blog. If you've seen it before, I trust that you skipped over it with ease.

And now on to the dessert. First, some more yarn I made:

Spring Mix merino/bamboo

Spring Mix merino/bamboo

This is a bamboo/merino blend named Spring Mix, from Muzzlepuffs, on Etsy.
400 yards, 111 grams 18wpi untensioned / 24 wpi tensioned

The mix wasn't all smooth going for me, though I got used to it eventually. It was a pretty good spinning experience, but I'll be more likely to go with merino/tencel in the future, when I want a shiny, silky merino blend. I'm not sure what this yarn will be, but I'm thinking a cowl/smoke ring of some sort. It's very soft yarn, and I think it will be nice to knit with.

And now on to the C. O. N. T. E. S. T.

As I mentioned above, I sometimes find myself with handspun that is perfectly lovely, but just not me. I have one such skein at the moment, don't have a friend I think it perfectly suits, and so might as well use it for a contest! (Not that my friends can't enter the contest -- I just don't think this particular yarn is destined for any particular person, and I prefer my yarn gifts to have a better fit with friends, if that's what I'm using them for.) First of all, the yarn, which you've seen before:

Surprise Party end

This is a chain plied fingering weight yarn, spun from superwash merino I bought from Crazymonkey, on Etsy. It is 110 grams, 382 yards, and 18 wpi (maybe a bit more). This yarn isn't perfect -- I was definitely still working on my chain plying technique at the beginning of the skein. But still, it's pretty darn nice. Just don't expect a perfect millspun yarn. It is handmade, after all. Here's another view of the yarn.

If you want the yarn, here's what you have to do: Tell me what you are planning (or at least hoping) to do to challenge yourself creatively in the next year. You don't have to have had anything in mind before now, as long as you come up with something that you honestly want to do, and think you honestly will at least try to do within the next year. And when I say creatively, I mean creatively. Stashbusting, and trying to knit a very large, complicated sweater straight from a pattern in a 2 week period is quite the knitting challenge, but I don't know that I consider that a creative challenge. When I say creative, I don't mean quantity, but I do mean quality. Tell me about something you want to design, or are designing. (Be cryptic, if necessary, if you plan on submitting it for publication!) Tell me about the perfect sweater pattern you are planning to completely rework, and why, and how. Tell me about the techniques you want to learn and experiment with. Tell me how you're going to explore, and expand your horizons, and challenge yourself to think and do differently than you have thunk and done before.

This doesn't need to be limited to the fiber arts, or to crafting. I love creativity and innovation, wherever it can be found. Scientists, tell me about the awesome new theory you want to test out, regardless of whether you think I'd understand it. Writers, tell me about the story you're submitting to a literary magazine. Musicians, tell me about your latest composition, or your foray into playing a genre of music completely outside your comfort zone.

Even better, blog about it, and tell me you did. (You do not have to link back to me -- I'm not looking for publicity. Of course, you are free to link to me if you wish. Just no bonus points for it.) I think that being public about your creative aspirations can only make them grow, and can help inspire others.

To enter, leave me a comment on this post. To keep things simple, I will only be counting comments left on this post as entries in the contest. (This does include comments that are links to *specific* blog posts of your own, where you have answered the challenge.) When you comment, please make sure there is a link back to your blog, so I know how to find you if you're the winner. If you don't have a blog, please leave a name that is sufficiently unique, so there is no confusion if you are the winner. I reserve the right to give "extra" entries to people whose answers I really, really like. But everyone who enters, following the above guidelines, will get at least one entry in the contest.

I am moving this month, so am going to keep the contest open until the end of the month. That way I'll be unpacked before I need to find the yarn and send it out. I'll choose winners on September 1, and will do it late enough in the day so that midnight, September 1 has had a chance to make a complete circuit of the globe. (In other words, enter by August 31 your time, and you're in.)

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Blogger taelixev said...

Hi there! The project I hope to accomplish next year is a shawl of some sort...true lace. Haven't picked out the pattern, but it will be a skein from the stash.

8/04/2008 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a tough one. I have a bunch of goals I want to start in Sept. (no matter how long I'm out of school, Sept. feels like the start of the new year to me much more than Jan.) First isn't super creative, but I'm trying to live more sustainably. Come Sept, my only close friends too far to bus or walk to are moving away, so I'm going to try and really cut down on my car use. I'm also trying to eat more local produce. That might make a good creative project, buy a veggie that looks good but I don't know much about once a week, and try and make something tasty with it. Maybe I'll even find some new favorites!

8/04/2008 11:06 PM  
Blogger braeden said...

My goals for the next year:
1. Spin, design and knit a fingering weight sweater for myself, hopefully by the end of the calendar year (so, when it's cool enough to wear it.)
2. Design and knit a lace shawl. I am having bad luck finding appropriate stitch patterns for it, so I think I'm going to have to make some motifs up myself. This could be a total disaster.
3. Pick up where I left off on my epic graphic novel and make some progress. I have over 200 pages done already, I need to quit dragging my heels and work on it.

I have plenty of other creative goals, but these are my most realistic, that I am working on at the moment. (At least, in my mind.)

Oh yeah-- I don't have a knitting blog, but my name on ravelry is klaus.

8/04/2008 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that skein. It makes me think of Fruit Stripe Gum...I think the wrappers had zebra stripes? Does anyone else remember that? I wonder if they still make it.

I want to make things and have people buy them. I'm thinking mostly batts that I'll blend by hand, and hopefully some dyed yarns. I have nearly all the pieces assembled, and now I just need to finish organizing the studio, make up my bases and...go. I'm terrified, frankly, but look forward to it.

I also really, really want to improve my spinning this year. I want to work with each of the fleeces I have (and I have _a lot_) and learn about the different breed properties and make some small things in time for the holiday season as gifts. It's kind of a standing joke among my family that I start a ton, and never have FOs. I'd like to change that, and at least finish one sweater and a whole plethora of mitts and hats.

Most of all? I want to find some balance. This past couple of years has been crazy with work taking over everything. So much so that I've spent the majority of the past two months recovering from that consulting gig. I don't ever want to be drained to that point ever again. I want to treat myself better, to be healthier, to learn to say no to the things that are incredibly unreasonable but also the things that aren't really in scope for what I do. I need to work to live, not live to work. This is my main goal for the foreseeable future.

8/05/2008 12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to do many things in the next year that will make me a better fiber artist, and hopefully someday help me to feel like I deserve capital letters for the title. Here are two things that are important to my Quest:

1. Learn to spin all different kinds of yarn. Right now I'm fairly new - my wheel is 8 months old - and so I make a lot of 3-ply sock yarn. But I'd like to learn to make art yarns and bulky yarns and achieve all sorts of shenanigans with fiber. This may include beginning the Master Spinner's courses in Alberta, CA, but I'm not sure yet.

2. Learn to weave on my tapestry loom. I'd like to reproduce art like Cezanne or Van Gogh in fiber, but maybe I should begin with Matisse's paper cut-outs.

8/05/2008 3:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh gosh - creatively in this next year I want to take all of the sketches of sweaters I have in my sketch book and create one of them! Or five of them! with new and innovative techniques. I also want to learn as many new embroidery stitches as I can. Oh- and up my painting. Oh - and learn Noro Felting. Take a class, and not get overwhelmed by this ridiculous list!

8/05/2008 8:13 AM  
Blogger Felicity Ford said...

I have blogged my creative challenges for this year on my blog:

Really great contest; gave me a brilliant pause for thought.

8/05/2008 10:40 AM  
Blogger LaurieM said...

I've got three design ideas in my head. The first I plan to work is a hat to go with some mittens I designed for the Bitchin' Mittens contest a couple years back. Now I want to enter them into a local fair, but I need a hat to go with them. It will be fun to revisit that design...

Second, I'd like to design a sweater for my son. Third, I had this idea just last night for a Canadian mitten modeled after the Selbuvotter ones using images of maple leafs and mabey moose or beaver. Of course they must be red and white!

I've always got lots of ideas. The challenge for me is to make them happen!

8/05/2008 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My creative plans right now are to learn to spin. That's creative, right? *laugh* But I'd also like to try my hand at designing some patterns that are made more for someone like me - I like a lot of stuff that falls inbetween what everyone else is making.

Yeah that was vague.

8/05/2008 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a relatively new hire as the Executive Assistant to the President of a women's foundation. One of the big pieces of my job is to "staff" the board of directors. One of my first tasks when I arrived was to create the "board book" for the annual meeting of the board. It was over 200 pages long! In the interest of cutting down on paper, staff time, and board time, I'm trying to work out new ways to capture and present information--not just move the process from a paper system to electronic files, but to give substantive information in a smaller amount of space. The usual way of thinking about this is creating a "dashboard"--like dials on the dashboard of your car that give you vital information about its functioning. The problem is that board members are used to seeing lots of nitty-gritty detail. It will be a challenge to create a system that gives them the right amount of information in the right format for effective decision-making.

8/05/2008 12:13 PM  
Blogger Kassia said...

I am currently knitting the More Stripes sweater-vest (pattern from out of two gorgeous colorways of Noro silk garden. My creative challenge...steeks! The sweater uses a steek to make the v-neck, so that the stripes match on both sides of the front. I'm nervous but really excited to try the technique!

BTW I just found your blog today and have bookmarked it. Your spinning is beautiful! I can't believe the yarn is not mill-spun!

8/05/2008 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This semester I'm fulfilling a dream and taking two classes in Japanese arts - Calligraphy and Woodblock Printing. I've taken the occasional calligraphy lesson, but I'm really looking forward to learning about the different styles of writing and to learning how to use color in printing, rather than black-and-white.

I'm Mauri on Ravelry.

8/05/2008 6:55 PM  
Blogger Joyce said...

I've been trying to become more adventurous with my knitting and sewing. Trying more complicated patterns, multidirectional knitting, and unusual construction.

I want to start exploring dying. Not just with yarn but also fabric. I've done a little with synthetic dyes but not dyes from plants. Of course, I have way too many projects in my head; knitting, sewing, beading -- and never enough time.

8/06/2008 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible spinning! You are now another of the evil artisans who are tempting me into trying this craft.

Learning spinning is one of my creative goals for the coming year. I am also going to knit a sweater for my son...the truly creative bit is that it will be the first sweater that I design myself. I'm also going to redesign the Twin Set website to include more advanced features -- which I have to learn first!

8/06/2008 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have blogged about my createive challenges for myself here.
What a lovely contest.

8/06/2008 3:32 PM  
Blogger Kate/Massachusetts said...

I want to knit this pillow:
I don't do colorwork very well. I always give up before much is done but I am really determined to try this and finish it.
I also have ordered a new crochet book from Vogue called Grannies and am planning to use stash yarn to do a pillow design. If I master that, the pillow may become an afgan! lol

8/06/2008 7:08 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

Great contest. Got me to thinkin', and I've posted my thoughts on my blog here. I've been meaning to find a way to let you know how you've influenced my decision to learn to spin. This was the perfect opportunity to do that. So, thank you!

8/06/2008 8:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The creative challenge that I am planning on starting and hoping to finish in the next year is to make a pile of demin quilts in the Gee's Bend style for my brothers, nieces and nephews. When my mother died she left a stack of used blue jeans that we boxed up into about 10 fruit boxes. For backing I am planning on using old linens, partly finished embroidery projects, bark cloth curtains, etc. that were also left in the basement stash. Wish me luck. I'm excited and tired just thinking about it. Then I have to start thinking on what to do with the 8 gallon jars of buttons.

8/06/2008 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE that colorful yarn! I can see it as a pair of socks. Color is my thing, bright happy color!

Creative challenges:

1. Learn to spin. My wheel arrives from Holland at the end of this week. I've done some spindle spinning and I want to learn the wheel.

I want to learn how to dye roving and blend rovings. I love heathered colors in yarn and I want to make my own blends, pretty much for my own amusement, and spin enough for a sweater.

I want to knit a sweater of my own design, top down saddle shoulder construction. I've got the saddles done already.

My real challenge is to get my husband home from his liver transplant, so all of this is in the future. My creative persuits and such are blogged at

8/07/2008 9:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I really really want to complete and sweater or poncho for myself or my partner that fits well and looks good. I haven't finished many adult sweaters, nor am I a big swatcher. I want to not get impatient and not get sidetracked by baby clothes. I want to immerse myself in swatches, color choices, stitch patterns and really go for what I want (or my partner if she ends up being the lucky recipient).

Also, I want to start working on a patchwork quilt for my daughter. I had a buying frenzy while pregnant and have a stash of awesome fabrics that I can't touch yet. In the meantime I have a bunch of soft flannel baby blankets. I want to use those to make a crib size beginner patchwork quilt. This one I just want to start in the next year, while I really want to have a sweater to wear or gift by the end of next year.

I also want to have a period of being a full-time parent for my kid in 2009 which will be its' own creative challenge of a different sort...

8/07/2008 1:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This isn't too hard to come up with for me. This next year, I am going to do all the work for the Master Knitters Certificate, and I plan on enrolling in a Fashion Design class this fall.

8/08/2008 1:49 PM  
Blogger chris said...

I have two creative challenges ahead for me over the next year. One is to learn how to spin. I'm looking into buying my first wheel (yea!) and have been playing with drop spindles some. I love it. But the creative challenge I'm entering in your contest is an academic one. I study prehistoric textile manufacture and use in the Southeastern United States and for my thesis, I analyzed a sample of textile impressions from Kentucky. Some of the fabric I identified was probably woven by women who married into the families at the site from as far away as Wisconsin (that's pretty far for 600 years ago). My creative challenge is trace this fabric back to where they originally came from in an attempt understand why and how these women came to live in Kentucky. I also want to look at, or try to at least, how much they were absorbed into the community. Their fabric (probably originally shawls) would have also been used in ceramic making (hence textile impressions). The shawls would have looked very different from everyone else at the site and made these women stand out. But the ceramics they were impressed upon were not like anything that these women would have made in their native homes. These vessels were of types that were local to community they married into. I want to understand, and develop a model to help explain, what happens when someone is that far removed from their culture and how they respond to their new environment. These are women who may not have ever been completely absorbed into their new community. How they raised their children, how these children were treated, and whether or not these children had a sort of dual citizenship are all questions I want to answer. And, as a truly creative outlet, I'm going to see if I can replicate these textiles and then impress them on pottery that I will make with clay that I'm going to dig up from a local stream bed. And those are my creative goals for the next year. (Entered by Chris P.)

8/08/2008 1:53 PM  
Blogger Andreapgn said...

As much as I'm writing this comment for contest purposes, I'm also doing it because maybe if I write it, it will be more tangible.
I want to start handyeing my own yarns. I intend to move from the food colorant fase to other types of dyes, and to experiment in selfstriping and handpainted yarn. I find that the colors I see in my mind... I cannot find around, so I'm going to try to transfer these from there to some poor, unsuspecting yarn.

8/08/2008 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My creatively-challenging project for the next year: I'm going to design a series of scarves and shawls around my beloved Betsy-Tacy series--each one will be inspired by a character. (I'm dying to go into more detail, but a. it would probably be too much detail for you, and b. I don't want to give anything away.) And then if I like them well enough, I'll donate them to a silent auction next summer that will benefit the preservation of Betsy's and Tacy's houses in Mankato. (Wendy B)

8/09/2008 11:51 PM  
Blogger Bekky said...

Hello, I'm going to buy my first spinning wheel (with my yearly bonus due next month) and learn to spin. I want to be able to create that gorgeous handspun for myself!

8/10/2008 5:39 PM  
Blogger KnittinKninja said...

I am continually amazed by how amazing your handspun is. Amazed and insanely jealous.

8/11/2008 6:31 PM  
Blogger janet said...

Ahah. The things I think about but never get to...
1.Design a sweater for my boy that works properly (he is, well, skinny and tall and it doesn't sound difficult but I want it Beautiful and I am being Thwarted)
2.Learn to spin (to start when my Gran is up to it :)) I love undyed yarn, abd she has bags and boxes of it in her garage that needs using (and I need to make soft blankets and wraps and cosy jumpers [excuse me, I'm getting giddy])
3. Work out how to use a loom I recently bought and destash into wraps
4. Finally get around to sorting out my sewing and do all the pattern adjustments I need to so I can have a new "wardrobe" that I keep telling myself I will do
5. Improve my costumery skills. My most difficult ones this year were a pantomime horse and a pregnant prosthesis and I would like to continue to improve

8/12/2008 12:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh boy. I was just surfing, and the task for the contest really struck a chord. I have 2 major creative challenges for the coming year. The first is the lace shawl I am designing for my mother's 50th birthday. I'm experimenting with a construction I've never seen done, working with cobweb yarn for the first time, and I've never designed lace before. Heck, I've only ever knit one lace shawl! But I'm really, really looking forward to it.

My other challenge is making garb for the SCA. Although I've done loads of embroidery, I've never done anything but the most simple dressmaking. My goal is to completely make, from scratch and without a pattern, a skin-out 16th century Venetian court costume. Wish me luck!

8/12/2008 4:11 PM  
Blogger Dove Knits said...

I think this is a fantastic contest, especially since I'm mulling on these matters right now. I'm not sure if my answer qualifies me for the contest, but I was just thinking about how I really need to stop depending on patterns so much. I used to be a fearless knitter when I first learned -- my first project was a sweater for my brother that I just dove into. I measured, and did armhole decreases, and all that fun stuff, and would have succeeded had I a. known about needle-yarn-size correlation and b. not run out of yarn.

But ever since I relearned to knit, I'm very pattern-dependent. Now, much of it has to do with the fact that I really love many, many patterns out there! But alot of it is laziness. I can and do design my own (well, not design so much as make up). I have all the tools; I'm good with basic math. And yet
I just...don't. So my challenge for myself for the next year is to create my own. For example, if I want to make a scarf for a friend, I will not go and find a pattern; I will make it up. If I want to make a baby sweater, I will make it up. It'd be great if I write it down and maybe publish (submit for publication, or self-publish on my blog), but that's not the point. I want to be fearless again.

Good luck with your move!

I think my contact info is all available if you click back on my name, but just in case, I am blakdove on ravelry.

8/13/2008 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your yarns and have had you bookmarked for a while, so I guess I have been luuurking. I have been knitting and spinning for a few years and have just started designing my own patterns. I recently designed a pair of socks for the Think Outside the Sox contest (Knitters mag.). Wellll...last Fri I got my copy of the new book, Shear Spirit, in the mail from Knitpicks and lo and behold there on the cover was a pair of socks almost identical to mine (different yarn and minor variations, but basically the same sock). My challenge now is to come up with another design for the Sox challenge. Also, as a high school art teacher, I teach an Appalachian Arts anc Crafts course that I designed curriculum for. We have a fiber component in the class and have grown, retted and broken flax fiber. My personal challenge for this school year is to learn to spin flax so that I can demo the technique, along with spinning wool and cotton, for my students.

8/18/2008 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm another delurker who's been enjoying your blog for a while...I'm a beginning spinner and I find your pictures inspiring. The evenness and the beautiful color play are both things I aspire to in my own spinning (maybe with practice...)

The creative project I have planned this year is a little odd: a bestiary of animals with peculiar Latin names. My mother and I have been collecting these references for a while--the names have always fascinated me and I want to find ways to show their strange resonances and what they tell us about the animals. Since I'm more of a word person, the illustrations will be the biggest challenge--I'm looking forward to playing around with Photoshop and seeing what I can come up with!

Thank you for your lovely spinning and your detailed descriptions of technique--I have found both really helpful and appealing. Looking forward to reading more!

8/28/2008 10:12 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I got so busy with my challenge that I missed your contest post! Here it is -
I was so nervous starting this, it will challenge me on all sorts of levels ... time managemant, knitting quality, knitting creativity (which is hard for me normally being a pattern follower!), marketing, photography etc. I am sure I will learn as I go along. I have had 2 sales , more than I expected, so am nervously waiting for feedback!

8/29/2008 3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My creative goal is more vague than many of the responses here. This past year has seen my first encounters with spinning, needle-felting and hand-dyeing. I would like to make these fibery activities as much a part of my knitting as my knitting. In other words, don't just dabble, really explore.

My other goal is to learn to play the sarangi, a beautiful instrument I've just ordered from India!

8/29/2008 3:55 AM  
Blogger wiscjennyann said...

My big creative challenge this year is going to be learning Dutch. I can hear you: "That's not creative!" Well, to me it is because it will require the use of a very different part of my brain than I use everyday. In my professional life I am a statistics person, left brain all the way, problem solving, quantitative and logical. While some of these tools will come in handy as I learn this new language, particularly if there are pop-quizes for vocab (helloooo memorization!), I think that learning a language requires a different way of thinking.

I expect that the process will be very akin to the way I've learned the more "traditionally" creative endeavors of my life. Learning a language is not unlike learning to knit. Sure at first you might use the left-side of the brain to figure out how to make a knit stitch, purl stitch, to navigate a pattern, or to translate the icons in a chart. But after a while, it isn't a one-to-one translation any more. A pattern becomes a holistic process, a complete entity, and individual increases, decreases and stitch patterns start to make intuitive sense. You begin to think like a knitter, you become fluent in the language of knitting, thinking of projects not as a bunch of individual knit and purl stitches, but as fully formed objects: socks, sweaters, shawls.

Apart from learning the language of knitting (and crochet and spinning) in the past few years, it's been over 10 years since I've studied a language. I expect that this will be one of my most challenging undertakings, but I am quite excited and optimistic!

Thanks so much for this contest! In the process of pondering my answer I have come to think about the process of learning Dutch in a new way. I think it will help, whenever I hit a roadblock or a start to feel frustrated, to remember the challenging and rewarding process of learning to knit. I'll remember how much joy knitting has given me over the years and think of how much joy speaking Dutch will bring me in the years to come!

Classes start Tuesday! :D

8/29/2008 10:51 AM  
Blogger wiscjennyann said...

ps-- this was so much fun to think about that I also blogged it ;-) Thanks again for this contest!

8/29/2008 11:04 AM  
Blogger bockstark.knits said...

You have an interesting Navajo ply technique! I think I will try it out since I really suck at the regular way - thanks for the tutorial. And you really do have absolutely perfect plies!!!

8/29/2008 3:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm taking a sculpture class at college this semester. This is intimidating because I'm an english major with little art experience aside from crochet, but I wanted to give it a try. I'm looking forward to learning sculpture techniques and having fun.

8/29/2008 10:04 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I think this is a great question, so I used it to power a blog entry:

If I'm too late for the contest, that's okay. I think the question is good enough to stand alone outside of a contest. It really is a great question, maybe one I should make a habit to ask myself every September 1st. Who knows? Maybe it will become a habit. Maybe then I will become more creative.

9/01/2008 11:17 PM  
Blogger Tanya said...

Creatively I'd like to challenge myself with more color work. I have been very timid when it comes to stranded work and intarsia. Before Christmas I'd like to design some mushroom mittens.
I also want to practice my spinning more.

Love your yarn!

9/04/2008 12:38 PM  

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