Archive for May, 2008

I’m excited to say that I will be teaching an intermediate level spinning class, Spin 102, at Ariadne Knits in June. Having taught a lot of people the basics of spinning, I’m happy the lovely ladies of Ariadne are having me back for a workshop on fine-tuning your spinning skills: it’ll cover different drafting styles, working with fibres other than wool, and other skills for creating the yarns you want. There will be lots of fun fibre to play with, including carbonised bamboo and hand-blended batts.

I’ve been having such a fun time teaching my learn-to-spin classes, so it’s great to be able to offer something at the next level. There’s another workshop in the works at Ariadne too… one on working with raw fleece and fibre preparation. Look for info on that next month!


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I’ve been working my way through a pile of old issues of Spin-Off magazine, courtesy of the local guild library. There are quite a few articles on teaching spinning (of particular interest to me these days) as well as some wonderful technical articles. Dense, jam-packed information; a real pleasure to have access to these. I like the current form of Spin-Off, but I’d love to see a return to more technical articles. Anyway, a few little things I’ve noticed:

– The folks who make the amazing Pat Green Carders have been using the same photographs in their ads since at least 1983;

– I know moths are the bane of every handspinner and woolworker, but the repeated advice in those early 1980s issues to store mothballs with your fleeces and yarns is really scary. I found one mention of the potential toxicity of naphthalene and p-dichlorobenzene (the chemicals in mothballs), but I think there’s good reason this recommendation doesn’t ever show up in Spin-Off today (the incidence of hemolytic anemia, especially in children, after exposure to naphthalene should be enough to dissuade any fibre artist from keeping it in their home… at least I hope so).

– Man, did people ever like spinning wool in the grease! I never spin in the grease (it gunks up my wheel, and I think you can never get the finished yarn truly clean… I even wash the dust out of my alpaca before spinning it), but I see references to it over and over. It’s something I never see in Spin-Off these days, probably because there’s so much readily available commercially-prepared fibre out there. And maybe people just realised it’s much more pleasant spinning clean fleece (at least in my opinion).

– Qiviut! For only $20/ounce! Well, back in 1983…

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I was recently surprised to learn that those ubiquitous accessories of consumer culture, polyethylene plastic shopping bags, have been banned in multiple countries (unfortunately not the US or Canada). They’ve been banned for good reason, as not only are they cluttering up both cities and countryside, choking animals and contaminating soil as they photodegrade into small toxic bits, but they’re also largely implicated in the formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I see no reason for plastic shopping bags to continue to exist, as the reusable alternatives are both inexpensive and convenient. Now, as for my part in all this:

This is my version of the Saturday Market Bag. It’s knit from organic cotton and stretches to hold a rather large amount of stuff, yet it squashes down to a small and portable size. I modified the original pattern by using a toe-up sock cast-on so as to knit it in the round (I hate seaming, and a seamless bag is a stronger construction anyway), and grafted the handles to the edge of the bag using Kitchener stitch. This is a great summer project and I’ve already started making a couple more using up some cotton yarn in my stash.

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