Saturday, March 13, 2010

A knitter's Obsession

It all started like this.

Christmas was coming and I was knitting gifts. You know how it is - one boring hat after another. I needed something more.

I google-cruised looking for innovative new ideas and discovered Cat Bourdhi and how to knit a Mobius. Great! I made a few of those (all different) and this kept me entertained for a while. Then I stumbled onto "double knitting". I even found a Yahoo group and joined. This, inspired me but I couldn't find any double knitting patterns - so always ready to take on a new challenge, I came up with my own pattern. I came up with a few charts too. My obsession was being fed for now and I was satisfied. My gifts were all gratefully recieved.

Still feeling the itch, I felt compelled to knit lace. I knitted a lace shawl, although it turned out great, there was something missing. I needed to design my own lace. In the meantime, I also joined a dynamic lace knitting group called "Mario knits". Talk about inspiration!

I really wanted to come up with my own design... so I got out the stitch dictionary and got started. I can't leave a stitch well-enough alone, so I modified everything. My first test knit was done with Phentex acrylic yarn. Hey - blocking was sure easy... throw it in the washer, then into the dryer... voila! Blocked! You know, I'm an equal opportunity yarn lover - I love all types of yarn but my lace masterpiece needs to be made from an organic fibre for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my shawl was taking me deeper into the traditions of knitting, so the yarn should be more traditional too.

Secondly, it had to reflect somewhat on my heritage - be a part of me.

I happen to be First Nations and wanted my creation to contain organic subject matter and also be made of organic materials.

My chosen subject matter was flight and honoring the creatures that fly.
My shawl was born and I named it "Whispering Wings".

For anyone interested, it's now posted on Ravelry here... or you can go to my patterns for sale page (top right of this screen) and get it there too without going to Ravelry and signing up. Anyways....

Now my quest was choosing a fibre. Google-cruising again, I looked at a lot of yarn sites and their prices were pretty good but shipping was expensive and I'd have to wait for it to be delivered. Also, I couldn't touch it or be guaranteed that the colours shown on my screen would be the same in real life.

Just then, serendipity happened! A lady introduced herself to the double knitting group I belong to, so I greeted her. It turns out, we have a lot in common - she's super nice AND she's an accomplished spinner AND the timing couldn't have been more perfect! She's obsessed just like me too! It also turns out, she has a blog showing the most glorious fibres that taunted and titilated... they drew me deeper in as I looked at photo after photo of fleeces that she's magically transformed into locks of soft flowing colours. Then to top it off, she posted pictures of spindles - and her new spinning wheel! The icing on the cake was beholding the awe inspiring gorgeous skeins that just cried out to be payed attention to! I was done for. My growing obsession had grown, ripened and was now ready for harvest. Yes, it's all June's fault.

Now, I was totally compelled to find some fleece and learn to spin. In my search I discovered there's a fibre farm not five minutes down the road from me! It's called "joybilee farm" and I read through their website. I told my new fibre-friend about it and with her enabling encouragement, I payed the farm a visit. I had a wonderful time there and was so impressed with all the choices they had... silks, kid mohairs, french rabbit, llama and a variety of sheep and lamb wools. They raise the animals, and the organic materials they use to dye the fibres too! You can get fleeces in the grease or finished gorgeous yarns that they process in their own mill. Heaven!

Hours later, I came home with a 1.4kg Fine Romney fleece and an Ashford spindle and I was ECSTATIC! Right away, I emailed my fibre-friend, I just couldn't contain my excitement. I got her nod of approval on my fleece "score" and was pretty proud. Then, here's the funny part, she told me my spindle is known in the spinning community as "a boat anchor". Ahhhh!!!! My first foible!

After my initial cringe, she further encouraged me by telling me that if I could spin on that spindle, it would probably make mastering a wheel that much easier. Ok, my sense of challenge is renewed. Thanks, June.

Well, that's how it all started and I aim to see this thing through. I want to make yarns as glorious as June's. I have a lot to learn - I know - and I think my first step will be learning various ways of cleaning my precious Romney fleece. Your pointers will be very appreciated! I hope you decide to follow me on my new journey. Go ahead and buy your first fleece - IT'S OK - I'm personally enabling you - and we'll figure this out together.


  1. Your shawl is beautiful! Is the pattern available?

  2. Hi Chris, thank you for the complement! I was hoping to have it on Ravelry in the near future as I'm still working on writing out the pattern. You can enquire here if it's ready or email me at .

  3. Hi Carol
    I LOVE your shawl. Would love to buy the pattern when it's ready.

    Like you, I'm a new spinner. My default yarn is quite fine. Haven't got the hang of heavier stuff yet. Maybe I can manage to spin yarn for the shawl. My LYS sells gorgeous handyed blended batts and I have managed to acquire several, all waiting to be spun.

    I have an Ashford Kiwi and several spindles. I'm also obsessed. We have a lot in common.

    Shari in Canada

  4. Thank you so much!

    Wow Shari, you must be a natural! Usually it's the other way around, spin chunky then practice to get finer - I'm envious! :)

    I've heard good things about the Kiwi, do you have the same "boat anchor" I do too? Which spindle do you like best?

  5. Hi Carol - I have numerous spindles and love them all - don't have the Ashford. I have 3 Goldings, which all spin like a dream, several IST's from the UK, which are all lovely. One of these is a small turkish - just got that one and so far its
    's great. Have a large turkish I found from a group on Yahoo - her DH made it. It's quite large so I use it for plying mainly and it works very nicely for that. Have several a friend brought me from the UK but don't know the names of them.

    What can I say, I'm obsessed. I'm going to a Fiber Fest next month and will likely come home with more - a Tabechek and a Forrester and who knows what else. Wanna come with me??

    My Kiwi works well. I have the lace flyer and the bulky as well, but haven't used them yet. Someday, I'll buy a Joy, I think.

    Wish we lived closer - we'd be in trouble all the time together, I think.

    Would love to be able to design lace shawls but haven't a clue how to go about it. I'll just have to buy all your patterns as they come out. I'm sure this won't be your last.

    Hugs - Shari in Canada

  6. No kidding we'd be in trouble! LOL Never in a million years did I think I'd become a fiber junkie but I love it - if I was closer I would have gone with you too! It's pretty bad when I go to bed and dream about spinning LOL!