Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A spring flood of inspiration

I've been dyeing and spinning up a storm. Spring has already offered a flood of inspiration. This past long weekend we escaped into the North Cascade mountains. Though we didn't get much climbing done, we had ample opportunity to explore one of our favorite places in the world and to take explore. This world of alpine colours and texture offer an inspiring palette for the little manic dyer and spinner in me to play with.

From wildflowers to the magnolia tree across the street, from lively meadows to breathtaking mountains, from fire to ice, they have all hijacked my imagination. Here's some photos of things that have inspired my first bout of dyeing and spinning mania:

Here is the wool I've dyed so far. All the wool is from local farms and include alpaca, Lincoln, Romeny and Hampshire sheeps wool. Most of it was washed, some of it in rovings and only the Lincoln was unwashed. I'm thrilled that I'm well on my way to producing 100 mile garments. An extra bonus is that I'll finally have yarn that suits my needs. Over the years I've lamented the lack of certain colours because they weren't in fashion or that the colourways changed too quickly leaving a choppy, variegated effect which is fine if that's what you want. However, I prefer a slower change of colours and a blending of one colour into the next.

I have three projects in mind that I've dyeing and spinning for. One is a Scandinavian sweater. If I'm going to knit up another Scandiavian sweater, I might as well go old school for inspiration. I've decided to do a sweater inspired by the Norse origin myth where the beginning of life was fire and ice, with the existence of only two worlds: Muspelheim (fire) and Niflheim (ice). Seracs, glaciers and the mountains were an obvious inspiration for the ice colourway. I'm attempting to replicate the colouring of a wood fire for the fire yarn. The sun is another muse for the fire component. I'm still drawing up the pattern but in the meanwhile, there's plenty of wool that needs to be carded and spun.

My second project is a blossom sweater. A simply pullover with a petal-like assymetrical collar. More like a lily or magnolia petal. The colours will draw from all the wonderful blooms of springtime. The pattern has been going through a number of evolutions.

My third project is a forest/moss project. Perhaps a cape or a heavy shawl. This one is but murmurs of ideas in the back of my mind.

The time spend dyeing, carding and spinning the yarn offers an oppurtunity for me to meditate and deliberate over my projects. It's definitely given me space and time to let my ideas grow and evolve.

So many ideas and so little time. I'm going to change my initial goal of using local fleece for half of my projects. I can definitely turn to locally raised fibers for a majority of my knitting. I've even gotten a couple of folks interested in buying some yarn from me! So exciting!

Gotta get going. That wool isn't going to spin itself ;P


Nananimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I'm a proud spinning momma!

Ta-dah! My first handspun yarn!

Ok. I know it’s a tad overtwisted and the ply is not consistent and it’s probably got a million other things wrong with it that will have be cringing when I look back at this moment but right now I’m thrilled that it doesn’t look like something the cat dragged in.

I picked up the roving at Duncan Fibre Swap last summer, back when I was just driving a drop spindle and the idea of owning a spinning wheel was but a wooly dream. Now that I have my Ashford, I’m spinning anything I can get my hands on.

I first practiced on a couple bundles of country roving to get my feet and hands coordinated and to simply get some mileage under my belt before got into the good stuff.

With my mountain of locally raised fleece and roving to play with, My goal is to spin and knit a 100 mile fiber for at least ½ of my pieces, if not more. With my own wheel, drum carder and guild filled with experts, I don’t think I’ll have any problems meeting that goal.

If you’re looking to get some locally raised fleece/roving/yarn head down to the Qualicum Fibre Sale this Saturday. 10am to 2pm at the Rotary House (corner of Beach and Fern) in Qualicum Beach.

In June is the Victoria Knitting Guild is hosting their Annual Fiber Fest & Knit Out. There’re workshops, fashion show, gala dinner and Stephanie McPhee (aka. The Yarn Harlot) will be making an appearance. Of course, there will be lots and lots of fibre and fibre paraphernalia on sale.

For those that are looking for already spun local yarn, Nanaimo's LYS, Mad About Ewe has brought in some gorgeous locally raised alpaca yarn and hand-dyed wool and silk from Indigo Moon Studio on Gabriola Island.

Gotta go, there's a mountain of Alpaca roving that's calling my name ;)

Jen Lam

Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet Challenge