Jorstad Creek at Fiber Fusion NW Oct 18-19

Isle of sky Dep Bay
Isle of Skye Merino-Silk in two colors “Departure Bay” and “Maroon 5”

I’m on the road again to Fiber Fusion Northwest this weekend, taking Jorstad Creek yarns to Monroe, Washington and the Evergreen State Fairgrounds for this fiber-and-yarn oriented show. Take a look at their website at this link:  http://www.fiberfusion.net/

Every year this event gets bigger.  This will be my second year as a vendor, and I look forward to seeing knitters who stopped in at my booth last year.

The organizers of this event are great to work with.  I love the variety of vendors ranging from fiber artists with fantastic felted clothing and rugs, to pattern designers, to farms selling raw fleece.  The classes offered reflect this variety, too.  Felted slippers and sculpted “bowls” are among the unusual project-oriented classes. They also put  together an amazing number of door prizes for visitors to the event.

I will be featuring new hand painted fingering weight “Whidbey” for this event in two colorways, “Calypso on the Beach” and “Suspense”.  Whidbey is one of the first yarns I added to my line, featuring superwash merino in an amazing lofty spin.  This yarn is one of my favorites for the dye pot, it brings out the best in any color I use.  It is a natural choice to try out hand painting longer pieces on super-long skeins.  I think they turned out fantastic.  I hope you will come by and tell me what you think.  There is a limited supply available for sale.

Also featured will be kits for the Churchmouse folded poncho pattern that I put together using two strands of yarn, Isle of Skye mohair/silk blend, and Iona merino/silk.  Iona is hand painted in small color pieces.  Together they make a fabric that looks like a Monet painting.  I have a number of new color ways in Isle of Skye to pair up for different hazy effects (see first photo above), and a sample poncho knitted up for trying on.

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Returning this year with me is the BFL Tweed Sock, in new colors.  I am also bringing  the BK Collective Patterns reworked in a new improved format, featuring options for yarn weights. For spinners I will offer natural colored Icelandic, Gotland, and Finn fleece processed either into roving, batts, or washed locks.

I hope you can join me at this fun show.  The facility and the show itself (with animals to see and pet!) make this a great event for families.  Please stop by, say hello, and show me what you’ve been knitting!  Thanks, Kerry

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Finding the Best Yarn Companions

Jann talks about yarn choices that make a big difference when paired together either in providing a contrasting effect, or harmonious effect.

KnitKnot Adventures

It is fall in the Pacific Northwest and my urge to knit is strong. Even stronger than the urge to buy school supplies! (Every September I want to buy pens and paper. How can that still be true, after all these years?)

One of my favorite yarn choices is a combination of a one multi-colored and one solid-colored yarn, probably because a wide range of effects are possible. Some combinations have a bold, high contrast look while others combinations are subtle and complex.

MV Woolens-61MV Woolens-62

These pictures show details of a vest I made using sock yarns. Much of the impact of this combination comes from the high contrast between these two yarns. The contrast is created in part by a light-dark contrast and in part by a contrast of hue or color. (These are only two of seven kinds of contrast Johannes Itten discusses in his classic work The Elements of Color

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Dancing Waters Coated Sheep

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Remember these?

Remember hot water bottles? My first winter in my little 1938 cottage with baseboard heating, my hot water bottle was my best friend. In the evenings I knit warm sweaters on my lap. Just prior to going to bed I would pre-warm the sheets with a hot water bottle. I remember wrapping my toes around it and drifting off to sleep cozy with the wind blowing outside. I love this kit idea, it takes the humble red hot water bottle up a few notches…

Fall knitting is nearly here.

girl with scarfI am looking ahead toward the winter, not because I want cold weather, but because I am thinking about knitting projects.  Like so many knitters I embrace the fall because it brings with it possibility, choices, design, and all the potential pleasant hours quietly knitting.  It is that emotive power of potential that stimulates the creative side of us.  For some this causes us to not only want several projects lined up like mason jars filled with food, but a whole shelf, cupboard, or even closet full of yarn stashed like a doomsday hoard.  Such a stash provides us comfort and the security of knowing that we will not run out of inspiration anytime soon.

As a dyer and yarn provider some of my clients are snowbirds.  The process of choosing yarn for the winter is a summertime necessity, but it also can be difficult to think of what would please and delight the eye in the waning light of winter days at a time when the yellow Apollo sun is beating down full force.  Do not underestimate the power of light to affect how we see color – a bright full summer sun can make the subtle fall colors we love look dull and lifeless, only to come alive in the cooler and less yellow light of fall and winter.

In the summer we may be quite content to have a cream, a cornflower blue or a deep pink on the needles, growing into a light accessory or garment.  But fall brings with it a desire for depth, complexity, texture, and colors that say “I am complicated, don’t underestimate me.”  As a dye artist I have to think about these things well before cooler temperatures begin to take over the evenings. Even when the days are at their longest I must develop my sense of what will please a few months ahead.  Along with playing with the “color of the year,” vivid orchid, (a true jewel tone), it is necessary for me to develop deep chestnut, persimmon, forest green, and a red that will speak to you when you see them.

When I hit upon the right tone or shade, I have my own sense of satisfaction and achievement.  My certainty reaches an even higher level when I hear someone say with instant recognition  “Yes! That is exactly right!”  This is what I am building toward right now, leaning over a steaming dye pot and plotting my next color.

New worsted weight Vashon works beautifully for the Churchmouse Ferry Boat mitts, a very quick project and simple too.  I will be knitting them for presents, as they work for both women and men.  I made up kits for this pattern with specially dyed fall colors for Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood.  The kit comes with the pattern and enough yarn for a pair.  Making its debut is “Sonya’s Red”, a blue-ey red with pieces of dark and light that make for a multifaceted colorway.

What are the colors you look forward to knitting with this fall? Are you thinking about gift knitting and Christmas?  Tell me what color you are dreaming of for the coming season.

 

Summer 2014 – Not So Lazy Days

Safeco Field View behind Safeco Field Isle of Skye with Iona Narfi Icelandic 2-ply Keukenhof CapeletHi friends. It has been a great summer with opportunities to travel locally to Stitch and Pitch events at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, and Safeco Field in Seattle. I took my two teens with me to watch the Mariners play the Baltimore Orioles one summer evening, with the bonus that we could sample the food AND the yarn on the way. We were all joking in the car that the last minute tickets we purchased would probably be in the nosebleed section. After indulging in some treats and looking at lots of beautiful fiber we trekked into the stadium to find those seats. Up and up and up, I could hardly climb the stairs I was laughing so hard. Yep, we were in the very last row of the very top tier, so high up we could turn around and take pictures of the Port of Seattle behind us.

Never mind, we had a really great time and even though we were the farthest away we still had a great view of the game. I managed to balance my knitting project on my knees without losing the ball of yarn down multiple tiers of chairs, an accomplishment in my book. I brought my second Churchmouse folded poncho project, this time made with Jorstad Creek Isle of Skye (mohair/silk) and Iona (merino/silk), and the rows added upon rows as the game progressed (see close up photo).

In the market place was the booth for Lakewood-based Yorkshire Yarns, doing a brisk business in sport-team-colored yarn and project kits. One of my newest yarns in the Jorstad Creek collection, Vashon, a worsted weight version of the popular Whidbey, was also featured in a kit for the Churchmouse favorite Ferry Boat Mitts. Yorkshire offers other Jorstad Creek yarns in their store, including Whidbey, San Juan sock yarn, Tweed sock yarn, and Tweed DK! I am very excited about this new arrangement. Visitors stopping in to their store from out of town ask about whether the store has anything made locally. The Jorstad Creek yarns provide something new and different from the commercial yarns you can find almost anywhere.

Along with the local travel I have been using every spare minute preparing more fiber to send to the spinning mill so I can offer more local sheep-to-yarn products this Fall.  I received back a box of Brynn, the Icelandic fingering weight 3-ply.  Earlier in the spring I received shipments of the local Gotland two-ply and Narfi Icelandic two-ply, both fingering weight.  The Gotland is a beautiful grey and will stay that way, as this fiber is stunning on its own with the natural luminescent sheen it has.  Narfi however is so much fun to dye in colors.  I did some “extreme dyeing” as you can see by the picture above, seeing how bright and how saturated I can get with this great fiber.  Just shipped to the mill this week is this year’s batch of Finnlanka, the 100% Finn wool yarn in 3-ply sport weight.  I am frantically trying to get a batch of Alpaca/Finn ready to ship as well, so I can offer another 3-ply sportweight in a super soft option.

Other dyeworks in the pipeline include the preparation of new Fall colors in the Tweed DK and Tweed Sock, kits for the Churchmouse ribbed skirt in Brynn (posted in a previous blog), and kits for a new pattern to be published, the Keukenhof Gardens Capelet/Cowl (see photo).  Keukenhof was inspired by a trip to the famed garden of that name in Holland when I was about 8 years old and living in Germany with my parents.  Keukenhof Gardens is a well-known destination that features tulips in every variety, color, and shape you can think of.  Trips to Holland with my parents are fond memories for me because I struggled to learn the German language and many of the Dutch people spoke English at the time. When Lismore DK merino came out of the dye pot in this red I knew I wanted to knit Keukenhof-inspired tulips in memory of my time in Holland.  The rich brown of the background represents the dark earth from the flat floodplains of the farmlands in the Netherlands, the sage and green for the leaves and the bright china blue for the expansive sky.

Also in development are new patterns by Jann Hoppler of the BK Collective for the Tweed DK, including a cowl in two ways,  and finally my favorite toe-up sock in the Tweed Sock yarn.  Check back  here for updates as we prepare these patterns for launch in the Fall.  Those of you who have been waiting for the promised updates to other BK Collective patterns, we are close to having them ready for download in early Fall, with lovely new pictures and an updated format that is knitter-friendly.  Please check for them at http://www.ravelry.com.  You do not have to be a Raveler to purchase and download patterns from the Ravelry website.

The next event for Jorstad Creek is Olympia Harbor Days at the end of August.  This labor day weekend event is a huge community gathering for arts, crafts, food, and local non-profit organizations, not to mention tug boat races, a local tradition.  I will be set up near one end of Columbia Street next to the local Zonta Club, providing free Purple Baby Hat kits (yarn and pattern) while they last, to support the parent-education project to prevent shaken-baby syndrome.  After Harbor Days the next event will be the Nordic Knitting Conference in Ballard at the beginning of October.  Check back for specific dates and locations on this blog for more fiber events coming up throughout the Autumn months.  Until then everyone enjoy the rest of summer!  Kerry

Chanel Sheep and other woolie tales

Finn cabled hat croppedHello again fellow wool lovers,

This is the first day of spring according to the calendar, but in wool country sheep shearing has been happening since January!  Many of my shepherd friends wait until April, but the Icelandics will felt right on the sheep if they aren’t sheared early.  This brings to mind images of sheep wearing those boiled wool Chanel jackets, but  believe me it isn’t pretty.  Or the image of poor bare ewes shivering in the cold.  Not to worry, these animals are hardy, and the wool grows back amazingly fast.

I was reminded today by a dear knitter friend that gardening will soon compete with knitting time.  For me, the warmer weather means I will be able to set a table out in my backyard and start picking wool fleece to prepare for the spinning mill.  This work starts as soon as the weather gets nice enough, and doesn’t stop until fall when the rains come.  I sometimes extend it by putting up a shelter and an outdoor heater, but even I can not persist too long under those conditions.  The good thing is I get to hang out next to the woods behind my house, listen to the birds and the deer moving about in the trees, and entertain my dogs with that enticing sheep’s wool smell that has them fascinated.

I am happy to report that the Madrona Fiber Arts event in February was a great success for Jorstad Creek yarns.  There were new yarns to showcase, new samples to display, and new patterns from the BK Collective as well as shawl kits for Evelyn A. Clark’s traditional shawl patterns.  I greeted return customers who stopped by to pick up more yarn or show me their knitted projects. The hat featured in the picture is made of the sport weight Finnlanka (100 % Finn) from a customer who created this hat to show off the yarn in cables.  She completed the set with a matching scarf.

Along with the return of the Gotland, Finn, and Icelandic yarns and yarn blends, I featured more colors of Tweed Sock and Tweed DK, made from merino wool.  New additions to the collection include merino wools in DK weight and worsted weight.  I also added a beautiful silk/wool blend I named Iona for an island off the west coast of Scotland.  For color, I indulged myself with new shades of red (see my prior blog about red mojo!), a sapphire blue as deep as the ocean, cool moss green and chartreuse, and combined new and old colors into multi-colored yarns I’ve never made before.

As a dye artist the opportunity to process so much yarn gave me a freedom to try new colors, new combinations, and new techniques.  I was able to try a color in one fiber blend, and then see how it performed in a different blend or over a grey wash.  Tonal colorway experiments were possible for me, so I was able to dive into a color and push the boundaries as far as they would go.  It is hard to describe in words how much fun this is, playing with color.  The closest thing really is knitting with variegated yarn, where each row is a new surprise to see how each row builds with the changing color.

Madrona was followed closely by the Vogue Knitting Live! show in Bellevue.  The market for this event was bigger than last year.  We were located next to the fashion show stage and across from Spokane’s Paradise Fibers.  The location gave me and my daughter Katelyn the chance to see all of the wonderful designs on live models as they walked the runway.  When there were lulls in the activity, we darted across the aisle to get yarn wound by Paradise Fiber’s complimentary ball winding station!  My daughter was inspired to start a scarf with Aranmore, the new merino worsted weight yarn we offer.  I started swatching with an eye toward making Sally Melleville’s design “L’Enveloppe”, a part wrap, part sweater design that can be knit in a variety of yarn weights.  I am trying out my DK weight Lismore in a saffron color in this design.

This Saturday, March 22, I will set up my booth at the “Puget Sound Flea Market and Fieldhouse Full of Awesome Stuff” event.  I was asked by the organizers to join this event, and since it is local and for a good cause I said yes!  Even though this is not a fiber event, I am sure there will be knitter friends that will find their way to booth number 31 to say hello.  I hope you can stop by if you are in the area!  In the mean time hope you are able to both garden and knit.  Please check out their link for information on how to get to the University of Puget Sound: https://www.facebook.com/events/584035618338336/       See you soon.  Kerry

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Interweaving life with fiber arts! (Photograph by Carly Moskat.)

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