Sheep & Wool

Paul and I went to the Australian Sheep & Wool Show on Saturday. I hadn’t been since 2009, when I tagged along with some of the Ravelry Rocketeers. I ran into a spinner from that group, and a friend. It was a glorious day, sunny but not hot. The show was bigger than I remember, and though I didn’t think I’d buy much I spent over $400. Well, I have been on a stash diet since the beginning of 2009 (though I’m beginning to think that the only time I’m not on a stash diet is between the time I arrive somewhere where yarn is sold until the moment I hand over the money for it.) And the pricier items were the fringe twister and books.

Here’s the haul:

From left to right, top to bottom:

SWTC Jazz in silver, pewter and a metallic multicolour from Stranded In Oz
Two skeins of unlabelled silk yarn from a shop that didn’t give me a receipt (but they gave me the Bendigo bag at the top)
Grey Bunny Mink from Ixchel
Leila wool-bamboo sock, Pisces cobweb, Iris lace weight, Rufus 4ply merino-cashmere, and Primrose sock yarn from Moseley Park
Lang Jawoll Magic in multicoloured gem tones and Lang Mille Colori in graduated greys

Scarf Pin (which I’m also going to use as a hair clip) by Wool N Wire
Buttons, purple cotton yarn and a netting shuttle from the button lady
Fringe twister and inkle shuttle from the stall that sold Ashford Products (no receipt)
Fudge and chocolate coated mini puddings

Books from Colonial Lake Books
Bisk-Art Cookie Cutters

Once upon a time I would never have looked twice at lace weight or cobweb yarn, but this time I averted my eyes from anything heavier than 4ply. Though I can weave heavier yarns, I have plenty already. If I buy lighter yarn it can be used on the knitting machine as well. And now I have plenty of that kind of yarn. I just need to find time to knit or weave it.

Two in a Row

The weekend before last I made a day of it, and caught the train and tram to the Handknitters Guild Yarn Fair. My main reason to go was to ask a few questions of the Machine Knitters Association of Victoria, see if the Handweavers and Spinners Guild had any inkle looms on sale, say a brief ‘hi’ and ‘thanks’ to Kylie of the Ton of Wool project and fondle the cormo.

Well, I had a great natter with Christine about the MKAV and worked out which local club to contact. I got to have a look at the cormo and say thanks to Kylie as well. But the HW&SG didn’t have much more than a table with finished objects and handspun yarn to buy on it. However, I found out that they were having their textile bazaar the next week.

I bumped into a friend, Emma, and wound up having lunch with some of the Richmond knitters group. Which was lovely but made me miss hand knitting sooo much.

I did manage to buy a couple of things:

But I figured I’d save the main damage to the bank account for the next week, when I headed over to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Textile Bazaar. I managed to avoid the temptations of the Great Cone Yarn Mountain Range and got a second hand inkle loom for $5, which would hardly cover the cost of the wood. Then, as I was about to leave, I spotted a new, teeny weeny inkle loom. For $15. I knew if I didn’t buy it I would kick myself later.

I also picked up a couple of rag shuttles. You can never have too many shuttles. And some ratchet and pawls that will come in handy if I make or adapt a loom.

And I finally got around to joining the Guild. Paul was waiting in the car, so I didn’t hang about too long. I wish I’d had a bit more time to chat, as I met more weavers in my short visit than I have before in previous ones. When asking if they had any paddle heddles, I explained by showed them my little afro comb loom, and it drew a bit of interest. No paddle heddles there, though.

Oh, and to the woman who said ‘oh, I read your…’ if you meant this blog… um… ‘hi’. You looked busy so I didn’t ask if you were a regular reader. In fact, a few faces seemed familiar but I couldn’t quite work out why. I probably would have, if I’d had more time.

Afterwards we scooted off to the Made in Thornbury market where two friends, Margaret and Beky had stalls, and when we set off home the day had turned drizzly and grey.

I went to Bendigo…

But not for the Bendy Show. There was a photography exhibition on there last weekend that Paul wanted to see, so I took the opportunity to duck into the woollen mills for some yarn I’ve been meaning to get more of, which isn’t available on mail order:

Um… well, yes. Not very exciting. It’s craft yarn for weaving a rya rug out of old shirts, sheets and fabric offcuts. But I did buy some yarny yarn, too:

Some purple cotton to go with the leftover green I bought too much of for a baby blanket (to make more baby blankets) and some of their only-available-in-the-shop sock yarn (which comes in colours you might look for if you thought WW2 was still on and wanted to knit socks for soldiers).

The Bendy Show is on this weekend. Unfortunately – or fortunately for Paul – the photography exhibition finished last weekend so there was no chance to do both in one trip. Also, the train service to Bendigo is currently replaced by busses, making the trip a long and painful one, according to a friend who lives up there, so I won’t be going to the Show. I don’t mind, though. Got plenty of yarn to knit and weave already.

Travelling Yarn Purchases

Though I knew there’s be little time for crafty stuff while overseas, I was determined that I’d at least get to one yarn store. So during a couple of free days in London we headed to Loop, where I’d been told I could find the much-adored Wollmeise sock yarn. And sure enough, there it was, along with a few other famous sock yarns and one I hadn’t heard of before. So I bought one of each:


From left to right: Dye for Yarn, Rohrspatz & Wollmeise, Madelinetosh and Malabrigo.

Which I then had the shop post home for me. Though I wanted to keep and pat them, I was hauling my suitcase around Europe and, what with the back problems I have, needed it to be as light as possible. I had a sock in progress, which was going so slowly that I knew there was no danger of me running out of knitting to do.

Later, in Germany, I stumbled on a yarn store in a subterranean mall. Though it didn’t stock any much fancier than Regia, the prices were too good to resist. And I like a good sturdy, reliably machine washable yarn to knit men’s socks out of.


Regia and two yarns by Wolle Rodel.

This lot got stuffed inside shoes and a hat, because we’d were going home not long after.

New Yarn, New Projects

Getting down to the ‘bottom’ of the stash (well, down to 10 kilos) has it’s problems. As I’ve already mentioned in another post, I’m now having to tackle some ‘difficult’ yarns. The sideways vest was an good example of nice yarns that don’t lend themselves easily to available patterns, and designing my own pattern seemed like the only solution.

Another solution is to buy more yarn.

As in the case of this one:

For which I took advantage of Bendigo Woollen Mills having a sale and bought some Luxury 8ply in black to go with it:

The plan is to knit the front and back of a sweater in stripes of the coloured yarn and black, with the sleeves and bands all black. I’ll use a basic pattern from one of my books, minimising the risk of error and reknitting that comes with designing it myself.

I also picked up some light green cotton for a gift, because I had nothing remotely suitable in the stash:

This one will be my own design, but a very simple one done on the knitting machine if all goes well.

But for handknitting, I’m hoping to tackle this yarn next:

Natural coloured yarn I picked up in New Zealand. I wanted to buy a hank in each colour, but held back and chose three. Of course, finding a pattern I liked that used equal quantities of three colours isn’t that easy. I’m going to try a pattern for a single-colour cardigan and use a different colour for the sleeves, waist section and collar. More on that to come in another post.

My next pair of socks will be a Christmas present for Dad knit out of this:

Another Little Purchase

While we were in town on Monday, we popped into Seniors Art Supplies. This time it wasn’t me who wanted to shop, it was Paul. While he was buying himself a visual diary, I was trying not to look too closely at anything in case I found something to buy.

But at the counter, they had these:

Cute little portable paint boxes for sketchers – for only $19.95! With an adorable brush that slots into it’s own handle.

Of course, I had to have one. It might not be as small as my little homemade paint box, but there’s a bigger range of colours. I was intrigued to find that white is included. I don’t have white watercolour paint to add to the homemade paint box, and gouage dries solid. Since these little cakes of paint can be bought separately to replace a colour when it is used up, I should be able to buy a white one for it.

Reverse Art Truck

This week Paul and I went to Reverse Art Truck in Ringwood. As always, we went there looking for one thing and didn’t find it, but came away with lots of other goodies:

I got some fabric samples, a book of wallpaper samples, and mount board cut outs from a framing shop. Most of these are for bookbinding projects. The mount board cut outs make great book cover card. The fabric would make great bookcloth, though I picked up the two samplers on the right and the two grey swatches at the top for possible sewing projects.

The wallpaper sampler has lots of potential. The wallpaper isn’t coated in glue, and could be useful as both the pages or cover of books. It could even be used to make greeting cards or gift tags.

Some is subtle.

Some is bolder.

Some has interesting patterning, like this one, which has marks like water droplets on watercolour paper. But the paper isn’t the only part that I can use. The book itself has potential.

Once the wallpaper sample pages are removed, there’ll be a handful of divider pages left. I’ll cut them off, leaving a strip, and onto that strip I’ll attach new pages. I’ll use heavy watercolour paper, or a thick card. It’ll either be a sketchbook, a photo album, or both.

As always, there was something that I nearly bought, but didn’t, then regretted it later. So the next day I went back and got it.

I keep seeing amazing work by sketchbook artists done with black and white pens on brown paper. It seemed a bit excessive to buy a whole roll of brown paper just to try this out, but heck, it was only $8. I also found some sheets of thin white plastic, which will be great to stick between pages to protect them from glue as it’s drying, or protect my table.

Purchases

Here’s what I bought at the Craft Fair:

The fat quarters are for making small table cloths, the beads in tubes are the ideal size for adding to knitting or weaving, the other beads are handmade glass and though I have no plans for them yet they were too beautiful to leave, and the chain is for another jewellery project.

And, of course, there is the ‘Lifestyle Bag‘. (I went hunting for it on the BH&G site hoping there’s be a shot of the contents, since most of what was in mine has been given away, eaten or stowed in the fridge.)

Aside from the Craft Fair, I also received these:

Which are very cute, but not quite what I was expecting. The trouble with the internet is that you sometimes get no sense of scale. These shapes are confetti-sized, which is a bit small for what I had planned. But the punches were much cheaper than those in the shops, and I know I’ll put them to other uses.

Any suggestions?

Holiday Yarn Stash Enhancement

The first yarn I bought I’m not going to bother photographing. It’s a ball of natural Peaches & Cream cotton that I bought in Wal-Mart in Hawaii so I could put a chin string on my sunhat. I’m sure I don’t need to post a pic – we’ve all seen dishcloth cotton before!

Much more exciting was the yarn I bought at Seaport Yarns in New York. Four skeins of sock yarn from Pine Woods Yarn (blue), Fannies Fingering Weight (purple), Ellyn Cooper’s Yarn Sonnet (blue-green) and J Knits (greys):

And two of Cascade 220 in a blue I couldn’t resist:

I didn’t get to a yarn store in Montreal, but once we were on the road in Canada there were plenty of shops within reach. First was London-Wul in Moncton, where I bought some bamboo/bison yarn from Fibre-Isle Fine Yarns (natural) and Baby Alpaca by Heidi’s by Hand (dark grey):

Then in Baadeck yarns in Baddeck I bought some cushy merino by Tanis Fiber Arts:

In The Loop Craft Cafe in Halifax there was some shetland yarn by The Last Resort Farm labelled with the name of the sheep from which the wool came from. Bianca, Peaceblossom, Cymba and Iago contributed to these skeins:

Where I also bought this nifty magnet brooch by Unique Wood Gifts, which you attach to your shirt or bag and then use to hold safety pins and stitch markers:

I hadn’t intended to go to Have a Yarn because my list of shops said it was in Halifax and I’d already bought yarn in that location. But when we arrived in Mahone Bay and parked we looked across the road and were surprised to find the shop there. Either they’d moved, or the address was wrong. So I bought some handspun and handdyed yarn by Lambs Run Studio and this lovely shawl pin by Perl Grey:

Gasperau Valley Fibres in Wolfville turned out to be a big room with tables for holding classes, and lots of yarn including this locally spun alpaca/merino/silk by Legacy Lane Fiber Mill:

While at Yarns on York in Frederickton the yarn was mostly from bigger companies, like this Handmaiden ‘Great Big Sea’. I also picked up some non-Canadian sock yarn as the socks I was knitting were nearly finished:

La Dauphine in Quebec also stocked more commercial brand yarn, so the only local choices I had were Mission Falls 1824 Wool and this very soft luscious Anzara cashmere:

And finally, Romni Wools in Toronto had the Canadian Indigo Moon sock yarn, and I also picked up some more Cascade 220 to go with the blue I bought at the start of the trip, and a kind of graduated Regia sock yarn I’d never seen before:

So that’s my new Canadian holiday yarn stash. You can probably tell I was trying to stick to local yarn. I had a couple of rules: firstly, no yarns that I could get in Australia; secondly, the yarn was to be as local as possible – if not grown in Canada then at least spun or handdyed there. I was pretty pleased at the variety of local yarn I encountered. Picking up yarn from small producers in preference to big companies when there was a choice also meant that when I got to shops that only stocked bigger brand yarns I still had something Canadian to buy.

I also bought a few books and mags while there:

The weaving book was an absolute bargain at only $5 in a bookshop sale bin. The sock pattern book hadn’t interested me until I looked at it in person. I’m so over complicated sock patterns. But many of the pattern in this book aren’t all that fussy and don’t look too difficult to knit.

Next post: holiday knitting (and cursing sewing).