the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Saturday, August 20, 2005

An Unusual Class

A couple of weeks ago we had a booth at ANWG (the northwest weaver's conference).
We had a blast - met some wonderful new people - and generally enjoyed ourselves way too much!
A sweet part of being a vendor there was that they gave me a free class as part of our booth fee (YEAH!). I took one called Creating Surface Design by Kathryn Alexander.
What a mind twister !
We used what she calls "energized singles" (never to be referred to as overspun) She gave us some in two colorways:I'm not sure if you can see it from this photo, but one is an "s" twist, the other is a "z" twist.. or in spinner's lingo, one has been spun clockwise, the other counterclockwise. She has them produced for her by Green Mountain Spinnery. They come in a gorgeous variety of colors.
I'm not sure that I can do Kathryn justice by trying to explain it here, but basically, you alter the way you throw your yarn around the needle, with an s twist yarn you now throw it counterclockwise, with a z twist you throw it clockwise. What happens is that the stitches "slant" to one side or the other, resulting in a basic knit stitch becoming a herringbone, and a knit rib pattern becomes slanted squares. It takes AMAZING concentration to do this simple change! All of us in the class were laughing like crazy as we tried to remember how we used to knit!

After the entire 3 hour class was done I was able to accomplish these samples:

I normally consider myself a pretty fast knitter - NOT with this technique! The resulting texture is worth the effort tho'... the little gem on the right is a simple rib pattern, the one on the left is a "sampler" of knit using varied rows of z and s yarns..
Look for her upcoming book - should be a great one! As Kathryn said, Efficency is NOT the point here (no kidding!)

Which now reminds me of a story told by Rita Buccanan (Of Spin Off fame, was a former editor).
Rita entertained us at the Northwest Regional Spinner's Conference with the following story:
Once there was a businessman driving through the country. As he drove along he spied a very curious event... in the field there was a farmer holding a small pig up to an apple tree. The pig would open its mouth and grab ahold of an apple. The farmer would then set the pig down as the pig ate. Then the farmer would again pick up the pig, help it to get ahold of an apple, then set it down again while it ate... The business man finally could not stand it any longer... he walked over to the farmer and said "farmer.. my my.. what you are doing is SOOOO inefficient... why don't you simply shake the tree and allow the pig to eat off the ground while you do other things? What you are doing takes soooo much time...." the farmer thought for a moment, then smiled and replied.. "what's time to a pig?"
Rita shared this story as she spoke of our spinning and knitting items by hand.. and that to many people it would be considered "inefficient" ... but what we know is that it is the enjoyment of our day and our craft that makes things worthwhile.. what is time to a pig?.. and she suggested that we regularly take time to pamper our inner pig!

Off to do my own pampering now, while I dwell in kitty bliss. The kitties have truly bonded - I had both of them on my lap "helping" with my knitting until they finally collapsed asleep. I was able to knit along for an hour or so undisturbed (until they awoke for round two!) We are very blessed to have these marvelous mischiefs in our lives. So far they still haven't told us their names.


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