Friday, 9 December 2011

The queen of the barnyard!

 Happy Friday!

I really love the Internet, and yes, I have an art for overstating the obvious! I wanted to find something cute and fiber related to share with you today. All I did was Google sheep cat and this is what I got!

The lion may be king of the jungle, but Kitty is the queen of wherever she sits!

 This find also gives me the perfect tie-in for Kitty's fiber query.
Of course you know the answer, but think about it anyway!

        Why is wool warm?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The philosophical knitter

I went to pick up my son at school last night. No, I'm not a horrible mother! It was only 4:30, but in Canada, in December, it's pitch dark at 4:30 and feels like night. The kids were on the playground so I had to wait a few minutes outside for him to gather his things. It was only 0C / 32F, but it was windy and I was freezing!

We are all aware intellectually that there are homeless people and poor people in our neighborhoods but, particularly with the effervescence of the holidays around us, I find that it's easy to put these realities out of our minds.

Last night, I was just struck by how cold and miserable I felt on a rather warm Canadian winter night. I quickly hurried to my warm car, which took me to my warm home where my hot supper was waiting. Today when I went out, I was able to put on a warmer coat, hat and boots. I was freezing for 5 or ten minutes yesterday. What do less fortunate people do when they are cold and hungry all the time?

Beautiful, but cold, Quebec City!

I certainly don't want to dampen anyone's holiday spirits! I simply wanted to share this revelation with you. The holiday season is about love and giving, but we are so bombarded by the idea that we need more of everything (my children certainly think so!) that we forget to appreciate what we have. The amazing blogger, Sonya of the  Kanelstrand blog has two beautiful posts about getting back to the real meaning of the holidays. You can read them here:

I also had another revelation last night (it was some night!). My husband and I watched the end (end because he was channel surfing!) of my favorite Christmas show - A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's a wonderful cartoon and fills me with all kinds of terrific childhood memories. Snoopy was my father's favorite character.

The revelation came at the end when my husband read the copyright date, 1965. Charles Schulz's message was that Christmas had become too commercial (remember Sally asking Santa for 10's and 20's?). It has been 46 years since this show first aired. Are we more, less or just as commercial as people were back then? Does it matter? I think it does. What do you think?

Finally, I must mention wool. You saw part of my stash in yesterday's post. I accept my fiber addiction. That's apparently the first step to recovery!

My resolution, after this night of revelations, is to use up my stash making hats and mittens to give to the less fortunate in my community to help them get through our long Canadian winters, and to help me remember how very lucky I am!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The fourth secret of the LaidBack Knitters

Wednesday is book day!

Here is secret number 4 of the LaidBack Knitters:

Take the color leap of faith
how to gain sure-footedness in the color jungle

Think about it. As a crafter, do you tend to choose the same colors shown in the pattern for the yarn or fabric you use? Many of us do! That's what Lisa Souza and Vicki Stiefel are driving at with their fourth secret. Believe in yourself! Take chances!

This reminds me of a story...My eldest son is a physicist and has been fascinated by all things outer space since he was about 5. Around that time, he absolutely wanted to make a time machine. My husband diligently made a fabulous "machine" out of a big cardboard box but, obviously, our son wasn't satisfied. After much patient, yet unsuccessful negotiating, my husband finally said, "We can't make a real time machine, sport. It's against the laws of physics." To which our sweet boy replied, "But, if we make it in the basement Dad, the police won't know!"

Remember Back to the Future?

When it comes to color, we have to be like a 5 year old. There are no rules! Well, certainly there are rules, but we don't have to follow them. None of our knitting is going to be criticized by Mr. Blackwell! Creating is a process. We have to experiment and find out what we like.

Of course, if you are very reticent to take chances, start with the rules. Use color wheels, look at colors in nature. Try variegated yarns. They are beautiful and another artist has already chosen the colors for you! Mixing solids with variegated is a great way to gain color confidence. I'm going to make a hat for my daughter with these two wools. The solid will be the brim and the variegated the top or maybe I'll make stripes, alternating the two. Either way it will be a beautiful, warm hat. The solid is BFL while the mixed is Shetland wool.

Another really fun way to experiment with color, when you're feeling reckless, is to take your stash and pour it out on a table. Have fun, literally playing with the colors. Move the skeins and balls around to see what strikes your fancy. What do you like together? What don't you like together? Take pictures, make notes.

Need I say it again?
Have fun! That's what creating is all about and that's what LaidBack knitting is all about!

My family insists that I mention that this is only a sample of my stash!

Monday, 5 December 2011

More British sheep!

If you are like me, a curious person, learning new things just for the sake of learning is what makes life fun. Some of you may be wondering however, interesting though it is to learn about the origins of British sheep, is there really anything else we need to know?

That is a very legitimate question and I'm glad you asked! The answer, of course, is of course there is more!

Aside from the Merino sheep whose origins are in Northern Africa and Spain, the majority of the modern sheep in North America and pretty much everywhere else in the world, come from the British breeds.

The Down family of sheep come from the downlands region of England. Down refers to the region and not the type of wool. Wool from the Down family ranges to soft like BFL or somewhat more coarse, but definitely great for sweaters, mittens and hats. The origins of the Down family of sheep are traced back to medieval times. The two most important members of this family are the Hamshire and the Suffolk. Both are dominant breeds in North America and are found all over the world.
These are the Hampshire. Aren't they adorable? !

Down fibers are soft, warm and durable. As an extra plus, they don't felt. That means we knit machine washable clothing that hasn't been chemically treated.

I buy beautiful self-striping Suffolk yarn from Freshilse Fibers in Ontario, Canada. Self-striping is great yarn, especially for new knitters. A simple garter stitch scarf will impress everyone! This is a hat I made from their Christmas yarn. This wool really is machine washable and get softer with washing!

Other members of the Down family are not as lucky as the Hampshire and the Suffolk. The Southdown, Dorset, Shropshire and Oxford are all conservation breeds. So we have more names of fiber to look out for our projects.
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