Knit Nation recap

I'm a bit slow off the mark here with my weekend report, but it's been a crazy week. Truly crazy, and more then a little slapdash in a number of ways. In any event...

Last weekend I was able to go to Knit Nation 2011, an extravaganza of knitting, spinning and wool fumes strong enough to knock out a shepherd. On Saturday afternoon, I took Merike Saarniit's "Spinning for Knitting" class. Although it was largely targeted at beginning spinners, there was plenty to keep me busy, including some new-to-me fibers,

Knit Nation Saturday samples
From left to right: merino/silk, kid mohair, handdyed wool top, 100% bombyx silk, superwash merino, Coopworth roving in three natural colors, more handdyed wool of some kind, baby alpaca and two more wool/silk blends

and an opportunity to do a bit more spindle spinning then I normally do. I discovered that sampling on a spindle is really quick and easy, and a great way to try out a new fiber. I also found that spinning up the samples on my wheel was way too fast!

Saturday spinning
All done :-(

I stopped by the marketplace on Saturday afternoon and did a wee bit of damage. I got 500 gr of the merino/silk that Merike had samples of from John Arbon, a Devon-based wool purveyor/mill/yarn/handknit producer. And then I got a braid of fiber from Krafty Koala: a dark and gloomy (but wonderful!) merino/alpaca/camel/silk blend which has now leapt on to the wheel, pushing all Hello Yarn fiber out of the way in it's mad scrum to become yarn.

TdF Day 18

There was also a fair bit of German eye candy still around by 5:00 pm on Saturday, but I managed to refrain.


On Sunday, I headed in to Imperial for a class on spinning for Shetland Lace from the master herself, Judith Mackenzie McCuin. We were unfortunately stuck in a class in the basement, but all that was just background when she poured out piles of freshly washed but otherwise not processed Shetland fleece on to the carpet. The next three and a half hours flew by in a blur of the history of sheep domestication, specific characteristics of Shetland sheep, descriptions of life on a sheep farm in Montana, dehairing, more dehairing, throwing bits of Montana vegetation all over the floor and a bit of spinning. Here are some pictures:

Fleece from Judith

Shetland lock
One Shetland lock

Shetland lock dehaired
One Shetland lock, dehaired

Spinning detritus

Bits of Montana

We spun up a bunch of samples from our freshly prepped fleece. Starting with the outer coat, we spun a 4-ply cabled yarn that is probably strong enough to tow a truck. Next up was a worsted spun 2-ply, then a woolen spun 3-ply. Unlike most things I've read/heard over the years, Judith defined worsted and woolen spinning not primarily by fiber prep, but by drafting style - worsted spinning means no twist in the drafting triangle, while woolen spinning means the opposite. An interesting way to think about it.


She then pulled out some batts, and we experimented with blends and fine spinning, with different joins, with long draw from rolags, and so on and so on. It was an amazing day, and by the time I got home I was more or less incapable of coherent speech due to information overload.

In addition to the fiber, I came away on Sunday with a signed copy of Ysolda's book, which I am greatly enjoying. I will admit that the patterns hadn't really grabbed me terribly hard before, but having now looked through it several times, there are at least 4 that I think I could happily knit. Plus the designing info and all the stuff on fitting makes it well worth it.

So, Knit Nation 2011 gets a huge thumbs up. Sadly, there is no event planned for 2012 (damned Olympics!), but my fingers are crossed for 2013.