I have published my pattern for the shawl. I named it Flames and Lace because there were a lot of other designs already that were using my initial idea, Candle Flames. I have it on the website and on Ravelry for $6.
I did get it written in time for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend. I even wore it in the booth and got many compliments on it. We also have a new batch of Yarn Boxes in some woods we have been out of for a time. We have Mahogany, Oak, and Cherry for $60 and Walnut for $65. They were very popular in the booth!
I am currently in Ohio for the Wool Gathering festival at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. I will be getting the booth ready tomorrow. This festival is all outdoors in big tents. We usually have pretty nice weather so I hope that holds true this year too. The market opens on Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 10-4.
I have a few hours of downtime this afternoon and hope to get a bit of knitting done on Saltarello. Here’s how it is looking at this point.
I am home for this weekend and have some knitting to show you. I also have a few new things in my home office.
I drove home from Pittsburgh on Sunday . The trip was long but uneventful. The one bonus of a long drive is more audio book time. During my trips from Nashville to Kalamazoo to Pittsburgh and back to Nashville, I had many hours of listening time. I listened to Later by Stephen King,Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner, and began The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadesh.
This was my second time reading Later. I had forgotten how good it is. If you like the movie The Sixth Sense, you might like this book. Secrets of a Charmed Life is very good for fans of historical fiction set in two time periods. The main characters are two sisters separated by World War II and how that affected their lives. I am not even halfway through The Weight of Ink yet. It’s a bit historical too, but in a different way from the other one I read. It doesn’t feel as personal but it is very interesting. The main plot revolves around some manuscripts from the mid 17th century and the people that wrote them in the past versus the ones discovering them in the present. Technically it is the year 2000, so the past to us, but in modern times.
While we are on the topic of home, I want to show you that I added a few things to my home office recently. I added a few desk lamps, a filing cabinet and best of all, a comfortable desk chair. I am writing this post from here and it’s awesome! I really do feel more productive. Now, I just need to use that productive feeling to get my new knitting pattern written for that shawl I finished.
Speaking of that shawl, let’s take a look at the blocking shots and a few after blocking pictures.
I love how the pattern opens with the blocking. This stitch pattern is not hard to work because as you can see it’s pretty solid for a lace pattern. That is the reason I chose to use US 3 needles for the fingering weight Classic Merino Bamboo yarn that I used. Normally I used US 5 needles to knit lace with either of my fingering weight bases. I am happy with the body in this shawl that the tighter gauge creates.
I ended up using almost all of the 3 skeins. The shawl weighs 295g. I measured it after removing the pins. The length is about 84″ and the width about 23.5-24″. The width was more than I had planned but it’s actually a nice size for wrapping up in. I think the width is a result of how I blocked it. The edging wanted to be stretched more and therefore, I went with it rather than making the fabric stretch more lengthwise. You may also notice that I chose to accentuate the shaping of the selvedge that occurs due to the lace. Now, I just need to get the pattern written and published. I would like that to be done in time for my next show in Wisconsin next weekend.
I am finding the stitch pattern easy to follow, even in the dark yarn. I do need good light to work on it but that can be true no matter the color when working lace patterns. I have gotten through the first two charts at this point. I hope it will show the design well in the booth in the dark color. Blocking will help I think. I am using US 5 needles on this shawl to help the stitch pattern open up more. See you next time.
So it has been super busy in my world. I am on the the road traveling between Michigan and Pittsburgh for two fiber festivals. I will get into that first and then on to what am I knitting lately.
Michigan Fiber Festival
Michigan Fiber Festival was awesome as always this year. The weather was lovely for most of the weekend. It did rain some on Thursday morning, which was booth set up day, but after that it was sunny and pleasant. Sunday got a bit hot but it wasn’t too bad. The attendance was good and sales were fantastic. It is so satisfying to meet and chat with other knitters and to help them pick out tools and/or yarn that they will enjoy using. It’s the best!
Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival
On Monday morning I drove from Kalamazoo to Pittsburgh. The drive was fine. I took the Ohio Turnpike since it was the most direct and the fastest route, but oh boy! The tolls are nuts! I paid $48 so far and I think I will be getting another bill from Pennsylvania for the 376.
I arrived at the hotel and got settled in for the week. I had one full day off, which I haven’t had for weeks, and I spent that day just hanging out. I did make a short run to a grocery store up the road and got a few supplies but other than that I spent the day reading and knitting. More on the knitting in a moment.
I got the booth set up on Tuesday and Wednesday was when I had a day of rest. Today, Thursday, is opening day at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival. The market is open on Thursday from 12-7, Friday from 10-5, and Saturday from 9-5. I am glad to be here this year. I have been a vendor in this festival since 2008 and only had to miss one year. That was 2021 because of the date change and a prior commitment. I have met many knitters over the years in this area and I look forward to seeing them each year. It’s especially nice when customers show me what they are doing with their yarn from previous years.
What Am I Knitting?
Which brings me to my own knitting. While I was in Michigan, I finished my shawl! Of course I have had no way to block it yet, but I took a picture in the hotel for you.
I haven’t named it yet or written up the pattern, but you will be the first to know when I have that part done. I will be blocking this lovely thing as soon as I return to Nashville. I think that seeing it after it’s blocked will help in picking out a name, but if you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them.
For the remainder of my down time in Michigan, which was very little mind you, I worked on my second sock in progress.
New Knitting Project
I also picked out a yarn and color to begin a new project. This one is one of Dee O’Keefe’s designs called Saltarello. I decided to use my Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn this time in Obsidian. Dee used an 80/20 Merino/Silk blend which almost made me choose the Classic Merino Bamboo, which I used for my shawl I just finished above. I has a nice drape which is similar to a wool and silk blend. However, in looking at the stitch pattern, I felt like the crisper hand and better stitch definition of the 100% wool 2 ply spun with a tight twist, would be a nice substitute. I may be crazy for picking the Obsidian, but I think it will be very dramatic if it doesn’t kill me. I am not gonna lie, the garter tab in black was tedious. Once I was past that part it got easier but I definitely need good light to work on it.
I brought my yarn swift and ball winder along because I knew I would be starting this project before I got home. I hadn’t decided on which yarn I was going to use before I left. It is much easier to consider them when I can see them all hanging in the booth. Here I am winding the yarn for Saltarello and the spare skein I need to complete the sock.
This is my progress on the new shawl at the end of the first chart. I think that when it is blocked it will open up and show the stitch pattern well enough. I will reassess after completing a bit more.
It is getting close to the time I need to head over to the Double Tree for the market opening today. If you are in the area this weekend, come on by and stop in to say hello. I am in the Green Tree Ballroom in booths 25-26.
I arrived safely back in Nashville on Sunday. The traffic on the drive was light for most of the day until I got to Knoxville. Between Knoxville and Nashville I hit at least 4 slow downs due to who knows what? There were construction zones a few times, but they didn’t have workers present. So, I finally arrived around 3:30 pm just as a rain storm was bearing down on Nashville. I got the trailer turned in the driveway and my luggage out before it poured. I waited for it to stop raining before unhitching though.
Back On the Road
I took the afternoon to unpack and rest a bit. On Monday I did the grocery shopping and some trailer restocking. Today, Tuesday, I washed and gassed up the truck, hitched up the trailer again, and packed for my next trip tomorrow. I am leaving in the morning for Michigan. I will be setting up the booth on Thursday for the Michigan Fiber Festival. I started vending at this festival in 2007. It is a three day show, Friday – Sunday and is at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. I have always liked this festival but improved more now that I am in the new Expo Building. The light and ventilation is much better than the old white building where I was for the first 12 years.
I will be going straight to Pittsburgh from Allegan on Monday next week. I am once again back for the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival in Green Tree, PA. We will be setting up the booths on Wednesday since the dates for the show are now Thursday-Saturday. It just makes more sense not to drive home. I’ll talk more about this show later though, because I wanted to spend some time in this post with a work shop update.
Work Shop Update
If you recall, we were starting a new batch of Yarn Boxes before I left for Charlotte, NC. While I was there, Jerry got the pieces all cut to final dimensions. That means that the next step is to cut ALL the finger joints. This is a time consuming process. Aside from the time involved in making the actual cuts, the jig is tedious to set up and tweak it until everything is lined up exactly right. If that doesn’t happen the joints won’t line up correctly when we start assembling the sides and bottoms together. Prayers for patience and wisdom are appreciated ;-).
While we are on the topic of the work shop and our processes, I’d like to share a new page I have on the website about that. I have had in mind for awhile to write up a gallery type page that not only shows but also informs interested visitors about what goes into making all of our various products. When people come into our booth at festivals or visit our website, they may not already know that almost everything they see there was hand made by us. From the wood knitting tools and accessories, to the hand dyed yarn and knitted samples, it is all us. That is pretty cool to me and I want to share what it takes for that to happen. I hope it will be interesting and informative and a work in progress itself as we add new items or change how we do things. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link to a Sneak Peek at Our Production. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think. Is there something you’d like to see there that I didn’t include?
Thursday afternoon was set up day. I arrived at the appointed time and was there until they kicked us out for the night. I did manage to get the booth 95% ready when I left for the night. The final touches, sample arranging and signs, were easily managed on Friday morning before the market opened.
Friday was a nice day in the market. I met lots a knitters and crocheters and had a wonderful time chatting and showing off our wares. I enjoy helping my customers find the right supplies they need for their projects. That can be the right tool, the best yarn base or color, or the perfect pattern.
One thing that I am excited to report is that the new trailer did, in fact, make restock pulling SO MUCH EASIER. It is great having the extra room to move the totes around to get to stuff. Also, since they no longer have to be stacked as high, I have an easier time manipulating them. It only took about a half an hour to get to what I needed, which means it’s earlier when I get my supper, LOL.
Saturday in the market has been a bit busier and it’s already almost break down time. I have my truck and trailer hitched up and in a decent proximity for loading in a few hours. I am anticipating a smooth pack up.
This is the third year for this festival and I have been at all of them. It is still a new show and I am impressed with how much it improves each year. The attendance is still on the low side, which is common for a new festival, but I see the potential for it to become much bigger. The committee seem to be focused on growth and doing a lot to achieve it. They are also fabulous at caring for the needs of their vendors. I will definitely be back next year.
I’ll be staying the night and driving home tomorrow. The upside to driving home on a Sunday is, no rush hours to worry about. I started a new audiobook on Wednesday while driving to Charlotte. It’s one that I think I picked up during one of Audible’s BOGO sales. It’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. I am enjoying it and looking forward to continuing the story on my drive tomorrow. I have listened to a number of her books and they are always entertaining. See you soon Nashville!
Wells kids, it’s time to head back out on the fiber market trail. Break time is coming to an end and I am off to Charlotte, NC for the Southern Comforts Fiber Market. Click the link for more details. I am looking forward to using my new trailer. I have taken it for a few spins just to check on the brake adjustments and such. Restocking the booth between market days is going to be much easier with all the room to spare. It’s all stocked and ready to hitch up today. I will be driving on Wednesday, setting up on Thursday, and market days are Friday and Saturday.
Oh! I forgot to tell you, we found a new owner for the old black trailer. Hopefully, someone will fix her up and get some more use out of her for many more years.
I am glad to be feeling myself again today because I was feeling under the weather for 3-4 days. So much so in fact, that I wasn’t up to knitting. I would pick it up and realize I just didn’t have the energy. I wasn’t severely ill, it was just a low grade fever that hung on for days and a couple days of lower GI discomforts, but knitting a lace edging was a bit taxing. After countless cups of various herbal and medicinal teas, and quite a few bowls of chicken soup, I am grateful that I was feeling better by Sunday. I wanted a least a few days to get back on my feed before hitting the road.
Before I got sick, I had started and completed one of the repeats of the lace edging on my shawl design. I decided 3 skeins would be a decent size. I had 20g of yarn left and the edging should only use 17g, so I should be good. I didn’t touch it again until yesterday. When I picked it back up, I worked 3 repeats in one sitting. There are only 18 repeats across and each is 12 rows. The end is in sight! I am excited to see how it looks when it’s blocked.
Work Shop News
Just a day or so before I was briefly out of commission, we decided it was a good time to make a visit to our lumber supplier. The plan had been to work on more Shawl/Hair Sticks for awhile and get more lumber in the fall. We had bought a few new boards of exotics last month at Woodcraft for these. We revised that plan, however, and decided it was better to go ahead and start a batch of Yarn Boxes first. We had completed a small batch in June to fill out the inventory some, but one wood is already sold out. Time to make more boxes. Who remembers the old Dunkin Donuts commercial? You know the one? “It’s time to make the donuts”, says the sleepy guy who is rising in the middle of the night to get the dough started. That’s what I thought of just now. LOL
While I was trying to get healthy again, Jerry has been busy cutting, sorting, jointing, and planing wood. We bought some walnut, cherry, and white oak. We haven’t made any cherry boxes for quite a few years, and while we use oak quite frequently, it is usually red oak. At this point in the process, they are now all planed to the proper thickness and ready to be marked out for cutting down to the dimensions needed for the sides, tops and bottoms. Then the joinery cuts are made and they get assembled and glued together. There are dozens more steps after that to get to the finished product. These are probably the most labor intensive, as far as number of processing steps, of anything we make.
Thanks for the comments on my new office. I am really enjoying having my own space. As a matter of fact I am writing this post from there. I got a couple better desk lamps and a desk stuff organizer. I have a comfy chair, which I am in now, for work like this. I am, however, realizing that the kitchen chair as a desk chair is going to have to go. It’s not inviting to sit in for any task longer than, say packing an order. So, I am in the market for a suitable replacement. Maybe I’ll have found one by my next post. We’ll see. See you soon!
It’s the end of July and that means we are wrapping up the summer break time. The yarn is all dyed, labeled and in it’s storage bins. About 2/3 of the yarn is in the trailer and the remainder is stowed in the work room as back up to restock the trailer during the late summer and fall show season.
In addition to yarn dyeing, we have some new Yarn Bowls in the works. We will be bringing a selection of these to the festivals and adding them to the website. There are a large variety of woods and sizes, so the best way to see them is in person. The woods used include oak, cherry, walnut, and mahogany. We ended up with so many different sizes that we will have a range of prices to fit most budgets and uses. They will vary from $40 to $70.
I will be heading off to Charlotte, NC on August 9th for the Southern Comforts Fiber Market. The festival will be at the Oasis Shriner’s Auditorium on August 11-12, 2023. We have a full schedule after that, so hopefully you can make it out to one. I would love to see you!
I have been working on my new shawl design when I can. I would love to have this finished and ready for displaying in the booth soon. You may recall that I am using my Classic Merino Bamboo yarn for this shawl. The pattern will be forth coming as soon as I decide on a stopping point.
At this point I could work one more repeat of the lace pattern and still have enough yarn left for the edging. I am currently on the the third skein. The shawl measures around 65″ long unblocked. If I add another section and the edging, it will add around 7″. That’s 72″ before blocking. I think I may want it about a foot longer. That’s my indecision at this point. Do I stop at a 3 skein project? Or continue on and use some of a 4th skein?
It was time for a few much needed upgrades to our business equipment. A few weeks ago we made a purchase that we put off for too long. We were making do with an under-powered belt sander for ages. We kept tinkering with it to make it work. We finally decided it was time to upgrade. It is so much better and it’s even quieter, which is a bonus. I think it was worth it. We should have done it years ago. We got a small batch of Yarn Boxes sanded on the new machine. Big thumbs up!
We have also needed to replace the trailer for awhile. We bought the black 6×12 in 2007. It has seen much service and we have kept it going but on my recent trip to Houston I was having trouble with my back door bar lock. It kept slipping out of the top guard and I had to keep a close eye on it and rig up a bungee cord to make sure it would stay closed. It can be welded at the frame on the bottom to repair the damage. It’s probably best for local use at this point though rather than long distance road trips.
We decided that if we would rather replace it than repair it, why not go ahead and get a larger one? I have been maxed out on space for a long time. This is a picture from a few years ago, but it’s accurate as far as how full it was. The front end was full to the top too.
So on Thursday we got this 7×16 and I am so excited! It is so much easier to access my stock. It has a nice roomy side door with a bar lock which I have wanted for a long time. It even has a work light inside which comes on when the side door is open. In my old trailer, I had to use magnetic flash lights stuck to the roof when I was pulling booth restock after dark.
I hope that the V-front will help some with gas mileage. I have only driven it home from the place we bought it and it was empty at the time, so we’ll see. We spent all day getting all the inventory moved over and I am really pleased with all the room now. This is going to make it so much easier to restock the booth. I will have a much easier time accessing the boxes I need.
When my booth stock and fixtures from the front end, plus those tables and checkout podium at the back right, are unloaded, the restock boxes lining the sides will be easy to access. It’s gonna be awesome! It almost makes me wish my next festival wasn’t almost six weeks away. Nah, just kidding. I am glad for the time at home. However, summer break time means it’s also yarn dyeing time.
We got a bit of a head start before leaving for Houston Fiber Festival. By the way, it was a great show! It was hot as the hinges of hell, but a great show, nonetheless. We will probably be back. But, I digress.
We dyed a new color in all four bases. I decided to call it Wisteria. It is replacing the Lavender in our palette, so all of the skeins left in that color are on sale for $20 while supplies last. We have received our order of yarn from the mill. I am working on dye preparations at the moment. So there will be more yarn on the lines soon!
My goodness! I have barely had time to breathe and finally a little break. Since my last post I have been to three fiber festivals. On Memorial Day weekend I was in Wooster for the Great Lakes Fiber Show. The weather was so nice and there was good turnout. I wasn’t going to bore you with more booth shots but I changed my mind since it’s what I have. Posts with pictures are more fun, right?
The first weekend in June was Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival in Franklin, IN. The weather was pretty warm this year but that’s not unusual. This show has really grown and improved so much over the 16 years I have been vending there. I am very impressed with it’s progress and look forward to it every year. The organizers do a great job with every thing, from vendor communication, to classes, to promotion.
This past Friday and Saturday, I was back in Ohio. For the third year, I went to the Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair in Newark. This festival is currently one day only. I have given it a few years, and it’s a nice one for what it is, but it may be the last year for me. It’s mainly because it’s all in the one day. I drive up on Friday and then on Saturday I arrive at 5:30 am to set up the booth for the market which opens at 9 am and runs to 5 pm. Then it’s tear down time. I put in a long 13 hour day and it’s just a bit too much. Attendance has dropped off too, which makes it hard to make enough to be worth the effort and expense. If it wasn’t 400 miles each way requiring two nights away I would keep it, but as it is, for me, it’s probably not one I will keep going forward. It makes me sad to do it though. One bonus is that I have my trailer and truck right there behind the booth. Saves some time and energy during set up and break down.
So, not a whole lot of knitting happening lately. I did finish that first sock and the cuff if the second one. I am ready to start the heel flap when I get back to it. If you recall, I am making these with some remnants of discontinued colorways of my Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn.
I have also been working on my shawl design. I am ready to join on the third skein at this point. It is measuring about 45″ unblocked. I am probably around the half way mark now since I want it to be generous for wrapping.
We have put in a huge yarn order to get started dyeing when I return from my next show. I am home this coming weekend but am back on the road for one more festival, Houston Fiber Fest, before the summer break. More on that in my next post. See you later!