Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sara's Saltspring Hat

Today I am publishing a new free pattern: Sara's Saltsping Slouchy Hat.  Based off my original Saltspring hat design, I have used the same short rows and purl ridges to create a lighter, slouchier hat.

You can download the pattern here:

Or nab it from my Ravelry Store!

From the pattern notes:

"Every artist needs a muse, and I have been lucky enough to have acquired more than my fair share in the various facets of my life, including members of my family, mentors from the local spinning guild, and my good buddies at work. Sara is among the latter; she is a beautiful spirit who knows what she likes, and isn’t afraid to let you know. Her personal taste for design and fashion is what inspired me to create a variation of my “Saltspring” hat to fit into her unique style. This hat is softer, slouchier, and is intended to be a fashion accessory rather than a keep-your-ears-warm worsted weight toque. Thanks again Sara!"

This pattern requires knowledge of short rows: an excellent tutorial can be found here, courtesy of the Purl Bee:

I hope you enjoy! Please send along any feedback, and I would love to see your work!


Monday, January 28, 2013

January Skill Stretch: Big Ol' Singles!

This month, I decided I was going to complete some 'knitable' skeins of singles. Normally, I ply EVERYTHING. If I would like to keep a colour progression intact, I would chain-ply my single, turning it into a three ply yarn. But there are sooo many advanced spinning techniques I would like to try, and many of them involve being able to create a balanced (or as balanced as can be) single.  I thought this would be an excellent skill to stretch for January, at the beginning of my explorations!

My first attempt involved some lovely superwash BFL and nylon I purchased at Fibres West in 2010.  I bought this yarn from Smith and Ewe in the colourway "Sunflower." I just opened the bag, and spun the colours as presented.

Next, I decided to play with my 'gift' from Judith Mackenzie last year. This very special skein of yarn was given to me at the beginning of the comprehensive spinning course she presented to the GVWSG last year. She gave all her students one skein of her own hand dyed BFL/silk, and I have been saving it for a special occasion. I figured learning how to make something new would be something she would approved of. 

Finally, I decided to explore some of the colour skills I learned at Cheryl Huseby-Wiebe's Colour Control workshop last year.  I took a braid of Sweetgeorgia's Fibre Club October 2011 offerings (aka "Panda" fibre dyed in the colourway "Rockwater"), and split it into many narrow stripes. I marled two random stripes of this colourway together with a small amount of green Angelina fibre I purchased at Fibres West last year.

I gave all these singles a solid washing, then the '50 Shades of Grey" treatment to whack them into shape, and let them hang un-weighted to dry. I took them outside into the beautiful BC January sunshine and took a few photos:

Sunflower: (on Ravelry)

Judith's Gift: (on Ravelry)

Rockwater and Angelina: (on Ravelry)

Wonderful! Sure, there are a few little kinks, but once they are knit, I'm sure any biasing will barely be noticeable. I can't wait to swatch these skeins - I am already planning a linen stitch scarf with the Sunflower. I think Judith's Gift will become a small cowl for me, and who knows what will become of of the glittery Rockwater! I think it looks like mermaid hair... maybe something fun and lacey? 

I would also like to acknowledge Felicia Lo's blog post on the Sweetgeorgia website. She talks about pushing new spinning skills, spinning with other people, and dedicating the time to your craft - EXACTLY the values I am working on this year. Thanks to Felicia for her very kind words, and the nod towards my Ravelry stash. It's so exciting to see other spinners in my area feeling the same way - I live in a place with a great community for sharing, exploring, and encouraging each other to try something new.

If you too are planning spinning goals, please PLEASE share them! Put your handspun on Ravelry, show it at a guild meeting, blog about how you did it! Challenge yourself in a class or workshop. Improve your technical skills, finesse your technique. And then share, share, share!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Yes! I am going to give teaching a try!

Starting in February this year, I will be teaching a beginners knitting class at Bird On A Wire Creations in Vancouver. We will learn how to knit and purl, the differences between stockinette and garter stitch, and how to make a pair of funky wrist warmers with that knowledge!

I am still working on the course outline and putting together my own unique pattern just for students of the class; and I am TOTALLY stoked. I have never taught a large group before, and I can't wait to get started. I will admit, I'm pretty nervous, but I think once I get talking about yarn and needles I will start to feel right at home!

Classes are currently scheduled for Friday nights from 6:30 - 8:30pm on February 8th and 15th. I will also be teaching an intermediate class in March - more info on that coming soon!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or Bird On A Wire directly!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Another Year, Another Goal

Even though I don't really buy into traditional "New Year's Resolutions", I just can't helped being swept up in wanting a fresh start at the beginning of January. A fresh year, a fresh goal, and twelve brand new months to give myself a chance to stretch myself...

Last year about this time, I decided that I wanted to self-publish 6 knitting patterns by the end of 2102, and see how they were received. I am happy to report that I was able to follow through with my goal, as we well as exceed it. Not only have I created and published all the patterns now available on this blog, but I have two more almost ready for free download, and I have also been working with Felicia Lo from Sweetgeorgia Yarns on publishing two new shawl patterns to be released this summer. So exciting!

So what are my goals for this year? Keep designing. I have binders of drawings, and a basket of swatches, and one tiny little brain that's bubbling with inspiration. If only I had more fingers, and more time...

My other goal this year is to push my spinning limits. I LOVE learning about spinning. I love to experiment with different techniques, play with different colours, and learn to create new textures.  However, sometimes when I sit down to spin, I find myself just creating the same ol' worsted yarn I have been making since I first started spinning 2 years ago. And there is NOTHING wrong with that - I am creating the wool I want, that I know I can work with afterwords, and it feels good doing it. However, I would like to try make myself jump out of that comfort zone on occasion and see if I can make something new. I think the best way to test those limits it to try a new technique once a month, and post the results to this blog. Most of the these 'experiments' will certainly not be new to anyone else (in fact, January's 'test' is going to be a nice fat single, because I overspin and ply EVERYTHING I normally make), but eventually I want to build on these techniques and try more elaborate art and novelty yarns, such as featured in the book "SpinArt", or inspired from online magazines and Ravelry.

So in the future, please look forward to some more posts about my spinning experiments! I will label them as my Skill Stretches, and try to post one per month, but who knows, maybe I will be inspired to try more!

Cheers, and Happy New Year!