Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tipsy Leprechauns at the Tour de Fleece

Curse me for my vivid imagination! It has been a bane since early childhood, causing me many embarrassing episodes and much need for 'punishment' during my years in school. Why oh why, then, am I also blessed with the ability to think of names for colorways so readily? If you can, at all, veer away from the image of a bunch of trouble making tipsy leprechauns on the sidelines of the Tour de France, please come with me for a minute while we look at yarn:) I'm probably going to giggle like a 10 year old here and there when the image pops back in my head.
Tipsy Leprechauns was the June installment of the Happy Hooves Club (shown here are the batt and top clubs). There was also a bit of top involved in my sweater lot of Tour de Fleece yarn spins. I'm having a bit of a rainbow craze right now. I don't know how to explain it and that's very convenient because I also don't really feel the NEED to. I just like rainbows. They make me happy. And, I'm in a place in my life right now where I am not uncomfortable with being happy so I'm just not fighting it. So, this rainbow is special. I mean, all rainbows are, aren't they? But, this rainbow is like driving into a desolate field after a rain and finding a huge double rainbow waiting for you. It's a powerful rainbow. I had originally only intended to spin it into a sock yarn or mitten yarn or something 'small' and non imposing. But, I changed my mind. Then, another club member mentioned a sweater out of this yarn and - SHAZAAAM! - it stuck in my head and took root immediately. So, there's this sweater lot of yarn (accompanied by a small skein of coils I made with the leftovers of the batt making supplies which I will intermittently add into the sweater rounds.

I fell in love with this sweater 2nd. I know, kind of a 'wonk wonk woooonk' instead of a drum and cymbal bang. But, there it is. I fell in love with it's sister sweater first (Coat of Many Colors which is the sweater on the cover below). Only after considering the yarn, and, again, being influenced by a smart club member who was miles ahead of me in the creative thinking process, did I realize the genius of these yarns meeting this sweater. So, they are headed for the knitting altar and will be joined together in what I can only hope will be sweatered bliss. I feel honored to be involved and hope to be enveloped in a load of handspun BFL wonder....and I get a rainbow, too. I know, who's the lucky one, here? Me, surely it is me.

This all brings me to this book, where this sweater was born and planted itself into my consciousness. We have to talk about this book, even though I'm sort of the donkey wearing the pinned on tail in the story. I love circular sweaters. I love their drape, the swing, the ultimately figure flattering nature of their shape. Truly, take any sized woman with any combination of bumps and lumps and curves and put a circular sweater on her and - voila! You have unleashed a temptress! But, I have to admit that I made an assumption when I first saw this book. Well, not really saw the book but the online book seller's 'pictures' of this book. I assumed what I'd also assumed about rainbows when I first set out to dye this colorway - rainbows, swirly circular knits - they've been done. They cannot be reinvented. I've dyed dozens of different versions of rainbows in my near decade of being a fiberista (I know, how did it get that long so quick?) I tested. I dyed. I tore my hair out and - then, in the pure release of having given up, Tipsy Leprechauns just 'happened' in my studio. Let me be the first to admit that I am certain that this is NOT what happened with Sandra McIver's book KNIT, SWIRL! 

This is a wheel reinvented. It's not as simple or predictable as a circular knit. It's a shaping concept that allows you custom fit, unique styling, and your own original touch in every single rendition of the circular knit. Also, if you try one of these sweaters on, you should have a sturdy friend beside you. The way the fit will drape instantly across your shoulders and start drawing it's body defining lines to accent your own unique shape is like a spell in the could forget who you are and immediately adopt the persona of a runway model. That's all fine and great if you are dolled up and ready to go but, if you are all sweaty and at a summer fiber show in the heat of the day with limp, kinky curly hair and lipstick that hasn't been retouched since you set out of the house at 7am and only 1/2 cup of coffee (because you spilled the other half whilst running around setting up your booth like a madwoman) in your bloodstream - it ends up, at best, being comical. At worst, well, it's just kinda pathetic so try to keep your composure and resist the spell. This would be where I thank Natalie for first showing me her copy of the book and a knitter I do not know by name but love for letting me actual WEAR her Knit, Swirl! sweater for a moment. I hope I get to see her again and that, after my behavior, she doesn't run from me so I can rightly say 'thank you'.

I bought the book the next day. It was only an added bonus to read the sleeve cover on the book. It seems that Sandra McIver is my new knit crush. This woman has all the things about a person I love. She jumps into this concept with a combined tenacity and attention to detail that just instantly floods me with admiration. And, she adds those unique styles and adjustments to each pattern and type of swirl that turn the old, antique key in the knitter's mind to unlock a plethora of potential, ideas, and dreams for how to incorporate (insert name of rabidly favorite yarns here) into these projects. Then, there's the fact that she's, obviously, a very driven and creative woman. It may surprise you, but these are the kinds of women I usually feel honored to call my friends. Then, and I fell out of my chair when I realized this - she is a winemaker from the Sonoma region - one of my favorite wine regions. I poured a glass of Sonoma County wine that night and toasted her creative genius.

The photography is stunning. The charting and descriptions are thorough and if you haven't hopped over and bought this book yet, then I just give up. I did. And I spun enough Tipsy Leprechaun to make the sweater.

There were other yarns, honestly there were.  Like, this beauty. 
It's a textured art batt that I created with some sari silk ribbon, sequin and bead/bell additions to it.  The batt itself really doesn't show the rich color transitions in the fiber, the jeweled sparkle that undulates throughout the yarn, and the bits and baubles that were added in with a tensioned ply sort of neatly finishes it. It's all about the ooh and ahhh.

But, after those darned entertaining Tipsy Leprechauns, I feel I cannot do the 'other yarns' justice.  It's as if I just marched out in the first 4 minutes of the circus with the prized animal and paraded it around, then asked everyone to sit for the rest of the show.  Sure, these critters are beautiful.  There are cloudy beehive art yarns, corespun sparkly art yarns, beaded yarns, 3 ply sock yarns, wool silk lace yarns, and plain but beautiful grey fleece yarns for sweaters.  But, you're already picturing those Tipsy Leprechauns dancing around the sidelines of the Tour de France, aren't you?  Me too.  Even in this picture, there's a tricksy Tipsy Leprechaun sneaking in.  Can you see it?

Still, these other yarns are very good yarns.  I love them.  They were created with love and the joy of spinning.  But, well, I'm out of umph for introducing them. 
I just want to crack open the book, poor a glass of Sonoma County Pinot Noir, and start swatching all of these skeins of rainbow love and let the Tipsy Leprechauns take me where they will.  Can you blame me?  I'll be back in a day or two....I can't promise I won't be bringing more Tipsy Leprechauns with me, though.

This last pic just aptly conveys my poor yarn walking attitude.  Crappy cell phone pic ends the parade...."wonk wonk wahhhhhhh" (and all of the clowns fall over). LOL.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 Things About A New Start....

I wouldn't even know where to start this post. But, the beauty of that is that it is the first post - so simple, sweet, and a fresh start will be better than fumbling through floods of explanations:

 1. It's been almost 2 years since I've been tending a blog - 3 if you count the last year being spotty at best. Some fires you just can't rekindle. Sometimes, it's best to start with new materials, refined skills, and a fresh perpsective.

2. Spammers suck really bad. They take advantage of your blog when your life is in great tumult and change and, once they stick their teeth in you, it is virtually impossible to get them to let go. I have released the old Farm-Witch blog on the 'other hosting' site to said parasites. Go and enjoy yourselves - that domain is dead and that ground is infertile, the joy of it being permanently sucked away by those who like to take a creative outlet and turn it into the epitome of unkind behavior. If you subscribe to that old feed, I am sorry for all of the spam. I tried, I really did. Please delete that feed and re-subscribe to this blog.

 3. There are times when you walk away from something for good reasons, but find your way back to it when it has obviously changed for the better. I'm glad to be back with Blogger. I'm comfortable, here. And, to write this blog properly, that is essential.

 4. Sometimes, a ripple makes long lasting vibrations, but, sometimes a large splash has long lasting ripples. Life has changed a lot for my family in the last few years - leaving the farm, saying goodbye to sheep after 14 years as a shepherd, and watching my kiddos grow into beautiful adults who value their privacy and need me to respect that, in spite of my writings. It was hard not to just give in to the change and silence myself entirely. I needed the splashing to stop, time to enjoy the peaceful letting go of the ripples, and find my own feet before returning to a public forum where I can share MY creative endeavors, wacky living, and tangled times with you without infringing on the privacy of these human WIPs that I'm finishing up:)

5. In the mess of chaos, there is total simplistic clarity. All of those changes, while not so fun in the process, have made life much simpler, and in doing so, reminded me of why this blog came about in the first place - a place to share the art, the love of all things yarny - and a few recipes, peeks into crafting a homemade life. So, this I promise you - this will be the last time I come to you apologizing about the length of time between posts. We'll simply pick up, move on, and sink our teeth into serious yarn love.
How about we start tomorrow? With some Tour de Fleece sharing and a whole lotta looking forward? I'll make coffee and cookies for us, too. Would I be me if I didn't give you at least a little yarn love in this post? Think of this lot of beehives as my captcha to prove this really is me - LOL.