Learning

  • Field Trip! Kathy of Wynham Farms with gotmygoat Goes to Africa

    I am delighted to share this guest blog post from Kathy Martin of Wynham Farms. Kathy raises Angora goats in Sequim, WA and she recently took a trip of a lifetime! Grab a cup of tea and enjoy a few moments of armchair traveling through Africa, visiting fiber farms, mills and weavers.

    So here I am, a semi-retired fiber farmer and fiber artist, thinking that my travelling days were relegated  to sane, safe stateside trips when Linda Cortright of Wild Fibers Magazine created a tour that could not be ignored: Angora goat farms, a mohair mill, a silk farm, sisal weavers, mohair weavers along with the beauty of the land and wildlife in South Africa and Swaziland. Could I challenge myself to 40+ hours of travel from WA state to another hemisphere? Could I leave my Angora goat farm, Great Danes, spinning wheels, triangle looms and comfort for the relative unknown?

    Swaziland Dancers.

    First, I should explain that Linda Cortright is not just the owner/journalist of a prime periodical, but she is a world traveler who meticulously checks out the potential journeys for Wild Fibers’ tours. Her small groups of 10-12 travelers enjoy safety, adventure, history, other cultures, fine lodgings – all of which she has researched and visited ahead of time. I had joined Linda on her first tour to the Falkland Islands in 2015 so I knew I would be well taken care of.

    This 15-day tour started out in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, close to the very tip of the continent. The group of 11 visited the Nelson Mandela Textile Arts Centre with interesting displays of  African weavings and beadwork.

    95 kg mohair bump

    On to the showroom of Mohair South Africa Ltd which produces ~50% of the world’s mohair, obviously dedicated to the advancement of the mohair industry. I have to interject with a link to a video “Mohair South Africa, Weaving Stories for a Lifetime”.  The video was filmed mostly at Wheatlands, a vast working farm that is steeped in 8 generations of family history which we called home for 2 nights. Prior to Wheatlands we visited Erekroon, a smaller farm of 17,000 acres (!) with about 1,000 Angora goats and 500 Merino sheep. Be still, my heart!

    While in Port Elizabeth we also visited a mohair processing mill. The scouring conveyor belt and the water conservation systems were impressive. There were hundreds of barrels full of freshly carded mohair. It would’ve been hard to sneak out some when the bumps alone weigh 95 kg (210 pounds). The spinning/weaving buildings on site were very high tech with tests being run on the yarns as they were being spun and with onsite laboratories to further test quality. I understood the quality control necessary after hearing that their custom orders were placed by fashion industry’s leaders such as Chanel. Glad they had an outlet with Oddments which I could afford!

    One of Adele's Ladies inspecting yarn.

    I will jump ahead here past the awesome hikes and unique landscapes of the Karoo, formed millions of years ago. Onto the awesomeness of Adele’s Mohair, a designer extraordinaire of knitting yarns. Adele ventured into the industry in 1983, educating and employing the rural women of the Xhosa tribe, and keeping in mind sustainability of the land. Again, be still my heart!

    Our next fiber related visit was at the Piggs Peak Craft Centre in Swaziland where we were welcomed by native dancers. The craft center not only had roadside shelters for smaller entrepreneurs but also housed the showrooms for Coral Stephens Weaving and for Tintsaba, both endeavors aimed at educating and employing local, rural women. We were honored to tour the studios of both art houses.

    Sisal baskets.

    Tintsaba Master Weavers showed us how their amazing baskets, home décor and jewelry are made from Sisal. The agave plants producing Sisal fibers grow wild and are harvested by industrious women who must have fingers of Superwoman strength. After stripping the leaves and drying the fibrous strands, the dyeing is done in rustic wood burning vats. These lovely women shared their trade in a special workshop with the Wild Fibers’ group, teaching us that their skills were not learned overnight. I will not be hired.

    Coral Stephens Weaving Studio uses mohair, raffia, cotton and silk to make outstanding home décor items, drapes, carpets and tapestries. We watched the labor intensive picking and hand carding of the mohair prior to spinning using pieced-together spinning wheels some of which might have been bicycles in their earlier days. The yarn is then dyed in wood burning, huge pots using very scientific measurements so that there are enough skeins of one colorway for their extra large weavings. One room alone must have had over 20 enormous looms, manual not machine driven.

    Coral Stephens curtains.

    The last of our fiber tours was taken at the African Silk Farm after spending several days on game drives. The farm grows its own mulberry leaves to feed the worms and macadamia nuts to feed its visitors. There were several outbuildings with windows for our viewing pleasures: moths into eggs into caterpillars into cocoons. I was pleased to see how easy they made it seem to gently cut the cocoon, releasing the live larvae to continue its life, and then winding the silk strands before spinning. What lovely garments and bedding tempted us!

    The 15 days sped by in a whirlwind of fibers and African wild animals seen without cages or moats. A truly Wild Fiber adventure which I consider my Trip of a Lifetime.

    I learned so much and am so thankful to Kathy for sharing her adventure with us. Africa is not a destination that I immediately associate with fiber! If you want to get some mohair of your own, or explore Kathy's shop full of locks and handspun yarn, you can find  Wynham Farms with gotmygoat on FiberCrafty!

  • When you own a business, you are in sales.

    Do you consider yourself to be in sales? You might say no but if you are a small business owner, the reality is that you ARE in sales! You are also in customer service, marketing, product design, and a host of other roles but today let’s talk about wearing that sales hat.

    I know what you are thinking. Salespeople have an undesirable reputation. Some salespeople are definitely less ethical but that isn’t the norm. When you boil down the basics of sales it is helping to connect people, based on their wants or needs, with the right products or services. That’s not such a bad thing!

    I have to put myself out there, too! This is me! Hi!

    I spent over 20 years in a successful professional sales role before I started my business, fibercrafty.com. I learned a lot selling software and while software is completely different from hand-dyed yarn and fiber, the basics of selling are the same. In this post, I’m sharing two of the most important rules to consider and practice in the sales efforts of your business. These are relatively common sense but often hard to remember to do.

    Rule #1. Be yourself. First and foremost, if you are a single business owner, you ARE your business. You are what sets your business apart from other people. You bring a unique perspective to whatever your product or offering is and you need to let that shine when talking to customers or prospects. Tell your story! Why should people buy from you? What makes your shop special? People buy from who they know and trust. If you have a hard time with this, ask a close friend or family member to help you. Or maybe even a wonderful customer that you have an established relationship with. Ask then what about your business stands out, what makes them buy from you.

    Rule #2. Make it easy for someone to buy from you. This, my friends, is where the rubber

    From a shop on FiberCrafty.

    hits the road. When selling online, people can’t handle your products or see them in person so you need to help them make a decision while online. And you want it to be an easy decision. To make this even more challenging, you have only a matter of seconds to capture and keep their attention. Research is showing that the amount of time you have is gradually getting shorter. In the year 2000, you had 12 seconds. Now, you have 8 seconds. The more steps the customer has to take before buying, the less likely they are to buy. For example, if you didn’t include some information in your listings, such as the size of your bag, a shopper might have to send an email to ask. That is an extra step you don’t want them to take. The good news is, you can anticipate and answer most questions before they are asked.

    We are going to dive into this idea in more detail with the next few posts but for now consider:

    • Are all the details of my product included? Are the attributes complete?
    • Are the pictures clear? Are there pictures showing multiple angles? Are there pictures showing an item to scale?
    • Does my item have variations - if so, can they be selected with a menu choice or do they have to contact me separately? In some cases they will need to contact you, but if there is a way around it - make it easy! (FiberCrafty is adding an internal messaging system in the update to help with this.)
    • Did you proofread your listing for spelling? This can affect products showing up in searches.
    • Did you check your listing for accuracy? (especially if you have copied an existing listing)

    Take a look at your listings and your shop through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Maybe you have a friend who can help you by reviewing it. Are there unanswered questions? Are there ANY barriers that would make clicking “add to cart” a step away? This is truly a situation where over-providing some information can be helpful.

    From a shop on FiberCrafty.

    How does it feel to explore your shop? Does it feel well curated? Are the photos of products on similar backdrops? Or does it feel like a disarray. Think about walking through a brick and mortar shop. Some shops are a delight to browse and walk through. And there are others that feel cluttered and disorganized. Online shops can create these same feelings.

    Working to create a shop that feels curated and like it was built with care will make it far more likely for shoppers to browse. Well written listings with anticipated questions answered, will make it far more likely for shoppers to click Add to Cart and Checkout, which is the ultimate goal.

    If you are not a FiberCrafty shop owner and you want to continue to learn how to curate your online shop for the fiber community, let me know! Not all posts in this series will be posted publicly on the blog. 

    What advice would you give someone about how to help their customers say yes? Comment below and share! In the yarn and fiber industry, we are fortunate to all benefit when we put community above competition.

  • Knitting Math: Calculating Cast on Stitches

    Please check out the companion video to this blog post!

    I was planning a rectangular shawl project called Mini Bubbles but I wanted to make it wider and knit it horizontally, rather than vertically. Fortunately, someone had already knit the same shawl using the same yarn and was kind enough to include enough information that I was able to use for my calculations.

    The other knitter cast on 123 stitches and her finished measurement was 31" wide.  I wanted

    These are some of the bubbles that I have opened.

    my shawl to be closer to 54 inches wide. This is a shawl that will be heavily blocked so I knew there is a little wiggle room on the width.

    First I needed to determine her gauge, or stitches per inch. The standby, of course, is to knit a gauge swatch. But for a shawl where measurements don't need to be exact, I am using the existing project's stitches per inch information.

    Stitches per Inch Formula: Total # of Stitches/Total # Inches = # Stitches per Inch

    She cast on 123 stitches and the finished project was 31" wide.  Using the formula, I calculated the following: 123 stitches/31 inches = 3.97 stitches per inch

    Total Stitches Needed Formula: Stitches per Inch X Desired Inched = Total Stitches Needed

    I want my shawl to be about 54 inches wide so I needed to use this next formula and figure out how many stitches are needed: 54 Inches X 3.97 Stitches per Inch = 214.38 Stitches

    Knowing that I need to round the number to the nearest whole number (I won't be casting on .38 stitches) and the pattern for the shawl has a certain number of stitches, I needed to do some more math!

    My pattern repeat is a Multiple of 15 plus a fixed number of 18 stitches. The 18 stitches is only counted one time but the rest of the stitches need to be divisible by 15. For example: 15 + 18 = 33 30 + 18 = 48 45 + 18 = 63 ? + 18 = 214.38* We need to figure out how many multiples of 15 are needed. * We will drop the .38 because we rounded down.

    Refined Total Stitches Formula: Total Number of Stitches - Fixed Number of Stitches = ?/15 = Approximate Multiplier

    214 - 18 = 196 196/15 = 13.06*

    Final Total Stitches Formula: Multiplier x Pattern Repeat Multiple = Pattern Repeat Number of Stitches Pattern Repeat Number of Stitches + Fixed Number of Stitches = Final Total Number Stitches

    Now we can determine that 13 x 15 = 195 + 18 = 213 Stitches.

    Quick Check Formula: # of stitches to cast on /# stitches per inch = Should Equal Original measurement goal

    To do a quick check, let's divide 213 by our original Stitches Per Inch Calculation. We should Get something close to 54 inches, my original goal.

    213 / 3.97 = 53.65

    Looks great!

     

  • Knowing How You Learn

    Do you listen to the podcast Teaching Your Brain to Knit? I really enjoy it and find the “brainy” aspects of the podcast fascinating.  One topic often referenced in the podcast is different types of learners. If you aren’t familiar, there are several primary types of learners: Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic. I am a visual learner, but it’s funny how even though I am aware of that, I didn’t take it into consideration recently. I was trying to learn a new bind off and it took several resources before I found that one that made it crystal clear to me. It was a somewhat frustrating experience but also there were some really good takeaways and reminders about how my learning style is important. 

    The original hat. I should have used my Gleaner on this!

    Around Thanksgiving, I cast on a cowl to match a hat that I made several years ago. The plan to make this cowl has been in place for too long (since I made the hat) and I decided to stop putting it off. The yarn is Madeline Tosh Vintage in the Tart colorway and I bought it years ago on a business trip in Chicago.  

     

    I came up with the pattern for the hat myself but was feeling lazy and decided to look around for a complimentary pattern for the cowl. Almost immediately I found the Classic Cowl by Purl Soho which was PERFECT. It uses the same stitch pattern in the hat all the design work was done for me!

    The cowl pattern suggests a tubular cast on and this seemed like a good opportunity to learn a new technique for me.  I didn’t have any problems with the cast on and love the way it looks. I love it so much, that when I cast on a pair of Connectivity Gloves soon after, I decided to use a Tubular Cast on and Bind off.

    Isn't this a pretty cast on edge?

    Now… the gloves only have 36 stitches around. The Cowl has over 200. 212 to be exact. Here is where the lessons started kicking in.

    I needed to bind off the first glove so I went back to the cowl pattern to find the tubular bind off tutorial.  As I worked the bind off, it just didn’t seem right to me so I stopped and picked it out.  So then I went to my own bookshelf and grabbed my Cast On, Bind Off book (which, by the way, is not a book that I really love… I don’t find the directions very clear).  I took a look at the directions in the book and was confused because there were several variations of tubular bind off. So I poked around the internet for another tutorial and found one that looked pretty good and forged ahead. Again… it just didn’t look right to me so once again I picked it out. You don’t know what living is until you have picked out 2 tubular bind offs.  

    Once again, I looked for another tutorial. This time I resorted to video and as I watched the first one, I heard angels singing. Seriously. I was like, that’s it?? That’s easy! I got it! From there, I was able to successfully bind off, and it is glorious. 

    I took away a few lessons from this experience. First, by a very happy accident, I don’t have to learn this bind off on my 212 stitch cowl. Can you imagine? The gloves kindof became my practice project and I am so glad for it.  I’m not sure of the full lesson but it might be nice to try unfamiliar techniques on a practice swatch.

    The second lesson was finding the right tutorial for my brain.  I tried 3 different resources before I found the one that clicked for me. But when I found the right one, it was obvious. I am a visual learner. I know this about myself but I tend to favor written directions over video, even though I can better grasp a concept by video! It probably would have been smarter for me to look for a video after that first failed tutorial.

    I am just about done with the gloves and when they are finished, I will spend more time on the cowl because I can’t wait to wear it.  And I am pretty confident that I will nail the bind off.

    Cowl in progress - so squishy.

    I am so close to finishing! Yarn is from Junbug Fibers.

    If you are interested in making the cowl (which I really recommend!) or the gloves, there are some gorgeous worsted weight yarns available in FiberCrafty. The gloves do require Silver Spun yarn from Feel Good Fiber Company but they can be paired with any other wool worsted yarn.

    Happy Learning!

     

  • A Little Gift: Earbud Pocket

    A few years ago I saw a pattern for an earbud pouch and knew I needed to make it. In my house with one teenager and one almost teenager, they are essential. My husband and I also use them a lot. This is perfect for a quick gift, something that can be used and a stash buster!

    This is the first I made with minor mods.

    I made the Earbud Pouch by Mary Keenan. In the last few weeks the link to the pattern changed to Unavailable but it is actually still out there (you can find it on my project page, as of now the link works). The only mod I made was to cast on bottom up instead of from the cuff. I had a limited bit of yarn and wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run out.

    After using the pouch for a bit, I realized I wanted to make some tweaks. I wanted it to be a tiny bit roomier and bottom of the pouch to be wider but still have a gentle curve for aesthetics.

    A side by side comparison, original on the left, modified on the right.

    Here is the end result. It takes very little yarn and knits up quickly! I used fingering weight yarn but really any yarn would work. I suspect I will be making this again with worsted or DK and will report back, of course. That might need some stitch number changes. If you haven’t tried the Turkish Cast On, this is a great time to learn something new! If you mess up you haven’t lost much since the project is small. Unless of course you are scrambling to get final gift knitting done, stick with what you know. I haven’t decided if I prefer it to Judy’s Magic Cast on but I find it easier to remember.

    Earbud Pocket

    You can see the slight difference in shape.

    It's about 3" wide and 2 3/4" tall.

    You need about 6 grams or 20 yards of fingering weight yarn. Size US1 or US1.5 circular needles

    Setup: Using magic loop* and Judy’s Magic Cast On OR the Turkish Cast On, cast on 44 stitches (22 on each needle).

    Increase Rounds: Round 1: K Round 2: K1, M1R, K to 1 stitch on needle, M1L, K1. Repeat on second needle. Repeat rounds 1 and 2 three times total until 56 stitches are on the needles.

    Knit every round for 1 inch.

    Decrease rounds: Round 1: K1, SSK, K to 3 stitches on the needle, K2tog, K1. Repeat on second needle. Round 2: K Repeat rounds 1 and 2 four times total until 40 stitches are on the needles.

    Cuff and Bind Off: Every round: K2, P2 across needle ending on K2. Repeat on second needle. Repeat for a total of 6 rounds. Bind Off using suspended bind off in pattern (meaning knit each knit stitch and purl each purl stitch). Weave in ends.

    *If you prefer to use DPNs instead of magic loop, divide the stitches across 4 DPN needles (11 on each at cast on) and use a marker for beginning of round. End of Needle refers to the end of the 2nd needle.

    The modified pocket!

    I hope that you will enjoy this little pattern! I didn’t  test this pattern so if you need help or clarification in any way, please let me know. It may be that I need to tweak the directions and others will benefit too.

    One final comment, I first heard about this pattern on the One Twisted Tree blog, written by Danie, which I remembered but not the details.  I went back and looked at that post after writing this and realized that, without intention, my mods and "pattern" were extremely similar to those that Danie made! So, hats off to the original designer and a thank you to Danie for planting the seed. Great minds think alike!

    Knit and Rock on!

  • FiberCrafty Field Trip! Shepherd's Gate Fiber Mill

    A couple of weeks ago, a local spinning group took a tour of a nearby fiber processing mill. We met at Shepherd’s Gate Fiber Mill in Louisburg, NC and it was such a fun experience! I learned so much about the machinery and what is involved with processing fiber. Shepherd’s Gate is a family owned and operated custom processing mill. They can handle almost any amount of fiber (minimum of 1 pound) and can process the fiber as much or as little as you want. They can also process different types including wool, alpaca and others.

     

    Alesia Moore and her mom, Ann Payne, were at the mill when we arrived. Early in 2017, Alesia found out about a processing mill in South Carolina that was closing. After talking with Ann and her dad, Dan, they decided to invest in and purchase all the equipment, which they moved to Louisburg, NC. The move was in March 2017 so it hasn’t been very long!

    Alesia shows us the tumbler.

    Alesia recommends that any fiber brought in be skirted in advance - this is done by removing the bits of fiber that should not be included in the final product. Once a fleece or fiber is received, it goes in the tumbler which looks a little like a giant Bingo wheel. The tumbler tosses the fiber and allows small bits, vegetable matter and other debris to fall out. After the fiber is tumbled, Ann washes the fiber to help remove lanolin and excess dirt. From there, the fiber is arranged on large drying trays and allowed to dry.

    The picker is next and it’s a machine that opens up the fibers. In goes rather clumpy locks and bunches of fiber. It is pulled through teeth and separated into a lofty and fluffy cloud. If needed, the fiber goes into the separator which helps pull out guard hairs and other short bits of fiber. Alesia said that it is very helpful in removing vegetable matter as well and she finds that most fiber benefits from a trip through.

    All of these steps get the fiber clean and prepped to be processed into their final form. From here the fiber can go through the carder to create roving or batts. If the customer wants roving or batts the process ends here. Otherwise the roving can go to the pin drafter which creates pencil roving. The fiber is often passed through two times and each pass combs and drafts the fiber 2.5 times. This helps to even out any thick and thin spots in the fiber and it is ready for spinning. Again, if the customer wants pencil roving, the process can stop here, or… it can go on to the spinner where it is spun into singles and then plied into yarn. Alesia and Ann can also custom dye the final product if desired.

    Now, this process is already lengthy but add into this the following considerations. Alesia and Ann have to clean each and every machine in between every batch of fiber. They also have meticulous notes and documentation throughout the mill allowing them to keep track of each individual batch of fiber in terms of who it belongs to, how it is to be processed and what it is. Many of the batches include custom blends whether is it to add another fiber type or blend colors. Everything done in the mill is managed individually and Alesia and Ann who are very hands on. I was overwhelmed by the level of organization they have to maintain (and I’m the kindof girl who likes some organization!)

    I have been very tempted by some of the fleeces available in the FiberCrafty shops but I don’t want to process them myself. Knowing that there is a mill very close by to me that will take care of all the prep involved makes it a doable project!

    I am so thankful that Alesia and Ann invited us to tour the mill. It was a very educational and fun afternoon and I appreciated seeing what goes into preparing and processing the fiber. If you are interested in reaching out to them, I am sure they would appreciate helping you. All of their pricing is listed on their website and they also provide relevant information for preparing your fleece. If you ever have the opportunity to tour a fiber mill, I encourage you to go!

  • Detour: Pouf Making

    Spoiler Alert! Finished Pouf!

    Are you ever plodding along, happy with your current projects and then all of a sudden you are taking a detour?

    I mentioned previously that my desk is a little tall and I am a little short and I need something underneath to rest my feet on. Otherwise they dangle like I am a 4 year old.

    I decided to crochet a pouf with some acrylic that I have in my stash. Most of this is Knitpicks Brava but some of it is Berocco Comfort. I have enough in colors that go nicely together and that match my office, that I decided to make something stripey.

    Crochet is not my thing. I enjoy it but I also have to work harder at it. I am not as comfortable with crochet as I am with knitting. But… I do have a sense of adventure and am willing to figure things out. After searching for crochet pouf patterns on ravelry, I kept coming up empty handed. They were either too big or too tall. I liked the look of this one but I was looking for more control in the size while knowing that with my limited crochet experience, I wasn’t going to be heavily modifying any patterns. I also didn’t want to purchase any yarn and everything I have is worsted. After all my searching, I decided to crochet 2 circles, one each for the top and bottom, and one strip that would form the walls of the pouf. I exclusively used double crochet (DC) except for joining when I used single crochet.

    First circle done!

    Craftsy has a blog with a “crochet a flat circle” tutorial which was very helpful. I used this for the top and bottom and since I wanted to use DC, I started with 12 stitches.

    Now, towards the bottom of this tutorial, they show examples of things that can do wrong, like the wavy potato chip circle. That’s what mine did. I didn’t care though. I assumed that once I seamed and stuffed my pouf, it will “block” right out. No one has ever regretted that path of thought, right? My stitch count was 100% on track so I suspect my gauge is just off enough to give me the waves.

    I used several other tutorials to help me with this project. The Magic Ring, Neat Join for closing a round and adding a new color after a neat join (standing double crochet).

    Soooo close to finishing.

    When all the strip was almost finished, I used locking stitch markers to evenly attach it to the top and bottom circles. I needed to crochet a few more rows and when finished I joined the top and bottom circles to the strip. I wish I had taken more pictures at this point but I was DONE and ready to move on.

    The other side!

    After I finished seaming, I started stuffing. I had some shredded memory foam on hand and quite a bit of it. A while back, Scott and I got new pillows and they were too stuffed so I had opened the seam and removed some stuffing. I used all of that and then some polyfill. Once it was stuffed enough, I used single crochet to join the ends of the strip together.

    I actually really love how this turned out. It is really cute, functional and I found everything I needed around the house.

    Lessons Learned (there are always lessons, right?):

    In use!

    Should’ve lined it. There are little bits of shredded foam peeking out. I did consider getting an old pillowcase and stuffing that inside and then stuffing the case but I thought “Nah!”. I might have benefitted from going down a hook size to make the fabric a little more dense but it doesn’t bother me. Projects are never as fast in the real world as I think they will be. I must be delusional because I tell myself, oh, I’ll just whip that right out, it won’t take but a few days, a week tops! Will I ever learn? Stick around to find out.

    Overall, I’m going to call it a win! What do you think? Do you ever totally abandon the plans you have and veer of course for a detour?

  • Fixing Mistakes

    We all have that little voice in our heads. You know the one… It is so easy to tune out or brush aside.  I have made it a personal goal to actually listen when I hear it, but it doesn’t always work. Especially when I’m knitting.

    See that section that's a little too wide?

    I have been working on the Imagine When shawl by Joji Locatelli. I have had this in my queue for a long time and was finally able to cast on. The handspun I'm using and the pattern seems to be a perfect pairing.  Without giving anything away… the shawl is worked in sections and there are evenly spaced eyelet rows.  I had finished one section and was moving on to the next but it just didn’t look right. The spacing between the eyelet rows seemed too large.  I decided to look at a picture and thought, well, it will all work out. (you have never said that to yourself while knitting have you…) Sure enough, a few rows later, I realized I had started knitting section 3 and switched to section 4 of the pattern! No wonder it didn’t look right! One of the biggest challenges for new knitters, is finding and fixing mistakes so documenting this process seemed like a helpful task.

    Once I have figured out there is a mistake that needs to be fixed, I follow this general process. This might not be for everyone but fixing mistakes is a chore and I should clarify that I mostly use this process on garter or stockinette. If it is lace, that’s a whole different story.

    Find the last known correct row. In this case, the pattern is a 12 row repeat and I made a mistake on row 7 of the pattern. So I needed to rip back to row 6. To find row 6, I look for a row that has an easily identifiable pattern or increase and count from there.  In this example, the last correct row with eyelets was row 7.  So I found the top of an eyelet and counted from Row 7-12 and then 1-6 to find row 6 (remember this is a 12 row pattern). I counted twice, just to make sure.  Row 6 is where I need to rip back to.

    Find the last known correct row, put on your readers and start counting.

    Pick up the right leg of each stitch. The blocking pins are just holding the fabric for the picture.

    Pick up stitches on last correct row. I prefer not to rip back and have a lot of live stitches so I take another needle, or use the same one my project is on, and pick up the right leg of each stitch across the row.  Usually this is not difficult but sometimes because of stitch patterns, there can be a few stitches that are harder to read. But if you have 110 stitches and you can grab 107 correctly, that’s a win!  If there are stitches that are “wonky”, I might mark them with a stitch marker.

    Rip back, carefully. Remember that some stitches are harder to read? Sometimes there are some issues, perhaps you picked up a stitch in the row below or above. Perhaps the yarn got caught under the needle cable. You can use stitch markers to catch any precarious loops or mark issues to address in the next step.

    Sometimes the yarn gets caught under the cable.

    Check your stitches. For my own mental health, take a few extra minutes and just slip each stitch from the left to the right needle.  This way I can catch any twisted stitches or other issues that need to be corrected. It doesn’t take long and helps prevent other potential issues.

    I should clarify that before I embark on this process, I try to make sure there is enough time to finish, have stitch markers on hand and the ability to focus.

    How about you? Do you like to live on the edge and just rip or do you take a more methodical approach?

  • Building Community

    The world is made up of millions of communities. Each community is like a bubble in that they can cling together forming something larger or join and merge to create one larger bubble. Communities can be tiny or giant.  There can even be communities within communities.

    Let’s look at Ravelry as an example. Ravelry is one big community but it is made up of many other communities. Some of the communities within can be defined as knitters or crocheters. Maybe there is even a community made up of people who knit AND crochet.  There are communities of designers, pattern testers, and tech editors. There are communities of dyers, bag makers, podcasters or fans of podcasts.  There are so many ways to separate and identify communities and, at the same time, even more ways to overlap and combine them.

    A knitting venn diagram!

    Over the last decade, it has become more and more apparent to me that, as individuals, we have the most influence on our own communities.  For example, I can make a difference in my children’s school or by helping with service projects in my city. My vote in local elections carries far more weight than voting in national elections (though I do that, too).  Bringing this back to fiber (because that is why we are all here), I can support fiber arts locally and on the whole. I can buy from my LYS, participate in online discussions, share knowledge with others in local meet ups or by participating in my local knitting guild. I make a conscious effort to support my local fiber festival every year to help ensure vendors return and that the the festival grows. Those are examples of my local communities, but I can also support groups on Ravelry, or independently owned fiber related businesses that are a part of my larger fiber community.

    Creating FiberCrafty has helped me to combine my love of community and my passion for the fiber arts, as well as draw on the skills that I developed in the corporate world. After spending so much time working for a large corporation, I realized how strong my desire was to support my passion and make a difference for independent businesses. As a part of the fiber crafting community, FiberCrafty allows me to provide a channel for indie businesses to build their businesses.  As an added bonus, many times these are women-owned business and give me a way to support them, that I might not otherwise have.

    Ultimately, FiberCrafty becomes it’s own community with business owners and customers. Together we help raise awareness of different businesses, different products, different types of fibers, we can even share patterns, tips and other resources. I look forward to the day when the FiberCrafty community can help give back through micro donations that add up, or charity craft-alongs.

    What communities are you a part of and passionate about? What role does community play in your life?

  • Learning About Rug Yarn

    When I started down the path of FiberCrafty, I considered myself pretty educated in the fiber world. But as shops started adding products to FiberCrafty, I began seeing things I wasn’t familiar with. Turns out I was pretty educated in my own little corner of the fiber world but not in the fiber world at large.  

    Knitted rug by Julie from Alpacamom.com

    Rug yarn made appearances in the Brigadoon Fiber Farm and Alpacamom.com shops and sparked my curiosity. Then it showed up again in the Wynham Farms with GotMyGoat shop.  I guessed that since I didn’t know much about it, there were others in the same boat. So I started asking questions to see what I could learn.

    It seems obvious, right? Its RUG yarn. But what does that mean?  It means it is really ideal for sturdy, heavy duty projects like rugs (told you!), pillow coverings, large blankets, poufs (you have probably seen those knitted floor cushions or foot rests), totes or baskets. It uses much larger needles or hooks or can also be woven.

    Crocheted pouf by Kathy at Wynham Farms

    Julie of Alpacamom.com provided a really great description.

    “Rug yarns are spun around a cotton or jute core and they are considered "core spun" which means that the fibers are literally wrapped around the core and not traditionally plied. Because of that, the fibers don't have to be uniform in length or micron and that's why a lot of growers use their lower grade fibers for rug yarn. They can be spun with a variety of fibers and the mill I use likes to add a little bit of merino to my alpaca to help hold the slippery fibers in place. The rug yarns that I have aren't suitable to be worn next to the skin. They make wonderfully durable yet soft and comfortable mats and rugs, table runners, baskets and purses. I've knitted it, crocheted it and woven it. If knitting or crocheting you need a pretty big needle...18-50 needles and a "P" hook I think is what I used.”

    Core spun yarns can vary from next to skin and delicate to coarse and rugged and not all core spun yarns are rug yarns. When using rug yarn it is so much bulkier that a 2’x3’ rug might use around 100 yards.  Items made with rug yarn can often be considered easy care and may be vacuumed or shaken or maybe even hosed off.  Kathy, of Wynham Farms with GotMyGoat cautions that it can be harder on your hands and wrists since it is bulky and heavier than mill or handspun yarn.

    Rug being woven by Julie from Alpacamom.com

    It sounds like a very versatile product that opens new doors for creating things!  I would love to make a small poof to use as a footrest under my desk. If you have ever used rug yarn, what did you make with it? Share pictures in the Facebook Group or on Instagram! If you have never used it, does this give you some ideas? Let us know what you would make!

    Knitted rug by Kathy at Wynham Farms

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