Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

30. March 2009 12:59
by Jobo

Not-So-Secret Knitting Society...

30. March 2009 12:59 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I don’t know if this makes me a weirdo or not… But I like to knit in public.  Gotta wait for hours at the Doctor’s office?  Car getting an oil change?  Sitting in a waiting room for a job interview?  No problem.  As long as I have needles and wool, I will sit and wait patiently with no worries.  Hours can fly by and I hardly notice. 

People, on the other hand, seem to think this is unusual. 

Women walk by with kids in tow… and the little ones seem to gawk at the sight of the yarn acrobatics going on, as if they have never seen someone knit before.  It isn't much of a foreign concept to me.  I remember watching my Mom and Grandma knit and do various other crafts from a very early age... in fact I'm sure I was taught to knit and crochet before I was 10.  I know I did counted cross stitch projects in the very early nineties... which would put me at 9 or 10.

I was unlucky enough to have to wait the other day to see my family doctor… 3 hours worth of waiting whilst sitting in the most uncomfortable waiting room chairs ever.  The fact that it took so long was rather obnoxious, but the annoyance of the wait was thankfully buffered by the fact that I was able to knit ¾ of a sock while waiting.  And then later in the week, I had a job interview, which I had been a little bit freaked out about in the first place.  (I don’t think anyone enjoys those things… seriously)  So I arrived about a half hour early, as my compulsion to arrive early tends to act up when it comes to important/stressful events - and then entertained and calmed myself simultaneously by finishing the last few rows on a pair of plain-vanilla homespun socks.

What always amuses me though, is the reaction of others to the fact that a 20-something, not unattractive woman, is sitting across from them unabashedly holding a cable needle gingerly in her teeth while she completes a pattern row on a nearly completed pair of patterned socks... 

Some people glance and look away.  Some people try to appear as though they didn't notice... but  you can catch them stealing peeks.  Children are fun because they are really honest, and fearless.  I had a little girl ask me one time what I was doing... Knitting a pair of mittens, I told her.  She said, "Oh, Okay!" and then went back to flipping the pages of her picture book, but not before grabbing one of her own mittens (that had fallen onto the floor) and carefully inspecting every inch of them first.

Then all of a sudden from among the non-yarnies... a friendly voice pipes up... "Nice toe-up sock... I've been wanting to try that technique!" or "Nice Yarn... is that homespun?"  or "Nice cables!  I haven't done those in years"... it is the voice of a comrade-in-yarns - another member of the Not-So-Secret Knitting Society.  Once you're in, You're In.  Once you've been bitten by the knitting bug, you really can't help yourself.

You can always spot another knitter across the room, even if they aren't holding needles, because you can tell that they understand.  Not everyone knits in public, but those who like knitting usually also like talking about it.  I know myself, if I see someone else working on something interesting, I can't keep my mouth shut.  I know how good it feels for someone to appreciate my creativity, and I like to pass it on to others too.  It only takes a second to say... Hey whatcha making?

As I got up from the table at my interview the other day, I accidentally kicked over my purse... and my semi-completed green and black socks slid out onto the floor.  I tried to ignore the spill for a moment, and shook hands with all the panel members one last time, then bent down to pick up my stuff.  The room was almost empty... just one woman left.  I said "Thanks again, and Bye" as I got up and turned to leave... "Great looking socks..." she said.

Another member, right where I least expected ;)


Have keys... have wallet... have yarn.... will travel!

24. March 2009 12:48
by Jobo

Did you know... 2009 is the International Year of Natural Fibres?

24. March 2009 12:48 by Jobo | 11 Comments

I know, I'm a little behind in the times... someone who is in love with fiber as I am should have been all over this sooner!  But anyways here it is:

Pretty much every year the United Nations designates a special/important/relevant topical theme to the Year with the goal of encouraging the world to take notice of important issues - and hopefully draw attention and prompt discussions about these issues that affect the whole world as we know it.  Some of the past "Year of the" titles include:  

     1971 International Year for Action to Combat Racism & Racial Discrimination    

     1979 International Year of the Child

     1981 International Year of Disabled Persons

     1987 International Year of Shelter for the Homeless

     1993 International Year for World’s Indigenous People

     1996 International Year for the Eradication of Poverty

A lot of the yearly designations have been focussed on major social, economic and human rights issues, but in the past 10 years, have also focused on agricultural issues (i.e. last year 2008, being the International Year of the Potato - a little near and dear to me as one of my little island home's main exports is Potatoes) and cultural and health issues (i.e.2005 was the International Year for Sport and Physical Education,  2002 was the International Year of Culture Heritage)

This year - Is the International Year of Natural Fibres. (see here for a really interesting website all about this)

I really hadn't thought all that much about the real value of natural fibres, and how important they are to basically every culture in the world.  Myself, knitting and spinning is a pass-time and a hobby.  They don't pay the bills, or provide me with sustinance or shelter.  But for some, processing natural fibre is an absolute necessity - a way to clothe oneself, or make a living.  I also hadn't considered the fact that in a lot of areas of manufacture, synthetic fibres are becoming replacements for these traditional ones, and world economies are changing, some are suffering too.  

The goals of this Year, copied directly from the website:

     ** Raise awareness and stimulate demand for natural fibres;

     ** Promote the efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibres industries;

     ** Encourage appropriate policy responses from governments to the problems faced by natural fibre industries;

     ** Foster an effective and enduring international partnership among the various natural fibres industries. 

For those of you who maybe aren't as obsessed as I am with natural fibre... here are some examples:
Wool:  sheep, angora, goat, canine, bison... and many others 

Silk:  from silkworms... who make cocoons of wound super strong smooth fibre

Flax:  long strong fibres from a plant... processed into linen fabric 

For more examples and information,  please check out the official website for the International Year of Natural Fibres


Also, in honour of such an interesting and exciting event, is giving away 3 copies of a new book:

     Shear Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn by Joan Tapper and Gale Zucker. 

Please go to their website to check it out!


Laterz... Fiber-Peeps!  

Jobo ouuuut.

21. March 2009 12:28
by Jobo

Captain Corriedale... and The Quest for Perfect Hand-Spun Sock Yarn

21. March 2009 12:28 by Jobo | 2 Comments

I have been sitting on a bunch of Superwash Corriedale handpainted rovings I bought about a year ago... when I was just starting to spin.  I have 2 braids of 4 oz each "Sun Ray", and a Navy blue Coordinating BFL roving of about 4 oz that I purchased from Squoosh.

I was afraid to use them at first... because of course as a new spinner, I didn't want to "Ruin" the good stuff during the learning process.  I know thats a silly view to have on things, but I know I'm not alone in that way of thinking.  I read a post on Ravelry the other day about someone else worried about ruining a perfectly good roving by not knowing what to do with it exactly.  Well, since I have been at this a year, I figured the time has come...

My  plan is to divide each yellow braid into sections and spin in long stretches of colour, then 3-ply it to make some superwash sock yarn.  My spinning has been getting better lately, more even and more consistent, so I am able to produce much more useable yarns.  I love knitting socks, so I think sock yarn was the natural choice here.

I hear that for spinning sock yarn, BFL and Corrie are considered to be good choices because: 

     * Longer wool staple

     *A little coarser fiber

I mean seriously, if you are going to all the trouble of spinning the wool, and then knitting socks with it, you want to make sure that the finished socks are at least somewhat durable in the end.  I'd be pretty sour if I got them done, wore them twice, and wore the heel out of them or something. This is a superwash fiber also, so less likely to felt or get ruined during the washing process.  I often worry that a homemade sock will accidentally make it into the dryer and get completely shrunken beyond recognition.

This fiber, though a little coarser than the Merino I have been using lately, is really really soft and squooshy (the supplier didn't lie on that one :P)  And the colours are mostly butter/lemon yellow hues with a few splashes of Blue and green (where the blue and yellow mix of course)  I'm not sure If I will use only the yellow braids, or mix in some of the plain blue braid, or maybe one of the 3 plies as completely blue. I haven't quite decided yet.  I might just spin up a bunch of the yellow first and see what it looks like.  Generally my plan changes on the fly... especially when it comes to spinning it seems.

From the reading I have done it seems that to make an ideal sock yarn, you also want to have: 

     * Worsted spinning (not Woolen)

     * tightly spun singles with lots of twist

     * multiple plies, because more plies yields more strength and durability

Naturally, since this preparation is "top" and all the fibers are already nicely aligned - worsted was a no brainer.  No fluffy airy yarns for these socks!

Also, as I am spinning this up I am trying to add a bit more twist than I usually would, to get a more solid single, and hopefully a more solid and practical yarn.  This is kind of funny to be working on, since all along I have been trying to put in less spin!  My first yarns were very much overspun and almost wiry, so I was trying to learn to lighten up the spin to achieve softer loftier yarns.  I guess it's true how we have to learn and unlearn our so called bad habits.  I have been trying so hard to spin smoother thinner singles, I probably couldn't spin a thick bumpy one if I tried.  Someday when I want to make novelty or thick and thin yarns, I will have to learn all over again to make those newbie errors that it took me so long to forget!

I chose 3-ply simply because I have done this before and it seems to work out okay for me.  I think if I were to try for 4-ply my singles are still a little too fat.  I think after more practice though I could handle this.  The last 3-ply sock yarn I did was nice, and I am having fun working on a mystery project with them (to be posted when finished and photographed).  I also decided against using a Navajo 3-ply after reading the opinions of several Ravellers who mentionned that Navajo doesn't seem to stand up to wear as well since the 3 plies are running back and forth up the shaft of the yarn, not all in the same direction like traditional 3-ply.  I have made socks with navajo plied yarn, and I didn't find any problems, but they are nowhere near being worn out yet... so who knows.  I have lots of time to work on this project, and could definetly use some practice with multiple ply yarns, so I will consider this a kind of experiment as I go.

More pics to come post-spinning :)

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