Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Smorgasbord of Fun Fiber Fotos!

These are my young Maine friends who popped by the island when we were on the 2012 trip. They have sheep now and I plan to hit them up soon for some wool.

Hey Y'all,

First of all-- GREAT NEWS! In my last post, I mentioned that I was trying to win a trip to London. Well guess what? I WON! So now I can send you back a first person report on London knit shops. Can't wait! Thanks a million to those of you who viewed the video that led to my victory.

In other news, my foray deeper and deeper into the world of fiber joyfully continues. One day I swear I am going to wake up and be living the life -- surrounded by livestock and fiber everything. I'm getting closer every day. Herewith, photographic evidence.

If you have fun knit pics, please send them to me at spikegillespie@gmail.com and I'll get them posted.

Another shot of my friends' sheep. They live in Northern Maine and I can't wait to go up there and meet these babies in person. 
This is my Boston Terrier, Rebound. She is sitting on a rag rug crocheted by my fiber artist friend Ann Woodall
I'm saving up to buy an actual travel wheel but until then, I take my non-travel wheel with me when I meet up with my spinning friends. I guess that makes it a travel wheel of sorts.
My friend Sharon the Spinner has a very cool little triangle loom. 
This "yarn" is actually made of sheets torn into strips and tied together. It's what my friend Ann uses to make her rag rugs.
Here's Ann, working on a rug. How she manages this with cats in the house is a mystery to me.
I went to a Fiber Festival in Seguin, Texas last week-- The Yellow Rose Fiber Festival. These places are extremely dangerous for me financially.  
Here's some yarn made of buffalo fluff. 
Alpaca locks. 
My friend Lisa-- I told y'all about her before-- has a great goat farm. Here's her display at the Yellow Rose Fiber Festival.
Here I am with Lisa.
Okay, this machine? It's like a gigantic needle felter.  You can make a rug using it in no time. 
Folks working on giant needle felt projects. 
Hilarious, right? This is the creation of Alisha, whose yarn line, Alisha Goes Around, flies off the shelves like Madam Alexander dolls at Christmastime. (Odd reference, I know, but I used to work at Macy's Christmas Department a thousand years ago and I still remember women fighting over those dolls)
And here she is herself-- Alisha! 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

London Calling

Hey Y'all,
Last post I was talking about how I love it when my worlds collide. Well consider this an unplanned Part II. As it happens, I am knitting a sweater from Vogue Knitting's Fall 2010 Mag, which is titled London Calling. I am also (at least until Sunday, April 28, 2013) in a contest to win a trip for two to London. I will be so pleased if I finish the sweater OR win the trip. If both happen, well then paint me over the moon.

Before I talk about the sweater pattern, let me tell you how you can help me win the trip if you want to be part of Team Spike. All you have to do is watch an extremely silly 29-second video of me sitting in a MINI Cooper. The video was shot at an auto show and a green screen was involved so I appear to be driving (quite dangerously) through London whilst wearing a tiara. Here's a link to the video. (Note: you can't see it on a mobile device.)

So, about the pattern. Funny thing is, I still can't tell if I actually love the sweater. I have a feeling part of my desire to make it involved this subconscious belief I have about a lot of patterns (and clothes in general). That is, if I make/buy a particular garment, simply by putting it on I will look just like the model. Considering I'm 5'5" and typically weigh about fifty pounds more than your basic, too-skinny, 6' tall super model (or even regular knitting model), it's a pretty sure bet (and absolutely sure bet) this won't happen. And yet... I keep making those patterns-- which is fine since I almost always lean toward roomy garments which fit me fine, even if they don't hang on me as see in the picture.

(I still can't get out of my head this one pattern from my first ever ROWAN mag from about ten years ago. I know the real reason I love it is that I am convinced if I make it that it will, like a Calgon Bath Commercial, take me away to the beach where the photo shoot occurred.)

There are other reasons I'm working on this sweater. One is, the pattern stayed in my mind for years after I saw it, which suggests to me... well it suggests that I should definitely consider making it. I think the stripes pulled me in. Then there was an element of supply/demand: I accidentally left my original copy of that issue in Israel in 2010, then ordered another copy and lost that. Absence definitely made the heart grow fonder, and I decided that I couldn't live without the magazine. So I tracked down ANOTHER copy, which I keep close by my side now, so it, too, doesn't disappear. And since I went to so much trouble to get a copy and hold onto it, well darn if I'm not going to make something from it, right?

I've also got a very practical reason for making this sweater, even if it is-- due to the length of it-- going to take me 500 years to finish. It is SO EASY. I mean, an infant could knit this thing. It involves hours upon hours of mindless St, St which, believe it or not, doesn't really bore me. I mean, sometimes it bores me. But for the most part, I can do this sort of knitting under the table during dinner, in the dark at a music show (which I did last night), in the movies (really), and-- just the other night and also in the dark, at a David Sedaris reading. (Aside: He is SO FUNNY and if you like to knit to audiobooks I super highly recommend any of his books. His new one, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, just came out and is super hilarious.) I'm also working on a Cowichan sweater which requires sitting at home, in the light, and concentrating on charts. This simple tunic is a nice balance to that, one that allows me to keep my hands busy and still have a conversation.

I'll know in two days if I won the trip to London. If so, I hope to go over there this summer. And if that all pans out, then I am going to ramp up the stripey sweater over here and try to knock it out before I leave. Or at least finish it on the long flight over. Theme-dressing-- might be corny, but that's fine by me. Just get me to the palace already, and let me be wearing my London sweater while I'm there.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

When My Worlds Joyfully Collide!

Hi Everyone,
I was thinking-- I know a lot of you readers are here regularly (thanks!) but to you newcomers, I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm Spike. I work with Lisa & co to make the Monhegan Island Knitting & Yoga Retreat happen each year. My role-- I maintain this blog, and then the week of the retreat I'm your in-house scribe and photographer, documenting your trip so you can, if you wish, just knit around the clock. I'm always open to ideas for the blog, so if you want to share hints, tips, breaking knitting stories and/or photos of your projects, by all means drop me an email at spikegillespie@gmail.com.

Today I want to tell you about the joyful collisions of my various worlds. In addition to being a writer and a knitter, I'm also a wedding officiant in Austin, TX. Last year on the Monhegan trip, I coincidentally ran into a young couple whose wedding I'd performed a couple of years ago in Texas. That was some fun serendipity.

Recently I did a wedding here in the Hill Country and the bride, Linda, is a crocheter (and knitter) and the author of a couple of cool crochet books. Instead of having a ring pillow for the ring bearer, check out this transportation device:

Photo Copyright Sleeping Owl Photography 2013
The picture at the top of this post is a painting that hangs in the reception hall of another venue I've done weddings at-- I get excited every time I see that picture. And then, in my world of Passionate Reading, I just came to a chapter in Kate Atkinson's new book, Life After Life in which everyone is knitting. And you can tell from the description that it's very likely Atkinson herself is a knitter-- there are too many accurate details for her to have faked such knowledge. This, too, excites me-- encountering knitting in literature and film. It was just brought to my attention that Marilyn Monroe knitted. Check this out:

And then there are times when the knitting connection really casts a wide net. The other day I had coffee with Richard, son of Alison, who is a regular Monhegan attendee. Richard lives here in Austin and he is at the beginning stages of becoming an international superstar with his line of handmade jeans. As in, yes, he sews every pair himself. I had a great time chatting with him about his denim work and his leatherwork and if he ever decides to start a line of Mom Jeans with Comfort Elastic Waistband, I'm going to be the first in line to buy some. Meanwhile, you can check out his cool handiwork at his Paleo Demin website. Here's a picture of Richard who sadly wasn't wearing any of his mom's hand knits because it's already in the 90s down here most days.

And that's the full report for this time, y'all. I hope your world is full of overlapping knitting connections and coincidences, too.