Gauging Fabulous

How do you gauge how fabulous something is?

We could try a scale. On a scale of 1-10 how fabulous are these goodies that will be available at the Manitoba Fibre Festival this year?

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I’m going to go with 120.

That’s 10 for each item: sturdy cotton canvas bag, luxurious yarn in this year’s Festival colourway dyed by Manjusha Fibre Arts,  super-handy needle gauge made locally for us, and nine pattern designs that were created for the Challenge this year.

Wait, you ask, what’s so super-handy about a needle gauge? Can’t I just look at my needle and read the size?  Sure, sometimes you can. However, I know that not all my DPNs and interchangeable needles have the size written on them. I use my gauge often.

In addition to the obvious use of the rulers as well (basic measuring, gauge swatch measurements, seeing exactly how close you came to losing in yarn chicken, there is one more handy-use for a needle gauge I can show you.

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Have you ever used a needle gauge to help you choose a good needle for a particular yarn? Pulling a sample of yarn through those measured diameter holes gives you a very useful indication of how your stitches will “smoosh” or “grow” to fill a space – and that space is determined by the diameter of the needles that will be creating those stitches (assuming a basic tension and you’re not making double-loop stitches and so forth).  I find this particularly useful when assessing my handspun yarns for a project, but it also works great with commercially-spun yarns.

I made a video if you’d like to see.

Where [are] your stitches at?

There is one more week remaining in August.

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Inquiring minds want to know how your Challenge projects are progressing.

What is still on the needles/hooks/wheel/loom?

What is an FO? What needs the final step? Feel free to mark it as a finished object before blocking 🙂  We are looking for the projects that use our design challenge patterns as well as all projects inspired by our Challenge.

We want to see the WIPs and FOs so that we can update the list on our Ravelry group.  That way we can add you to our prize draws. Tag them with #mbff2018challenge on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook – make sure they are set to “public” so we can see your posts. Or send us a note regarding your Ravelry page.

Spin Me a Winner

Every skein of handspun yarn is a winner in my books.  I knit up all my first yarns. They provided delightful texture to simple projects.  Even now, after years of spinning, I wouldn’t assert my spinning to be great. I have uneven parts. Those are the sections that remind me this yarn was made by hand – by my hands.  I will even grant that a lot of those “character” characteristics are a result of simply not paying attention while I spin: I spin to relax; I spin while I am doing other things; I spin for the delight of making yarn, but not to create a perfect yarn that could be mistaken for commercial-spun yarn.

All of the above is my way of encouraging folks to show us your handspun yarns, even when you think it’s “not good enough”.

Did you join in with spinners across the globe this July for the Tour de Fleece? If so, you must have at least one skein of yarn to submit to the Handspun Skeins competition.  If you did not, I highly recommend adding this event to your calendar for next year.  It’s a great way to challenge yourself to spin.  (I made a decent dent in my fibre stash as a result.)

Perhaps you have been spinning all year and have an abundance of handspun yarns gathering at home.  Be they beautiful natural fibre or fabulous dyed yarns, we’d love to see them.

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Handspun Yarns of all weights, colours, and construction are welcome!

It is equally possible that you have a stash of fibre waiting to be spun, or some unfinished projects.  You still have several weeks to spin and prepare a skein or two.

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There is always more fibre to spin.

Whatever your tool of choice is, dive into those fibres.  Don’t forget that there is a special category for yarns made from a single animal when you have access to the raw fibre.  Sheep wool and alpaca each have their own subcategory, but there is a third subcategory for “other” animals, and I don’t want my chiengora (dog fur) to be the only submission.  Angora rabbit, dog, and mohair goat are all options that I know exist in Manitoba; let’s see what you have. You only need (at least) 2 oz.

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Who could resist casting on with this merino-cashmere-silk?

Avoid the temptation to wind up that new skein of handspun yarn and use it in a project. I know it’s difficult.  I confess, I couldn’t hold off another day to cast on a new project using the yarn I recently spun from fibre I purchased this June.

I have no regrets.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat. However, if you can refrain from knitting/ weaving/ crocheting all your new handspun yarns, that would be great.  Start a new spinning project if you have to or at least save one skein if you have multiples.  You can finish knitting the sleeve of your handspun sweater after the festival, right?  Okay, I confess, I was really hoping to see that sweater knit up at the festival.  You can still spin another yarn.

Time to grab your fibre and get spinning.  You know you won’t regret it. Then submit a skein before the festival opens.  Thanks 😀

Details HERE.

In Memoriam: Wayne Capar

Thank you to Shelley Kent for preparing this piece in honour of Wayne Capar of Natural Knot Wood Designs. Wayne has been a vendor at the Manitoba Fibre Festival and other local fibre events for several years.  His passing is mourned by many in our community.

Sometimes in life you get really lucky and one-of-a-kind people cross your path and become a friend. Sometimes you are even luckier because they happen to be a talented craftsman and they sell their wares for us to buy. This was the case with Wayne Capar of Natural Knot Wood Design. Wayne passed away just recently and I was shocked and deeply saddened.

I met Wayne one summer day out at Pineridge Hollow at, of course, a Farmer’s Market  – because that is what Wayne did. He made beautiful wood gifts. I know the wood creations caught my eye first, but who could miss that mustache of his, really, and that smile.  Of course, that was followed with his attitude. You couldn’t talk to Wayne without coming away feeling a little happier with life. If Wayne and Kelly were at a craft sale, I always looked for them because, as I said, you felt better after spending a few (and sometimes quite a few) minutes chatting and shopping with Wayne.

His talent at wood working was amazing. He supplied us fibre people with some of the most beautiful one-of-a-kind tools to play with. I bought a Turkish drop spindle from Wayne and I knew when I bought it that it was more because it was made by Wayne and it was beautiful.  The chance of me becoming a spinner was remote, but I loved the wood and the talent it took to make it. There are many of us that have Wayne’s works of art and we need to hold these close in our hearts and our hands. Every time I use my nostepinne I think of the hassle, a good one, that Wayne gave me every time we met. Ever wonder why you create? Well leaving something behind that can be held and, even better, be used is a wonderful gift.  Now I have a bit of Wayne in my house: a nostepinne, a Turkish drop spindle, knitting needles, and my sheep ornament that hangs year round in my dining room.

Thank you my friend Wayne; you made my life better with what you made and who you are.

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Spinning Ahead

Spring has sprung. Yarns will be spun.

When do you find time to spin?  What is your current project(s)? What are you planning to spin? What has been catching your eye in your fibre stash (however big or small)? Or have the local fibre folk been tempting you with their wares?

Most importantly what are you going to submit to the 2018 Handspun Skeins competition?

We encourage you to challenge yourself to submit at least one skein. Submit more if you can.  Need to know how to enter? Start here for the basics.  It’s pretty simple: spin at least 2 oz of yarn, tie it up (and wash it), label it, and submit.

We hope to see more submissions by more individuals. Folks love to walk by and see your work. You don’t need to be a master spinner to inspire others to take up (or return to) spinning.

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge Roll Call

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Wow folks, you’ve taken this challenge and run with it in delightful directions!  Early on there was a rich array of yarns and fibres being dyed and spun.  As spring buds emerge, so too are the finished designs. Some are in the testing and editing period while others have already been added to Ravelry.  We’ll be gathering all the listings together as a Ravelry collection as May wraps up.

I currently count nine designs in the collection, which includes a gorgeous collection of hat, mitten, cowl, sock, and shawl designs paired with fantastic yarns and fibres.  You folks are incredibly creative!

If you’ve been making something (anything: design, yarn, dyeing, spinning, felting, crochet, etc.) inspired by the 2018 Challenge, don’t forget to tag it and share it with the hashtag #mbff2018challenge.  If you think we’ve missed you (apologies in advance), do drop us an email or leave a note in the Ravelry group. I maintain a master list at the Ravelry link.

 

Challenge and Challenges

Important Update to Challenge Dates Enclosed (an extension). 

The 2018 Manitoba Fibre Festival challenge has reached that exciting stage where folks are sharing sneak peeks into new designs they have been working on in collaboration with local fibre/yarn providers.  Check out the hashtag #mbff2018challenge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Many of the images are on Instagram. You don’t need to be a member to see the shared images; in fact, here’s a direct link to the hash-tagged images.  Not all participants are using Instagram and you’ll find some more fantastic images on Facebook here with the hashtag.  Additionally, I am maintaining a list of participants on Ravelry in our Festival group; let me know if I’ve missed someone please.

For the designers, I imagine this means they have passed (or almost passed) the hurdles of translating an inspired vision into a fibre creation.  This can be a challenge indeed; there may have been frogging involved.  I speak from experience.

Before sharing their designs with other makers, designers will make sure that the pattern they have written up is 1) correct in its details and 2) makes sense to other makers.

The most important next step is to have a professional tech editor assess the design write up.  On the simplest level, editors serve as a second set of critical eyes to catch the simple errors that can easily slip through when you’ve read over a document a dozen times and you know what it’s supposed to say.  Tech editors also check the numbers, the math, the charts, the repeats, the nitty-gritty bits such as if you correctly listed the US and metric needle sizes, the abbreviations, the functionality of the layout, etc.  Tech editors are also experienced makers themselves and can provide feedback concerning the clarity of how the designer writes up the instructions.  Tech editing helps to ensure that a designer puts their best work forward to the public and that makers are less likely to find mistakes or need to ask questions.

An optional step before publishing a design is to ask other knitters (or crocheters as applicable) to make a test sample and provide detailed feedback.  Test knitters can provide helpful feedback as makers, especially if some instructions need clarification.  It is important that testers use a similar yarn and achieve the same gauge (after washing and blocking) as specified in the pattern so that a designer can compare the amount of yarn required and the finished sizes with fewer variables.  An additional bonus is that testers are typically asked/required to share a project page on Ravelry with good quality photos. When the design is released to the public, there will already be some project examples that other Makers can look to.  As a Maker, I always look at other examples to see how a design looks in other colours, what other yarns folks have used, variations in yardage (assuming they haven’t made modifications), and so forth.  Although some designers hire sample knitters, it is common practice for test knitters to work for free from their own stash.  In exchange the test knitters receive a free copy of the design and early access.  The knit sample is their own to enjoy also.

Both of these steps take time. The editing review process can require some back-and-forth exchanges if extensive edits are required.  The test knitting period can require several weeks depending on the size of the item.

In light of this, inquiries we have received, and developments we have observed as folks share their progress, we are pushing the pattern release date back to June 1, 2018. (It was May 15; I will update all previous website posts).  This will allow two more weeks for finishing the write-up, sending it to an editor, and test knitting (if designers choose so).  It means that the patterns will be ready before the next Manitoba-local festival – the Blue Hills Fibre Festival in Carberry, MB on June 9, 2018.  It is held at the Carberry Community Memorial Hall from 10am – 4pm.  Many of our local yarn/fibre providers will be there with Challenge yarns (and fibre) available for purchase if you are desiring some of these beauties for the summer make-a-long.  If you’ve been eyeing these online, you may also want to inquire with the yarn/fibre folk about online purchases.

Designers and fibre folk, if you have questions and/or if you are intending to share in this release date please contact Mandy Furney directly or through info@manitobafibrefestival.com

 

 

 

Building community through creative collaboration

Today I spied on Instagram a Challenge collaboration in progress! How exciting!

Earlier this season, Daria of Cloud 9 Fiberworks shared some of her dyeing ideas inspired by the Mood Board; Sarah of Imagined Landscapes designs had ‘ideas’. Communication occurred and a collaboration was born. I am eager to see what new creation is birthed this spring.

I am curious, what other collaborations are brewing? Have folks been reaching out?

FYI, your fellow fibre artists may have pointy needles (and hooks and spindles), but we generally do not bite.  (Sometimes me may chew yarn ends to splice them together and we’ve probably stabbed ourselves a few times, but we generally have warm fuzzies for our fellow fibre artists.)

What do you do once you have made a connection?  There are many possibilities. In my last post I discussed the range of yarn/fibre-support possibilities and the importance of clearly communicating your expectations and intentions (in writing).

Much of the first stage of collaboration will be focused on the design process and outcome, but what of the process of sharing that design and those yarns with other makers?

At the simplest level, designers release their design on Ravelry and yarn-folk direct sell their yarn/fibre with mutual acknowledgement of the other and how to get the other half of the collaboration.

Designers and yarn-folk might also choose to release a limited run of kits.  Kits may or may not involve a discount. That is, both the designer and the yarn-provider may discount their product when the design and yarn/fibre are purchased together.  Or they may choose to not offer an additional discount and makers will be satisfied that they can easily purchase the yarn/fibre and design together.  Typically it is the yarn-folk who sell the kits and will need to make arrangements for how the designer is compensated for their part.  Yarn-folk may choose to outright purchase a number of copies (potentially at a lower price; particularly if they will be responsible for printing costs) or else they may arrange to pay the designer after sales.  Designs can be provided in printed form and/or with a Ravelry download code.  Either the designer or the yarn-provider may choose to prepare printed copies.  Designers will need to consider printing costs when preparing their pattern file if they will be selling hard copies in addition to digital files.

As you can see, there are a number of decisions to be made in such a collaboration.  They are not particularly difficult decisions, but they do need to be clearly communicated and chosen if you want to offer kits or more simply to have copies of the pattern available alongside a yarn-provider’s selection of yarns.

Warm Gatherings

The winter weather here in the prairies is a great reason to gather with others, share a cuppa, and keep warm.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the hashtag #MBFF2018Challenge on our social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter).  From our own cozy spots we’ve been sharing in your creations.

Mandyz has been living vicariously through your creations as she finds herself struggling creatively; so if you’ve not realized your creation yet, that’s okay. We can continue to ruminate, be inspired, and wait for our own spark of creativity together.

For those of you who have already found, or are finding, your creative inspiration, have you started making any crafty plans?

Designers – now is the time to reach out to our local dyers and producers if you need yarn or fibre for a project that is brewing.

Dyers and Producers – have you considered reaching out to a local designer, whose work you like, to feature your creation?

Don’t be shy folks; don’t be afraid to make more direct connections within our vibrant, fibre-ific community, or to invite some new folks in if necessary.

Are you new to designer-yarnie business relationships?  Contrary to what you might think from some posts, it’s not just about “free yarn” (or fibre) for designers.  While it’s relatively easy for a large commercial business to write off providing well known designers with free yarn for new designs, it’s not so simple for small businesses and new designers.  This does not mean that you can’t participate in a mutually beneficial relationship between our wonderful local fibre providers and indie designers.

Yarn-folk, you could consider offering a discount for a designer featuring your yarn or you may be comfortable offering it for free.  I imagine it depends on the cost, your budget, and what return you can expect to gain for your business. It’s okay to think of your business needs. It is also fair to require that the finished design actively advertises your product and that it be ready to share with the 2018 Challenge design collection.  I’m personally a fan of clear, written expectations for positive outcomes.

Designers, have you seen a yarn (or fibre) from a local vendor that has inspired design ideas for you in this Challenge? Or do you have a special request you could make of a local yarn dyer/producer?  It helps the provider if you are clear about your request and expectations in advance. Are you willing to pay for a custom order? Are you hoping for a discount in exchange for featuring their product? Do you have a clear outline of your creation that you can share with the them?

Established designers may already have some experience with this, but for our budding designers,  new indie dyers, and producers entering the wonderful world of fibre-sales, here are some useful discussions from folks with experience:

Ruth of Rock and Purl writes, in Supported, Supporting, Supportive, of yarn support that ranges from purchased, to discounted, to free.  Jen reminds us that designers buy their yarns too.

In a related post, Becky shares some tips on approaching yarn providers for support when designing.

Finally, Kristen reminds folks of the importance of clear communication and knowing exactly what kind of contract (explicit or implicit) that you are entering in to. As a designer, you really need to know your yarn/fibre needs and have some experience with the product you are inquiring about – or else be ready to potentially reinvent your project idea to accommodate the yarn. As a maker, I imagine you know that when a conflict arises between what you want to make and what the yarn/fibre wants to do, the yarn wins every time.

Still have questions, drop us an email.

 

Makers Challenge 2018

Makers gonna make (make, make, make, make).

If you are on Instagram and you are a maker, you’ve surely encountered (and possibly participated in) the many monthly challenges that bring makers together – sharing images, experiences, inspirations, and ideas.

In January the Manitoba Fibre Festival released a preview of the Mood Board that is at the heart of our own challenge for 2018. Our challenge runs through the summer, providing plenty of time to participate.  If you’re ready to learn more, we’ve prepared a thorough description now available on the website at Makers Challenge 2018.

Here’s the quick summary: we want our amazing community of makers to join in and play in whatever way suits you best. Our community is rich with folks who knit, crochet, weave, and felt; folks who dye and produce the yarns and fibres we love; and folks who design for their fellow knitters (and crochet peers).

We’re inviting all of your to accept our challenge of creating things inspired by a shared mood board.  (If this challenge is successful, we’ll provide a new mood board next year.)  At the simplest level, we hope you will share your inspired projects with us and inspire others – so we can “build community through creative collaboration”.  We’ll be watching and sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and our Ravelry group.

We’re also inviting (challenging) our dyers, producers, and designers to share their creations so that others can make use of them.  We’ll be hosting a make-a-long this summer that features local designers as well as local yarns and fibres that have been inspired by our Challenge.  We’re excited to see what folks create together.

Share directly in the Ravelry group and/or social media.  The hashtags to use (on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) so that we can easily find your creations are:

 #MbFF2018Challenge

#ManitobaFibreFest2018

 

in the Mood for some new projects

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Wintery greetings. We hope you are keeping warm beneath your layers of wool and alpaca.  One benefit of these extra crisp days is that we can enjoy the sight of beautiful clear skies (if we peek out from the blanket fort during the short daylight hours).  Have you seen the sun dogs in our blue skies this winter? Glorious. Inspiring.

It’s a new year, with new challenges ahead.  As we prepare for the 2018 Manitoba Fibre Festival, we have a fun challenge for you to join in. (Yes, you – everyone can participate.)

An important part of the Festival’s Mission is to facilitate community-building within the local fibre world.  We bring together producers, dyers, makers (of many forms, too many to list each craft right now), vendors, shoppers (also makers), designers, and artists.

Are you a designer?  A designer at heart ready to put on some snow-shoes and step into the deep snow of putting your design ideas out into the world?  If so, take a look at our Mood Board for the 2018 Manitoba Fibre Festival design collection.  By the way, we welcome crochet too. This isn’t a knitting-only challenge.  We’re looking to see your ideas; share your designs with us over the coming months leading up to the September Festival. We’ll be hosting a fun Craft-A-Long this summer featuring designs inspired by this Mood Board.  Exact details are coming up in another post.

Wait, are you a dyer or producer?  You are invited to play too! As part of our challenge, we invite dyers and producers to create yarns and/or spinning fibre inspired by our Mood Board.  We’re going to need some inspired yarns to create our Mood Board-inspired projects.

Crafters, stay tuned. You don’t need to design, dye, or produce fibre to play along.  Our designers and dyers will want your feedback before the Craft-A-Long begins.

What inspires you in this montage? Where would you take this? We’d love to hear from you on Facebook, via Instagram, or in a Tweet.

Hashtags: #ManitobaFibreFest2018  #MbFF2018Challenge

Questions? We have answers coming in our next post when we lay out the details for you.  Let us begin with inspiration and creative play. Share, participate, let us know what inspires you and, if you are so moved, let your fellow fibre folk know if you like what they are sharing.  We will also update via our newsletter, so if you’re not already on our list, now is a great time to sign up (on your computer, there is a link-banner in the right column; on your phone, use the Menu option at the top to navigate to the Newsletter page.)

Flatlands KAL

The Flatlands Collection KAL is underway* and there are some delightful works in progress.  Did you know that there is a prize offering?  It is in addition to free admission to the Festival if you bring your Flatlands Collection knit item.

What have you cast on? Maybe you’re spinning for one? Do share. I’ve been keeping tabs on the hashtag #FlatlandsCollection. Still need to get a pattern or two? They’re over here on Ravelry.

Do these works in progress tempt you? There is a delightful array of handspun yarns and locally dyed colourways here. {Credits Below}

Don’t be intimidated, but there is at least one finished project.  You still have time to finish one too.

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How about the prize of a sturdy canvas Festival bag, a skein of this year’s Fibre Festival colourway dyed by Cloud 9 Fiberworks, and some swag buttons?  Tag your progress and FOs with the hashtag #FlatlandsCollection and, if possible*, share in the Ravelry Group.

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Prize can be picked up at the Flatlands Collection table during the Festival.

You can find the samples, designs, and some kits at the Festival. Plus, there will be plenty of inspiring yarns and fibres on site!

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of: Mandy (MandyzMoon) knitting Aura, Andrea (Noricum) knitting Open Fields, Melissa of Prairie Dye Studio knitting Prairie River Shawl, Susie of Knit Natural who finished her Bandana, and ash alberg of sunflowerknits for the prize photo.
*Only projects started on or after August 1 and finished by the start of the festival (September 15th) will qualify for the prize draw at 10am CST, September 15, 2017.
*If you are unable to share on Ravelry, be sure to tag your work on social media. If you tag your FO with Mandyz.Moon on Instagram, MandyzMoon on Twitter, or Mandy Furney on Facebook there is less chance that the algorithms will skip you. I will add you to the FO list.