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.)

It Started with a Spindle …

When you are just getting started in the world of fibre arts and fleeces it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Julie Schneider shares her story of how she went from a novice spinner to the proud owner of a freshly washed fleece. We are happy to say that Festival workshops are helping her along the way!

Having caught the spinning bug 3 years ago, I progressed from a Capar drop spindle, to my grandfather’s spinning wheel. I took Joanne’s Breed Tasting class ( * like wine tasting – but for wool*) – where I discovered wool that came in something other than a roving or top!Feeling like I needed some more information before delving into the world of wool and fleeces, the next year I took Susie’s Fleece to Finish class where I felt confident enough to try my hand at the fleece auction. I came away with a beauty of a Texel-Romney fleece!

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My fleece then sat dauntingly in my sewing room all winter.
Summer came along and I asked myself, “Can I really wash fleece while watching my 4 and 2 year old kids play outside? Is it really that easy!?”
Yes, it was that easy.
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Now, I knew it was pretty and white, and I knew I could wash it – but how do I process it after!?
It was a pleasant surprise when I came upon this year’s workshop lineup and saw that Diana was offering a class on hand carding!
It’s almost like the universe is telling me I need to go to a class and buy more wool….

 

Excellent message from the universe — attention everyone — take a class — buy more wool — take a class — buy more wool …   Susie’s Fleece to Finish class gives you all the information you need to shop with confidence in the wool auction at the Festival.  Wondering what to do with that beautiful fleece? There are still a few spots in Diana’s class Hand Carders: A Spinners Best Friend.  So, maybe dyeing next year, Julie?

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Are You Ready for the Festival?

Getting ready for the big day?  Feeling unprepared?

Joanne wants to help!

Joanne Seiff is a Winnipeg writer, teacher, and knitwear designer and the author of two fibre arts books: Fiber Gathering (about fibre festivals) and Knit Green (about ecofriendly fibre arts choices).

Here’s the link to a piece she wrote for a British webzine, The Inside Loop, called “Making the Most of a Fibre Festival” to help you get ready for the Manitoba Fibre Festival.

There are good hints for making a plan for your shopping needs, and some suggestions about how to not blow your budget. (Well, you might want to skip that bit. The Festival only happens once a year and you need to stock up! Many of our vendors take debit cards but it is helpful to have ample cash or cheques with you. There is an ATM on site, but we managed to empty it twice last year as people realized just how many essential treasures were on offer.)

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from Wild Wind Naturals – find them at the Festival

Joanne helped to start the Manitoba Fibre Festival and often teaches at the festival. She’s been spinning and knitting for over 30 years, occasionally weaves and dyes, and also holds a Masters in Education.  She’s taught about fibre arts and spinning at festivals, universities, and more.  Check out her designs on Ravelry or read her blog to learn more!

Dye For Ewe

Allyson Schneider introduces us to her dyeing business –
Hi, I’m Ally and I co-run Dye For Ewe.  We specialize in self-striping, “fairy farts”/mini rainbow and speckled yarns.  All yarns are hand dyed in small batches to ensure quality.
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How did you get started in fibre arts?
At the age of 6, I had driven my mother to distraction with questions about the gorgeous Fair Isle sweaters she would make.  She finally sat me down with a pair of needles and taught me the knit stitch.  Unfortunately that didn’t stop the questions, so she sent me over to Lewiscraft (does anyone else remember Lewiscraft?) and there I learned the purl stitch.  I knit right through to my adulthood and through my pregnancies.  After I shook off the baby fog, knitting wasn’t quite filling my creative needs anymore so I started dyeing my own yarn.
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What inspires the work you do and things you create?

I love to see how colours play off of each other.  I love to make colours that traditionally aren’t put together, complement each other.  I draw inspiration from the world around me, be it a hiking trail, or the remnants of my children’s latest tussle that involved markers!

What is your favourite piece that you’ve created?

This may seem silly, but my favourite piece is my first self-striping sock that I ever dyed.  It’s imperfect, full of white splotches but it brings me so much joy.  After months of testing and trying different techniques, I finally created a rainbow sock yarn.  And I wear it with pride!
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Dye For You provided the yarns for the Aura shawl in our new Flatlands pattern collection. Welcome to the Manitoba Fibre Festival, Ally!
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Fingerlicious (in Can’t See the Forest for the Trees, Fall Shadows, and Plum Dandy)

The Sheep-ish Spinner

Suzanne Budlong of Winnipeg answers our new vendor questions today  – 

Hi!  My name is Suzanne and my business is The SheepIsh Spinner and I sell handspun yarn.  Quite a bit of my yarn is hand dyed using either plant material or food colouring, but I also have a lot of stock that is acid dyed fibre.  After a number of requests, I now have a selection of roving that I have naturally dyed.

I was taught to knit by my wonderful 4th grade teacher during indoor recess but it’s only been in the past ten years that I’ve really started to explore knitting and fibre more.  I picked up a drop spindle about 6 years ago and started spinning for myself and then last year I bought a spinning wheel and fell in love with it.  I had people asking me about buying my yarn, and so on January 1st The SheepIsh Spinner went into business.

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I’m finding that inspiration comes from surprising sources.  A sunset or a garden, but also children picking odd colour combinations.  I’ve even done a few skeins inspired by military camouflage.

My favourite item?  That’s difficult. I think one favourite would be a pair of fingerless mitts that I made from one of my first attempts at using my wheel and my first attempt at dyeing using pumpkin cinnamon tea.  I wore them inside all winter and the delicious smell is faint, but still there.image1 (7)

Welcome, Suzanne!