Monday, July 11, 2011

Rest Day for the Tour de Fleece

This is the first rest day on the grueling Tour de France and for those of us crazies who are participating in the Tour de Fleece 2011 on the Ravelry forum of the same name. I've chosen to enter in the categories of Rookie, Peleton, Team Canada, Team Bosworth, Team Spindle Wheel and Team Newfoundland and Labrador.

I've been on a very steep learning curve-perhaps an 11% grade to put it in cycling terms. I've gone from the stop and drop stage with the drop spindle to spinning a passable, pliable fibre. With my Bisson flyer wheel, I'm actually spinning for up to two whole minutes without having to stop and re-thread the orifice or hand-start the wheel! Here is a picture of that wheel with yesterday's bobbin.

Today is the weekly knit night at my closest yarn shop, Unwind Yarn & Gifts. I'm actually looking forward to a break from all the spinning and having a chance to knit. Mastering spinning is giving me a renewed perspective on what it is like to be a beginner again, and hopefully the experience will make me a better knitting teacher.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Back in the Game

It has been an interesting year at Sheep Dip Cottage. The flock has been on the move! And it has been quite a journey. We have re-located from southern Canada to the southern United States.

Life has focused on packing, selling, buying, emigrating, moving, unpacking, and renovating. Luckily, there has also been time for knitting, designing, and even a little spinning.

Sheep Dip Cottage Designs is proud to be a sponsor of the second year of Project Yarnway on Ravelry. You can connect with all the inspiring designs at Sheep Dip Cottage Designs will be giving some 'Vintage Buttons for Knitters' to the winners in both the amateur and professional categories.

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit in Public Day here in Savannah, Georgia, USA. A group of dedicated knitters are gathering in historic Forsyth Park to knit, visit, and share our love in knitting. I hope that knitters all over the world will take the time in the following week to flaunt our passion for yarn and needles.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Second Sleeve Syndrome

Many knitters are stricken with the disease known as Second Sock Syndrome. This is a sense of hopeless repetition and lethargy that sets in once the first sock of a pair has been knit and the second one awaits. I am told that it is quite a common disease, but luckily, one from which I do not suffer.

For me, it is sleeves. Like feet, arms come in pairs. Sleeves are usually much longer than socks. Most often they start small (at the cuff) and then get bigger and bigger as one increases up the circumference of the arm. Once reaching the armhole, there is a freakishly long way to go to ultimate cast off at either the shoulder or the neckline. One sleeve is bad enough. But the knitter must face two of them. To me it is often the breaking point of sweater completion. The back is done. The front is done. The first sleeve is done. And there the sweater sits, huddled in the bottom of the knitting basket, hoping against hope that the knitter will come back to finish the final sleeve.
This time, I have decided that I am going to change the order in which I knit a sweater. The back is almost completed-no problem. Rather than doing the fronts next, I am going to cast on both sleeves at the same time (on very long straights) and "head for the hills"-in this case, my shoulders. Only after the sleeves have been done will I tackle the two small cardigan fronts. Let's hope this strategy pays off.

The sweater is the Creme Caramel Cardigan from the Patons book called Brilliantly Divine. I needed a quickie, no-brainer project that would knit up in no time and with relatively little yarn. Only after I was mostly through the back did I realize that the book is called "Brilliantly Divine" because each sweater uses both Patons Brilliant and Patons Divine yarns. I only have the Divine, but I figure I can improvise when I get to the trim. Pictures will follow.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my swatch for the April Project Yarnway challenge on Ravelry. It is going to be a grocery bag, but one that will stand out in a crowd.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

So Many Projects-So Little Time

Life has been very full and exciting of late. This week knitting and gardening are filling my time with pleasure.
In the garden, spring is well underway. The daffodils and primroses are in full bloom and the tulips are just arriving.

On the knitting front, I am thrilled to report my success in the Project Yarnway challenge for February! This forum on Ravelry is an homage to the Project Runway television show. In Project Yarnway, knitters are challenged to create designs which are then voted on by fellow Ravelers. In February, I designed a knitting bag I named "Highlands and Heather Knitting Bag". The bag features a fair isle "field" complete with sheep and a five rail fence made of bamboo knitting needles. The flowers in the fair isle are arranged so that a stitch marker can be moved from flower to flower to be used as a row counter.Currently, I'm trying to design a eco-friendly re-usable grocery bag. I've selected some gorgeous Sirdar Mohair from my stash. What a lovely yarn! I've doubled it for sturdiness and the project is knitting up quickly in the round.
Back to knitting!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Winter has finally decided to arrive in southern Ontario. We have temperatures below the freezing mark and the snow is staying, rather than melting, today.

The last few days have been creative and inspiring. One was spent sorting, cleaning and carding vintage buttons. In particular, we selected beautiful vintage buttons for knitters-buttons with substance and presence, buttons that would enhance a carefully-crafted sweater or bag.

The next day the buttons were off to my local yarn shop, Spun Fibre Arts, in Burlington, Ontario. It is always a joy to visit Spun because it is a beehive of knitting activity. Knitters dropping in to select yarn for one project inspire each other to think about other projects, or are captured by a particular skein of yarn that calls out to be knit.

That night Monika Nowaczyk from Cambodia Knits came to speak to our knitting guild. Monika is a Canadian living and working in Cambodia who is passionate about helping the Cambodian people achieve self-sufficiency. She has taught nearly 30 local women and men how to knit and how to market their wares. Monika can be found on Ravelry as 'liontamer'. Her website is: and you can follow her blog at The work she is doing is truly amazing.

Yesterday included a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Grange Museum. . Because knitting and buttons for knitters have consumed a lot of my time lately, I found myself looking at the paintings as little archives of fashion history. A painting by the Dutch master Jan Rotius is going to be the inspiration for my next lace knitting design.

Tonight I am off to make new friends at a knitting night at a local coffee shop. Report to follow!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fascinating Crochet

This afternoon was spent at Spun Fibre Arts yarn shop in Burlington, Ontario with a great group of crochet enthusiasts. We were attending a workshop offered by Danielle Kassner on Jacquard Crochet. Danielle is a crocheter extraordinaire who lives in Barcelona, Spain, but travels home to Canada during the holidays. Samples of Danielle's work can be seen on her blog at Her designs can also be seen on Ravelry where her user name is laracroft.
The class was focused on creating a thrummed jacquard crochet cowl in two colours. It was challenging to learn how to crochet in two colours in the round while carrying the unspun five-ply roving along the inside of the cowl, but we all managed it. Here we all are. Danielle is seated in the centre. I'll be posting pictures of the cowl as it progresses.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

The new year is always filled with hope and promise.
Hope that it will be the best year yet. Hope that friends and family will be well. Hope that the world will be a better place.
Promise that I will accomplish my goals. Promise to be more creative. Promise to be kinder, neater, thinner....promise, promise, promise.

Here at Sheep Dip Cottage we are busy with knitting, writing and buttons, buttons, buttons. I'm preparing a workshop for my knitting guild called 'Buttons, button holes and button bands for knitters'. Many knitters view making button holes and sewing on buttons as the 'chore' part of knitting and get no pleasure from it. I hope to change that attitude by giving knitters the proper skills and making the process fun. So, check back here regularly as I post tips to improve your knitting.

Splendid 2010 to all.