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SVFF on Saturday

Little Turtle wakes us up around 5 in the morning, so for the first time the morning drive to SVFF I wasn’t drifting off to sleep.  The three of us left our house around 5:50 am, and began winding our way through Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley.  We watched the sun bleed through the trees, and fog linger over the fields with the mist thick enough to obscure your view barely six feet into the field.  We wound through farms and orchards, Little Turtle talking and gurgling in the back.  Pulling into the fairgrounds, the air was cool and I pulled on my sweater while we set up.

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Today I was teaching Helix Knitting, using my Circle Game pattern.  It was such a great group of ladies – interested in learning, willing to try, and determined in the face of mistakes.  I was a little nervous –  not about teaching the class, but having Little Turtle along.  It was my first time teaching in-person since becoming a mama.  Michael was a champ – helping with setup, wrangling Little Turtle, and driving us where we needed to go.

After class we got to visit with a good friend from the Washington, DC area who was taking Patty Z‘s blending class.  I’m so envious!  If I didn’t have a baby, I’d be all over Patty’s classes on spinning cellulose fibers.  Ah, well.  Another time.  Once we wrapped up and said goodbye to our friend, it was for a walk around the fairgrounds, where we could see vendors setting up and preview some of the wares.  The vendors don’t start selling until tomorrow, but it’s fun to see how various vendors have gotten their booth transportation down to a science – slotting in every piece into the back of a car or trailer.

This evening we’ll get a special treat.  The hotel room has a TV, and we’ll watch all the television we don’t at home (since we don’t have at TV).  I’ll work on a pattern that’ll be in Crochet World next year, and we’ll get to bed early.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Duct Tape Dress Forms, and getting to see a bit more of the festival.

Have you been to any Fiber Festivals this fall?  Are you planning on going to any?

 

Fall is the Season For Fiber Festivals

Last week I was up visiting my parents and sharing Little Turtle with the family.  We had a couple of days that were like the fall of my childhood: cool mornings warming up to afternoons just this side of too warm.  Days where you want your sweater in the morning and shorts in the afternoon.  It was perfect – getting me in the mood for Fall and one of my favorite fall activities: Fiber Festivals!

SVFFThis weekend I’ll be at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  I’ll be teaching two classes: Helix Knitting and Duct Tape Dress Forms.  Registration is open until the day of.  I love teaching at SVFF.  It’s an intimate venue run by a great group of volunteers, and I have such a good time.  Catch me on Friday or lunchtime on Saturday.  And keep an eye out – Mr. Turtle and Little Turtle will be wandering the event while I teach!

Yarn Properties: the Low-Down on Plies, Twist, and Fiber

Yarn Properties: the Low-Down on Plies, Twist, and Fiber

The following weekend I’ll be teaching at Fall Fiber Festival & Montpelier Sheep Dog Trials at James Madison’s Montpelier.  Last year I couldn’t teach at the venue because I was attending a wedding, but this year I’ll be back, teaching Yarns 101.  This is the perfect class to pair with a Fiber Festival – it covers what yarns are best for which projects, how fiber, ply and weight affect your final projects.  If yarn substitutions ever stumped you, this is a class to give you good foundational knowledge.  Signups close on Friday, so check out the classes!


 

Later this Fall I’ll be returning to one of my favorite venues, Fibre Space.  If you aren’t able to get to the fiber festivals, I’d love to have you join me in Old Town Alexandria!  Check out the classes I’ll be teaching on October 15th: Intarsia Crash Course, Finishing Essentials and Darn Those Knits!

All About Yarns in October!

All About Yarns with Jennifer Raymond

If you follow my blog, you know that one of my favorite classes to teach is Yarns 101.  Yarns 101 is normally a 3-hour class on why yarns behave the way they do: why some yarn substitutions work, why your alpaca sweater is super saggy, and how we can make more informed decisions about pairing yarns with projects.  I love teaching the class, and often one of the responses I get back on my evals is… “When will you teach a Yarns 201?”

So many people enjoy the class, and would love to delve even further into the material.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to go about doing that, and in the spring I pitched a class to Interweave that was my answer.

All About Yarns is an online seminar I’ll be teaching with Interweave’s online learning platform, Craft University.  From October 3rd to October 21st, we’ll explore and learn the different factors that influence how yarn behaves: ply, weight & fiber.

How does this differ from Yarns 101?  Yarns 101 is 3 hours.  All About Yarns is 3 weeks.  We’ll be able to do things I wouldn’t be able to do in a workshop.  There will be further learning assignments, swatching and sampling, and the creating of yarn cards.

Take a look at some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to determine the weight and size of your yarn.
  • Discover how ply and yarn weight influence the final presentation of your colorwork or lace.
  • How to look at yarns to determine which ones is suited for which project.
  • Determine which yarns will be suited for high-wear items, and which yarns would be better for next-to-skin wearing.
  • Understand how fibers in yarns influence the final look, drape and sturdiness of your garment.
  • How to figure out what your “mystery yarns” are made of, and how best to use them in your projects.

I’d love to have you.  If you’re interested in the course, you can sign up for it here.  Come join me!

Bang out a Baby Sweater

Three months into becoming a mama, and I’m just starting to rediscover life outside of our immediate family.  I was talking to a close girlfriend the other day, and I was marveling at how everything changes and nothing changes.  It seems like each day the changes are so gradual that I don’t notice a difference, and then I look at pictures from a month or two months ago, and I realize just how far we’ve come.

The last time I talked about Little Turtle she was 5 weeks old and just growing out of the newborn clothing.  Now she’s solidly filling out 3 month old clothing, and a few of the smaller onesies are starting to get tight.  Her head control is pretty good now – she likes to follow people’s faces as they move around a room, and her eyes will flick back and forth as she listens to her parents speaking.

She likes to play the “reach and grab” game when you hold a toy in her arm range.  After she grabs things she hasn’t quite managed to figure out how to let go, so she’ll look pretty confused as she waves her prize around.  Last week she rolled over for the first, second, and third time from belly to back.  She hasn’t repeated the feat again.


My stitching mojo is slowly starting to come back.  Last month I taught two camps fiberarts camps, each a week long.  As the campers were working on their projects, I began to just work some simple garter stitch.  Didn’t do anything with it – just working on a swatch to demonstrate to my students.

Then, I was pulling together classes for Fibre Space this fall, and was looking for a new pattern to teach intarsia.  I found one I liked, bought the pattern, and began working a sample.  And all of a sudden, things came back to me.  Before I knew it, I was motoring away on a second version of the project, and I’m contemplating a third.  It’s a simple project that probably works up in about 4-5 hours… perfect for my attention span!  The pattern, titled Totally, his here.

Still, I had no interest in working on anything of my own.

 

Then, over the weekend we were at the farm. It was one of the first times I had some real downtime.  While both of the grandparents had come and visited before, I was running camps, completing errands I couldn’t do with Rebecca, and going to doctor’s appointments.  At the farm someone else was holding Rebecca, and I didn’t have any work, and I decided I was going to “bang out a baby sweater.”  I wasn’t going to worry about math, or a pattern, or being able to replicate things.  I just went for it.  I used a shirt that was just a little big on her for a template.

Little Turtle's Sweater

It doesn’t have a button yet for the neck.  And I think it’ll fit her for all of two weeks (well, maybe a bit more than two weeks, she is wearing it over a shirt and overalls right now).  The sleeves are a smidge snug.  But it was done in just over 24 hours.

It’s yoked, with random yarnovers in the yoke to provide shaping.  Short sleeves because I just wanted it done, and I didn’t want to calculate sleeve length.

Sometimes you just have to go for things.

Also, see those overalls?  Notice the turtles?  My mama made those, G-ma Turtle.  I think they’re amazing.

What have you been just going for lately?

Tink recognized as a word by the Oxford Online Dictionary

to undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time

to undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time

Particularly relevant to my business name comes a little bit of news: The Oxford Online Dictionary has added the word Tink.  Cited as a verb describing the action of “Undo[ing] a row of knitting one stitch at a time, in order to correct a mistake,” most knitters will be familiar with the word.

Tinking Turtle, my own business name, came about as Mr. Turtle and I were having fun with puns at a restaurant years before I was thinking of a business name.

It’s nice to see a knitting term make it into common usage!

Easing back into the Business

Hello All!27200594310_5a0974d315

I guess it’s been a while, and I thank you all for your patience as I’ve been easing back into the business.

First, a couple of business notes: if you’ve contacted me about finishing or repair work in the last while, you were put on a waiting list.  I’ll be contacting people in the order they were put on the list starting next week.  If you haven’t heard from me by the end of the month, please reach out, as something may have happened.

I’m trying to get back to all the emails by the end of next week, too.  If you haven’t heard from me by then, reach out again, please!


And now onto what everyone really wants to know about: Little Turtle.

Rebecca Belle Raymond was born in our home on June 1st.  We had a smooth, if long labor.  In the following weeks we had family descend upon the household, acting as pinch-hitters so Mr. Turtle and I could catch up on sleep.  God bless 27821484376_3bab44c23dgrandparents!

Now, five weeks later Little Turtle is two pounds heavier.  She’s gone from swimming in our newborn outfits and diapers to busting at the seams.  On a good night we’ll get a four hour stretch of sleep – pure bliss.

When home more often than not she hangs out in one of the many cloth diapers my mother has made for her. I’m so fortunate that I have a seamstress that wants to sew for my child!  I’m beginning to have fun playing with her outfits as she grows out of the few newborn pieces we have and into the plethora of 3-month clothes we have.

As Mr. Turtle will note, right now she’s just beginning to ease out of the boring-potato stage.  Now she’s beginning to smile in response to things around her, and beginning to stay awake for longer periods of time during the day.  She pees like a racehorse, though!

As for the projects I’m working on… I’ve been taking a step to the side to make progress on a number of sewing things.  I have a surprise quilt for someone I can’t talk about yet, and a number of scrappy quilts that I’m hoping to make for beds in the house.  I haven’t touched my yarn in just over a month, and it seems like it was a much-needed break.  Part of it was because Rebecca seemed to suck up all the energy I had for really thinking.  Sewing, especially sewing straight seems like I was doing, was so much more straightforward!

Still, I’ve got a few projects coming up in the next few months, so stay tuned!

Rebecca Belle Raymond

Quick little note here!27441262225_23c7c6df7d_c

Rebecca Belle Raymond aka “Little Turtle” was born at home on June 1st at 5:58 pm.  She was 7 lbs even.  We are both doing well.  The last week has been filled with highs and lows as Mr. Turtle and I learned who Little Turtle is.  We’re settling into a rhythm!

I will be on maternity leave for the next month, and then will be gradually reclaiming my inbox and stepping back into the business after that.  For pressing issues, contact michael@tinkingturtle.com.

All the Handknits!

I’ve had a number of people asking me if I’ve knit a lot of things for Little Turtle, or if I was planning to.  Truth is, other than my Shamrock Dress, there hasn’t been much knitting on my behalf for the baby.

I’m fortunate, though, in that I have a community around me of crafty people who do knit and crochet, and have made our future child some lovely gifts.  I thought I’d share a few of them!

The first one has a bit of a story – I’m part of a stitching group that meets in Ashland every Monday night.  They’re a great group of ladies, and it’s always one of the highlights of my week getting to meet and catch up with them.  On Monday evening I walked into the room, running slightly late, to a big surprise.

There was cake and decorations, and , much to my unexpected joy, was a gift beyond words.  The ladies of the group had made Little Turtle a blanket – squares filled with elephants and bunnies, trains and boats, flowers and butterflies.  It was an amazing show of joy and anticipation and love.

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I’m finding that it is more than a little humbling to have someone craft for you.  When someone makes you a blanket or a community makes you an object, I know how much it means.  I know how much time goes into working on something, I know how much thought and work goes into each motion.  The person carries that item around with them for weeks, snatching time between other tasks, in the evening before bed or while waiting in the car.  There’s a message that you’re worth that time to them – you’re worth the effort of setting aside those minutes to make something for you.

I have another friend, who’ll I just call L (since I don’t have permission to use her full name), who I’ve known for the last 5 years.  We struggle with some of the same faults in our personalities – we can both sometimes have trouble with boundaries and we’ve struggled with our weight.  She’s a big spinner and knitter, and when we get together it’s like we’re both 5 years old again.  She also knit a blanket for Little Turtle.

Her blanket is different than the first blanket as night and day.  For one, this is made by one knitter’s hands.  It’s a wool and cashmere blend, as light as a feather and softer than my cats.  I’ve picked it up and held it to my face multiple times.  It’s knit in fine, fine yarn.  It’s also one of the reasons I tell people not to discount garter as being elegant.  Many people associate garter stitch as being more rustic, and perhaps even a little basic.  I can understand why as it’s often used in sturdy garments and in baby wear.

But here the lace is as fine as the yarn, subtle and stunning.  The yarn actually shares a name with L’s dog, Gracie.  The colors are subtle and more mature.  This blanket isn’t in a yarn that’s superwash, that’s meant to be thrown in the laundry when it has spit-up on it.  This is a christening blanket, that then becomes the nursing blanket you bring to church or synagog.  Later it may become a shawl or a treasured heirloom for the child.  Still, the message is the same: I thought of you and your child.  Here are my prayers and well wishes, my hope for the new life to come.

Again, so humbling.

The next two blankets are also from close friends.

This blanket was made by my workout buddy and altogether closest friend in the Richmond area, Krista.  It’s made as a nod to Little Turtle’s nickname before we decided on her real name.  Mr. Turtle and I called the babe Kiwi, after one of the fruits she was the size of in the first trimester, and somehow it stuck. (It may well also be because of how many kiwi’s I’ve eaten over the course of this pregnancy).  This is a rough-and-tumble blanket, made from a sturdy knit stitch with a fun little border.  It’s cotton, easily washable and it holds up to wear and tear.  This is the blanket for taking outside (grass stains will blend in!) and throwing into the car.  Krista, working with kids, knows the type of blanket needed for an active child, which is what I’m sure Little Turtle will be!

The last one is from my high-school friend Jess, who is also expecting a baby.  Her knit ripple blanket seems like the end of a perfect quintet – this is a blanket meant for snuggling under on cold winter day, the ripples and texture providing extra warmth.  Almost the same size as the blanket from my knitting group, it’s knitted in a worsted yarn, so is a little thicker and sturdier – the difference between spring and true winter.  I love the vibrant purples!

 

Project Updates

I’ve been struggling with all the rain we’ve been getting in Virginia the last week.  It’s made me want to hole up inside, forget my work, and knit/crochet to a good series of audiobooks.  Ever have those weeks?

This weekend ended up being like a breath of fresh air – the weather was warm and favorable, and we were able to tackle some projects we’d been wanting to get to before Little Turtle arrived.  Little Turtle, thankfully, was accommodating.

As I’m wrapping up projects left and right before Little Turtle comes, it’s given me some breathing room to tackle some personal knitting projects that had stalled.  It’s also given me a bit of breathing room to begin dreaming again – projects and ideas I’ve been wanting to tackle, yarn that needs to be used, and things that have been resting in the back of my mind that needed to come out.

Rosemary and Bay

I finally finished the small touches on my own, personal Rosemary & Bay.  I started it shortly after St. Patrick’s day, so it has a bit of an Irish theme.  Which is OK with me – my father’s family being Boston Irish, I figure I’m entitled to dressing Little Turtle in Shamrocks on more than just the holiday.  The small Shamrock was duplicate stitched after finishing the dress.

 

Wooden Buttons

It still needs a good ribbon for the center – debating if I want to do a shade of green, white, or something completely different.  I added two little wooden buttons for the back closure.  I actually turned the buttons around so the backside is facing outwards: I like this side better!

 

Coming off of Unwind I’d had a number of samples I’d started for classes.  I normally try and have something to use to demonstrate on (even if I’m just as prone to “stealing” student’s projects).  That way, if someone needs to practice a skill before working on their own piece, there’s one available.  Still, after the weekend I had a yen to finish the pieces, rather than just ripping them out and returning the yarn to the pile.  A week later, and I find I’m richer two sets of pulsvarmers and a half-finished cowl – pictures to come!

What have you been working on?

 

Ravelry 101: Tomorrow!

Tomorrow afternoon at 1pm EST I’ll be teaching Ravelry 101 thru Interweave’s Craft U platform.  I’m very excited!  It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to teach this class, and I love being able to use Interweave’s electronic teaching to reach students I normally don’t get to teach.

You might wonder how this class fits into my normal lineup, as most of my classes are knitting and crochet related.  Ravelry is a knitting and crochet-focused website with more than 6 million users.  While it isn’t a technique that will make your knitting shine, or challenge your crochet skills, it will teach you how to make the most out of this valuable website.  I use Ravelry daily – to find patterns, connect with other crafters, answer questions about my patterns, and learn more about yarn.  When I have a question about nearly anything, I can go to Ravelry to get my answers.

You might also wonder how this class is different than the one I taught a few years ago thru Interweave.  Well, to be frank, technology is changing all the time, and the class that I taught before isn’t completely up-to-date.  I found that I had new tips, new perspectives, and new techniques to share.  Ravelry had rolled out new functionality, and I thought it was valuable enough to update!

Want to sign up for the course?  I’d love to have you!  Enroll now: https://www.craftonlineuniversity.com/courses/ravelry-101.