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Twist Collective Blog

I'm a Joiner: NaKniSweMo


Shannon Okey is doing the NaKniSweMo thing again. Cool. Shannon is prolific in the cool ideas department.

That's a particularly provocative kind of cool idea. I am suddenly seized by it. Yeah. I remember thinking I wanted to do that last year. And boy, do I have list of things I want to knit this year. I wonder why that is . . . ?

Maybe I should kick in for it myself. Sweater? Eeenie meenie miney . . . Victoria from the fall issue.  



And because it's so drop dead gorgeous in the original ShiBui Merino Kid, I'm splurging on a fresh yarn purchase in this colour. Honey.




I hope it will get here quickly.  I have a few days to catch up on, and the Ravelry group to read through.  Thanks for the inspiration, Shannon! 


A Fiber Tour of My Home Town: Edgewood, New Mexico

Tour Location: Edgewood, New Mexico (20 minutes east of Albuquerque)
Transportation: Car
Potential Wallet Hit: Low to Medium
By Margaret Briggs
Designer, kNotes for knitters

I feel so lucky to live on the “green side” of the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico, about 20 minutes east – and 2,000 feet UP – from New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. Our rolling hills and steep mountain slopes are thickly carpeted with fragrant piñon and juniper, we average 362 days of sunshine a year, and thanks to our cool, clean air, we have little need of air conditioning. And even though my rural community of Edgewood numbers fewer than 2,000 residents, you’d be amazed at how many of us are fiber-centric souls!

I’d start any fiber tour of my home town with a stop at our cozy LYS, Good Fibrations. Owner Bethe Orrell fondly describes her shop as “a living room for knitters and weavers”, and stocks a great selection of local fiber and yarns, patterns and tools. I learned to knit by attending her easy-going Saturday morning classes; her ever-expanding curriculum includes beginner to advanced instruction in knitting, felting, weaving and more “crafty” pursuits. Best of all, Good Fibrations is open seven days a week!

View Larger Map


While you’re in the neighborhood, call ahead to schedule a tour of Robin Pascal’s Fiber Arts and Perfect Button studio. Here you’ll find Robin’s rainbow of hand-painted roving and yarns, offered individually or assembled into project kits, hand-stitched art clothing, and the glorious dichroic glass buttons that Robin fuses in her own kiln.

In keeping with the rural character of our ranching and farming community, you’ll find a number of friendly “fiber farmers” that welcome visitors. Explore a dozen different farms during our annual East Mountain Fiber Farm Tour, held the first or second week of June, or visit two of my personal favorites anytime by appointment:

Bob and Sharry Bone raise Corriedale, Lincoln and Shetland sheep, and angora goats at their Westfarthing Farm --“Home of Happy Sheep!”-- and walk away with many of the top fleece prizes at our annual New Mexico State Fair. Their secret? Their lucky sheep are covered from 4 weeks of age on, for unbelievably soft, clean fleeces. You may purchase any of their fleeces, roving or finished yarns you covet, made right there at Westfarthing.

Next stop: Shooting Star Farm, a pocket-sized fiber farm owned by Connie and Fred Dyba. The Dybas raise Navajo churro sheep, angora goats, alpacas and llamas, kept safe by their equally-wooly Great Pyrenees dogs. Call ahead to schedule a fascinating farm tour, available Wednesdays through Sundays. If you’re traveling with children, they’ll love Itty Bitty, the miniature donkey, and the informative, kid-friendly materials Connie hands out; you’ll love the selection of fleeces, roving and yarns to choose from, plus fragrant, homegrown lavender products.

Last but not least, don’t miss the nearby Tijeras Open-Air Arts Market, open every weekend from May to October. This is a juried arts and crafts fair nestled into a woodsy outdoor site in nearby Tijeras Canyon. Browse hand-woven shawls, knitted scarves and caps (not to mention barbed wire jewelry, ancient fossils and glossy strands of turquoise beads), crafted by local Sandia Mountain artists, all the while enjoying the sunshine, cool mountain air, live music and gourmet coffees.

More New Mexico Fiber Arts Destinations
And should you wish to explore New Mexico’s fiber world farther afield than Edgewood, I highly recommend The New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail: A Guide to Rural Fiber Arts Destinations compiled and published by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. You can download a free copy of this state-wide guidebook instantly at their website, New Mexico Fiber Arts.

Note: As a courtesy to the working artists and farmers on my list, please remember to call ahead to schedule your visit. For all contact information and addresses, please see the google map.

Twist Collective at Rhinebeck 2008

It was a working vacation for Irene, Kate, and me.  We're in the last weeks before the Winter issue, so not a day can go by without some site construction.  The hotel had wifi, but the sockets required a little remedial attention. Luckily, I had a handy whack of little tools to serve as wedge-props for the wilting plug.


We handed out buttons, tape measures, and our new postcards all day Saturday and Sunday, and saw a number of Wisterias in their natural habitat, like this one YarnBee Cheryl was wearing on Sunday.

yarnbee wisteria 

We were sad to be there without Mary who was at home recovering from giving birth to her son, Henry.  The three of us bought some yarn and knit him a quick hat.




Mother, Father and Son are all doing well. 


An Unscheduled Announcement

I have some good news, at least for the bunch of us at the magazine: Mary, our technical director and web wiz, had her baby boy early this morning. Showing up as early as he did, his name was not yet ready for him, so I am not able to share that little detail with you. I do know that he was a healthy 5 pounds, 3 ounces. Mother, baby, and papa are all resting and blissed out and would welcome your good wishes if you care to make them.

Meanwhile, we are not quite sure what this means for our schedule, but we’re making plans B and C. We’ll let you know as soon as we have anything to share.

How to Make an 8 Inch Sock Fit a 9½ Foot

Friends of mine know or suspect that I have rather a large inventory of sock yarn, which amuses them because they certainly know that I am a paltry sock knitter. I love hand knit socks, but my needles are usually occupied with larger things, and uppity knitter that I am, the humility of the hand knit sock is something I sometimes have a hard time fitting into. I'd rather wear my status as a knitter on my ::ahem:: sleeve.

But the sock stash, it is big nonetheless. I like socks, but I love sock yarn; every little ball is an entire ecosystem unto itself, the prospect of a week's worth of knitting within 12 cubic inches. And as the population of yarn artists grows, my responsibilities as a collector have become positively curatorial. Like the fourth graders trading Pokemon cards on the school bus, I can click through The Loopy Ewe's website as if it were a card deck, chanting "got it got it got it need it got it . . . "

But accumulation has its practical aspects when it comes to casting on and needing just the right yarn. Thanks to my recent finishing frenzy, I have room in the project bag for Cookie A.'s Maelstroms that I've been wanting to knit. The pattern is written for an 8 inch finished circumference, but I measure 9½ inches around the ball of my foot. I have to knit to a larger gauge, which means fewer stitches to the inch. The sock is 65 stitches, so for my foot I would calculate the necessary gauge by dividing 65 by 9½, and get 6.8 stitches to the inch.

However, I know there is some stretch in the pattern. I want a snug sock, because a loose sock is a miserable thing. How much stretch is there exaclty in the Maelstrom pattern? My guess is that I'll need at least a 10% deduction from the foot measurement to take up the ease built into the pattern. Ten percent less than 9½ is about 8½ inches. The stitch count of 65 divided by 8½ gives me 7½ stitches per inch result. Remember: when talking about gauge, smaller numbers per inch means larger stitches. Larger numbers per inch mean smaller stitches. 
socks in process

I have two options, I can use similar yarn but use larger needles, but the fabric would be looser and would wear poorly. Or I can look through my stash for a slightly larger yarn to keep that nice dense fabric I prefer in a sock, and swatch. I'm looking for a ball band that promises my target gauge, and I come up with several options in my stash, but only one of the yarns is in a colour that says "Maelstrom" to me: Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Bella Coola. Don't get me wrong: I love all the colours I've seen Maelstroms knit in. I'd entertain a good red, or even autumnal browns and oranges, but all the other yarns I had in the stash with this gauge were too flat or too busy. This one was just right with analogous colours that are a fun mix but don't muddy the texture.
All that was left was to swatch and confirm that indeed I had my gauge. But since swatches can be deceptive, and certainty could only come with some of the sock to put on my foot, I just cast on.
Stay tuned, as usual.