Author Archives: Alliston

AFHandcrafts at the Handmade Mafia

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Always exciting in Edmonton are the constant farmer’s, artisans, pop-up and handmade markets throughout the city.  I feel very fortunate to be able to take part in these events to be able to showcase my handmade products to locals.  I have had much more luck selling items in person than online with Etsy.com

I love that at markets customers can come up and feel my yarns, rovings, batts, scarves and bags.  When I have stuff for sale, I know that touching an item is a big part of wanting to purchase it.

Needless to say I’m in full gear for the upcoming Handmade Mafia Market on June 2, 2012.  As always, I will have varied selection of hand spun yarns, uniquely dyed roving, crazy blended batts, squiggly scarves and a wonderful project bag.

Here are two Shetland rovings dyed with the season in mind. Bright green spring and late, lovely fall.

Newest from my studio are beautiful blended batts.  Ranging from 40g to 75g in weight, these batts contain wool, silk, firestar, locks and sari silk.

Crafter in the Mountains

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Spring has finally arrived in chilly Alberta, and with spring comes camping!  Last year, my Hubby and I were very fortunate to find our very own travel trailer.  A 1973 Holdaire, around 18′ long with a bed, a bathroom, a small kitchen and 2 rolling wheels!  Needless to say that we’re excited to get going!

We’ve decided to head out to the Mountains for the May Long Weekend.  This time, however, we’ll be on a fully paved highway in a well-established campground/resort.  Learning from experience, camping off of logging roads is best done is dry season.

Hopefully this camping trip will be a little more mellow and a lot less snowy.  So far the weather reports are hopeful, mild weather and a little rain!

Now the debate starts, what do I bring to craft over a 4-day weekend?

Easter Crafting Love

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I hope everyone had a lovely Easter Weekend!  I feel doubly-lucky as I was able to hop a flight and go spend the weekend with Shaz and her family, then fly home in time for a wonderful Easter lunch with my family.

While in Kamloops we (surprise, surprise) crafted like it was going out of style! Because it was going to be a short holiday for me, I did not bring my full compliment of spindles.  On the average long weekend trip, I bring 1 spindle/day, plus one.  For this trip, I only packed one spindle that was working on, spinning a merino braid purchased at Wool Revival earlier in the week.

Merino Roving on Airplane! spindle

I had planned on spinning both of the braids in the photo (one ripped into strips) and then ply them together into a sport-weight 2-ply, but once I got close to finishing the first braid Shaz declared that it was her yarn.  We were able to give it a bath  and hang it to dry.  I am very happy with the results!

Laceweight single

We were also able to visit a wonderful yarn store, Electrictree Yarns! Full of yarn roving, spinning wheels and a great sit down area, I was happily able to buy linen roving, cashmere down, silk hankies and beautifully dyed BFL roving from Caroline’s (the owner) collection.  I was also very happy to stay in my fibre budget for the trip!

I love LYS’s!

Re-Skeining, FTW!

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I love dyeing yarn!  Whether is my own spun yarn, or commerically spun, I will dye it all!

This is Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool dyed with Dharma Acid Dyes. I love the colours, but hate the fact that it’s a little blotchy.  But, after a re-skein and looking over the terrible little knot, I could not be happier with the result.

Now I have two wonderful skeins of 100% wool, bright green with orange splashes.  My favourite dyed yarn to date is my own handspun, Blue Faced Leicester spun into a thin 2-ply yarn.

I dyed the skein with Dharma’s Navy & Peacock blues, hoping for a cobalt-like colour.  I think I succeeded in making yarn that I don’t want to part with!

I think that this yarn would make a beautiful shawl, like the Boneyard (free Ravelry pattern), or perhaps a beret! But, if you’re a weaver, I know it would look wonderful as the Woven Gossamer Wings Butterfly shawl by Noreen Crone-Findlay!

Knitting hiatus!

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Is has become very apparent to me that too much of a good thing can be painful…  Which is sad because I love crafting.  But crafting too much and too long has forced me to slow down and enjoy the skeins, so to speak.

In the last month I have given myself a painful case of tendinitis…  This has come to severely interfere in my knitting, spinning and overall craftiness.  My Physiotherapist has told me I should stop knitting, spinning or doing anything involving my wrist & thumb.

As of this post, I have not knit in over 60 hours.  I have no knitting or spindles in my purse, backpack, car as to avoid the temptation to pick up a UFO or to start a new project.

On the other hand, I have been able to organise my hand-dyed and hand-spun yarns for sale over the next couple of weeks.  That is something that I have put off to complete time-sensitive projects.  It feels very good to re-skein, label and track all my yarns, rovings and spindles.

Although….

Next weekend, I will likely turn sharply from my Physio’s advice as I will be joining a group of fibre freaks in the Mountains for a bi-annual crafting get-away.  I plan on bringing a large amount of spinning to work on, and to show off Walter, my handsome, German spinning wheel.

Organising my sale yarns has become my evening activity that brings me inner peace. I have been able to measure, weigh and label all of my completely skeins, a chore unto itself.

Thankfully, my Hubby and I are setting up my AFHandcrafts website where I planning on blogging, updating local events and selling my fun handspun yarn.  I also plan on making tutorial videos as my skill level allows, I’ve very excited to be able to show people how I dye my yarns & fibres.

Hooray for technology!

AFHandcrafts Sale!

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I love spinning, I spend much of my time at behind my Walter Kircher spinnrad (spinning wheel) working on different styles of yarn from laceweight, to bulky and even art yarns!  Right now, I’ve started gathering quite the variety of yarns and I need to clear out my AFHandcrafts etsy shop to make room for the new stuff!  If you go to my shop, use the code spring10time to get 10% off your purchase!  The sale will be on until April 30th, 2012 or until the items are gone!

'Green Grass' corriedale handspun

Red corriedale handspun

Orange merino handspun

Happy crafting!

Dyeing commences!

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This spring I have decided to build my skills by learning how to take wonderful rovings, locks, fleeces and dyeing them with wonderful Dharma Acid dyes.  This past week, with wonderful weather, I was able to set up a preliminary dyeing station on the deck to try my first roving with the new dyes.  I am very, very happy with the results:

Aurora, Merino/Silk roving dyed with Dark Navy, Peacock Blue, Teddy Bear Brown and Brilliant Orange.

Aurora Braid, Merino/Silk

 

Once the dye was used up, I put in some BFL roving and tried something a little different, Brilliant Yellow, Fire Engine Red and after a few minutes, a touch of True Black.

Zombie, BFL roving

 

Because not all of the blue had full exhausted and because I did not change the colour, the Brilliant Yellow became lime green.  I can’t help but to think of all the fun zombie movies I love to watch with my husband.

These are currently for sale on my Facebook Page, seach: AFHandcrafts, or in my Ravelry stash page, search: nomadalli.

Happy crafting!

Spinning the ugliest yarn… On purpose!

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I love art yarns. I love looking at them, feeling them and spinning them myself! In the year I have been spinning, my forays with art yarn have been mild, beginning with yarn that became a big wool toque. I spun the colours together with no reason and it wasn’t until I knit with it that I realised how great it was.

To date, the Art Yarn I spun up using “Franklin” Art batt from Neauveau Fiber Arts, corriedale fleece from Wooly Wool of the West and some gold filament from my Mum-in-law, is my very favourite. I spun the art batt into a thick & thin single with lots of lumps and chunks, I then plied it with coils onto a single of combed corriedale top and to bind it all together I spun it loosely with gold filament. This really made all the wonderful colours and sparkles from the art batt pop!

Successfully making a skein of funky, colourful yarn can only serve as a gateway to even crazier things! Therefore, I started my newest art yarn with a collection of rolags from leftovers off my comb & hackle.

The pile consists of primarily corriedale, with splashes of merino, cotswold, mohair and synthetics. And yes, I plan on spinning the WHOLE pile of it! As for the wheel, I am using my Mum-in-law’s beautiful wheel.

She is a single-treadle, bobbin driven, large orifice wheel and I especially love her for plying! Notice the size of the bobbin? Yeah, they could be dumbbells for King Kong!

So last night I got into my spinning chair, turned on the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race and started treadling. After nearly 2 hours of Drag Queens and Futurama, I ended up with this:

Reds, yellows, and pinks! Oh my! And sadly, it isn’t half as colourful as the frocks worn by the Drag Queens… Sigh.

It is spinning beautifully, with some lumpy-bumpy bits and spots with sparkle. Currently, the plan is to spin up that pile into sock-ish weight singles and then ply them together using different techniques. I’m hoping to get a great big skein on nonsensical, squishy yarn to amuse and bewilder the masses.

Please check back over the next week to help me name the skein!

Fibre Diet, March 2012

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For the first time, ever, in my entire knitting life I have decided to go on a fibre diet for a whole month.  (Insert shocked sounds here.)

Yes, I, Alliston will refrain from purchasing fleece, roving, add-ins, and yarn from March 1 – 31, 2012, except in the event that the items are needed for a custom order.  (Yeah! Loophole!)

As of today, March 12th, 2012, I have not spent any money on these items. I am proud of myself because I am an avid Ravelry user and am never far from anything fibrous.

I decided to stop my purchases of anything squishy and shiny so I can dig down to the bottom of my fibre bins to see all the wonderful stuff I have accumulated in a little over a year of spinning.  And once I’ve emptied those bins, I can go on to my vast and varied yarn collection.

I guess I have been able to keep myself busy planning for the upcoming craft markets I will be attending in Edmonton:

March 24 & 25, 2012, On the Spot Pop-up Craft Fair, 10720 – 124 street, Edmonton, AB.

This will be my first show with On the Spot, and I am looking forward to meeting the organisers and aligning with such a great group!

April 14th, 2012, Handmade Mafia, 10335 – 84 Avenue, Edmonton, AB.

This will also be my first show with the Mafia.  Unfortunately I was ill for the last show and had to cancel my attendance in early March.

Apart from craft shows, I have been very fortunate to share my spinning talents with my Mum-in-law, Noreen Crone-Findlay.  She has used many of my yarns in her weaving projects and I am very happy to share!

Happy crafting!

The Great Toque Marathon: finale!

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Now that my Xmas and winter weather knitting rush has quieted, I can get back to blogging and building my Etsy store! I was very happy to receive an email from the customer who purchased the 10 toques from my Great Toque Marathon Part 1 & Part 2. The toques were enjoyed by all over Christmas as well as out in Banff and Lake Louise, AB.

I was very pleased that the toques helped the family to bond and keep warm in the cool weather. I can only imagine they bewildered looks wherever they travelled. According to my customer, they were helpful in spotting each other on the busy Banff sidewalks!

I’m very proud and happy that I was able to help welcome French visitors to Canada in style. Bienvenue!

Christmas with warm ears!

Thank you to Jan & her family for sharing their Christmas photos.