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Pia Skaarer Nielsen, the Annapolis Valley farmer, fibre artist and artisan behind Wondrous Woolerie spindles, sent us these pictures of some new additions to her fibre family:

Can you spot the shy one?

Pia handcrafts her drop spindles from reclaimed hardwoods and cabinetry scraps: she is particularly fond of using antique maple broomsticks for the shafts. We like them because they are convertible (top or bottom whorl), simply designed and great for beginners. These days she is hard at work on the spindles for our April 13th Drop Spindle workshop. This workshop is currently full, but don’t despair: you can contact us to be added to the waiting list or to be notified next time the class is offered!

There’s no denying that many knitters have come to rely on the computer as an essential tool. Even if you don’t spend every spare moment in the parallel knitting universe of Ravelry, you probably do search the internet for patterns, inspiration and technical support from time to time.

But have you ever thought about how your computer can help you offline too? I often use Excel, Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, to plot out shaping or stitch patterns: first I set the spreadsheet’s grid to a proportion that reflects my stitch and row gauge, then I select symbols from the standard Microsoft fonts to signify increases, decreases and various other stitches, and pop them in the graph where necessary. Until today.

As I was tinkering with the pattern charts I’ve made for the upcoming Introduction to Knitted Lace class, I began to wonder if some tech-savvy knitter out there hadn’t designed a font of standard knitting symbols–the kind you see in commercial patterns. Google answered my question in about 1/100th of a second and made me feel silly for not having asked the question sooner. I downloaded Aire River Design’s free TrueType font. It was easy to install and includes a great range of symbols, including dozens of increases and decreases.

XRX–the publisher of Knitter’s Magazine–also has a free knitting font available on this page, which also features a downloadable PDF of a great article by David Xenakis on using Photoshop to create colour charts from digital images.

What about you? Is your computer a useful knitting tool?

Whenever we receive a shipment of a new item, I get a serious case of cast-on-itis. A couple of weeks ago it was the Tofutsies … I had to get some going to see what it is like. (It is nice! A soft cottony silky feel, very cushy.) Creating samples for the store provides a convenient excuse.

Today we received a package of Fiddlesticks Lace Sensation accompanied by a nice intermediate lace pattern. Lace Sensation is 100% silk in a slightly heavier lace weight. The best thing is, a single 50 gram ball (240m) is all it takes to make one of the “Lacy Botanical” scarves. The price of a ball is $10.00, so at that price they will make great gifts …

Naturally I’m itching to give it a try, see how this yarn knits up and also try an intermediate lace pattern that’s a little more challenging than what I’ve done so far. The hardest thing will be to decide on a colour …

We’ve received our first shipment of the Manos wool-silk blend. It’s a blend of 30% silk, 70% wool that just begs to be ogled and fondled. At 50grams the skeins are smaller than the wool, and the single ply is spun to a DK weight yielding 150 yards (135 metres).

The sheen of the silk is so beautiful …

This morning we received our first shipment of Tofutsies sock yarn. This is an enticing blend of 50% superwash wool, 25% soy silk, 22.5% cotton, and 2.5% chitin. Chitin is the material that gives strength to the exoskeleton of arthropods. In Tofutsies, the chitin comes from crab and shrimp shells, and the manufacturers claim that it is “naturally antibacterial”.

Each ball is 100grams, 425 metres, but they are so compact that it was hard to imagine that a full pair of adult socks could spring from it. So I decided to cast on, immediately … entering them in the inventory database could wait a few minutes. Here’s what I observed:

Note the ball of yarn with and without the label. It brings to mind that feeling after a huge Christmas or Thanksgiving meal when you finally get to undo your top button … That is to say, the ball of yarn became much more relaxed and plump. I’m now convinced that there are at least two socks in there.

Cathy

Welcome to The Loop’s new blog! We will use this space to keep you updated on the knitting and fibre world as we see it from here on historic Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Cathy is merriment
Mimi is starlings
Morgan is pomoboho
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