Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Time For June Classes!

Today is the last day of May. The calendar says summer is three weeks off, but we know better. So it's time for summer school-- the fun kind. Think of it as Knitting Camp for Big Kids. Lots of great classes are coming right up. Info is below. Call the store or drop by to reserve your space.

June 9, 16, 23, 30
a 4 class series
6:30 - 8:30
Fee: $67 plus materials.

This 4-week class is the first of our KNIT U series. It's perfect for beginners or those who knitted in a galaxy far far away! Students will learn how to knit, purl, cast on, bind off, knit in the round with double point needles, and simple decreasing. Students will complete 2 projects, one basic (a scarf, washcloth, or headband) and a second more complex project requiring shaping skills (a hat).

PREREQUISITE: No previous experience required.

IMPORTANT: Come early as students will pick their yarn in your first class. Class size is limited--call 512-707-7396 to register!

Design Time with Connie!
Summer Top Design Clinic

June 5, 1-5pm

Get your design ideas rolling with a simple summer style garment. Make it your own! Build your confidence for more complex garments by learning how to change sleeve length, neck line, body shaping, etc. from existing patterns. We can also explore the use of color, fiber and stitch patterns.

Prerequisites: Some garment construction is necessary (at least a simple tank top).

Materials Needed: Bring the pattern(s), yarns and supplies you might wish to work with. You may also bring photos of garments you really like.

Wooly Blooms for Summer

June 6, 1-4pm
Class Level: Absolute Beginner (NO experience)

We will start with pansies making happy and colorful blooms to pin on a lapel, purse or scarf. If time permits we can also create a bell shaped bloom with a stem and leaves. Your green thumb will get some exercise in this beginner level class.

Materials Needed: merino fleece or a similar fine fleece, felting needles, and a couple of old towels. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes. Fleece may be brought from home or bought at HCW.

a three class series
June 6 and June 20 9:45-12:45
June 27 10:30-12:30
Fee: 60.00
Intermediate (somewhat independent)

Join Fran to knit this
charming baby sweater. This can be a great first knitted sweater project and a wonderful gift for that special baby. In this class, we'll cover swatching for gauge and pattern reading, picking up stitches for the neck and button band, reading a simple chart and finishing techniques including buttonholes, assembling your sweater, and blocking.

Prerequisites: Students should have all the basic knitting skills. Their complete knitting projects should include knitting and purling on the same row (like a rib stitch) and pattern reading.

Materials needed:
- Approximately 400 yards (for 6-9 month size) to 600 yards (for 9-12, 12-18, and 18-24 month sizes) of yarn with a gauge of 5 to 5.5 sts per inch.
- Bring needles of size needed to obtain gauge plus needles 1 size smaller for neck edge and button band
- 4 stitch holders or waste yarn, stitch markers, tape measure.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hooked on Learning

Hello Fellow Fiber Fanatics,
Awhile back, I spent some time talking crochet with Brenda, who showed me a Granny Square blanket she'd made. We also took a tour of the wonderful book room at the shop, focusing on crochet books. Brenda made the excellent point that just because some books are targeted at kids doesn't mean they aren't also great for adult beginners. Makes sense-- the instructions broken down and spelled out in super simple terms. And even if you never plan to trade in your needles for a hook, remember that crocheted borders and embellishments can bump your knitted project up from fantastic to super stunning fantastic with the most basic crochet touches. Brenda will be teaching some crochet classes soon, and I'll be sure to let you know when that's happening.

Speaking of letting you know stuff-- I've been posting a bit less frequently lately and here's why: I am working on a novel. I set a goal for myself to be finished the first draft by the end of May. Often, life's demands interfered, and I thought I might not finish as planned. This is also how I feel about some of my knitting projects. I try never to knit on a deadline, but occasionally I find myself wanting to get something done either for a specific occasion or because I'm eager to start something new. Well, the knitting/novel-writing have both been great reminders of how progress can be accomplished with baby steps. I'm not entirely sure how I pulled it off, but it actually looks like I'll be meeting my book goal by Monday AND that I just might, on the same day (or shortly thereafter), finish the feather and fan scarf I started months ago. I'm about to add in the last skein and I can hardly believe it since some weeks it felt like I didn't knit at all. So here's to incremental progress, eh?

Coming up really soon-- a bit of exciting news about an article I had published in InterWeave Knits, and some important info about upcoming classes. In the meanwhile, enjoy the long weekend. Happy Knitting! AND Crocheting! Here are some crochet book suggestions:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Indie Dyers: We Heart You!

I was in the shop the other day, hitting up Lindsay for some post ideas. I should've mentioned this about 10,000 posts ago-- Lindsay very often provides the inspiration for these posts, since she is right on top of everything coming in at any given time. She also sends me plenty of photos, too. My gratitude for her behind-the-scenes dedication to the blog is bigger than a massive ball of super-chunky, to understate the matter.

So on this recent trip, I was showing off the Feather & Fan project I am oh-so-slowly working my way through, using the stunning, hand painted yarn I picked up that is made by Gina Wilde at Alchemy. This got us to chatting about independent dyers, and Lindsay followed up by sending me lots of groovy pictures of yarn from Anzula (Mermaid & Squishy), Handmaiden (Casbah, Mini Maiden, CamelSpin, SeaSilk, & Double SeaSilk, and Madeline Tosh (Pashmina, Tosh DK, and Tosh Sock). I'm here to pass along those pictures and remind you that Lindsay-- and the rest of the staff-- are always on the ball (sorry, had to make the pun) and glad to let you know what's new, too-- just ask. Here are some pictures to whet your appetite.

[Above: Tosh Sock]
[Above: Tosh DK]
[Above: Anzula Squishy]
[Above: Handmaiden SeaSilk]
[Above: Tosh Pashmia]
[Above: Handmaiden Mini Maiden]
[Above: Anzula Mermaid]
[Above: Handmaiden Double SeaSilk]
[Above: Handmaiden Casbah]
[above: CamelSpin]

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's That Time Again: Summer Camp at HCW!

CAMP HCW 2010!!

June 28 - July 2
July 5 -9
July 12 -16
July 19 - 23
July 26- 30

TIME: 9 - 1 Monday through Friday
Fee: $ 200.00
Age : camper must be NINE years old or older.

1. Beginner
2. Advanced
3. Independent *
PROJECTS: When calling to register your camper, please let the HCW staff know what weaving projects your camper has completed at previous camps in order to determine the appropriate experience level and to individualize weaving projects for your camper.

Camp for Independent Weavers
HCW will continue its independent weaver program for more advanced weavers.
*Campers must have completed 3 prerequisite weaving projects to be considered for the independent weaving program. Independent weavers are eligible to sign up for more than one session.

June 28 - July 2
July 5 -9
July 12 -16
July 19 - 23
July 26- 30

TIME: 2:00 - 4:00 Monday through Friday
Fee: $75.00 plus materials
Age : camper must be NINE years old or older.


Please Contact Suzanne at 707-7396 if you are interested in or need early drop off or late pick up times.

1. Contact HCW at 707-7396 with credit card information to secure a spot for your camper.
2. A 2 week notice is required for cancellation in order to avoid penalty (unless we can fill your slot from our waiting list)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Knit Graffiti and Upcoming Classes

Hey Y'all,
I'm guessing most (probably ALL) of you know by now about the knit graffiti that went up around town earlier this month as part of Fusebox Festival. Magda Sayeg, aka Knitta Please, was commissioned to do the work, which includes knitted covers for "those weird blue things" at the Lamar underpass. I actually heard a number of people-- not even all of them knitters-- wishing the knitting would stay up. But I've heard it'll be coming down soon, so if you haven't had a chance to go look, check it out before it's gone. There are pictures and more info at this link.

Moving right along... Here's some info about upcoming classes.

SPIN 201
May 15/16
Fee $65 plus $10 materials fee

Join Deb for a continuation of beginning spinning. This class is for those who have taken Spin 101 or the equivalent. We will work on spinning a consistent yarn, intro to long draw spinning and spinning from the fold, plying, color blending and fiber blends for simple yarn variations.

Materials: Instructor will supply all fiber for class. Bring fiber you have questions about or would like to spin. Bring wheel if you have one and hand carders if you have them.

Level: advanced beginner
Prerequisite: Spin 101 or equivalent and the ability to spin a continuous yarn. It doesn't have to be pretty.

May 16/23 a 2 day class
9:45 - 12:45

Have you ever knitted a pair of socks and worried that maybe you knitted the cuff just a little too long and think: Will I have enough yarn to finish the sock? This class will relieve all that "sock anxiety"and you won't have to submit any claims to your health insurance company.

This class is designed for the new or experienced sock knitter.

Skills taught:
Knitting socks on 2 circulars
Learn to customize the fit of your sock
Crochet cast on
Creating a "short row" toe
Sewn Cast off (Elizabeth Zimmerman)

Sport weight yarn (Suggested yarns: Koigu Kersti- 3sks, Louet Gems- 2sks, Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sport- 2sk)
2 #3 circular needle (or size to obtain gauge knit at 6.5-7sts/inch)
crochet hook, stitch markers

Lace Washcloths
May 22

Heirlooms are a family's link from its past to the present and a legacy for the future. Join Fran and learn to create three unique lace washcloths that will be used today and quite possibly become a part of your family's heirlooms.
You will learn:
To interpret a lace stitch pattern
To read a simple lace charts
To knit on a lace edge
And learn to convert any lace edge pattern

Class Project
3 lace washcloths and 2 lace edging

Euroflax Original Linen
#4,5 and #8 needle
stitch markers

Prerequisites- Students should be proficient in basic knitting skills (knitting, purling and casting on independently) and an understanding of simple increases and decreases.
Students should also have completed at least 1 project that required pattern reading
Fee: $45.00

Please bring your knitting gear & don't forget to wind your yarn before class so you don't miss anything!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Road Trip: Kai Ranch-- Meet Lisa Shell & Her Angora Goats

Several years ago, I was at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar when I came across a booth carrying locally handspun mohair made from the coats of Angora goats. I began salivating immediately, and stopped to chat with Lisa Shell, who with her husband, Randy, runs Kai Ranch about an hour east of Austin. Lisa raises and shears the goats, cleans the mohair, spins some of it, and—most time-consuming—dyes a bunch of it before selling it. (She also sells natural, undyed roving and fiber, also really beautiful.)

During that first encounter, I asked if I might visit the ranch one day, and Lisa said springtime was best—that’s when all the new kids arrive. I made a mental note then to pay a visit. It took me four years to get out there, but a few weeks ago, returning from a trip to Houston, I popped in.

Oh boy!

By my estimation, Lisa lives a fantasy life. Which isn’t to say raising a herd isn’t sometimes hard—it is. And it also isn’t to say that I could actually do it myself (remember, for me, it’s a fantasy). But spending time with someone whose entire life is dedicated to fiber like that, well let’s just say it was a magical and inspiring afternoon for me.

The ranch is off the beaten path, and Lisa sent very careful directions since once you get to a certain spot odds are pretty good your cell phone won’t work. We turned this way and that (my boyfriend/photographer was in tow), and finally found the entrance. Lisa greeted us, stepping outside of her cozy house. We headed right out to the pastures.

On the way, I asked her how many goats she has. Her quick answer: “Too many to feed and not enough to sell.”

Before long, we came to a clearing and there they stood— around forty does and about as many adorable little kids. The bucks were over in their own area in a pen. Guarding the herd: three Great Pyrenees-- Sue, Lola, and Anu. The massive white dogs, appearing to be distant kin of small polar bears, know their jobs well. Lisa makes sure to bring a new pup into the pack when the eldest starts getting up there in age. That way, the youngster can learn from the old hands to guard, not attack, the goats.

She raises fine white and
colored Angoras—the former breed dating back 2,000 years. Colored Angora goats are, she says, something of late-- no more than 100 years old. On average, each will live to be 8 to 10 years old, producing 10 to 20 pounds of mohair yearly through their entire lives. They are a vision to behold, all those curly locks, those peculiar eyes, those curving horns. And the babies—oh the babies. I wanted to load up at least six of them and move them directly into my house.

Next year will mark a full quarter of a century since Lisa started raising the goats, a life she came to possibly by accident though, from the looks of things, might likely more have been fate. In the eighties, she and Randy were living in California, where he was stationed in the military. Lisa took a class in spinning and weaving and, in an instant, fell in love with the processes. When they later moved to Japan for several years, she continued to pursue her passion, both practicing her newfound art and reading as much as she could on the topic.

During this time, she and her husband took a six-week trip to Australia, where they stayed with a sheep rancher during shearing season, a working vacation to understate the matter. She left thinking that attempting to raise her own fiber-producing animals would be too much work. But then, when they moved from Japan to San Angelo, she spotted a guy in a truck with a Morrit ewe (Morrit refers to a true brown color). She stopped him and bought both the ewe and a ram. That was the start of it.

Before long, she switched from sheep to goats, her decision informed by her affinity for mohair. Building her herd—she wanted colored Angora goats, not the far more dominant white kind— was not an easy task. “There were not many people who would talk to me,” she explains. “I was beyond the black sheep. Breeders of white goats didn’t want to admit they had colored goats.”

Eventually, though she assembled a respectable herd, which, at one point, grew to 200. With each season comes a different set of tasks. She breeds them in the fall, with does assigned to specific bucks since they all have to be registered, and the papers require accounting for heritage. Twice annually she shears. Then there are vaccinations, “ear-piercing” (they’re all tagged), and—in winter—
outfitting them in warm clothes, buying thrift shop sweaters, and “tailoring” them with zip ties to fit the goats, who seem to appreciate trying on wool for a change.

Winter also means Armadillo Christmas Bazaar time, and with it brutal hours but profitable business. Her booth is open from 11 til 11 for the duration of the event. Add in her round trip drive from and to the ranch—and that’s a mighty long day, though she does get help running the booth in the evenings.

After our visit with the goats, Lisa took us into her studio, which doubles as a workspace and a salesroom. “It’s not big enough” she says. And true enough, the room is packed to the rafters with mohair in all states from freshly sheared fleeces (some of which will be entered into competitions), to roving for customers who like to spin their own, to mohair yarn that is already spun, dyed (or left natural).

As we talk, Lisa sits at her upright Columbine wheel and spins seemingly effortlessly, and I observe, hypnotized. It’s like watching a top chef or world-class ballerina in action. Her motion is steady and swift, the results consistent and beautiful. (Here's a picture of one of her spinning wheels:)

These days, Lisa is trying her hand at fused fiber art, using silk, bamboo, and mohair. She shows us some smaller pieces, impressionistic and bright, that remind her of exotic fish. She’s also got a bigger work, a kimono (for displaying, not wearing) that is breathtaking. Here are some pictures:

She’s also been having a great time pursuing solar dyeing, to the point she says, “I may never go back to the cooker. The colors are really different—the way the sun breaks down the dye, the result is magical.”

She never tires of life at the ranch with her herd. “It’s a lifestyle,” she says. “They can test you in ways you wouldn’t dream of. What I love about my job is that I’m never bored. As soon as you get done with one task it’s on to the next.”

Lisa welcomes visitors. Email her ahead of time to make an appointment. You can reach her at:
lisa shell

For more info on Angora goats, Lisa recommends these websites:

Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association

American Angora Goat Breeders Association

Mohair Council of America

(All photos copyright Ori Sofer 2010.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Thursday, Second Sunday-- Great Stuff Happening!

First Thursday commences in a little over 24 hours from now. As ever, HCW has a great sale going on. Then, this coming Sunday is Second Sunday, a regular gathering at the shop. It's also Mother's Day, so we've got an added bonus: Free Personal Shopping with Connie. (For info on that, just scroll down to the next post to see how to sign up). Here are details for First Thursday and Second Sunday. Hope to see you at both!


May 6, 2010

20% on all PLANT BASED yarns

Including these new favorites

Add an
additional 5% savings if you choose a 100% organic plant fiber!


Mamma mia, here we go again.
Second Sunday, how can I resist you?

Bring your mom to Second Sunday!
May 9
11:00 - 1:00

And show Mom how much you love her with these
Mother-Approved Gifts
Addi Click needle set
decadent yarns
classy knitting bags
and, of course, gift certificates!

My my, I could never let you go... And you don't have to! SECOND SUNDAY happens the second Sunday of the month from 11-1 at the KNIT BUZZ next door to HCW!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

LOTS Going On: Check out FREE Personal Shopping with Connie & More!

Hey Y'all,
Lots of classes are coming up. I'm posting info on those at the end of this note. But first, let me tell you about something brand new and very exciting. From here on out, on the Second Sunday of every month, from 11-1, Connie is offering free Personal Shopping to help you come up with your next great project. Connie, whom I profiled here awhile back, is a ball of creative energy. She's a gardener and an avid knitter who favors lace and bright colors. Connie's also one of the friendliest folks you'll ever meet. Her personal shopping service kicks off on Mother's Day-- May 9, 2010. So treat yourself or your mom (or both). Like I said, it's free, but space is limited, so you should call and reserve a time to meet with her. 512-707-7396.

Now, about upcoming classes. Here's what's cooking:

May 2, 2-5 pm

KIDS & TEENS (parents welcome too!) come hang out with LINDSAY on the 1st Sunday of every month for a HIP TO KNIT* AFTERNOON!!

FEE: $20

MATERIALS: Depends on the individual project, Lindsay will be happy to help you find just the right project!

No prerequisites: ALL LEVELS WELCOME

* If interested in Hip to Weave please contact Lindsay for details.

PLEASE RSVP at 707-7396
or email us at

May 3, 10, 17, 24
a 4 class series
6:30 -8:30
Fee: $67 plus materials.

This 4-week class is the first of our KNIT U series. It's perfect for beginners or those who knitted in a galaxy far far away! Students will learn how to knit, purl, cast on, bind off, knit in the round with double point needles, and simple decreasing. Students will complete 2 projects, one basic (a scarf, washcloth, or headband) and a second more complex project requiring shaping skills (a hat).
PREREQUISITE: No previous experience required.

IMPORTANT: Come early as students will pick their yarn in your first class. Class size is limited--call 512-707-7396 to register!

Don't have time for the full meal deal?
Sign up for an EXPRESS CLASS!

3, 6:30 - 8:30
20, 6:30 - 8:30
30, 3:00 - 5:00

7, 6:30 - 8:30
17, 6:30 - 8:30
27, 3:00 - 5:00