December 2021 Studio Hours Recap: The Year In Review

5 January 2022
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By Sarah Thornton
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For our final Studio Hours of 2021, we did things a little differently. We didn’t have a formal presentation to fill half of the time—we filled it ourselves.

The attendees at Studio Hours are a skilled bunch; we are all makers of various stripes, and we all try out new things. This month, in smaller breakout groups, we inspired each other by sharing our accomplishments over the past year, and plans for next.

My group, filled with members from coast to coast and south of the border, has been very much inspired by D&T this year.

One member shared some of her experiences with natural dyeing at home, inspired by Kim’s D&T article, using goldenrod, sumac, oak, and more, gathered while wandering her neighbourhood. And while the results of her dyeing became gifts for others, she has declared next year to be about crafting for herself to celebrate her fiftieth birthday.

I felt lucky to have Julie of Shipston Designs in my group as she shared more of her intricate prints of knitted work. Earlier this year, D&T was able to provide a virtual tour of her gallery exhibition after it was shut down due to COVID-related restrictions. Julie has always been a print-maker and after learning to knit, she started making etchings and prints of her cotton swatches. In her words, things have gone ‘off the rails’ as she has moved on from swatches to large lace shawls! The image of openwork comes through beautifully in the printing process, and her large format pieces are stunning.

Michelle, D&T contributor, also was occupied with shawls in 2021, most with leaf patterns, which is perhaps not surprising given her training as a botanist. In the new year, she plans to follow Holli Yeoh’s darning tutorials.

A member shared her 2021 success of replacing all worn household goods with handspun and handwoven pieces. She has a beautiful stack of bath towels, kitchen towels, rugs, and blankets now! She has declared 2022 as the year of weaving yardage for sewing. Another weaver in the group will be taking up tapestry, inspired by another D&T article and Rebecca Metzoff’s classes.

After an all-too-short time in our small groups, we reconvened in the main room and shared themes and ideas from our discussions.

First, we chatted about knitted stars made from fairy lights and shared info on where to find the best fairy lights for knitting (IKEA seemed to come out on top). One version of the knitted star, made with a 20 m (66 ft.) length of LED fairy lights, is designed by Laura Nelkin. A lovely enhancement was suggested in the chat: “A friend of mine wanted to knit a string of fairy lights last year, but she figured that they’d look boring during the day, so she corespun pretty fibre around them, using the light string as the core, and then she knit with that. It looked really neat!”

One group definitely had a theme of trying new things. They had a good discussion about stranded knitting (a member showed her Navelli sweater by Caitlyn Hunter) and how to carry floats. We were reminded that knitted work may not look its best until after —”Don’t rip out in disgust until after you block”—colourwork often doesn’t lay flat while being worked! This led into a discussion of yarn dominance and also of “Things we have Steeked.” In the later, large group discussion, we were pointed towards Meeting of the Waters (by Gannet Designs), a fingerless mitt pattern that is steeked, enabling the making of two matching mitts using gradient yarns. We appreciated the small size of this project as perhaps less intimidating for a first steeked attempt!

And in other new things for 2022, members will try tatting, knitted lace (unlike lace knitting, knitted lace has openwork stitches worked on both sides), and knitting with a knitting belt (keeping the right needle anchored for speedy stitches).

Group 3 spent some time enjoying a beloved Canadian pastime: discussing the weather! They also shared a fabulous knitted coat and a great Gelato Shawl (Ravelry link; pattern by Veera Välimäki) made in the member’s favourite colours. Another member is excited to start working with the yarn from the first shearing of her Southdown Babydoll sheep; it was milled at Long Way Homestead, by D&T contributor Anna Hunter.

Kim shared some of her trials with getting her older loom working and how much she is learning about loom mechanics in the process! She’s been investigating online resources such as Jane Stafford Textiles’s School of Weaving (formerly JST Online Guild) and the School of SweetGeorgia. She also dreams of attending classes on Whidbey Island (U.S,) at Madelyn van der Hoogt’s Weaving School. A recommended book for beginning weavers is Learning to Weave, by Deb Chandler.

Through this challenging year, many of us have stayed physically isolated to protect vulnerable family members and ourselves. I believe many of us agreed with Kate’s sentiments that these Studio Hours sessions are “pure joy.” We appreciate seeing people’s faces and sharing our joy of crafting and making. I look forward to continuing to create cross-Canada connections through 2022!

Featured image credit Julie Rosvall.

Sarah Thornton head shot

About Sarah Thornton

Sarah Thornton is a connector - she loves bringing people and ideas together, especially over local fibres and foods. When not teaching college Biology labs, she knits, spins, designs, teaches, and occasionally weaves in her new studio space on Vancouver Island. She's also a cyclist, skier, hiker, and gardener! Find her patterns and classes at sarahthornton.ca and @sarsbarknits on Instagram.

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