An Adventure With Hansi Singh

Chapter 1: Five Servings a Day: The Vegetable Basket

My first foray into the world of yarn was when I discovered crochet toys. I loved the intricate construction and how intuitive crochet construction was. Hungry for new shapes and designs, I spent years making various amigurumi projects soaking up all I could to create my own patterns. I think my affinity for sea creatures was in part due to growing up near the ocean and the octopus quickly became my favorite.

After I learned how to knit I stumbled upon the designs of Hansi Singh, specifically her amazing Octopus pattern. The delicate intricacies in shape made this the most accurate of any I had seen. I created swarms of them giving them as presents to kids and adults alike. 

While shopping for something else (I have no idea what, and I definitely didn't end up getting it) I found her book Amigurumi Knits and had to buy it. The book is broken down into 4 chapters; Five Servings a Day, Get Your Barnacle On, Garden Variety, and Revenge of the Cryptids. So now I bring one of my favorite designers to you as I knit straight through each chapter. 

Hansi Singh lives in Seattle and has her background in both the Sciences and the Arts. When looking at her construction this makes so much sense. There is a sense of realism that is often absent from the world of knit or crochet toys. She is not afraid to use multiple techniques to get the shapes just right.  

You can check out her interview on Makezine to learn more about how she came to the world of knitting and the ever evolving process that leads up to the publication of each pattern. Her knitting is more like an artist sketching with many attempts before the shape is just right. Hansi talks about her pregnancy being a catalyst to learning to knit and how her husbands career influenced her work as a designer. It's a great read. 

Getting Started on the first pattern

Getting Started on the first pattern

Finished   Aubergine   in   Cascade   Pastaza

Finished Aubergine in Cascade Pastaza

While some of the Hansigurumi patterns are delightfully difficult there are amazing tutorials before the first chapter. Her pictures are clear and the technique instructions easy to follow. Ranging from intermediate to advanced her use of increases, decreases, and short rows make these patterns stand out from others. She's a bit of a toy genius. 

Tomato   in   Cascade   Pastaza

Tomato in Cascade Pastaza

Gigantic Carrot in   Cascade   Pastaza

Gigantic Carrot in Cascade Pastaza

My favorite:   Garlic   in   Cascade 220

My favorite: Garlic in Cascade 220

Cucumber   in   Cascade   Pastaza

Cucumber in Cascade Pastaza

Just as an aside: I used Cascade Pastaza for most of these projects. This yarn has been discontinued but all of the patterns in this book are written for Worsted weight yarn. Cascade 220 or any favorite worsted is perfect for these projects. 

This might be my favorite too.   Peas in a Pod   in   Cascade   Pastaza

This might be my favorite too. Peas in a Pod in Cascade Pastaza

Join me next time as I dive in to the fabulously funky world of underwater creatures. I will begin with the Hermit Crab and might need to take a side trip through her many sea creature additions on her Ravelry page. 

Do you have a favorite designer that is particularly inspiring? Or is there a pattern you have been thinking about but want someone else to be the guinea pig? Let me know, I'm happy to take on any challenge. 

It's My Party And I'll Ply If I Want To!

Last month (April 20th) I celebrated my Birthday in style. By that I mean I spent the entire day in the yard spinning and knitting, while listening to podcasts with my sister. It was fabulous!

The sun was shining, the magnolia tree was in full bloom and we had been gifted with Summer weather. With beignets and coffee in the morning and delicious coconut Thai that evening I was thoroughly pampered by my lovely family.

fresh beignets from the kitchen of my sis' Libby

fresh beignets from the kitchen of my sis' Libby

My family gets along strangely well, so spending the whole day doing nothing in our yard is my ultimate treat. We are just as quiet as we can be loud. We play games so enthusiastically that it's sometimes frightening to newbies. And we're all a little weird (in a good way). 

But how do you like to celebrate your birthday! What special traditions have you cultivated or who makes your day perfect. 

I like to pick dandelions that have gone to seed and blow them like a naughty child. 'Cause that's my jam.

Giant Magnolia blooms in our front yard.

Giant Magnolia blooms in our front yard.

Blue Bonnet Jumbo flyer and bobbin gift for my birthday.

Blue Bonnet Jumbo flyer and bobbin gift for my birthday.

With the addition of the spinning tools I received for my birthday I can continue to spin and ply to my hearts content in and uninterrupted flow of fiber, to dye, to yarn without stopping.

Because outside of a good curry and coffee there is no faster way to my heart than feeding the fiber beast within. 

Spring Equals Spinning

There is something about a lovely Spring morning that makes me want to head to the garden to spin on my wheel. In winter I tend to burrow under blankets to knit and by Summer it's too hot to hold lengths of fiber in my hands for very long. The cool breeze of a Spring morning along with some freshly brewed coffee screams spinning time. 

I have always loved the bright hues of hand dyed fiber but, it took me a long time to try my hand at the drop spindle. I instantly fell in love with the meditative quality of preparing your fiber and spinning it into a new beautiful yarn. The texture of hand-spun is absolutely breathtaking and it wasn't long before I purchased a wheel of my own. 

When I think of spinning wheels Sleeping Beauty springs to mind. With a delicate wheel and spindly legs these classic wheels are gorgeous to look at, but I'm hard on my tools and wanted something a bit more sturdy. 

After some research I found BlueBonnet Spinning Wheels on etsy. They hand build gorgeous wood spinning wheels and are based out of Cleveland Texas. I chose the BumbleBee specifically because it is so affordable ($225) and sturdy. Because I had never spun on a wheel I didn't want to spend a fortune on something I might not like. 

I had nothing to worry about. I took to spinning like a fish to water. Once I started I knew I would never stop. In most of my life I am all over the place and it is hard to find moments where I can be calm and relaxed. Spinning offers me that opportunity. Watching the colors stretch and transform along with the feel of the fiber running through my fingers provides the slow relaxing atmosphere of meditation. 

This year as the garden thawed and we began preparing the beds for planting I brought out and took stock of my spinning. Instantly I decided that I had procrastinated enough on learning to chain-ply.

I watched several videos, and people chain-ply but there was this silly mental block in the way. Mostly it was that I am so new to spinning that I didn't want to ruin any of my hand-dyed fiber. 

With Spring looming and the weather warming up, there was nothing else to be done but jump right in. 

I don't know why I waited to learn to chain-ply. It is a beautiful way to finish spinning that looks clean and professional. With every skein I make and every new skill I pick up my spinning is more enjoyable and looks better. 

All of this spinning mania started by learning drop spindle in case I needed to answer questions for a class that was being taught at the lys I worked at. Now I am in  love with the entire process from undyed fiber to finished yarn for your next crochet or knit project. Spin on my friends and make this year one where you learn a new technique or art form just for the fun of it. 

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