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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Love. . . ravelry and Unwind Fibre Retreat, Dunedin

I joined ravelry on 1st December 2007, and I can honestly say it has revolutionised my crafting life! Quite an achievement for something that modestly describes itself as a "free site for knitters and crocheters."

To quote directly from the ravelry site: "Ravelry is a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. The content here is all user-driven; we as a community make the site what it is. Ravelry is a great place for you to keep notes about your projects, see what other people are making, find the perfect pattern and connect with people who love to play with yarn from all over the world in our forums."

Simply put, ravelry has opened up a whole world of patterns, projects, inspiration and online/real life friends, and all completely for free! 

At its most basic level it is a kind of "online knitting notebook" where you can store details of current and past knitted/crocheted projects. All the vital info such as needle size yarn type and amount used, and project notes. 

You can also use ravelry to catalogue your stashed yarns and crochet hook/knitting needle collection, though I confess I am very remiss in those areas. . . It is a very comprehensive online database of knitting and crochet patterns, many of which are available for download via ravelry itself, either as free patterns or with the payment going directly to the designer. It is a great way of networking with people who have a similar interest in all things woolly, and there are groups and discussion boards for almost anything you can imagine, including baking, dyeing, origami, regional groups, groups related to specific yarns or techniques, iPhones, dog breeds, flight attendants, spinners, tattoos, piercings and the LGBT community!

Unwind on the first day. . .
Without ravelry I would never have heard of Vintage Purls, based in Dunedin, and so almost certainly the inaugural Unwind Fibre Retreat would have passed me by! I have just got back from four days of woolly adventures in Dunedin, meeting new people, making new friends and learning heaps as well as having far too much yarny temptation put in my way! Lucky that when I agreed to go on a "yarn diet" this year, I made one exception for myself - Unwind Dunedin!

The yarny treats on offer
There were a whole host of classes on offer, and far too many to actually do all of the ones I was interested in! But I narrowed it down to four, and did practical workshops on knitting and purling backwards (Morag McKenzie of Vintage Purls), Spindle spinning (Frances Stachl of Spindles by Sourkraut), plus steeking and book-binding with all round super-knowledgeable person Stella Lange. Each class was three hours long, and very hands on. All of the workshops except book-binding gave us enough time to finish what we had started, but all of us keen book-binders stayed late in order to finish our books.
First go at steeking - aka cutting your knitting. . . Scary stuff!!

My first attempt at spindle spinning, using a "SpindlesbySourkraut" rewarewa wood spindle

My first piece of Coptic book-binding

Whilst I was in Dunedin I really wanted to go and visit the Rongo Stone, which is a memorial to the Taranaki Māori who died as prisoners in Dunedin. 

This memorial was unveiled in 1987. Most of the Māori were followers of the pacifist Māori leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, and they were taken prisoner during Crown raids on the settlement of Parihaka back in November 1881. More than 400 prisoners were sent to the South Island including Dunedin, and used as forced labour, many succumbing to illness and over-work. Thanks to one of my new knitting friends who lived locally and had a car, we made the journey to the Rongo Stone, and I was able to pay my respects to all those who died so unnecessarily. Thanks J, I never would have got there without you. . .

The day after the Unwind Fibre Retreat was finished, there was an optional bus trip to Milton Mill and Flagstaff Alpaca Farm. I stayed on an extra night specially so I could go on this trip, and it was a real treat! We even got to meet a day old cria, as well as loads of other beautiful (if somewhat soggy!) alpacas. . .

I had an absolutely wonderful weekend and came home buzzing with excitement and inspiration. I am definitely hoping to go again next year, and even have a cunning plan to take my mum, who will be visiting from the UK ;-)


  1. It's on my to-do list for next year :-)
    The alpaca is so gorgeous, even wet he looks like he's hugable :-)

  2. Yay! Hopefully will see you there next year then :)