Thursday, July 4, 2013

Inspiration: Paddye Mann

I know I said I would discuss yarn options for Harriet's Jacket in this post, but I've decided to postpone that while I tell about yesterday's stimulating road trip. Kingston has a vibrant fibre arts community and I was lucky enough to be invited to join Carolyn Barnett and Heather Buchan for a daytrip to Pakenham, Almonte, and Merrickville, ON. The day started off with a smokey haze in the atmosphere from forest fires hundreds of miles away in Quebec. We left early and arrived at Paddye Mann's studio/shop in Pakenham by mid-morning. Carolyn had arranged the visit ahead of time, so Paddye was there (not travelling the globe) and wow, was she generous with her time!
To begin with, I was pretty much bowled over by the beauty and peacefulness of Paddye's studio. It's an 1830s limestone cottage exploded into a modern, light-filled space.

Gardening/landscaping was in progress, which is why you see dirt on either side of the walkway.

Paddye's clothing is exquisitely finished. All the buttonholes on her shirts are handsewn. When we asked one of her employees how long it took to make a buttonhole, she said, "10 minutes". Later, Paddye told us that might be an over-estimation!
There were bolts of awe-inspiring fabric everywhere, but somehow I managed not to get any photos of those. I did get some shots of the shelf of yarns (mainly Italian, I think) that Paddye uses for her knit sweaters. These are machine knitted and then hand finished.

Carolyn, the expert at machine knitting, tried on one of the sweaters. Look at the beautiful fit over the derriere.

Paddye asked Carolyn if she would take the basic pattern and do it up for her (Paddye) with some fun touches, such as only Carolyn can achieve. Cross-pollination at work, definitely.
Paddye finally took us to a little bistro-style restaurant in nearby Almonte for lunch. Yum.  We visited here,

and also the old woollen mill, now turned into textile museum, but we were rushed, because we wanted to get to Unraveled in Merrickville before it closed.
At the wool shop, Beckie, the owner, talked me into trying a Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel. I balked at first, expecting that I'd end up making a fool of myself, but with Beckie's encouragement, I was spinning in no time. Not well, but way better than when I first tried spindling. I guess it's true that if you've learned to drop spindle spin, then moving onto a wheel isn't such a big stretch.
Merrickville was pretty, still dressed up for Canada day,

and when we were done shopping, we had bottles of water and ice creams to cool off. By the time we got to the Thousand Islands Parkway, miraculously, the smoke and haze had melted away and we were treated to views of wide stretches of water, cottages, and lush green fields.
When we got back to Kingston, I thought about the Ladybug for about thirty seconds, then e-mailed Becky to order me one. Have I crossed to the dark side?