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Deb Robson
I'm a writer, knitter, freelance editor, and independent publisher.
Interests: Dogs (especially herding breeds) and obedience and agility training, although one of our dogs developed arthritis after she earned a CD (obedience title) and we wouldn't let her jump enough to work toward the next level. The next dog just was (and is) not interested in serious training. We now have a new rescue Border collie who has started classes. Cats (who don't believe in training, except of humans and dogs). Also books; hiking; natural and cultural history; rare breeds of sheep; plein air painting; knitting (of course); spinning (yarn, not whatever they do called spinning at athletic facilities); weaving and everything else a person can do with fiber; libraries and bookstores; yarn shops; publishing; collaborative and sustainable work and ways of living. And so on.
Recent Activity
Hello, and welcome! Chances are you found this site via some sort of Internet search. I think you'll find a lot of interesting information in the archives here, and you're welcome to look around; however, I no longer update or... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2017 at The Independent Stitch
:-D Hi, Janel!
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2017 on It's been a long time at beebonnet report
My interest in Shetland textiles focuses on the sheep and their wool, in large part because that’s what I love. As I travel this particular road, I’m grateful for the gifted researchers and designers who pay attention to traditional and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2015 at The Independent Stitch
Years ago, when I edited Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, I learned of Lithuanian textiles through weaving, by way of work by Antanas and Anastazija Tamošaitis and by Kati Meek and an awareness of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2015 at The Independent Stitch
Late last year I received an e-mail message that I answered personally, but I haven’t had time for blogging in a while (as some may have noticed), so this inquiry and my response didn’t get shared. This morning on Twitter... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2015 at The Independent Stitch
Felicity has weighed in, and I’ll let you know something about my compromises in this regard. When I design colors for a garment, I’ll go to the yarn shop with the biggest selection of colors and sit on the floor, putting skeins next to each other and doing my best to visualize what might work for the idea I have in mind. Then I select a skein of each candidate to take home and swatch—and if I’m waffling between some options, I’ll get those alternatives and try them out at home. This isn’t an infinitely acquisitive process, because over time I’ve gotten better at choosing the first (or second) time. When you’re working with *learning* color, it doesn’t matter a whole heap what yarn you’re using. You can learn a lot regardless. (If you’re designing a garment, of course it does). And I have a few less expensive ways to dabble with color ideas. One involves using either wool embroidery yarn (I’m thinking Paternayan) or cotton embroidery thread (DMC has a great color range). You can get a heap of colors pretty fast and relatively inexpensively, and work with them either in knitting (easier with the wool) or cross-stitch or needlepoint, if you have or can noodle at acquiring those skills. One thing I might consider doing here is getting the J&S shade card and then matching colors to DMC cottons in the range I’m considering using for a project, then doing preliminary “swatches” in cross-stitch, then getting J&S colors to do “real” swatching. DMC cottons are often on sale at the craft outlets. Paternayan pricing varies, depending on where you buy it, but still can be a good option. The things to watch out for here are the subtle shifts that will happen in the change from one fiber type to another, and from one stitch-formation process to another. The cotton yarns will be more lustrous (will reflect more light) and there’s a slight color-perception change involved in moving to wool. Also, cross-stitches are exactly square, and knit stitches in most cases are a bit wider than they are tall (although this is less pronounced in color work than it is in some other techniques, and may only be a marginal issue in designing for Fair Isle). If you set your non-jumperweight yarn samples up right, you can end up with mug mats and other useful small items—even a tiny baglet or some such—in addition to having narrowed down your color choices for swatching for a project. Above all, have fun with color! The exercises will help you play and do that. — Deb
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EDITED March 7, 2015 to add: Felicity Ford's KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is now one of the wonderful books (including Kate Davies' and Elizabeth Lovick's and more) available in the U.S. from Meg Swansen's Schoolhouse Press. I'll link here to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
I’ve gotten swept away in preparations for the two Shetland-wool-specific retreats that I’ll be facilitating in the San Juan Islands of Washington State during the first two weeks in November. There’s a lot to do: the fact that I enjoy... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
For reasons why the blog posts are getting farther apart, check out my newsletter (of which there will be a new release soon, but this blog post comes first). Up over the top After learning more about winter housing of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
After Icelandic sheep are brought down from the mountains, those that will be wintered-over spend some time in pastures closer to the farms. Counts of Icelandic sheep are always given in terms of the winter flock, and thus do not... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
Rebecca, the North Atlantic Sheep Wool Conference always welcomes handcrafters, in large part because it was initiated by a handcrafter. The breeds that are the topic of the North Atlantic Native Sheep Wool confererence are all comparatively small in populations number (on a global scale this includes even the Icelandic sheep, of which there are quite a few). The economics of their survival depend to some extent on handcraft markets and support. The Australian sheep industry is predominantly industrial, so handcrafters would not be likely to be considered important (or even relevant) to include.
Toggle Commented Sep 28, 2014 on Iceland 5 - Ullarselið at The Independent Stitch
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You’re welcome, Andrea! More to come in a future post. I especially liked, though, the understated quality of that one wider braid.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2014 on Iceland 5 - Ullarselið at The Independent Stitch
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After our visit to Ístex, we drove north to Hvanneyri and the Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI), which combines strong research with a mission of teaching. Thanks to Google for the map. Through this year's North Atlantic Native Sheep and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
I’m taking our Icelandic adventures a bit out of order, in order to relate them logically to each other. This post concerns the trip to Iceland’s spinning mill, which was the first place our North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wools... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
Preface: The sheep roundups we saw were highlights of my time in Iceland, and also emotionally difficult for me. As much as we textile folk hear about Icelandic wool, the primary market is meat, principally lamb. Most of the four-month-old... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
The last post gave an overview of geography and travel. This will grab a few random impressions. The next one will dig into content. I’m warming up—! Reykjavik served as base of operations for the beginning and ending of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
The final eleven days of my trip ended up packed full of experiences. Two were essentially travel days. On the first I went from Scotland to Heathrow airport near London, then flew into Keflavik, Iceland’s international airport, and took a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
A welcoming sight in a B&B: a well-behaved rescue Border collie who knows where to hide herself when there are guests who are not comfortable around dogs . . . and where to get comfortable (below) when the guests display... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
Thanks for your comment, Helene. I’m doubtful about pine cones substituting for teasels, but y’never know until you try. Both Lexie and Peggy are mature dogs, and I’d put Lexie’s hesitation down to a deliberate choice, rather than chickenness. Thanks for the idea about the calendar—if I can think of a way to do that without handing printing, inventory, or shipping, it could be fun. I do need to continue fundraising for the Shetland research. I’m not done, and some of it will involve going back again—which isn’t cheap, even with watching every penny.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2014 on Scottish Highlands 1 at The Independent Stitch
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The time came to leave Shetland. I flew into Aberdeen, rented a car, and met up with Jeni Reid. As I noted in an out-of-sequence post earlier, we went to visit a flock of Valais Blacknose sheep, which were hard... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
While I was in Shetland, I also watched sheep—in addition to those I saw at the Cunningsburgh show. I could have spent the whole time running around looking at flocks, but I had other types of research to do that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
This post is about why I didn’t get to either Fair Isle or Foula, two of the locations on my “must see” list when I arrived in Shetland. They're both islands that are part of Shetland but at some distance... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
The key to success for my recent trip to Shetland consisted of two parts: (1) a series of goals, defined yet amenable to constant modification, and (2) a very flexible schedule. For example, on my first visit to see a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2014 at The Independent Stitch
Caroline, I did know that Shetland is featured at Rhinebeck this year, and I was working on some ways to get there, but so far they haven’t come into focus.
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Caroline, I agree. And they’re not just any old guitars. They’re good guitars.
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