Monthly Archives: February 2011

Let the Frolic Begin

Again, I didn’t take near enough pictures.  Fortunately Jan and Tom did and I’ll link you to them as soon as they are available.

The vendors–only three, but all came with benefits.

Whorling Tides fiber

Beth Dinoff of Whorling Tides brought her gorgeous dyed roving and braids all the way from Tuscaloosa.  Beth taught a class in making batts so she had lots of things to add to her fiber to create some interesting product.

Beth also dyes a special batch for the Frolic each year.  This year’s colorway is based on a sunset they saw during last year’s Frolic.  Those who are interested buy the braid and make something to bring back next year.  No rules on what or how.  Then the group will vote on which item they like best and Beth awards a prize.

This is Linda Philpott from Rainy Day Creations in Pineville, NC.  Her shop is just down the road from me in a quaint little revamped downtown.  She called me before the event to ask how she could support my classes.  I thought that was so generous.  She brought beads; I bought beads.  She also had some new yarns I hadn’t seen, so I got my hands on some things to swatch for future projects.  She also has some gorgeous fibers for spinning or wet felting.   She and Pat, whose picture I didn’t get, were both teaching.

Sharon practices what Pat taught

Pat taught weaving on the rigid heddle loom that they sell at the shop.  People were weaving scarves and home dec wall pieces and even lace.  Her class is a great way to decide if you would like to work with a loom before you invest in one.

Note:  Sharon in the pic above has the perfect “fiber husband.”  He surprised her at Christmas with this weekend at the Frolic.

Linda taught a class on getting acquainted with your wheel.  She does talk about ratios and other technical jargon, but gives you permission to listen politely and ignore it if you are just a seat of the pants spinner.  I couldn’t take her class because I was teaching, but I do want to set up some private lessons with her.  I know she can make me a better spinner in a very short time.

I saved Ann Potter for last.  This woman and her dear friend Jane rocked my world.  Look what they taught me to make—-

Ann owns a farm, Pilot Mountain Llamas, north of Winston-Salem where she has a few llamas, a few alpacas, a few angora goats and a family–not in that order.  She did a slide show for us about the animals and the fiber that taught us so much as we were rolling on the floor laughing.  Llama sex deserves some research!

Since peopling her farm with animals, Ann has become a real rancher.  She even shears her own animals, including the famously uncooperative alpacas.  Then she sells the fiber to make money to buy llama food.  She is another fiber addict that just tries to support her habit.  But she does it with glitz and style.

I watched her effortlessly making art yarn with bumps and swirls and bits and flecks.   She could see the lust in my heart.  I touched her gorgeous batts with mixed fibers and colors and bits and pieces and knew that I could spin them into mediocrity and it would be a sin.  Ann said, “Oh, Jane will show you how.  It’s simple and easy.” Yeah, I’ve heard that before.  But–

This is Jane.

Saturday morning I had a break and I sat down at a wheel with Jane ( an incredibly funny woman who pretends to be a real grouch, but doesn’t quite pull it off.  It’s the good heart that trips her up.)  Five minutes and I was spinning artyarn.  Here’s the important direction.  “Just let it go.”  This was core spinning and all you do is let it go and the fiber wraps around the core.  If you mess up and let some of the core show, that’s called design.  If you glob up some of the fiber, that’s called design.  If you break the fiber and have a lumpy rejoin, that’s called design.  You cannot make a mistake!!!!

Once you are done, you ply the yarn with a thin thread.  Even, consistent plying is just boring, so you can’t make a mistake here either.  And with Ann’s batts, you can’t make ugly.  I am the queen of ugly multicolored yarns, so I know how to make ugly.I was so happy doing this, I was just stupid.  I was so happy with the final product, I was almost, not quite, speechless.  I wore my skein around my neck and bored everyone to death with the story of it—-as some would say I am still doing.

You just have to do this.

How many other things can you name where you cannot make a mistake?

I bought more batts.

And some threads to ply them with—as well as do a bit of embroidery.

I realized that Ann and Jane had changed the way I looked at spinning.  I don’t spin much and usually just to zone out and get away from the world.  It was when I was teaching high school and needed to get way away from the world that I took it up.  Have not done much since retiring.  Now I know why.  I wasn’t creating or learning or having any “what if” moments as I do when I knit.  That’s changed.  Boy, has that changed.

Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with all this fancy, chunky yarn.  Novelty yarns are coming back.  I just want to make them and maybe hang them on something—my neck maybe.  I want to see what using a purple ply does with a red batt.  I want to but little bits of fabric in the wool and see what happens.  I want to see how many bits of color I can add to white wool without it being gaudy.

I really want to go to Ann’s farm and watch her shear something.

Check out the websites for these folks and support your own local fiber artists and retailers.  They make such joy possible for the rest of us.

Peggy and Debbie waiting for class to start.

Oh, yeah, I taught some knitting classes and everyone seemed to enjoy them.  I can’t wait until next year.

Categories: Camp, Personal thoughts, spinning | Leave a comment

Carolina Fiber Frolic—Well Named

Jan Smiley created the Carolina Fiber Frolic last year.  She set it at The Inn at Middleton Plantation which, I now know, shows she is a genius.  She saw a need for an event in South Carolina which would bring together spinners, weavers, knitters, crocheters, felters, etc., to practice and share and learn.  And eat and drink and walk and just laugh a lot.  This year I was honored to be asked to teach some knitting classes and it was amazing.

I had so much fun that I forgot to take pictures of much that was wonderful.  Sorry.   But . . .This is the property where we stayed.   I took these about 7am Saturday morning.  Inspiring doesn’t begin to describe it.

First the river—

The marsh grass—

Benches to just look at it, and knit of course—

The sky and the lowcountry Spanish moss—

The Lodge where Kyle served free beer, wine, and great cheeses each night—

The Lakehouse where we ate and learned and got to know each other so well—

Activities for husbands who tagged along—

And, if you read the Australia entries, you were expecting a few tree trunks—

As peaceful and serene as the setting was, it didn’t even dint the energy and craziness of 25 fiber lovers getting together to share.  I’ll show you those tomorrow.  I don’t want to break the spell of the pictures today.

Just one more thing.  Each bathroom contained a 150 gallon tub.  You could host a party in it.  Or wash 10 fleeces at once.  Worth the trip just to see it.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Winter Hibernation

It’s not just for bears.  I tend to disappear occasionally myself and just try to rest my mind.  Usually the mind doesn’t rest, but it’s worth a try.

This last week I have been — embroidering.  I did a napkin.  Yeah, one in a week.  I learned to hemstitch.  The hard part is getting the threads pulled.  Use linen.  My linen blend was not easy.

Then I did a piece of cutwork on the linen napkin stolen from Air New Zealand.  Not by me.

Then I visited a local antique mall and bought some books, magazines, and an old stained piece of linen.

Meanwhile I was perusing my own small supply of Quilting Arts magazines.  I have a strong urge to make little funky wall quilts.  I don’t dare call it fiber art.  I bought a video of one year of Quilting Arts TV programs.

I hemmed another napkin.  I will do some simple whitework on it.

I started another shawl to test my numbers before sending the Mountain Spring pattern to test knitters.

Looked through the new issue of Creative Knitting and saw this cute necklace with beads.  I’m teaching a bead class at the Carolina Fiber Frolic this weekend, so decided to play with that pattern and recommend it or maybe one I create to those students.

My grandson is with me to recover from his tonsillectomy so I am scooping ice cream and coloring pictures.  He’s five and beats me at Crazy Eights.

I’ve put some beads and some embroidery on my felted scarf.

I discovered that W magazine has full page, bleed off the page ads which are great for doing paper crafts with kids—if you censor the pages first.  You can no longer just give kids magazines to find pictures from.  I realized this as I prepared some craft things for Evan.  Glamour magazine was a real problem. Lots of nudity and sex—but that is their demographic.  Bizarre.

Bought the 64 count Crayola box and remembered the first time I was able to do that as  a kid.  In those days it had a silver crayon.  It was a big deal yesterday, too.  We made freeform pictures together and talked about how many green crayons we had, etc.

Sorted all my beads.  Put them in tiny plastic bags.

Okay, writing this has been therapeutic.  I am wondering just what it is I seem to be avoiding.

Oh, I am going to the dentist today.

I’ll blog from the Carolina Fiber Frolic this weekend.  I’ve never been to Middleton Plantation before.  Expecting lovely weather and new friends.  Wish you were there, too.

I owe you a free pattern just for suffering through this entry.

Better stuff later–

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Rowan #49 Arrives

Sandy Harris talked me into subscribing to Rowan International and I’m glad she did. I never make anything from this magazine, but it affects many things I knit. It is photographed so beautifully that you could frame every picture and the layout always makes me feel like spring at the beach–even the winter editions.

So the new one is here and I wish to discuss it. In detail. Hope I don’t get arrested for copyright infringement.

Initial look-through

1. English beauties with skin to dye for. They make plain beautiful.

2. The Art! I want to visit every locale.

3. Neutrals! Mix them and they are luscious. Even the dark colors work like a neutral. Can wear forever.

4. (about the knitting, finally) Horrible shapes. Unwearable unless you are a 20 year old model, size 0. Except two of the men’s sweaters.

Second look–always the productive one

1. Awesome stitch patterns. Steal them and make your own projects.

2. Some interesting details used very well. Steal these too.

My list of swatches to knit.
1. Fancy by Erika Knight– She uses Kid Silk Haze. There is no substitute for Kid Silk Haze. Look-alikes don’t drape as well and are invariably scratchy. I say this and I don’t even like mohair, but I love Kid Silk Haze. The st pattern is new to me. I would use it for a scarf, cowl, or shawl.

2. Ghost by Amanda Crawford. This is the first of several that uses elongated knit sts (wrap the yarn around the needle 3-5 times then drop the wraps on the next row).

3. Gentian by Grace Melville, Like above. The drape and airiness is good for warm weather.

4. Cicely by Grace Melville. Worth the price of the mag. She’s figured out how to knit cables with holes in them. Hint: Think intarsia.

5. Earthy by Erika Knight–Steve wants this. Unstructured. Made from Purelife Revive, a classy, recycled yarn which has not one bit of stretch or memory. It feels like linen which has been washed for decades–soft! This is an openwork pattern that we’d call lace in a woman’s pattern. Steve is not afraid of lace!

6. Honesty by Marie Wallin (my favorite of their current designers–her stuff is so wearable) This is simple with a neat serpentine detail down the center of the sleeve. Easy to copy and use on other patterns. She shows how effective one well placed detail can be.

7. Illusion Wrap by Marie Wallin. We all know the summer will really unleash a desire to crochet. This is made from several motifs and they are not all square which I like. I have to make the really open square for my freeform project.

8. Unwind Wrap by Kaffe Fassett. Dead simple but so effective. He combines Summer Tweed and Kid Silk Haze. They are so different. He just uses stockinette stitch to create a Scribble Scarf which has been done often thanks to Debbie New, BUT Kaffe does color like no one else, and using these two yarns together is genius. A mindless project that will wow.

Question: Can I do this using a one ply Kaalund silk which lives in my Aussie stash? I’ll let you know.

9. Wholesome by Jennie Atkinson. Knit a solid color sweater and then embroider on some color rows. More than duplicate stitch, she uses real embroidery. An easy and effective way to get two or more color knitting.

That’s it for now. I do plan to knit swatches of these and will keep them to remind or inspire me. If I were a product-driven knitter, I’d do them all in shades of one color and sew them together into a something—scarf, bag, whatever.

Oh, Kaffe also has a home dec section where he has framed some of his colorful surface design patterns. I can do that!

More later–

Categories: book review, swatches, yarn | 2 Comments

Felting at The Fiber Studio

This is Vickie Clontz and she was my instructor at this Nuno Felted Scarf class.  She is so knowledgeable and encouraging, as well as being a gifted fiber artist.  I was so ready to take this class, especially after seeing some fantastic work in Brisbane.  When I saw the class advertised, I jumped at the opportunity.

We started with these raw materials and a silk scarf which had been handpainted by someone else.  Vicki had chosen some of the materials to match the scarves, but brought lots of extras to allow us to customize our work.

We started by tearing wisps and placing them . . .

My layout is pretty random with a few added colors for pop.  ( I really need that rug in my den)

Pat’s scarf was a very busy pattern and she used that as a bit of a guide.

Debbie, who owns this wonderful shop, also took the class and she really used the original design of the scarf which was highly effective.

Cindy’s layout was really fluffy, much more so than anyone else’s.  Notice in her final product below how lovely are the transitions from green to blue.  I suspect her fluffy layout had something to do with this.

This is the secret.  You make a sandwich out of bubble wrap, tulle, plastic.  Wet it down with a solution containing soap and roll it around a pool noodle.  Then you roll.  I mean roll.  200 rolls, check it; 400 rolls, remove tulle and replace; on an on–1600 rolls.  We did have lunch in the middle and thank Debbie for the high work tables which were perfect to protect our backs.  This is an amazing exercise for building your pecs.

Then you get beauty.  I just love this.

I really like mine, but I learned that I might like it more had I chosed a more highly patterned scarf.  I plan to try that on the next one I do.  Some parts were nearly perfect for me, but . . .others seemed under felted—totally my fault.  I just gave out and tried to wish it finished.

This is one of my favorite parts–the back.  To quote Vickie, we “coaxed the fibers through the silk” so they would adhere to the silk scarf base.  The felting shrinks the wool fibers and thus wrinkles the silk.  Love it.

So I have plans for another scarf.  I’ll make some different choices and see what I get.  No way you can really make a bad one.

Oh, and look at the necklace Vickie is wearing in the opening picture.  She is teaching a class on that at The Fiber Studio on April 23rd.  Check it out.

Categories: FOs, Personal thoughts | Tags: | 2 Comments

New Freeform Scrumbles

A big piece that is going in my black and white project.  It was a scarf, then a shawl, now I’m thinking vest.  I love that freeform doesn’t require you to truly commit until your get ready to join everything together.  Never dreamed I’d have commitment issues with fiber!

This hasn’t been blocked but I like it anyway.  Slip stitching down the side of the petals makes them curl and gives it texture.  Cotton yarns here.

Spiral Bullion

I’m really proud of this.  The bullions are Malabrigo Lace which worked easily–as easy as bullions can go.  The last one had 14 wraps.  I have been practicing.  Prudence promised that it was all a matter of the right yarn and practice.

Not a great photo, but you get the idea.  These rosy flowers may get into the black and white project just for a little color relief.  Rescued this yarn from the sale bin at Threads and More in Sherwood, Queensland, Australia.  I love a shop with a $5.00 sale bin.  Actually, I think I only paid $3.00 for this.

Never fear.  There is knitting in the project.

I just read in one of the books I’m perusing from the Charlotte library that garter st is particuliarly favored in freeform.

To see some really interesting work, check out these ravelry folks:

Antonina, from Austria

Prudence Mapstone, whose talent humbles me

Jenny Dowd, another Australian professional whose book I love

FridaKahlo You must check this out.  She is the most delightful, over the top, my-generation woman.  She creates wild things, but definitely has the personality to wear them.  Just reading the titles of her work is fun.  I’m still laughing and admiring her daring and skill.

More later–

Categories: freeform, techniques | 2 Comments

Bella’s Autumn Leaves

Bella's Autumn Leaves

Look at that face.  You can’t not melt.  I also can’t not do the shameful “Dress-up-your-chihuahua” thing.  Mix that with this new freeform addiction and my love of all things “leaved” and you get this.

She isn’t thrilled.  But she is patient with me.

It almost works as an art piece. Almost.

I also sew for her.  This is her new halter which she likes a lot.  It means Walk!  The pad is still a necessity, but we have hope for when warm weather comes.

Bella hates the cold.

Knit for your dog!  It’s silly and will perk you up in the grey of winter.  Promise.

More later–

Categories: designing, Dogs | 8 Comments

Mountain Spring Shawl

Mountain Spring Shawl

Having a beautiful model never hurts when you show off your knitting.  Thanks, Donna.

I knit this using the new Charlotte Yarn  Yarn, The Girls Collection, Patsy’s Mountain Bluebird colorway designed by Cat Babbie.  This is my favorite colorway—today anyway.  But I still love Jane’s Blackberry Cobbler.

This is a merino wool and it is so soft and cuddly.  I swatched this in many stitches and decided I liked the stockinette best for showing off the colors.

The shawl is designed to hug you and stay on your shoulders even during vigorous activity.  Let’s all pause and reflect on that, but don’t put down your knitting.  I’ve been chasing this perfect shaping of a shawl for several years and I think I’ve finally got what I wanted.  Kudos to all the designers who came before and from whom I’ve learned.

The pattern will be available for test knitting soon.  It’s very easy, just some stockinette, some garter and a very simple lace border.  The secret is in the increases.  Because the yarn is worsted weight, it knits up very quickly so makes a good last minute gift.

Can you tell I’m pleased with this?  It took a lot of work to get to this simple.

Don’t forget to enter the Knitcircus contest.   You have until Sunday night.  Click here for details.

More later–

Categories: designing, FOs, yarn | Tags: | 5 Comments

Knitcircus is up and ready

Check these pics, check Ravelry, go to the website.  This is the best deal in the knitting world.  For one low price, you get ALL of the patterns in this magazine.  The patterns are all so well written—I know—because we get to work with the best tech editors in the world, and they push us to be better and better.

The articles here are to provide you with info real knitters want, not what someone wants to sell.  That is important to me.

Jaala, the editor, actively looks for the new and the different and the practical and the clever.  She seeks cool new yarns and indie designers as well as some of our favorites.

Even more, she writes a blog and gives away good stuff.  And the woman can cook, too.

If you haven’t read Knitcircus, don’t wait.

Now — giveaways.  I have 5 copies to give away.  Here’s how it works.  Go to the site and look through the mag, then leave a comment here telling me which pattern–besides mine–you want to knit first.  I’ll give you until Sunday night to do this and then I will generate the winners.  Tell your friends.

These are my patterns:

Dolce, a lace scarf

Victoria, a tutorial project on fitting armholes

Good luck to everyone.

Weds. am— I’ve seen it and it is 113 pages of beauty and wisdom.  Great patterns and amazing articles.  I’m going to make a cup of tea and curl up with my laptop.

Categories: original pattern | Tags: , , | 18 Comments

New Work to Inspire You

For the Guest Gallery

Debbie Carlson’s version of Wendy Bernard’s “Something Red”

Debbie Carlson's new sweater

This is a perfect fit.  It is knitted top down and Debbie applied the “Try It On Constantly” rules as she knit.  This is not the only perfect fit she has knitted and I like to think my classes have helped a little there.  <modest blush>

The length is perfect too.  Instead of following some rule of fashion, a top down knit lets you try it on and SEE where it looks best on you.  A+, Debbie.

Donna Call survived the great Daybreak Shawl Knitalong.  This is her shawl.

Donna Call's Daybreak Gold Shawl

This shawl requires miles of mind-numbing garter stitch, but that isn’t always a bad thing.  Having the group helped all of us get through it.

Truthfully, this classicly simple shawl may be the most worn item anyone would ever knit.  Look how gorgeously it drapes.  Looks great with jeans or a party dress.  Less than $30 of lace yarn.  Pattern is free if you buy your yarn at Charlotte Yarn.  Get it now.

Categories: FOs | Tags: | 3 Comments

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