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Have You Seen My Mojo?

My knitting mojo, I mean.  Haven’t gone this long without knitting since 1993.  Sometimes I go three days.  I think about knitting.  Does that count?

I’m stuck in the long design process that I have with the cabin quilt and Wine Stains.  Here’s that progress:

What’s different?  I have machine quilted the background.

Machine quilting

This is my first venture into machine quilting.  I did practice some, but was unwilling to practice enough to be good ( think a year) and I want this finished and hung.  It isn’t horrible unless you are a machine quilter.  It was fun–stressful, but fun and I learned a lot.  If you want to see great machine quilting, go to The Free Motion Quilting Project.  This blog is by a young woman in Shelby, NC, who is not only talented, but generous.  The designs are gorgeous.

I am embroidering the six Wine Stain blocks.and appliqueing on some scrumbles.  This, too, is learn as you go.  The stitches are not precise, some would call them primitive in places, but I have excuses.  Working on knit fabric in this large a format isn’t easy.  I have backed the squares with a medium interfacing from the stash and will cut away the excess before backing it.  Second excuse, I’m learning new stitches.  Third, I’m getting bored.  But I still love it.  The imprecise stitching fits the piece–it’s a crazy afghan after all.

Just so I remember how to knit, I am starting a felted basket.  This is the pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting.  I already have three of these and use them constantly.  Sometimes they hold a small project, other times they hold pencils and markers.  They are strong, weigh nothing, and when you drop them, they don’t break.  I found this Kureyon in the stash and am holding the two skeins doubled.  Garter stitch is so good to your brain.

I’m caught up on my blog reading.  Amazing how unsubscribing can help with that.  Discovered two new blogs on Ravelry today that are interesting.  Naturalsuburbia.blogspot.com is by a young South African woman who is homeschooling her kids.  She has some cute patterns to give away and some fun with kids tutorials.  I want to make Steve a bat mobile for Halloween.

The other is by Lorraine Hearn.  I’m linking you to a ravelry page of a really wild boot she designed.  I can’t seem to get back to her blog to give you that URL.  Anyway, if you have seen the scarves made out of lace edging yarn like Universal’s Rozetti Marina that are everywhere, you will enjoy looking at what she has done with that yarn.  It’s very sculptural.

What else have I been doing instead of knitting or crocheting?  Well, we celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary Saturday.

We are so artsy.  I love the books
Steve gave me.  I am interpreting them as his approval to pursue another hobby.  (No, I don’t really need his approval.  The man buys bicycles by the train load.)  The sculpture is my gift to him and it is clearly the second best gift I ever gave him.  He carried it around all day and talked about the metals and the methods.  Besides just loving how it looks, I love that it is local and I discovered it in a boutique on Lake Norman.  It had a scarf hanging on it.

The sculptor is named Wilson and he works for a Nascar team.  This is serious Nascar country here.  He takes discarded parts and creates sculpture with them.  Steve says the circles are brass syncronizing gears from a transmission.  I like the idea of syncronicity in this gift.

I, too, are working with gears.  I’m altering photos to create patterns that I might quilt.  I’m getting to know Photoshop better and enjoying myself.  This is a picture from a used bike store in Australia.  I cropped this from a picture of junked bikes and so far this is the design.No reason to let a lack of drawing  hamper your creativity.  Technology is so good to us.

The garden grows which is amazing–no green thumbs here.


And I am still working on preventing my wonderful fountain from rusting. 

Hundreds of coats of naval jelly and Rust-oleum Rust Reformer later, the base is black and may be coated enough that the water won’t turn orange.  Kate gave us this unique fountain and I just love it.  More car parts.

Oh, did I mention we are remodeling our kitchen?  For that I have Designer Sue who is wonderful.  All I have to do is make decisions.  I hate decisions.  They are so permanent.

It looks like a lot of stuff here, but it seems like lots of hours are missing.  I think I actually need to FINISH something and then I will feel better.

More later–


Knitting with Cotton

I had a blast doing a freebie class for the shop about knitting with cotton.  Had a great group—beginner to master knitters.  I talked about the difference in working with cotton and animal fibers, and I brought a huge number of different cottons from my stash.

I was so surprised that these knitters had never seen many of the spins and blends that I had with me.  Especially the finer, higher quality cottons.  That alone explains some of the negative attitudes I’ve heard about cotton.  If all you have seen is Peaches and Cream, then no wonder you don’t want to make a sweater out of cotton.  ( Not to slam Peaches and Cream–it has its place in my knitting world.)

As everyone “tasted” the cottons, they rated them and gave feedback.  I shared this with Remi, the shop owner.  We talked about some future purchases and also about recommending some more patterns for the yarns the shop currently owns.  Remi has really embraced the responsibility for making certain her customers are kept aware and are educated to make the perfect selection for what they want to make.  I, of course, love to be part of that.  Always teaching!!!!

For those who couldn’t be at the class, I have posted on the Tutorial Page the little handout I gave which covers most of the points I made. Here’s a link–Knitting with cotton notes.

As for some of those patterns, here’s a few ideas culled from Ravelry and my suggested yarns from Charlotte Yarn.

In keeping with the idea of summer knitting producing gifts, let’s look at bags.

Linda Kinlo’s “Let’s go shopping–Market Bag” is simple to knit and produces a spiral effect which would look great in a space dyed yarn such as Araucania Antu or, for a solid, Mirasol Hap’i, a thick n thin yarn of 100% Tanguis cotton, Peru’s preferred variety.

In my Ravelry queue is this cool Windmill Bag by Danielle LaFramboise.  I think I will use some Tahki Cotton Classic because there are so many colors to choose from.  You could make this in a bulkier cotton like the Berroco Weekend and just have a bigger bag. Maybe mix a space dyed with two solids?

If you crochet, and you should, try this Crocheted Swirling Bag from designer Kathey Merrick (link to her gorgeous site–read the articles about color).  I think it would be a super summer birthday gift and could go to the beach or shopping.  A sturdy cotton or cotton blend would work well.  Try Cotton Classic or some Universal Cotton Supreme will be in soon.

If you want to gift a knitter, try this little bag that will hold a ball of yarn (or anything else that size you choose) on your wrist.  Teresa Murphy designed this Wrist Yarn Holder.  It has another spiral effect which I really like.  Teresa  doesn’t give a yardage amount, but it has to be way less than a 50g skein.  This is a really quick knit gift.  Berroco Linsey would make a lovely one of these, or Touche which has unfortunately been discontinued  but Remi has some in the shop.  For a brighter one, Cotton Classic lite.

Feel adventurous?  Have a really special person in mind?  Grab the Cotton Classic Lite and knit the Montavilla Market Tote, a lace market bag.  The original version uses a worsted weight, so the regular Cotton Classic will work fine, as well as any of the great linens we have.  The pattern calls for two colors, but I like my lace in a solid, so I’d use just one–in the Euroflax.  (Check the sale bin!)  Do as thou wishest; thou art the knitter.

Want something a little more “uptown.”  The Quinn Cabled Bag by Yvonne Kao is lovely.  You usually think wool with cables, but cotton has great stitch definition.  Check the sale bin for a Nashua silk that would be heaven in this pattern.  Also check out some of the Sublime blends. That multi strand spin would be easy on the hands as you turn these cables.  Tahki Cotton Classic creates a great cable.

A real summer cutie is this 120-9 bag from Garnstudio.  It is crochet; many of the cute purses were.  I’d even consider the Sirdar Baby Bamboo for this, but knit it on a smaller needle for stability.  That yarn was really liked by the folks at the Knitting with Cotton class.  (I know it isn’t cotton; it’s just so-o-o-o pretty.)  Also consider Universal’s Fibranatura Flax or Elsbeth Lavold’s Hempathy, a personal favorite.

If none of these float your boat, go to Ravelry and search for free bag patterns yourself.  There are 88 pages of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Knitters are so generous.

Thanks to all the designers for allowing me to use their photos.  I know it is a great relief to see some good photos on this site.  It is for me.

I have written the blog, found the pics, located the links, learned what Tanguis cotton is, and joyfully checked it all——–this blogger is now napping.  🙂

More later–

Crazy Woman with Crazy Blanket

I have dyed all the old swatches .  They are dry.  Now I sort.I arranged them by size and shape, with a special pile for some of my freeform shapes.  The plan is to sew them all together.  Fortunately I have been revisiting my quilting past and remember the paper piecing part of crazy quilts.  I cut some medical paper into @24 inch squares and began to assemble the pieces very randomly.  I mostly just tried to mix the colors and textures and get the square covered.  Errors were to be fixed later.

Winestains block 1

Winestains block 2

Winestains block 3

and so on until I had six blocks.

Then I began to sew 

Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy this.  The hardest part is not sticking yourself with the pins.  The paper holds things very stable.  In fact, if you are sewing any knit project together, I recommend pinning the pieces to a sheet of paper before you sew.  Much easier.

When the squares are finished, many decisions will need to be made.  Not my strength.

1.  How to organize them for the final blanket.

2.  Do I back it like a quilt?  With what?  Knit material?  Linen?  silk

3.  How much embroidery for the surface?  What color thread should I use?  Pink?   Silver?

4.  Will it have a border?

Any and all answers, suggestions are gratefully received.  What would you do?  (Don’t say not even start this thing.)

More later–

FOs for Summer School Classes

What are Summer School Classes?       Classes designed to make small items that might become gifts for others and that teach new, easy techniques.  Even Beginning Knitters will enjoy and  be successful in these classes.  Because it is summer, the classes are designed to meet only one time and the projects are well-suited to knitting at the beach, on a plane, or in the car.  Come join us.  I guarantee you will learn something that will excite you.

Gifted Basket

June 27 (M),  6pm until @8–$20

Gifted Basket—designed by Jane Prater for Merely a Suggestion patterns

Soft baskets can hold anything from jewels to chocolates to spare change.  No two should be exactly alike.  This one uses a simple color technique which uses only one yarn at a time—an easy slip stitch technique that adds a special touch to any knitting project.  This basket is knit top down and involves no sewing.  Five double pointed needles are used to knit the mitered square that closes the basket.  Free pattern.

Class will teach the color technique, the stitch patterns, paired decreases, and the use of double pointed needles.  Materials needed are about 25 grams each of three colors of worsted weight cotton; a set of 5 dpns size 5, 6, or 7; a circular or single pointed pair of needles to match the dpns, five markers, a tapestry needle, scissors and a sticky note.

Six Sided Basket

July 6 (W), 6pm -@8,  $20

Six Sided Basket designed by Jane Prater for Merely a Suggestion

This basket features simple slip stitch color work and is the perfect pattern to learn double pointed needles—which are not monsters!  The turn down top supports the basket so that it stands up nice and straight.  There are no seams to sew and the shape makes it just a bit special for gift giving.  This pattern will feature both written instructions and a chart.

Skills to be taught are the colorwork technique, a few chart reading tricks, double pointed needles, paired increases. and some blocking suggestions.  We’ll also talk about an easy way to make this larger if you should wish.  Free pattern.

Materials needed are about 25 grams each of three colors of worsted weight cotton; a set of 5 dpns size 5, 6, or 7; a circular or single pointed pair of needles to match the dpns, four markers, a tapestry needle, scissors and a sticky note.

Takealong Pouch

July 11, (M)–6:00pm-@8  $20

Takealong Pouch—designed by Jane Prater for Merely a Suggestion patterns

Adding a zipper is so easy with knitted fabric.  Also easy is the mosaic color knitting technique which allows you to work with only one color per row.  This technique results in a padded fabric which needs no lining.  I use these pouches for travel, for organizing and for learning new stitches.  A bit of something placed inside one makes a special gift.  Free pattern.

Class will teach you to knit mosaic colorwork from instructions or from a chart, how to easily add a zipper by hand, and how to effortlessly sew the side seams.  Materials needed are worsted or DK weight cotton yarn, 50 grams of your background color, about 25 grams of one or more contrasting colors  (check your scraps);  a circular or single pointed pair of needles size 6, 7, or 8; a tapestry needle, scissors, a 7-9 inch skirt zipper, sewing thread to match the zipper, a sewing needle, thimble, and a sticky note.

Super easy zipper method

This is the Scallop Edged Beaded necklace by Carol Metzger.  The pattern is in  101 Designer One-Skein Wonders .

This is to tempt you and let you know that I am working on some Knitted and Crocheted Jewelry classes.  Whether you want to make a cute summer necklace for yourself or a wild purple and pink thing for some sweet girl to use to play dress-up, you may be interested in these classes.  It will be possible for you knitters who have longed considered learning to crochet to learn that skill at the same time you are making these goodies.  You can even use wire—and of course there will be beads.  I’ll give you more details on these classes in a few weeks.

Carol Metzger necklace

Need gardening help–OT

So, after a period of lots of rain, the dogs and I walked the property.  (Takes about 45 seconds).  This is what I saw.

Unearthly plants

Now I know I watch and read a bunch of sci-fi.  I also was raised in a town of 3,000 where you went to the one movie theatre every Saturday, all day Saturday, and saw the latest B pics, mostly like The Head That Would Not Die.  My first thought on seeing these pod-like things was Triffids!  Clearly some alien being was being hatched in my back yard.  No earth plant has a brown excretion on its tip.  Or self destroys like this.  And there are lots of them!

I have no idea how to begin to Google this, so I reach out to you.  What is it?  Can it hurt me?   Did I bring this back from Australia on my shoes?  Should I move?

While we are at it—are these daylillies?  Kate, did these come from you?  Age affects memory.  I know the plants behind them is Russian sage; Andrew planted it this year.

That’s it.  I am adding pics of the backyard.  You can skip those, but Kate will be interested.

Thanks in advance.

Basil to accompany tomatoes and fresh mozzarella


More Hostas


St. John's Wort


Tiny succulent

The dog of succulents

Speaking of dogs-----

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