Thursday, April 21, 2016

Off the Needles: Lavender Shawl

Just finished this shawl and it feels so soft and cozy. Too bad it's getting too warm in North Carolina to get much wear in the coming months.

The shawl is knitted using yarn I bought at this year's Carolina Fiber Fest. It's a lavender superwash sock fingering from The Fibre Studio. The pattern is "Camilla Shawl Light" from Madder Anthology I by Carrie Bostick Hoge (Madder, 2014, pp. 52-3). The pattern called for 575 yards of fingering weight yarn and my skein held 560 yards, so I was a little anxious that I might run out of yarn and have to bind off early. However, I actually had a little yarn to spare...even enough to knit an extra row after the last decrease row.

The pattern calls for casting on 401 stitches using the long-tail cast on method. While I love the appearance of this method, it's a pain in the neck to figure out how much yarn you'll need to allow for. Too much and you waste yarn with an extra-long tail; too little and you don't have enough stitches and have to start all over again. This seems to be a common conundrum among knitters so I turned to my copy of Cast On, Bind Off by Cap Sease (Martingale, 2012) for help. Sease presented several ways to calculate the length needed and I chose this one: "wrap the yarn around the needle once for every stitch. Holding the yarn at the last wrap, pull out the needle and add a few extra inches before making the slipknot." This worked almost too well -- I ended up with about a 4-inch tail...not much yarn waste, but maybe shorter than I would have liked for some projects. Next time I use this method, I'll be a bit more generous with those extra inches.

I finished with an I-cord bind off that wasn't called for in the pattern. From knitting previous shawls that called for this type of bind off, I knew I would like the effect better. When a pattern, such as this one, calls for binding off loosely, I find that I still bind off too tightly even when I use a size larger needle. The too-tight bind off doesn't give the shawl's top edge enough stretchiness which keeps the piece from draping well. It also puts some strain on that last row of knitting which can lead to broken stitches, especially in thinner yarns. But when I use the I-cord bind off the edge stays stretchy enough plus I like the finished look that this bind off method gives the piece.

Wet blocking the shawl:

Closeup of the pattern:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Vintage Tatting Shuttles

I scored 4 vintage shuttles at the North Carolina Regional Lacers Spring Lace Day this weekend, including my first "pumpkin seed" shuttle. None had any identifying manufacturer's marks. All have tight points and are in excellent condition. If not for the thread left on them, I would have thought they had never been used. I paid $9 for the entire lot. I'm a very happy tatter!wink emoticon

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Destashing Cotton Yarns

I've been using up the odds and ends of balls and cones of cotton yarn in my stash by knitting small rugs. I use 2 strands of cotton yarn with one strand of panty hose "yarn" that I make from old hose. The nylon yarn gives the rugs more body than the cotton yarn alone, helps the rugs dry faster, and wears like iron. In fact, I have rugs that I made 20 years ago in which the cotton yarn has worn out, but the nylon is still usable.

My typical pattern is to cast on with 2 strands of cotton and knit 2 rows. For every 3rd row I knit with 2 strands of cotton and 1 strand of panty hose yarn. The rug is knitted entirely in garter stitch. I end with 2 rows of the cotton before casting off in the cotton. Needle size is 10, 10.5, or 11...whatever seems to handle the multiple strands comfortably. There's no gauge to worry about. The number of stitches is determined by how wide you want the rug, and the number of rows by how long you want it. For a bathmat I find the equivalent of 4 balls of Sugar and Cream brand yarn or Peaches and Cream brand yarn are sufficient, using 2 balls of 2 colors. In the example below I used 1 strand of white and 1 strand of variegated pastel yarn along with beige panty hose yarn.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tatting Display at Local Library

My local tatting group was invited to set up displays at two libraries in our county in April and May. Here are photos I took of the April display after I got everything installed. Only four tatters' work is represented here so I'm hoping more will participate in the May display.


Friday, April 1, 2016

My Craft Studio

Some photos I took before recent tidying things up. Seems I constantly have to tidy things up in this room.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Post-2016 CFF Demos Report

Two days of fiber arts demoing at the 2016 Carolina Fiber Fest are now behind me. There were a few minor glitches, but overall all went really well. For my Friday demo I had lots of visitors talking with me about recycling materials for fiber arts and crafts. And several children had fun braiding candy laces. But, although I brought a camera, I totally forgot to take any photos...oh, well.

On Saturday, Tri-Tatters, my local tatting group, displayed and demonstrated tatting. We were there for the entire day and had lots of people come by and share their tatting stories. We also got many people to sign up for our mailing list so maybe we'll see some new faces at our monthly meetings. This time I finally remembered I had a camera and could take some photos before we packed up. I've posted them on the Tri-Tatters Facebook page:

Did I do any damage to my Visa card this time? Yes, indeed I did. On Friday, I was incredibly restrained, telling myself that my yarn stash was in the SABLE range. For those new to this acronym, it stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. So I left the event with one bar of gardenia fragrance goat's milk soap from Humbug Farm from up the road in Holly Springs, NC...what a good girl I was! I've bought Kate Shirley's soaps at past Fiber Fests and they are a pleasure to wash with.

But on Saturday, I lost a bit of this self-control. I began with a vintage knitting copyright date, but from the pictures, it appears from the 1940s. Then I started cruising the yarn vendors. Since I've been wearing the little scarf of silk yarn I bought in Vancouver, I've decided I really like that fiber for items worn around my neck. So I was on a search for 100% silk yarn. I ended up buying 2 skeins of single-ply silk, one in black and the other in turquoise with tiny sequins. I'm thinking of knitting it up in Martha Behm's "Leftie" shawl pattern. I purchased the pattern a while back, but never got around to using it. The nice thing about it is that you can knit it as large as your available yarn. While the yardage I bought seems sufficient, this pattern will work fine if it looks like I don't have as much yarn as I thought. All these yarns came from Sheepish Creations, a mother/daughter business out of Huntersville, NC. As an added bonus, all their silk is fair trade fiber.

I also bought a skein of variegated silk strung with tiny beads from Sheepish Creations. It's quite thin and more like thread than yarn. Not sure what I'll make out of it, but I'm thinking this might work into a 2016 State Fair entry.

And, finally, I did succumb to the lure of wool yarn. I bought a big skein of superwash merino sock fingering in a heathery lavender shade from The Fibre Studio out of Charlotte, NC. Not sure what I'll make out of it (definitely not socks!), but I fell in love with the color.

In the past I've posted photos of my Fiber Fest purchases, and many of those purchases are still in the same form as when I brought them home. But this time I shall wait until I have finished pieces to show. That will be much more satisfying to me than more pictures of balls of yarn waiting to fulfill their promise.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Demo Prep

Getting ready to pack the car for my Friday demo "Fiber Arts and Crafts Using Non-Traditional Materials" at the Carolina FiberFest.