Thursday, August 4, 2016

My First Knitting Pattern on Ravelry

If you are on Ravelry, look for my "Squiggle Scarf" pattern, a knitted scarf that I designed and will be entering in the North Carolina State Fair. A PDF of the pattern is also here on my blog in the "Patterns" page section. This is my first ever knitting design, and I can't wait to see how it does in the designer knitting category. The scarf is fun to knit, but I learned that even a simple pattern is hard to write clearly and accurately.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thread Fail #1 Continued

Ok, I give up! I've tried putting my bleeding red edging through many, many soakings of vinegar with and without water, with and without salt. Also doused the water with the cleaner that takes stains out of old textiles. After all this and going through about a quart of white vinegar, there is still a small amount of dye bleeding out...unbelievable. This is worse than what I went through with setting dye in the turquoise and teal shawl I made last year. Straight vinegar and lots of it finally fixed that shawl, but this red thread has me defeated.

Luckily, I have another ball of size 10 red cotton thread on hand that looks slightly different. But expecting the same dye problem, I wet a sample of this thread and laid it on a paper towel to see if the dye would bleed out. No, nothing but wet paper towel. So I am going to redo the project using this batch of thread. The redo should go faster since I've already had a "practice run" of the pattern with the bleeding thread.

As for the first ball of's in the trash. Even though there was a lot of yardage left on the spool, I couldn't bear the thought of anyone else being cursed with this awful stuff. I just wish I still had its label so I would know what brand to avoid in the future. But since I acquired this thread in the 1990s, I'm thinking maybe this thread is no longer manufactured and that's a very good thing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2016 NC State Fair Projects: Thread Fail #2

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Ok, this time the thread fail was all my fault. One of my fair entries will be a tatted edging on a vintage handkerchief using two colors of vintage size 70/80 thread. I was tatting away until the the shuttle with green thread ran out. Blithely, I filled the shuttle with all that remained on the spool and tatted onward. Not long after, it occurred to me that that was all the thread I had left in that brand/color/size. And that I just might not have enough thread on my shuttle to finish making it around the hanky circumference. As I watched more thread unspool from the shuttle and more of the shuttle's post being emptied, I started getting tenser. I was on round 2 of the edging with about 6 inches to go and, wouldn't you know, the green was being used up quickly for all the rings while the lavender, which I still had a lot of, was only used for some short chains. 

If I could only find just one more small spool of the green thread, the project would be saved. Of course, it being a discontinued, vintage thread (American Thread Co. Star Tatting Crochet thread (Art. 25) in size 70 and color 149), finding more was not going to be easy. First I did searches in eBay, Etsy, Google, and Ravelry. The only thing I turned up was someone on Ravelry who had a spool of it in her stash, but was not offering it for sale or trade. Nevertheless, I kept this source in mind on the chance that I might be able to convince her with my pitiful story to part with it.

Next I resorted to posting my dilemma to the Tatting Facebook group, offering to buy or trade from anyone who might have this thread in their stash. In addition to a lot of sympathetic comments ("we've all been there"), I also (hooray!) eventually got offers from three tatters who said they had that thread. I contacted the first to respond, a tatter in Missouri, who didn't want any money or even reimbursement of her postage. She asked that I just send her something I'd tatted. Within a couple of days, her thread arrived and I was able to complete the project! (I hope she likes what I sent her as a thank you.)

I am so grateful for all the generosity that tatters online have for each other. They really came through for this tatter, and I hope that someday I can help out someone else who has a vintage thread emergency. (It's not like I'll ever be able to use up all that tiny thread that I have stashed anyway.)

2016 NC State Fair Projects: Thread Fail #1

For the past few weeks I've been working on entries for this year's state fair. One of the projects is a crocheted edging attached to a tea towel. The towel has a cookie recipe decorated with large red dots. My idea was to crochet a base edging and then echo the dot motif with crochet disks. I crocheted 11 disks and yesterday wet blocked them to reduce any cupping and flatten them out. When I checked to see if they were dry enough to attach to the base edging, I saw that the red thread had bled into the white, making an uneven ring of pinky white...not the effect that I wanted to achieve.

I've accrued a sizable stash of size 10 crochet threads over the years (it's the size I first learned to tat on back in the 1990s), and, as far as I can recall, most of the labels state that the thread is "colorfast," i.e., the dye will not run or bleed. I've attached motifs made with these threads to clothing and never had a problem with dye bleeding. But somehow this ball of red thread does indeed bleed, and the resulting pieces made with it are unusable for my entry.

Since the tea towel that I'm using is mostly white, if I ever plan to use it as intended, I can't risk having dye from the red thread ruining it. So right now I'm soaking the red base edging in white vinegar in the hopes of setting the dye. I'm also soaking several additional yards of red thread so that I can make new disks that won't bleed. Fortunately, redoing this part of the project won't entail too much more of my time, but this is so disappointing! I realize that red dyes can be notorious for having dye bleeding problems, but --mistakenly-- I assumed that the crochet thread I was using would not be a problem. Now, before using any of the colored thread in my crochet cotton stash, I think I'll do a test of the color fastness regardless of what color the thread is. And maybe it's time to replace that ball of red thread with a newer ball that explicitly says it's "colorfast."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

2016 NC State Fair Projects: Crocheted Baby Sweater

This is my 3rd year to enter items in the North Carolina State Fair. Last year I got a 2nd prize for a crocheted baby sweater so I decided to enter this category again. 

The pattern started out as "Karen's X Stitch Sweater." I followed the pattern through Row 8; Row 9 begins the X stitch pattern. After doing the pattern for a few inches, I decided (1) I didn't like doing the stitches (too fiddly for my taste), (2) I didn't like the look of the stitches (too much effort for the results), and (3) even if (1) and (2) weren't the case, any distinctiveness of the stitches was lost in the busyness of the yarn textures and what was the point? So starting at Row 9 I changed the X stitch to the V stitch that was presented in Row 6. 

This brings up an interesting situation. In the state fair's competition categories, there is a separate category for items that are the maker's own pattern. At what point does a change in someone else's pattern make the pattern more yours than theirs? 

One of the requirements when submitting an item in the clothing contest is to include the name of the pattern on your entry form. How do I handle this case? Do I say it's Karen's pattern until Row 9 (plus the last 3 rows of the sleeves)? Is it a hybrid pattern of Karen's and Carolyn's design? Hmmm...I may have to contact the judging office on this one.

The sweater took less than one skein of Stitch Studio by Nicole's "Picnic" in variegated colorway "Strawberry." It's a 100% acrylic yarn that is soft and squishy that makes it a good choice for baby items. The yarn label suggests using size G/6 crochet hook, but I used a size F/5 instead. The original pattern calls for making a yarn tie and inserting it into spaces around the neck area as a closure. Instead, I included two chain-4 loops on the right edge and sewed two red plastic heart buttons on the left side to close the sweater.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Off the Stove: Eggrolls

Usually my posts deal with fiber projects, but today's is a culinary project -- homemade eggrolls. I haven't made them for years, but this week I got the urge. And they turned out just as easy and delicious as I remember.

For the meat I used a small chunk of pork roast cut in very small pieces. The rest of the filling included bean sprouts, chopped cabbage, sliced spring onions, chopped carrots, pickled ginger pieces, and soy sauce mixed with a little cornstarch. The eggroll wrappers came from my usual grocery store. Mix everything together, sauté for a couple of minutes, and fill the wrappers according to the package instructions.

I fried them in a shallow amount of coconut oil until both sides were browned then drained them on paper towels. The package of wrappers made 20 eggrolls. I had more filling left which I'll probably eat later with rice.

Ta-da! Ready to enjoy:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Still on the Hook: Crocheted Christening Gown

I'm about halfway through a piece I plan to enter in the 2016 North Carolina State Fair in October--a white cotton thread crocheted christening gown. The pattern I'm using is for the gown on the cover of Christening Sets to Crochet by Kay Meadors.

I'm using Lily 18th Century 100% Mercerized Crochet & Bedspread Cotton that I found in my stash. I think it's size 10, but it feels softer than the size 10 balls of Knit-Cro-Sheen I have stashed.

Not sure when or how I acquired it as the thread has been discontinued. The labels say the skeins were bought at Woolworth's for $2.79 each; it's been many years since I have shopped there.

I still have to reach my desired length, add sleeves, make the buttonhole band, and add buttons. I have 3 skeins and each skein has 450 yards. I'm on my second skein so should have plenty of thread to finish the project.