Saturday, May 16, 2015

Off the Needles: Turquoise/Teal Shawl

 For several years I have attended (and participated in) the Carolina Fiber Fest, first in Raleigh, NC, and then in Sanford, NC. It provides a wonderful selection of local and non-local fiber suppliers and it is hard to avoid the temptation to buy more yarn for my stash. And that is pretty much where my purchases stay--in my stash. Facebook has a "feature" where it posts a photo you took a year or so ago. This year it was a photo I took of what I'd bought at the 2014 Fiber Fest. Looking at it, I realized I had done nothing! with the yarn I'd bought last year. And so, I was determined to use whatever I bought at this year's event.

I was very restrained and only bought two skeins of yarn -- wool, 2-ply sport weight, each about 400 yards, one in a heathery turquoise and the other in a dark teal. They came from Heelside Farms in Four Oaks, NC.

Choosing a good shawl pattern was a big problem; I started one pattern and after about 60 rows decided I really didn't like it. Spent a lot of time going through my library of patterns and Ravelry before finally deciding on Stephen West's "Boneyard Shawl" pattern, a free download on Ravelry. My next decision was whether to have the teal or the turquoise as the border part. I had equal amounts of yarn so that wasn't a factor. In the end, I decided that the turquoise would look better near my face and hair.

West offers two variations for the increases in the pattern: Make 1 Right / Make 1 Left or yarn overs. His method gives the shawl a more solid look while the yarn overs make the increases a bit more lacy. Given a choice, I went with the yarn overs which I'd rather do than that knitting into the front and back of stitches. I found his increase method more fiddly plus I'd have to keep alert so I did the right and left increases at the correct places.

The knitting went fairly fast, but I noticed I was getting a lot of dye on my fingers in only 2-3 rows of knitting. I'd already had some concerns about the scratchiness of the wool and now it seemed that I would also have to do something about the dye leaching out before the shawl would be wearable.

West suggests Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off, but I decided to do an i-cord bind off. I've done this in previous shawls and like the effect and the stability it gives the edges. I'd thought about doing a lacy edging, but by the time I got the size I wanted, I just wanted to bind off and start dealing with the dye issue.

I have to say, this yarn has given me more work in rinsing out the excess dye than any other yarn so far. I got to the point where I decided I probably would never buy dyed yarn from this source again. I do have other yarn from this supplier, but it is undyed, natural-colored wool and should give no problems.

I started out with room temperature water to see if all it needed was some rinsing out with plain water. After several changes of water and temperatures, there didn't seem to be any lightening of the blue in the water. I tried washing with the soap the seller recommended (Soft Soap) to soften up the yarn. I do think the yarn got softer, but the excess blue dye still kept coming out. I went online to see what I could do to fix the dye and stop the bleeding. Two things were suggested: white vinegar and salt. I tried the vinegar first with little noticeable results and you then have to get the vinegar smell out of the yarn. The salt rinse didn't work any better, but at least there was no odor. This soak and rinse routine went on for several days with still more dye coming out. This was so frustrating as I was eager to block the shawl and move on to another project. But I had to get the dye issue fixed or I was afraid the dye would rub off on everything it touched when it was worn.

Last night, in a fit of recklessness, I gave up and just dumped what I had left of the vinegar into the basin of water and went to bed. This morning, the water in the sink was clear! What a relief. Now all I had to do was get the vinegar smell out using the Soft Soap and then on to the blocking.

Below is a photo of the shawl (taken before I found one of my cats sitting on it...why, why?) that is drying out on my porch. I'll take a photo of it in action when I get it off the blocking boards.

I think the lessons learned with this project are to be a bit leery of dyed yarns from unknown sources (i. e., not one of the major yarn manufacturers) and to be fearless with the use of vinegar to set dyes. I worried that the acid might harm the wool, but I can't see that it caused any problem. I still love the colors and the pattern, but the post-knitting process was more work than I care to expend on what was to be a simple, quick project.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tatting at 2015 Carolina Fiber Fest

Once again, my tatting group, Tri-Tatters, demonstrated at the Carolina Fiber Fest in Sanford, NC. This year only two of us could make it, but nevertheless we were able to connect with many tatters and tatter wannabes. I'm so glad I could make the event, especially since we are not getting as many exhibiting opportunities as we would like.

Here's our demonstration/display table with the banner I made for our public appearances. It's apparent that this time, because there are only two of us, I have managed to hog most of the table space with my tatted pieces.

This is my tatting buddy Anitra having a great time tatting butterflies for earrings. Each year, she demonstrates and sells her tatting in the Village of Yesteryear at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.

Below is a photo from the Carolina Fiber Fest's Facebook page. I'm not tatting here, but "retro-tatting" a mistake I made. I always have trouble tatting mistake-free in public, but this time I only messed up once, which was pretty surprising.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Off the Shuttle: Tatted Paper Eggs

Here are all the paper eggs with tatted edgings that I've finished so far. Threads are all size 20, either Lizbeth or DMC Cebelia. All the rings are four sets of 5 double stitches separated by picots with the middle picot attached to the paper. The chains are either 3ds 3p 3ds 3p 3ds or 3ds 9p 3ds. Embellishments are a variety of stickers. More detailed instructions are on my posting at 

These work up very fast and can be hung with thread as ornaments or used to embellish greeting cards. I'm finding them a nice little giveaway to let friends know I'm thinking of them.

The two below will be sent to a friend's daughters. One loves pink and the other likes purple. They are growing up so fast so I hope they still like getting little trinkets in the mail.

I gave this one to a family friend as a thank you for her Easter luncheon:

This one is on its way to an online tatting friend in Tennessee (you know who you are!):

This one is on its way to Staten Island to a pen friend with terminal cancer. I hope this cheers her up a little, but tatting seems woefully inadequate as a way to lessen my sorrow for her.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Off the Needles: Tweedy Cotton Scarf

I just finished this light-weight scarf suitable for cool, rather than cold, weather. The yarn is from stash I bought about three years from a yarn shop in Hillsborough, NC, on a visit to the town with my daughter. It's Noro's "Sekku" in colorway 1. The yarn is a blend of cotton (50%), wool (17%), nylon (17%), and silk (16%). 

Some parts of the strands were really thin, almost like heavy sewing thread. I'm not sure how well an item knitted with one strand would hold up with such thin areas in the skein. Fortunately, I bought two balls of the yarn so I could use two strands of the yarn for the project.

The pattern is adapted from "ZickZack Scarf Pattern," a free pattern on Ravelry. The original version is 96 stitches wide; my version is 60 stitches wide. Each row is knitted the same:[k5 k2tog k4 kfb] 5 times. I used size 3 needles.

Once again, I'm still fiddling with my digital camera to get the colors right. From what I've heard from others using similar cameras, achieving true colors of craft works is almost impossible without moving up to more expensive, professional equipment...which I'm not ready to do. What is showing up here as blue is really purple and lavender; there actually is no blue in this colorway of the yarn. The other colors in the photo, however, are accurate. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tatted Christmas Card Ornament Class

Yesterday I taught the "Tatted Christmas Card Ornament" class at the North Carolina Regional Lacers 2015 Spring Lace day. We had a lot of fun cutting and punching out paper shapes and attaching tatting to circles cut from Christmas cards.

Here are some examples that I brought to inspire the class:

Tools and materials we used:

Class participants working on their first project:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Off the Shuttle: Tatted Paper Egg Ornament

In my last post I wrote that I wished I had an egg-shaped paper punch to make Easter egg ornaments. Taking my $10-off coupon to A C Moore yesterday, I found a tool that fulfilled my wish. I thought if I couldn't find a punch, maybe a stencil would do the trick. The above shape was made using a Fiskars stencil. The package contains 3 templates: circles, ovals, and rectangles, with several sizes on each template. Of course, unlike with a paper punch, you still have to punch the perimeter holes for attaching the tatting. I used my usual 1/8" hole punch that I use on the Christmas card ornaments.

The paper is from a pack of assorted pastel cardstock from DCWV, Inc. The thread is DMC Cebelia size 20, color 210 lavender. The sticker is from a pack of K&Company's "Clearly Yours" epoxy stickers. 

The tatting pattern is one I use frequently on card ornaments:
Rings: 5ds p 5ds attach to card 5ds p 5 ds
Chains: 3ds p 3ds

I think I'll adjust the pattern on future eggs as it tended to curl up and required a lot of finger blocking to flatten out. I think lengthening the chains might do the trick. 

My tatting onto paper class is coming up later this month and I can't wait to share all the examples I've been making. Eleven people have signed up for the class and I hope to have some paper goodies for them to take home for inspiration. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Off the Shuttle: Tatting on Silver Paper Ornament

I've been playing with paper and tatting again with new paper and a new paper punch I picked up on sale at Jo-ann's. The paper is DCWV's Cardstock Stack in color "Silver Shimmer." The paper punch is the "Chrysanthemum" punch from Fiskars.

The variegated thread is Lizbeth size 20 in colorway #175 "Scottish Thistle." The outer thread is silver DMC Metallic Embroidery Floss, which I believe has been discontinued (it's been in my thread stash for several years).

The tatting pattern is a simple ring (5ds p 5ds (attach to hole) 5ds p 5ds cls) with 2 rings per paper hole. There are 15 holes in the paper design so there are 30 rings around the edge. The chains between each ring are 3ds p 3ds. The chain of metallic thread is attached to each picot of the previous chain with 2 ds between each attachment. I wish the paper piece were egg-shaped as I think these would make nice Easter egg ornaments.