Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Crocheted Baby Sweater

At last! I finished my final entry for the 2015 North Carolina State Fair -- a crocheted baby sweater. This is a pattern that I've made several times before. It was originally published by Doreen Knitting Books, Volume 100, in 1950 and is available in several places on the Web. It works up pretty fast and there are only two underarm seams to sew up. 

I used some thin yarn from my stash. No labels so I have no idea of the manufacturer any more. Burn test indicated it's wool or some other animal fiber. There were small amounts of four shades of yellow and orange. Because the yarn is thin, I used two strands throughout and created on ombre effect by gradually blending the yarns from solid yellow to solid orange. 

The original pattern calls for a threaded ribbon closure, but I added a loop and this cute button that went well with the colors.

This and the crocheted shawl I posted earlier are my first crocheted entries so it will be interesting to see how I fare against the other entries. I am a bit concerned about the armhole seams in this piece as there were a lot of yarn tails to be dealt with due to all the color changes. I think I'll probably lose points because of the inside appearance so I'm still thinking if there's a way to conceal the little fuzzy ends better. I haven't washed the sweater yet so that might improve the situation. 

I look at the whole entering handwork in the fair experience as a way of challenging myself to (1) finish something on a deadline, (2) work within constraints set by others, (3) practice problem solving when I go beyond the boundaries of an established pattern, (4) see how my skills compare with others using the same techniques.

This time next month I'll know how my work compared with others, For now, it's great to be finished with everything so I can get back to some other projects that I've put on hold. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Off the Shuttle: More Tatted Paper

More tatting on paper shapes completed. These can be quite addictive and, for me, one of the few things I can tat during demonstrations without screwing up. I plan to attach them to cards and mail to some friends who are going through some bad medical issues.

2015 State Fair Projects: Crocheted Shawl with Beads

One of my proposed entries for the State Fair was to be a crocheted shawl. I have a skein of yarn of beige, tan, dark brown that I've wanted to make into a scarf or shawl with gold beads. I love the combination of colors and the feel of the yarn; however, more than halfway through my work on it I realized that it was going to be too small to be a shawl. The amount of yarn I had would make a crocheted scarf or a knitted shawl, but definitely not a decent size crocheted shawl. So I needed to make a decision: don't enter a crocheted shawl at all or find some other yarn to make into a shawl. Since there are still a couple of weeks left before entries need to be turned in, I decided to go ahead and find another way to complete the project.

Going through my stash I found several balls of ribbon yarn that I'd acquired from another knitter's destashing. This is Artful Yarns' "Celebrity" -- a discontinued ribbon yarn that's a mix of 40% polyester, 30% acrylic, and 22% nylon. The color is colorway #35, a blend of purple, cream, yellow, light olive green, and brown. I haven't had much experience knitting ribbon yarn, beyond a couple of simple garter-stitch scarves back when "railroad" yarn was the rage several years ago. And I have no experience crocheting with it. It's a bit stiff to work with and the overall look is mixed. Some areas nicely show the width of the ribbon and some areas, particularly chains, squeeze and twist it so you can't even see that it is a ribbon yarn. I decided not to worry about what the yarn was doing and focus on getting the stitches right.

The pattern I started with was "Bonsai Shawl" by Marty Miller in Interweave Crochet Accessories Special Issue 2011, pg. 127. After completing rows 1 and 2 to get the top edge established, I modified the pattern by changing all the single crochet stitches to double crochet stitches to make the shawl larger and airier. 

Here's the shawl on the blocking boards. Based on the fiber content, I'm not sure what blocking will accomplish, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. The odd lines are yarn tails that I have woven in but not yet trimmed off. I like to do the final cut of tails after blocking in case there's any shrinking or stretching that might affect them. Stretched out, the shawl is approximately 47" by 41" by 41" or 120 cm by 104 cm by 104 cm.

After I finished the body of the shawl, I was pretty pleased with the outcome. However, I remembered that I had already registered my entry as a "crocheted shawl with beads" ... so where were the beads? I suppose I could have ignored the "with beads" and just submitted the shawl as is, but what if that threw the piece out of the competition? (It's hard to outguess the judges on how picky -- and overly judgmental -- they will be. Next year, I'll try to be less specific with my entry descriptions in case I have to make a last minute change.)

So I decided that some beads were needed and started rummaging in my stash. I would need about 55 beads, and they had to be (1) large enough for the yarn to fit through their holes, and (2) able to compete with the busyness of the yarn and not get lost in the piece. I had about 60 of these metallic-colored beads which looked like they meet the criteria. I strung all the beads on the yarn and attached them to the shawl by a series of chain stitches along the edge of the shawl. 

One of the things I liked about the original pattern was the points on the shawl edges. Unfortunately, these were rather lost in the application of the beaded edging, but the alternative would have been to start over and incorporate the beads as I crocheted...and I was able to talk myself out of that pretty quickly.

All that's left now is to wait till the shawl is dry and to snip off the remainders of the yarn tails. I'm not sure I'd ever wear the piece, but it was an interesting challenge to crochet with ribbon yarn at least one time. Although I have a couple of balls left, I don't want to do anything with this yarn again. I plan to donate what's left to my knitting group. It's always fun to see what other knitters do with yarn that I no longer like.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Tatted Edging on Metal Trivet

This is proof that I will tat onto practically anything. I've been tatting onto paper shapes for sometime now so when I saw this white enameled metal trivet in an area store I thought, "That looks like something else I could tat on." I started the project just for fun and joked to tatting buddies that I should enter it into the State Fair, thinking that, of course, there was no category for adding lace to metal trivets. However, when the premium books came out with the categories and rules, it turns out that I could enter the piece. There is a special category called the Home Furnishings "Almost Anything Goes" Contest. So I had a category and an incentive to finish the project.

I used size 20 Lizbeth thread in colorway 165 "Grape Splash." The edging is tatted directly into the holes on the trivet. There are three rounds in the piece. 
Round 1: 
    all rings:  5ds p 5ds p 5ds attach to trivet 5ds p 5ds p 5ds cls rw
    all chains: 5ds p 5 ds
Round 2 is the same except rings are attached to the picot on round 1 chains instead of the trivet.
Round 3 is all chains: 2 ds p 2ds p 2ds p 2ds p 2 ds p 2ds then lock-joined to the picot on a Round 2 chain.

Below is a closeup of the tatted edging. The end result gives the piece a ruffled effect reminiscent of old fashioned doilies.

This isn't the first metal piece that I've tatted onto, but it is the largest. The trivet is 8 inches across, and, with the tatted edging, 10 inches across. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

And Now We Are Three...

Back in July 2014, I knitted and felted two fish using a Fiber Space pattern. I gave them to my daughter who planned to hang them in her house. Her plan was to make a mobile with them, but she thought that it would work out better with three fish. So I've just finished making her a third fish. The original two fish were made using wool from the pattern kit. This third one is a little different because I used Lite Lopi wool yarn. I think it felts up denser because the yarn has such a loose twist. But the effect is still quite cute.

A trip through the jewelry department of our local Belk store snagged her a marked-down necklace of clear plastic beads in graduated sizes. She plans to use these as "bubbles" coming out of the fishes' mouths. I'll post a photo of her finished project. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Tatted Pillowcase Edging, Finally Finished!

Finally finished the tatted pillowcase edging I plan to enter into the 2015 North Carolina State Fair. 

The pattern is based on Pam Palmer's "Down the Garden Path" from her book Tatting Treats Three. The original pattern has more picots on the vines and flowers with 5 rings instead of the 6 in my version. 

The threads are all size 20 Lizbeth thread. The variegated green vines are colorway #138 "Leafy Green." The flowers are all odds and ends of variegated threads that I had left over from other projects. Other materials I used were green sewing thread to secure the vines and clear nylon thread to sew down all the flowers.

The tatting was finished in late July, but I was left with the labor of attaching it to the pillowcase. As you can see from the photograph below, there were a lot of loose ends that needed to be dealt with.

One of my options would be to pull the ends through to the inside of the pillowcase and knot them securely. But I was afraid that the untidiness of that solution would count against me in the judging, and my tatting buddies agreed that it wasn't a good idea. 

I decided that if I opened up the hem of the pillowcase and pulled the loose ends through and knotted them securely, I could hide all the messiness from view while making sure that everything stayed in place. This is important to me because I actually use and launder the pillowcases I embellish with tatting. That's why I spend a lot of time sewing the lace down so everything will stay in place with years of use.

I sewed down all the tatting, using green sewing thread that matched the green vines and clear nylon thread on all the flowers since matching the colors in all the flowers would have been practically impossible.

Once everything was tacked down securely, I sewed the hem back together on my sewing machine (yay, no more hand sewing).

Here's one side of the final result:

All that's left now to get the entry ready is to wash and press the pillowcase. Of all the fair entries I've been working on, this one was definitely the most labor intensive, with attaching the tatting taking almost as much time as the actual tatting. I hope all the work pays off and impresses the judges.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


My response to people watching me tat who say, "I wouldn't have the patience to do what you do" --

And you can say the same for any other kind of handwork: knitting, crocheting, stitching, weaving, wood carving, pottery making, etc.