Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I'm Baaak! And I've Been Very Busy

Although I have not posted anything on this blog since March, that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. I'm going to catch up with photos of all my recent projects so that I'll have the old projects recorded before I post photos of my 2018 North Carolina State Fair entries.

One of my crafty activities this summer was to take a 2-session class on brioche knitting. This technique has always intrigued and eluded me. After the first class with Rachel at Downtown Knits in Apex, NC, I saw why I needed professional instruction. When you skip or drop a stitch in brioche knitting, it is hellishly hard for a beginner to find and fix the mistake. Fortunately, Rachel made herself available between classes when she was staffing the store. I came and sat to work on the class project and if I had a problem, I would run to her between her taking care of customers.

Our class project was "Worsted Brioche Bandana Cowl" by Lavanya Patricella Designs available for purchase on Ravelry. The yarn in the photo below is not the yarn I purchased at the yarn shop for the class. I actually got so frustrated with the project that I made the cowl out of worsted that I had in my stash so I wouldn't wear out the more expensive yarn by constant frogging. The yarn I used for this cowl is Plymouth Encore Worsted in colorway 146 Natural and an Encore Worsted in colorway 1001 Merry, a twist of green and red.

As you can see, with brioche knitting you have a double-sided garment with each side reversing the dominant color of the other side.

Here's the cowl I finally made with the yarn I bought for the class. It's pretty much the same as the one above, but I omitted the bandana point on this one since I didn't personally care for it. The yarn is worsted weight wool, but I've no idea what it was since I've mislaid the skein label (I'll update the post if I ever figure it out).

 After I felt more competent with the technique, I made a scarf with Plymouth Encore worsted and various colors of yarn leftovers. The pattern is Nancy Marchant's "BEBEB (Best Ever Beautifully Edged Brioche) Scarf." The pattern is free and a good one for brioche beginners.

Also made this hat using Plymouth Encore worsted in colorway 146 Natural and Plymouth Encore Colorspun in colorway 8004 Rainbow. The free pattern is Marilynn Blacketer's "Brioche Basic Beanie."

Now that I've mastered the basics I hope to move on to more complicated patterns. To inspire me I recently purchased Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant which definitely takes the technique to a higher level of complexity. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Carolina Fiber Fest Stash Acquisitions

In addition to participating in the Tri-Tatters display/demo at this year's Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, NC, I did a bit of shopping in the vendor area. I feel I was quite restrained this year with only 4 purchases.

Last year I almost bought a ball of this colorway ("Deep Sea"), but when I came back to the vendor's booth, the yarn was gone. This year, I saw that one ball was left on the rack so I snapped it up before I missed out a second year. The yarn is approximately 560 yards of superwash merino. I don't know what I'll make with it, but I love the colors too much not to add it to my stash.

I bought this skein at the Claudia Hand Painted Yarns booth. It's 270 yards of 100% sport-weight linen in a colorway called "Almost Pink." It's actually more of a fuschia shade. I was looking at the pale pinks on the rack when I spotted this dramatic color. "Oh, too flashy for me," I thought and walked on. Then later I returned and said to myself, "Go for it!" I wear a lot of black so this color would really stand out around my neck and shoulders. So far, the only thing I've made from linen is a shopping bag so I was concerned about how soft it would be as a garment. The vendor showed me that a skirt knitted out of the same fiber had softened up after washing so I think whatever I make with it will be comfortable to wear.

Here's another 100% linen purchase, this one from Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets. It's hand-dyed Normandy 16/2 linen (a number which will probably mean more to weavers, than knitters or crocheters). The 200 yards of lace weight yarn is in colorway "Sunset Blush" and the photograph does not do it justice. This thin yarn is about equivalent to size 20 tatting thread and is so smooth that I am planning to see how well it will tat. So far, I've only tried tatting with linen sewing thread, but this has tempted me to try something heavier.

This skein of sock-weight yarn is from Iria Yarn Company. Last year I bought yarn from their booth (and actually finished a project with it!). (Again, I was attracted to something, left without buying it, and then later returned and bought it. I think that if I find myself attracted to a yarn enough to consider it second time, then I probably should go ahead and buy it.) The yarn is called "Sparkle Sock" in colorway "Steel Gray." It's 436 yards of 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, and 5% Stellina (the sparkly bits). I think it will make a nice little shawl...someday.

Was I tempted by other yarns at the event? Hell, yes! But sanity prevailed. Two passed-up possibilities come to mind. Both I judged were two expensive to possibly languish in my stash for years. I love the feel of silk and at last year's Fiber Fest there was almost no silk yarn to be had. This year there was a lot more, both blended with wool or other fibers or as 100% silk. The stuff I had my eyes and hands on was around $55 per skein in lace weight. Beautiful, but I resisted. Since I had no idea what to make with it, I think I was wise to pass it up.

Walking back to our tatting display area, I felt a lovely yarn in passing. Oh, my, it was soft and squishy. No wonder, it was angora yarn. I could imagine the luxurious feeling as my neck was wrapped in its soft fuzziness. But the price tag of $60 for one skein brought me back to my senses and I walked on.

If this event wasn't sufficient for yarny goodness, the local Spring Yarn Crawl starts in 2 weeks. This year 12 yarn shops will be participating. Not sure I can keep from going to at least 2 or 3 of them.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Off the Hook: Crocheted and Felted Cat Bag

I finished this little bag last night in the hopes that I would show it off at the Carolina Fiber Fest today. Last year at the event I demo'ed and displayed crocheted work on my own. I was approached by a local fiber group (of which I am a member) and asked to participate with the group this year. I assumed that what they wanted from me was the kind of display I was doing at that time. Silly me for making assumptions. 

Unfortunately, when I got to the venue, I found out that I would just be sitting in a circle with the group and crocheting while others were spinning and weaving. There was no table available to display any of the pieces I had assembled and brought. So I took my crochet and went home. Tomorrow should go better as I am the person in charge of the tatting group that will be demonstrating and displaying. I made sure to order extra tables and chairs so we can show off the beauty of knotted lace. Well, enough of how my day started off. Let me get to the info on this piece.

The crochet pattern is "Felted Black Cat Bag," a free one from Lion Brand Yarn. I made a few changes in my version of this cute bag. The pattern calls for Lion Brand Wool, but, as I often do, I turned to my stash for supplies. 

Somewhere in past years I acquired several vintage skeins of Hiawatha Real Needlepoint Wool (article 380, 40 yds. per skein) in dark brown. This wool isn't quite worsted weight so I used the strands from 2 skeins. The eyes and nose are crocheted in the pattern, but I decided that I would finish faster if I substituted buttons. I used 2 orange vintage glass buttons for the eyes and a red heart-shaped button for the nose. the mouth and whiskers are needlepoint wool from my stash.

The piece works up fairly fast as it is basically 2 circles (just one with the ears) and 2 long strips for handles. The felting took time since it can often be a trial-and-error project to get the wool fibers to shrink up enough. Usually, when felting a washing machine, we are told to put the items to be felted in a laundry bag and wash them along with other pieces of laundry. Something in that load shed white dots all over the dark brown wool so I spent some time with a lint roller to get all the spots off the bag. Guess next time I'll be more careful in selecting the things that get sloshed around along with a felting project. 

Although I didn't get a chance to show off the bag at the Fiber Fest, I might consider entering it in the next NC State Fair if I can find an appropriate entry category.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Crocheting in the Library

Today I displayed and demonstrated crocheting in the third "Meet the Artist" event held in Wake County regional libraries that I attended. This one was in the Southeast Regional Library in Garner, NC. The other participant (on my right, but not pictured) demonstrated spinning and tapestry weaving.

I'll be doing the same crochet presentation this Friday at the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, NC. Then on Saturday I'll be back at the event but this time with my tatting friends. And, of course, it goes without saying that I probably will be adding to my yarn stash at the event despite the fact that I still have yarn from past Fiber Fests. It's funny how often when typing "yarn" I misspell it as "yearn" it that my subconscious is expressing its desire for more fiber?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Off the Hook: Little Crocheted Pieces

I have two crochet demos coming up this week, but a lot of the examples that I would usually bring to show the versatility of crochet are currently in display cases in two Wake County libraries. I decided to make some quick projects so I could add to the few pieces I still had at home. Here are what I came up with.

For this little crocheted amigurumi I used Jessica Doering's "Bunny Easter Peeps" pattern. It's free and available on Ravelry. I used Studio Samples by Nicole acrylic yarn from A.C. Moore in an aqua shade a little darker than shown in the photograph. The eyes are glass beads from my stash (which I've probably had for ~50 years...never know when you'll find a use for things), the nose is pink wool needlepoint embroidery yarn, and the stuffing is from a bag of polyester filling.


I made this little basket out of Hemptique brand hemp craft cord. The cord is rather stiff and, after wetting the pieces, I dried the main part stretched over a bowl until it was dried. It came out stiff enough so no stiffener solution was needed. The pattern is "Easter Basket,"a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn.

To fill the basket, I bought a crocheted chick and rabbit from Ten Thousand Villages.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lots of Fiber Crafts Demos This Week

This has been a big week for fiber crafts demos in our area by members of the Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild.

On Monday I participated in a demo at the Cameron Village Regional Library in Raleigh, NC. I demonstrated crocheting and gave out little crocheted hearts to people who visited our display. Another member demonstrated spinning and displayed some finished knitted and felted pieces she made with various fibers.

On Tuesday, I joined another demonstration at Eva Perry Regional Library in Apex, NC. Again, I represented crochet along with knitters and spinners.

Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation on shuttle tatting to a group of quilters. I hope that there will be some quilters who make crazy quilts because I'll have a lot of tatted scraps they can use to embellish their quilts.