Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Year's Resolution for 2012

I started this blog as a way to encourage myself to use up stash and record the results. I've made a big dent in my extensive stash of acrylic yarns by knitting & crocheting scarves and other items for our monthly Knit Night charity group. Now I need to tackle the next big mound in my craft studio -- unfinished projects. Being a "process person" rather than a "product person" means that the journey is often more fulfilling than the destination. Thus, a lot of projects get underway, but, due to mistakes or just boredom, never get finished. This year an unfinished scrap afghan was transformed into several scarves and into a yarn bomb for my front entrance. But most of my UFOs (UnFinished Objects) languish in boxes or tote bags taking up space and becoming annoying reminders of my habit of moving on before completing a project. So this coming year I want to get these things finished or, when warranted, transformed into a finished something else.

This weekend I pulled out a tatted pillowcase edging that was just inches from completion. It took me a while to figure out where I'd stopped in the pattern, but this morning I finished the tatting. Next step is to sew in the loose tails and attach it to a pillowcase.

My plan is to postpone new tatting projects until I make some progress in clearing out my tatting projects box. I'm so tired of fishing around this nest of threads so even if I just cut up pieces and glue them to cards or bookmarks, it will be great to see this mess get smaller.

I still have a lot of knitting and embroidery UFOs, but they'll have to wait till I see how the tatting clean up goes. (And I don't even want to begin to think about the bead stash that I need to deal with.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Off the needles: felted bell

I knitted and felted a tree ornament for one of my friends. She's a big Carolina fan so I was lucky to have a small bit of Carolina blue yarn left over from my felted bag project. What blue you see on the bell is absolutely every last scrap left from the bag, including fuzz I shaved off after felting. I used the fuzz for the clapper ball.

I paired it with some wooly off-white yarn. This was another mystery yarn from my stash. I had to do a burn test to determine that, yes, it is animal fiber and so should felt. I got the pattern and assembly instructions online from The Purl Bee. I think I may make more with the lite Lopi colors I bought this fall.

Off the needles: scarf to match gloves

Here's the scarf I made for my friend out of the yarn left over from making her fingerless gloves. The pattern is a K2P2 rib that matches the ribbing on the gloves. I just kept knitting till I ran out of the yarn. The variegated yarn is superwash wool and nylon sock yarn from the Unplanned Peacock Studio in colorway "Merlin."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Off the needles: fingerless gloves

I finished making fingerless gloves for my friend Jane just hours before she came for my annual cookie party. She injured her hand in a car accident and she has trouble with cold hands now. I forgot to take a photo of them before she took them home, but they came out great. I only had an outline of her hands to guide me, but they fit her just fine. The yarn is a sock-weight superwash merino wool and nylon hand-dyed in shades ranging from off-white to pink to deep burgundy. She bought the yarn at the Knit and Crochet show in Greensboro last October from the Unplanned Peacock Studio. I modified a pattern from Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. The cuffs and ends are in k2p2 rib and the body of the gloves is stockinette. This is the 3rd pair of fingerless gloves I've made by this pattern. They knit up pretty fast since there's no complicated pattern to follow. I used variegated sock yarn for the other two pairs. I think stockinette works best to show off all the color changes in the yarns.

There's enough of Jane's yarn left over to make her a matching scarf in the same k2p2 pattern. I'll try to remember to photograph that when it's finished.

Amy showing off the beret I crocheted for her

This turned out great, but it was sooo hard to see the stitches. Note to self: avoid black yarn when possible.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stash Addition: Noro Sekku

My daughter and I spent Black Friday visiting Hillsborough, NC. I'd heard good things about the yarn shop there, Hillsborough Yarn Shop. It's a cozy little store that only stocks natural fibers. I always try to make a purchase when I visit a new shop, even if it's just a pattern leaflet or a ball of yarn. I bought 2 skeins of Noro Sekku in color 1 -- yellow, orange, lime green, brown, and shades of purple. It's a lace weight made of cotton, wool, nylon and silk that knits up on size 2 needles. Not sure what I'll make, but since I have 840 meters, probably a shawlette. It seems an appropriate weight for warmer weather wear. Guess I'll check Ravelry and see what others are making out of this yarn.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Off the needles: draw-string bag

Last year I talked my sister into giving up her yarn stash...almost as old as some of my yarns. She had a few tubes of cotton chenille. I crocheted myself a project bag out of the teal blue. Now she's decided to take up knitting again (socks! for her first project in decades). So I used the purple chenille and knitted her a bag for her projects. The bag measures about 15" from top to bottom.

Isn't is nice when you give away something and then get it back in a new, improved form? And I get one more thing out of my yarn stash.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Off the hook/needles: Baby Sweaters

I must have knitted or crocheted over 50 scarves for friends and the monthly Knit Night charity knitting group over the past 2 years. I am so over scarves for the time being and have started knitting baby sweaters (probably for Knit Night since currently none of my friends are expecting babies). They are more interesting to make, but don't take very long to finish so no time to get bored with them. Also, I don't have to worry about the size since babies are rarely particular about the fit of their garments. Here are photos of the first ones I've done. I still have to add buttons to all of them.

This yellow sweater is a Maddy Kids pattern called Girl's Smart Topper. It's knitted in a worsted weight acrylic yarn.

The pattern for the lavender sweater is from a Leisure Arts leaflet titled "Knit Lace & Leaves for Baby" by Jeannine LaRoche. What I really like about her patterns is that you don't need to swatch. The final size depends on the yarn weight and the needle size. Another thing I like is that the sweaters are all knitted from the neck down with very little sewing up needed. The sizes range from preemie to 3-6 months. I picked the smallest size which came out really tiny. It looks more like a doll's sweater. I used Lion Brand Baby Soft yarn which is a sport weight acrylic/nylon yarn.

The green sweater is crocheted out of Lion Brand Baby Soft and edged with leftover yarn from the lavender sweater. The pattern was originally published by Doreen Knitting Books, Volume 100, in 1950; I downloaded it from the Web. This is another sweater that is made from the neck down with little sewing required to assemble. I've seen a photo of an adult size version, but no pattern. My crochet & math skills aren't yet up to figuring out how to convert to a woman's size. But I (and others who've seen it) would love to have this in an adult size.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Felting leftover

This little 2"x2" square is a crocheted piece I did to test the felting properties of the yarn I used for the flowers on the felted bag. It's embellished with gold seed and bugle beads. Not sure what I'll ultimately do with it, but makes an attractive pin cushion right now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Saga of the Felted Bag

This is my first big felting project. I like the results, but the project has been a learning experience and maybe an example of why I don't always finish projects. The yarn is Reynolds Lopi from my old that the price on these 119-yard skeins was $2.90; it currently lists at $6.95 for a 67-yard skein. The flowers are from a small amount of bulky wool yarn remaining from some long-ago project. The leaves are Lite Lopi that I recently bought. Beads are from my stash.

The bag started out as a crocheted rectangle. I test-felted a swatch and didn't like the results...too holey. So I ripped out and started knitting. The body of the bag is a rectangle in seed stitch. The handles are single crochet stitch. I like the firmness that crochet gives to the part of the bag that will take the most stress. I knitted the gusset in seed stitch.

The flowers felted up great, but the bag came out of the felting process really hairy. I was told by experienced felters that Lopi has a tendency to be rather fuzzy after felting, but this went beyond mere fuzziness. There were very unsightly longer strands of hairiness that I ended up removing with a razor blade.

Then the fun began (or so I thought): embellishing the flowers. The flower below is the 2nd one I embellished.

Below is the first flower I did, but it's the second instance. After doing flower #2, I decided I didn't like what I'd done with flower #1 so I removed all the beads and started over.

Here's what the flower originally looked like. I decided it was too disorganized and also didn't coordinate well with the 2nd flower.

After attaching the flowers to the bag, I decided that the holes in the center needed something so I added some Czech glass buttons. Then I thought the bag needed something more so I crocheted, felted, and embellished leaves. Ta-da, I thought, it's finished at last! But noooo! I had attached the flowers by sewing on the edges. This gave them a puffy effect and, along with the central button, I started thinking how much the flowers more resembled breasts! Now there's nothing wrong with this part of a woman's body, but this didn't create the effect that I was aiming for.

Once you get a thought like that in your head, it's hard to remove it. But, thankfully, I could remove the flowers and redo them. I ditched the button centers, took the flowers off, and restitched them so that the petals were not secured. This flattened the pieces and gave the flower effect that I was aiming for. Finally, no more fiddling and tweeking; the bag is finished.

Lessons I learned:
-- test-felt swatches before deciding which technique to use to get the effect I want
-- combine techniques (in this case knitting & crocheting) to take advantage of the strengths of each
-- better to rip out and redo as much as necessary to get a final result that I can be happy with
-- don't compromise with the design just to get the project finished

Knowing me, this won't be the last project where I learn the lessons only by ripping out and starting over. It seems that my usual procedure to get a finished project is:  knit/crochet/stitch/etc. correctly one time after ripping out mistakes 1 or more times.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stash Addition: Adding some color to my stash

Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love the way the sunlight enhances the vivid colors of the turning leaves. Lately, I've also been admiring some colorful projects on other fiber artists' blogs and decided I needed some more vivid colors to work with. Here are some photos of what I've added to my stash. (Unfortunately, with my little Lumix camera, I can't quite get all the colors as true to life as I would like.)

These are some discontinued colors of Reynolds Lite-Lopi that I bought online from Webs for $3/skein. Lite-Lopi is worsted-weight wool and I plan to try out some felting projects using these.

The other yarns I've added are these in Tahki Cotton Classic that I bought in Raleigh at a local yarn shop, Admit Ewe Knit, for $6.50/skein. I have some crochet projects in mind for these.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Knit Night 2011

This month, all the participants in the Knit Night 2011 charity knitting brought in their contributions. Photos of the many, many items can be seen in this Picasa album. This year I made only 15 scarves, mostly crocheted, because I'd greatly depleted my acrylic yarn stash with last year's projects. I'm afraid that next year I'll be forced to buy more Red Heart yarn (Oh No!) so that I'll have enough to make suitable items. We can't use yarns that have to be handwashed or dry cleaned so acrylic or cotton yarn is the best choice.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Off the hook: Halloween Cards

Here are two Halloween cards I made for a friend's two darling daughters. The center pumpkins are just crocheted disks with 5-7 green stitches for the stems. Quick to make and fun to give. The scans came out a bit shadowy because of the thickness of the crocheted parts. Actually, the background is all white.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stash Addition: Chilean Yarn from Alaska

My daughter took a cruise to Alaska last month and to thank me for cat sitting, she brought back yarn that she found in Haines, Alaska at Dalton City Yarn Emporium. The yarn is actually from Chile; the shop doesn't carry any locally-made yarns, unfortunately.

The lavender and tan (2 skeins) are for me, and she bought 2 skeins of the red and tan for herself hoping that I'll make something for her from it. She doesn't knit or crochet so I'm her main source of handmade apparel. I'll probably make her a scarf, but with 440 yards of each color, there will most likely be leftovers that will be added to my stash. It seems the more stash I use up, the more it seems to grow...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Added to my stash: Hand-crafted Glass Buttons

I went to the Knit & Crochet Show in Greensboro, NC, this weekend. Lots of yarn, but I was a good girl and only bought one ball of the Kauni variegated wool from Denmark in colorway EQ. I'll probably make it up into yet another scarf or may felt it into something.

When I shop at shows like these, I want to find things I can't buy locally. After all, what's the point of driving 70+ miles each way and paying an entrance fee just to see what I can get at my local yarn shop? (Yeah, I know I can buy the Kauni locally, but it was an impulse buy after seeing the finished items in the vendor's booth.) What I did find that I haven't seen locally were the glass buttons designed and made by Di Irvine. She sells her work on Etsy, but online photos can't capture the iridescence of some of them. I limited myself to 4 cards. I'm going to use the single buttons in jewelry making and I have some sewing projects where the other sets will work.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On Friday, September 23, 2011, at 6:00 pm Eastern time, 127 tatters around the world tatted the same snowflake motif in an effort to set a Guinness world record for the most people tatting at one time. I was one of the tatters participating!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Off the shuttle: Tatted Hearts

I'm playing around with variegated thread. All these hearts were tatted in Handy Hands Lizbeth size 20 thread. The colorway is "Jellybean." I'm planning to 6 more in different patterns using a different variegated thread.

Close-up of one of the tatted hearts. This one has some small butterflies hiding in the design.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Off the needles: Pinstripe Scarf

I feel as if I've been working on this scarf forever! Finally decided it was long enough and finished it off. The pattern is from Jaeger Handknits "Accessories Brochure" ... all the patterns include either beads or sequins. The yarn is a purple yarn I got from Hinshaw's outlet in Burlington many, many years ago. (Alas, they closed decades ago.) Not sure of the brand, but the fiber content is 70% wool, 30% rayon. The 1000+ beads are iridescent crystals. The pattern is mostly stockinette with garter stitch edges. Even so, the edges wanted to roll so I added 2 rows of single crochet around the circumference to try to minimize the rolling. Below is a close-up of one of the ends,

New craft: Pique assiette flower pot

This summer I took a class in pique assiette mosaic technique. This was a ways out of my comfort zone. Pique assiette means "broken plate" and you literally have to smash crockery to do it. We took a hammer to dinner plates to get the pieces, applied the pieces to a plain clay pot, smoothed the edges with a Dremel tool, and filled around the pieces with grout. I'm not sure I'll do much of this craft, but it's good to try a non-fiber craft once and a while.

Off the hook: Azalea Bowl

The pattern for this crocheted bowl is from the Summer 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet. I made it using brown Aunt Lydia's size 10 crochet cotton and stiffened it with Aleene's Fabric Stiffener. A quick, fun project!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Off the hook: Ocean Waves Bead Crochet Bag

I crocheted this little bag out of 2 balls of Lizbeth size 20 cotton thread; colorway is "Caribbean." The beads are clear crystal seed beads that cover the bottom of the bag and form a wave pattern around the circumference. The drawstrings are finished with mother-of-pearl buttons. The pattern is from The Complete Guide to Beading Techniques by Jane Davis.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beaded Bracelet

I made this bracelet for my daughter. She gave me a photo of a beaded napkin ring that resembled pieces of coral in a turquoise color. After a couple of experiments in knitting & crocheting, I ended up making the base on a simple bead's just a rectangle of seed beads. The coral branches were sewn onto the base. Those beads are oval-shaped with the holes offset which gives the branches a more irregular shape. I backed the bracelet with black grosgrain ribbon and added a silver toggle fastener.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New craft: Zentangles

Just finished 2nd Zentangle class. These little drawings are truly addictive and fun!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reworked project: yarn bombed my house

After reading an article about local yarn bombers, I decided to use 2 of the knitted strips to cover one of the porch support poles on my house. I think the pole cozy jazzes up the front entrance very nicely.

Reworked project: crocheted scarf

Here's one of the knitted strips reworked into a crocheted scarf. I've solved the problem of the multitude of yarn ends by covering the loose strands with crocheted flowers. The loose ends are pulled through the flower centers and knotted. Voila!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting creative with old unfinished projects

Not all my stash is skeins of yarn. I have some still-born projects that never got to completion. The photo shows one of these. I had all these odds and ends of acrylic yarn that I thought could be worked into an interesting afghan. Unfortunately, I forgot that lots of color changes means lots (LOTS) of yarn tails to be dealt with. And if there's one thing about fiber crafts that I truly hate, it's weaving in loose ends. I made a little headway, but got discouraged & packed the pieces away. Well, to continue with my destashing resolution, I pulled them out to see what I could do with them. I'll post my results here in coming days.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Off the Needles: Another pantyhose rug

The theme for the June meeting of the Twisted Threads book group was green knitting -- using recycled materials instead of adding to the landfill. I made this throw rug to show how used stockings can be recycled into rugs. I've been making these rugs for several years. They make great bathmats because the nylons give them body and the cotton yarn is soft and absorbent. I also think the addition of the nylon helps them dry quicker in the clothes dryer. The one shown was made using black knee-high stockings cut in circles and chained together to form yarn. I use 2 strands of cotton yarn and one strand of the nylon. The pattern is just garter stitch large needles (size 10 1/2 or 11). I cast on using 2 strands of cotton and knit a couple of rows. The 3rd row always has 3 strands: 2 cotton and 1 nylon. By limiting the use of the nylon you reduce the bulkiness and give your hands a break for 2 rows out of three. This is not a project you want to work on for long stretches since the weight of the yarn can cause fatigue. I just repeat the 3-row pattern until I get the length I want and then I end with a couple of rows of just cotton strands and then bind off. The result is a hard-wearing rug that will hold up to years of laundering and feels good under your feet.

You can recycle other materials in this project. I've used cut up strips of old underwear in another throw rug, and you could also use old t-shirts or other similar materials. I'll probably recycle my old pj's this way when they wear out.

Off the Needles: Chenille Shawl

My friend Linda gave me 8 skeins of a discontinued Noro chenille yarn and challenged me to do something with it. Here's the result: a simple shawl using the same pattern as the shawl I made last June from Knitted Shawls, Stoles, and Scarves by Nancie Wiseman. I edged it with a simple crocheted edging which adds interest and also stabilizes the sides. Can't wait to see Linda's reaction when I give this to her.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On the needles: Lilac Leaf Shawl

A few months ago I went to the Fabric & Fiber show in Sanford, NC, and bought some wonderful yarns from The Unique Sheep. One was a skein of super fine alpaca in a colorway called "Rainforest" -- shades of green. I'm knitting the "Lilac Leaf Shawl" pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia. Right now I'm still on the border and have been frogging regularly. Part of the problem is the thinness of the easy to lose a stitch or grab 2 instead of one. I started out with an old nylon circular needle, the only size 5 I had available. I've now got a new Addi needle with the lace tip so things should go more smoothly now. I'm almost finished with the border and the body is much simpler...none of those Estonian nupps to deal with. Unfortunately, when I finish the body, I'll have to make a 2nd border. Hopefully by that time I won't be as mistake prone! I'll have photos when I finish knitting and blocking.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lacemakers' Mascot

The hedgehog is the mascot of lacemakers, primarily because bobbin lacers use lots of pins in their work. But makers of all types of lace have adopted this cute animal. This is one I found in New Bern, NC, at the Tryon Palace gift shop. I brought him to the Carolina FiberFest. He"s holding some tatting I made using silk sewing thread.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One of my photos featured on Ravelry

My photo of the Morehouse Farm Baby Owl Purse was selected to be featured on the Ravelry page for the pattern: What a nice surprise!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tatting at 2011 Carolina FiberFest

Tri-Tatters demonstrated tatting and displayed lots of examples of tatted work at the Carolina FiberFest. This is the 2nd year we've participated in this event.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crocheting at Carolina FiberFest 2011

I demonstrated crocheting at this year's Carolina FiberFest at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC,

I brought examples of my projects.

A scarf and some vintage crocheted laces that I've collected over the years.

More crocheted scarves and a crocheted ear of corn...very appropriate since the event is part of the NC Ag Festival.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Off the very tiny needles: Union Jack Flag

I gave this flag as a gift to a knitter friend from England when she hosted a brunch to honor the Royal Wedding. I knit it on size 1 needles using needlepoint (Persian) wool. This project reminded me why I don't do intarsia knitting much. All those color changes on those tiny needles...whew! The pattern is from Debbie Bliss's The Knitter's Year. The book is full of small projects; I've already made several because they knit up so quickly. But the Union Jack, well, that one, not so quickly!