Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Off the Needles: Cowl for a Friend

This was a last-minute gift for a friend. I've lost the tag for the yarn, but I think it's an alpaca/wool blend (or maybe just alpaca) that I bought at one of the Carolina Fiber Fests. The yarn is a twist of grey and charcoal. It's very soft and cuddly and should keep my friend warm.

Here's a close-up of the cowl. I cast on 152 stitches and alternated 4 rows of k4 p4 with 4 rows of p4 k4 to achieve a checkerboard effect. Because the yarn is so soft and fuzzy the pattern doesn't stand out sharply, but think the effect is more pebbly and interesting.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Talk in Chapel Hill

This weekend Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the "Yarn Harlot") came to Chapel Hill to talk and teach. As a present to myself I signed up for it and had a front row seat at her Friday night talk. For most of the two hours I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. If knitters had a comedy club, then Stephanie would be the headliner. She did get serious talking about how we knitters need to be doing a better job presenting ourselves and our work to the non-knitting world and not dismissing the importance of what we do. But most of the talk kept the audience in stitches (pun intended). Although she says public speaking makes her uncomfortable, she is a wonderful speaker and a great ambassador for the knitting community. I have been following her blog for some time, so I'm glad I had a chance to hear her in person. Thinking back at some of her stories, I'm still laughing.

Here's a photo Stephanie took of the audience. I'm on the front row, 3rd from the right:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Tatted Bird Paperclip Bookmarks

I've been making bookmarks for the 2014 NCRL Spring Lace Day and got carried away. After I finished the batch for the event's goody bags, I made the ones below to give out over the holidays. Sometimes having an obsessive personality is useful when one has to make a lot of duplicates.

The pattern is Sharren Sarver Morgan's. I  omitted the middle tail feather called for in the pattern on my birds. It was less fiddly for me to skip it and, really, it's not a noticeable omission. The thread is Lizbeth size 20 in Christmas Delight #116. Jumbo paper clips are from Staples.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Off & On the Needles: Snakes!

I'm making a Medusa hat for my sister (the owner of the roasted chicken hat I made a while back). It requires a lot of knitted snakes, but no pattern is posted on the Web. After a couple of tries, I settled on a leaf pattern for the head and I-cord for the body. I'll post more details and a photo when I complete the project.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yarn Harlot Coming to the Triangle!

Got my registration in for Stephanie Pearl McPhee's talk in Chapel Hill on December 6th! Stephanie is the author of the Yarn Harlot blog and several books of essays on knitting. Can't wait to hear/see her in person.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Off the Needles: Another Cat Wrap

Yet another Catwrap for the charity auction. This one with Universal Yarn's "Patchwork" in Granite colorway and Plymouth's Encore in white. I've gotten requests from 2 friends for 3 more of these critters. Good thing they knit up very fast and that I have enough cat eyes on hand.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Off the needles & hooks: More Baby Sweaters

Tonight's the night we bring all the things we've been making for the Knit Night charities. I've made more baby sweaters, 3 new knitted ones and one crocheted that I pulled out of the UFO bag. These are fun to make as they work up fast, look really, really cute, let me experiment with new yarns, and put my button collection to good use. I'm also bringing a cotton bib and a pair of thumbless mittens that I found in the UFO stash that just needed to have the sides sewn up. I'm looking forward to moving these out of the house so I can get cracking on next year's donations.

This one is knitted out of James C. Brett's "Marble" in color MT2, an acrylic DK weight yarn. For an acrylic, it is very soft and I love the colors. I think I might just have to make something for myself out of this yarn. Another pattern I've done several times.

This one is crocheted. I've made this vintage pattern before and like the way is works up very quickly.

I like the asymmetrical opening on this one. The variegated pink is another colorway of James C. Brett's "Marble."

This one knitted up quickly in garter stitch. It's Pymouth Yarn's "Jelli Beenz" yarn.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2013 Heritage Day Quilt Auction: What I Won

This was the 2nd year I was a bidder at the Wake County Heritage Day Quilt Auction sponsored by the Capital Quilters Guild. I bid on 6 quilts and won 5. Each year the proceeds from the auction are split between the Guild and another charity. This year half the money goes to the Historic Oak View County Park's Tenant House Restoration Fund. The park is where the auction is held; they've been raising money for over a year now and this auction will help move that fund along.

 Before the auction I had picked out 5 quilts I liked enough to try for. My method, which worked well for me at last year's auction, is to settle on a price that I think is fair and that I am comfortable with. Then, if the bidding starts going past this amount, I drop out of the competition. That way, whether I win or lose, I don't come away with any regrets or shock when it's time to pay up.

Once the bidding started, I changed my mind about one of the quilts and didn't bid on it, and I lost out on another...so I got 3 of the 5 original picks. As for the other 2 quilts that I won...well, I did like them but didn't think I could afford everything I liked when I was making choices. However, when the bidding started, I couldn't believe how little interest there was for them and how little they were going for...it's sad when the auctioneer starts at $50 and has to drop down to $25 to get any bidders! So I jumped in and started bidding. I hated that the two quilts didn't get a price they deserved, but at least they didn't go for less than the cost of the materials.

Here are photos of what I came home with:

This is the only bed-size quilt I got; the rest are various sizes appropriate for hanging. This is called "Vintage-Modern Finally Finished." It's 72" x 84" in black, white, and red. One of the women who pieced the top died in 2008 and it was finished by two other guild members.

Below is a detail of the stitched design around the circumference of the quilt:

This one is "Three Inch Sampler" and is 22" x 28". Some of the pieces in the patterns are so tiny...another reason why I prefer to buy quilts rather than make them..let someone else fiddle with those tiny, tiny triangles!

This one is a quilt I hadn't originally planned on bidding on. It's a 50" square called "Knights Bee Sampler" and was a challenge bee to get Knights Bee members to try out new quilt blocks. So each block has it's own personality, but the black ties it all together nicely. This one went for an incredible $50!

Here's another one that I hadn't planned on bidding on that almost went for nothing. It's called "Star Blocks" and it's 13" x 15" in red and tan.

And finally, this very modern piece, "Black is the New Black." It's 57" x 58" and backed with a soft furry fabric called Minkee. 

This quilt is typical of the type I like and apparently not appealing to a majority of bidders at these auctions. The most heated bidding seems to go for traditional, bed-size quilts in more subdued colors. There were a lot of quilts in browns and tans which seem popular. My walls are almond and taupe tones so brown hangings would not be my choice. Also, I prefer quilts that incorporate geometric graphics with a lot of black accents, as evidenced by 4 of the 5 quilts I took home.

I was surprised at how slowly the bidding was moving up for one of the larger quilts that was a First Place Winner of the July 2013 Views Choice Challenge. It was vibrantly colored with Kaffe Fassett prints; he is a leader in bringing exciting color combinations to quilting, knitting, and needlepoint. But I guess the quilt was too dramatic for many people's tastes. This lack of interest in more contemporary designs and use of colors makes it easier for people like me to get some bargains on locally-made quilts. I think, however, next year I'll need to skip the auction as it is definitely a challenge to find suitable wall space for all these beautiful pieces in my small house.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Off the Needles: 2 Cowls, One Pattern

I love this pattern...it's so enjoyable and fast to knit and the result is a little different than the usual cowl patterns. It has an origami-like folding that keeps it from stretching out. The pattern is Miura Cowl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. The yarn is some Brown Sheep wool that I had left over from another project. I gave the cowl to a co-worker who is always cold. I think she'll get a lot of use out of it this winter.

The pattern is knit in the round so there are no seams to deal with.  However, with the second cowl I decided to knit it as a flat piece and then use buttons to fasten it. After knitting, I added a couple of rows of single crochet and chains to make button loops. The yarn is Lion Brand's "Vanna's Glamour" in colorway Copper. The buttons are from my stash. They look like butterscotch Bakelite, but I think they're just plastic that resembles Bakelite.

I also made a third cowl out of some dark brown Berger du Nord "Tonic" a 60% acrylic/40% wool blend that I had in my stash. The instructions call for 8 repeats of the pattern, but I only had enough yarn for 7. Another nice thing about this pattern is that it looks great even with fewer repeats, so running short of yarn isn't a disaster.

Off the Hook: Left-over Yarn Granny Square Blanket

I started this project last year to use up scraps of acrylic yarn left over from charity knitting projects. Amazingly, I had enough to make 20 big squares before I ran out of most colors. I forgot how many loose ends you have with granny squares so it's been tedious sewing them all in. I took this photo before I'd finished the back. Can't decide whether to donate or keep as it came out much better than I'd thought it would. I've had some projects that ended up at Goodwill in the hope that someone could use the yarn in them.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Off the Needles: Kitty Scarf

I knitted this little scarf using a pattern from Morehouse Farm's Critters collection using an acrylic black/grey yarn from Universal Yarn and some leftover grey yarn from an unknown source. I'm hoping to donate the scarf to a cat charity auction.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Off the Needles a Lonnnng Time Ago: Shawl of Squares

I was digging through unfinished projects with the plan to either finish them or wind the unfinished pieces back into balls of yarn for future projects or for donating to other knitters. A lot of what I found fell into the "what was I thinking" category of projects...projects so old that fashions or my tastes or my body had changed enough to make me wonder why I even started them. Out came my ball winder and back went the yarn into my stash.

While all this digging was going on, I came across this shawl which was completely finished but never worn. I think the yarn is Lion Brand's Jiffy in cerise. (I also found an afghan in the same yarn that was not quite finished. I'll post a photo of that later) I can't remember where I got the pattern, but I'm sure it's from some book in my library.

Apparently, at one time I was quite taken with this yarn and color. Not sure I'll keep the shawl, but it might come in handy for snuggling in during the winter months since it is so long.

Off the Needles: Summer Petals Stole

The pattern is from A Needle Pulling Thread, Summer 2007 issue. I bought the yarn this month from Warm n' Fuzzy, a yarn shop in Cary, NC, at their 1st Anniversary Party sale. The yarn is Blue Moon's "Socks that Rock", a 100% superwash merino lightweight wool; the colorway is "Queen Rock." The stole is knitted lengthwise using a picot cast on and a picot cast off--two techniques I'd never used before, but will definitely add to my knitting repertoire.

Off the Needles: Color Affection Shawl

The pattern is Color Affection, a shawl in all garter stitch using short rows. The 3 yarns are lace-weight wools from Knit Picks and Webs. The project knits up very fast with an interesting final effect.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Off the Hook: Cactus Pincushion

My sister saw a photo of this little guy somewhere on the Web, posted it on my Facebook page, and said if she had one, she would be inspired to take up sewing again. I couldn't resist the challenge and set out to make her one. The pattern is from Ana Paula Rimoli's November 10, 2007,  post in her blog "Amigurumi Patterns & Random Cuteness."

I used odds and ends of acrylic yarns from my stash. The pattern works up pretty fast; I think I spent barely a couple of hours on the whole project, except for the trip to Joann's for the pearl head pins. The only change I made was to the filling of the planter. Ana used poly-pellets, which I didn't have. I stiffened the bottom with a round piece of heavy card. Then I thought I'd substitute dried beans for the pellets, but didn't have any on hand. Instead, I used white rice wrapped in a scrap of fabric, which gave enough weight to keep the pincushion upright.

I think my sister will be pleased with the results. Can't wait to take it to her.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Off the Needles: Shizuku Scarf

Now that the big doubleknit project is finished, I'm going through my bags of unfinished projects. Just finished knitting and washing this scarf which I started sometime last year. The pattern is Shizuku by Angela Tong. It's all garter stitch except for the short-row dangles that create the fringe.

The yarn is a ball of Schoppel Wolle Zauberball that I bought a while back at a knitting show in Greensboro, NC. It's fingering weight 75% wool/25% nylon singles. The yarn felt pretty scratchy while I was knitting it so I've washed it with a fabric softener. I've lost the label, but a Web search indicates that the wool is superwash. If that's the case and if the scarf dries still scratchy, I'll try machine-washing it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Off the Needles: "Happy Dots" Doubleknit Scarf

This is what I've been working on for the past 3 weeks. The pattern is "Happy Dots" and the technique is double-knitting. I took a 3-week class at Warm 'n Fuzzy in Cary, NC, to learn how to do it. The multicolored yarn is  Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball Stärke 6 and the hand-dyed silver is SweetGeorgia's  CashLuxe Fine. The length is 60 inches, but, since it's double-knitting, it's really like knitting two 60-inch-long scarves. My next double-knitting project will probably be a coaster!

Front side of scarf:

Reverse side of scarf:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vintage Textiles at June Twisted Threads Book Club Meeting

The topic for this month's Twisted Threads Book Club meeting was vintage textiles. I brought (and wore) my vintage embroidered butterfly apron. Maker unknown, but I think she must have been a woman who enjoyed whimsy.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Tatted Edging for Yellow & Brown Handkerchief

Another vintage handkerchief with vintage thread tatted edging:

The pattern is the first round of Mary Konior's "Bridesmaids" edging from Tatting with Visual Patterns.
The thread is size 70 or 80 brown and yellow variegated. There was no label on the ball so I don't know the brand, but it's probably another no longer available.

 Closeup of the edging:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Off the Loom (a long time ago): Bookmarks

These are some bookmarks that I wove many years ago. I came across them recently and finally got around to cutting them apart and hemming them.

They're woven using an ecru cotton thread which is a little thicker than sewing thread with a sett of 30 ends per inch. The weft includes various embroidery flosses, mostly linen thread; the shiny blue one has a rayon thread in the weft. The width of the final piece is approx. 6.5 cm. Lengths of the individual bookmarks vary from 14 cm. to 20 cm.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Teal Tatted Handkerchief Edging

Here's another vintage handkerchief from my collection with a just-finished tatted edging:

The pattern is "Asters" from Mary Konior's Tatting with Visual Patterns. The teal thread is size 70 made in Thailand. I bought it many years ago from Lacis back when there were very few sources for colorful tatting threads. I'm not sure what the brand is since I can't read Thai script, but the thread is very smooth and strong and held up to multiple (many, many multiple) unpickings and unknottings before I finished. Like a lot of the threads in my stash, I'm sure this brand is no longer available.

Here's a closeup of the edging before pinning and blocking:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Off the Shuttle (FINALLY!): Beaded Tatted Edging for Scarf

My friend and fellow tatter Jane gave me this scarf a few years ago and I decided to add an edging to it. I've been working on this project on and off for a couple of years, but this year I finally decided to make a big effort to finish it. My original plan was to do one of the long sides and the 2 ends, but my daughter convinced me to do the entire circumference. The scarf is 70" by 12" so I needed 164 inches of edging or over 4 yards.

The pattern is "Edging No. 10" from Tatting with Anne Orr (Dover Publications, 1989), a reprint of two tatting books from the 1930s. I substituted beads for 5 of the picots in each motif repeat.

I already had the Delica-type beads in aqua that matched well with the scarf. I used white thread from my collection of size 70 vintage thread and went through several balls of thread of different brands. Luckily, I had enough that matched close enough to finish the project.

Here's a closeup of the edging:

Although I have a lot of patience to do handkerchief edgings, this project pushed the limit of my tolerance for repetitious work. I just got another scarf that I plan to put an edging on, but this time it will be only the ends!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Simple Tatted Flower Edging with Beads

This is an edging that I came up with this week. It's a very simple pattern, but my first attempt at creating a design on my own. I've had the hand-dyed variegated purple thread for years and finally found a way to use it. I'm still fiddling with my camera...this photo doesn't really do justice to the finished piece. The pattern is available at the link above.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Pink & Lavender Tatted Carnation Boutonniere

Here's the second boutonniere I made using the Carnation pattern. This one is tatted with Lizbeth size 20 thread in color #114, Sea Shells. I paired it with a stick pin from my costume jewelry collection.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Tatted Carnation w/Beads

I saw a white version of this on the Tatting Facebook page, and since I owned the book that held the pattern, I was inspired to make one of my own. The pattern is "Carnation Boutonniere" from New Things Happen to Tatting, Book 159 (The Spool Cotton Company, 1941). I used Lizbeth thread, size 20, color 652 Royal Blue. The beads are Czech seed beads in pearl blue. The button is silver plastic with a rhinestone from JHB International. The completed project in that size thread is 3.5 inches (nearly 9 mm). I sewed a small piece of felt on the back to accommodate a bar pin.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Off the Shuttle: Tatted Button Bracelet

Recently, I've been buying buttons that I thought might be fun to combine with tatting. I thought these little white flowers would look good with yellow thread. I didn't really have a pattern to follow. After several starts that didn't work out and much un-tatting, I started again with a trefoil edging (cribbed from Lyn Morton's Tatting Patterns, p. 43) to connect the buttons. The ends were pretty much trial and error (again, much un-tatting) till I got something that worked fairly well. I think if I were to start this project again, I might have planned it out better so the result would be more symmetrical. But I tend to be a more just-plunge-in and fix-it-later kind of gal...not necessarily a recipe for success.

The thread is Lizbeth size 20 in color 170 (Pineapple Parfait) and the buttons are Belle Buttons by Dritz, Item # BB445 ($2.95 US for a card of 4 from Joann's). The closure is a gold-tone lobster claw clasp and a gold-tone split ring (NOT the same as a split ring in tatting).