Friday, February 27, 2009

It was a good day at Stitches

The needle felting class was awesome. Here are a couple samples I made in the class ...




The short row class was disappointing-- too much info to cram into one hour. Here is the scarf that was our class project ... you can't tell yet, but the short rows are going to give it a wavy effect.


I bought this purse handle from Homestead Heirlooms, which I assembled for the photo. It consists of two dowels, two finials, and two leather straps.



I also bought two skeins of Kollage Corntastic, which is made of 100% corn fiber. I'm going to use it to make Elisa's Nest Tote.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stitches Present & Past

Tomorrow's the big day. If anyone reading this still isn't familiar with Stitches West, it's a big knitting show that comes to town once a year and offers a slew of knitting classes and a gigantic yarn and accessory market. I'm still thinking about what to buy at the market ... I already have lots and lots of yarn at home, but indulging at Stitches is such a pleasure that I don't want to miss out on it just because I already have enough yarn to last until next year.

This will be my fourth trip to Stitches. The first year that I went, I'd only been knitting for about a week, so everything was new and fresh and kind of mysterious. I went from booth to booth, touching every type of yarn, marveling at the possibilities. Finally, after hours and hours of looking, I bought a couple skeins of pink baby alpaca, which felt like butter in my hands.

Being a newbie, I didn't know that you have to wind the skeins before you start knitting. So after a few weeks of trying to knit a garter stitch scarf, which was all I knew how to do at the time, the only thing I had to show for it was a big fat tangled knot of pink baby alpaca. A dear friend took it off my hands and later told me it took many episodes of Law & Order to untangle it.

I skipped Stitches for a couple years, and when I returned in 2007, I had just read
Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls and was in awe of both her and those gorgeous lace patterns.




So who do I see not five minutes after arriving at Stitches? That's right, Cheryl Oberle, who is even more beautiful in person than she is in the pages of Folk Shawls. She was standing in her booth, talking to someone, and I shyly walked past her without stopping. But then a few minutes later I threw caution to the wind, walked back to her booth and told her I loved her book. She rewarded me with a big hug. Now, this was during a particularly difficult time in my life, and that hug was such a gift that it brought tears to my eyes.

I skipped the alpaca that year and instead bought a skein of organic cotton yarn from Village Spinning & Weaving. Yes, I did wind it before knitting with it! I made a drop stitch scarf, but after it was done my perfectionist tendencies kicked in and I decided it looked too sloppy and frogged it. Sadly, that yarn is still waiting around for me to use it.

Here it is with the little black kitty. My cats are becoming oddly cooperative yarn models.



Last year at Stitches I bought several balls of the Katia Colibria that I mentioned in a previous post. I just love how it looks, like someone accidentally threw it in the dryer and it kind of fell apart but looks even more beautiful partially destroyed.

So I'm not sure what I'll come home with this year. But I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Countdown to Stitches

Only three more days until Stitches! I ran out to Green Planet Yarn to buy supplies for my knitting classes since I probably won't have another chance between now and Friday.

For the scarf we're making in the
short row class, I bought this gorgeous Cotton Ribbon from Mango Moon Yarns. They support the Nepalese Women Empowerment Group, an organization that rescues women from abusive situations and teaches them to use their knitting and spinning skills to rebuild their lives. Oh, that makes my heart sing.

The color I bought is called Earth:




For the Ripple Effect class, I bought Sublime Organic Merino Wool. The instructor recommends a high quality wool because it makes learning new techniques easier and more enjoyable, and this should do the trick. I rarely knit with wool because I'm hypersensitive to it, but this yarn feels extremely soft. I doubt I could wear it, but I think I can comfortably knit with it for a few hours.

The tabby seems to approve.



Saturday, February 21, 2009

Open Studio

My sister invited me to join her and some artist friends in an Artist & Crafter's Open Studio on Mother's Day weekend. I'm thinking of offering knit scarves, wash cloths with soap or bubble bath, and maybe a few bags or sachets. I also want to put together a small book of easy-peasy knitting patterns to sell, and create journals and greeting cards with images of my collages if I have time.

I'm working on another scarf like the one pictured below--- I want to have several for sale at the open studio. It's knit in simple garter stitch with
Katia Colibria yarn.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kureyon felted bag

I made this bag last month and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it. It's knit with Noro Kureyon and hand felted in my sink. I knit it in the round and attempted a three needle bind off, but forgot to turn it inside out, so now the seam is on the outside. It actually looks okay, though.

While the Kureyon is heavenly to knit with and looks awesome felted, it didn't felt up terribly thick. I need to either felt it again or line it. And then I was thinking of using these gorgeous Grayson E small rolled leather purse handles.

It's the perfect size for a laptop case, and also works well as a cat bed ... here are a couple pictures of the little black kitty settling in for a snooze on top of it.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blue bamboo scarf knitting pattern



Today was a cozy, rainy day, and I spent it curled up on the couch with a cat in my lap, knitting and watching movies. This scarf was the perfect project for today-- mindless enough that I could keep an eye on my movies, but not mindless enough to be boring.

.It's knit with Berroco Bonsai, which is 97% bamboo and 3% nylon. It has a bit of a shine to it and sort of glistens. The pattern is a classic called feather and fan. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmm mmmmm Abbreviations:

K1:
knit one stitch

K2TOG: knit two stitches together

YO: yarn over

Supplies:
Berroco Bonsai yarn (three skeins, 77 yards each) or any worsted yarn of your choice

Size US 7 straight needles

To knit the scarf:

Cast on 24 stitches.

Knit three rows in garter stitch.



Begin the four-row pattern repeat:

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: *K2TOG twice, (YO, K1) four times, K2TOG twice*, repeat the entire sequence across the row until you get to the end

Row 4: Knit

Repeat the four-row repeat until your scarf reaches the desired length.

Knit three rows in garter stitch.

Bind off.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm making an art journal

I decided to create an art journal and fill it with these small collages. I like the process of intuitively selecting collage elements and arranging them on the page, not quite knowing what I'm doing or how it will turn out. And I especially like that I can finish it in an evening.


The picture of the woman in the collage is the work of DJ Pettitt. She held a raffle on her blog last year, giving away small packets of images of her work, and I was one of the lucky winners.

I've been experimenting with gesso and gel medium for texture, and I think I'm getting the hang of it. First I coated the collage with gel medium (not sure why), let it dry, and then lightly finger painted and dry brushed the gesso. When the gesso was dry I colored some of it with a bronze colored pencil. Then I gave the collage a light, uneven coating of Modge Podge matte to add a bit more texture and seal it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'm going to Stitches!

Stitches West is coming to town at the end of February and I'm going! My class confirmation packet arrived in the mail.

Friday morning I'm taking Needle Felting on Knits, and then a short row market session in the afternoon. I struggled with short rows on my own while trying to knit these Pleated Ballet Flats and finally had to admit I need help. I understand how to wrap and turn, but hiding the wraps has me baffled.

Saturday afternoon I'm taking a class called The Ripple Effect. Can't wait.

Now I need to hurry up and finish using the yarn I bought at Stitches last year ... and the year before.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Miniature Knitting Bag pattern

This miniature knitting bag can be completed in an afternoon and makes an excellent ornament or gift for a knitting friend. It's also a great way to use up leftover sock yarn.


The bag is knit as one long piece and then folded at the bottom and seamed at the sides. The handle is an I-cord. The finished size is approx. 3.5 inches from the bottom of the bag to the top of the handles and 2.5 inches wide.


Supplies:

Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn or sock yarn of your choice

Size US 3 straight needles for bag, size US 2 double-pointed needles for the I-cord handle

Scrap yarn for stuffing the bottom of the bag and for making tiny skeins

Two toothpicks and small wooden beads for making needles

Craft glue

To make the miniature knitting bag:

Using the size 3 needles, cast on 22 stitches.

Knit in seed stitch for approx. 2.5 inches.

Knit two rows in garter stitch to form the first fold at the bottom of the bag.

Purl one row. This is the bottom of the bag.

Knit two rows in garter stitch to form the second fold.

Knit in seed stitch for approx. 2.5 inches.

Bind off.

To finish the bag:

  • Sew side seams using mattress stitch.

  • Knit a 5 inch I-cord using size 2 DPNs and two stitches. (If you don't know how to knit an I-cord, here are simple instructions at About.com. It's really, really easy.)

  • Sew I-cord to inside seam of bag to form handle.

  • Make 4 or 5 tiny skeins using scrap yarn. Dab craft glue on the yarn as you form the skein so it holds its shape.

  • Make toothpick needles by cutting the tips off of two toothpicks and using craft glue to secure each bead to the tip of each toothpick.

  • Stuff the bottom of the bag with cotton or scrap yarn. Dab glue inside so it won’t come out.

  • Arrange the tiny skeins near the top of the bag so they are slightly peeking out. Dab glue inside the bag again to secure the skeins.

  • Place the toothpick needles inside the bag so the ends stick out, as shown in the picture.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

White Lightening Scarf


I'm currently working on the White Lightening scarf from Yarn Forward magazine (January 2009). I'm knitting it in Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, which is heavier than the pattern calls for, but I wanted to use a soft, substantive yarn.

The pattern forms a lacy zigzag, and it's a bit of a challenge because I have to actually pay attention to my knitting rather than the television. I keep zagging when I should be zigging, but I'm determined to finish it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A little bit about me ...

I've been thinking about creating a blog for a while, and finally decided to do it so I can link to Ravelry and share my knitting patterns.

Me? I'm a birdwatcher, an animal lover, and a tree hugger. I read a lot, too. One of my all-time favorite books is Knitting Heaven & Earth by Susan Gordon Lydon. I credit that book for making me fall in love with knitting.

I live with two rescued cats who let me knit in the evening after they've been fed, entertained, and cuddled. I'm still trying to figure out who rescued who.

I tend to knit little things because I lose interest quickly, plus I like how it feels to finish a project. I plan to start attempting more complicated projects.

My Ravelry name is goldenbird. The name comes from a dream I had in which tiny golden birds flew out of my knitting needles.