21 February 2017

Big Event

As some of you know, I am one of those people who says, "Why not?"

Back in the summer, my gaming friend Paul asked if I had seen a documentary called Yarn. Why, no! I decided I wanted to see it. But it wasn't playing anywhere in the southeast, not even some place I could drive to in three or four hours.

I put together a proposal for Atlanta Knitting Guild. The proposal was something along the lines of, "Here's this neat movie. I want to see it. I'll bet other people would like to see it. Can we bring it here?" There were multiple possible ways to do this, including simply screening the film at a guild meeting or going big, renting a theater, and selling tickets. In the end, guild president Susan Duralde put a lot of enthusiasm behind the idea of going big. The AKG board got behind it as well. And now, Atlanta Knitting Guild will be screening Yarn this week on the morning of Saturday 25 February at Lefont Theater in Sandy Springs.

As you can see, we have lots of wonderful sponsors. There will be goody bags, including patterns, coupons, and yarn samples. And there are lots and lots of door prizes. For example, Center for Knit and Crochet has donated this:

Yes, that's a limited edition gradient yarn kit from Wonderland Yarns, a CKC bag, and a one-year membership.

Atlanta Knitting Guild is also having a raffle. The pile of high-end yarn is worth over $700.

There is Noro, Madeline Tosh, Mrs. Crosby, Mountain Colors, Opal Harry Potter, even some gradient sets. Raffle tickets are $10 each.

I'm contributing a special printing of a recent pattern. The pattern is a reversible lace scarf and hat set. On Ravelry, the pattern will include both items. For the goodie bags, I have printed a version that has the directions for the scarf but not the hat. This will give you a taste of the technique. For the door prize, I've contributed a skein of emerald green sock yarn from Fiber Charmer and a pattern for reversible lace tube socks in a leaf pattern.

As of this posting, we are close to 200 tickets sold for a theater that seats 240. So we should have a nice full house!

Edited to add:
Here’s the plan for Saturday:
Doors open at 9:15 AM.
Please arrive no later than 9:45 AM.

Check-in and then check-out our Gold sponsor tables.
You may also buy your popcorn, additional raffle tickets, seats in Charles Gandy classes, AKG Membership. The concession stand will have cookies for $1.50 and coffee for $2.50.
To speed the process, please bring check or cash for additional purchases. We will have a limited number of Squares to process card payments.

Take your seats.

Opening remarks.
Prize giveaway: Door Prize (~65 items) and Raffle Prize (1 big prize) give-aways.
You must be present to win.

YARN screening.

Brief closing remarks.

When you arrive, you will check in at the desk. You will receive your goodie bag as well as an envelope with your door prize ticket, your raffle ticket(s) (if you purchased any), and a printed version of your online receipt. You should then put you door prize ticket and your raffle ticket(s) (if any) in the appropriate receptacles near the center of the room.

14 February 2017

Off Topic — Too Mild a Winter?

In spite of my love of knitting, I am not a cool-weather person. I know some people who adore that first hit of cool autumn air. I prefer the first hit of warm spring air. Some people say alpaca is too warm. I'm thinking of making alpaca pajamas. But even I, lover of sunshine and warmth, must object to this:

Yes, the St. Valentine's Day azaleas. Go back to sleep! It is only February, not April.

Last winter was a mild winter. I don't have the data, but this one might be milder. Yes, we started off the year with an ice storm. And then we moved into weeks of 50 to 70 degree weather. Cherry trees are blooming right now. Our local news reported on March-like pollen counts. We are not merely a week or two early. Some trees are 4 weeks early. My azaleas are 8 weeks ahead of schedule.

I'm not sure of the full implications. For example, in the spring the azaleas are usually covered with happy pollinators. I don't see a lot a bees, yet. This makes me wonder if there are plants blooming now who won't get pollinated? And I wonder in general about how plants and animals match themselves up with the seasons. Those who do it by the sun should be okay, I think. Hours of sunlight are not affected by climate change. (Amount of sunlight might be affected if cloud cover changes drastically, but the hours the sun is above the horizon are set by stable planetary motion.) But the living things who rely on warmth and coolness to match themselves to the seasons will be confused.

And some living things need that cool period of rest. This recent article from our local National Public Radio station WABE warns this year's peach crop may be less because peach trees are not getting the chill hours they need. As someone who loves peaches with vanilla ice cream in the summer, this is a worrisome development.

06 February 2017

Teaching and Learning

I started off this year with two weekend events — one new to me and the other an old favorite.

In January I taught at the Kanuga Knitting and Quilting Retreat. This retreat has been happening for more than a decade. It is scheduled for the weekend of Dr. King's holiday. The location is tranquil — an Episcopalian retreat and campground in the North Carolina mountains. Varian Brandon is the organizer. I know Varian from Georgia FiberFest. In fact, I'm sometimes sorry I teach at that show, and I would dearly love to take Varian's steeking class. She has an incredible eye for color and design.

Kanuga is setup as a retreat. This means the classes are part of the package price. Students come and go. The weekend involved about 9 hours of instruction. I was asked to teach modular knitting. The nice thing about the long format is we had plenty of time to swatch and play. Modular knitting lends itself to play, both color and shape.

Another great thing about the retreat format is that you eat meals with the group. This means that over the course of a weekend you make new friends. This isn't like a fiber show where you are in class with someone for three hours and then don't see them again. A significant fraction of the retreat participants return year after year. There's plenty of crafting during the day, but also community around the fireplace at night.

And because this is an Episcopal retreat, there is morning communion and evening prayers. Reverend Jennifer Deaton from St. Andrew's Cathedral in Jackson, Missippippi, arranged the prayers around the five senses. How could you miss one prayer session? What was she going to say about taste or smell? The church building At Kanuga is made from local pine. The entire interior is knotty pine, unfinished, emitting a warm glow of old wood. Outdoors, Kanuga has a labyrinth to walk for those who like that spiritual practice. You might find sitting and watching the lake, the woods, and the natural creatures also nourishes the soul.

Since this is a knitting and quilting retreat, there was a room full of quilters. I watched a demonstration; and now I better understand the boom in quilting. About 30 years ago I cut out a quilt — sat on the floor, used scissors, and cut out lots of little squares by hand. Today quilters have these marvelous clear acrylic templates/tools! They have rotary cutters and mats. They have sewing machines that look like the love children of iMac and Singer. It was amazing how quickly and precisely the quilters could work their craft. And I haven't even mentioned the beautiful fabrics!

Kanuga was the shiny new thing in January.

Kanuga Knitting & Quilting Retreat 2017. I'm partly hidden in the back row, to the right of tall Bonnie.

In February I attended South Carolina Knit Inn.

I've written previously about was a delightful gathering it is. This was an opportunity for me to teach more people about reversible lace. I'm still looking for a critical mass. In addition to teaching, I also took a couple classes.

I took a class on needle felting from Cheryl McLane of Purdy Thangz. I've done some needle felting previously; and I've read a little bit about felting. I just thought a class would be fun. And it was! Cheryl showed us how to use a template. And she showed us how to felt around wires in order to give a piece some structure. I got the black rose kit, but I brought some of my own fiber and tools with me. This rose has a base of black with scarlet red overlaid — very vampire! After the weekend, I went home, dyed more fiber, and finished my rose. The red and black is for the Falcons, who had better rise up and knock it out of the park on Super Bowl LII, don't ya know!? Or maybe they will be the first team to win it all in their home stadium in 2019 for Super Bowl LIII?

I also took a class on Tunisian knitting from Helen Cogbill. I had heard of Tunisian crochet, but not Tunisian knitting. Both involve a set-up row, but then action on the return row. It takes two passes up and down the needle to create one row of stitches. It requires thought to convince your hands to manipulate yarn and slip stitches without working any stitches on the set-up row. After the weekend, I made three sizeable swatches to put in my class notebook.

Traditional Single Tunisian Knitting (also called Oblique Tunisian)

Tunisian Rib Stitch

Double Tunisian Knit Stitch (also called Horizontal Tunisian)

As Helen pointed out, this is probably not a fabric to use for a whole garment. But, it could make for nice trim. I think a few rows of Double Tunisian would be a clean, modern border. And while I don't have a picture, I did try working in two colors. Tunisian would work as a way to introduce a horizontal line of complementary color, almost like a supplementary weft in weaving. I also worked the Tunisian rib as a Tunisian seed stitch. Possibilities!

07 January 2017


Well, 2017 is off to a wild start. I surmise the erratic ju-ju from 2016 is not exhausted?

My plan for yesterday was to stay home, drink hot chocolate, and knit. I knew the wintry weather was coming. I had already stocked up on groceries earlier in the week, checked in at The Whole Nine Yarns to be sure my Saturday classes would be canceled, and generally put things in order.

Then I went to the Thursday evening Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting. Elke and Lynne told me that Robinson Salvage out in Carrollton had received a shipment of items from a shop impacted by the fires in Tennessee. The shop's insurance had covered the inventory as a loss. The salvage store had items at 40% off, including weaving and spinning books.

So instead of staying put in my warm little house, I got up, cared for the feline electron cloud, got dressed, and headed out to Carrollton. It took not quite an hour to get out there; and that was from my advantageous starting position on the west side of town. I got on I-20 at exit 46 (Six Flags Drive) and drove to exit 24. So, yes, with a snowstorm imminent I drove halfway to Alabama. Priorities! The salvage store is about 15-20 minutes south after exiting the interstate. Robinson Salvage has a main store a mile or two up the road from the real address you want: 620 Bankhead Highway. This is their overflow warehouse. Walk in the doors and head back and to the left.

And there you are. There are two big rows of palette after palette of yarn, fiber, and books. I did not see any tools (wheels, looms, needles) or DVDs. There was a very nice selection of books. I was able to greatly fill out my library wish list (sorry, Interweave). There was plenty of yarn, including Cascade Fixation and Alpaca Lace, Liberty Wool, and Mountain Colors. There was mounds and mounds of spinning fiber. And there, on the spinning fiber in every color, was the proof I had feared. This was from Smoky Mountain Spinnery.

I mentioned Smoky Mountain Spinnery in a blog post back in the spring of 2015 when I enjoyed the great privilege of teaching at Fiber Forum, held at Arrowmont. Smoky Mountain Spinnery is a delightful destination shop. While it is not difficult to find yarn shops, it is much harder to find shops that carry spinning and weaving. This shop had a wall of rovings in every base color the dye manufacturers make. They had fiber from prize-winning sheep from major wool festivals. Looking at their website, they say they do intend to reopen, possibly as soon as later this month. Still, I can not fully imagine what a major undertaking it must be, even with insurance, to swap out an entire smoke-afflicted inventory. If you find yourself near Gatlinburg this year, please go check them out! After the loss of the Mannings a year ago, I do not want to see our community lose another major shop.

At Robinson Salvage items are just piled up in boxes, so you have to dig and sort. Sometimes matching skeins are not right next to each other. I spent more than an hour and way more money than I had intended. I have specific plans for reversible lace projects for all the knitting yarns. Several of the books were on my wish list. Maggie's Ireland was probably the last major XRX book that wasn't already in my library.

I did not see any equipment — no wheels, looms, or knitting needles. I'm thinking of going back next week to see if any appear. Employees were still unpacking weaving yarns while I was there. So while I was tempted to linger, I knew I needed to get my tail back home. Especially if you are a spinner, I can not stress enough this rare chance for significant stash enhancement. There were qualtities of undyed fiber that would be perfect if you wanted to make a whole sweater from scratch.

So, while there is joy (happy Epiphany!), there is also sorrow. I like Smoky Mountain Spinnery. There are mixed feelings to be benefiting from their horrible 2016.

The cold rain had just started when I left Carrollton after 1 PM. I got back to Mableton after 2 PM. I was grateful to use the inbound lanes on I-20, as the outbound lanes were crammed. Traffic was thick after I got off the expressway. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever seen local traffic of that magnitude. It reminded me of the weekend before Christmas, but with the volume turned up another notch. I parked in my garage, unloaded, spoke to my mom (Thank you for checking on me!), ate, and then walked over to Kroger because I was out of whipped cream for hot chocolate. Yes, first world problems. I also picked up some Chinese food at the local family-run hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon; and I have never seen the restaurant that busy. The snow emergency preparedness memo for Atlanta: Buy milk, bread, and Chinese food?

Jump to this morning and the beautiful view from my windows.

And I guess it is just as well that I've enhanced the stash, as I am not going anywhere.

Charlie Brown Christmas tree on left, Ewok Imperial driveway barrier in distance

I could hear the trees cracking last night. One of my friends has been talking about coming over some afternoon with his chain saw so as to trim the long branches off the pine tree. I think the ice beat him to it. It should be below freezing all day today. I am not going outside. When the ice is gone in a day or two, I'll see if I can drag the boughs off the street and into the side yard. I was going to get dressed this morning, but then reconsidered. I've made a pot of hot green tea and put on NPR. (Boo, hiss! "Wait, Wait, . . . Don't Tell Me" is a rerun clip show today.) I have leftover Chinese food for later today. And I am almost done with my latest reversible lace project (more on that soon, I hope!).

So much for 2017, week 1.

28 December 2016

2016 Hideous Dumpster Fire Ornament

Earlier this month, I quickly knocked out a hideous crocheted dumpster fire ornament. South Cobb Arts Alliance hosts a Christmas House arts and crafts show each December. With it, they also have a tea room and silent auction. I believe Friends of the Mable House are also involved. Truth be told, I'm not sure which parts are executed by and for which organization. This group of events is a major fundraiser. The Mable House Arts Complex has a historic home, the art center with workshop and gallery space, and a concert venue. Throughout the year there are opportunities to gain skills in various arts, view and purchase art, attend concerts and live theater, and attend historic re-enactment. Sometimes the arts complex is just a good place for my local community to gather, such as for the farmers' market or food truck night.

I made the hideous dumpster fire ornament for the silent auction. I figured someone would connect to it. For many people, 2016 has not been a favorite year. John Oliver wrapped up Last Week Tonight for the season with a not-safe-for-work take on 2016. That was in November when we still had about seven weeks to go.

Well, 2016 has embraced its character. If you are going to play the chaotic alignment, then by golly dig in and be chaotic. In the last week we have lost George Michael (on Christmas Day!) and Carrie Fisher. George Michael's album Faith was probably among the first five CDs I bought when I got a CD player in the mid 1980s. That CD was a significant part of the soundtrack of my days in graduate school. Cuddly Hubby and I have the poster triptych for the Star Wars trilogy reissue of the last 1990s hanging in our master bedroom. So, yes, there is a picture of Princess Leia in my house. Geekdom and Generation X suffered notable losses this year even before this week. (Yes, I know Carrie Fisher and George Michael were technically Baby Boomers, but their contributions to popular culture strongly impacted Generation X.)

Thus, I offer to you a crafting option to help celebrate/commemorate/obliterate 2016 in all its, um, glory.

I don't normally write crochet patterns. This one is free, because I'm sure there are better ways to do this; but I don't know them yet. If you want to download this file for free, it is on Ravelry.

2016 Dumpster Fire Crocheted Ornament

Techniques you already know:
  • foundation crochet
  • American crochet terminology
  • working into back of loop
  • chain stitch/tambour stitch
  • Russian join
  • basic needle-and-yarn sewing
Supplies & Materials:
  • Size G/4mm crochet hook.
  • 1-2 yards of fishing line for hanging
  • blunt tapestry needle
  • Worsted-Weight acrylic yarn.

    Sample used:

    Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice

    color 174 olive, about 15-20 yards,

    color 153 black, about 5-10 yards,

    color 158 mustard, about 1-2 yards.

    Red Heart Super Saver Multis

    color 950 Mexicana, at least 5-10 yards of red-orange-yellow with the blue-green-purple edited out; even more would be better!
Gauge in single crochet:
14 stitches and 16 rows = 4 inches

Nomenclature & Abbreviations:
I am using American versions of these stitches, not British versions.
fsc = foundation single crochet
sc = single crochet
cdc = half-double crochet
dc = double crochet
ch = chain

Dumpster is worked as a center-out rectangle at the bottom, then up the sides. The black lid is worked separately and attached. The fire is worked separately, then attached.


With olive:
Establishing round:
2sc in last chain of foundation to turn corner.
4sc in row of chains.
1sc in last chain to turn corner.
You now have a rectangle that is 5 stitches on each long side and one stitch on each short side.

Round 1:
1sl+1sc in corner stitch, 3sc on long side,
1sc+1hdc+1sc in corner stitch, 1sc on short side,
1sc+1hdc+1sc in corner stitch, 3sc on long side,
1sc+1hdc+1sc in corner stitch, 1sc on short side,
1sc+1hdc in corner stitch.

Round 2:
1sc in corner stitch, 5sc on long side,
1sc+1hdc+1sc in corner stitch, 3sc on short side,
1sc+1hdc+1sc in corner stitch, 5sc on long side,
1sc+1hdc+1sc in corner stitch, 3sc on short side,
1sc+1hdc in corner stitch.

Round 3:
Working into the back loop only:
Please do not work extra stitches in the corners.

Round 4:
Resume working into both loops:
4sc, 2hdc,
1hdc, 5sc.

Round 5:
3sc, 3hdc,
2hdc, 4sc.

Round 6:
2sc, 4hdc,
3hdc, 3sc.

Round 7:
1sc, 5hdc,
4hdc, 2sc.

Fasten off.

With black:
Working back and forth:
Leaving about a foot-long tail, 7fsc. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the front of the loop. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the back of the loop. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the front of the loop. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the back of the loop. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the front of the loop. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the back of the loop. Turn.
1ch, 7sc in the front of the loop. Fasten off, leaving about a foot-long tail.
Using tails, sew lid to taller side of dumpster using overcast stitches to mimic hinges. Weave tails toward front of lid, but leave excess for tacking lid to front of dumpster later. Ridges on lid should be facing public side.

The fire part is a hot mess!
Firstly, I used Red Heart Super Saver in the Mexicana color way, which is essentially a classic rainbow. I wanted to purchase separate skeins of red, yellow, and orange, but the store was out of orange that day. I didn’t need the green-blue-violet part of the multicolored yarn. I ended up “editing” the yarn by cutting it into little pieces and then joining the 13 pieces of red-orange-yellow yarn using Russian join (sewing them together). I joined red to red and yellow to yellow, which means the red and yellow parts are twice as long as the orange parts. It would be much easier to just purchase a red-orange-yellow variegated yarn.

The fire part is worked randomly and side-to-side. It is mostly chain stitches with a few single crochets for the base. Also, I worked the single crochets from left to right — i.e. left-handed rather than right-handed. Here is a description of what I did and a picture of what I got. Competent crocheters, I have no doubt you can improve upon this.

6fsc, 7ch, slip stitch back down the chain, slip stitch down the foundation single crochets.
1ch, left-hand single crochet 5 or 6 stitches, randomly chain, slip stitch back down, chain a bunch more, slip stitch back down, slip stitch back down the single crochets.
Keep working back and forth, sometimes making a straight line up and back, sometimes making several branches.

Because I was pressed for time, I only made enough fire to edge the dumpster. Ideally, you want to do a whole lot of fire and fill it up! I didn’t have enough, so I had to use stuffing to fill the dumpster.

Use chain stitch and mustard yellow yarn to add “2016” to the front (lower of the two long sides) of the dumpster.

Use tails to tack fire to inside of dumpster.

Use black tails to tack dumpster lid down.

Use fishing line at all four corners to create a hanger.