03 April 2014

Concentric and Hyperbolic

It is time again for Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance's Square Foot Fiber Pin-Up Show. For those of you who may not remember, this is the show where the only requirements are the item should be made with a fiber technique and fit within a 12-inch square. The show is open to everyone -- you do not need to be an individual member of SEFAA to enter. And there is no entry fee. And the show is not juried. All you have to do is fill out the form and get the item to SEFAA Center, either in person or by post.
This year will be my third year participating. I love this show. I love the wide range of work -- embroidery, silk painting, quilting, surface design, dyeing, handspinning, felting, crochet, and knit. And, since I'm on the board of Center for Knit and Crochet, this is my moment to remind all you knitters and crocheters that this is an opportunity to exhibit work. As you already know, I feel very strongly about this. People who don't quilt or weave take quilting and weaving seriously because those artists put their work up on the wall and stick a gallery tag beside it and invite people to really stop and look and it. Non-crafters don't appreciate knit and crochet partly because we don't exhibit. We don't give people the opportunity to stop and look at what we do. And we don't take a moment to educate them on the time and skill required. This needs to change if we want people to preserve and value our heritage.

The entry deadline for Square Foot Fiber is Wednesday 9 April. You can find the form on the SEFAA website here. There is a monthly members' meeting on Monday night to hear Cas Holmes speak, so you can just drop off your work then. Or you can drop it off when you come to view the Japanese Embroidery Show.

And for those of you wondering about the above photograph, here's what I did.

The yarn is three-ply handspun made from a 100g roving dyed as a rainbow. I stripped the roving into thirds; so I then had three smaller rainbow rovings. Then I took 1/3 of the red off the end of one roving and stuck it on its purple end. I took 2/3 of the red off another roving and stuck it on its purple end. So now I had three rovings in color order red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet with one roving that stopped at violet, one roving that had a little red at the end, and one roving with a lot more red at the end and a lot less at the beginning. So I had something like this:
I spun each ply and then plied all three together. Of course, if my spinning had been even and if my splitting of the roving had been even, I should have ended up with a yarn that started red, then became 2 red plies with 1 orange ply, then 2 orange with 1 red, then 3 orange, and so on. But my work wasn't even, so it all went a little off the rails at the end. And the red dye wasn't colorfast for some reason, so the red has faded and become much more coral. But this is an experiment I'm willing to try again.

For the knitting, I started at the "red" end and cast on for a center-out motif. For a five-point motif I worked double-increases in five locations. The rhythm between increase and plain rounds is a bit syncopated. Work an increase round, then one plain round, then an increase round, then two plain rounds. For the most part, I worked yarn over, knit the center stitch, yarn over for my double-increases. I also worked one wale twisted midway between the increase lines. I did that partly for decoration, and partly to make it easier to keep track of what I was doing. I made up lace as I went, à la Myra Woods.

The method for the ruffle is of my own devising.
Run a lifeline through a round. You'll need to pick up in this round later.
Work k1, yo, k1 all in one stitch, then yo before the next stitch. Repeat this sequence around. You have quadrupled the number of stitches.
Now work 1x1 ribbing. All the knits from the previous round should be knit, and all the yarn overs should be purled.
Work a few rounds as established in 1x1 ribbing -- I typically did only 2 or 3 rounds.
Bind off using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.
The 1x1 ribbing is the same on both sides, but more importantly, it has structure and is willing to stand up as a ruffle.

After binding off the first ruffle, I knit up new stitches behind it. This is why you need that lifeline. Trust me on this, you do not want to try to figure out what is and isn't a stitch. If you are very clever, use a circular needle or the cable from an interchangeable set as your lifeline.

To make the motif more like the Tudor Rose shape, I worked some shaping rounds based on feather and fan stitch. This meant I worked multiple increases grouped together and multiple decreases grouped together. This stacking and gathering of shaping will cause the fabric to bias and wave. Since I was working from the center out, I just needed to be sure that the multiple increases were always two more in number than the decreases. This is the same shaping as the well-known pattern Hemlock Ring.

I then worked a second ruffle. For this ruffle, I worked two rounds plain, then broke the yarn to change color, worked one round plain in the new color, and then one round to bind off.

Once again, I knit up from behind the ruffle to work the green background. This time I shifted the increases to fall over the troughs from feather and fan. This helped skew the motif backed towards being round, so it would fit on the ring.

To attached to a 12-inch shiny metal ring I again used the magic of k1-yo-k1 all in one stitch, then yo before the next stitch. Every time I made a yarn over, I threw the yarn around the ring. Then I worked the ruffle to the end, just as I had the other ruffles. Picking up that first round with the ring already in the stitches was fiddly, but I persevered.

I will probably go fetch a small "D" ring at the big box craft store, and attach it to the back to create a hanging hook. I'm not quite sure what one would do with this item. Although I suppose it does look like a knitted version of a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign.

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