24 December 2014

Unkind Thoughts About 2014

Today's blog post was going to be a picture of my house lit up tonight, and close-ups of the hand embroidered ornaments on my tree. The Cuddly Hubby is home for a couple weeks. I had wonderful friends visiting on Sunday. I spent most of last week cleaning and cooking, so my home is clean and my kitchen counter hosts tasty holiday treats. It was going to be a post about the loveliness of the holiday season, and how dear home is.

And then I decided to go buy some firewood and get some groceries. So while Cuddly Hubby shaved and showered, I headed off to run those two short errands. I was listening to Chanticleer on NPR as I drove through the woods and over the historic Concord Covered Bridge, a fresh cup of English rose tea in the cup holder of my car. I was feeling very festive and merry. It has been raining and misty here for three days -- uncharacteristic Georgia weather. The floor of the bridge was re-planked about a year ago, and the new planking is a slightly wider pitch than previously. That's probably good for SUVs, but not great for little gas-sipping cars like mine. I know this. I've driven this bridge a fair bit and am usually fine in positioning my car correctly. With the slick surface, the tires slipped off the raised planks, skidded inside the bridge, and this happened.
So today's blog post is not about holiday cheer and quite homes. Today's post is about how what I feel about 2014 falls into the category of Not Safe For Work. When I attended the Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting earlier this month, I kept running into knitters I respect and admired who had sad stories about losing someone special in their lives this year. I don't like seeing nasty things happening to nice people. This year had too much of that.

What I want for Yule and for 2015 is not riches and fame. I want normality. I want quiet. I just want my husband at home, sleeping in our bed. I want my cats happy and healthy and doing normal kitty things every day without a lot of intervention. I want to get up in the morning, kiss my husband, feed my cats, eat my breakfast, and make a cup of tea. I then want to get to work on whatever knitting thing I need to do -- sending proposals, updating classes, writing handouts, publishing patterns, updating this blog, or making swatches. I do not want to spend time at the veterinarian or the emergency room or patching walls or dealing with auto insurance or attending funerals. Right now it feels as if this request is like asking to win the lottery.

To my dear colleagues out there who do read this blog, I hope 2015 will be a beautiful year for you. I was thinking last night about holding a satchel of stars, and handing them out one by one to the many dear people in my life. Each one would be a lucky star, destined to bring good luck and happy events to each of you. I wish you all the very best through the holidays and the coming new year.

11 December 2014

Handspun Swirl

When I look at my Ravelry account, 2014 seems to be an unproductive year. Partly, I need to be better at having multiple projects on my needles. Less travel and fewer board duties would help, too. But partly this apparent lack of progress is hidden in the completed projects. The one I worked on most of the year I finished just in time for Thanksgiving. It is a swirl jacket made entirely with my own handspun.

The cobalt blue with sparkles was purchased at Uncommon Threads in York, Pennsylvania back when the shop had a different owner and was located in the downtown rather than the Queensgate Shopping Center. It was in a bargain basket in the back of the shop, tossed in a pile. I'm guessing it had been used for a class or demo. It was marked as superwash wool. While most of it was cobalt blue, some of it was a lighter blue. At the time I didn't even think to weigh it, so I can't say how much I bought. I can say there was plenty of it (12 ounces? 16 ounces?) and that I still have some. I bought the crystal metallic over at The Mannings. My recollection is that I tried to card the sparkles into the blue, with mixed results as they were different staple lengths. When I spun at the wheel, the sparkles distributed very unevenly because the wool fibers and the sparkles were not the same length. I persevered in my poor spinning technique -- I was a newbie who didn't know better -- and eventually produced a two-ply.

The multicolor is Louet Northern Lights 100% wool top in color 28 violets. The top comes dyed in short blips of color, similar to hand-painted sock yarn. On their website, Louet sells Northern Lights in half-pound bags (8 ounces); but The Mannings usually divides theirs into 4 ounce bumps. I purchased 8 ounces that I'm sure were from the same dye lot. This was also spun up a a 2-ply.

Thus, all the body yarn was purchased as colored fluff and spun. The locks were purchased raw this year at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I've already blogged about how I dyed the locks in a disposable turkey roasting pan and tailspun the yarn.

I taught the Swirl Jacket this summer as a knit-along class that met three times. The idea was we'd make our jackets during the summer and finish them just as the weather cooled. I get a lot of use out of my previous swirl based on the Plum Perfect pattern. Since that was an off-centered circle, I decided to try the off-centered oval. I chose the Coat of Many Colors. Now wearing the finished garment, I think the circle is more flattering on me than the oval. Because I was working with handspun yarn and was wary of yarn shortages, I skipped the first two welts of the pattern. This also made for a narrower collar, which I think is in better proportion to my body size. I was somewhere in the sleeve increases and traveling on the West Coast when I ran out of the blue yarn. But I had more raw materials in my stash, so I merely had to wait until I got back home to make more. And then I ran out of the multicolor. The Mannings did have some Northern Lights violets in stock, so I ordered it. Don't look too closely, as it is pretty obvious this is a different dye lot. Furthermore, some elements of my spinning have changed in the four or five years since I first made these yarns. The extras are not quite as close a match as I would have liked. But, better to make more and saunter onward than to rip out a pound of handspun yarn that has been cut up into separate pieces every time you've changed welts.

One change I made that I liked is I added one more welt immediately before the neck bind-off. I did this so that the welts would line up in the sleeves, something that is especially noticeable if you are working alternate colors. I also grafted the sleeves together, so as to make the garment almost reversible. The grafting was a little tricky, since the garment was shaped at the same time by adding or subtracting stitches at the end of the rows. I'm not completely happy with the grafting, but I like it better than if I hadn't done it. It also added extra time to the garment, since I would knit a welt, cut the yarn, rip the welt back, and then graft it together as I knit on the second go-round. This only needed to be done on the decreasing half of the sleeves, but it still meant I knit the sleeves one-and-a-half times rather than just once.

There are some elements which don't entirely delight me about the finished garment. Rather than knit with the tailspun yarn, I folded that yarn in half and wove it in on about the third row of the garment while I knit with the blue yarn. The rows of locks pulls in just a little more than the rest of the knitted fabric. On the other hand, perhaps the garment would drape too much without it?

I also changed the pattern stitch a bit because I was working in two colors. Normally, this would be purl 5 rounds for the blue and knit 5 rounds for the multicolor. Instead, I knit the first round of the blue. This causes all the purl blips to fall to the multicolored side of the fabric. This is why the fabric is two-sided rather than reversible. Both sides are good, but they are not identical.

The garment is also a little more bold and graphic than I had intended. I was shooting for a statement jacket. Perhaps this speaks too loudly?

16 November 2014

Grafting Heresy

First off, I must apologize for being offline for so long. I had a fabulous time teaching ten classes at Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. I met lots of wonderful students. I even had 17 people in one class! I've never had that happen before. Unfortunately, somewhere in all the fun I picked up a nasty intestinal virus and have been sick for three weeks. The first two weeks consisted of very little eating and as much drinking of water as I could manage. I even ended up in the emergency room at one point. In weeks two and three my stomach started to get better, but then my head got worse and I had to fight migraines. This third week I've been able to eat and drink more comfortably, so I'm working my way back up to my regular diet. I eat something close to Paleo diet, so lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and some meat in appropriate (4 ounce) portions. Of course, all that roughage is harder to digest, so it is taking me awhile. Being nauseated for days on end has greatly improved my empathy for anyone going through chemotherapy. I've never used marihuana, but I have to admit that by the second week, I was wondering if I had any “trashy” friends who could help and wishing Colorado were within driving distance, especially after I failed to keep down the over-the-counter anti-nausea medication. After several days, you just want to feel confident you can drink plenty of water or juice and eat something. It is hard to heal if you can't attain proper hydration and nutrition.

I was well enough to teach two classes yesterday at The Whole Nine Yarns. Hurray! Granted, I then slept 14 hours last night. I'm not healed yet, but I think I'll at least be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner in ten days. One of the classes I taught yesterday is an old standard -- “Now How Do I Finish?” Because I've taught it recently at bigger shows, I've improved it by making lots of little swatches to demonstrate different ways various seams can be put together. One of the sections of class covers three-needle bind-offs and Kitchener stitch (grafting). I've made an assortment of sock toes bound off various ways.

Three-needle bind-off worked inside-out so the ridge is inside the sock:

Three-needle bind-off worked with the ridge on the outside:
 Notice the back side of this technique has a prominent purl ridge:

Flat (Japanese) three-needle bind-off worked with the ridge on the outside:

While Japanese three-needle bind-off looks similar to regular three-needle bind off from the front, it is tidier on the back:
If you are working a sock toe or mitten tip and want the ridge to be a decorative element, consider the flat version of three-needle bind off. (I posted video of it here some years back when I used it on a double-knitted scarf.)

Most people do not work three-needle bind-off for sock toes. Knitters commonly graft toes together, when working cuff-down socks. I think it is useful to know that, depending on how sensitive your toes are, you may or may not need to graft. And if the socks are for someone who has hard, sharp toenails, the extra yarn in the three-needle bind-off might make for better wear at the toes. If you are someone who has almost made socks and you feel you just don't want to conquer Kitchener stitch in order to finish the socks, turn the work inside-out and join with three-needle bind-off instead. You might not like it, but you might be surprised and decide it is just fine for your needs. And if you leave a long-enough tail, you have the option of unraveling the bind off and trying Kitchener grafting later.

The heresy I want to share with you is in the grafting (Kitchener stitch). Here's the first swatch, which is a standard graft of ten stitches to ten stitches.

Knitting books tell us you must graft equal numbers of stitches. Except, it isn't true. Here's a graft of nine stitches to ten.


First off, why would you do this? If you've worked grafted toes, you may have ended up with “ears,” slightly bumpy or messy bits at the ends of the graft. This happens because a graft of equal numbers of stitches will end up off by half a stitch if both sets of stitches are “tops.” You end up with partial stitches that don't behave as well as whole stitches.

Here's a flat swatch that illustrates why a nine to ten graft can be worked perfectly.
This swatch was made using Elizabeth Zimmermann's “thumb trick.” I knit across ten stitches in the middle of my swatch using the brown waste yarn. Then I slid those stitches back on my left needle and worked across them with the white working yarn as if nothing had happened. The working yarn is never cut; rather there are ten wales (columns) of stitches that have an extra stitch in the middle of the stack. If I remove the waste yarn, what do I get?:

Behold! The bottom side has ten stitches. I've marked their centers in green. The top side has nine “Australian cousins” as Lucy Neatby calls them. I've marked those in magenta. And there are half stitches at each end, which I've marked in blue. Notice the half stitches each have one stitch leg coming out of them, rather than having two legs or zero.

If I want a better sock toe graft, I should be grafting two sides together over an odd total of stitches rather than over an even total of stitches. For a thumb trick, the partial stitches are in locations where they can be grafted with whole stitches. A sock toe in the round will not have the partial stitches. So, if you want to change a sock pattern, what should you do?

When working toe decreases, work one extra decrease on the first half of the round. Or you could possibly change your stitch number when coming out of the heel turn. The important thing is to have an odd total in the round with the first half of the round being one stitch short. When you are ready to graft:
Divide the stitches on two needles so the first half of the round is one stitch fewer than the second half of the round.
Break the yarn, leaving enough tail (about 3 times the length of the toe opening, plus a little extra) to sew the graft.
Thread the tail into a blunt tapestry needle.
Yarn up in the first stitch on the first needle.
Yarn down in the first stitch on the second needle. Drop that stitch off the needle.
Yarn up in what was the second stitch on the second needle.
Yarn down in the first stitch on the first needle. Drop that stitch off the needle.
At this point, you've grafted one stitch.
Continue as established. You will end with yarn down in the last stitch on the first needle. Every stitch that was live on the first needle at the beginning will have a proper whole stitch in it by the end.

15 October 2014

Spinzilla 2014

By ignoring almost everything else in my life, I managed to shoehorn a week of quality creative time into my schedule. I decided to participate in Spinzilla 2014. This is the spinning challenge sponsored by The National Needlearts Association (TNNA), the trade organization for fiber hobbies. This was the second year for Spinzilla. Basically, yarn shops sponsor teams. Spinners sign up to be on a team. Everybody has a week to spin as much yarn as they can. Prizes are awarded for spinning the most yarn, taking great pictures, or spinning at least a mile.

I used Spinzilla as an excuse to spin down through my stash. I had acquired several sample packs over the years. I did a little spinning for projects, but I also did a fair amount of spinning through the sample fibers. This was a great opportunity to spin woolen, spin worsted, try a 2 ply or a 3-ply or a chain ply. It was a chance to play and see what happens. And it was a great chance to just spend time at my wheel and, by practicing and doing, improve my spinning skills.

I'm most pleased with the Berry Bliss in the right corner of the photograph. It is 309 yards of a three-ply that is light fingering weight, about 17 wraps per inch. There is enough for a scarf or a pair of fine gloves, although the project would need to be worked on sock needles (2-3mm). Fine gauge knits take more time, but they are often elgant and well-crafted (think of Bohus).

Things I learned:
  • Practice improves skill.
  • Play improves creativity.
  • I prefer a 3-ply to a 2-ply, especially for a fluffy woolen.
  • I need more practice on plying.
  • Same whorl and same draft gives you similar grist and twist, even with different fibers and different preparations.
  • There is no standard wraps per inch chart. (Ravelry, Nancy's Knit Knacks, PLY magazine issue #6 are all different.)
Some of the things I learned were obvious, but it is the obvious things we forget, isn't it? That's why sometimes you go back to fundamentals; to remind yourself of the foundations of your craft so you are mindful of your choices.

The next trick will be seeing if I can carve out a week or two of creative play time for knitting or weaving. SAFF is next week, so for now, I'm busy updating handouts and double-checking all my samples. Spinzilla is an activity I am willing to try again. I only spun 2237 yards, in spite of the amount of time I spent. Next year, I should spend the summer making mountains of quick-to-spin rolags.

17 September 2014

Fun in Columbus

Last weekend was a much-needed happy time. For those of you wondering why the blog has been so quiet, I apparently have attracted a quantity of bad juju. Since the beginning of August I have:
  • come home from the West Coast to discover a flat tire at midnight,
  • gotten to my home at 3 AM to discover storm damage to my yard,
  • discovered the storm also put a branch through the roof,
  • had the electrician repair the ceiling fan in the kitchen,
  • had the plumber fail to repair the sprayer in the kitchen,
  • run short of both colors of handspun yarn while working on my swirl jacket,
  • failed to get a room at the Hyatt for Dragon*Con 2015,
  • gone a week without internet because I switch providers,
  • and gone three days without my primary land line phone because the new internet provider made a boo-boo and turned it off.
And my paternal grandmother died on Monday the 8th of September.

On the positive side of the balance sheet:
  • Cuddly Hubby was home for Dragon*Con.
  • He held the ladder so I could finish painting in the den.
  • Vincent, my shaggy black cat, is well again after giving me an expensive scare in June.
  • The Mannings still had the spinning fiber I needed to complete the swirl jacket.
And I got to teach at the third Georgia Alpaca FiberFest.

The previous two years the festival was at Callaway Gardens. This year it was at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center, which is right on the riverfront in downtown Columbus, Georgia. The facility is the old iron works founded in 1853. Wow! It is a lovely facility. The character of the facility has been preserved, but it is also modern. There is a lovely waterfall fountain that would have been a perfect place for sitting and knitting if it hadn't been so dang hot outdoors! We will anticipate better next year.

View of half the market, just before opening on Friday afternoon.
The market was particularly fine this year, doubling in size from last year. I point this out because STITCHES South has moved to Nashville for 2015. So all you Atlantans out there who aren't planning on trekking north in April, please keep Columbus in mind for next year. While there are yarn shops in Atlanta that stock spinning fiber, it isn't the embarrassment of riches that it is when it comes to yarn. I rely on the festivals for padding out my spinning stash, especially with Spinzilla looming next month. This market had yarn, plenty of spinning fiber, bags, wheels, Saori looms, felting tools, yarn bowls, African baskets, and other fiber art goodness. I purchased two art batts and won a third as a door prize. I also purchased a Saori book on how to make clothes from rectangular lengths of hand weaving. And the goodie bag included some lotion and body wash from SuriBunni Fine Fibers and a champagne chocolate truffle from Trillium Vineyard. (Somebody please remind me in the spring to go purchase a bottle of wine when their first vintage becomes available.)

Several of the spinners from The Whole Nine Yarns attended the festival. On Monday evening, we were talking about the festival. The conversation mostly revolved around what wheels we did or didn't try. There was a huge traditional Saxony wheel that even had a distaff. It looked like something from a fairy tale, but it was so big it probably would have needed a great room. Several of my colleagues tried it out, but I did not.

The wheel that garnered the most gossip was by National Custom Spinning Works and brought to the show by LunabudKnits. None of us had seen one like it before. My delightful roommate for the weekend, Sarah from Handmade Saori Weaving Studio in Huntsville, convinced me I needed to try this wheel. Let me just say for the record, I did not need to try this wheel. I have a lovely Majacraft Rose that was a gift from my dear Cuddly Hubby, thank you very much. But this National Custom Spinning Works wheel almost makes me sorry I have a Rose. There was much agreement within the group that this wheel treadles more smoothly and quietly than any wheel we had encountered. The bobbins are large, about double the length of a standard bobbin. The wheel with the standard flyer and three bobbins costs $995. Or for $1295 you can get the complete package which adds a jumbo flyer with a large orifice to accommodate plying or art yarn, three jumbo bobbins, and a vertical lazy kate that holds all six bobbins. For the extra $300, I think the complete package is a no-brainer. The wheel comes in ten different colors, and apparently the little blaze on it can be customized, too. If I were starting from scratch, I would seriously consider this wheel, probably in either red or plum . We all agreed that about the only drawback we could find was that because it is a metal wheel, it is probably a little too heavy to schlepp around. I will continue to recite, "I do not need to have a wheel at the Maryland Man Cave," so that I can continue to make my Will save against this modern marvel. It gives new meaning to the exclamation, "Shiny!"

24 August 2014

Opposites Coming Together

On my recent trip to the West Coast I took two projects -- the handspun swirl jacket, and the Carolyn jacket. I did do quite of bit of knitting. In fact, I did enough that I ran out of yarn for the swirl. And since it was handspun, I couldn't make more until I got home. With the Carolyn jacket I didn't have any knitting with me. Rather, I had worked two side panels and was ready both to sew in the side panels and to hem the jacket.

I'm not sure how long the Carolyn jacket has been in my stash -- probably four or five years. I purchased it at one of the early North Georgia Knitting Guild annual auctions. The jacket begins with a beautiful fully-lined but unfinished kinomo-style bodice. It lays over the torso in almost the same way as a liturgical vestment or tabbard, since the sides are unseamed. The instructions recommend doing some gauge swatches. After getting the proper numbers, you are directed to cast on ribbing and work back and forth for the cuffs, work the sleeves by increase shaping, and work a side panel the length of a whole side. After doing this for both sides, the jacket is completed by sewing the knit panels to the fabric panels, and then closing the two continuous seams in the knitting from cuff to underarm and down the sides of the jacket to the hem.

For some images of what other people have done, check out this blog post from The Yarn Haven in Knoxville, TN. (Sadly, they no longer carry Carolyn Jacket kits.) Or on Ravelry you can view this finished project by Jayel, this pink one by kubbo, this golden damask jacket by kittyknitter, this jacket in a multitude of neutrals by castoffjan, or this dark green, navy, and rose jacket by lasknits. All of these are adventurous knits, with plenty of color and stitch interest. However, this red and orange version by carolm7323 closely follows the directions in my Carolyn Jacket Simplified kit.

I, of course, was not interested in working a simplified version.

For one thing, the directions recommended working in either worsted or chunky yarn. I chose sock yarn. Specifically, I purchased three skeins of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Superwash Sock in colors that nicely match the fabric. I just didn't like the idea of heavy fabric. Also, I really love the kimono style of this jacket. Decreased sleeves with knitted cuffs just didn't make my heart sing, especially for a jacket that is meant to be a statement piece. So I decided to make mine a kimono jacket.

It isn't finished, yet. I evaluated the starting fabric on my body, and from those measurements decided to work side panels about four-inches wide by eighteen inches long. The fabric in this jacket is a wonderful mix of geometric patterns. Thus, I decided to work the side panels as modular knits. I worked one panel as if it were a short-row scarf, thus creating a pattern of triangles and stripes. I worked the other panel in modular mitered squares. I blocked both accurately to the desired size, using the blocking board and wires and I purchased earlier this year. The grid on that blocking mat was a big help! I decided to assemble the garment as much as possible at this point. I'll then evaluate what I have and design the sleeves.

I wanted to share how I attached the knitting to the fabric, as I am very pleased with the results. The original directions tell you where to pin the fabric, and then simply to, "Machine sew along bound off edge." I'm not sure I'm that comfortable with my sewing machine. And I took this project along on an airline trip, so you can bet the sewing machine was in neither my carry-on nor checked luggage.

The set-up:
To make this work, you'll need two elements.
  1. The fabric should be surged. This means it has machine stitching around the edges to prevent the fabric from unraveling.
  2. The knitting should have a tidy edge. I used a chain-stitch edge. When I knit, I can create this edge by using crochet-chain cast-on, slipped stitches as the selvedges, and a regular bind-off.
I pinned my knit side panels to the Carolyn jacket fabric. I evaluated the gauge of chain stitches versus surge stitches. On one panel the rate was one chain stitch to two surge stitches. On the other panel the rate was two chain stitches to three surge stitches. So on the first panel, I caught one chain, then two surge stitches. On the other panel, I caught one chain, then one surge stitch, then one chain, then two surge stitches. If the math started to get bad, the pins told me where to fudge.

The technique:
Interestingly, I did not need a sharp needle for the stitching. I only used a sharp needle at the end when I hid my sewing thread tails inside the garment lining.

Thread the blunt needle with appropriately-colored sewing thread. I splurged and bought silk thread. This is supposed to be a statement jacket, yes?
  1. Slide the needle diagonally from top to bottom, catching the horizontal surge thread as well as two vertical threads forming an upside-down "V."

  2. Bring the needle up through the knitting, essentially underneath both bars of a chain stitch.

  3. Take the needle down through the knitting, underneath both bars of the adjacent chain stitch.
  4. Repeat. If the math requires using more than one surge stitch per chain stitch, do step 1 multiple times before going to steps 2 and 3. I found I was able to do multiple stitches, then tug the yarn gently through several all at once.
I left a few inches of thread tail at the beginning. Then I went back, tied it off, and hid the tails when the sewing was otherwise complete.

I am super happy with how beautifully the knit fabric lays against the woven fabric. And I am thinking this technique would work for combining handwoven fabrics and knit fabrics. Possibilities await!

19 July 2014

Binding Off at Both Ends

It has taken me awhile to shoot video and post this technique, partly because this is one of my "unventions." I haven't seen this technique documented elsewhere. Rather, I derived it. It allows you to bind off at both the beginning and the end of a row of knitting without one side being taller than the other.

In the top photograph, you can see the left corner and right corner don't match. The left corner has one more row of stitches, making the stripe thicker. In the bottom photograph, both corners match. Yes, this is a very picky detail that typically makes little difference. But for those it does annoy, this technique will delight. I usually teach this in my "Refined Baby Surprise Jacket" class as well as "Unventions" and "Looping Back" classes.

The directions:
  • Bind off at the beginning of the row, as per the instructions.
  • Work across in pattern, stopping with what you need to bind off plus one stitch remaining at the end of the row. (For example, if you want to bind off 5 stitches, stop when 6 remain.)
  • Put the work down. Stretch the yarn out and create a numeral "4."
  • The horizontal in the "4" becomes the yarn to be trapped, while the vertical is attached to the project and remains the working yarn.
  • Work the remaining stitches just a little loosely, trapping the horizontal yarn as you work. This is the same trapping maneuver used in stranded Fair Isle colorwork knitting.
  • Turn the work.
  • Evaporate the excess yarn by tugging gently on the skein end of the yarn.
  • Bind off the stitches without working them.
  • Note: if you will be resuming work with a purl stitch, you do not need to move the working yarn. If you will be resuming work with a knit stitch, then move that yarn to the back of the work just before you bind off the last stitch.
  • Slip the stitch on the right needle back to the left needle, as it has not yet been worked.
  • Resume work in pattern.

16 July 2014

I Break for Animals

Yesterday was the first birthday for Mei Lun and Mei Huan. Those of you who know me or read this blog at least a little are, therefore, unsurprised that I spent yesterday at the zoo.

The panda exhibit was crowded, as you might expect. With all the crowds and glare on the glass, I didn't get great pictures. But I did see a little of the birthday girls' shenanigans.
Who would expect it would be possible to wrestle in a tree?

Mei Huan demonstrates it is also possible to do yoga in a tree.

Mei Lun demonstrates how a panda can drape decoratively in a tree.

One of the docents -- Anne, I think -- was talking to some of the guests about the various animal Wild Encounters or VIP Pass experiences that can be purchased at the zoo. These are available at a variety of price points. One of the least expensive of the animal encounters is the Aldabra Tortoise Wild Encounter, at only $35, and even a little less for ZooAtlanta members. (In contrast, meeting a tiger will set you back $100, or for $150 you can meet gorillas or Yang Yang. Lun Lun and the twins will cost you $1000, or $900 for a zoo member. And, yes, I did pause to consider it.) Anne was telling the visitors how great the tortoise encounter is. For one thing, it is the only encounter where you go in the exhibit space with the animal. For another, you get to touch the animal!
And the tortoise doesn't just tolerate being touched, but he actually likes it! You can see how Shuffles stretches his neck up and leans in to my hand.

Even with a zoo full of people, I was the only person who showed up for the tortoise encounter. Tex and Corkie were cooling off in the corner mudhole, so I got to meet Shuffles. A big thank-you to Jessy, one of the zoo staff who kindly operated my camera and took lots of great pictures! Shuffles and Corkie are amongst the longest residents at ZooAtlanta, as they arrived in 1967. Of course, they were both in a smaller, easier-to-carry size back then. Today, Shuffles weighs 450 pounds! That's more than a panda or a Sumatran tiger.

The keeper -- Wade, I think -- kindly answered my questions about tortoises. And he told me all sorts of interesting facts about them. I had no idea how interesting and unusual they are.
For example, Wade explained how tortoises' shells can keep growing to accommodate the tortoise. He pointed out the scutes, and how they grow in a way that allows the shell to get bigger.

And, of course, I got to feed Shuffles. He ate slices of sweet potato.

When you see his mouth and tongue in action, you see how bird-like he is. Then you begin to understand why evidence is mounting that the great reptiles that were dinosaurs evolved into birds. Shuffles didn't chew his food -- just bite and swallow.

If you happen to be going to the zoo and can afford $35 per person for the encounter, I definitely recommend it! For children, the size of the tortoises will be even that much more impressive. I should also point out we are experiencing utterly perfect summer weather today and more is predicted for tomorrow.

12 July 2014

Rib to I-cord

On the Common Crowd Cap, the dangles are i-cords that grow organically from the top. They transition seamlessly from the ribbing, as a tree grows out of the ground. As you can see in the video, all it takes is a simple turn of the needle.

11 July 2014

Invisible Cast On, part 2

In yesterday's video, you saw how to create the stitches. Today's video will show you how to work them off in pattern for either 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing. You can extrapolate from that for syncopated rib.

If you recall my post a few years ago about something I called scalloped cast-on, the 2x2 rib in the video is scalloped cast-on.

10 July 2014

Invisible Cast On, part 1

As I stated yesterday, the Common Crowd Cap uses invisible cast on. Today's video will show you how to get stitches cast on to your needle. Tomorrow's video will show you how to work them off in pattern.

Basically, you regard the spare circular needle as if it were a wire and create yarn overs by ducking back and forth underneath the wire.  If you have worked Cat Bordhi's Möbius cast-on, you may recognize the resemblance.

09 July 2014

Common Crowd Cap

This is one of those posts I should have done months ago. Then again, I believe I've mentioned catching up as a current theme in my life?

Last year, the STITCHES teachers were asked if we would be willing to contribute original hat patterns to Halos of Hope. I don't wear hats much, but the shaping of them isn't difficult, so I said, "Sure!" Pam Haschke, the founder of Halos of Hope, asked us, "What would you want to wear if you had lost your hair to chemotherapy?"

My answer is that I'd probably just want to fit in. Hence the name of my pattern, the Common Crowd Cap. The goal is just to keep fitting in with the common crowd. The pattern is for sale on the Halos of Hope website, along with much better pictures than the ones I took. Halos of Hope often has a booth at STITCHES events. If you happen to be attending, you can see my hat as well as a lot of much more inventive designs in person.

I made two versions. One has dangles, because I find dangles to be fun and expressive.
And one is plain.
The cast-on is essentially the scalloped cast-on, but now worked in the proper pattern for syncopated rib. The dangles are formed by a little trick that allows the wales of ribbing to transition seamlessly into i-cord. Videos to follow over the next three days.

27 June 2014

Not According to Plan

My theme for 2014 is: Catch up from 2013.

I'm also in the middle of Things Not Going As Planned. I was supposed to be visiting in Pennsylvania and Maryland right now. But I am home in Georgia because my sweet, cuddly, fluffy ball of joy and love -- Vincent -- turned up lame the evening of Friday the 13th. A fortnight later, he is doing much better and so am I. It was a scary several days where he was doing the zombie shuffle with his hind legs and I didn't have a prognosis. He is on medication twice a day right now and I expect he will have follow up appointments with his veterinarian or the specialty veterinarians who performed a myelogram and MRI on him. So right now, I'm recovering from being emotionally and financially drained, but I am very grateful I still have a two feline household.

This also means I now have two unscheduled weeks in front of me. After all, I was going to be away, so I cleared my schedule. So, it is time to catch up.

Updating my Ravelry projects page and stash seemed like a good thing to catch up.

This is the Circular Stranded Baby Surprise Jacket. The pattern came out last year, and I was immediately smitten. I've made several Baby Surprise Jackets, so this looked like just more of the same but with the fun of color patterns! I bought yarn. I made a swatch so I could decide whether I wanted teal on green or green on teal and what color the bands should be. Then I cast on with the idea that I would be offering this as a class. I worked on it during the autumn, from September to November, which is a long time for me to work on something that uses less than 8 ounces of yarn. And I ended up deciding I can't teach this.

a swatch for auditioning color combinations
Part of the problem is the steeks. Clearly, I am going to need more practice. This is the second time I have attempted a crocheted steek, and it is the second time I have had problems with said crochet chain pulling off and leaving the cut yarn ends dangling in the breeze. Jenna the Yarn Pimp tells me I should just run a steek up on a sewing machine, and I believe her.

There are a couple issues I would have even if the steeks had behaved themselves in this project. The longer steek is okay, but it ends up across the top seam in the sleeves. The extra bulk this creates is probably fine on an adult or child jacket, but I didn’t care for on the baby size. When I teach a regular baby surprise jacket, I use some careful planning to minimize the bulk in the sleeve seam. There are two other steeks, and both are small. I found them difficult to tack down, especially the steek at the collar, as it is only five rows tall. I ended up with a little tab of fabric that was sort of in the way, but not enough to sew down and weave in an end.

There are other minor issues. The color work stranding tends to show through at the cuffs. There are lots of little ends to be woven in that seem to want to pop out. Maybe all this would be less noticeable when the garment is worn? And if you do the cuff and nappy shaping, then the pattern breaks. Ugh!

If I made this again I would:
  • use a sewing machine steek if using superwash yarn
  • find an alternative to a steek for the collar and back extension
  • possibly chuck the color work & steek idea and work back and forth in double-knit
 Then again, isn't double knitting always my go-to solution?

26 June 2014

Origin Story

When I teach at shows, I am usually asked to provide a biography. In that biography, I usually mention that I learned to cross stitch at age four. My mother sat me down and taught me. I'm not sure why she decided -- maybe I showed an interest? My dad said I was too young. I didn't even yet write my own name. Well, here is the proof.
During my childhood, I tried many, many different types of needle arts including cross stitch, embroidery, crewel, bargello, hardanger, needlepoint, and canvas work. My mother, sister, and I were all in the local chapter of Embroiderers' Guild of America. Of course, now that I'm in two knitting guilds, I see how strange it is to have a minor in the guild! But as a teenager, it didn't seem strange to me at all. I was just one more female in a big group of other females who all liked stitching. My mother was always very encouraging as I tried different stitching techniques. It was a hobby that connected all the women in my family. Even when I developed separate interests from my mother, we could always discuss our latest project or a new technique we'd just learned, take a road trip to visit a shop, or just admire and encourage each other. That fearlessness about trying new techniques made it possible for me to learn knitting as an adult and to leap into designing my own projects when I barely knew what I was doing. Even when I haven't had confidence about other things in my life, I have always had confidence that given needles and thread or yarn, I retain the power to create something beautiful from raw materials.

We're in the heart of summer now, and it brings back memories of my summers visiting my maternal grandmother. I would sit and stitch during the days. I made lots of embroidered Christmas ornaments over those many summers. In the evenings, Grandma and I would play card games. Sometimes we would take a walk or go for ice cream. Most days we would go look at her vegetable garden, and maybe pick tomatoes or green peppers. We would admire the African violets on the windowsill above her kitchen sink. These are simple, inexpensive pleasures that still give me contented feelings about my grandmother. Something about the hot smell of summer nights takes me back almost four decades. When I lie in bed at night, I can remember the creaky guest bedroom at her house. And I can remember being very young and being aware I did not yet know what life would have for me.

Here I am in middle age, in the heat of another summer. There is a tomato plant in my front yard, and I eagerly monitor to see if the flowers will become fruit. There are African violets on the windowsill in my living room, that may or may not survive depending on the will of the felines. Board games continue to be an important social activity. And needle arts are the central activity in my life. My maternal grandmother was born in 1901 and lived to be more than 90, but even with that longevity, she has now been gone more than 20 years.

I also spent time with my paternal grandmother. She is still alive and over 90, but in failing health. She was less interested in embroidery, but she was an amazing seamstress. She made many (most?) of her clothes over her lifetime. I still have some of the clothes she made for me. In fact, last night I was replacing the elastic in a pink summer sundress she made for me more than 20 years ago. I still wear it, especially at Dragon*Con where I pair it with a tapestry bodice.

Last summer my paternal grandmother gave me her sewing furniture. These are cabinets and a stool my dad built for her in the early 1970s. They definitely show signs of use, of the hours and hours my grandmother took pleasure in crafting clothes for herself and those she loved. I've put a piece of Plexiglass across the cabinet with the sewing machine. My computer sits on it, but I can see my grandmother's sewing machine resting just beneath the plastic. I sit on the stool where she sat. My class handouts are in the drawers where she stored her sewing patterns. When I weave cloth or see a couture garment, I immediately think of her.

My home has touches of needle arts in almost every room. A quilt here. A counted cross-stitch picture there. A handwoven dish towel in the kitchen. My first cross-stitch project in the guest bedroom. In spite of the distance of miles and years, I am quietly surrounded by the familial love in the cabinets my dad built for his mom, and in all those stitches by the women whose genes I share.

02 June 2014


I get so caught up in stunt knitting that I sometimes forget simplicity is often the secret to good design. And so it has been with Scrawling.

This is a scribble lace shawl I worked up last summer. It is one of the few fiber things that was started, worked upon, and completed during the personal mayhem of 2013. I had made a scribble lace years ago when I taught for Purly Gates. My recollection was the project was fairly quick and fun. And the finished fabric was like knitted Silly Putty -- highly malleable. Scrawling started with Esther Rodgers' "Corespinning for Fun and Function" class at STITCHES South 2013. The art batt was lovely, and the corespun yarn was fabulous. You'll recall I made this skein:
I liked the skein so much, I decided to wanted to use it in a project right away so I could show it off. But I'm not usually a fan of bulky knits or projects made with only corespun. And the skein was only 73 m/80 yards long. Handspun art yarns are like high-quality spices. You don't make a whole meal out of a spice; rather, the spice makes a whole lot of something else interesting enough to eat. The scribble lace came to mind. And for some reason, I decided rather than work a plain scribble lace, I'd throw in a little feather and fan to make the whole thing move.
My initial vision was to purchase green silk, but I ended up with Louet Euroflax sport linen instead. The important part is you want a thin and possibly drapey yarn for the base. Because the linen has no elasticity, I used larger needle tips for the knit rows (size 10mm/US 15) and smaller tips (size 9mm/US 13) for the purl rows. And because I cast on lengthwise, I used my Denise circular needle.

The finished shawl/wrap is about 250cm/100 inches long. So I could have cast on about half as many stitches. On the other hand, I wear it wrapped twice around my shoulders, and the extra volume doesn't seem to hurt the look.

I finished the shawl in June of last year. But somehow, I just didn't get a picture of me wearing it. While I can set up the camera on a tripod, I just didn't get to it. But I got lots of compliments on the shawl. I even wore it in the fashion show at TKGA in October. And when I wore it at STITCHES South this year, it got attention. Esther asked me to please put the pattern up on Ravelry. When I saw Cuddly Hubby in May, I made getting a good picture a priority. After a number of tries, this is what we got:
So, thank you to Esther for poking me on this and to the Cuddly Hubby for working the camera. The pattern is available for download on Ravelry. I've even sold a couple copies already!

31 May 2014

Why We Take Classes

I mentioned the Leicester longwool in the post about Maryland Sheep and Wool. I have an upcoming swirl jacket class at The Whole Nine Yarns. I've worn my first swirl jacket a lot. I thought that this time when I teach the class, it would be fun for me to make myself another.

I'm also trying to knit from stash because, really, I do not need more yarn. The problem, of course, is that one doesn't need more yarn, but the next project in the queue seems not to match any of the yarn in the stash. Why is that?

With some consideration, I did decided I could make my jacket using two handspun yarns already in my stash.

#1 Blue-tiful:
 #2 Louet Northern Lights:
I also decided it would be fun to have a trim of long locks around the outer edge of the jacket. Fortunately, I took Esther Rodger's "Tailspinning" class at STITCHES South this year. And I took Merike Saarniit's "Microwave Rainbow Dyeing" class last year. So I know a little bit about how to dye protein fiber and how to tailspin yarn.

I started with one ounce of the Leicester longwool purchased from the Rivendell Farm booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I went through the bag and arranged all the locks with tips facing in one direction and butts in the other. I also used the opportunity to clean up the fiber, shake out any vegetable matter, pull off any stray wool, etcetera.
I let the locks soak overnight in water with the juice of a couple lemons. I was going to dye them outdoors in the sun, but I hadn't checked the weather report and the next day was overcast, cool, and rainy. So I had to do the dyeing indoors. I drained off the water. All the locks were laid out nicely in two rows in an inexpensive recyclable aluminum roasting pan. I put all the cut ends down the middle of the pan and all the tip ends facing to the edges. Then I mixed up three colors of Jaquard acid dyes with just a little bit of water. On the cut ends I used 623 Brilliant Blue. On the middle of the locks I used 624 Turquoise. And on the tips I used 628 Chartreuse. Because this method uses so little water, I just drizzled the dye out of the cups and on to the fiber.
Locks with dye just poured on them.
Using my gloved hands, I then squished the wool a little to be sure the dye covered all the locks and to encourage the colors to mingle. Remember, the locks were already damp.
Locks with dye mixed from squishing.
I ended up having to heat the locks on the stovetop instead of using solar power outdoors. (Yes, I did turn the exhaust fan on high and opened both kitchen windows.) Unfortunately, I scorched a few of the locks. But it all worked out okay.
Are those beautiful or what?

I rinsed the locks and allowed them to dry for a day or two. Before spinning, I used a mini-card to flick the cut ends open, so the wool was nice and poof-y and ready to grab. I had spun up a couple plies from the leftover blue base I used for Blue-tiful. I tailspun the dyed Leicester longwool locks as I created the two-ply core. It took me about 3 to 4 hours to tailspin the locks into yarn. I used the time to catch up on some of the television I recorded while I was away. I finished the yarn with two iterations of a few minutes in the steamer followed by a cold shock plunge into ice water. Then I let the yarn hang, slightly weighted, in the guest bathroom to dry.

The result:
This is only four yards of yarn. I later worked up the other one-ounce bag but only got two yards of yarn out of it. I notice Esther sells five yards of tailspun for about $100. Those of you who don't spin may wonder why the price. Really, $100 for a yarn that takes this much time (both dyeing and spinning), is a bargain.

Or, you can just take classes and have the joy of doing it yourself. Which is why we take classes.

28 May 2014

Fast Finish

In the midst of teaching at three shows in four weeks, I decided to cast on the Six Point Tee by Cathy Carron from the current issue (spring/summer 2014) of Knit.Wear magazine. I had been doing a lot of writing handouts and knitting swatches for classes. I really needed a quick knitting pick-me-up project. I also wanted something fairly mindless that I could work on at Unwind. I wasn't planning on purchasing Knit.Wear, but I did my due diligence by thumbing through the pages when it arrived at the shop.

The Six Point Tee has a couple things going for it that intrigued me. I was pretty sure the styling and sleeves would be flattering on my small-busted figure. The top-down modified raglan construction looked like an interesting knit. Instead of establishing four double-increase lines, you establish four double-increase lines and two lines that increase only one stitch every-other round. I altered the pattern so those lines also became double-increase lines, but every fourth round. Unlike a normal raglan cast-on, the neck opening is not rectangular. Instead, it is basically a slit with the tops of the sleeves meeting at the center front and back of the neck. The shaping grows the sleeve a little, but it grows the front and back of the garment from a starting point of zero.

I've been on a yarn diet for a long time. I really am trying to knit from stash. In this case, I had six skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy that were purchased in Wisconsin in the summer of 2009. The pattern is written at a gauge of 3 stitches per inch. Hempathy is meant for 6 stitches per inch. So I simply cast on twice the recommended number. If the pattern said, "Increase until you have 100 stitches," then I increased until I had 200 stitches. As it turned out, I didn't even need four skeins, much less all six.

In addition to changing the gauge and the central increase lines, I also changed the increase lines in the hem. After joining the body in the round, you work double decreases at the side seams to shape the waist. That worked fine. But the corresponding double increases to shape the hips flared more than I liked. I finished the top and wore it at Maryland Sheep and Wool. But then the following week I ripped it back to the waist. I took out four rounds at the waist to make it just a bit shorter -- the original length hit me at exactly the widest part of my hips. I reknit the bottom but with the increases spaced out so that the flare is spread across all the garment, rather than concentrated at the sides.

I cast on during Easter Sunday and finished by early May. All in all, a quick and satisfying knit.

25 May 2014

And What Have I Been Doing? part 2

Yarn Graffiti courtesy of Central Maryland Knitting Guild
From Unwind I headed north to visit my husband at his Maryland man cave. This was a brief intermission, as I taught at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

Thursday evening was the teacher banquet. I already knew Beth Brown-Reinsel would be there, and it is always a delight to see her. But I didn't realize also in attendance would be Maggie Casey, Sarah Anderson, and Deborah Robson. It was all I could do to pull myself together and behave like a professional knitting teacher and not like a fan girl. (By the way, Sarah showed off an amazing piece of fabric she wove that had the stretch and elasticity of knitting or even spandex. And someone had a fleece that was black at the cut end and white at the tips. The animal had changed color completely in one year!)

I thought I knew a little about what to expect from Maryland Sheep and Wool. After all, I've been to Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair a few times. I knew MDS&W was about 10 times bigger -- 50,000 to 100,000 in attendance instead of 5,000 to 10,000. I had no idea.

First off, everybody is there. Everybody. A sampling:
The Mannings. Susan's Fiber Shop. The Spanish Peacock. Signature Needle Arts. Wild Fibers Magazine. Yarn Barn of Kansas. Woolee Winder. Cooperative Press. Green Mountain Spinnery. Miss Babs. Carolina Homespun. Cherry Tree Hill. Gale's Art. Bosworth Spindles.

You get the idea. The shopping is phenomenal. Of course, I was busy teaching five classes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it kept me from spending the tax refund.

In addition to the vendors, there is an enormous amount to do. You could take classes. (This will staunch the cash bleed for three hours.) Or watch the sheepdog demonstrations. Or watch the fiber art demonstrations. (Want to see someone spin directly from the rabbit?) Or check out the skein and garment competition. Or attend the auction. (There's that financial drain again. But if you can get a table loom for $50, how can you resist such a deal!?) Or observe the live animals. Or touch and purchase a fleece. Or watch a sheering demonstration. Or attend the spin in. Or listen to live music. Or try the lamb kebobs with a side of French artichoke.

Again, you get the idea.

I did have one fiber objective -- acquire long locks to tailspin for an upcoming knit, swirl jacket. I was able to find a little time to scurry around the festival. Rivendell Farm from Lancaster, Pennsylvania had a few bags of 7-inch Leicester longwool longs. I purchased two 1-ounce bags for a whopping $6 + tax.
Long locks that stretch to seven inches.
The teaching experience was great. The festival put all the teachers up in their own rooms at Turf Valley resort. My room had a lovely view of the golf course. This also meant my husband was able to come up and join me on Saturday evening. And my classes were mostly populated with clever, resourceful knitters. The whole weekend was a delight. As the festival is only an hour's drive from my mother's house, I foresee a future in which I mysteriously need to be in the Mid-Atlantic states each year for Beltane.

24 May 2014

And What Have I Been Doing? part 1

I knew the spring was going to be very busy. It was. Now I'm back home in Atlanta and enjoying the transition from spring to summer. Extra rain and the unusual cooler-than-normal weather means the region is lush and green. The screen porch is ready for regular habitation. And the used knitter's cats seem very happy to see me.

The last weekend of April I was up in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, to teach at Unwind retreat. I believe this was the fourth year for Unwind. Nancy Shroyer of Nancy's Knit Knacks and Sue Homewood do a fantastic job organizing this event.

Unlike a major show, this is a retreat. The whole group stays at the Meadowbrook Inn. There are four teaching slots -- morning and afternoon on Saturday, and morning and afternoon on Sunday. Students sign up for three classes. And teachers teach three classes. Everyone has one free period to just explore the town, soak in the hot tub, hike the mountains, eat ice cream and chocolate for lunch, or just knit or nap. Everyone, even the teachers, leaves with a door prize. Breakfast on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday is included, as is dinner on Saturday and Sunday. There are also extra activities. For example, the last two years Miss Babs' studio about an hour away has been open on Friday so people could stop in and efficiently convert tax refund money into gorgeous hand-dyed yarn. This year an alpaca farm about half an hour away was open for tours. In the evenings there might be a presentation, fashion show, or stash swap. All in all, it is a great weekend, especially if you are someone who does not like noise and crowds. There isn't a market, but the very good local yarn shop Unwound is right on Main Street in Blowing Rock. Nancy and Sue have already announced next year's dates of 10-13 April. Since they only invite four teachers and I've taught two years sequentially, I don't expect to be teaching next year. But with the future of STITCHES South still indeterminate, I hope some of the Southerners will think about Unwind as a lower-stress alternative.
There were a number of excellent items in the Unwind goodie bags this year. There were aromatic votive candles from a local candle maker. There was a wraps per inch tool from Nancy's Knit Knacks. Handy for me, as the one I have resides in the spinning bag. Now I have one in the knitting bag, too. Probably the most popular item was a skein of sock yarn hand dyed by Nancy and Sue. There were two different colorways and I happened to get the purple Mountain Majesty, see above. Others got a bright green Spring on the Mountain colorway. And I purchased the book Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden from Unwound. And, yes, I did eat ice cream for lunch one day. But I had a dang fine cream of crab soup the next day; which raises the question, "Why do I know where to get great crab soup on a mountain in North Carolina, but not where to get it in the lowlands of southern Maryland?"

Tomorrow: On to Maryland!

14 April 2014

STITCHES South 2014

This was a somewhat different STITCHES South for me, and not just because of the new venue. I taught two classes this time, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. There were some knitting classes that intrigued me, but they were opposite when I was teaching. So I ended up taking only one class -- Tailspinning with Esther Rodgers.

For that class, I wore the scribble lace I made last summer using the corespun yarn I made last year in Esther's corespinning class. I was surprised by how much people seemed to like that shawl. It isn't complicated knitting. It is an important reminder to me that sometimes simple really is better, especially if the materials are of high quality.

This year, I learned three different ways to tailspin yarn. I'm thinking about making another swirl jacket, but this time with my own handspun from my stash. I may acquire some locks from Jazzturtle so I can have some crazy fringe fun around the edge. As always, if you have the opportunity to take spinning classes from Esther, do. Her enthusiasm for fiber is infectious, and her pacing is perfect. Even if you feel you are an all-thumbs spinner, Esther can help you make beautiful yarn that honors the fiber.
Left to right: Wensleydale wool, Mohair goat, Teeswater wool, Suri alpaca
As far as I can tell, my teaching mostly went well. I used a projector and camera set up for the first time, and that seemed good. However, that set-up was borrowed, so now I need to think about what equipment I ought to acquire. Time to invest in myself. One student did rightly realize I should have stressed that the shawl class was about triangular shaped shawls. I am truly sorry I missed emphasizing that in the description; and I must not have had the photograph of three triangles linked properly. When I think of a shawl, I immediately think of a triangle. It just didn't occur to me that others think of rectangles or circles, and that's my own blind spot. Mea culpa.

I did do a little bit of damage in the market. One nice thing about the Georgia International Convention Center is the parking is quite close to the market. It was easy to make some purchases, go stash them in the car, and then come in and make more. I generally try to hunt rather than gather, but it isn't always easy. Yarn Barn of Kansas has to show up with the books, including more Japanese patterns and stitch dictionaries I can't get from anyone here in town. Carolina Homespun came this year, bearing spinning and weaving supplies. She had three of the first four issues of Ply magazine. And thank you to my friend Marilyn who spotted the Lunatic Fringe weaving kits in the booth.
As you can see, these are twelve bright colors that I like to think will be fabulous no matter how they are woven. I have quite a bit of teaching coming up during the next three weeks, but I am thinking that about mid-May it will be time to get out the 8-shaft loom and play!

The rest of the stash enhancement consists of a skein of sock yarn from Knitting Notions so I can finally do the Carolyn Jacket I bought in the North Georgia Knitting Guild auction in 2009. I also gained a skein of lovely Cascade Yarns Forest Hills lace in a brilliant turquoise. It is a silk-wool blend, already wound in a ball and ready to go, with 785 yards on the put-up. Unless I'm working something too dense like garter, this should be a one-ball shawl.

There were some new vendors in the market, in addition to old favorites. I did not buy any dichroic glass buttons, only because I don't currently have a sweater waiting for buttons. But I hope Mitchell Larsen Studio will come back next year, because I now want to knit a cardigan just so I have an excuse for glass buttons!

I did purchase a lovely wooden lucet from cabinetmaker Stephen Willette. He and his wife were all the way here from New Hampshire, partly for the show and partly to drop their son off to hike the Appalachian Trail. I don't know if they will come again. The wood tool is truly a thing of beauty. A lucet is used to make a braid with a square cross section. The braids can be delicate cords, but they can also be large and curled into a spiral to make a rug! I am thinking the very large white alpaca fleece that is probably too coarse for clothing could become a thing of beauty and usefulness with this little tool. Plus, there is a sort of magic about this ancient trick on two prongs.