31 December 2017

Rounding Out 2017

I realize I've been rather un-chatty the last few months. So, what has been happening?

The autumn knitting did not all go according to plan. I started off with a plan to have a new class on short rows. Gabi suggested I pick a good project to sell the class, so I chose "Dreambird KAL" by Nadita Swings. There are over 3000 of these on Ravelry. It is a popular pattern, and I figured I would just knock mine out over Dragon*Con weekend. Well, it turns out this is not the easiest pattern to follow. There are a couple places in the pattern where people are making tweaks. I think I started and ripped this thing three or four times before I finally figured out what I liked. The pattern is worked in feather-like sections I call a "quill." Each quill typically took 2-4 hours for me to knit, depending on how much I concentrated and whether I made a mistake and had to rip back. My shawl has 21 quills. But, the final project is flattering.

In the end, I completed re-wrote the pattern. When I read the comments on Ravelry, I am not the only person who has done this. I did teach the class once and have it on the schedule again in 2018. And I think several people have purchased yarn for this pattern but aren't taking the class, so the sample has been good for the shop. I like to think that in the long run, the hassle will be worth it because this class will be popular and recurring. We shall see.

Then I eagerly dove into a circle jacket in reversible lace. I spent a lot of time swatching to figure out the math for center-out reversible lace. I like to think I'll post that when I'm ready to post the jacket. If you took a class from me at SAFF, then you probably heard about this because I was bubbling with joy and enthusiasm and pleased with myself. I worked happily from the center out. Then I placed armholes on waste yarn and worked a couple more inches. Then I opened the holes, picked up for both sleeves, and started working sleeves two at a time. After about a dozen rounds, I decided I should have worked short-row sleeve caps. So I've needed to tink both sleeves. I am kicking myself, as if I had just tinked one round a day, I would have been done a month ago. And I am concerned that the four skeins I have won't be enough yarn, or that I will need to make some other adjustments so I have a circle jacket rather than a circle trench coat. But the yarn is gorgeous and working up beautifully (sorry, no photos, yet). When I find where I left my mojo, I'll pick it back up.

Then there has been the travel. If 2016 was the year of little travel, 2017 has been the year of lots. And this is in spite of the fact that Cuddly Hubby and I talked about a trip to Paris over the end-of-year holiday but didn't do it, as neither of us had time to plan it. The end of year went something like this:
Thanksgiving weekend
Weekend at Cincinnati Regional Gathering (great party only 8 hours away)
Weekend of major snowstorm (another tree limb across the driveway)
Weekend in Washington D.C. and Maryland (Vermeer at National Gallery = two thumbs up)
Christmas weekend
New Year's weekend

And there were other crafting distractions. I had some colored cotton on the spinning wheel. Please don't throw me out of Georgia for writing this, but I have to admit that spinning cotton is not my favorite. It took me from July to December to spin 128 yards of 2-ply cotton. I paid a whopping $1.10 for the 28 grams of cotton at the Smoky Mountain Spinnery fire sale earlier this year. So this was really more about learning and practicing. It started out like this:

Notice the warm caramel color. When I finished the yarn, I boiled it in washing soda to deepen the color. I ended up with this:

It is a little more root beer-colored. The brown darkened and the warm tones lessened. On the plus side, the spinning wheel is now free for other experiments. I did a combo spin — spinning bits of fiber from different hand-dyed braids — when I was demonstrating spinning at the Mableton Storytelling Festival in October. I haven't posted a picture of that skein yet, as I plan to finish a few more and post the group. Unlike the cotton, that was a very satisfying skein. Special thanks to Jillian Moreno for her video 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top. I would not have had the courage to try a combo spin if I hadn't seen her beautiful results.

And for some reason, the snowy weekend inspired me to finally put a warp on my loom. Checking the receipts, I purchased the yarn in spring 2014. I had even done a sample warp to test the pattern. Again, no pictures yet, as I plan to post more about this later. Let's just say I'm doing a snowflake twill on 8 shafts. I have watched Laura Fry's essential reference The Efficient Weaver video multiple times. Thank goodness I have both taken her class and purchased the video. However, I think Laura is a warp whisperer. She'll do something in two minutes on the video that takes me fifteen or thirty. And the number of mistakes I have made is humbling. Threading errors. Sleying errors. Crossing threads. Thank goodness I had one overall rule — never surrender the cross. (For you non-weavers, that's the spot in the wound warp where threads cross each other. It prevents threads from moving out of order.) But, after much perseverance, I believe I am almost ready to weave the pattern. I think everything is threaded and sleyed correctly. I've woven a couple inches in plain weave in a thinner thread so I can fold over the hem. I even took the time to hemstitch the beginning. Now I just need to figure out from my 1000-day-old-notes which one of the five treadings I wove is the one I want to weave and exactly which treadling and tie-up that was. This is a moment when I must trust my younger self.

Then again, for some reason my younger self in a moment of optimistic ambition put "1×1 Wonders" in the proposals for South Carolina Knit Inn 2018. I have been toying with creating this new class and I have notes about what I want to teach in it. Well, it got accepted. In fact, the class is full. So I'd better have a new handout and class ready to go the first weekend of February. Towards that purpose I've knocked out a quick version of "Twisted" from Lynne Barr's marvelous Knitting New Scarves. The yarn is about half a Caron Cakes from Michael's.

Notice the three-dimensional form.

And, while the whole thing looks like stockinette, it is actually a combination of stockinette in the round and 1×1 ribbing. Since reversible lace is based on ribbing, I am trying to develop a series of related classes that would make a good unit to teach at a weekend festival. While I am a little time-crunched right now, I will be glad later that I put this class together. And South Carolina Knit Inn is my once-a-year opportunity to test drive a new class.

And, sometime this month, this blog turned 10 years old. Thank you for following me through a full decade of fiber experiments. Back when I started this blog, I hadn't done any spinning, weaving, dyeing, or felting. I wasn't even on Ravelry. Tomorrow, I will have to choose among multiple fiber crafts as I decide whether to watch college football, the Harry Potter marathon on HBO, or a backlog of curling. Wishing everyone a happy crafting start to 2018!

24 November 2017

Is Faux Bohus Trendy?

Ah, yes, today is Black Friday. Perhaps you, too, have discovered your inbox and mailbox overflows with catalogues and coupons.

I was flipping through the J. Jill catalogue on the way to the recycle bin when I discovered this:

It is a bit Bonus-like, don't you think?

At first, I wondered if the similarity was coincidence. Then I read the description: "Shimmering Fair Isle Pullover."

If you are familiar with Bohus sweaters, then you know "Blue Shimmer" and "Pale Shimmer" are famous patterns. This J. Jill sweater also bears similarities to "The Large Lace Collar" and "Large Swan."

This is definitely a modern take. It is tricky to see, but the pattern does incorporate beads. Some of the rounds incorporate fuzzy yarn. In typical Bohus patterns, the shimmering effect is created by subtle color changes from round to round. In this machine-knit version, the effect is created with a textured yarn.

I'm a bit biased. I don't think this is as spectacular as a true Bohus. On the other hand, if you don't care to purchase a kit from AngoraGarnet and take the time to knit it up on 2mm/US size 0 needles, or spend even more money and effort to find a real vintage Bohus; then this may be a quick way to get a Bohus-ish fix.

22 October 2017

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

First off, I can't take credit for the picture. I found this on the Etsy store WandererWoods. This is someone making beautiful oversized crochet hooks and other wooden items, including kitchen utensils. The shop is listed as out of Kamyanets-Podilsky, Ukraine. I have no doubt the goods are lovely. I think this picture is beautifully photographed. However, as someone who both knits and crochets, there is something glaringly wrong about this picture (and others in this Etsy shop).

Answer: The pink fabric is knit not crochet.

I'm not trying to be mean about this. One of the things Center for Knit and Crochet has noticed is how much confusion there is between the two crafts. A lot of time, this doesn't matter. Does a non-crafter care if the scarf is knit or crochet as long as the scarf is warm? But for those of us who may want to write about these crafts, or even conduct scholarship, this confusion is maddening! And here we have the peculiar example of a wood worker who is making crochet hooks but does not know how to use one. Perhaps someone will be kind enough to make him a piece of crochet fabric?

20 October 2017

If It Is Japanese, Can It Be Baroque Or Rococo?

While there are immigrant communities in the Atlanta area, I don't think of Atlanta as a focus of the Japanese expatriate community. When I've traveled to the West Coast, I've been more likely to encounter Japanese knitting magazines, stitch dictionaries, and pattern books in yarn shops than I would here on the East Coast. When STITCHES South was still a regular event, I would acquire a new Japanese stitch dictionary each year, typically from Yarn Barn of Kansas. Eventually, I discovered there are some Japanese book sellers on Amazon.

So, you might imagine my delight several months ago when I encountered a pre-order opportunity for this:
I'm used to dealing with these books entirely in Japanese. This one is translated by Gayle Roehm. I've taken a couple classes from Gayle, (see posts here and here) mostly in how to read Japanese charts and how to do some of the unusual maneuvers required. When I think of Japanese culture, I think of commitment to very high standards of craftsmanship. Japanese knitters do not disappoint. Hitomi Shida is a master.

The book is over 100 pages of complex knitting. I don't know whether to describe these designs as Baroque or Rococo. Many involve twisted stitches, wrapped stitches, cables, lace, and even bobbles.
Here's an example, stitch pattern #81 from page 50:
The pattern employs lace and traveling cables, as well as embroidery and beads. The roses are so dainty and feminine!

At the beginning of the book, pages 7 though 17 have a thorough table of symbols and their meanings. I'm used to seeing this sort of thing in Japanese stitch dictionaries. Since this book is translated into English, I can actually read the descriptions of how to work the unusual stitches. If you have other Japanese stitch dictionaries, you might want this one just for these few translated pages.

Patterns are generally grouped in chapters. If you are interested in designing your own patterns, "Pattern Arrangements" beginning on page 88 shows patterns in pairs where motifs have been altered to create new but related patterns. Sometimes this is as simple as shifting a motif so it falls on the half-drop, but other times this involves pairing it with new motifs, adding bobbles, or changing other elements. I've seen other Japanese books where this is used to good effect, such as in a twin set where the cardigan and shell are more interesting together as they have related but not identical patterns.

For most of the book, photographs of the swatches are shown next to their corresponding charts. The chapters at the back on "Round Yokes" and "Edgings," however, have the photographs grouped into chapters and the corresponding charts at the back of the book. I would have preferred to pair the photographs and charts so as to avoid all the flipping around. However, this is a minor quibble.

I don't pre-order a lot of knitting books, as I usually prefer to browse a book before adding it to my library. However, Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible by Hitomi Shida, translated with an introduction by Gayle Roehm, did not disappoint. If you have any interest in Japanese knitting, this would be a fine addition to your library.

29 September 2017

F is for Fickle Felting Failure

First off, I had a wonderful time at Georgia FiberFest a couple weeks ago. There are some swatches I want to make related to the classes I took from Franklin Habit and Galina Khmeleva. With luck, I'll blog about that in October.

In the meantime, let's talk about an epic fail!

Back in July, I decided I wanted to make a felted bag for storing my Majacraft flyers. My mother purchased the high-speed head for me for my birthday. (Thank you, Mom!) While it took a few months for it to arrive, it was worth it. But I realized I now have 6 flyers (not including the jumbo-sized Overdrive). Once upon a time, my spinning bag was the right size. But now, all those helpful accessories don't fit. I decided to make a felted bag to keep my flyers safe and unscratched.

I purchased 6 skeins of Patons North America Classic Wool Roving. This is a nice bulky yarn that will felt when thrown into the washing machine. It isn't too expensive. With coupon, the materials cost came out around $40. I used a US size 13/ 9.0mm needle from my Denise Interchangeable Needle set and worked in 1×1 ribbing. I chose 1×1 ribbing because I knew I could pick up in the ribs to subdivide the interior into separate sections. I also figured the 1×1 ribbing would create a dense fabric when felted.

I started by working a section of 1×1 ribbing 14 inches wide by 10 inches high for the bottom of the bag. Using Gwen Bortner’s encasement method, I picked up stitches on all four sides and worked in the round until the sides were about 9 inches tall. At that point, I seamlessly inserted the dividers using a combination of techniques from TECHknitter, Marilyn Hastings, and Rick Mondragon. Both TECHknitter and Marilyn Hastings use a rib for picking up when making a zipper placket. I used a version of Rick Mondragon's sliding loop intarsia technique to knit up the dividers seamlessly. If you want to see more, here's the video. I was very, very pleased with myself for being so clever. As you can see in the video, the panel joins don't even show on the outside of the bag.

After I completed the interior panels, I bound off three of the four top edges. I worked a rectangle just four stitches/two pairs wider and a little longer than the 14×10-inch bag bottom. I picked up around three sides and worked back-and-forth to make a lip. I finished by making cord ties using a lucet.

By now you may be noticing that one of the things I did not do was make a large swatch, measure, throw it in the washing machine, and measure again. When you do not offer a sacrifice to the goddesses of knitting and felting, sometimes they will not smile upon your enterprise.

 Exhibit #1: Seamless bag, before felting, exterior.

Exhibit #2: Seamless bag, before felting, interior.
Plastic bags lightly tacked with dental floss to prevent the interior spaces from felting together.

Exhibit #3: Felted disaster!

Not sure what to say about this. :-/

The thing that is most peculiar to me is how the dividers did not full the same as the short sides of the bag, even though they were all worked in 1×1 ribbing in the same direction and were all about 10 inches wide by 9 inches tall. Now they are the same height, but not the same length. And that height is shocking — from 9 inches before fulling to about 4 inches, so more than 50%. This means the bag is not tall enough for the flyers. The short sides of the bag exterior shrank from 10 inches to about 7 inches. But the interior dividing panels did not shrink as much horizontally, so now they ruffle. I did try running this through the wash again without the plastic resists — thinking the dividing panels just needed more fulling. Nope — not the solution.

Notice the lid shrank more than the bottom of the bag. That 10×14 bottom is now about 7×12, but the lid is only 6.5×9 even though the lid started out slightly larger! Again, same stitch pattern, same yarn, same needles, same technique. And the lid is now somehow off-center.

I'm really not sure what to do with this. It has been sitting in time-out for the last two months. Do I cut it up? Do I throw it in the compost pile? Do I tack the ruffled dividers together to form a sort of egg-carton pattern and use the bag to store something else (not sure what)? Do I give the thing a good soak and see if it will stretch and reshape? Do I attack it with the multi-pronged felting needle? Do I find a bonfire?

What have I learned?
1×1 ribbing shrinks vertically but not horizontally.
Hubris is bad.
I don't know nearly enough about fulling knitting.

Of course, I still don't have a nice bag for my Majacraft flyers! I haven't decided if I want to try this experiment again (maybe without the plastic bag resists?) or if I should make a bag in 1×1 ribbing but don't full it?

And off topic — yes, this is photographed in the same spot on my shiny new front porch. In the before images, I hadn't done any painting. In the more recent image the wood is white due to the primer. I'm not quite to the point of painting.

29 August 2017

Update from the Controlled Chaos

It has been a very busy month around here, and there's more coming.

The recent past:
out-of-state trip for Mom's 75th birthday
visit from 15-year-old nephew including ropes course, go karts, rafting, and indoor sky diving
trip to Gen Con
stops at Fiber Frenzy and the Woolery
eclipse in Sweetwater, Tennessee

The impending future:
Georgia FiberFest
Mensa Peachtreat 42
Game night at my house
Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair

Cuddly Hubby will be home for Dragon*Con. Also on the upside, the fall issue of Spin Off magazine just arrived at the friendly local yarn shops.

And please look down through the table of contents to page 80.

I wrote the article about eleven months ago, so this has been lurking for awhile. I had a great time writing the article and working with the friendly staff at Spin Off. This is definitely a champagne, chocolate, and flowers sort of accomplishment. If it weren't that we'll be busy with Dragon*Con, I would have a special dinner scheduled when Cuddly Hubby is home.

If you would like to duplicate my color experiment but don't want to dye your own fiber, I noticed when I visited that The Woolery has dyed fiber in neon colors as well as standard yellow, magenta, and cyan. In particular, they have Corriedale top here and Merino top here. And they carry Spin Off magazine. You can call them at 800-441-9665, too.

There are also fiber activities coming up:

Lisa Klakulak is speaking at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance on Friday 1 September at 6 PM. Lisa is an amazing felt artist who has traveled the world for inspiration.

Keith Leonard is teaching classes on blocking, finishing, mistake-fixing, and brioche at Yarn and Y'all in Greenville SC on Thursday 21 through Sunday 24 September. Keith is a professional finisher who has taught at Vogue Knitting Live! in New York.

Eat.Sleep.Knit is now settled into their new home at 1060 Cedarcrest Road, Dallas, GA 30132 (770) 432-9277. They share a parking lot with a daycare center, so look for the daycare sign. Knit night is 4-7 PM on Thursdays, perfect for those weeks between guild meetings.

And a reminder, Georgia FiberFest is less than a fortnight away on 7-9 September! If you want to attend the banquet, be sure to register by Friday 1 September. I'm signed up for a class with Franklin Habit and another with Galina Khmeleva. STITCHES South appears to be hibernating for the foreseeable future. If we want a fiber festival in our own state, then please encourage the organizers and participants by attending the party. Of course, we're also dividing the cake into rather thin slices with Beth Brown-Reinsel at Yarn Rhapsody and Edie Eckman at South Carolina Knitting Guild that same weekend.

And Atlanta Knitting Guild has Marly Bird in October. She will be the speaker at our Thursday 5 October meeting and then teach classes Friday through Sunday. Reminder that early bird pricing ends Thursday 31 August.

Out beyond the horizon —
Registration has already opened for Kanuga Knitting & Quilting Retreat, which runs Thursday 11 January through Sunday 14 January 2018. I'll be teaching the knit swirl jacket, but there are several other knitting teachers. You can choose to immerse yourself in lace, socks, colorwork, or clever technique hacks.

Fiber Frenzy in Berea, Kentucky hosts their Pins and Needles Retreat the first weekend of February (the same weekend as South Carolina Knit Inn). Depending on where you live, it may be easier to go to Kentucky than South Carolina on Friday 2 February through Sunday 4 February 2018. Planning for Knit Inn has started, but neither the class offerings nor registration are announced. If you are a Southeastern knitter, then you'll be hoping for good travel weather the first weekend of February.

26 July 2017

Knitted Coral

I've continued experimentation with the Y increase and hyperbolic knitting.

In this case, I started with 8 pairs in the round. I alternated one round 1×1 ribbing, one round Y increase in every pair of stitches (thus doubling). I started with 8 pairs and bound off with 512 pairs. The yarn is Lily Sugar 'n Cream kitchen cotton — sturdy, inexpensive, easy-care yarn that comes in a 2½ ounce/120 yard put-up. Some stores also carry it in a 14 ounce cone.

I would love to make a very large hyperbolic poof. I think it would be interesting to be able to fall into one, as if it were some strange hyperbolic version of a bean bag chair. Here is the problem:

Powers of 2
  21  =  2
  22  =  4
  23  =  8
  24  =  16
  25  =  32
  26  =  64
  27  =  128
  28  =  256
  29  =  512
210  =  1,024
211  =  2,048
212  =  4,096
213  =  8,192
214  =  16,384
215  =  32,768
216  =  65,536
217  =  131,072
218  =  262,144
219  =  524,288
220  =  1,048,576
221  =  2,097,152
222  =  4,194,304
223  =  8,388,608
224  =  16,777,216
225  =  33,554,432
226  =  67,108,864
227  =  134,217,728
228  =  268,435,456
229  =  536,870,912
230  =  1,073,741,824
231  =  2,147,483,648
232  =  4,294,967,296
233  =  8,589,934,592
234  =  17,179,869,184
235  =  34,359,738,368
236  =  68,719,476,736
237  =  137,438,953,472
238  =  274,877,906,944
239  =  549,755,813,888
240  =  1,099,511,627,776

This is where imagination bashes up against the laws of physics. You hit the million mark on the 20th increase round, billion mark on the 30th, and the trillionth on the 40th. There are 63,360 inches in a mile. If you got four stitches to the inch, then 253,440 stitches in a mile. That means that at the 20th increase round, you need 4 miles of cables, double-pointed needles, or whatever it is you are using to hold the live stitches. Crocheters do not have this problem. On the other hand, I like the greater drape of the knitted fabric. Crochet is stiffer.

My poof is just under 4 inches radius/8 inches diameter. It is 14 rounds tall: cast on round, 12 rounds pattern, one bind-off round. The next increase round + plain round will take about one skein of yarn. The pair of rounds after that will take about 2 skeins. I might be able to get to around 216 = 65,536. I've made a blanket with 80,000 stitches and a fine-gauge reversible lace scarf with 75,000. So I might be able to make a poof about 16 inches in diameter that weighs roughly 20 pounds (assuming 5 ounces of yarn gets me roughly 2000 stitches). This gives you a sense of why ruffles are a sign of conspicuous consumption. They devour yardage!

Another way of looking at this is that every time you increase, you are committing yourself to using as much yarn as you have already used in the whole rest of the project. I stopped at 512 stitches, which was a little over a full skein. If I had increased again, I would have needed a full skein of yarn just for that increase row and its corresponding plain row. So another approach is to weigh yarn, cast on, and when you have only about half left, bring the project to an end.

If I am understanding this form correctly, the center is the least dense. If I had started with one pair, the form would progress from a point to a cone to a hyperbolic pseudosphere. Since I started at 8 stitches in the round, the center is a circle that becomes a hyperbolic pseudosphere. Although the form ruffles around to fill up three-dimensional space, the edge gets longer and heavier and packs in faster than the radius grows. I am thinking that at some point, the mass of the fabric becomes a well-packed ball. In my example above, can you really crush 20 pounds of kitchen cotton into a 16-inch sphere? It is that packing problem that makes me think to comprehend the form fully, you need to keep knitting.

Of course, another approach is to add even more plain rows between the increase rows. This would allow the diameter to grow more quickly. But if you want one with an 18-inch radius/36 inch diameter, you are still looking at a massive project. (What I would really love is one with a 6- to 8- foot diameter, where I could touch it and interact with it.) Then again, maybe just commit to knitting 50 pounds of kitchen cotton into a hyperbolic beanbag chair and queue up streaming Netflix?

I must admit I've had a fascination with powers of two since I was very young. I can remember learning to multiple at school. Second or third grade, maybe? We had a big green blackboard with yellow chalk in the basement play room at home. I sat on the floor and multiplied by two over and over again until I filled up the blackboard. I was fascinated. And here, decades later, I am still enthralled.

13 July 2017

Many Choices

I know right now is summer, filled with summertime distractions. But, there are knitting distractions coming up in the calendar.

This Saturday 15 July is North Georgia Knitting Guild's annual Beat the Heat Retreat in Woodstock. This is a day of knitting camaraderie with workshops, activities, food, and just general socializing.

The next weekend on Sunday 23 July is Christmas in July at The Whole Nine Yarns. This is the annual day to acquire lots of gift-appropriate patterns. Many of us who teach at the shop will be there to demonstrate the techniques, too.

Intown Quilters in Decatur is bringing Patty Lyons for a weekend of teaching Friday 18 August through Sunday 20 August. Classes are:
Friday night lecture: Oops, I Accidentally Knit a Dress (Tales of Lies, Heartbreak and Denial)
Saturday classes: Finishing Seams Simple & Best Buttonholes
Sunday classes: Secrets to Spectacular Sweater Success & Knitting ER Tragedy & Treatments

The September calendar overflows.
Yarn Rhapsody in Gainesville has scheduled Beth Brown-Reinsel for the weekend of September 9 & 10. Beth is a specialist in traditional knitting techniques. If you love classic Old World mittens, gloves, and sweaters, give the shop a call. Classes are Latvian Wristers on Friday morning, Introduction to Twined Knitting on Friday afternoon, and Top-Down Aran Cardigan all day Saturday.

The same weekend is Georgia FiberFest in Columbus. The festival runs Thursday 7 September through Saturday 9 September. (Hint: You could attend the festival and still squeeze in a class with Beth on Sunday.) This year Georgia FiberFest has put the spotlight on knitting. The headliner is Franklin Habit. Also attending is Russian lace expert Galina Khmeleva.

Franklin's classes:
Thursday afternoon: Knitted Tesselations: Playful and Powerful Patterns in Practice
Friday morning: Embroider Your Knitting: Level One
Friday afternoon: Garter Party: Garter Stitch Gone Wild (with Special Guest I-Cord)
Saturday morning: Introduction to the History, Methods, and Styles of Lace Knitting
Saturday afternoon: Now You See It, Now You Don't: Shadow Knitting

Galina's classes:
Friday day all day: The Fundamentals of Orenburg Knitted Lace
Saturday morning: Spinning the Orenburg Way
Saturday mid-day: Plying Orenburg Style

I am also on the schedule with two of my favorite classes:
Friday afternoon: Oops! Now What Do I Do?
Saturday mid-day: Now How Do I Finish?

And there's always Varian Brandon:
Friday morning: Converting Flat to In the Round
Friday afternoon: Using Steek Stitches

If Varian's steek class weren't opposite my mistake-fixing class, I would already be signed up.

If you are north of the city — specifically all the way in South Carolina — then that same weekend South Carolina Knitting Guild is bringing in Edie Eckman. In this case, classes are Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Classes are:
Saturday morning: Go Bi-Textural: Combine Knitting and Crochet
Saturday afternoon: Mix It Up Miters
Sunday morning: Where do they Get Those Numbers? (or Math for Knitters)
Sunday afternoon: 5 Knit Buttonholes You Need to Know Now
Monday morning: From Start to Finish: Finishing Techniques

And then we get to October:

You can sign up for those classes here.

Marly's classes are also the same week as Spinzilla, which starts at 00:01 on Monday 2 October and runs through 23:59 on Sunday 8 October. Doh!

And at the end of October is Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. This year's dates are Friday 27 October through Sunday 29 October plus an extra day on Thursday for workshops. As usual, this show is a bounty of workshops, shopping, competitions, demonstrations, and sweet animals. It is, however, a longer drive from Atlanta than Georgia FiberFest. Of course, if you don't want to drive, you can sign up for Yarn Rhapsody's Saturday bus trip to SAFF.

My classes include:
Thursday: Conquering Kitchener and Brioche Rosetta Stone
Friday: Liberating the Labyrinth, Sonic Boom Möbius Cowl, and Italian Perfection
Saturday: Modular Mystique and Small Rounds + Two at a Time
Sunday: Daring Double Cables and When to Combination Knit

So, if you have been thinking it is time to learn something new, there is plenty of opportunity!

03 July 2017

Initial Experiments with the Y Increase

A couple months back, I posted a video showing how to work the k-yo-k increase in reversible lace. I mentioned that one of the interesting things about reversible lace is you can knit into the same stitch twice. Each "stitch" is actually a knit-purl pair. You can knit, purl, then back up and knit again, then purl again.

I've tentatively named this a Y increase because it is one stitch that splits into two stitches. When I sketch it out as a stitch chart or stitch map, it looks like a Y.

I've begun experimenting with this increase.

One of my plans for reversible lace is to turn circular shawls into swirl jackets. Circular shawls are fabulous lace projects. But how do you wear them? For so many people, the first thing you do is fold the shawl in half. When worked reversibly, you could insert sleeves and have a swirl jacket instead. I decided to test the idea with a teddy bear jacket.

It turns out that an 8-section polygon was a little hyperbolic. The 7-section design worked better. I suspect 6-sections will also work. In fact, I might need to make some swatches in 5, 6, 7, and 8 sections to see clearly what happens. For this project, I increased every-other round. The increases alternated between double yarn-overs and Y increases. For an even number of pairs on a section edge, I used the double yarn-overs because even numbers have a center gap. For an odd number of pairs on a section edge, I used the Y increase because odd numbers have a central pair.

Christmas in July is coming up on Sunday 23 July at The Whole Nine Yarns. As typical, I am contributing a pattern.

If you crochet, you may recognize this as a basic crochet hyperbolic plane. Stitches are doubled every-other round by working a Y increase into every stitch. The one on the left is five rounds tall and worked with the sample of Cedar Hill Farm Journey I received in my goodie bag at the Yarn film showing. The one on the right is seven rounds tall and worked from a Madelinetosh Unicorn Tail.

Those of you who follow knitting minutiae may notice they don't have the same bind-off. On the left I've simply bound off in pattern. On the right, I've worked Japanese three-needle bind-off (flat three-needle bind-off). A plain in-pattern bind-off is easier and faster and also a little more ruffled. The three-needle bind-off is cleaner and more structured. Both work.

If you have admired the crocheted coral reef projects but don't crochet, now you can knit your coral reef instead if you work in 1×1 ribbing and use the Y increase. As per my usual practice, I'll hold the pattern back for a couple months before posting it on Ravelry. If you want it sooner, you'll need to attend Christmas in July. This would also make a fine shower poof if worked in dishcloth cotton.

11 June 2017

Persistent and Stubborn

It all started with cleaning out the stash.

After I acquired significant new stash at the fire sale, I needed to put it all away. I do have a wall of not one but two Ikea 5×5 cubbies. That's 50 cubbies! (By the way, while you can fit two of these flat-packed into a 2007 Honda fit along with yourself and a 6'2" cuddly hubby, it is maybe not the best idea. Re-roll that Wisdom check.) Revisiting the stash reminded me of dreamed-about projects yet unrealized. And I needed to use up yarn and fiber so I could make more room. There were six skeins of Noro Kureyon Big, a bulky-weight yarn. I knew I wanted them to become an up-sized Jester Tentacles Bag. As that looked like a quick way to generate open storage space, I gleefully cast on.

I had made a previous Jester Tentacles Bag that turned out too small to be useful. This time, I changed the math a little from what Cat Bordhi wrote:
MCO 70 90 becomes 140 180
     k 75 95
   wy 25 35
     k 5 (unchanged)
   wy 35 45

I worked the möbius cast-on. I made the strap. I made the interior bag at the same size as the outer bag in the original pattern. I worked three of the eight tentacles. And by this point, I had used up 4½ skeins. I began to suspect I might need another skein. I ripped and re-knit the strap so it used less yarn. I asked five different people on Ravelry if they could spare, sell, or trade any Kureyon Big. No luck. I let the project languish in time out for a month. Then one day, I decided just to go for it! I finished the remaining five tentacles and knit towards the bottom. As expected, I came up short.

Since I am a spinner, I decided to try making my own matching yarn.

I started by scanning Kureyon Big at 12,800 dots per inch (the picture below is about 0.2 inch/0.5cm diameter). What looked like purple and black at normal magnification looked like this instead:
If you read my post last summer about optical illusions in spinning, then you know a little about optical mixing. Part of why Noro colors are so beautiful is because they are optically mixed. When magnified, dark purple and blue-black become bright green, fuchsia, purple, violet, and aqua. This is also part of the joy of spinning. Many yarns are dyed after they become yarn. When you dye fiber and then blend, you get the complex color beauty of optical mixing.

I decided to use a freebie merino fleece to mimic Noro. Please add "recalcitrant" to a long list of reasons this was a free fleece. I even tried letting the dye baths soak overnight, but the color would … not … take. Finally, I gave the already-scoured fiber a rinse in Dawn dish washing liquid. I put about 5 grams of fiber in each jar, added dye bath and a splash of white vinegar, and set the jars in a large pot with water. I brought the water up to a simmer and let it stew for an hour, similar to what you would do for canning. That worked. I got the fiber to take the color.

But even with the dye taking and some play with mixing different colors,  I still couldn't quite get a color match. And I began to worry that my handspun wouldn't felt at the same rate as Noro.

Finally, in a fit of pique and frustration, I decided to search the Internet. Surely there would be some Noro Kureyon Big out there somewhere.

No. No, not so much.

But, there were some Noro products on Webs. They had something called Noro Rainbow Roll, which is basically Noro pencil roving. Ah, ha! Except, it didn't come in the colors I needed. Phooey! But they also had Noro Kureyon Air. Kureyon Air is a super-bulky yarn rather than bulky yarn; but it came in a coordinating colorway. I purchased one skein.

When the yarn arrived, I took it to my Majacraft Rose wheel and, using the slowest whorl (4.25:1) and a large (plying) bobbin, I deconstructed the yarn. It divided into two pairs.

This looked suspiciously like barely-twisted pencil roving. Using the same whorl, I ran the pairs of roving back through the wheel, this time twisting to hold it together. There was a lot of editing to maintain the gradient by breaking off and rejoining back and forth between the two separate sources. But in the end, I had transformed a 2×2 cable yarn into a 2-ply yarn. I ended up with 210 yards.

At that point, it was easy to finish the knitting by simply working round and round to the bottom. I used dental floss to tie in plastic bags resists (to keep the tentacle pockets from felting closed). Then it was just a matter of throwing the whole floppy purple octopus-thing through the wash.

The bottom of the bag looks a little different — the colorways weren't identical. But I think it looks like an intended design feature, rather than a mistake. And I am pleased with the size. The largest tentacle took an entire skein of yarn. It is, however, large enough to accommodate my favorite no-spill travel mug. And other tentacles will accommodate a cell phone or wallet.

03 June 2017

Binding Off at a Point

In the Kennesaw Kudzu pattern, each multiple of pattern is worked back and forth and decreased to a point. This shaping creates the pretty leaf edging. But it does raise questions of how to deal with those final two stitches and where to hide the tail when you are out at land's end?

To graft that final knit-purl pair, start with “wrong” side facing:
  • plunge a blunt tapestry needle into the base of the final stitch
leaving needle in place, pull tail up and out
  • poke eye of tapestry needle from purl side to knit side of penultimate stitch
thread tail in eye of tapestry needle
pull needle to bring tail through penultimate stitch and to re-complete final stitch.

I prefer to duplicate stitch ends. In this case, I don't have any horizontal fabric that I can use for duplicate stitch. Plan B is hiding the ends vertically. Identify a knit wale and thread the tail down through a vertical column of stitch legs. This isn't my favorite way to deal with an end, but it will work in a pinch.

02 June 2017

Center-Out Cast-On for Reversible Lace

The Kennesaw Kudzu socks and hat both start with a center-out cast-on. This is a combination of Gwen Bortner's encasement pick-up and a typical center-out cast-on.

  • Wrap the tail counterclockwise in a circle twice.

  • Knit into the center of the circle.

  • Yarn over.

  • One pair completed.

  • Repeat as many times as needed.

  • Pull tail gently but firmly to close hole.

In addition to the hat and the toe-up socks, this cast-on would be useful to work a circular shawl in reversible lace.

01 June 2017

Kennesaw Kudzu Pattern

I said I would blog more about my winning entries at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

One of the entries was a hat. This was the winner in category K14: Miscellaneous knit from commercial yarn.

The design started out as socks.

For the sock pattern, I decided to investigate just how stretchy reversible lace is. Socks normally have a heel turn. For some sock knitters, this is part of the fun. You work in the round for awhile, sometimes in pattern, then you have the excitement of a heel turn, then you work in the round some more. For others, this is exactly why they don't knit socks. For many people, working in the round without increases or decreases is perfect television knitting. Paying attention to a heel turn is not. And of course, there are multiple ways of dealing with heel turns. So many choices! So many options to like or dislike.

While I typically enjoy the challenge of a good heel turn, I sometimes don't like the design options. If I'm working a pretty lace pattern, there is the challenge of marrying the pattern with the heel turn. There is, of course, the option of working tube socks. Many people do not like tube socks because they don't fit well. After all, there is a right-angle turn where a foot and a leg meet. Making a sock without that turn means the sock and the foot don't match in shape. But knitting also stretches. Recall my post about negative ease. The reason socks are knit rather than sewn — and have been for hundreds of years — is because knit fabric can more easily take on the shape of the underlying body than woven fabric can.

Reversible lace can stretch a lot. This means socks, hats, or other garments can stretch to fit a variety of sizes. In this case, reversible lace stretches enough that you can knit a tube sock. Once the lace pattern is established, you don't need to interrupt it to turn the heel. If you are unconvinced or just uncomfortable with the idea, I did include instructions to increase and decrease in pattern if you would like more fabric in the heel. You can also use the increase instructions if you are making knee-high socks and want more room for shapely calves.

The socks were worked toe up. I like this type of construction, because I can work until I run out of yarn and minimize waste. I loved the leaf pattern, but I realized when I was about to bind off that simply stopping at the end of the repeat would cut a row of leaves in half. I wanted to emphasize the leaves. It took a couple days of swatching, but I was able to figure out how to bind off each multiple of pattern individually by working back and forth to continue each leaf. Yes, this meant more ends to weave in. I feel the effect is worth it. The edging was so pretty on the socks, I knew I had to try it on a hat.

The hat is worked from the same pattern and chart as the socks. The only difference is in the first few setup rows, number of multiples of pattern, and gauge. I've named the pattern Kennesaw Kudzu. "Kudzu" because in the south what else would a pattern of leaves spreading everywhere be? "Kennesaw" is the name of a mountain here in Cobb County, remembered as the site of a Civil War battle.

In both projects, I've used regionally-sourced yarn. The socks are Fiber Charmer Shangri-La. Fiber Charmer is a local dyer based here in Atlanta. The hat is Tale Spun Yarns Heavy Sport. Tale Spun Yarns are sourced and dyed in Tennessee and carried by Smoky Mountain Spinnery.

As per my usual practice, over the next few days I will post video support for this pattern.

29 May 2017

A Double Increase and Another Knitting Heresy

I made another reversible lace video. This time, I'm demonstrating the knit, yarn over, knit into the same stitch double increase.

In reversible lace, you'll substitute knit-purl, double yarn over, then knit and purl again in the same stitch pair. The maneuver is a little fiddly, but it does get easier with practice.
  • Knit 1, paying attention to where the left shoulder of the mother knit stitch is.
  • Purl, but do not drop the mother purl stitch off the left needle.
  • Bring the left needle tip up behind and into the shoulder of the mother knit stitch.
  • Double yarn over.
  • Put the right needle in "through the back of the loop" position and knit the shoulder.
  • Purl again, but this time drop the old stitch off the left needle.

Working out how to do this maneuver made me realize it may indeed be possible to knit into the same stitch twice! Heresy!

In normal knitting, you can't work the same stitch twice. In the video, I show you how this doesn't work. Specialty stitches such as bobbles, nupps, and star stitches use knit, yarn over, knit — or even longer strings of alternating knits and yarn overs — to generate multiple stitches from one stitch. But in reversible lace, each stitch is a knit-purl pair. You can knit, purl, then back up and knit again without creating the intervening yarn over, and purl. It does not violate the laws of three-dimensional reality to do this multiple times.

I have hardly begun to explore the possibilities! In addition to having a new way of creating specialty stitches, it might be possible to mimic some crochet stitches. In crochet, you can work into the same stitch multiple times. There are some maneuvers crocheters do that knitters do not do. But, those might be possible in reversible lace.

17 May 2017

Good Weekend at Maryland Sheep and Wool

This year, I was able to attend the 44th annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. As many of you know, I have a very lovable cat with health issues that curtailed my travel in 2016. While Vincent is not fabulous this year, he appears to be more or less stable. It was with some trepidation that I penciled a couple weeks at the Maryland man cave into my schedule.

Time with the Cuddly Hubby was well-spent. He has made geek friends that he sees usually two or three nights a week. Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) fell on the group's usual Thursday game night. It was an all-out Star Wars party with decorations (including a Princess Leia cardboard standee) and appropriate games including Trivial Pursuit DVD: Star Wars Saga Edition. The competition between both teams was tight. I think next year we want a rematch using Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars Classic Trilogy Collector's Edition instead. I brought Star Wars chocolates. Michelle brought Wookiee cookies — gingerbread cookies decorated with bandoliers and fork impressions to imitate fur. There were other nights of team trivia at the local pub, more games, and about a dozen people attending the opening night of Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2.

I was delighted to be able to attend Maryland Sheep and Wool with my dear friend from Center for Knit and Crochet, Jennifer Lindsay. I must admit we did not provide much adult supervision for each other. In addition to being president of CKC, Jennifer curated the Twist: The Art of Spinning by Hand exhibition I participated in last autumn. This meant that walking through the show with Jennifer was great fun, as she was able to introduce me to many people from the spinning world. Together we did a lot of shopping and admiring. And we bought some fleeces (more about mine in another post later).

The highlight for me was that I decided to participate in the Skein and Garment show. In order to get the submissions into the show, I sent them through the mail. It is anxiety-inducing to put carefully-crafted items into the mail and send them 700 miles away, trusting they will arrive okay. They did. And the exercise was worth the anxiety:

The knitting part of the competition has 16 categories, about half of which require handspun yarn. Items also must have been completed since last year's show. The Rainbow Zing scarf received a blue ribbon (1st place) in category K04 — Scarves knit from handspun yarn. The Kennesaw Kudzu hat was in category K14 — Miscellaneous knit from commercial yarn. And the Assiduous scarf was in category K10 — Scarves knit from commercial yarn. And somehow I haven't blogged about any of these projects!

The rainbow scarf is made from the optically-blended yarn I made last summer. An article about that yarn will be in the summer issue of Spin-Off magazine. The pattern is a simplified version of Za-Zing, which was last year's Georgia FiberFest knit-along. Assiduous is a hat and scarf set worked in lace weight yarn. The hat is Kennesaw Kudzu, a sock pattern with a bonus hat pattern that I haven't even published yet.

The irony here is both of the blue ribbon winners took me less than a week to make. I knocked out the hat in five days back in January. And the rainbow scarf was my Dragon*Con project last year. The white scarf took about 6 weeks and around 75,000 stitches on a size US 2/ 2.75mm needle.

I truly did not expect to win any ribbons. The Skein and Garment show at Maryland Sheep and Wool has lots of very good entries. There is always someone who submits an incredible beaded lace shawl. And I really did not expect to win ribbons for smaller projects. The hat didn't even use a full skein of yarn, for crying out loud! I just wanted to get the reversible lace technique in front of more eyes.

As with so many things in life, just showing up and making an attempt is the first step.

17 April 2017

What Was I Thinking?

The game master asks, "Are you sure you want to do that?"

This is a running joke between Cuddly Hubby and me. Cuddly Hubby is a benevolent role-playing game master. He is not trying to get the player characters into mortal danger. Danger, yes, as that is part of the game. But he wants everyone to have a good time. Having your 12th-level elf cleric bludgeoned to death in two rounds by a hill giant does not a happy gaming session make. If a player is about to make a decision that is maybe not the smartest thing to do, Cuddly Hubby will ask, "Are you sure you want to do that?"

Sometimes life needs a little pop up to say, "Are you sure you want to do that?" (I also need an iPhone app to say, "Don't listen to the Garmin! That way lies traffic madness.")

Back in October, I decided to spin a pound of lace weight yarn. I spun all during Spinzilla. I took a bit of a break going into the holidays. Then I heard there were people trying to spin for fifteen minutes every day in 2017. I liked that idea. That would be a way to make steady progress and keep up the spinning mojo. So that's what I did. I spun for at least fifteen minutes every day, except the couple weekends when I was away teaching. I did this through January. I did this through February. And I did this through March.

A pound of lace weight yarn on a Majacraft overdrive head.
At the end of March I finally finished the yarn. It took more than an hour just to wind it off the bobbin and up onto the swift, and that was with my super-nice Strauch free-standing swift. The skein is so large I could only soak it, rather than finish it in the steamer. It took three hours to wind it into a ball. If my measurements are correct, this is about 1½ miles/2.4 km of yarn, or about 3 miles/4.8 km of singles. Yes, this is almost the 5K of spinning.

My thought was to make a reversible lace circle jacket. Reversible lace takes twice as much yarn, hence my interest in having a whole pound of fiber rather than merely eight ounces. This is so fine I am wondering if I would be better off putting it on the loom instead? Or I could just go for a giant circle shawl after all. There's enough yardage to be sure it is big and spectacular.

After I finished it, I took about a week off from spinning. Now I'm on to another project. But I must ask of you, dear readers and friends; if I ever say, "I think I'll spin lace weight from a pound of fiber," please, please, please look me straight in the eyes and ask, "Are you sure you want to do that?"

21 March 2017

Last Call

I just happened to pick today to drive out to Robinson Salvage. I've been visiting about every-other week since January as the pile evaporated but the savings deepened. Apparently, today was the day the remaining stash was marked to 90% off.

That's the first pile. Some yarn, a few books, some spinning add-ins. Lots of cotton.

The second pile is all Mountain Colors. When you mark $21.95 down by 90%, that's only $2.20 a pop. This pile was about $50. I must say, I was surprised these didn't go faster. Then again, there are fewer spinners. It isn't surprising that the spinning fiber didn't move as fast as the yarn.

In between January and today, I purchased a whole breed study and enough silk-wool blend to make an entire sweater. Over the course of the sale, I think I purchased around 4 or 5 grocery-cart fulls. I have more than doubled the spinning fiber stash. If you see me at a fiber festival this year and I attempt to purchase any yarn or fiber, please redirect me to the nearest ladies' restroom and splash cool water in my face until I snap out of the hypnotic trace induced by wool fumes and hand-dyed colorways. I can't even rationalize a fleece, as I have an amazing one I purchased last year at SAFF. If I were on the board of one of the guilds, I would have been tempted to scoop up the pile of Ashford scarf kits at $2 a pop, as I think they would make nice door prizes.

By the way, at least some of this will probably be gifted to friends. This is truly an embarrassment of riches.

16 March 2017

Reversible Lace Double Decrease

Several months ago, I posted a video of how to work the centered double decrease in reversible lace. I finally got around to shooting a video for how to work a regular double decrease in reversible lace.

For the double decrease, the center stitch is on the bottom of the stack. Unlike a centered double decrease, a double decrease tends to break up the vertical line. While this is a subtle distinction, it can make a difference in lace patterns where uninterrupted wales are part of the design.

knit-wise, right stitch on top (leans left) =
  • slip 1 stitch knit-wise
  • knit 2 stitches together
  • pass the slipped stitch over

purl-wise, right stitch on top (leans left) =
  • slip 2 stitches together knit-wise
  • slip 1 knit-wise
  • return all 3 stitches to the left needle
  • purl all 3 stitches together up through the back of the loop

knit-wise, left stitch on top (leans right) =
  • slip 1 knit-wise
  • slip 1 knit-wise again
  • return 2 stitches to left needle/cable needle through the back of the loop
  • knit all 3 together

purl-wise, left stitch on top (leans right) =
  • slip stitch #1 purl-wise
  • reorder next two stitches:
  •     put right needle behind stitch #2 and into stitch #3
  •     remove left needle so stitch #2 is loose
  •     replace left needle in stitch #2 but not stitch #3
  •     return stitch #3 to left needle
  • return stitch #1 to left needle
  • purl all 3 together

Reversibility and symmetry can be peculiar. Either knit decrease can be paired with either purl decrease. Depending which you choose, you may get identical reversibility or mirrored reversibility. When designing on your own or converting patterns, be sure to swatch to confirm you are getting the intended result.

01 March 2017


Now that Yarn is over, I've shifted focus to what is happening in my own home. I spent the last week or so organizing the stash. This required two trips to Ikea. I'm not completely finished, but I have corralled most of the yarn, fiber, and craft supplies (including the beads) into one room. This involved moving some stash out of the master bedroom. I don't even remember why there was stash there, other than it must have been when I first started knitting, since most of it was very old stash. In the process of doing that, I discovered moth damage.

The basket isn't even in my Ravelry projects, as it was executed B.R. (before Ravelry). It is also B.B. (before blog). The pattern is Entrelac Tote by Melanie Smith marked "Revised 10/25/2005." It was probably in the very first order I ever made from Knit Picks. I recall it being a very fun knit that I worked up almost immediately. In fact, it was so much fun that I ordered 2 more skeins of spruce, 2 more skeins of hollyberry, and 1 more skein of cloud and knit a second tote. Note to yarn sellers: If you offer a pattern where I can easily make two by buying a little more yarn, please let me know. I'd rather knit it twice than add a big pile of partial skeins to the stash. And you might sell me more yarn!

I improvised on the second tote by making the narrow stripes at top and bottom as waves. Interestingly, they pulled in more when felted giving the tote a vase-like outline rather than the rounded basket shape. I also hid a small pocket behind every other diamond in the entrelac. I twisted the large i-cord handles around each other to give a braided effect. And I made a multi-twist möbius edging at the top. What was I thinking? Maybe I was going to use this as a knitting tote? I even used up the last little bits of yarn by making some "Five-Star Flowers" from Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers (New York: Sixth & Spring Books 2006), page 100. (Long time readers will remember I've used the "Buttercup" from this book to cover a hole in a woven bamboo bag.) And I added a couple tendrils because, clearly, this variant should be labeled, "More is more, dang it!"

The moths had munched on the felted totes, especially the first one. Fortunately, they are felted. I took the first bag and ran it through the wash, thinking more felting would ameliorate the problem. Instead, a piece of the bag bottom disappeared. That would make the tote less-functional, wouldn't it? Sigh.

To the stash!

I have a box of half a fleece of freebie merino wool that is too fine for spinning. If you tug on it, it sounds like Rice Krispies. Snap, crackle, pop! It has lots of nepps and noils. If I were to make batts on the drum carder, it would make a very textured yarn. However, there is no such thing a bad fiber. If all else fails, it can be used as stuffing. This wool has turned out to be very useful for felting. While it takes some time to prepare (picking out all those little short bits), most of the time when I am needle felting I only need a small amount of wool. Fifteen minutes of picking isn't all that onerous.

I needed to dye the wool. I got out my Jacquard acid dyes and my set of samples. I was hoping there would be an obvious match. No such luck. Color 631 Teal seemed like the obvious choice, but it was a little too green. In the end, I started the dye process with a bath of teal. After an hour I added some 621 Sapphire Blue. After that cooked for awhile I finished off with more teal. As you can see, the dye struck the wool with quite a bit of variegation. It looks a lot like Malabrigo. Very, very pretty.

To make the patch, I got out my felting needles. The variegation was a tremendous help. There were parts that were too green, parts that were too blue, and parts that were about right. If the wool had taken the dye evenly throughout, it would have been an all-or-nothing outcome in terms of whether the color matched. Because there was variegation, I was able to use mini-combs to blend color. In the end, I got enough fiber that was a close enough match.

I spent about an hour needle felting. Ta-da!

Not a perfect match, but not obvious.

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!