20 December 2018

Update Your 2019 Calendar

Update: Since I've signed the contract for Blue Ridge Fiber Festival, I've added that information.

There are a lot of fiber arts gatherings coming up in 2019. Many of them have just opened for registration or are about to open for registration. Here's a rundown.

Kanuga Knitting and Quilting Retreat, Hendersonville NC, Thursday through Sunday 17-20 January 2019. This retreat at the Episcopalian campground is a great way to de-stress after the holidays. Accommodations are in cabins or at the inn. All meals are served in the cafeteria. The long weekend is an opportunity to make progress on a project. Knitting instructors include:
Boykin Exum teaching beginning knitting.
Master Knitter Heather Storta teaching an Estonian lace shawl.
Mimi Kezer teaching sliding loop entrelac.
Varian Brandon teaching a colorwork hat.
I'll be teaching a versa lace scarf.

South Carolina Knit Inn, Greenville SC, Thursday through Sunday 31 January through 3 February 2019. Many Atlantans drive up to South Carolina for this gathering where we knitters overrun the Drury hotel at exit 51. I will be teaching "Liberating the Labyrinth" on Friday afternoon and "Knit Faster with Combination Knitting" on Saturday morning. Update on 20 December 2018: Sold out!

Atlanta Knitting Guild rising star Mimi Kezer, Atlanta GA, Thursday through Sunday 7 through 10 March 2019. Mimi is an amazing soul, delightful person, and talented teacher. Classes include brioche, German short rows, increases, and knitted braids. You will learn much and enjoy the process. Registration here.

The Peach Fuzz Fiber Festival at the Treasure Hunt Antique Mall in Powder Springs GA Saturday and Sunday 9 & 10 March 2019. This new fiber festival is hosted by the Peach Fuzz Fiber Guild. You can learn more by following the link above to their Ravelry group.

Carolina Fiber Frolic, Sapphire North Carolina, Friday through Sunday, 15 through 17 March 2019. Teachers are Julie Cashin, Kathy Donovan, Kate Larson, and Heather Storta. 

Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival, Green Tree PA, Friday through Sunday, 15 through 17 March 2019. I know this one is outside our region. I'm listing it because I will be teaching. This will be my first show where I fly rather than drive. I have heard lots of amazing things about this diverse show. Classes are not yet listed on their website, but I have signed a contract to teach "1×1 Wonders," "Easy Reversible Cables," "Introduction to Versa Lace," "Knit Faster with Combination Knitting," and "Liberating the Labyrinth." I also expect to be staffing the UFO Crash Site one evening, which should be fun.

Carolina Fiber Fest, Raleigh NC, Friday and Saturday 22 & 23 March 2019. Registration is open. I am teaching "Tubular Invisible Cast-On," "Waste Not: Triangular Shawls," "Easy Reversible Cables," "Introduction to Versa Lace," "Garter Tab Beginning," "Hole Story," "Seeing Double Knitting," and "Modular Mystique." Varian Brandon will also be there teaching Fair Isle and other stranded color techniques.

Southeast Fiber Forum, Gatlinburg TN, Thursday through Sunday 4 through 7 April 2019. This show is primarily about weaving, spinning, and dyeing. It is a great get-away weekend and a chance to stay at the famous Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Smoky Mountain Spinnery is right up the street.

Unwind, Blowing Rock NC, Friday through Monday 26 through 29 April 2019. This is the wonderful retreat organized by Nancy Shroyer of Nancy's Knit Knacks. This year's teachers are Laura Barker, Mimi Kezer, Hannah Thiessen, and Jeffrey Wall. Classes are already listed. Registration opens on Sunday 4 November and tends to sell out fast (only 48 slots), so be prepared! Update on Monday 12 November 2018: Registration completely filled. If you want to attend, you'll have to wait until 2020.

Georgia Mountain Needle Arts Festival, Gilmer County Convention Center in Ellijay GA, Friday through Sunday 26-28 April 2019. This is the second year of this delightful festival.

Maryland Sheep and Wool, West Friendship MD, Saturday and Sunday 4 & 5 May 2019. Again, this huge show is maybe a little bit out of our region but well worth the travel. If you need your fix of fresh fleece, live animals, workshops, fiber arts competition, a huge market with many of your favorite vendors, and a fairground, this is your 6-month stop between last year's SAFF and the next one.

STITCHES United, Atlanta GA, Thursday through Sunday 30 May through 2 June 2019. On Saturday I'll be teaching "Brioche Rosetta Stone" and "Knit Faster with Combination Knitting." Atlanta Knitting Guild member Phyllis Bell Miller will also be teaching. It has been a few years since STITCHES was here. Cobb Galleria has changed. There's a baseball stadium just across the expressway. There's indoor skydiving up the street. There are many more restaurants. There's even a pedestrian bridge across I-285 and new express toll lanes. STITCHES has changed, too. United includes knitting but also quilting, spinning, crochet, weaving, dyeing, and designing. After the long wait, this is bound to be a fabulous show.

Blue Ridge Fiber Fest, Sparta NC, Friday and Saturday 7 & 8 June 2019. This show in only its second year includes classes and a market. It is a 6-hour drive from Atlanta, up in the mountains in North Carolina. I will be teaching "Modular Mystique," "Easy Reversible Cables," "Garter Tab Beginning," "Hole Story," "Judy's Magic Cast-On," and "Liberating the Labyrinth." Atlanta will probably be hot and sticky by early June. This show is a nice excuse to drive up to the mountains. Classes run the gamut of dyeing, weaving, braiding, knitting, tatting, and more!

17 December 2018

Crocheted Violets


I must admit, this is another of those projects that probably doesn't have enough "Wow!" factor given the amount of time.

The pattern comes from a 1989 Annie's Attic pamphlet titled "My Wild Irish Bows." As you might guess from the name, the collection of seven designs are all hair accessories worked in traditional Irish crochet motifs. The samples in the booklet were worked entirely in white size 10 crochet cotton, with the exception of one project worked in size 5 crochet cotton. I got the pamphlet at a North Georgia Knitting Guild meeting. I believe the guild library was destashing. Since this booklet is all crochet projects, it didn't really fit in.

For some reason, I looked at the project labeled "Flower Fall" and thought it looked like a spray of African violets. I decided to work it in color. I finished the little violets in short order (using a 1.65mm metal crochet hook). But then I tried the leaves and wasn't happy with the pattern as written. The project sat for a couple years. Every once in awhile I would open my crochet hook case and think I had lost the #7 metal hook. Then I would dig through the unfinished projects pile and discover the bag with the hook, pattern booklet, skeins of size 5 embroidery cotton, and pile of purple flowers.

In an effort to open up more space on the shelves, I was looking for a quick-to-finish project out of the unfinished pile. Of course, I did not realize this would not be a quick-to-finish project until after I was well into the quagmire. I ended up changing the leaves to work them in knitting on US size 0000 needles/1.25mm rather than using crochet. They are worked in versa lace, but without any yarn overs. In other words, they are worked in 1×1 ribbing. Rather than making crochet chains for the dangling leaves, I worked the cords on a hairpin lace loom, using it as if it were a lucet. This produced dangles that look good on both sides, although the ones with flowers have a definite right-side and wrong-side.

After all of the crocheting and knitting, I still needed to assemble the pieces. Just like Percy the Polar Bear, this project was very much about spending lots of time using loose ends to carefully join pieces. It probably took 3-5 hours just to attach all the flowers, and then another 3-4 hours to attach all the little yellow beads.

The final result is about 4½ inches wide by 8 inches tall. It is finished except for attaching it to a barrette or hair comb, and then weaving in the last few loose ends from the leaves. The final aesthetic result is walking a line. Is it pretty enough to wear, or will it be too kitchy?

My guess is I have probably 30-40 hours of work in this thing. But, at least it is no longer taking up space on the shelf. And it has improved my appreciation for Irish crochet. To anyone who is thinking about making one of these for a formal affair such as a prom or wedding, give yourself plenty of time. You probably don't want to commit to making a bunch of them for the bridesmaids.

01 December 2018

'Tis the Season

As stated previously, 2018 was a surprisingly unproductive year. I can't really explain why it was so unproductive, other than a lot of travel and the Mensa regional gathering. I've been looking around the house at stacks of unread textile books and magazines as well as unfinished (or unstarted) projects. I was looking for something small and quick to get me back into the groove.

I purchased issue #138/October 2015 of Simply Knitting magazine when I was at Unwind back in April. There was a silent auction to benefit a local charity. I think I bid $1. Nobody bid against me. The magazine came with the yarn pack to make a cute little knitted holiday polar bear.

The pattern is by Alan Dart, who is well-known in the United Kingdom for exactly this type of knitting pattern. He has many, many patterns for cute little knitted people and animals as well as a fan group on Ravelry. If you have a large stash of scraps, Mr. Dart's pattern oeuvre could be just the thing to clear out the bin of mini-skeins. I should give you fair warning, however. While the knitting is technically, rather quick, the finishing is not. If you are looking for an opportunity to practice sewing seams, this is a great project. If you would rather knit mindlessly, look elsewhere.

I must admit to changing the pattern. All the pieces are written for flat back-and-forth knitting which is then seamed. Mr. Dart does kindly include a one-stitch seam allowance. In many cases, this meant eliminating two stitches when converting a piece from flat to in-the-round. For example, I worked each ear as 10 stitches in the round rather than 12 stitches flat. There were seams in strange placed. For example, the pattern has a seam down the middle of the foot. I changed this by casting-on using Judy's magic and working outward in the round for the black paw pad and then up the leg in cream. I also worked the arms in the round, but this meant having to deal with garter stitch in the round at the cuff trim and working the paw pads in circular modular intarsia.

I eliminated some sewing. Since the legs are worked sole upwards, I plunged the live stitches through the bear body and bound them off inside the bear. The arms are worked in the other direction, which meant picking up stitches through the bear body. The ears were supposed to be attached to the hood. Instead, I picked them up through the head, worked in the round (adding an extra round of height) and then bound off using Kitchener grafting. I combined the hood and the trim piece on the front of the jacket. This meant for some unorthodox knitting, including a provisional cast-on for only part of the element as well as stitches in both directions that needed to be plunged into the jacket and bound off inside. And I added holes in the hood so the ears can peek through as well as joining the hood at back with Kitchener grafting rather than an obvious seam. The advantage of all the picking up and plunging down is that the arms and legs are attached very firmly. I like to think this is a toy that is not coming apart easily.

The embroidery, picking up, plunging down, converting from flat to in-the-round, vertical lifelines, grafting, and just the generally small-ish size made the project fairly fiddly. It was definitely not a mindless while-I-watch-television project. I think I'd prefer a pattern where the whole bear is worked as one piece with a mattress stitch seam at the back to accommodate stuffing. Even the size is a little odd. At 6½ inches/16 cm tall, the bear is definitely too big and heavy to be an ornament, but it is a little small to cuddle. I guess it is the perfect size to tuck on a shelf where it can mark the spot where Dickens' A Christmas Carol should reside.

The final bear is cute. I stuffed him with cotton lint leftover from medicine bottles. There are several people on Ravelry who have worked this pattern with a fuzzy novelty yarn for the jacket trim, and that's a very successful choice I would embrace if working the pattern again. There's also a lady who made two, working a red skirt for the second bear so as to have a Mrs. Santa version. I've finished my bear just in time for the holiday season.