Friday, December 31, 2010

A white Christmas and a knitty New Year

We awoke to a snowy white Christmas here. A big, quilt-like blanket of fluff covered everything. The temperature hovered just above 32-degrees, so we were lucky that there was minimal ice—a good thing for the inexperienced, (non-Yankee) drivers around here.
I enjoyed making several hand-knit Christmas gifts this year. To match last year's scarf, the DH got a hand knit hat to fit his 25" head (yep, it's that big). And other family members received cowl-and-mitt sets (picture taken pre-snow).
The mitts are my own pattern in which I modify the top center to coordinate with the cowl's stitch pattern. The raspberry set (left) is 100% wool and inspired by the "True Brit" Ponchette from Cathy Caron's book, Cowl Girls. The turquoise cowl is a variation of the "Nitid Cowl" by Sarah Fama in Interweave Knits "Holiday Gifts" 2010 issue made with a wool and bamboo blend yarn. For this cowl, I used the tubular ribbed cast-on method that I teach in my Knitting II classes. A fun technique!
This lace wrap is a Stephen West pattern called "Collonade." Be sure you check out the picture of it laying flat on as the photo of it on the model might be confusing when you start to knit.

So, I hope all you yarny, fiber arts fanatics had a great Christmas and either gave or received some wonderful hand-made items. These are the best kinds of gifts to give or receive. (Yarn, knitting and quilting tools, or books about yarn, knitting, quilting and fiber arts are great, too!)

<-- The neighbor kids made this snow person and put a Tennessee orange baseball cap on its head. If it had more of a neck, it could wear a knit gaiter... otherwise, a scarf.

Here's a great book for knitted gaiter inspiration:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quilting for others warms the heart

Two of my friends from the Choo Choo Quilters quilt guild and I dropped off 9 bed size quilts at the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter yesterday. With temperatures in Chattanooga getting down below freezing this week, they were a welcome gift to teenage residents of the shelter.

My guild accepted the request for twin-size bed quilts for the teenage residents a few months ago. The Choo Choo Quilters have been long-time supporters of this community organization through the guild's Cuddle Quilt program, an outreach program in which guild members make lap-size children's quilts for the day care children. We became aware of the older teenage residents only recently, but the guild members stepped up and met the need. Nine twin size quilts, approximately 65" x 90" in size, were delivered for immediate distribution to the teenage residents. The Assistant Director of Volunteer Services said that the quilts are so appreciated and very much needed.

'Tis the season where it is better to give than to receive. It is our hope that these quilts will warm both heart and body.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Classic Elite yarn sampling

A squishy envelope arrived in the mail today from Classic Elite Yarn. It was in response to their "Love Your Shop" giveaway.
The pattern book is filled with a nice variety of projects—several that suit my tastes. The three yarn samples included: Giselle (purple), a kid mohair/wool /nylon blend; Allegoro (moss green), an organic/linen blend; and Inca Alpaca (grey), of 100% baby alpaca. Just enough to whet your knitting whistle.

Thanks for a taste test, CEY! The giveaway ends December 15.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My very own Mary Poppins bag

I've served as President of the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild for the past two years. At our guild's holiday lunch this year, the members surprised me with this beautiful lime green Namaste (pronounced nahm-a-stay) bag as a "Thank You" gift. What a cool bag (and a most appreciated gift)! They got it at YLS, R and M Yarns. It has inside and outside pockets, zippered compartments, an inside divider, magnetic closures, handles, a detachable shoulder strap, and it can hold aaalll kinds of yarny and fiber arts stuff!
I brought my new treasure to my Lace Knitting class to show my students. With all the yarn, knitting, and accessories that was packed inside, they called it my "Mary Poppins" bag. How appropriate! It's "practically perfect in every way," wouldn't you say? Remember when Mary shows up at the Banks' household and unpacks her carpet bag? Out comes a myriad of things, including a potted plant. Here's what's packed inside my bag:
1. the pattern for my WIP (work-in-progress) cabled shrug;
2. an inspirational hank of hand-spun alpaca yarn from fellow Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild member, Susan Darling, of My Little Darlings Alpaca Farm;
3. hanks of Berroco Ultra Alpaca for my colorwork knitting class;
4. my WIP cabled shrug using Classic Chunky by Universal Yarn;
5a. Poems (one of my favorites) by Universal, and 5b. Fibra Natura Mermaid by Universal, for a colorwork cowl I'm designing and writing a pattern;
6. skeins of Lanaloft by Brown Sheep for a class project;
7. my plastic pencil box with scissors, stitch markers, tape measure, sock dpns, etc.;
8. small balls for knitting class demonstrations;
9. my custom designed and quilted knitting needle roll (16" long and 13" in diameter) made with fabrics by Blank Quilting (this roll fits flat in the bottom of the bag);
10. Clover's zippered hippo hard case for my cable needles and crochet hooks
11. "Knitting New Scarves" by Lynne Barr, with 27 modern scarf designs using innovative techniques;
And, an outside pocket holds my business cards.

I'd say my new Mary Poppins bag is "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fingerless Mitts all around; new classes starting

Fingerless Mitts was the class project for my Beginning Knitting II class. Here are some of the finished (or soon-to-be finished) pieces made by the talented knitting students in my classes. If you are the special recipient of one of these lovely hand knit items, appreciate the time, expertise and love that was put into every stitch by its creator.

If you want to learn how to knit and would like to make a project like this yourself, you can sign up for an upcoming continuing education class at Chattanooga State, or call (423) 697-3100.

Upcoming classes in 2011:
Beginning Knitting: January 31, February 7 and 14
Beginning Knitting II: February 28, March 7
Lace Knitting: March 28, April 4

Classes meet 5:30 pm. - 8:30 pm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My prolific knitting students

My knitting students are becoming prolific knitters! A little over two months ago, they didn't know a knit or a purl and now they are creating fingerless mitts, hats and scarves with cables, lace patterns and tubular cast-on edges. Wow!
The Lace Knitting class project, a design-your-own sampler scarf, entailed three lace patterns and a scalloped edge that required the grafting of two pieces using Kitchener stitch. The fingerless mitts from the Intermediate Knitting class showcased a cable, a gusset, ribbing with an invisible tubular cast-on, and an invisible seam using the mattress stitch.
As a bonus, students also learned how to use a yarn swift and ball winder to convert yarn hanks into center-fed yarn "cakes." Look at that yarn fly!
Lace Knitting at Chattanooga State.

I know family and friends will be receiving custom designed, beautiful, hand knit items this winter from these talented knitters. My husband would say, "They are indefatigable." And I say, "You go, girls!" and be sure to keep something nice for yourselves, too!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ATCs: Lines [and tigers] and Grids

"Lines and Grids"
Oh My!
As usual, the ATCs for this month's swap were humorous, inventive, and beautifully executed. With the theme, "Lines and Grids," the interpretations ranged from travel, accounting, and page layout trends to nature and power lines. More than one were interactive with fold-outs and movable pieces. Oh, my!

The FiberAntics ATC swaps will be on holiday through December and will resume—by popular demand—in January, 2011. Themes for 2011 swaps can be found here. At this time, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the talented artists for participating in my swaps and sharing their creativity and unique viewpoints as well as their art.

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art. —Leonardo da Vinci

Here are this month's ATCs:
left: "Lines and Grids" right: "Natural Lines"

left: "Lines and Grids" right: "Old School GPS"

left: "Helvetica, the Grid, and the FBR (fat black rule)"
right: "Through my Window"
left: "Lines on Grids" right: "Lines and Grids (and Numbers)"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lace Knitting class: design-a-scarf lace sampler

Lace sampler scarf for Lace Knitting class.
I just finished blocking this lace sampler scarf—the class project for my upcoming Lace Knitting class. The motivation behind this class (and the project) were the students in my Beginning Knitting class at Chattanooga State community college. They saw a vest and another scarf I had made, and said, "We want a class on that!" How could I refuse??

The Lace Knitting class meets for two 3-hour sessions, Monday evenings, November 29 and December 6. (Registration is still open. Just call 697-3100.)

The class covers basic concepts of lace knitting, a how-to on reading charts, and I'll be introducing students to several types of lace patterns. We'll be doing some design work to create this sampler scarf, so students will have the opportunity to personalize it to their individual tastes. I think it will be fun that way, and also impart the idea that a pattern can be used a jumping-off place. Take it... be inspired by it... modify it... and make the project your own.

This olive green scarf was created using a sock yarn, Happy Feet, by Plymouth. A lace weight yarn could also be used. Here are some yarns my class will be using.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tennessee Presents Textiles runway show—
a celebration of textile arts

A beautiful fall November day welcomed artists and fiber art enthusiasts to the southeast's Tennessee Presents Textiles artwear show and sale last weekend. A crowd of nearly 200 enjoyed a day of unique artwear and fiber art accessories presented runway style.

The featured guest speaker, contemporary folk artist, Rachel Clark, opened the event with a presentation of over 20 of her wearable art pieces. I've taken Rachel's workshops and attended her lectures, and her personality, humor, and tell-it-like-it-is style quickly ignites the room with energy and puts an audience at ease. You can be sure you're in for a treat when Rachel is on the agenda!

I also had the pleasure of picking Rachel up from the airport shuttle service in Chattanooga and driving her to the location of the show in Vonore, TN (accent on the VON). It was a delightful hour and a half of one-on-one with one of my favorite textile artists. Among the topics of conversation were her lost luggage (which she was surprisingly calm about), pattern making, print production and some new workshops and classes she was developing. Her mind and creativity never stops.

Rachel and I at the runway show.
Rachel's presentation and trunk show started off with three vests made with her "Picture This" vest pattern. This is a versatile pattern which I use over and over for my own pieces. It is a perfect canvas for piecework or can provide a great silhouette for other techniques.

Also included were pieces from her "Out of the Crayon Box" collection.
Student work from the Fashion and Design Department of Rangsit University in Thailand was also featured.
 The techniques were innovative and created unexpected textures.

Rachel and I got a back stage look at these garments after the show. These students are so talented and their work is inspiring!
Here is Geri Forkner (left), the Creative Director and driving force behind Tennessee Presents Textiles, at her artist's booth. Geri is a master at nuno felting and is now developing techniques combining hand-dyed silks, weaving, nuno felting and needle felting. (The dark brown scarf, center front, came home with me!)
Artists booths at Tennessee Presents Textiles
The second half of the runway show consisted of the garments from the "The Power of the Pocket" Challenge (Thank you, TPT, for crediting me for the Challenge idea) and work by twenty regional fiber artists. Artists had their work on display and for sale, including hand-dyed silk jackets, vests and scarves; felt bags, pouches, scarves and wraps; knit, woven and quilted garments; jewelry and other accessories.

It was a fabulous event and a wonderful celebration of textile artists and wearable art!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tennessee Presents Textiles, November 13

Student work
Thailand Fashion School
Student work from the Thailand Fashion School just arrived and will be part of the wearable art fashion show, Tennessee Presents Textiles, next Saturday, November 13. These innovative, show-stopping garments were created by fourth-year students from Thailand's premiere design school.

Contemporary folk artist, Rachel Clark, is the guest speaker at the event and will have over 20 pieces from her collection presented on the runway.

Tennessee Presents Textiles is a unique wearable art runway show and sale. The artwear is elegantly presented by professional models giving the audience an "up close and personal" experience with the fashions. Fiber art garments will also be on display in a special exhibit and competition entitled "The Power of the Pocket."

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"The Visual Language of Quilting" presentation

Kona Coffee quilt
I was invited to speak at a local quilt exhibit this weekend. The exhibit was entitled, "Every Quilt has a Story" and my presentation was "The Visual Language of Quilting," accompanied by a trunk show of 20 of my quilts.

The audience was a mix of sewers, quilters and newbies to the quilting world. They were enthusiastic and asked lots of great questions. I love these kinds of audiences! They make for a better and more interesting presentation, and I much prefer dialogue to monologue.

If every quilt tells a story, then quilting is definitely one of the main characters. There is something magical about the quilting stage of the process... the smooth, flat fabric takes on interesting textures, motifs pop out in a crisp bas relief, and patterns begin a dance across the quilt top. An amazing transformation occurs from two-dimensions to three-dimensions before our very eyes.
The audience was inspired by the combination of vintage Dresden plate quilt pieces and colorful, contemporary fabrics in "Dresden Meets Marti at Riverbend."
Christmas Baskets—from her scrap basket and mine.
The Riverbend quilt and "Christmas Baskets—from her scrap basket and mine" (left) addressed the quandary of orphan quilt pieces, vintage finds and blocks from great aunt Millie's stash. I believe the original quilter of these Dresden plates would appreciate me continuing her story by finishing a quilt that included her blocks.

Another important aspect of telling the quilt's story, is to document information on the label. Make this part of the quiltmaking process! Extra quilt blocks, scraps or left-over binding strips can be used in creating and framing a label. Just do it!
Label on the back of "Colours of the Sun"
A more traditional style quilt calls for classic feather motifs in the quilting. These feathers were quilted free-motion without marking. The pieced design on the quilt top determines the space for the quilted motifs.
The light colored backing fabric shows off the quilting.
Here is a traditional log cabin block made with bright colored cottons and batiks. Surface design using oil paint sticks added interest to this art quilt.
I designed this quilt (above) for a class I taught. Value, color and print should be thoughtfully considered in making fabric selections. All these elements, including the quilting, work in concert to tell a story.
Thank you to the Eastern Stars for inviting me to their quilt exhibit. And a special "Thank You" to my good friend and quilting buddy, Sandy, for her gracious introduction, to Jewell for her assistance with the quilt display, and to Elizabeth for the great photos.

I can be contacted at for quilting services, workshops and presentations.

Friday, October 29, 2010

ATCs: Just add water

Just add water and you can transform one thing into something totally different. "Just Add Water" was the theme of the FiberAntics October ATC swap and there were myriad transformations of paper, color, beads, ribbon and cloth into artist trading cards. Here are this month's mini works of creative and witty art.
 Left: "Just add water... and maybe some fruit.. or cheese." Recipes included.
Right: "TANG. The breakfast of astronauts." Russian tea recipe on the back.
Left: "Just add water... the only way to get a rainbow."
Right: "Just add water."
 Left: "Please!! Just  add water."
Right: "Just add water and flowers will smile for you..."
 "Underwater Song"
Inspired by a Harry Potter movie.
 Left: "Just add water"
Right: "Cool refreshing glass of water—and new friends!"
 Left: "Just add water. Your very own concentrated oil spill..."
Directions included on back.
Right: "Just add water"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fingerless Mitts knitting class, starts Nov. 1

Hey Knitters and yarn lovers! Need some great holiday gifts? Here is a perfect, fast-to-knit, portable knitting project for the occasion. I'll be teaching this two-session Fingerless Mitts class at Chattanooga State, November 1 and 8. Call (423) 697-3100 to register.
Fingerless Mitts knitting class
In class, we'll be learning how to make cables, thumb gussets and using the mattress stitch to seam. My "Sweet Louise" fingerless mitts pattern is free to class participants. These mitts were knit with Classic Shades by Universal Yarn—a worsted weight, wool blend that comes in many gorgeous colorways... soft and snuggly.

Twisty Cable Fingerless Gloves
Another variation is my Twisty Cable fingerless gloves. These were knit using Fibra Natura Sensational, a 100 superwash merino wool. Sensational comes in 45+ colors, including variegated, and has great stitch definition. Scrumptious!

Call today to register for class! (423) 697-3100. 

Now is the time to get your needles clicking and whip out several pairs of these fun fingerless mitts. You'll want to make a set for all your friends... and a pair or two... or three... for yourself.
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