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)"

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