Monday, March 28, 2011

Faith and Trust

On an impulse, I signed up for a Mystery Knit Along (KAL). I'm doing it long distance as the knit shop, What's Needlin' Ewe, is in North Carolina, but I was intrigued and e-mailed the shop to see if I could be included. I received a prompt reply to my inquiry and they were pleased to have me participate.

I've designed quilts for Mystery Quilt programs and have organized and lead them, but I had not heard of a Mystery Knit Along. I decided to make the leap... and it has been a real leap of faith!

The Mystery KAL started in early March and clues arrive via e-mail each Monday morning. Today will be the 4th and final clue and it should wrap up our mystery scarf. (Participant sleuths discovered it was going to be a scarf with the first clue.)
Clue #1
The first clue involved a cast-on of 300 stitches with a beautiful, oh-so-soft worsted weight yarn, Cascade Cash Vero. It is really a joy to knit with. But, oh, those 300 stitches... Clue #1, however, offered tips for managing 300 stitches and directed knitters to a how-to video for the German Twisted Cast-on method. Without a sample or picture, following the instructions requires total left-brain skills and blind trust in the designer. It is a humbling experience and a good exercise in discipline.
Clue #2: 2 balls of yarn down, 2 to go...
I am enjoying the short row technique. It is a technique that I would not set out to do, but once you have that 300 stitch investment, you keep on keepin' on. I find I must pay attention to the pattern created in the work since there is no other visual reference. I've had a couple minor tinking episodes, and with so many stitches per row, even a one-row error takes some time to re-do. But, as I tell my knitting students, "it's only yarn," and if you are enjoying the process, that's what it's all about.

I've been teaching several classes this month—Intermediate and Lace knitting, Beginning Quilting and my Yarn Fabrication wearable art workshop. I think it has been good for me to be "the student" for this program.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

ATCs: Things that changed other things

"Votes for Women"
What a theme we had for the March FiberAntics ATC swap! The theme, "Things that changed other things," was well and widely interpreted.

A reminder of significant historical events make us wonder what the world would be like today without the perseverance of our foremothers and forefathers, such as the suffragettes. Or, how different life would be without the discoveries manifested by the inquisitive minds and genius of various inventors.

Things that changed other things...
"Electricity" (left)   "Nuclear Energy" (right)
"Johannes Gutenberg invents movable type; books accessible to everyone." (left)
"La Chauve-Souris" (right)
"The Steam Engine"
"Love Changes Everything" (left)
"Color, Texture, Shape, oh my!" (right)
Although change is easily identified as a result of a national event or from the invention of something that affects many people on a grand scale, the power of change can also be witnessed at a one-on-one or personal level, for example, "Love changes everything." And the following story that accompanied this ATC:
"The other day I had my furnace scheduled for cleaning. The gentleman who came was grumpy. He never smiled, never looked me in the eye, and used one word sentences. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. When he finally left, after discovering and replacing a broken part (an making me feel like it was my fault), I found that I was feeling grumpy also. His attitude changed my attitude. Thus, the idea for this card came to me. Attitude (mine, yours, or those around you) can indeed change things."
"Attitude" (back)
With our weekend weather forecast of "Rain, Rain, and Rain," I hope these ATCs will bring some sunshine into an otherwise dreary, cloudy day. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blocks into Tops

This week, my Beginning Quilting students showed off completed quilt tops. Aren't they doing an amazing job? The time just flies when we are in class.
Left: Lots of gorgeous batiks in this one. A contrasting border sets off the blocks.
Right: Chartreuse and purple combo--a yummy color scheme.
Left: Why use one fabric, when you can go scrappy?
Right: Changing the fabrics in the block makes an attractive design variation.
Left: Excellent contrast in this fabric selection.
Right: A soft spring garden color palette with contrasting stripe border.
Left: The colors of fall leaves inspired this color scheme.
Right: Extra blocks incorporated on the back provides a fun surprise.
These fabrics have a fresh, retro feeling.

Here is the "Basting Brigade." Everyone pitched in to help each other with the basting of their quilt tops. More hands definitely makes this task go quickly. Way to go, quilters! Quilting, binding and the all-important label is next.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wearable Art in Spring

Yarn Fabrication Vest workshop
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, today! The quince is in full glory and the bumblebees are buzzing on overload. I'm teaching my Yarn Fabrication technique in a Wearable Art Vest workshop tomorrow. This gorgeous weather surely inspires creativity!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inspiration from the Sewing Expo

My good friend, Pat, and new friend, Sonya, and I did a one-day rendez-vous at the Atlanta Sewing and Quilt Expo this weekend. The temptation at Laura Murray's booth of hand-dyed kimono and paint stick creations was too tempting for Pat and I to pass up. Here's my souvenir from the show.
The fabrics are over-dyed kimono silk panels and the two buttons were in the sale basket. A lovely combo: hand-dyed silk, buttons and sale.

Wearable Art Vest workshop
Saturday, March 19
I'm teaching my Yarn Fabrication Wearable Art Vest workshop this coming Saturday, March 19 at Chattanooga Sewing. With my recent purchase, I'm inspired to combine the yarn technique with the silk panels—somehow.

I'll have to let this concept germinate... Ideas??

There are still a few open spaces in the class, so come and join in the creativity! Call (423) 899-3664 to register.

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Blocks

I'm really enjoying teaching a Beginning Quilting class! The second session of the 5-week class was very productive as my students completed their first quilt block for their Churn Dash quilts. Yay! Applause, applause.
You can see the wonderful combinations of color, print and value in these quilt blocks.
They have lots of homework this week: completing all 9 blocks for their quilt. Next week we'll have a Show and Tell of everyone's accomplishments. Then, on to the sashing, borders and backing ...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fingerless Mitts Success

They did it! Ribbing, cables, a gusset and mattress stitch... all combined in a pair fingerless mitts. Do these women look excited, or what???
The students in my Knitting II class at Chattanooga State added several techniques to their knitting repertoire in this class. There was a lot of info packed into this two-session class, and they all a did great job. Working on cables while increasing for the thumb gusset is akin to patting one's head and rubbing one's tummy.

Several students completed one or more mitts, but what I am most proud of is their ability to "read their work" (this is major!!) and identify and quite often fix mistakes or missed stitches. Well done, knitters!

I'm looking forward to the Lace Knitting class coming up on March 28.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shalom before the storm

Shalom Cardigan/Vest
I took these pictures of my latest completed knitwear piece, the Shalom Cardigan by Meghan McFarlane of "Involving the Senses," before the tornado and storm ripped through Chattanooga last Monday (and left us with downed trees and no power for a day). You can see the early pinky-salmon color blooms of the quince bush in the background.

This was a quick knit for which I used Classic Shades and one ball (down to the last 2-3 yards) of Marathon Sock yarn (both by Universal)— held together—to achieve gauge.

This piece is knit from the top down and after the easy but somewhat slower-paced twisted rib collar, the rest was a breeze. Several knitters have knitted this cardi and have added their own variations. See Sophy's version and Ishi's version that incorporate a short sleeve and additional buttons, and a funny story from Stitch1Peta on her experience. 

My specs and mods are as follows:
2+ balls Classic Shades (color 706) yarn
1 ball San Francisco Marathon Sock yarn
sz. 10 circular needles
Added 2 extra stitches to the underarm cast-on row. Included a garter ridge at the underarm to minimize curl. Eliminated all body shaping. Used the "Tight One-Row Buttonhole" as described in The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe.
Shalom Cardigan—back
A future version might include using a smaller needle for the garter hem or an alternate reversible stitch pattern. I also might change the position of the arm holes as they seemed to be shifted somewhat toward the back rather than at the sides.
Detail of vintage button closure.

I've worn this vest 2-3 times and have gotten several compliments. Oh, and pockets might be another variation for the next version!

Here is the book with the buttonhole technique. It has a plethora of info in an easy-to-read Q and A format. A great addition to any knitter's library.
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