Friday, September 30, 2011

Knitting friends, fiends and fanatics

What a fiberlicious, yarny Show and Tell we had at my Sock Knitting Basics class last night!

Hand kit scarves
At the first session of the Sock Knitting class, I asked if everyone had done any knitting over the summer. My students mentioned several projects, so I asked if they would bring something to the next class meeting for Show and Tell. Let me tell you, it was a fiber feast for the eyes and the fingers!

There were cabled, patterned and lace scarves; hats with rosettes, funky fringe, picots and pom poms; chemo caps, knitted pouches, shawls, wraps, and capelets. I could not believe all the beautiful, hand knitted creations these women completed in a little over 3 months—and two of them had just taken my Beginning Knitting classes this past January. Talk about knitting fanatics...

Sharon knits chemo caps with a church group.
Jane commented that her hand knit pieces—especially scarves and neckwear—is her new jewelry. It adds color, texture, contrast and a bit of bling to the body and draws the eye up to the face. I couldn't have said it better! (Jane (below left) is usually smiling and laughing in class—I snapped this picture while she was talking.)
Jane (left) with a lace mohair scarf.
Lois (right) shows a cabled wrap for her dog.
Check out Lois' pile of scarves in front of her!
The knitters shared knitting and pattern tips, discoveries they learned by working on these projects, sources for favorite knitting patterns and yarns, where to find the "sale bins" and the stories behind the projects.  All this is what knitting and sharing our passions for the fiber arts is all about!
All kinds of knitted hats with trims and embellishments.
Knitted scarves and hats.
After an inspiring Show and Tell, we got down to the business of sock knitting. My students sailed through the magic of the heel turn, navigated the gusset and were cruising along on the decreases for the toe by the end of the evening. Next week begins a four week class on No Fuss Color Knitting! See you then.
Sock Knitting Basics class projects.

Kaffe Fassett in Chattanooga, October 18-25

Kaffe Fassett coming to Chattanooga.
World renowned fiber artist and designer, Kaffe Fassett, is coming to Chattanooga for an inspirational slideshow and talk, kicking off a week of workshops about using color in design.

For more than 40 years, Kaffe has taught his workshop and slideshow series around the world. He is author of 15 books on knitting, quilting, needlework and design. Victoria and Albert Museum’s one man show for Kaffe broke attendance recrods. Kaffe’s quilts, knitwear, needlepoints, paintings and mosaics are collected internationally.

An Evening with Kaffe Fassett, a slide show and  talk, will be on Tuesday evening, October 18, at 7 pm at Frierson Auditorium at Girls Preparatory School. Workshops include a one day workshop, “Kaffe’s Color Method,” taught by Erin Lee Gafill, California artist and Kaffe’s niece on October 18 at Loose Cannon Gallery. One-day and two-day Color in Design knitting, quilting and painting workshops take place October 19, 20 and October 24, 25 in Chattanooga for artists and craftspeople of all skill levels and mediums.

For tickets or more info: or call (831) 646-9000.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"No Fuss Color Knitting" class starts October 6

Autumn is officially here and the season is emerging in golds, topaz, crimson and forest greens against the cerulean blue sky. Don't you just want to incorporate this COLOR magnificence into your knitting? Join me for my class, No Fuss Color Knitting, starting next Thursday, October 6.
Class project: the Deana Wrap
No Fuss Color Knitting class.
In No Fuss Color Knitting,  there are so many two- and multi-color techniques you will learn. And, you'll be surprised how simple they are to master but the results look sooooo intricate! Information about choosing colors and basic color theory is also provided. We'll be working on small projects that are quick to complete and can be used for holiday gift-giving (or keep them for yourself).

Come and join me for class! Call Chattanooga State Continuing Education at 697-3100 this week to register.
Deana Wrap back view
If you took my Beginning Knitting I or Knitting II class, or are a confident beginner or intermediate level knitter (knit, purl, cast-on, read a simple pattern) you have all the skills you need for the No Fuss Color Knitting class.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yarn and BBQ road trip

Admiring a colorwork scarf, "Spectra,"
 pattern by Stephen West.
What could be more fun that a road trip on a beautiful September weekend with destination points of two yarn shops and a barbeque joint?

My DH and I were watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" Friday evening and one of the segments featured Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, located in Nolansville, Tennessee. "Want to go there for your birthday?" my husband asked. It didn't take long for a yankee girl, who grew up near the Chicago stockyards and loves pork to answer, "Sure!"

Nolansville is south of Nashville and west of Murfreesboro—kinda out in the middle of nowhere—but Murfreeesboro and Brentwood (a Nashville 'burb) are home to The Knaughty Knitter and Bliss Yarns... which are both open on Saturday. (Yay!) Let's go!

Bliss Yarns is in a strip mall with rocking chairs outside for those rockin' knitters. The staff is super friendly and greeted us immediately. They have a wonderful selection of quality yarns in a vast array of colors. I picked up some Rowan Wool Cotton (on sale), a hank of hand painted Dream Smooshy sock yarn, and one lonesome hank of Fantastic by Kollage (93 yds. of 100% merino) in an Apricot Buff color (also on sale). No immediate project plans for these, but I know their time will come.

Adding to my stash from the Knaughty Knitter.
The Knaughty Knitter in Murfreesboro is a few blocks off the main street in a cute little yellow house with parking on the side and back. Nostalgic oldies music was playing on the intercom and Meredith, the owner, greeted us as we entered. Meredith is very talented. She writes her own patterns and designs projects for her knitting programs that she offers to students and customers. I picked up her pattern booklet, "A Knaughty Dozen Little Cowls."

The Knaughty Knitter has a great selection of yarns, roving for spinning, notions and various fiber art pieces for sale. Additions to my yarn stash included Ultra Alpaca by Berroco, Jojoland's 100% wool Rhythm, Camelia 100% superwash by Garnstudio, a ball of Di Ve, and some Rio de la Plata kettle dyed hand spun wool in a natural camel color. The colors of these yarns are just screaming "Autumn."

Have smoker, will travel!
In between visiting the yarn shops, we had lunch at Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint (have smoker, will travel). Martin's is located directly behind the Krystal's on Nolansville Road—the main road through Nolansville. You can't miss the traveling smoker parked in front and the 40-foot smokestack. They had been jumping all day due to the re-telecast of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episode that featured the restaurant.
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint

I had the pork sandwich with slaw and Larry had the Redneck Taco, brisket with a cornbread pancake  (featured on the TV show). The pork was slow cooked to perfection and had a bit of a "bite" to it from the spice rub they use. The Lazy Magnolia brewery's Southern Pecan ale makes an appropriate accompaniment. Martin's has a relaxed, casual atmosphere and good service. You help yourself to Nehi and soft drinks in the ice tub and you won't walk away hungry. We want to try the ribs next time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Knitting Socks for Beginners class

Knitting is in the air and there's nothing like a pair of hand knit socks! Join me for a Sock Knitting Basics class this Thursday evening. In class, we'll work on a "sample sock" in a worsted weight yarn. You'll learn basic sock anatomy, what foot measurements you'll need and how to knit socks from the cuff to the toe. Contact Chattanooga State Continuing Education at 679-3100 to register today. Socks make great holiday gifts!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Prepare to "Mingle"

I've been asked to review a copy of the premiere issue of Mingle magazine. Mingle is a new publication by Stampington & Co., and a sister publication to Belle Armoire, the magazine in which my article on shibori hand-dying, "Compliments of the Dye Pot," appeared.  

Mingle will contain creative and artsy ideas for gatherings, get-togethers, celebrations and retreats. I'll also be hosting a give-away for a complimentary copy of the magazine.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Drop spindles and art yarns

What a blast we had at the September Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild meeting. One of the teams presented a program on Spinning with a Drop Spindle and carding art batts to make art yarns. Take a look at these beautiful yarns spun by some of the guild members. They're almost too sumptuous to knit.
A bottom whorl drop spindle and various art yarns.
Learning to spin with a drop spindle was lots of fun... but it's not as easy as it looks. Can you say, "rub your tummy and pat your head?" (Better yet, can you do it?) The program team assembled bottom whorl drop spindles from wooden dowels, a cup hook and a CD so that non-spinners could try their hands at spinning. The spindles were surprisingly well-balanced and durable—they don't call them "drop" spindles for nothing!
Left: Spinning with a drop spindle.  Right: Carding and combining roving for art batts.
The second half of the program was a demonstration on using the drum carder to make art batts. The art yarns spun from these batts are eclectic mixes of fibers, textures, colors and even embellishments combined in a single yarn. There are infinite possibilities here.

The October meeting of the fiber arts guild will be the presentation and exhibit of our second annual Guild Challenge. The Challenge title is, "Fiber and Caffeine get me going" in which members are to create a tote bag inspired by a favorite coffee mug. Maybe we'll see some hand spun art yarns incorporated into a few of the Challenge entries. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paper piecing table topper: Twisty Star

Evelyn's Twisty Star table topper.
One of my students sent me a photo of her completed "Twisty Star" table topper. Isn't it cute?! She's got a good balance of solids, prints and scale and I love the unexpected little red check. The fall themed border fabric unifies the composition and the topper will make a great home dec piece for this time of year.

The Twisty Star topper was the class project from my recent "Piece by Numbers," Paper Piecing class. I had a great group of students and we all had a good time.

A student pre-folds the pattern.
From time to time I revisit the paper piecing technique for my own work—to include a block or two in a quilt. After I reorient myself to "thinking backwards" while piecing, I recollect why this technique is so much fun. This technique also presents me with an opportunity to challenge myself when I need to design a block of a specific size or for a specific theme.

The students did really well in class and seemed to click with the technique after the first and second piece was sewn to the foundation. They all completed one quadrant of the Star patten and some got two finished. Here are their works in progress.
Student work: Twisty Star paper piecing.
Carol Doak, the queen of paper piecing, has several books with patterns for all levels of experience. There is also newsprint patten paper that easily feeds through your desktop ink jet printer for printing out commercial or your own patterns.

If you can sew on the lines and count, you can paper piece!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How does fiber get to be yarn?

Drop spindles.
Ever wonder how the sheep, alpaca, rabbit, goat and other animal fibers get spun into yarn? My guild, the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild, is having a program at the September 10 guild meeting on spinning with a drop spindle. The drop spindle is a great tool for beginners or those curious about getting into spinning. The program will also include a demonstration on carding batts to make art yarns.

Drop spindles made with recycled CDs and fiber for spinning will be available to use and purchase. Experienced spinners from the guild will have their spinning wheels at the meeting so you can see this technique in action. The guild meeting starts at 11 am.
Get inspired with these books.

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