Sunday, April 29, 2012

Easy Ruffled Scarf—sassy, girly and fun!

When I attended Stitches South last weekend, I brought back a show program for my knitting students to see. In it, there was an ad with a photo of a scarf that featured one of the fun, novelty, self-ruffling yarns that are on the market.

Their eyes lit up...  they oooh'd and aahh'd...  
excitement filled the classroom...
OK! I'll order yarn and we'll do a quick demo at the beginning of next week's No Fuss Color Knitting class.
Easy ruffled "boa" scarf made with Spectra. You can make it in an evening!
I ordered two colorways of Spectra from Universal Yarn. It arrived Saturday and by Sunday, the 7-stitch scarf was finished. Deana (right) and I are both modeling the finished product. These yarns and the projects made from them are sassy, girly, and a quick knit—what's not to like?

Ruffled Scarf Demonstration this Tuesday evening (May 1) at 5:30pm. Bring a pair of size 8 or 9 straight needles and point protectors or a stitch holder (to hold the stitches for traveling). E-mail me if you're not currently a student in my class but want to stop in for the demo.

Knitting with 1000 strands

This one goes out to all my knitting students. My "No Fuss Color Knitting" and "Color Knitting II" classes are no where near this strenuous. Kudos to the women who challenged themselves to do this project!

Friday, April 27, 2012

ATCs: Fast Food

You may have your own ideas about "Fast Food." Once you see the ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) from this month's swap, something else just might cross your mind. Take a look ...

"Fast Food"
"Fast and Cheap Food"
"Fast Food ... Nectar"
Left: "Fast Food (the healthy way)"
Right: "Cherries on the Go"
"One large fry,  please."
 And this one makes Fast Food go even faster...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stitches South knitting and crochet expo

One of my best fiber art buds and I went to Stitches South this weekend. Woohoo! It was full of yarny goodness—sensuous fibers (one vendor booth had mink yarn!), mouthwatering colors, and this year, lots of beaded bling.
Here I am, wearing my "yarn fabrication" vest, outside the vendor mall
where they have the yarn sampling of yarns from 12 differenet suppliers. 
Betsy Hershberg's new book, Betsy Beads: Confessions of a Left-Brained Knitter, was a focal point at several vendor booths and expo presentations. 
Betsy Beads by Betsy Hershberg.
Other attractions at the expo (and a look into some of the latest trends) included:
  • Drew Emborsky, "The Crochet Dude," was on site and buzzing around the show floor
  • a booth in the vendor mall was dedicated to crochet
  • lots of attendees were wearing amazing knitted shawls (lace, textures, stripes, pattern stitches, you name it...)
  • several knitted shawl samples made up with Rosetti Polaris by Universal Yarn, a wool blend infused with sequin payees (the dazzling beauty of this yarn and these garments can only be experienced in person). Get a jump on holiday projects... all of the patterns for these samples were FREE ones from Universal.
  • a return to some of the novelty yarns (Plume by Prism Yarns was heavenly!)
One of the vendors was wearing a great "recycled creation" that she graciously allowed me to photograph. Is this vest not ingenious? It's crocheted with pop-tops (you know, recycled from soda cans). The crochet was very fine and lacy but the aluminum pop tops gave the vest weight and drape.
I purchased a few "high density" items for my stash and got Betsy to sign a copy of her book for me.
Buttons from Gail Hughes Art Buttons and
a hank of blue sock yarn (on sale) for my Sky Scarf.
Sheri and I also splurged and got two To-Go orders of Limoncello Bread Pudding from Carrabba's. We brought it back to the hotel and indulged with a late night snack.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quilts grace church; support hunger relief

With the quiet backdrop of stained glass church windows, over 120 antique, contemporary and art quilts were gathered together and exhibited this past Saturday in a local Quilt Show at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Hixson, TN. Donations collected at the show will benefit hunger relief efforts for Hamilton County and surrounding communities.
In the midst of the serene reverence of the sanctuary, antique quilts from early- to mid-20th century draped the pews and railings.
Sun Bonnet Sue, Log Cabin, and Grandmother's Flower Garden were among the patterns of pieced and appliquéd quilts lying contently beside the hymnals and prayer books tucked in church pew cubbies.
Left: many modern day quilts were on display.
Right: King size bed quilt showcase a collection of T-shirts.
Modern quilts from the 1980s and 90s hung in entryways and were displayed in other rooms along with art quilts and other quilts made in the first decade of the 21st century.
Left: hand quilted appliqué quilt.
Right: contemporary log cabin quilt.
Examples of stunning hand quilting and machine quilting hung side by side.
Left: A mix of vintage quilts blocks and contemporary pieced blocks, machine quilted.
Right: hand quilted chains and feathers.
Contemporary and art quilts.

Each quilt in the show had a typed label with the name of the quilt, the name of the quiltmaker, and a descriptive story about the quilt. Here (right), a contemporary, quilted wall hanging is seen beside a collection of framed miniature machine pieced quilts. The miniatures have pieces as small as 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch.

Three fundraiser "Opportunity Quilts" were also on display. These quilts were comprised of a donated collection of unfinished quilt blocks and fabrics from the estate of a local woman. These bits and pieces were combined with fabrics from personal fabric stashes, then pieced and quilted by members of Trinity Lutheran— a creative and collaborative community effort resulting in three beautiful bed-sized quilts.

I am especially proud to say that several of my Beginning Quilting students submitted their first Churn Dash quilt that they completed in my class! I know they are as proud of their accomplishments as I am of them, and I'm glad they had the opportunity to share their beautiful work with the community.

The team of organizers accomplished no small feat in planning, coordinating and putting on this show! For a first time event, I can say that the entry process was easy and thoroughly documented and the show was very professionally exhibited. Well done, Ginny, Penny, Kathy, Sandy and your team!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nine patch; simple beauty

There is something about the timeless beauty and simplicity of a 9-patch. Depending on fabrics, it can take on a host of personalities. I finished quilting this quilt for a new customer, Stephanie.

I like the way Stephanie lightly sprinkled the stylized floral print among the marbled batiks to give her quilt an oriental feel. The black sashing and borders really sets off the colors in a stained glass fashion.
Detail of quilting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acadian Weaving program at the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild

We had an interesting and very informative presentation on Acadian Weaving at my fiber arts guild, the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild, this past weekend. The guild hosted Debbie Todhunter, a hand weaver who has done research on Acadian weaving, interviews with several Acadian weavers, and compiled a wonderful video presentation that she shared with the guild.
Left to right: brown cotton rolags prepared for spinning, Acadian woven hand towels,
and brown cotton bolls before ginning.
The Acadians are of French Canadian descent and immigrated from the Canadian maritime provinces to southern Louisiana in the mid-1700s after being exiled by the British. The Arcadain weaving style is unique—a plain weave done on two-harness looms using primarily short-staple brown cotton. The surprising diversity in patterns (mostly with stripes) was quite astounding considering they were achieved with a limited color palette on two harness looms.

Acadian weaving pattern samples from the
Complex Weavers Study Group.
This weaving style illustrates a blending of cultures, resources and artistic ingenuity of these people. Ms. Todhunter distributed samples of the brown cotton to meeting attendees who had the opportunity to try carding the fibers. 

Also on display were woven samples from an extensive, 150 sample study on Acadian Weaving done by the Complex Weavers Study Group.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Louisiana's Cajun country, look up the history of these textiles. For a recap of Ms. Todhunter's presentation at the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Color Knitting Class starting

Want to add COLOR to your knitting projects? 
My No Fuss Color Knitting class starts next week on Tuesday evening. This class is packed with information, techniques and a mix of quick projects to help you gain color knitting confidence. This 4-session class also includes color theory, and fun, in-class exercises on color and value. 
The Deana Wrap
Contact me at veronica to get a supply list and register for class. Class begins Tuesday, April 17. Here are photos from previous No Fuss Color Knitting classes.
Let's play the Stripe Game!
This is the Deana Wrap. We'll explore four different "No Fuss" color knitting techniques with this project. You'll be surprised at how deceptively easy they are!
Students show off their colorwork projects.
No Fuss Color Knitting class: The Deana Wrap.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Diamond Girls... you sure do shine

I met with the participants of my Mitered Diamond Adventure modular knitting workshop for the final class session yesterday. I refer to this wonderful and talented group of women as the "Diamond Girls," and there was no doubt about the stellar work they did on their class projects.

The Mitered Diamond Adventure is a knitting workshop I offer that introduces participants to the concept and techniques of modular knitting. We work primarily with mitered squares and mitered diamonds (squares set on point) and the Mitered Diamond Shawl pattern by Michael del Vecchio is our inspiration impetus. Deluxe Worsted Long Print by Universal Yarn, a 100% wool worsted weight yarn with long color changes, was chosen for the project.

After providing instructions on knitting a mitered square in Session I, students practiced the technique and on their homework swatches. In Session II, I presented my "It's Cool to be Square" visual presentation on modular knitting that included garment silhouette possibilities and design opportunities.

Session III was a troubleshooting and review session, an idea exchange, and of course, Show and Tell. For their project, each student chose her own garment style. The projects included wraps, vests, and runanas. Here is a show and tell of their creativity and the progress they made.
Lois completed her mitered square vest.
The long color changes add a striking detail at the neckline, hem and sleeve edges.
CO = 31 sts.     Color: Midnight Blues
Sharon designed a ruana by opening the front of a poncho silhouette.
The larger squares focus on the color changes of the yarn.
CO = 51 stitches.     Color: Purple Sky
Left: Irene designed a long wrap in a "V" shape.
The hemline shows off the points of the mitered diamonds.
CO = 31 sts.   Color: Midnight Blues
Right: Pat chose a long, rectangle wrap using mitered squares.
In contrast, the edges of this wrap are straight.
CO = 35 sts.   Color: Hawaiian Sunset
Jane's circular wrap took some calculations! Graduating sizes of diamonds
cascade from the neckline. CO = 25, 31 and 35 sts.   Color: Sea and Sand.
Jane kept the color values more consistent by cutting out the navy from the color sequence.
Susan hit the "sweet spot" in the color change sequence.
The colors in her modules are very consistent which accentuates the symmetry of her design.
CO = 35 stitches.    Color: Purple Sky
Left: My (Veronica) design is a caplet.
The center double decrease miters make right angles in the front and back.
CO = 35 sts.   Color: Autumn Equinox
Right: Sharon chose a mitered square vest. The smaller units create a different color pattern.
CO = 27 sts.    Color: Sea and Sand
Aren't all these pieces Fantastic?!? 

When I was planning and creating this workshop, I wasn't sure where the exercises might lead the student. I wanted workshop participants to get a good understanding of modular knitting techniques and the process for knitting and assembling the units, but to also provide an encouraging and creative environment in which the knitter could take a step or two beyond the pattern, if she/he chose.

The fun and excitement for me (as a teacher as well as a knitter), is having the opportunity to take an adventure down a path less traveled... even if it requires some detours and problem solving. To be able to see sights that were not on the original itinerary and experience the joy of discovery... that's half the fun for me.

These garments far exceeded my expectations. And I feel confident that I achieved my goals. Thanks to my students for taking this Modular Knitting Adventure with me. You are all shining stars!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"More color... More fun!" says Crayola

Did you get out your "Big Box of 96"...
                                with the built-in sharpener...
                                                        and hard boil a big pot...
of  egg???

The coloring of the eggs is an annual Easter event at our house. As Crayola puts it, "More colors... More fun!" We like to mix and double dye with all the colors. 
Upper left: multi-dipped.  Center top: shibori.
Far right: pre-marked with Crayola crayon. 
The hand dying techniques this year included multi-dipped (over dying), pre-dye patterning with Crayola crayons, and shibori (using a rubber band for the resist). Only two eggs were lost due to premature cracks.
Dyed eggs are drying. Baskets await assembly.
Chocolates are standing by.
Even though Crayola doesn't make a color for your eyes, my husband draws a "baseball dude" egg (complete with a baseball cap on his head) or, this year, a self-portrait. This self-portrait egg does not do justice to my DH's gorgeous blue eyes.
The Larry egg.
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Modular Creativity and Design

Designing and dtermining the knitting sequence.
The second session of the Mitered Diamond Adventure modular knitting workshop was full of inspiration, design, creativity... and a few calculations.

After learning the modular knitting techniques and determining their preferred cast-on method and double decrease, workshop attendees gathered their swatches and commenced with designing. Hands down, the preferred cast on was the knitted cast-on, and preference for the double decrease was a split between a center double decrease and the slip 1, k2tog, psso. Knitting, as I tell my students, is all about choices!

This phase of the Adventure was to choose a garment silhouette. For this workshop, we're using the Mitered Diamond Shawl pattern as a roadmap, however students are encouraged to try a different garment style using the shawl pattern as an inspiration springboard.

To provide some design, color and texture "food for thought," I presented a digital slide show (using Keynote on my iPad and connecting it to a projector) of the various shapes, color and texture options that can be used for modular knitting. We are working primarily with mitered squares and diamonds (squares on point), but modular knitting can be done using many other geometric and tessellating shapes. There is also a wealth of design, pattern and texture potential with this technique. The presentation sparked ideas for their projects and their modular knitting adventure took off.

Here are some of the sketches and layout mock-ups they are working on.
Using "line" as a design element.
Miters can go in a single direction or different directions. 
Mitered square vest.
Mitered diamond wrap.
Calculating unit size and garment width.

Knitted swatches and a mitered diamond ruana or poncho layout.
Mitered square vest.
One of the considerations we discussed was determining the sequence of knitting the modules. If the diagonal of the miters are going in different directions, which unit do you knit first, second, and so on? It's like putting a puzzle together and following a recipe. You have to add the correct ingredients at the proper time.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

ATCs: Batter Up!

Whether you think of baseball or breakfast when you here the words, "Batter up!"... you know you're in for something good.

The theme for the March FiberAntics ATC swap was "Batter Up!". And, although several of the ATC artists mentioned to me they thought this was a difficult theme for them, I think the results hit a home run all the same.

With the fantasy baseball league drafts completed last weekend and Opening Day coming this week, the people in my house (like my DH) are on the verge of being engulfed in another season of baseball. So, it wasn't that much of a "stretch" to put a baseball spin on my ATCs. Pancakes are also a popular weekend breakfast with my husband, who often gets creative in the kitchen by tweaking the buttermilk batter recipe each time he makes them. With this collection of Artist Trading Cards, we may have to update the menu and experiment with some new recipes.

So, sit down to a hardy breakfast, peruse this month's ATCS, and enjoy the season whether you are a baseball fan, a baseball widow or you're just a fan of the beautiful spring weather that accompanies this time of year.

Great job, ATC artists, for getting out of the dugout, stepping up to the plate, and digging in your heels to find creative solutions to the March ATC theme. The sign of a true creative person is one who works with the given ingredients, stays in the kitchen (despite the heat) and delivers a fabulous meal.

On that note, April's ATC theme is "Fast Food," followed in May by the companion theme, "Slow Food." It's a doubleheader!
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