The Adventure Continues.....

 

 

Thursday
Sep272012

Crafting on retreat: Life is wonderful!

Current project: purple cardigan for a 1 year old, about 1/3 of the way done.

 

 

The view near my house I moved to the mountains of northern Georgia this summer, and have been busy settling into my new job and adjusting to life in the South.  One of my greatest discoveries has been a fabulous yarn store in Franklin, North Carolina called Silver Threads and Golden Needles.  They have an abundant variety of yarns and tools, as well as helpful and friendly staff.  What a gem when many places I need to go for necessities are over an hour and a half away.  I recently picked up yarn for all my Christmas presents in one spot!!

 

 

The owners of this yarn store recently hosted a knitting retreat in the mountains north of Franklin, and it was a wonderful way to spend my first weekend off from my new job.  I met fabulous fellow knitters, enjoyed great food and company, and learned several new skills and patterns.  

my cabin bedroomThe location was beautiful, just a few turns and then several miles off the main highway.  I was under an hour from home, but felt as though I was in a different world.  We stayed in 3-story "cabins," and even with the rural location we were definitely NOT roughing it.  Each cabin had 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and many places both indoor and out to relax and craft.  They also had hot tubs, though I never got around to making use of one.  Talk about relaxing!

The group spent most of the daytime in a clubhouse down the road, where we ate meals, took classes, and discussed the various projects we had brought with us.  Being the overachiever I am, I signed up for both of the classes that were offered.

The first class was for a knitted scarf with "bobble" fringe. I was glad to have some instruction on the directions, and those of us who took the class were "bobbling fiends" the rest of the weekend!  I learned a few new skills that weekend, both provisional cast-on (so you can keep those starting stitches "live" to work later), and cable cast-on, a better way to add stitches on as you are working , the base of each bobble.  My provisional cast on did not work well when I needed to make them live again, so I think I need more practice with that, but the cable cast on is now my new way to add stitches to any piece.  The body of the scarf made use of "short rows," which I learned through a tutorial the pattern mentioned, click here to see that.  After blocking, the scarf is complete and so cute!

my bobbles by the end of the weekendblocking the scarfthe finished scarf

The second class was about making a felted scarf.  I have never felted before, and this was not the traditional knitted felting, but rather working with wool fibers by hand.  I did not take pictures of every step of the process, but essentially you create layers of wool fiber on art felt paper, needle felt them together, spray the work with cold water until soaked, roll it up, and agitate it in a drying machine.  Afterwards boiling water dissolves the paper, and the fibers have felted into a new piece.  the important thing is that the inner layers are perpendicular to each other so they can "grab" each other-  my first piece is by no means perfect, but I'm looking forward to trying it again!  

bottom highlight layer and green verticalwhite horizontal layer and top highlightthe finished scarfsome of the finished scarves

The last project we worked on was making clay pins for the different scarves, a straignt pin for the knitted scarf and a round clasp for the felted one.  We hand-worked the clay, and cooked it in the kitchen oven for 25 minutes.  The picture on the right is of the two I made, based ont he awesome examples provided by our instructor Sue.  

 

Many thanks to Virginia, Amy, and Kristen for such a wonderful weekend!  I can't wait until the next one!

 

I hope your crafting has brought you equal joy and satisfaction.

 

Thursday
Mar082012

Beginning your first project

Current projects:  too many to mention!  It's been a while since my last post, so look for an upcoming post summarizing what I've been working on.  My big project between now and mid April are my crochet roses as I have several CF walks coming up in April and May.  See my Great Strides page for my team info!!

 

I have started teaching knitting classes in my area, and have met with several groups and individuals.  I am about to give my Tuesday night class some homework while I go on vacation, and thought I would post it below as well as it has some good advice about how to start your first project after you learn knit and purl stitches.  To some extent, it assumes you know how to read a pattern-  start by reading the beginning few sections, which should have information such as type of yarn, supplies and equipment needed, and gauge for the project to fit right.

Below is the class' homework for the next 10 days:

1.  Find a pattern you want to work on.  If you all want to work on the same pattern, great!  This is not necessary-  if you want to work on different things, you know I can multitask.

 

Keep an eye out for supplies-  if you want to do a hat, mittens, etc, check to see if the directions want it worked on dpn (double pointed needles), and decide if you want to try that challenge.  Otherwise, look for a pattern that does not need them. 

 

2. Buy enough yarn (and the right weight) for the project.

  • ·      Make sure the yarn all has the same dye lot # so it all matches.  The last thing you want is for the yarn to look slightly different because the skeins you bought don't match, or you had to run out and get more a few weeks later, and again it doesn't match.
  • ·      Use the gauge indicator as your guide:  if it says you should have 22 stitches over 4 inches, look for a yarn that has a similar gauge listed on the label (20-24 stitches should be ok).  Some patterns will recommend a brand and name of yarn, or tell you what weight # (1-6). You can always look up the type of yarn online and see what gauge the manufacturer suggests to buy a comparable yarn when you shop. 
  • ·      Go by yardage, not weight when buying enough- some patterns will tell you how much you need, others you need to calculate:  if the pattern says 2 balls of 50g Patons wool, find out how many yards in a ball (let's say 250), multiply by 2 (500), and buy as many skeins as you need of the yarn you pick that will get you to 500 yards.  Always buy more- it's better to have too much than too little! If 2 skeins of the yarn you choose will only be 450 yards, get 3 skeins.  I will make use of the calculator on my phone if it's a big project, or round the amounts to do calculations in my head: if a skein is 418 yards, I'll call that 400 and do the math.

 

3.  Buy any other supplies needed by the pattern: stitch markers, stitch holders, etc.  If you have access to a friend's set of needles, you may want to figure out your gauge (see below) with their needles before you purchase your own, in case the size the pattern recommends does not produce the proper number of stitches.

 

4.  Figure out your gauge.  The pattern will most likely say : X stitches by Y rows equals 4".  Knit as many gauge swatches as needed until you get the right number of stitches per inch as the pattern calls for.  To knit a gauge swatch:  cast on about 30 stitches, and work as the pattern recommends (usually this will be in stockinette stitch, knit one row, purl one row).  Knit about 20 rows, then either slip off the needles or cast off.  Use the gauge check or ruler to count how many stitches=4 inches, or you can count 2" and multiply by 2. In stockinette stitch, each "v" counts as one stitch, so cound v's. In the picture below, the needle is pointing to the first stitch.  If you count across, there are 9.5 stitches in the "window," which is 2" wide, therefore there are 19 stitches over 4".

 

  

 

 If you have more stitches than the gauge, your stitches are too small.  Try again with a larger set of needles.  If you have fewer, your stitches are too big-  try again with a smaller set of needles.  Even if you are off by 1/2 a stitch, try again until you have it right.  DO NOT TRY TO FIX GAUGE BY KNITTING TIGHTER OR LOOSER-  let the needles determine the size.  For me, stitches per inch is much more important than rows.

Be ready with the pattern, yarn, and right size needles for you when we next meet.

 

May you find happiness and satisfaction as you craft!

 

Tuesday
Dec202011

Crafting and travel

Current projects:  too many to mention!  Yoga socks, fingerless convertible mittens, and an order of 30 roses!  Check out my Etsy site to see some of them.  I may post more about that later.

 

The main reason for this post is that I'm about to go visit my sister in Illinois, and am planning what to pack.  A great opportunity to talk about crafting and air travel.  There are a lot of rumors about what you can and cannot bring on a plane if you are a knitter or chrochetter, and I'd like to share what I know.  

 

Knitting needles

The rumor is still exists that you cannot take knitting needles on a plane.  It is just that, a rumor.  I have never had needles taken away from me, though I often get nervous when going through security, as what constitutes a weapon or a threat is somewhat up to the discretion of the TSA agent of the moment.  I would advise sticking to bamboo or plastic needles, as they often have blunter tips.  Metal can be construed as more dangerous, though in any case I feel you'd have to use a whole lot of force to turn any knitting needle into an effective weapon.  Rest assured I do not spend a lot of time thinking about that.

 I often rely on circular knitting needles, even if I am not "knitting in the round," not only for security, but because they will not poke my neighbors if I decide to knit in the plane.  One site I checked out (see list at bottom) said even circular needles could be seen as a threat, so don't bring any over 31" (I don't happen to own any that long, don't know who makes them that long).  

Double pointed needles are also less obtrusive, and look like pens and pencils when going through metal detectors, so usually are not questioned.

I have a great set of interchangeable circular knitting needles, and often pack them in my checked luggage just in case, I would hate to have them taken away from me.  I have many other sets of circular needles in reserve for plane travel, and don't mind if they are taken away.  One website mentions taking the extra step of coming with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to mail the needles home to yourself if the TSA agents take them away.  In either case, let me repeat I have never had needles taken away from me at security.

If you are not sure what these different types of needles are, check out my "basics of knitting" post for pictures.

 

Crochet hooks

See double pointed needles above, I've never had a problem. My theory is they look just like pens or pencils, and don't show up as a threat (because they're not).

 

Scissors

These are the trickiest.  My advice is simply to not take scissors on a plane.  One site I was researching said as long as they are under 4" they are ok, but I am not going to risk my cute small craft scissors to that.  Even circular threat cutters and pendants with small blades are questionable, so I wouldn't chance it.  two alternatives I have heard suggested:  a dental floss case, where you can use the floss cutter, or my personal preference, toenail clippers.  If they are sharp enough, they can cut thread and yarn, and are not seen as a threat (because they aren't).

 

So my recommendation is to bring a long-term project you are working on (so hopefully you will not need to cut the yarn very much), with bamboo circular needles (if it is a knitting project), and toenail clippers just in case you need to trim thread or yarn.  Hope it helps to pass the time in the airport or plane flight:  I know it did for me when I was stuck for 12 hours in Bloomington last summer, helped me keep my sanity!

 

May you find soothing happiness and satisfaction through crafting, happy holidays, and see you in the new year!

 

Sites read prepping for this post:

TSA blog: urban legends

TSA: transporting knitting needles and needlepoint

TSA: prohibited items, sharp objects

ehow.com: TSA guidelines for knitting needles

 

 

Saturday
Nov192011

Update on life this fall


I have been so busy with teaching this fall I have only posted a few blog entries lately, so I thought I would update here on what I have been doing and making. This post will be a simple Current Projects rundown:

Roses: I have sold 86! That means $430 from roses alone for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, yay! Two orders through Etsy this week, one from someone who is not a close friend or family member, I'm moving up in the world! Many more in production, please check out the Rose Collection of my Etsy Store. If you don't see a color you like, contact me and I will let you know what yarn I have or can find.

 

My two benefactors, college friends Nora & Alice, have been commissioning many things from me, and I am hard at work. I just finished convertible fingerless mittens for Nora (see Etsy listing): she wanted to have them go up to her elbows, so I created a fun pattern for that as I developed the design (the cuffs down came from a pattern book). Alice is interested in a hat/mitten/scarf set, I am 10" away from being finished with the scarf and done with the set, yay!

I also made myself a hat for my birthday, in glorious green from a wonderful pattern in the book "Cables Untangled." Spoiler Alert!! Everyone in my family is getting a hat for Christmas, either of this variety or a great crochet hat that looks like knit from a crochet magazine I just picked up (see the one I finished for my nephew pictured here on right). If I make them quickly enough, some family might get a scarf too? We'll see. I made hats and scarves for all my family quite a few years back, so hopefully they'll forgive me for another go-round. These will be much more substantial and cute :)

 

I still have tons of yarn from this summer, and have not forgotten about the crochet baby blanket I was making, but roses have taken priority. Maybe I'll bring it on my trip to see the family for Thanksgiving?

 

So what would you like to see a post about on my blog? Another "How to," perhaps about cabling (yes I promised that long ago), thoughts on materials and supplies, or more about what I'm making? I'm interested in why you are here, and what you want to see more of. Drop me an email!

 

May you find happiness and satisfaction as you craft- God knows it's what's keeping me sane as I try to finish my grades and comments from the term.

Sunday
Oct302011

so many crochet roses......

Current projects:

Roses, roses, roses, roses...... (you get the idea)

 

So I spent a good chunk of time today photographing all the different colors of roses I've made lately, and posted them all on Etsy.  Click the link here to see them all: anyone who has "liked" my Facebook page or follows me on Twitter has already gotten updates on them all, thanks for your patience!!  I still have more colors of yarn to go.....  See pictures of some of them below.

 

I'm about to write a check to the CF Foundation for $450 from the proceeds of all the rose sales and other CF products over the past 3 months, thanks to everyone who helped support the cause by purchasing items!

 

May you find the happiness and satisfaction I have in your own crafting.