Category Archives: Crafts

Mini Vacations

I take my vacations where I get them, and sometimes they’re as short as 15 minutes.

KFairy_location

The Knitting Fairy is in HERE somewhere…

Right now I’m enjoying a mini evening vacation, here in Arlington, Texas, where I’ve been brought in to teach 4 classes for the Knitting Guild of North Central Texas and two classes for the Dallas Knitting Guild.

Happily, all 6 classes will be happening at the same location, a LOVELY yarn shop called The Knitting Fairy  I stopped in for a brief visit to meet the owner, Alissa, and look at her great selection of yarns! Her space is excellent, but I can see where it might be hard to find…

Duckie

Shall the Duck be Mother?

She had some lovely stuff, and when I got to my hotel room I looked up her website and was enchanted by many of her patterns, especially this adorable Duck Tea Cozy (Hmmm, who do I know who drinks a lot of tea… Moi?)

The Arlington/Dallas area is experiencing a bit of a cool down after a hot spell, and there’s supposed to be rain over the next few days. That sounds JUST FINE to this Minnesota Mama who is experiencing a skin condition that doesn’t react well to heat!

TPEarls1

Beautiful yarn, lovely tag!

Another indy dyer named Jennifer Thompson who owns Theodora’s Pearls was setting up her trunk show at The Knitting Fairy as I arrived, and everyone was drooling over her lovely yarns! Her yarn tags are pretty sweet, too!

But back to my vacation; I just took a luxurious bath, now I’m enjoying a cup of tea and some gluten free cookies in my beautiful room (okay, it looks like every other hotel room, but I don’t have to clean it and that enhances it’s beauty a thousand fold…)

Modesock_ComClinic_CrochetI flew First Class (the $90 upgrade was only $2 more than paying for my baggage AND a seat with enough legroom for my long pegs, a no brainer!) and enjoyed every second of it, from the way the baggage guy sat up a little straighter when he saw my boarding pass, to the PRIORITY fast lane I got to go through at the TSA to the first-on-the-plane boarding and free drinks.

I had a whiskey, I poured it into my Pumpkin Chai Latte from Caribou Coffee, yum!

And now I will continue on my current project, a crochet diddy worked up in ModeSock in Community Clinic.  The crochet in this colorway has an especially “shabby chic” look about it, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

A Week of Wonderful News

College!

Yesterday we heard that Andy (née Hannah) has been accepted into one of her most desired schools!  I read about Earlham and it seemed like such a great match for her (they have a minor in Outdoor Education, and a fabulous Japanese Studies program) and once our family visited we all felt the pull of this lovely, Quaker school.

IMG_0049She’s applied to several other schools, and we’re crossing our fingers for a few in particular, but this is a huge weight off of her shoulders as we all feel that Earlham would be a tremendous fit for her, body and soul!

Of course, when we visited the school in Southern Indiana, we couldn’t help but notice that our hotel was built in the shape of a swastika… 

But we prefer to believe it was in honor of the Hindu symbol.

Stackpole Bolero Book

The first part of my advance for my Stackpole book arrived, so NOW it feels official!

I’ve been working up garments for this project, I have a few finished and the rest pretty well mapped out.  It’s all due in June, which will be a bit of a push (especially with other commitments I have this Spring) but not impossible.

I haven’t submitted designs to any magazines this Spring so I can devote my entire design focus on the Shrugs & Boleros book.

Knitting Daily TV

I’ll by flying out to Cleveland in late Feb to appear on Knitting Daily TV! I haven’t been on the show in several years (except for a cool web appearance I did with Vickie Howell) so I’m REALLY looking forward to it!  I guess it’s time to get my hair done again…

It’s so easy when working from home to forget that other people have eyes, too!

Interweave Knit Lab

The registration has opened for Interweave Knit Lab in New Hampshire, May 15-18, and I’ll be teaching again!  I love the Knit Lab students, they’re so informed and courageous, and if you’re on the East Coast this will be my only teaching gig there this year!  So please join me for one of my classes – you can find all of them listed here.

Yarnover & Shepherd’s Harvest

As much as I love Knit Lab, it means I’ll be out of town during Shepherd’s Harvest this year [sad trombone] but ModeKnit Yarn will be there!  We’ll have booths at both Yarnover  (April 26) & Shepherd’s Harvest (May 16-18) this spring! Come on out and feel up some great yarn!

221B Sets Ready to Ship!

Another most exciting aspect to the day is that I FINALLY finished dyeing up large amounts of the two final colors in the 221B Series, and have put together sets to ship! I apologize for the several days delay in getting these out, but I feel it was definitely worth the weight!

These last two colors are based on points in the last two episodes of Season 3 of Sherlock, but I chose incidents which won’t impact on the plot (NO SPOILERS!)  The colors will be revealed after each episode airs in the US (Central Time)

But if you can’t wait…

The 8-skein sets feature all of the colors in the 221B series, and are available in either ModeWerk Fingering or ModeSock.  Choose 15gr/58yd skeins (120 gr/460yds total) or 30gr/116yd skeins (240 gr/930yds total)


Mini Skein Sizes
Type of Yarn



Now I just have to work up some patterns for the 8 Mini Skein Sets!

A Few Cool Things

Saturday I helped out My Friend London at Craftstravaganza in St. Paul at the MN State Fairgrounds. I biked there and home in a chilly wind, but it was worth it for the pain relief!

Sunday I spent Mother’s Day with my darling daughter and two great friends at Shepherd’s Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN, doing a book signing and making some fun purchases.

I also got to be part of the Homespun Journey Podcast, which was great fun!
It’s always great to meet a passionate fiber lover!

My friends Kathleen Pascuzzi and Karen Ryan are so great! As the four of us (Kathleen, Karen, Hannah & myself) sat at the Louisiana Cafe enjoying a delicious breakfast (Hannah’s intro to hollandaise sause!) I reflected on how fortunate our family has been in our Minnesota friendships.

Where were Gerry and Max on a lovely Mother’s Day? At the TWINS game! They were gifted tickets by another great St. Paul friend, Robin Mayfield

BTW, if you’re looking for a compassionate, respectful, brilliant and diligent divorce attorney, Robin’s your woman!

I misted up a bit thinking what  friendship like theirs, and London’s, has meant not just to me, but to our entire family. It’s been six years since we moved here, and the folks who have befriended our family have made our lives here VERY rich and full.

When I wander a craft fair or fiber show, I LOVE to connect with folks who make exceptional things, and I especially love to write about them later. Although, I must admit that I often feel badly when I post about cool makers, KNOWING that I’ve missed many folks who were also exceptional.

I hate that feeling that my oversight could be taken as a judgement. If you were at either show and I missed you, PLEASE feel free to add a link in my comments to your site!

So, with the caveat that there were probably folks who were doing AMAZING things and I may have missed them, here are some of the cool and beautiful things I’ve seen over the past two days!

Lovely Felted Scarf

Lovely Felted Scarf

Jill Lynn
Fiber Artist

Jilllynn.com

Jill works with felting, and sells finished items and materials to create your own beautiful felted items.

She was exhibiting at Shepherd’s Harvest, and I was in love with her skill, designs and her color choices!

A beautiful felted scarf by Jill Lynn

Another gorgeous felted scarf

One of her repeating themes was a lovely scarf which looked like leaves folded around a neck, with felted bobbles.

One version was double sided, with two colors and so much depth.

Jill’s work was skillful and joyful – it’s times like these that I wish I had an unlimited bank account to buy pretty things whenever I see them!

Devin Johnson
MakeShift Accessories

I couldn’t tear myself away from Devin’s booth at Craftstravaganza, and I wasn’t the ONLY one! Many folks recycle industrial items in their art, but I’ve seldom seen it done with more finesse than in Devin’s cuff bracelets.

Cuff Bracelets

Cuff Bracelets

I have SUCH a love for machined signs – I photograph them wherever I see them (there’s a terrific one in the elevator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art) and they make me smile. To me, work like this represents a love for your craft, no matter how pedestrian it may seem, which really resonates with this knitter.

More Cuffs

More Cuffs

Devin’s pieces are DEFINITELY going onto my “What to do with extra cash” pinterest board!

il_fullxfull.438970536_79pcCindy Lindgren
Illustrator

Cindy’s work is exceptional, and I’d seen it around in various Twin City gift shops without realizing it  was hers.  I was so happy to be able to meet her in person, and just sorry that my pocketbook didn’t allow me to indulge my love for her clear, precise, well colored and love-filled art.home_main

Visiting her website, I discovered that she ALSO designs fabric – WAHOO!!

I have placed my order, I’ll be wearing a skirt made of Cindy Lindgren fabric at TNNA, be warned!

After meeting Cindy, I realized that I had wandered onto her Etsy shop earlier and had favorited her – it was just lovely to meet her in person!

 

Boucle Earrings

Boucle Earrings

Jennifer Putzier
Isette

Delicate yet very strong, the lovely pieces crafted by Jennifer are lightweight and graphic, very compelling, and VERY wearable! Many of the pieces seem to be inspired by typography, used very effectively. These are not pieces that fade into the background, these are lovely pieces that make a statement!

In addition to the beautiful jewelry, Jennifer sells tiny lightweight wood cross stitch canvases which are exquisite (many were beautifully embroidered, and empty ones are also available for your own threaddy interpretation!)

il_570xN.239953488London Nelson
My Friend London

And, last but not least, my own good friend London was selling her exquisitely scented candles and beautiful hand-spun yarn.

If you didn’t get that skein you were hoping for this Mother’s Day, perhaps you’d like to pick up one of London’s beautiful fiber poems?

Upcoming Projects

IMG_2077

With a darning needle create a skeleton of the flower shape.

It’s been an insanely busy few months, I sold a huge number of designs recently, and I’ve been knitting most of them up myself (I’m crazy fast, and I’ve been dealing with communication issues [my hearing is worsening, it makes me shy to communicate with anyone on some days] which makes me hesitant to contract knitters right now)

Things are flying off my needles and into the US mail so quickly I’ve broken three circular needles this week – no exaggeration! I’m very hard on my needles, this week is proof.

IMG_2078

Fill each wedge section with satin stitch, working from the center out

Six of the projects are for a magazine that’s under wraps, so I can’t speak about them except to say they’re lovely. Two are men’s pieces and embroidery is involved in several of the women’s pieces.

Pansies and a sort of Art Nouveau vine are the embroidered motifs for a matching set – here’s a brief tutorial on mistressing* a satin stitch flower which can easily become a pansy (or a rose, or daisy, or some other flower!)

You can see that I used my favorite technique of creating a knitted grid of rev St st rows and slipped st columns,

IMG_2079

Don’t worry if the outer edges are uneven!

This makes placement of the embroidered motifs much easier!

After the satin stitch pansy is finished, I outline it with surface chain embroidery, then I use the ends of the outline thread to tie a few French knots for some texture.

 

IMG_0007Spending so much time on knitting, I forget how much I love embroidery.

IMG_2080

Before the outlining, the pansy looks rough.

These projects are for an issue of Piecework, so I’m certain their readership will have no problem with some simple satin stitch, chain stitch and French knots!

Capelet

I’m also working up a few pieces for the next issue of Jane Austen Knits, I feel so fortunate to be part of this great collection again!

I look like I just got back from the Arctic.

I look like I just got back from the Arctic.

I just finished a short capelet using A Verb For Keeping Warm‘s lovely Annapurna in Indigo Blue Sky and Magic Bean.

The green ruffles look like lettuce, and the blue reminds me of Peter Rabbit’s coat, so I’d love it if they called this design “Soporific” (but it’s not going to happen!)

As with most true indigos, this one bleeds. (It washes off, though, making the suds in the sink a beautiful blue color…)

It was a delightful knit, making me feel that I should work up more shawls.  I also am GIDDY that I don’t need to work up multiple sizes!

A peek!  The green ruffles have a lot of stitches, the largest with 918 at the widest part. Be warned!

“It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is ‘soporific’.”
― Beatrix Potter, The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies

Pelisse

A lovely early 19th C garment, called a Pelisse, is the next up on the needles. I can’t show you an image, but here’s the extremely amazing yarn (Ensemble and Beaded Silk by Artyarns) that I will be diving into later today.

Ensemble (in green) and Beaded Silk (cream & brown) will be used in the Pelisse.

Ensemble (in green) and Beaded Silk (cream & brown) will be used in the Pelisse.

I haven’t even opened the box of Sweet Georgia yarn that arrived for a Twist Collective garment, or the yarn for a cardigan for Interweave Knits.

I’m lucky – and how odd it is that while I’m in the midsts of all this work my mind constantly wanders into a place where I feel – well – not worth much.  I think it’s the Winter that will not end.

And spending too much time with Twitter & Facebook can cause envy,
there are days when I just turn them off so I don’t sulk.

*Yes, I like to use the work ‘mistressing’ I’m a rebel. And a heretic.

MacGyvering HoTN Together

Mentally, emotionally and work-wise, it’s been a pretty great week!

Physically, though, it’s been rough.

I haven’t been able to get out for the bike rides I’d like, which allows soreness to grow in my unused muscles, which makes me hesitant to ride, which leads to more pain – you can see the pain cycle (no pun intended) that I fall into.

I’m on a new asthma medication, it’s supposed to normalize my breathing (which has been steadily declining for about 10 years) and allow me to forego my regular prednisone battles.

Prednisone, for those of you who are fortunate enough to not know, is a wonder drug that allows my lungs to work well, a steroid – but the side effects are pretty brutal.
For me the worst are emotional fragility/sensitivity and weight gain.
(They should call it “pregnisone” because it’s the drug that mimics pregnancy.)

Anyway, this new med, Xolaire, is a monthly two-shot injection.  Three months into it, it seems to be working well.  As I’m phased off of the prednisone, the Xolaire’s supposed to pick up the slack – we’ll see…

And I’m hopeful to get back to my long rides.  When my breathing’s iffy, everything is hard.  When I give in to the difficulty, everything gets even harder.

BUT THE GOOD PART

…is that I’m getting a TON of stuff done for History on Two Needles.  Amazingly good progress!  I’m working through the layout of the patterns, trying to find ways to make the experience of reading the book interesting and instructive.

My Sketch of Tissot’s Painting

The license fees for the images are going to be heavy, but manageable (thank you kickstarter!) so I’m trying to work around that by paying lower fees for black and white images for some pieces, then augmenting those sections with my own color sketches.

It may work, or it may just look dumb, but so far I’m happy with the results.  This will also allow me to isolate the individual sections of the original artwork (which were so inspiring to my finished garment.)

I’ve been using an iPad app called Procreate, which is sensational!  I’m able to sketch – not awkwardly wrangle my Photoshop skills (as I’ve been doing – although not entirely unsuccessfully – in my previous computer sketches.)

The best part of Procreate is that it allows me to use the techniques I spent years developing in grad school, my own style of shading, detailing and softening that I thought I could only do on paper.  I really love this application.

I can use my finger for a lot of the drawing, but a stylus is better.

So I found an online tutorial showing me how to make my own stylus with a pen, a sponge and some wire.  I changed things up by using a dpn (signature, of course!) because that feels better in my hand.

It’s been working great, even if it is a little ugly, and I feel it should earn me the MacGyver level II merit badge.

NOTE: No needles were harmed in the making of this stylus, which can be easily taken apart.

So although my physical movement has been hampered with breathing difficulties and all-over body pain from the fibromyalgia, I’ve been able to get a great deal of work done, which is not bad!

I plan to get out for at least an 18 mile ride today.  With any luck I’ll push a bit of that pain away as I pedal, and I can take my iPad with me and get some sketching done during rest breaks!

A New Project, A New Sidepath

Barbie's Scale set permanently at 110 lbs (image by CarrieBee)

A few years ago there was a Barbie doll who famously cried, “Math class is TOUGH!” as one of her pre-recorded soundbites.

Mattel heard the well-deserved cries of protest and yanked Teen Talk Barbie and chalked the whole thing up to a PR nightmare.

Girls don’t need encouragement to believe that mad math skills are beyond them.

My own math journey wasn’t smooth.  I was in advanced math in Jr. High, but upon transferring to a new school which didn’t believe in ‘advanced’ classes I was given a choice to return to a lower class with my 8th grade peers, or move into the 9th grade (elective) class.

I chose the latter, and the teacher (who wasn’t thrilled with a new girl in class, bringing the total female population in advanced algebra to TWO) dogged every equation I wrote on the board.

“Yes, Annette got the right answer,
but she got it the WRONG way…”

It was my last math class – I ended the year with a “D” after a solid A/B average for the previous 2 years in my old school, and I shied away from math stuff for years.

Then I began designing, and I re-discovered the joy of numbers.  It’s almost poetic when I can get the gauge and stitch repeats to work well together, creating a simplified, universal pattern that can be easily altered.  Here’s an example of a recent trip through math hell.

But for the past year – probably more (I’ve been trying HARD to ignore this) my brain is not dealing with sums as well as it has.  At first I thought it was my imagination, then I thought it was pure laziness

Now I’m forced to admit that when I’m return to a pattern in one of my math worksheets I have no memory of my previous encounters with the same formulas.

The good news is that it’s forced me to label all of my columns (which note body measurements and changes in the pattern) INCREDIBLY clearly so I can jog my memory when I return to the pattern.  Clarity is good.

The bad news is that patterns take longer to write.  Recently I wrote up a pattern for a simple shrug.  I’ll admit that the lace pattern was a bit of a bear (I reworked it 3 times to simplify it without losing the beauty) but still, writing the pattern took me approximately 20 hours when a similar pattern might have taken me 4-5 hours a few years ago.

This is so frustrating.  I know it has a lot to do with the fibromyalgia, and I wonder if – in a warmer, sunnier month my brain might be clicking away in a more efficient manner.  But right now it is what it is.

So, while I’m NOT giving up designing hand knit and crochet patterns, I’m branching out a bit to add a bit more joy in my life – and hopefully diversify my income.

Annie Modesitt Fine Millinery

Bytham Cabbage Rose Hat

I’m making Millinery. Hats. Caps. Dome-pieces. Do-rags. Lids.

And I’m selling them on Etsy!

These pieces won’t be available as knitting patterns, that’s part of the joy for me.  I just need to be able to MAKE stuff without worrying about how to tell others how to make the same thing.

Wisbech Cloche

I sometimes find myself stymied by the difficulty in explaining a complex technique, and I avoid some beautiful details in my work for just this reason.

So the hats will be an escape for me, a bit of joy in a few cold, dark months when math doesn’t come as easily as it might.  I’ll make hay – and patterns – when the sun shines.

Edmondthorpe Cloche

If you know anyone who is looking for a beautiful, unusual, interesting hat for a special occasion, direct them over to my website or etsy store.

I’m happy to do commission work, and with the wealth of yarns out there I can match or complement just about any fabric or trim.

It would be lovely to see more brides wearing fine millinery, and the lacework brims on my hats create a ‘shadow veil’ which is flattering to any face!

So Much Fun, Not Enough Photos!

From the moment I arrived in San Francisco airport and the very kind driver from the Marriott San Mateo picked me (and a few other knitters) up, the Interweave Knitting Lab was a SENSATIONAL experience!

It’s definitely one of the best events I’ve been involved in – pure delight – and if they’ll have me I want to DO IT AGAIN!

The Students

I can only speak for my own classes, but these were among the BEST students I’ve ever taught!  They were engaged and EAGER to learn new stuff!  There was a solid confidence in the knitters that comes from feeling secure and strong in their craft.

I chalk this up to Interweave being the type of magazine which is a MAGNET for folks who like to learn, grow and find joy in their crafts.

At the start of my very first class a young woman with a STUNNING fair isle hat approached shyly to tell me that I am the reason she knits – I was her inspiration – and she’s been reading my blog since I began writing it in 2002.  WOW.  I was flattered and a little blown away.  Here she is in her lovely, lovely chapeau!

I only wish I’d taken more photographs – I’ve fallen out of the habit, and I have to get back into the groove as it makes me SO happy to relive an event by seeing images of the good times!

The Organization

Before I arrived I was impressed with the clear information that I – as an instructor – received from Maggie Reinholtz.  I knew what to expect, where to go, how many students were in each class and how to get to and from the venue.

These sound like silly details, but they mean a LOT when one’s mind is focused on classes, teaching and working up just one-more-swatch for a workshop!

When I met Maggie I was stunned that she seemed so – young!  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’d expected a seasoned older person.  THAT will teach me!  Or maybe it’s just a function of myself getting older…

At any rate I had Maggie in one class, and her mother in two classes, and she was just as delightful a student as she was an organizer!

Schmoozing

I always love seeing Eunny and the crowd from Interweave Knits, but I never feel that I have time to say more than, “Hi!” while passing in a corridor at TNNA.

This time I was able to chat for a few minutes, even have a cup of tea, a glass of wine, or a pleasant ride to the hotel!

The extra bonus was getting time with other teachers who I do NOT see as often as I like!  It’s always great to see Stephanie Japel, Nancy Marchant, Ann Budd, Romi Hill (my first time meeting her – what a lovely person!), Mary Jane Mucklestone, Cat Bordhi & Donna Druchunas.

I passed Clara Parkes briefly in the hall and said, “Hi!” but we were both rushing!  I didn’t get a great deal of time to spend with the other teachers – I spent most of my non-teaching time sleeping – but just being near such luminaries was inspiring and a little thrilling!

Hearing June Hiatt discussing the process of recreating her Principals of Knitting was a splendid experience.

Extra squeal inducing was when she passed me in the hallway after her talk and KNEW MY NAME. 

Wow.  I kept it cool, but when she walked away I gripped the arm of the knitter I’d been chatting with and asked, “Did you HEAR THAT?”  She had.

Unfortunately I was so exhausted on Saturday evening that I fell asleep when I meant to go hear Alice Starmore give her talk on her Colorful Life.  (Damn you, fibromyalgia exhaustion!) I did meet her at the tea on Sunday, and she was lovely (so tiny!) and gracious to the knitters as she walked from table to table to say hello.

Unexpected Joy

I was asked to be on a panel with Vivian Høxbro, Shirley Paden (my first time meeting her, too!  What an elegant woman!), Susan Strawn, Marilyn Murphy & Meg Swanson – which was incredibly flattering and so much fun!  I’m afraid I did a bit of rabble rousing (#occupy!) but it was all in good fun…

The Venue

The Marriott San Mateo is an unusual space.  Yes, it’s pricey (a glass of wine was $9.50) but it’s also a very short walk to Trader Joes (home of the three-buck-chuck, some of the tastiest and least expensive wine around!) 

Even with this, the Marriott was a great space for the classes.

I’ve taught in enough venues at this point to realize that nothing will be perfect.  But – as I say in my classes – life isn’t about perfection, it’s about addressing the imperfections with grace, and the Marriott did that.

If a classroom was warm, a quick call and it would cool.  If my own hotel room was hot (the heater AND the A/C were working concurrently) then the hotel staff quickly moved me to a new, cooler room.

Improvements

Overall improvements to the event are more along the line of tweaks.  Interweave was very smart to keep this relatively small this first time, giving the staff a chance to work out the bugs and develop strategies for greater efficiency.

Here are some small improvements I’d like to suggest:

  • Lighting:  In some classrooms this was a concern, brighter lights would be good.
  • Pre-event Communication: Emails from IK regarding class wait lists & new added classes could have been better.  I spoke to a few folks who missed out on classes because they didn’t know they’d been added.
  • Morning Email: A text or email each morning updating student participants on their daily classes with room location & start time would be a great help.  This could be generated by the registrant database.
  • MORE Market: It would be wonderful to have the market open for more hours – perhaps on Sunday, too?
  • Knitter’s Lounge: It would be great to have one comfy ‘common area’ where folks can gather and knit together.
  • Teacher’s Lounge: A similar space for teachers (a teacher’s lounge) would be great, but not as necessary as a Knitter’s Lounge.

I’d be interested to hear from folks who were at the event (write them as comments to this post)  What did you enjoy?  What did you feel could be done better?  What would you add next time?

I really can’t think of anything else I would have improved upon – if something crosses my mind I’ll add it here!

Overall it was a great event, one that I am proud and happy to have been a part of!

No One Gets Out Alive

 

Thursday, October 6, 2011
By Rick Levine

You may run into unexpected delays as your key planet Mercury conjuncts karmic Saturn. You won’t likely get what you want unless you’re willing to work for it.

On the other hand, you’ll surely be disappointed if you don’t give it your all. Today’s lesson points out that achieving your goal isn’t the only reward.

Showing up and playing the game passionately, whether you win or lose, is where you can find the most joy.

Wow, is this fitting today, or what?  Find the joy TODAY in what you’re doing, even if it’s restocking a shelf or mailing books [raises hand] because YOU are responsible for discovering joy wherever it’s hiding.  Life is terminal.

Two Beautiful Things

I want to write about two things that have crossed my path recently, both beautiful and both something for the shopping lists of the crafty (and perhaps nice gifts, too?)

Knitting Scarves From Around The World

Editor: Kari Cornell
Publisher: Voyageur Press

This is an absolutely lovely book!

Northern Handspun Cowl - London Nelson

I remember when Scarf Style came out a few years ago  Folks who had pooh-poohed “another scarf book” sat up and looked closer, and Pam Allen’s great book became a classic.

This is another one of those landmark books.  The scarves in this book are beautiful pieces in and of themselves, but they’re also jumping off points for more in-depth knitting projects (very large swatches?)

Pendleton Scarf - Lucy Neatby

The patterns in this book will encourage many knitters who only think of themselves as “beginners” or “scarf knitters” to move beyond their self-imposed boundaries and move to new knitting pastures!

There are great techniques in the book for double knitting, cabling, working with color, lace and shaping – all in a relatively stress-free “it’s only a scarf, you CAN do this!” presentation.

If you know a knitter who’s ready to move beyond their first rectangular projects, this may just be the book for them!

Beautiful Fabrics

Sewing Green by Betz White

Those who sew are familiar with Betz White.  My own sewing doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, mostly due to the pure laziness that keeps me from opening up my sewing machine and setting up my ironing board as often as I should…

Stitch by Betz White

But recently at the Creative Connection in St. Paul I ran into Betz as she was talking with her editor, Melanie Falick, and I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a few quarters of her impeccably whimsical new line of fabrics to be produced by Robert Kaufman.

Stitch by Betz White

I was lucky to escape with these three magnificent prints, which are available here and at fabric shops locally (how’s THAT for helpful…) and I’m off to get myself MANY more yards!

I am in LOVE with how she uses knit/stitch motifs in her woven fabrics.  Way to go, Betz!

 

2×4 Masquerading as a Weekend

I haven’t done a full post on the fibro for a while, and that’s because it’s been pretty well controlled with all the stuff I’ve cataloged here in the past (Vit D3, gluten free diet, regular exercise)

But every now and then it just rears up and whacks me on the back of the head with a metaphysical 2×4.  Or maybe it’s a real one, I can’t really see back there.

I was looking forward to this weekend for quite a while – it’s Yarnover weekend here in MN, and StevenB was having his Fiber Frenzy celebration so I knew a lot of folks would be in town.  My friend London was also selling some of her yarns and candles at Craftstravaganza over at the state fairgrounds (right next to the Bike Expo!) and there were recycling compost bins to be picked up.  A rich and full weekend.

I’ve been biking a LOT – trying to average 6 miles a day by getting in 18 or so miles during this blustery spring, when it seems that 2 or 3 days go by with out a chance to ride.  When I finish a long ride I feel tired, but also very energized – and I can feel all of my body aches subside as I ride.  My bike, the advil.

But after teaching at Steven’s on Thursday (a REALLY great class filled with truly gifted students!) and schmoozing briefly with folks, I just felt insanely tired.  I know this feeling – a special weak-in-the-bones kind of tiredness, so I crossed my fingers that it wasn’t what I thought and hopped on my bike to ride home.

But it was.  Yesterday was rainy, windy, cold and my body reacted accordingly.  It’s harder for me, these cold days after a few days of warmth.  It’s as if my physical self is just so PO’d at the weather that it will take it out by having a fibromyalgia flare up.  There, I guess I showed ME.

I’ve learned not to make a lot of plans, especially ones that involve meeting a lot of people when THEY have schedules that have to be coordinated, too.  So I’d kept to myself and hadn’t reached out to most of my friends who were going to be in town this weekend for the Yarnover.  Perhaps this was a premonition.

At any rate, I missed seeing just about everyone from Yarnover because I was moving pretty slow.  And I feel so bummed about it.  I stand at my window and wave as the planes fly out of MSP – goodbye Cheryl, Clara, Jared, Melissa, Lily, Merike, Cat – goodbye everyone!

2 Lovely New Friends

I did help London out at the expo, but mostly from a sitting position, and THAT wore me out for the day. It was so much fun, though, to meet great knitters (this beautiful mom knew that she knew me, so I helped her figure out how…)

Later in the day I popped in for a very brief “Helloo!” over at Steven’s to see Nicky Epstein (who I adore) and Mary-Heather & Sarah from Ravelry (who I also adore), and I was absolutely knackered.

Today I have to bow out of seeing Nicky again – and I’m very sad.  I’ve already had one nap today and I could probably take another before anyone missed it.

I’m sure I could drag my sorry butt into the PT cruiser and drive over, but I think I’d be unfit company (and a tiny red battery would appear on my forehead denoting a need for a recharge.)

So apologies to Nicky and Steven (who hosted some AMAZINGLY wonderful get togethers and classes this weekend!) but I’m here, stuck in my chair, waiting for the bagel my daughter’s toasting for me (a gluten FREE bagel!) and hoping the sun will come out as promised by The Weather Channel at 6pm.

At least I can get other work done while I’m sitting here – I made a great start on a lace entrelac poncho, and I’m finishing up a cotton lace project for Knitting Today.  In this respect I’m VERY lucky.

Making … Love!

Atelier Amanda

It’s been SUCH a busy week – lots of work combined with lots of family time (kids were off school last week), throw in a road trip to Chicago (12 hours of driving in 2 days) and the resurgence of the Chest Infection Of Death, and you have a small idea of why I haven’t blogged for a week.

Oy.

Some cosmic gig-switch seems to have been flipped and in the past week I’ve received more invitations to teach around the country, and sold more designs to publications than I did in the previous three months.

Why?  Well, Spring is here, there’s always a bit of buzz in the Spring.  And I feel the knitting / fiber world is having another swell of interest (happy to ride that wave!)

I’ve also been putting myself out there more, letting folks know that I’d like to teach again and that I’d like to design more – it doesn’t hurt to let folks know I’m open for business!

Short Row Garter Collar

I just finished up a garment I’m calling a “Multidirectional Kimono” which is put together almost like a puzzle.  I’m hoping the instructions I’ve written will be clear, and will also inspire folks to work through the garment step by step.

The yarn I received for the project was a bit thinner than I’d anticipated (I swatched in a worsted/aran weight) and it proved to be one of the more unforgiving yarns I’ve worked with (any misstep and the yarn let me KNOW how unhappy it was!)

I did a good amount of ripping out before I realized that no matter HOW carefully I set my tension, the yarn was just going to pout every now and then.  And garter can be unforgiving sometimes…

But now that pattern’s been written, I’ve emerged from “math hell” (oh, crap, I have an article on “Math Hell” that I need to write!) and I wanted to poke my head up just long enough to post about a cool dress I’m creating.

Amanda finds her fabric in Minnesota

Wedding Bright

Last October my friend Kathleen was married, and I made her dress.  It was my gift to her, because I like to sew and because I like weddings.  When I learned my friend Amanda (of Lorna’s Laces fame) was going to be married, I offered to make her dress, too!

Here’s my blog post about it.

En Route, Pinned Together

Amanda’s a singular woman, individual and unlike any other person, and she loves green.  SO her dress will be individual, one-of-a-kind, and it will be GREEN!

It’s going to be in two parts; A sleek, fitted under dress, very “Mad Men”, with a square neckline and curve accenting darts.  When I fit the dress on Amanda this weekend (that was the reason for the Chicago road trip) I squealed with delight – it fit, and it fit WELL!

The second part of the dress is a very full partial over skirt with a few layers of rich, deep PURPLE tulle to give it oomph.  Amanda can wear the over skirt, or take it off – she has that option throughout her big day.

Hannah accompanied me to Chicago and while I sewed she and Amanda did touristy things and had a great time running around.

Tulle-a-pa-looza

Derek, Amanda’s squeeze, is currently in a play but although I seriously wanted to go, I was just TOO exhausted (the onset of the cold?) so I stayed home and knit while the kids ran wild and visited a diner.  Go on, I’ll be fine here…

While I wait for yarn to arrive for my new projects I’ll be working up a mitered stole for my own purposes.  Hmmm, what could those be?