Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I want to be your "something".

I was showing a new friend a baby blanket I had made for my trainer, and then a baby sweater I was working on for my hairdresser, and she said "I wanna be your something!" 

" Can I be your nutritionist? Gardner?" 

Here is a baby blanket woven for my trainer, and his wife and impending daughter. I inquired about colors, and pink is the winner, with a touch of green.  I wanted a lightweight, super soft, machine washable blanket.  I wanted some visual interest, but subtly.  So I dyed some yarn. I dyed Alpine Cotton Petite in a pink and green variegation, as well as solid pink.  I also dyed some Safari III in the same pink and green variegation.  Then I warped the loom in subtle texture stripes, 20 ends of Alpine P, 20 ends of Safari III.   The structure is plain weave with 30 shots of solid pink alternating with 20 ends of the variegated safari.  Actually, as the effect is very subtle, my process was more like a bobbin full of alpine, then 20 shots of safari.  

Anyhoooo. This is the result.  Oh, the fringe. Tied tiny tight knots, cut 'em short.  Threw the whole thing in the washing machine. Washed on hot, rinsed in cold and then dried on hot again.  It softened everything and shrunk it as far as it will go. 

Looking at the picture I notice you can hardly  see the green. Told you it was subtle!

And here is the sweater.  Isn't it cute!?  It is the Baby's and Bears Pattern from Cottage Creations.  The yarn is Rowan Pure Life. This yarn is a dream to knit with - many plies so be careful of splitting it.  But is is wonderfully soft. 

I like this sweater so much, I think I'll make another. Any one up for a knit along? 

Of course, in addition to the above projects, I have been dying tons and tons of yarn. No pictures here, you'll have to come into the shop to see.  I am very excited about Kona Sport.  Same machine washable wool as my best seller - Kona Superwash, but, you guessed it - in sport weight.  Maybe a B&B sweater out of that?  

I also have been busy planning Summer events, and new yarn acquisitions. I am going to need new shelving!  I met up with Rae Blackledge of Rae's  Yarn Boutique last Saturday.  We both skipped lunch in favor of caffeine.  And one result is that we cooked up a picnic!  On World Wide Knit in Public Day, we are jointly hosting a picnic at Patriarche Park in East Lansing.  We have reserved a shelter and tables.  Please come!  Bring along a dish to pass, and/ or whatever you want to grill. We'll bring soft beverages.  And, of course knitting and crocheting.  The more the merrier of course - we want the world to see that knitters are a force to behold. And join!  Let me know if you are coming. Drop me a comment or call 517-203-4467. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cross Breezes

The weather cracked moments before I did. It was suddenly warm enough to open the  doors on either side of my kitchen, allowing a warm-ish breath of air to float through.  My little blind dog raised his nose to sniff, checking for squirrels.  

It is the perfect weather to inspire trying new techniques. Call it a cross breeze for the brain.
On the left, below, is the start of a Stash Buster Blanket, using a three yarn tunisian crochet technique.

I am using all yarns from the sale bin - don't they look lovely together? This easy technique uses a HUGE crochet hook, with a long "tail" on it.  It is easy, fun and fast. Like a breeze!

On the right, above, is the beginning of a double knit hat. I am designing as I go. And learning as I go, as well. A few favorite customers requested a double knitting class. So, I spent an afternoon with a Lucy Neatby DVD, and then another afternoon, and learned so much my head nearly exploded. But, as Lucy explains, walk away from it for a bit, and when you come back, it just makes all kinds of sense.  
I will be ready, in two weeks for the one night workshop.

The fuzzy picture over on the right is a top down design from Stephanie Japel's book "Fitted Knits".  The yarn is Louisa Hardings "Glisten", with the trim in Nassau, a hand-dyed (by me!) silk and cotton blend.  The picture is fuzzy in part because the yarn has a subtle little glitter to it.  It will be perfect for  Summer dinner party.  I have to admit, I had doubts about this sweater every stitch of the way. But, finished, I love it!  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Weaving, and a contest

I would like to share with you some of my latest explorations into loom controlled shibori, and on the same warp, collapse weave. I used the Monk's Belt threading , #455 from A Weaver's Book of 8 Shaft Patterns. The picture above shows the supplemental wefts going vertically. Sorry! I used 4 shots of plain weave, and then a pattern weft, in nice, stiff, carpet warp. These were pulled tight before dying:
Below is the same threading, same 12/2 cotton warp:
The weft is Diacosta from Diaketo yarns. The color changes all by itself! It is currently about 70 inches long and 12 inches wide. I plan to crochet an edging all the way around to sexy it up a bit. You'll see!
And finally, here is my high twist crepe yarn scarf. Same warp, same monks belt threading. In this case I used 12/2 Tsumugi from Habu for the plain weave, and high twist wool crepe (also Habu) for the pattern weft. It was REALLY boring, until I gave it a hot bath, which released all the twist, pulling it into these pleats. Then, I picked up and knit along the ends to create a ribbed ending, using the silk coupled with a strand of silk/stainless steel. I can think of several more ways I could have done this. So, now I have to do some more.

On top of that, I am sorely tempted by the "Think Outside The Sox" contest promoted by XRX, and several yarn companies. Woven Art is a designated "Sox Hot Spot", which means I just got in a ton of sock yarn. It also means that I got in several bags of Tofutsies Collector Pack. This includes a cute purple bag, 4 skeins of tofutsies in collector colors, and a DVD with 10 patterns. All for $64.

Anyway - the contest! There are several categories to choose from. My two favorites are "Get Hosed" making Kilt socks, and a dye-your own contest. Alas, as a shop owner, I would have to enter the professional category. That means stiff competition. My socks would have to be extraordinary, and out of this world. I'll think about it. I just never know when an idea worth doing is going to hit.

By the way - there is some serious prize money. I have application forms - stop in and get one!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

art and knitting

Woah! Didn't expect to see that on a knitting blog did you? The big red head is part of one of my latest creative adventures. There is going to be a local art show called "Social Discourse" this Spring at the Lansing Art Gallery, and I felt called to make a piece for it. Ten years ago, or so, my grad school career was focused on making political statements with my art. I did a lot of work about environmental issues, and also a a large weaving about the first war in Iraq. I found making art to be the best way for me to express my concerns. My only goal for my artwork was to encourage others to at least think about the things that had me worried. Bring it up to the surface. I have never intended to tell other people what to think, as many politically based artworks seem to do. Instead I use it as a platform to illustrate what I think, and perhaps to spark a dialogue.
Here another picture, including all the heads. The working title is "One, Two, Three, What are we Fighting For?", and the opinion I hope to illustrate is that throughout the current Iraq War, the reasons for being there have shifted several times. Between our press, and our administration, it is very difficult to get a clear understanding of what our goals are in Iraq. And in the meantime, it is very, very costly.

Each head will have a hat, with an inscription in Fair Isle. (I am very lucky to have two dear friends who are knitting two of the hats for me. Thank you!) The text of each will refer to a different reason of set of reasons that have been offered to us. 9-11, WMD, Iraqi Freedom, and the last hat will be a flurry of words that have been in the media a great deal lately. On the cheek of the Red Head, is a paragraph citing Americans for not being well informed about the War. I am suggesting that our misinformation is due in large part to a spectacle driven media, and shifting rationale from our leaders. But that is just what I think. What do you think?

OK - now back to knitting. It is April! To prove it I offer you a picture of the April 2008 Stitch Challenge! It is a Tulip designed by Kristina Zwick. And it is ready for you to pick up at Woven Art. For those of you who don't know, Woven Art offers a stitch challenge every month. For $1 you get the pattern and a ball of yarn just big enough to knit your little square. Those who have been playing along, now have about 16 seven inch squares. That's a decent little stitch library, or it could become a beautiful blanket or shawl. For the fabulously creative, (you!), there is a contest. Using one of the stitch challenges as a starting point, design and create something. Could be a scarf, sweater, socks, wallhanging, etc. Jessy and Nancy will be the judges, the prize will be one skein of Montana (the stitch challenge yarn) dyed to your specifications. Deadline is August 30.

This is my Flair sweater. Washed out by the flash. But still pretty cute. Designed by Wendy Bernard,(Knit and Tonic) and knitted with Ty-Dy yarn. I can not wait to wear it. Next week maybe. I am looking for a day over 60. Right now the sky is spitting snow.

April Fool!