Thursday, June 30, 2011

Onnie's Birthday Shawl

My MIL, Onnie, will be turning 94 in July. I promised I would make her a shawl. She lives in Texas, but the air conditioning is often too cold for her. I wanted something light weight, but warming, without becoming too hot.  I chose 2/17 tsumugi silk for the warp, and cotton gima for the weft. Both yarns from Habu Textiles.  The weave structure is turned Atwater Bronson Lace. The draft can be found on page 186 in A Weaver's Book of 8 Shaft Patterns. It is design # 618 by Mary Smith.

The warp was threaded 18 inches wide in the reed, set at 20 ends per inch. I wound a 3.5 yard warp, and wove to 78" long. Not much warp was left!  After washing and pressing, the final shawl dimensions, without fringe, are 16" wide by 72" long.  Perfect!  The fabric turned out to be exactly what I wanted for Onnie. The colors I chose to remind me, and maybe her, of her Florida home.

Happy Birthday Onnie!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Stitching is PERMAnent

I recently read a fascinating article in the Whole Living magazine (May 2011) about the psychology of  happiness and well being. Martin Seligman has a new book out: Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, (Simon and Schuster). It is on my list of books to read, but the article had some tantalizing tidbits that I can share with you here.  In his book Seligman focuses on 5 aspects of well being, the initials of which spell out PERMA.  I am going to tell you why I believe knitting, crocheting, weaving and other crafts ( but these especially) are a key path to happiness and satisfaction. The following ideas are my own interpretation, and I fully disclose that I haven't read the book yet.

Positive Emotion: For many of us, just walking into a yarn shop, or touching soft yarn, or losing ourselves in color is enough to make us happy.

Engagement: "When we're truly engrossed in a task that demands our attention, our sense of self recedes and time feels as if it has slowed or even stopped" direct quote.  Ever get lost in your knitting?

Relationships: This yarn biz is very different from most retail in that relationships are at the very core of a successful shop. People make new friends in classes, or they simply plop themselves down on a couch and stitch away until someone tells them their whole life story.  Then there are the guilds, knitting groups, and other clubs that are offshoots. There are the on-line communities as well. Try bringing out your project at a festival sometime. Instant friends.

Meaning: So many knitters and crocheters donate their products as a matter of course. Sometimes it is a hat or a toy for a local child, sometimes it is to help raise funds for tragedies that happen on the other side of the world. Stitchers  are always ready to help someone else, while still engaged in a favorite activity.

Accomplishment: Yes - occasionally you get to finish things. Then you get to show your yarn shop friends and post it on Ravelry, You might even get to wear it and receive compliments, or gift it and receive heartfelt thanks. Whether you have made a cowl, or a blanket, you get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

There you have it. I am really looking forward to reading the book, and getting more in depth information about all of these areas, but I am here to say: Stitching is here to stay - or rather permanent!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Knitting in the Rain

 Wednesday night was pretty wet, and windy. But the Stitch 'n Pitch organized by Yarn Garden's Lindsay Potter and WovenArt's yours truly was full of warm fuzzies.
 I was truly amazed at how many lovely people came out to the ball park on a really rainy evening. There was a $2 cosmo special going on.  And the food was worthy of the Ball Park rule ( I only eat brats and wonder bread buns at a ball park).  The goody bags were super cute, stuffed with baseball themed treats. Special thanks to Lindsay for designing a twisted stitch baseball sock - it is so awesome I am going to have to knit two. Unless she let's me keep the shop model she sent. Then I only have to knit one semi matching one.
 Here are a couple of Oakland shawls in process with the wonderful Kauni yarn.
 At least one of these knitters is trying to master Judy's Magic cast on.
 The game was a little slow.
Most folks stayed until around 9:30 - just in time to hear the National Anthem.   A big thank you to everyone who came, and enjoyed!  Knitters are the best people.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cross on a Hill

IMAG0119 by nancymcray
IMAG0119, a photo by nancymcray on Flickr.

I presented the final 8 panel project to the Church last night, only to discover that the whole piece was way too big. Somehow, when looking at the blueprints I had it in my head that the space I was to be working with had a top height of 16 feet. Forgot about the doors, I really had only about 7 feet to work with.

That's a big problem.

We agreed to a bit of rearranging. Later, as I tried to go to sleep, I literally prayed, Oh God, please help me solve this problem. A good answer came to me pretty quickly, and involved removing some purple strands of yarn, and cutting a couple of the panels in half. The picture here is of what are now the center four panels. These will be flanked with a 4 foot panel on each side. On the other side of the gathering hall will be the two longest pieces, facing each other like a valley, instead of like a hill.

After I started breathing again, I decided I like this version even more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Market Report

I just returned from The National Needlework Association (TNNA) trade show in Columbus Ohio. This blog post is about what trends I identified and what I bought.
Handmade sweaters are still going to classics with some interest.  By this I mean that you will be seeing designs that you can make now and wear forever, but will have some interesting detail to make them stand apart. There is also a lot of emphasis on accessories - and that is also where some real fun is to be had!  Fair Isle and intarsia mitts and fingerless gloves, cowls will be very present everywhere (yeah for that - think quick but special presents!), and the accessories also will allow you to play with luxury yarns without breaking the bank.  Crochet continues to grow as more and more people are interested in learning, and more life long crocheters are able to find patterns written for pretty garments and in pretty yarns. Rowan has been on top of this trend for a few years now.

So, that's what I saw, trend wise.  Wanna know what I bought?  Look very soon for a wonderful wool and peace silk blend yarn from Frabjous Fibers. Peace silk is made from cocoons that have already released their worm. These cocoons can't be reeled, so the fibers are shorter. This yarn is not smooth and shiney, but has other wonderful silk qualities such as loft and warmth.
We spent a lot of time at Deep South - a pattern distributor that carries most of my favorite designers. I picked up a few new pattern lines; Tot Toppers, Grace Akhrem  and others.
Then we went on to Rowan.  Had tea with Martin Storey and Nicki Epstein!  Rowan has several new yarns that I am super excited about.  Colorspun has a soft, slightly textured spin on it, and long color repeats that are very subtle and rich. Plus, of course, great patterns. Then there is a yarn I am calling Lima Bulky. That's not it's real name, it is really called Alpaca Chunky - but it has that same tube construction that I love so much about Lima. Another new Rowan Yarn is called Fine Rowan Tweed. It is similar to Scottish Tweed 4 ply from long ago. I cannot wait to make the little kitty hand warmers from Tiny Owl Knits.  And then finally, they showed me Kid Silk Stripe. This is a giant ball of Kid Silk Haze in a long color stripe, in colors by Kaffe Fasset. I have been fantasizing projects for this yarn ever since.

At Classic Elite I picked up a new to us line - Jill Eaton's Minnow Merino. This is a machine washable wool, with a gauge that is very close to Mission Falls 18/24 wool. It also comes in lovely kid and adult friendly colors.

At Skacel I got us some Crochet interchangeable sets to go with your Addi Clicks. This will be perfect for Tunisian Crochet, as well as some Portuguese knitting techniques. They come in a smart brown case, or you could keep them in your new Della Que case!

Here's some big news! We are bringing in Fleece Artist/Handmaiden.  These yarns are very unusual, luxurious and heartbreakingly beautiful. In about 3 to 6 weeks we will have the Blue Face Leicester sock yarn, a wool and linen blend, a silk and kid mohair yarn they call Maiden head, and  O'paca. This one reminds me a little of a lovely mohair, with the super soft feel of alpaca.

I made a stop at Habu, and got more metals! Copper and bamboo, steel and linen, and new colors of wool/stainless and silk/stainless.
I also stopped at Unicorn and got several new crochet books, the Fleece and Fiber source book, Knit Swirl!, some new weaving books and Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home.  Now I need an ice cream maker. And some new running shoes.
I am pretty sure I am forgetting something - the last few days were a whirl for sure.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Name dropping

I am in Columbus Ohio, attending TNNA. Sitting in an open area, knitting Volt with Sarah and Meg, a tall, beautiful woman approached me and said: I am Grace Anna Farrow, and I designed that shawl. I was speechless! Sarah got a picture that I might figure out how to share later. I hope I run into her again when I have my wits about me. Later got to hug Melissa Leapman by sneaking up on her from behind. Had dinner and drinks with Carrie and Sherrie from Knit A Round, saw Erica and Suzy crossing the street. Met Iris Shirer and also her latest project. Told Doris Chan in the elevator that I appreciate what she has done for crochet with her wonderful designs.
This morning I have a crochet class with Mary Beth Temple, and then into the market to see all the newest yarns, books, patterns and tools.