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Monthly Archives: March 2011

A friend has offered me her yarn ball winder, which she has never used and just doesn’t need. As this will be very helpful for the yarn reclamation project, I’m excited about this gift. In exchange, I’m making her some dishtowels. She didn’t ask for anything in return, mind, I just thought it would be nice. First time out with waffle weave and they look pretty good. 5/2 cotton, two shades of green plus natural.

Waffle Weave Towels

Waffle on the Loom

I need to sew a quick line along the bottom with the sewing machine, because I’ve elected not to hem them. They’re hem stitched, but do not have a foldover hem because the 5/2 cotton wasn’t cooperating. Once that stitch is done I can throw these in the wash and see what happens.

Current Audibooks: Just finished Physick by Angie Sage. Now halfway through Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.

Current Book: Just finished The Monstrumologist by Yancey, now a few chapters in to Martin Booth’s Soul Stealer.

Up next: Re-reading some Diana Wynne Jones

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” – Ruth Ann Schabacker


Thanks to gift certificates from generous friends and family, I took two weaving workshops this weekend. Yes, two full-day workshops. And yes, my back is now killing me after sitting for two solid days. Then again, Jane Patrick and Judy Steinkoenig are great teachers, so who cares about my back?

They may not look like much, but these two samplers showcase over a dozen different weaving structures or patterns. Things I never could have learned from a book. Next up, debating taking a spinning class.

Pickup, Doubleweave

Samplers, samplers

Just finished reading: Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth; After the Quake by Haruki Murakami;

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” – Sarah Caldwell

For those of you who thought I might never finish my snail-speed knitting, I have completed the Fair Isle hat from class at Mew Mew’s. There are actually eight shades of yarn in here, just hard to see them unless you look closely. A very subdued version of a Fair Isle but that’s what I like about it. Sue (owner and teacher) wisely kept the class small so we could all get the individual attention we needed.

Fair Isle Finished

Fair Isle Finished

And from the Who Knew Department, there are several ready-made strickfingerhuts (knitting thimbles) here (and here) that I could have used. Ah well, my creation ended up working well!

“My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M’s and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” – Dave Barry

There are lots of folks around the world who need our help right now. I wandered through a yarn shop today, didn’t buy anything although I was tempted, and will instead be sending today’s savings to a charity that needs it.

Today I also dropped off a woven scarf and some knit wrist warmers to a local group. The items will be auctioned off to raise scholarship money for paraprofessionals to attend trainings. And I’ve completed some chemo caps. One more on the needles then I’ll be sending these off as well.

Chemo Caps

Chemo Caps

That’s one of the really nice things about these fiber arts; we can give enjoyment and comfort to complete strangers through the things we make.

Oh, forgot to mention that tomorrow (Saint Patrick’s Day) is sale day at the new-found Harriet’s Treadle Arts. They also have lists in-store of items you can donate to Any Soldier. A staff person at Harriet’s is collecting things and will get them sent off where they need to go.

Current Audiobooks: Magyk, Flyte, and Physick (Septimus Heap books) by Angie Sage

Currently Reading: Imagined Worlds by Dyson

“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” — Audrey Hepburn

The amazing Great American Quilt Factory in Denver is closing this Saturday. They’ve had a 30 year run and the owners are retiring. If you are in the area, I highly recommend running over there in the next couple of days.

I was lamenting the fact that they were closing and worried that there aren’t a lot of quilt shops left around here. I had to run an errand today, and when done, I drove right past a shop I’d never seen before called Harriet’s Treadle Arts. Thinking maybe it was a weaving shop, I pulled a u-turn, parked, and went in.

Hello, Harriet Hargrave! How on earth have I managed to miss this one through the years? New local quilt shop here I come!

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” — Audrey Hepburn

I’ve posted before about the great, quick online service from Tangle yarn shop in Grand Junction, Colorado. News from Allison at Tangle today is they have tons of lovely yarns in the online clearance bin. Get yourself some deals today before everything sells out, especially all that lovely Dive Autonno wool. I really like how Autonno knits up into something completely unexpected.

“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” – Thomas A. Edison

True, I cannot seem to stop knitting these. Finished up this pair for a friend, and am halfway through a pair for a charity donation. Just so quick.

Rose Riesines

Rose Riesines

Meanwhile I just realized I need to pull out the swift and wind 6 skeins of yarn into balls for Fair Isle knitting class Thursday night.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Tolstoy

The two inches worth of the ribbing on the Fair Isle hat are doing me in. My right hand is stupid with yarn, and it seems easier to have both strands of yarn in my left hand. I went to the sewing shop today and have two possible solutions.

Fair Isle Solution I: Dritz Extra-Large Hooks & Eyes

Fair Isle with Dritz Hook and Eye

Dritz Eye

Put the large eye onto your pointer or middle finger. Lace the two colors of yarn onto the eye, one through each of the hoops (which you’d ordinarily use to sew the eye onto your clothes).
Advantage: You can slip the yarn in and out of the hoops so you can change to a third color of yarn if needed.
Disadvantage: Yarn can slip out of the hoops when you aren’t looking. Holds the two strands of yarn very close together, so you have to be careful of which yarn you’re catching for your knit or purl.

Fair Isle Solution II: Blue Moon Beads Natural Elegance metal chain (from either JoAnns or Michaels, “CHAIN MTL 24″ NE # 149 BURN SIL”).

Fair Isle - Blue Moon beads chain

Blue Moon beads chain

Fair Isle - Blue Moon beads chain

Blue Moon beads chain

The chain has a larger ring inserted every 3 inches or so. Remove the chain part, and just keep the ring with its attached fancy jump ring. Use your jewelry pliers to pry open the small jump ring, insert the yarn, and close the ring again.
Advantage: You can put these rings on the tips of different fingers, allowing you to keep the two colors of yarn farther apart but still under control.
Disadvantage: Not easy to change colors, but you could always put one large ring/jump ring combo on each color of yarn, and just take off or put on the rings attached to the appropriate color of yarn. Depending upon the size of your fingers, the rings might pinch after awhile.

I wouldn’t advise using these suggestions for the portions of the Fair Isle knitting where you’re doing fancy patterns and changing yarn colors a lot. They do seem useful when you’re alternating frequently between two colors for a long stretch and both knitting and purling.

“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.” – Plato

I admit it, I only learned to knit about two years ago. I asked a friend to teach me how to knit and purl so I could make hats for the now-cancelled Knit for Our Troops project.

I hold the yarn in my left hand because that is what makes sense to me. Even though I am right-handed, my right hand cannot seem to manipulate yarn.

Enter Fair Isle knitting. First impression? Yikes! How on earth do you folks do this? I have tried all six of the yarn-holding techniques in The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Feitelson and nothing seems to work well. I have temporarily settled on both yarns in the left hand, wrapped either precariously or too-tightly around different fingers. This works for about 10 stitches, then the yarn falls off and I have to re-wrap and start again. My right hand has a death grip on the needle to manipulate things, which leads to cramping. Can’t assume that’s good!

Fair Isle Yarn

Fair Isle. Seriously?

So what technique do you use for Fair Isle? Are any of you actually using some kind of knitting belt to hold things? Any tips to share? I have two inches of basic ribbing to knit, and at 5 minutes per round, I may not have this done by class on Wednesday night.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

Tonight I start a three week class on Fair Isle knitting. One pattern, eight colors of wool, and size 2 needles. 2. Maybe if I stop knitting everything else on my list of projects I’ll be able to finish this in three class sessions. I chose a fairly subdued color palette and ended up having to trade out one more gray for the brighter pink you see here.

Fair Isle Hat I

Eight colors of yarn!

I’ll keep you posted as to the progress and whether or not my brain ends up being able to handle this new-to-me knitting style. I really like the look of Fair Isle knitting so I’m hoping I’ll be able to learn how to make these things for myself.

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Abraham Lincoln