The Magic of Iridescence

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I was probably nine years old when I fell in love with the magic of iridescence. My mother was going to a party and wore a blue/green iridescent cocktail dress. It was love at first sight with the shimmer and changing colors of that fabric against her pale skin and red hair. I still have a vivid memory of that moment. Now thanks to Bobbie Irwin, I can create my own iridescent fabric with her book “Weaving Iridescence”, colorplay for the handweaver.

The book starts off with explaining iridescence, optics of light and color. The photographs help to interpret the results as well as give inspiration to your fiber choice, thread size and weave structure. Blue boxes highlight the information of the chapters.

Bobbie touches on getting the most out of iridescence with sewing garments, spinning, dyeing and knitting. Then, she shows you how to achieve this technique using a loom that requires from 4 to 8 shafts. The projects include color gamp napkins, a double weave scarf in a 4 and 6 shaft version, 4 shaft scarves using 3 and 4 color effects, clasping, vest fabric in double-weave and lightweight huck yardage.

She closes with a note on photography and the ins and outs of getting a good photograph of iridescent fabric. The photographs are well done and as I said before, lends them to motivate your creativeness. This is a one of a kind book to take your weaving and color appreciation to the next level.

Thanks Bobbie. My plan is to reinterpret the blue/green fabric in that cocktail dress as a scarf. Have you woven iridescence? Do you have a memory where the play of color is vivid?

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I have fallen down the Rabbit Hole…

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…again. I have a voracious appetite when it comes to fiber. Fiber Arts, that is. Taking a sabbatical was a wonderfully creative outlet. What I learned and started to explore then, continues to spiral out of control. I love it. So now it is onto experimenting with paper.

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Paper to spin, weave and dye for. Currently I am spinning tissue paper that is left over from gifts I have received. Yes, that inexpensive brightly colored wrap you find in clothes boxes and gift bags. My research is taking me to Japan (at least in books and videos) and learning the language and history as it applies to paper.

The art of Japanese paper weaving is from the Edo period during the 18 and 19 century. Shifu (cloth) clothes, hats, kimonos… are made from mulberry bark paper, Kozo, Mitsumata and Gampi. Thin continuous strips are cut from Washi (Japanese paper) and then twisted and woven into fabric. Paper was woven into garments for segments of the population because of the scarcity and expense of other materials. Today, paper garments are vogue for the upper class.

Susan Byrd’s book, “Song of Praise for Shifu”, can’t come fast enough for me. You can find me waiting at the mailbox. I will keep you posted on my shifu progress. Have you tried spinning paper, weaving it? Show me, tell me.

Customize Your Crochet

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Maybe it is time to break out of your comfort zone. Do you take a pattern and use the recommended type of yarn, even the exact color the designer chose when you crochet? Sara Delaney has the perfect book for you to “Design Your Own Crochet Projects”. No worries! She walks you through every step with her unique design course.

You can dive in for advanced crocheters or for beginners…start with 18 sample patterns to build up your skills. There are templates to create one-of-a-kind gloves, Crocheted socks, hats, cowls… The book starts with a chapter on yarns and swatching (journaling the pattern). Learn to measure the lucky person who will receive the finished project for an exact fit. A fill-in formula helps you to figure out yarn requirements.

Then explore the stitch dictionary of 31 crochet stitches with written instructions. All this is compiled inside a hardcover spiral book that lies flat for ease. There are step by step photographs of how to work stitch abbreviations and definitions. The book is clearly laid out to increase your skills. So, start with a scarf and choose your stitch, scarf size (standard measurements are given), continue to follow the formula to design the scarf. Work your way up to socks and slippers.

Design your own crochet projects painlessly. You can consider yourself a designer after the first project. Let me know what you designed. See you in the magazines.

Yarn Craft for Pre-K and K

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What is the right time to teach fiber crafts? If you have young ones who show an interest in your knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving…., that’s the right time. Even though they are excited to learn, they may not be ready to handle your specific hobby. So start them off with something fun and less complex using just their fingers and yarn to learn new skills.

Getting children interested in fiber crafts at an early age is a great way to share in your fiber pastime. I especially like when the craft is interwoven with learning. Part of the fun is they don’t realize they are learning.

A good way to start is with lacing cards for pre-k. Maybe you remember them? If not, there are numerous sites on the web to make your own. Let your child choose from your yarn basket the color they would like to use. They can learn colors as well as you informing them a bit about the yarn fiber ie: wool from sheep and goats, silk from silkworms, cotton from plants…

Make the cards in geometric shapes, numbers, letters, shape of a shoe for learning to tie, farm animals… Besides all this academic learning fun, hand-eye coordination of fine motor skills tops the learning list. Then it may be onto finger knitting. Usually at the age of five or six, children have enough dexterity to master this skill before it is onto knitting using needles. For older children seven and up a fun scarf can be created using your fingers and ruffle yarn.

Put this on your to-do list to interest a child in learning a fiber craft. Is there a fiber craft you do with your children or grandchildren that everyone enjoys?

Knit 1 + Purl 1 = Seed Stitch

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When learning to knit, the knit stitch is the stitch you master first. That stitch by itself can keep you busy for years. If you have the desire to go further with knitting, next step is learning to purl. Some knitters stop there and create beautiful items for their home and family. The seed stitch is a 2 row combination of *knit 1 purl 1* repeated across the row, then reversed for the second row.

If you have the desire to take your knitting to the next level, the book “Seed Stitch beyond knit 1, purl 1”, with its texture and creative possibilities is a good place to start. Rosemary Drysdale will take you there with 30 projects and a 60 swatch stitch dictionary. There are projects for men/women/little ones and home decor. The swatch dictionary incorporates color work, lace (yo, increase and decrease), slip stitches and cables.

Patterns are easy to follow using charts and written out for those who prefer that method. The photographs are clear and detailed. Designer graph paper (one seed, one moss) and information is included to create your own designs. There are step by step photographs on color work and a section on the anatomy of the seed stitch. The cover is a combo between soft and hard covered (wish all books wore a jacket like this).

I like the ZigZag poncho for myself, as well as the linen Tote bags. The Scarf quartet will make a handsome gift to keep my guys warm this winter. Baby cardis make a quick gift for the next shower. Take a look inside this book and see for yourself the diverse patterns and pick your own favorites. This book is perfect for a beginner and will spark interest in an experienced knitter.

So, pick up your needles and start knitting. Get inspired to create your own designs with Rosemary’s tips and hints.

Fiber Preppers

Knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning… your way through an emergency

Tomorrow we are expecting a snowfall and while it is good to have a shovel, candles extra food and water handy, you need to be fiber prepared.

True Preppers are people preparing for a catastrophic event, possibly even a doomsday scenario. Maybe as simple as watching your child’s hockey game or swim meet. If this is all new to you, you have had your head to deeply into your knitting. Don’t worry, by the end of this article you will be prepared. You may not be prepared for the end of the world but, you will be prepared for a natural event, an unexpected wait in a hospital waiting room, an evacuation due to flooding or even waiting for AAA to come fix a flat.

Cafe Press has a bumper sticker that says it all,”I am developing a post apocalyptic skill set”. The goal of a Prepper is self-sufficiency. Spinning today, knitting tomorrow. Maybe it is time to learn to spin. Then you would have no shortage of yarn to knit or weave. You could trade some yarn back to the sheep farmer for more roving.

The needlework community is close-knit and they support and respect each other. Knitting for charity is a part of who we are. So if the Mayan’s or the Prepper’s are correct…we will be in demand. Everyone needs socks, sweaters, scarves, towels, blankets…

Here are suggested items for your bug-out bag (the technical term Preppers use for their emergency kit). Your bug-out bag should be sturdy, have pockets, (if you can’t leave home with only a few balls of yarn…maybe it should have wheels) and large enough to fit everything comfortably.

The following items are recommended suggestions;

Bottle of water, energy bars and snacks

Cell phone (knitting apps) and charger

Computer and charger (to listen to fiber podcasts)

Flashlight (Knitting in the dark only results in mistakes)

Eyeglasses (extra pair)

Aspirins (in case you need to frog* your work)

Hand lotion, baby wipes and tissues

Pillow & blanket (unless you knit fast and are making an afghan)

Paper and pencil, tape measure

Pattern book, current knitting/crochet/spinning magazine

Drop spindle and roving

Yarn, several balls for the project you are working on, extra yarn for another project – sock yarn can act as a general all purpose yarn.

Yarn stash – teach a newbie to knit – a great way to take their mind off the situation. Teach the young children finger knitting.

Needles & crochet hooks- various sizes and several sets for teaching others.

Row counter, row markers, yarn needle, folding scissors

Pin loom for weavers

FYI: FEMA guidelines recommend stockpiling your pantry with three days worth of food in case of a natural disaster.

*frog is a knitting term meaning ‘rip it, rip it’

Have I forgotten something? Please feel free to comment and add to it.

Norway: Winter Comes Early

Here in the North East we have already turned our clocks back and dusk arrives by 4:15 pm. Weaving and knitting with a bit of spinning, fill many afternoons. The latter is no secret to my family. Knowing this; they are always ready to fill up my photo gallery with fiber moments they encounter in their daily life.

My son was just in Norway. Evening comes around 3:30 pm to Oslo, with the sun not rising till 8:45 am. He sent me photographs (above) and a video from the Folk Art Museum. Look at the colorful bands/tape , beautiful weaving and Norwegian costumes. See the pair of mittens in the glass case. They are hand knit and spun. Nina Granlund Saether says, “In Norwegian folk tradition, mittens remind us that we are about to enter the colder season.”

Why not put mittens on your knitting needles! “Mittens from around Norway” with over 40 traditional knitting patterns was inspired by Norwegian Folk-Art collections and is written by Nina Granlund Saether. It is an interesting book of history, culture and pattern techniques of Norwegian mittens. There are patterns for men/women/children/babies.

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Each pattern has a bit of history researched by Nina and where in Norway it originated. The patterns are clearly charted. If reading a chart creates knitting difficulties, make an enlarged copy of the chart and color in each row completed. To simplify it further, knit the motif on the front side only or instead of repeated flowers or snowflakes; put in as many as your comfort zone allows.

The book has beautifully clear and detailed photographs. A pair of mittens from the book or the book itself, would make a lovely gift. As the colder weather approaches, we all could use a knew pair of hand warmers.

If anyone knows why traditional Norwegian mittens were so pointed at the tip…I am curious and would love you to leave a comment.