Contemporary Afghan Knits

33517

You must know I love knitting. But fiber-art of all kinds I find addicting. I look at most things with an eye for interpreting it into a fiber expression. Some things are better knit and others woven.The book “Afghan Knits”, by Martin Storey has 18 contemporary designs for throws, runners, and pillows.

Though this is a book for knitting, I hope it will also inspire you to explore the colorplay and patterns further. Another highlight is that, these designs are perfect to-go projects. The proper tote can carry the book, a skein, your needles and the squares or strips you are working on.

‘Color Blocks’ and ‘Simply Stripes’ as a couch pillow or blanket, are a great way to use up some single skeins of yarns you have lying about. ‘Beach Stripes’ and ‘Sunset Pillow” were a few other patterns I fell in love with. If you are a weaver you may see why these knitting projects caught my eye. Geometric patterns are very popular now in home decor.                           

Cables, eyelet designs, knit and felted leaves to add-on and charted animals are all possibilities.  Whether you are a beginner or have knitting experience and thinking about knitting home decor items, take a look at these contemporary designs.

Advertisements

Stitches East

Sheep on phone

Even Sheep need a little phone time.

Stitches East in Hartford, CT was this weekend, sharing the market with the quilt show. Scarves, shawls and ponchos dominated the floor. The curved double pointed needles was being demonstrated and yarn of every color was available, with no one color in particular standing out.

I enjoy knitting shawls and was happy to see they are still popular. The caftan style poncho (39″ wide with a 60″ length) rectangle with an opening (at 30″) in the middle for the neck, should be a fun and easy project. The look is stylish in its simplicity and would compliment jeans.

Shawl pins made from silver, metal and wood were beautifully handcrafted and would be a compliment to your finished project. Stitches had been in Hartford in the past until last year when, it took a hiatus. But, it is back for now. Look for it in your area. Stitches is put on by XRX and The Knitting Universe.

A Stash by any other Name is a Wonderful Thing to Behold

34227605

If fiber is your pastime, you have a stash. It may only be a few skeins of yarn, several pounds of roving in different fibers, dozens of books, numerous tools (knitting needles, crochet hooks, weaving looms, spindles)… The problem is not the stash, the problem is the space to store it.

Knitting author Clara Parkes loves a good stash. Her latest book (hardcover) is an anthology she edited, “A Stash of One’s Own”. The one shy of two dozen short stories are written by experienced stash hounds you probably know. They include designers, bloggers, authors and teachers all whom have a first hand knowledge and confess about owning a stash. You will enjoy, and relate to their experiences on growing a stash, acquiring, inheriting, creating with it, living with it and hinting of seeking help to let go of some of it.

At times a story relates so well that you aren’t sure they haven’t been to your home. Sue Shankle reminds you there is no shame in loving your stash. Best of all, the stories make you realize you are not alone. The book is a perfect size to fit in your bag and take with you. Read from cover to cover in one sitting or spread it out and enjoy a story now and then.

It is February and the winter drags on, the holiday and festivities are over and the pull of adding to your yarn stash might be just what you need to put a smile on your face. I know some of you may have made a New Year’s resolution to control yourself this year and only add a skein or two. I have a solution: Go through your stash, put aside a few skeins of yarn, some duplicate knitting needles, a couple of books or magazines you no longer refer to, a pattern or two you know you will never get around to and have a “Stash Swap Party”.

birthdaycake

Make this a themed knitting, crochet…party with a decorated cake, goody bags, and the highlight of a swap. A themed drink is sure to be a hit. There is no need to feel guilty. You will have made space to accommodate you new acquisitions. Pour everyone a glass and read aloud a chapter from Clara’s book. Your party is sure to be a big hit.

Spinning Charlie

Charles in 2016

Charlie is an English angora rabbit and offers up a good supply of fiber to spin into yarn. Spinning fiber that is 2 – 2 ½ inches long is easy to spin on a drop spindle. Angora from a rabbit is light, warm and fluffy. There are German, French, Satin and Giant angora rabbits beside English that produce angora fiber. You may have heard of angora goats, though they are called angora, they produce mohair fiber to spin.

Charlie and Zack.jpg

Angora spun yarn blooms upon wear. “Bloom” means the fibers relax and open to create a fuzzy yarn. The rabbit is sheared four times a year, offering up skeins of yarn. This type of rabbit comes in a variety of colors.

Charlie is sweet and docile. He has two speeds; dead stop and hop skip and jump. The rabbit can jump very high and spin about quickly. I was surprised at how curious he is. If someone comes into the house, he comes over to check you out. Charles is a free range house rabbit who uses a litter box. His lifespan is approximately 10 years and makes for a sweet pet. The more he is handled, the more he enjoys being handled.

Charlie at the spa.jpg

If you have never tried spinning angora or knitting with it, give it a spin. Some of his fur this time, will be made into fingerless gloves. A gift for a friend’s tween daughter.

The Magic of Iridescence

61uhn1bv7yl

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?

I have fallen down the Rabbit Hole…

tissue paper

…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.

paper pin loom

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

61f-alelqtl-_sx369_bo1204203200_

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.