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.

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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.

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?

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.

Granny is no square

For those crocheters who don’t give granny squares a glance, try taking a look at “Granny Squares”. “Granny Squares” the latest book in this genre has over 25 creative ways to crochet the classic pattern and is written by Stephanie Gohr, Melanie Sturm and Barbara Wilder. It is worth a look.

There are many more than a dozen different square designs to crochet. That alone is worth turning the pages. Primrose, Netting and Cornflower squares are my favorites. Color choice and yarn fiber help to make these patterns fit into contemporary home decor and fashion. Granny squares are a great yarn stash buster. No matter what granny square pattern you choose, they all start from the center. For more about this book…

Vogue’s Crochet 2012 special collector’s issue

The last Vogue magazine dedicated to crochet was back in 1994. Seventy percent of today’s knitters, crochet. Crochet designs have come a long way. You can see them everywhere from the runway to the classroom.

There are jewelry designs you can crochet with thread. Baubles, bangles and beads can be incorporated into your crochet to accent your garments with flair. And crochet designs do have flair, just look at the cover. From the articles to the patterns, this magazine will have you taking out your crochet hook.
Read on

Skinny scarf trending for summer

The linen stitch, knit into a skinny scarf is the popular summer trend. Worked in lightweight variegated yarns makes a splash of any outfit. Knit in silk, linen, cotton or a blend of these fibers will result in a scarf with nice drape. The linen stitch makes a compact but not rigid fabric.

Following is a pattern for the linen scarf that is worked lengthwise. Tip: Using circular needles as straight knitting needles might be the best way to work with the large number of stitches. Five to six feet is a nice length for wrapping around your neck a time or two.
Here for the pattern.