Category Archives: Creativity

#knitchat 9/1: The Knitting Bucket List

Actually, the term “Bucket List” bothers me… just a little. This is perhaps because it is a reminder of our own mortality. Maybe I should think of this as more of my list of challenges I want to overcome while the rest of my life occurs. There I go candy-coating things again. On my “list” is knitting an incredibly intricate Estonian or Shetland lace shawl. On a larger scale, I’d like to knit some curtains.

Here are the #knitchat questions:

Q1) What skills (kniting, crochet or fibercraft-wise) are on your “Bucket List?” #knitchat

Q2) Any sweaters or projects on your Bucket List? Any epic dream projects? #knitchat

Q3) When you want to learn or accomplish a new skill what motivates you or keeps you going? #knitchat

 

DETAILS… DETAILS… If you want to know more about what #knitchat is and how it works

  • Where: Twitter (follow the #knitchat hashtag)
  • When: Thursdays on the date listed above at 6:30 PM PST/9:30 PM EST (1 hour)
  • Who: Me you and other Twitter Knitters/Crocheters & Fiber-crafters
  • How: Need a primer on Twitter Chat… check this out: What does this Twitter chat thing look like?
  • How: to post photos – 5 ways to share photos on Twitter
  • How: to shorten your links. Simply paste your link into the field in http://bit.ly/ and shorten it. Copy and paste this link into the twitter feed.

 

 

Crown Prince Shawl by Nancy Bush

 

 

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Filed under #knitchat, Challenge, Creativity, Crochet, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Lace

Episode 22 – Art for Fiber’s Sake

Somehow this episode became all about art inspired knitting or the other way around.

I talked about my current sweater projects and knitting a new skirt for myself. I also share about my first attempt at freeform crochet.

We’re available on both iTunes and Podcast Alley. Just check for “Cloudy with a chance of Fiber.”

Episode 22

My first attempt at freeform crochet

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Filed under Art, Challenge, Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Knitting, Podcast, Stash, Stuff I made, Sweater, Techniques

I’ve discovered felting

Right, when the last thing I needed was another needle & fiber-craft. I took a two hour course on felting. I went in completely ignorant of how to shape wool fiber or roving into all sorts of forms, came out being able to put together cute little animals and creatures.

The ingredients needed for a successful felting are the following:

1.) Felting mat (usually made of a thick piece of foam or a wide flat brush with thick bristles).

2.) Wool roving or fiber (that is washed, combed and processed).

3.) Felting needle.

That’s it… no glue, no wires unless you’re creating an armature or skeleton to make your felted creation bendable and pose-able… though this sounds tricky & fiddly and perhaps a bit dangerous. Because essentially when you’re needle felting you’re taking the felting needle and jabbing it over and over again into the roving bits to shape them. For example in both the owl and the Totoro figures below, the body is simply just a rolled up wad of roving that has been poked and shaped into a body form. The ears on Totoro and the owls’ wings are smaller clumps of roving shaped into the appropriate form. I didn’t cut those pieces out. I basically poked and prodded at them until the wool took the shape I desired.

This is such a simple yet rewarding craft… even children (who are responsible and responsive to safety instructions) can master this skill within an hour or two.  It’s a great introduction into fiber-craft.  Looks like I may not have to knit or crochet everyone a present this year.

Want more ideas for felted cutestuff?

My 2nd Totoro - completed in less than 1 hour

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Filed under Craft, Creativity, Dolls, Felting, Fibers, Gifts, Kitsch, Needle Felting, Toys

Almost 25 Ways to Get Rid of my Sock Yarn

What do I do with all of this?

Two years ago, I didn’t buy loads of sock yarn at the Sock Summit, because I already had a serious butt load of sock yarn… including a bunch of Drops Fabel and Regia Sock Yarns which have become my fast favorites because of their durability and dependability (I sound like a commercial from the 50’s). I do sometimes struggle with making socks.  You can see the sweater most of the time… socks you’re the only one who knows you’re wearing a work of gorgeous Aran artistry and cablework. So I decided to use Ravelry and my websearching skills to compile a list of things I could possibly create with the multliple boxes of sock yarn I have stashed away. I’ll try to post more as I find them.

Crochet:

  • Fingerless Mitts: Look quite warm and snuggly for your hands.
  • Chihuahua Sweater (double stranded):(though I’d have to make a lot of these just to get rid of my KP Imagination.
  • Vera (gorgeous shawl pattern that eats up to 2000 yards of sockyarn) –  I’m linking to a photo fo the pattern here to entice you. Vera Shawl by Katie Grady
  • Snowflake Christmas Ornaments: forgot about fabric stiffener. These look like great fun.
  • Reusable Tampon (Oy, not for the faint of heart) – I probably will abstain from making these… unless, of course civilization comes barrelling down around me and I can’t buy what I need from a store.
  • Eyeball with Nerve Endings: Make a bunch of these for your Halloween party. Then through them at your guests… then they can say they had the unique experience of being pelted with eyeballs.
  • Monkey (OMG this monkey is so cute)
  • Naalepuder (flower-shaped pincushions): Really cute especially with variegated or rainbow yarn. Original pattern in Danish. Floral Pincushions

Knitting:

This ferret looks smashing in what appears to be Noro Kureyon Sock

This ferret looks smashing in what appears to be Noro Kureyon Sock

Pirate Mittens (Available on Ravelry as a free download):

Pirate Mittens

Pirate Mittens

The Beanis (warning may offend… what is it? It rhymes with ‘beanis’… you figure it out. No I’m not posting photo here.)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Pirate Eye-Patch for your cat. I couldn’t post because the pattern/website no longer exists. But one could easily use their imagination to create one of their own.

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Filed under Aran, Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Fun Stuff, Gifts, Knit, Knitting, Pattern Links, Patterns, Project, Sock Summit, Socks, Stashbuster, Yarn

Explore the New “Black” in Craft Fashion – Crochet

Lily Chins gorgeous crochet lace dress

Lily Chin's gorgeous crochet lace dress

The image above ( Lily Chin designed lace crochet dress found in the first issue of Interweave Crochet – 2004 under “Lace Dress”) and many others inspires me to learn and make more crochet garments that are fashionable and practical. I will always be a knitter, but in the past two years I’ve developed a burgeoning love affair with the craft of crochet.

I’m again teaching beginning crochet at the Naked Sheep Knitshop in North Portland. I get more and more excited each time I teach this class. It simply seems that crochet designers are really challenging the stereotypes of crochet as being the clunky and less graceful of the fiber arts. Gorgeous designs from Lily Chin, Doris Chan, Kristin Omdahl, etc have proven that crochet can not just be couture gorgeous, it can take the form of practical fashion.

“Beginning Crochet” can help learning fiber crafters attain the skills needed to start exploring the fashion options in crochet. In the last class, after we learned all the basic stitches and how to increase, decrease, and crochet in the round. We learned how to make basic lace in crochet. The students were very interested in learning how to crochet hats and berets so I taught them how to calculate increases in the round and develop your basic hat and beret like this one:

Crochet Beret with the Puffy Stitch

Crochet Beret with the Puffy Stitch

I actually adjusted Pretty Puffs Slouchy Hat for smaller gauge yarn so I could use Elsebeth Lavold’s Cable Cotton. In the class the students learned how to ‘do the math’ to figure out how to adjust stitches in a pattern to match their sizes and the type and weight of yarn they were using.

You can read about the basic structure of the course in a previous post and view some pretty examples of crochet stitch patterns:

https://natknits.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/learn-to-crochet-starts-july-20/

Here are the class details which you can also view on the Naked Sheep’s Knitshop’s Website. Hope to see you there 🙂 :

Learn to Crochet- Starts September 15th
with Natalie
$55
If you want to learn to crochet or just need a refresher course, this class is for you! You’ll learn the basics in just 3 classes and get started on the project of your choice!

Tuesdays ( September 15, 22 and 29)
6:30-8:30pm

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Filed under Cotton, Craft, Creativity, Crochet

I’m full. I can’t possibly knit anymore

No, not really. I could actually keep knitting.

Yesterday I hosted a Yarntasting party in Overlook Park.

At least over twenty people showed up from the invitee list. It was such great fun!!!! Surprisingly, it was a bit chilly and windy early when we started but the sun eventually came out. Many people brought food and drink to snack on while we were knitting.  There was a bit of a mix up with the parks area because they double booked the spot.  A poor woman showed up around 12:00 puzzled because she’d booked the site from 9:00 to the end of the day.  The last hour of the Yarntasting was a bit rushed, but all in all it was great! And I got to meet a lot of wonderful Portland Knitters.

A few people did try to crochet their samples. Others like Puppydog knits created a sample mini scarf from their swatches.

Artfibers Swatch Scarf

Artfibers Swatch Scarf by Puppydog Knits

Located outside of San Francisco in Pinole, California, Artfibers has been producing their uniquely gorgeous artisan yarns for over 15 years. At our Yarntasting there were about 180 different gorgeous fiber samples of 38 different yarn lines to choose from ranging from blends made from alpaca to yak. You can see all of the yarns (and more) we tried at this event on the Artfibers yarn page.

I’m going to try to keep a log of fibers I both tried and took smaller samples from. It was virtually impossible to try all of the them but my favorites on the spot were (I will post photos as soon as my camera battery is charged up and I can find my blasted USB cord for my camera):

  • Cassanova (Tussah Silk/ Mulberry Silk) – So beautiful I made swatches of two colors. Gorgeously soft with just the amount of sheen from the silk. It doesn’t hurt that the colors are absolutely gorgeous from a deep velvety teal to a pink and plum multi-color shown here.
  • Casanova 18 & Safa 12

    Casanova 18 & Safa 12

  • Bunnuit (53% Tussah Silk/40% Angora/7% Mulberry Silk) – I normally don’t like angora in such a large percentage in a yarn, but married with the silk it seems to work for me. The black angora bathes the rich multi-colored variation in this yarn in a halo of dark softness. The result is an amazingly rich texture and colorway. Did I mention that it’s super baby soft too?
  • Bunnuit 03

    Bunnuit 03

  • Chutney (100% Wild harvested silk bourette) – While Chutney isn’t as soft as the previous two yarns, I still love it because of how it shows off beautiful hand painted colorways.  Lately, I’ve learned to love the rawer silks because they produce lovely summer garments with a good deal of breathability and drape without skimping on the warmth coverage when you need it on those cool summer nights. I actually crocheted the swatch you see in the photo below. (Still need to take a photo).

Almost all the favorites I picked have silk in them. I suddenly realized that this was because Artfibers has mastered the secret of making truly fantastic soft and luxurious yarns using silk and silk blends.

Other yarntastees are posting their photos and pictures. I’ll be posting these up here as I find them.

Me forgetting how many inches were in a yard... Doh! Excitement gets to you.

Me forgetting how many inches were in a yard... Doh! Excitement gets to you.

Yarn1

The yarn samples

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Filed under Art, Colors, Community, Creativity, Dye, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Portland, Portland Crocheters, Portland Knitters, Yarn

My Fiber Ed at the Knit and Crochet Show

I attended the Knit and Crochet Show this week and was fortunate enough to take two classes.

Fine shaping in crochet with Lily Chin. I recommend taking this class to anyone who has felt frustrated or limited with construction and design options in crochet. Lily’s excellent class helped open doorways to understanding how to shape garments in crochet.

Part of our homework including making an eight inch swatch of a crochet stitch pattern of our choice and making several Xerox copies of the stitch. She showed us how to create a graph template using inch grid chart paper from any garment. She also demonstrated that we could carefully lay out the Xerox copies of our stitch pattern and estimate or plan out our design on the template.

Lily truly is a talented instructor and a storehouse of knowledge about her craft. She shared some of her design stories and swatches.  She told the story of her adventure of crafting a beautiful metallic thread crochet dress and the trial and error process she went through to make a stunning evening dress worn by Cindy Crawford. I scoured the Internet looking for an image of the dress but I could not find it. I honestly think this was one of the most helpful classes in fiber craft I’ve ever taken and I recommend this for anyone who’s itching to boost their skills in crochet and garment design. I can only imagine that her knitting classes are just as enlightening.

I went home and ordered a copy of Couture Crochet as soon as I got home.

Click the image to view the book at Interweave Press

Click the image to view the book at Interweave Press

Designer Day with Janet Szabo. I got a lot of important and useful information and insights on launching one’s own career in the world of fiber design. It was a really valuable class for anyone who is interested in becoming a designer of knit or crochet.

She was able to dispell some of the myths lodged in my brain about getting started as a designer and self-publishing. One of the most important lessons I learned: if you want to insure that your patterns are the best and secure a good reputation as a designer, hire a tech editor to check your patterns.

This class was a good start to understanding what it takes to launch a business as a designer but I would also encourage those who are interested to check SCORE or the SBA (Small Business Association) for classes. I took a class a year or so ago on writing business plans that was very helpful.

On another note, Janet has written two books that I’ve found indispensable:

I Hate to Finish Sweaters &

Aran Sweater Design

Click the image to view the book at Janets site.

Click the image to view the book at Janet's site.

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Filed under Aran, Challenge, Creativity, Crochet, Fashion, Garment Design, Knit

Scratch that… no, unravel it

In the previous post I mentioned that I would dye machine knit blanks of my cotton yarn, assuming that I would knit all of these up in the handy knitting machine I bought for making hats and things.  I tried making a long blank with three 109 yard skeins of cotton and discovered that this knitting machine abhors working with cotton. After picking up slipped stitches with a crochet hook over 2 dozen times, I said enough!

So I unraveled the long ugly tubey thing I spent the entire afternoon making and unwound it around two wooden chairs set about 12 feet apart.  I did this with two more skeins until I got bored and moved on to something else. 13 more skeins to go… sigh.  It occured to me that I could play something cheery and tongue in cheek as I walked around the chairs to wind the yarn. Maybe… some Lord Kitchener.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqWLwZIncec]

Knitting has taught me the value of endless patience. Dyeing seems to be gifting me with the lesson of careful preparation and planning.  Several months ago, if you asked me if I would go to this length to prepare fiber to knit a sweater, I’d flatly say… no.  I couldn’t see past my love of knitting.

A year later, and now I’m finding myself branching into other fiber related crafts. I actually want to spend more time investigating crochet in depth and improve my skill at shaping and building structures in crochet.  I spend a great deal of time making garments, maybe I need to investigate knitting and crocheting other objects including un-utilitarian ones.

It’s a little late, but here’s my short reflection/inventory of things learned and things I’d like to learn this year.

A few things I tried last year:

  • Knitting with metal and beads – fun but it hurts.
  • Spinning – I used a drop spindle to make my first single ply yarn. I think I’m going to continue investigating
  • Dyeing – I… am addicted. Sad when you get to the point where you’re looking through your stash for lightly colored or white yarns just to satisfy your need for a dyeing fix.

Things I still need to do or want to try:

  • Gansey knitting – I still need to finish my Lochniver sweater
  • Steeking
  • Crocheting a small blouse in a simple lace stitch
  • Color work/Fair Isle knitting
  • Design and knit a real Aran sweater (with cables)
  • Start a podcast- this is a difficult one for me. I often think that I haven’t started this yet becuase I get my “I need to talk about knitting/crafting” fix with the wonderful group over at my knit night at the Naked Sheep Knit Shop.

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Filed under About Me, Challenge, Community, Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Dye, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Fair Isle, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Portland Knitters, Reflection, Yarn

Experiment #3: Planning a colorway

Dyeing cotton fibers is such a pain. Not only do I want to make sure that the pain is worth it, I want to make sure I get it right the first time.  Not to mention, I’ll be using my precious Artfibers cotton (Rush), and I really don’t want to over-dye any of this stuff.

I’ve decided to knit up the skeins of blank cotton yarn I have with a knitting machine and then paint these long blanks by hand using a color combo of four (see below).

(clock wise from the top left) Black Cherry, Brazilnut, Dusty Rose, and Raspberry

Four colors of Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dye: (clock wise from the top left) Black Cherry, Brazilnut, Dusty Rose, and Raspberry

This may sound a bit geeky, and I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, but I used a graphics program to ‘plan’ out the color on the blanks.  I think I’ll actually dye a test blank in leftover dyes that I’m not crazy about using one of the patterns below. Pattern 1 will result in a graduated dye dispersal. Pattern 2 is a recipe for plain striping. Pattern three will create broad strips of color with blends of the dye colors in criss-cross patterns dispersed throughout the fabric.

I want to know what the color patterns will be like in a large panel of stockinette knitting (say for a sweater).  If only my math and programming skills were sharper, I could actually create a program that would help me estimate the staggering of the pattern based on the length and width of the knitting and the stitch gauge. Actually, I could probably do it if I had the time, but for now, I’m just going to have to rely on both my imagination and powers of estimation.

Pattern 1

Pattern 1

Pattern 2

Pattern 2

Pattern 3

Pattern 3

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Filed under Colors, Colorwork, Cotton, Creativity, Dye, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Knit, Knitting, Math, Project, Stockinette, Sweater, Techniques, Yarn

Needed some color to brighten up my winter

Hopefully we’ve seen the last of the snow for now. Hopefully.

I meant to post more photos from the dye work I did in December. I finally got around to snapping pictures of the more of the skeins of yarn I dyed.  Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Northwest Woods (probably for a pair of socks for my brother Ted)

Autumn Fire

Amazon Parrot

Note, I’ve discovered the fine art of squeezing the dye and painting the right amounts of yarn.  I was happy with all my colourways except for one. I didn’t include it here, it was supposed to emulate the colors in a peacock feather, but i think I should have used more dark green. I need to overdye this yarn or repaint it.

Sample of the Blouson from Interweave Knits

I also dyed a good deal of peruvian cotton (about 17 skeins) for the 1824 Blouson pattern.  Let me tell you, dying cotton (and I assume other plant fibers) is a royal pain in the ass.  It wasn’t so much the pre-washing of the fibers in a solution of synthropol then soaking them in a soda ash solution, or dissolving the large amounts of salt into the dye water before adding the urea solution and dye. I REALLY REALLY hated the process of washing out the excess dye and other chemical badness in the yarn after the dyeing was over. Ick. I could never truly felt  that I got it ALL  out. On top of that I’m not sure I want to make a simple stockinette stitch pattern like the Blouson… since dyeing this yarn was such a labor intensive process. Two or three skeins of the yarn are a bit darker than I expected. I think I may have soaked them in too much soda ash solution, but I don’t mind the color imperfection. I think it adds more appeal and a hand-fashioned look to the final product.

Not to mention the warning on the package of the dye said something like… the state of California warns that this produce may cause cancer!!!!

I have decided that I will dye up a few more batches of cotton yarn, just enough to use up the dyes I purchased and from now own I’ll only dye wools, animal fibers and nylon. Or I’ll use Kool-aid and other foodbased dyes.  I have a sweater’s worth of Artfibers Rush I need to dye and some skeins of mercerized cotton. Maybe I should invite some friends over… “Hey, share the cancer!”

Luna dyed with Seafoam & Grey Mist (formerly "Sunlight" yellow)

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Filed under Colors, Colorwork, Cotton, Craft, Creativity, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Eco, Fibers, Fun Stuff, Knit, Knitting, Socks, Stockinette, Techniques, Wool, Yarn