Saturday, April 25, 2009

Felted Beads with Carolyn Webb

Recently, Carolyn Webb taught a class on making felted beads at Kiwi. If you've met Carolyn, you know what a wonderfully fun, creative and interesting person she is. Carolyn herself tells me that she had a lot of fun teaching the class.

The students learned how to make felted beads by wrapping roving around pencils to make a tube, which can then be cut down for shorter length beads. Using multiple colors of roving, and adding embellishments such as threads or seed beads or other beads makes the process - and the result, even more beautiful.

Carolyn tells me that the students also learned to make felt ropes to string their beads on, nd the students in the class wanted to learn to make round beads, so Carolyn taught that as well.

The results are gorgeous! Lynn referred to the class as 'outstanding' and Carolyn tells me that she would love to teach the class again. Lynn will also be carrying Carolyn's kits for making your own felted beads at home.

My Fiber Arts class has given me such great appreciation for the freedom and child-like fun of just diving in and making a happy mess with one's hands, and having the added bonus - the icing on the cake - of having something beautiful at the end that one has made with one's own hands. This sounds like just such a class!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Socks, Socks, and More Socks...

The end to my Spring semester is getting near, and I must admit, at the moment I have the attention span of a teen-aged gnat. Today, Wednesday, is one of my two days off - if one can call them that. So far today I've picked up an apartment that looks as though a bomb has gone off and they ought to bring in the sniffer dogs to search for survivors. (How does that happen in a mere 24 hours, with only two adults living here? I ask you.) I've cleaned the kitchen and bathrooms, washed laundry, watered indoor plants and outdoor, wound the clock, made the bed and put away clothes. (My husband is convinced that the footboard of our bed is an alternate closet/cum towel rack. Nothing I do or say can convince him otherwise. He is perfectly content with this arrangement of things. I can ignore it and go quietly mad, or I can pick it up while muttering naughty words to myself.) I've rounded up the trash and organized it for a trip out to the great beyond. I've filled out forms, cleaned my purse, wallet and top of my desk, and filed things. I still have to take a shower to make myself fit for human companionship.

Now that my living space is livable, I finally have to face up to all that other stuff that hangs over my head on a day off - and no, this is not one of them, posting this is a pleasurable break from the tedium. I have a final project to start for one class - at least I have an idea where to begin that, and hope to post more on it later, as it does involve yarn, knitting and probably crochet. I have the first project in progress of a series of three that are the final project for another class. I need to study for a test on Saturday. The start of my father's felted vest which was to have been his Christmas vest, and which I know he will appreciate this summer up in Montana - provided it is ever done - mocks me over to my left, as it dangles from my knitting machine. To top it off, my Mom, who spent 3 days in the hospital last week, called me this morning and asked if I could come over and help her with a couple of things. I don't have time. I know I'll do it anyway, or be eaten alive with guilt. And if one more person asks when I will write up the pattern for that lace scarf, as much as I appreciate their interest, I'm going to cry.

So when people ask me what I'm knitting right now, I force out a hollow, mirthless laugh. I'm barking mad at the moment, it is probably best not to give me sharp, pointy sticks. Evenings were always my knitting time, when I would plug in a movie, plunk down on the couch, and pick up my knitting. I like to keep an complicated, challenging and involved project on the go at home, and then a simple sock to carry around with me. But at the moment I have a complicated, involved and challenging project or two languishing on the needles in various bags and baskets around the house. If I do manage to summon the wit and the energy to lean forward and pick up my knitting while I am gazing at the tv in a slack-jawed stupor, I pick up my socks.

You may remember a couple of weeks back when I suddenly realized that Lynn positions sock yarn right next to the classroom door simply to aid in my downfall. At the time I picked up a skein of the Kaffe Fassett sock yarn from Regia, attracted to its wonderful colors. Now I don't know about you, but I have something of a problem with striped sock yarn. Yes, I know that they are meant to make your knitting like easier by providing some visual interest while you knit plain old stockinette. Okay, fine in its intent, but doesn't that bore the socks off you, no pun intended? and you can't really use it for many textured patterns because all too often the color drowns out the pattern. So I have found a solution to this, one that is simple enough for my dazed mind, yet interesting enough to keep me going through two entire socks. Texture.

for the comfortable sock knitter: CO 64 sts using the size needle you usually need for a ribbed sock. You've knit enough of them, you know what you need. I usually use US2 with 1s for the heel. Your mileage may vary.

Knit a K2, P2 rib for an inch and a half. Switch to: K 2 rounds; K2, P2 for 2 rounds, and knit the length of the leg that you want. Go ahead and knit another half inch in pattern, ending after the first knit row. Using a piece of waste sock-weight yarn, K 32 sts for the heel and then drop the waste yarn. Go back and reknit those sts in your sock yarn, and continue with the foot of the sock, knitting in pattern on the instep, and stockinette on the sole of the foot.

I like to put in the heel after I have about 2-3 inches knitted after the waste yarn o that I can try the sock on for size. Do this by picking up the sts above and below the waste yarn with needles 1 size smaller than the ones used for the rest of the sock. Remove waste yarn. Begin knitting a toe! Alternate - Round 1- K all sts; R2- Note where your two side corners of the opening are and K to last 3 sts at the side corner, K2tog, K2, ssk at each corner. Repeat those two rounds until you have reduced down to 1/2 your original heel sts, then repeat the decrease round only down to 20 sts total. Kitchener off. Now you can try on your sock to determine the foot length needed.

When sock foot is about 2.5 inches short of the length of your foot, repeat the toe directions given above in the heel, except reduce down to 16 sts. Kitchener off.

I also had some Araucania sock yarn languishing in my stash, waiting for the right thing to come along. These are being knitted in the Gschnitztal pattern from Fiber Dreams, using twisted sts to make the cable crossings. I'm really enjoying this pattern and it looks wonderful in this yarn.

So remember, when all else fails, socks won't. Off to take a shower and then go help my Mom.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Spring Yarns!

I think you know how I feel about sock yarns. As I told someone the other day - with a heartfelt sigh - I could live on a strict diet of only sock yarn. Well, take a look at this! Kiwi now has Malabrigo Sock, a wonderful new sock yarn from the same people who make the beautiful Malabrigo kettle-dyed worsted weight yarns that we all love. Malabrigo Sock measures up at 440 yards per skein, plenty for your average pair of socks. This pure super-wash merino wool is sure to spoil you in the delicious Malabrigo colors for spring.

Also new in the shop is the Rowan Colourscape Chunky from their Kaffe Fassett line. Each 100 gm. skein of 100% wool is approximately 175 yds. Kaffe Fassett is known in the knitting and textiles world as a brilliant colorist. Put his talent together with the high quality of Rowan yarns, and you are sure to have a winner.

Finally, here is a picture of Kay Trondsen with her recently finished Lady Eleanor's Stole. I'm sure you've probably seen Kay around Kiwi Knitting, she is a very talented and avid knitter, and we enjoy her company. Kay was in my recent Lady E class (as we affectionately call her) and came in to show off her finished product. Made in the entrelac technique using Noro Silk Garden, I have seen probably 20 - 25 of these finished shawls after my classes, and each is gorgeous and unique. Kay, you will have many years of enjoyment from your shawl, wear it in good health, as we say in my family.

May all of you who celebrate this week have a wonderful Passover and Easter! Best wishes from Kiwi Knitting!