Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Heart Challenge

I've moved onto the second pattern from the Brigitte Bellon book.  I won't tell you how I know this but when you work this pattern, don't do it at one in the morning on a long weekend.  It'll catch you out sure as sure.  Not hard but tricky.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Coming Home

For quite a few months, I've been posting project photos on social media instead of here on the blog but I've decided it's time to come home.  To be perfectly honest, I was doing that because it was easier and seemed more immediate and I was being lazy) but, in the process, I've lost the recorded thread of the creative life.

So I've come home and look forward to being able to say more about what's going on along my creative path.

I have a long post about my progress and study through the Ulrike Voelker workbook on Torchon Bobbin Lace, having gone almost all the way through the first volume, but I've taken a little side road looking at Russian Tape lace.  This type of lace, typical of the lace made throughout Russian and the Eastern European countries, features tapes that undulate and move through often very complex designs as well as leaf tallies, braids, picots and discs that are used as fillers in between the loops of lace.

Here is a very simple, very beginner piece that I've just completed, taken from Brigitte Bellon's book, Gekloppelte Fruhlingsmotive.  It has many of the basic characteristics of the style.  As you can see, it's a very sweet little motif but it's definitely a beginner's effort.


Actually, it's a better effort than my first attempt, which shall remain quietly in the background.  I have a few more pieces from this book to try and then I will go back to attempting some patterns from one of the vintage books on Russian Tape lace I downloaded from the University of Arizona website.   Although some of the books are in Russian, the photos/woodcuts are distinct enough for me to learn from. 

I've also been discovering a couple of Russian lacemakers who have posted teaching videos on YouTube, such as this and this.  Even though I'm sure I'm missing out some of the details because I don't speak Russian, the videos are clear enough to be hugely helpful.  Thanks, ladies, for your generosity in sharing your art!  It's simplicity made into high art.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Puzzle

So what do you do when you have a skein of multicolor chunky single-ply yarn that's pretty but doesn't have enough yardage to really do anything with?  

What if you have another ball that's a lace-weight solid color yarn that you don't yet have a project for?

What if you try to combine them? What size needle would you use?  What would you make with them?

It's kind of a fun project to figure out. 

For me, I decided to do a cowl. The chunky would be nice and warm and the lace-weight would allow me to add some nice details. 

I started off with a sort of in-between needle size but quickly realized that it was going to be way too small for the chunky. Since I was going to be doing a lacy insert into plain stockinette, I realized I could use different size needles for each of the yarns with very little effort and bridge the gap that way. 

So I did stockinette for the chunky using size 8-9 needles and then I transitioned to size 4 needles for the lace. 

For the lace I did a really simple, super lacy old lace pattern called "faggoting" which is simply doing 1 round of yarnover/knit 2 together and 1 round of knit. These 2 rounds are repeated as often as needed to make it the length you want. 

I did a few short sections in the bottom before knitting a long center section, basically to use up the whole skein. 

I was going to do a long lace section before doing the edging but I got bored so it was shorter. This was one occasion I was glad of my sometimes short attention span because it came out much better. 
I used a little 8-stitch VanDyke edging from the 1846 Cornelia Mee book to edge it (which took forever!) so it ended up like this. 
It turned from being a snood to a lacy neck warmer and I love it. 

So go explore your stash and try your hand at combining 2 different yarns that you might not have thought to put together. See what you come up with!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Another one down

I wrote a beautiful long post this morning and with a swipe of the finger, I managed to delete it before publishing. Hmmmm… So I'll try to recreate it knowing it's never as good the second time around. 

I finished a skein of milk chocolate brown silk that I started a couple of years ago. 
In the process of the plying, I learned something new. 

While looking for a video to help a friend of mine with her new spinning wheel, I found one by Tim from New Voyager Trading who distributes Kromski spinning wheels. In the video, he makes the point that when you spin with a Z twist, you use the brake band strung from right to left. That's how they come. 
However, his point was that when you have spun your singles with Z twist, you ply using an S twist. For this, reversing the direction of the break band, stringing it from left to right makes the scotch tension much more efficient. 
You can see that I've strung the cord over the mother of all, then through the left hook and over the bobbin to the right-side hook. I'd never thought about it befor but it makes sense. It uses the action of the spring and improves the draw in while plying. 

It was like a Festivus miracle!  It made a real difference. I do have a project in mind for this yarn, which I'll share more about later. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Beading Your Purse

The other night I was looking for something in my home office and found this little beaded coin purse that I'd made about 10 years ago.
After posting it on Facebook, I had a request for the pattern.  It's a really basic beaded purse pattern that you can adapt to fit whatever size purse frame you have.  These purse frames can usually be found at chain craft stores, although you can also find them online.

You can also find kits to made this type of coin purse at some craft and/or knitting stores or online but it's just as easy to buy a spool of perle cotton and some strands of pre-strung seed beads.

So here's how I made mine.  This is a "down and dirty" pattern, written out from looking at my purse. Make, do, change to your heart's content and to fit your own purse frame.  And, most of all, enjoy!

Beaded Coin Purse
  • Size 8 perlé cotton (with beads loaded – load as many beads as you can manage since you’ll have to cut the thread to load another set of beads and then make a join.)
  • Size 10 or 11 seed beads (pre-strung strands of bead make it easy to transfer the beads onto the perlé cotton.  You’ll use approximately 3,000 beads. The easiest way to transfer the seed beads to the perlé cotton is to make a loop at the end of the sewing thread holding the beads and rest the end of the perlé cotton through the loop.  This will allow you to slide the beads from the sewing thread onto the perlé cotton.)
  • Size 0 or 1 knitting needles
  • Lining material
  • Purse frame

Piece is worked flat and then stitched together when attached to the purse frame.  This may not be the best project for working on the move. 

For the smaller coin purse frame, I cast on 28 stitches. Knit 2 rows without beads.  This will give you an edge to attach to the purse frame.

Basic row: K2, *slip 1 bead, K3* (repeat across to last 2 stitches), K2

Every row will be knit in this manner, the only difference being the number of beads you slip.

Work the basic row 2 times slipping 1 bead.
Work the basic row 4 times slipping 2 beads.
Work the basic row 4 times slipping 3 beads.
Work the basic row 90 times slipping 4 beads.
Work the basic row 4 times slipping 3 beads.
Work the basic row 4 times slipping 2 beads.
Work the basic row 2 times slipping 1 beads.

Knit 2 rows.  Bind off.

Using the lining material, cut a piece a little larger than the purse.  Shape the ends to match the curve of the purse frame.  Sew the lining, making sure to leave enough of the side open to accommodate the purse frame. 

Sew the sides of the knitted purse together, leaving enough of the side open to accommodate the purse frame.

With the wrong side of the lining facing the wrong side of the knitted purse, fold in the lining to hide the edge of the material and stitch the pieces together.


Attach the purse and lining to the purse frame, making sure there is room for the frame to open and close.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Antique Spinning Wheels

I get asked by new spinners or those who would like to learn to spin and are looking for a wheel that is affordable whether they should buy a used or antique spinning wheel.  To be honest, my answer 99.9% of the time is no.  Even for more experienced spinners, my answer would be a very reluctant maybe (with a lot of grimacing and shrugging of shoulders).  The vast majority of the used/antique wheels are not functional.  I came across this video by the always wonderful Abby Franquemont where she discusses what specifically to look for when considering a wheel you might find on the internet or in an antique shop.


I particularly like her comment near the end that if you're shopping for your first wheel or your only wheel, you should go for one that is a "newer" used wheel, i.e. one that is still being manufactured so you can easily get any missing parts, and that you should buy it from a spinner who can assure you that it is in working order.

So, thanks Abby for making your video so I don't have to and providing a practical guide for this important question.

I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who have dreamed of learning to spin only to waste their money on a wheel that isn't functional.  This is to keep you from being such a person.  I know you don't have money to waste because you need to buy fiber to spin!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Experiment Time

I love, love, love experimenting. To just get a bunch of stuff and start putting it together in different ways to see what happens is heaven to me. Whether it's cooking or knitting or spinning or anything else, that's what I love. But I don't get as much time for it as I used to or as much as I would like to. 

My new spinning project, though, is just that. I've had an idea in my head for a while now to do a riff on tartan patterning with spun yarn. I did a few samples several years ago when this first came to mind and loved how they came out but I just never got back to it. 

Now it's my Year of Completion so it's time to get stuck in and experiment. I have a lot of fiber I've been collecting that are appropriate colors for tartan patterning but I also had some fun tropical colors I found the other day in a local shop so I thought I'd use that for my first experiment. 
I don't know if you can see the purple at the bottom, that's serving as my deep color. They are fun and cheery colors, perfect for this past stormy, cold week, and I know I'll make at least one person happy (Michelle) with it no matter how it turns out!

It's going to end up being about a DK weight, I think, and should make a fun scarf or shawlette. Not sure yet what the yardage will be but it should be enough for at least that. 

Most of the fiber I'm using is what I found at Mary Lynn's Yarn Garden in downtown Bloomington and it is spinning like a dream. They sell it by the ounce so you can get as much or as little as you want.