Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stitches West was GREAT!

I had such a wonderful time at Stitches West, the big fiber event in Santa Clara this weekend.

On Friday, I took an all-day class in Knitting Rugs, not my first choice, but I registered late, and had to take what was left. It turned out to be a big surprise, with a wonderful history lesson in how our ancestors creatively reused anything made of fiber up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We are now only beginning to appreciate their efforts as we attempt to create our own  interpretations of  reuse of materials.

My two favorites of the rug samples we created are shown below:

Rug class samples

The beginning of the the rug on the left is the center core of a washboard rug, comprised of  knitted strips of yarn. (To be historically correct, I should use wool, but the center is the remains of some silk yarn.) This would be a great use of extra wool, especially the shades of purple in the Noro that I still have left from my sweater. Combined with purple alpaca, it is extremely soft. How, then, could I ever put it on the floor?

The rug on the right is based on a Shaker confetti rug, with strips of cloth knitted into the rows of plain knitting. Of course, Shakers never used batiks, like I did. This is a perfect one for me and would be a good use of all those extra strips of batik that I cut up for the jacket I was going to make but eventually made placemats!

Below on the right is my favorite rug of our teacher, Rose Ann Hunter.

Rug class - 1

On Saturday, I took a one-hour market class in mitred squares from Cindy Craig. Mitred squares are also known as Domino Knitting, whereby decreasing in the center of a long strip rather than at the ends forms a square. I have a project started that uses large mitred squares and felt I really needed some pointers. I certainly got what I was looking for and Cindy’s class was a huge help.

Below right is my first attempt and on the left is my second attempt. (Note that the angle on the lower left red square is going the wrong way.) Huge improvement. Thank you, Cindy! As with anything, it’s practice, practice, practice.

Mitred squares examples

Of course, the highlight of Stitches West is the market. I was able to find the things I was really looking for on the first day. Then, I could relax and appreciate the yarns the rest of the time.

Friday, I went alone, but on Saturday, I went over with my friend, Annie, the inkle loom weaver. On Saturday, it snowed both going over the mountain and returning in the evening. (This comment is for the benefit of my friends on the East Coast who think it’s always at least in the 50’s here.) Annie showed me a booth that I had missed where I found an antique bone weaving needle. Thank you!

On the more serious side, I bought yarn to use with yarn I already had. I got some dark yarn to make another heavy sweater I can wear around our cold house. Books. I’m such a sucker for books. But, I found some really good ones I had to have. I even found something to use in my other fiber arts.

I got a Ravelry button and a Stitches West button.

Even though I’ve now been knitting for about 6 years, I feel like I’m such a new knitter. I enjoy it so much. Just keep it up!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spring in February

Blossoms in February 2011

I figure I’d better get these plum blossoms posted before the weather changes.

I know there’s several feet of snow back east, but here, it’s a very early Spring and the alley behind our house is lovely. Of course, the blossoms drop within about a day, but for the weekend, they’re lovely and their sweet scent is not overpowering.

The Artist has been busy not only carving his Medieval tables, but also making me some looms. I’ve always wanted to weave, as if knitting and sewing is not enough, and after I saw a tiny little 2” square hand loom in an old magazine, I asked him if he could make one for me.  The Artist researched hand looms on the Internet and presented me with not only a 4” loom, but the instructions (from 1936) as well. I’m practicing. What will I “make”? I have no idea if I will ever have a finished product. But I really like it and I can use up all my yarn bits.

Little Loom samples - first 5


Then, on Wednesday, I received an even larger loom from The Artist. I’m almost afraid to start using it, but I sure do like it! It’s 24”x18”.

Big loom