Thursday, January 27, 2011

Growing Baby Blanket

I need to knit one more round on this blanket and finish off with I-cord. I should be able to get that done by this time next week and then get some bibs knitting up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Offering Designs for Sale

I have several designs running around in my head, mostly shawls, some caps and scarves, and I am finally going to get around to selling my own designs. First thing is to get them all written down and proofed. Second thing is to set up a PayPal account so that I can sell directly from my blog as well as off of Ravelry. At any rate, I can at least rewrite the free pattens I have posted on my blog as PDF files for downloading.

But, before I get to that point....I....have....to....finish....the.....baby.....blanket! ARRGG! Too much knitting, not enough time....baby due in two weeks! Yikes!

Knitting Needle Conversion Chart

My mom just called with a question about needle size, US vs British. I checked Ravelry and they posted a chart by Purple Kitty. When I checked the website I noticed that they offer the chart as a PDF file download. For those of you who would like to save a copy on your computer or print it off to stick in your bag, here is the link: Knitting Needle Conversion Chart.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Knitting Guilt

Do you ever find yourself bogged down with a project and a deadline looming ahead and you just can't stand it until you 'sample' a yarn for your next project? Sigh. The gauge of my baby blanket project has made it a bit tedious and I keep thinking about some Manos del Uruguay yarn lurking in my stash that is destined to become a large circular shawl with a spoke pattern of increases. I got just enough done on my sample to get it onto a 16" needle and now I am ready to go back to the baby blanket.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kaloncho in the Garage

I moved my Kaloncho into the garage, instead of the house, from the front porch when the weather turned cold and it is doing much better than it ever did in the house. It is directly in front of a south facing window and has curved over to use the decorative top edge of the shelf it is sitting on for a support. It has put out several air roots and the leaves I stuck into the soil in the pot are sprouting baby plants on the edges of the leaves. I don't know a lot about plants, but I thought this type of plant would do better in warmer weather.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Apple Leef Farm Class Schedule

Just got this email from Leef at Apple Leef Farm with her schedule of classes:

 JANUARY 2011

  • January 22, Saturday     10am - 12noon
    TWIST & SHOUT   Free Class
    Fine tune your plying skills, making beautifully balanced skeins that work perfectly in your projects by understanding the physics of spinning.  Bring any "problem" skeins you might want to decipher.  Bring your wheel, fiber, plying kate (preferably tensioned) and some knitting needles for swatching.
  • January 23, Sunday     1pm - 4pm
    LEARN TO SPIN ON A DROP SPINDLE

    One of the oldest spinning tools is the hand spindle.  They have been found all over the world in just about every culture.  Learn how to make good functional yarns using this simple tool.
    Things to bring:  top or bottom whorl hand spindle, 4 - 6 ounces of roving.  You can also purchase a spindle and roving here at ALF.
    COST - $45.00    
  • January 29, Saturday     10am - 4pm
    INTERMEDIATE SPINNING
    This class is designed to concentrate on spinning techniques and spinning draws to maximize the potential of your fibers and end products. 
    Cost - $60.00     This is a full day of spinning!
  • January 30, Sunday     1pm - 4:30pm
    HANDPAINTING PROTEIN FIBERS
    Dyeing your own yarn or roving is a whole new level of excitement!  There are many methods to getting luscious color onto your fibers, and this class will concentrate on hand-painting dye onto your roving or spun yarn.  We will use protein fibers and Landscape dyes, however the techniques you will learn will transfer to any fiber and their relative dye.
    COST - $45.00 plus a dye fee of $7.00

FEBRUARY 2011

  • February 5, Saturday     10am - 5pm
    FIBER PROCESSING

    This class is designed to teach you the entire process from selecting a fleece to getting it ready to spin! 
    COST - $60.00 plus a supply fee of $5.00
  • February 6, Sunday     1pm - 4:30pm
    KNITTING WITH CABLES
    Cables add rich texture and intrigue to any garment.  From basic crossover stitches to complex Celtic knots, the imagination can put them together in more ways than can be counted.  This class will teach you the basics of knitting cables to charts and designs.
    Cost - $40.00
  • February 13, Sunday     1pm - 5pm
    TRILOOM WEAVING
    Learn how to weave using a triloom.  No shuttles to wind, heddles to thread or loom to warp.  Design and GO!  You will warp and weft at the same time.  Triangles can be made in any size, depending on your loom size and can be put together in any configuration you can imagine for a huge variety of garments, accessories, and home items.
    Cost - $45.00
  • February 19, Saturday     12noon - 5pm
    COLD PROCESS SOAP MAKING
    This class teaches the basics of making cold processed soap.  You will learn a bit about the chemistry of soap, how to properly formulate your soap recipes based on SAP values and lye coefficients, how to make educated selections for base oils and fats, and a solid procedure for making and curing your soap for a quality product.
    Cost - $60.00
  • February 20, Sunday     12noon - 4pm
    FABULOUS "Light as a Feather" FELTED SCARVES
    These scarves have to be seen to believe!  They are light as air, warm and so pretty you will make them over and over again.  A beautiful fabric that takes so little of luxury fiber!  You will learn how to plan your scarf, prepare your fibers, lay them out, felt and full them.  This is an all day workshop.
    Cost -  $60.00 plus a $20.00 supply fee
  • February 26, Saturday      12noon - 5pm
    SPINNING, DYEING AND FINISHING SILK
    Silk is such a beautiful and lustrous fiber to spin!  This workshop will show you how to prepare and spin all the various forms of silk available to spinners today.  You will also learn how to dye silk.  Even though it is an expensive fiber relative to our wools and such, it takes MUCH less to produce light and airy products than wool!  So working with small amounts is a pleasure! 
    Cost -  $60.00 plus a supply fee of $20.00 for silk fibers
  • February 27, Sunday     1pm - 4pm
    CRAFTING WITH RAFFIA (Part 1)
    Once you learn how to braid raffia and how to stitch it and make turning rows, you can shape it into anything from bags, mats, baskets and HATS.  We will make a hat in this class, just right for the summer!
    Cost - $65.00 (both sessions)

MARCH 2011

APRIL 2011

Sincerely,
 
Leef
APPLE LEEF FARM
Van Alstyne, Texas

Farm Website (check out our FREE Patterns):  http://appleleeffarm.com/
 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Only Human...or... I'm Made in the Image of God ?

I hear so many times the tired old phrase, "I'm only human!", that really is nothing more than an excuse not to grow in holiness. Sure. We are human. We make mistakes. But what ever happened to the other perspective?: We are made in the image of God.

When we say we are only human doesn't that put the brakes on overcoming our shortcomings to some extent? How about this approach: God made me in His image. He expects a lot from me and gives me the grace and courage to accomplish His will in my life. Only we humans are made in God's image. Think about that for a while.

Remember that God created us and put us in charge of the rest of this earth: animals, plants, resources. We are not beasts in the field who are only intent on satisfying their needs for food and reproduction. We are above the beasts. God expects us to use the brains He gave us and realize that repeatedly making the same mistakes over and over again, expecting a different outcome, is insane.

I am tired of making excuses and hearing others excuses. Why don't we all aspire to something better than making demeaning remarks about God's creation?

Try this on for size: "Heavenly Father, I know I fall short and disappoint you, but you know I love you. Forgive my weakness and give me the strength to live up to my duties without in any way demeaning your creation. Help me to be humble without embracing a false humility that leads me to make excuses for my behavior as though I am not capable of more. Give me the strength to be perfect as you are. Help me to have perfect love for my fellow man as you do for all of us, your children." Amen.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

Do you ever think about what kind of knitter you are? Do you ever watch other people knit and learn a bit about their personality, or even your own?

I discovered Elizabeth Zimmermann over thirty years ago at a time when I was having difficulty even finishing a project because it wasn't turning out quite right. At one point, perfectionism, for me, had become a terminal disease and I got so frustrated that I tossed more than one project.

With the help of EZ I went from being a possessed knitter to a relaxed knitter. She cured me of my disease. I am not really sure how it happened, but I know she was the one who opened my eyes. Maybe it was the way she 'unvented' things. I like that word. It reminds me of Edison and how he had successfully discovered 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb.

I really don't have any worries when I knit. I don't worry about stitches falling off the needles....I just slip them back on. I don't worry about mistakes in the pattern....I just find them and make the corrections. Perhaps I am relaxed because I am comfortable with what I do. I enjoy designing shawls and hats and sometimes that can require a little frogging...ok...it can require a lot of frogging...to get the design to work. But thirty years ago I would never have been able to do what I do now because I have become a truly fearless knitter. I am not afraid to try something new.

My mom introduced me to knitting when I was about ten years old and I played around with it but didn't really delve into it until my daughter was born. I was a stay at home mom living out in the country with plenty of time on my hands and before I knew it I even had a spinning wheel....then a floor loom...and then more than one spinning wheel. There are currently four wheels hanging out in the corner of the dining room along with the small floor loom. But I digress....

I have had countless people watch me knit and shake their heads and say they would never have the patience to do that. I admit, knitting, or anything worth doing, requires a certain amount of patience. But it seems to me that knitting has taught me patience as well. It all depends on how badly we want to succeed at a particular thing. How much time are we willing to devote to perfecting something? And by perfecting I don't mean that it has no mistakes, I mean how comfortable do we feel engaging in that particular activity? If it seems like a chore, why do it? Life is too short. Find something else that is relaxing to do when you need to lower the stress level.....not raise it!

So...what kind of knitter are you?

Do you sit with your shoulders up under your ears crouched over your work swearing to yourself when you make the same mistake a dozen times?

Do you approach a project like a vendetta instead of with enjoyment?

Are you one of those people, like I used to be, who has turned perfectionism into a disease?


If any of the above apply to you....relax. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. When you get right down to it, we are only talking about sticks and string....and two stitches....knit and purl. So you make mistakes! If I had a dollar for every mistake I have made in my knitting I would have enough money to own my own yarn shop....although if you take a look in my 'sewing' room at the stash I have you might think I already do own my own yarn shop.

It's not the fact that we make mistakes in our knitting that matters: it's what we do about the mistakes! 1. Are they obvious?
2. If they are, frog back to where you made the mistake and correct it.
3. If they aren't obvious and it doesn't interfere with the pattern....who cares?

If you are a relaxed knitter...find an uptight knitter and let them see you knitting while relaxed and happy. Give them a shoulder massage. Get them off caffeine and drinking herbal tea.

If you are an uptight knitter:
1. Be reasonable when choosing a project...don't bite off more than you can chew.
2. Don't have so much invested in each and every stitch that you can't bring yourself to rip it out.
3. When you get frustrated....walk away from it...have some chocolate....or single malt...or both.
4. Don't always assume that the problem is with you.
5. Written patterns do contain mistakes at times so check around to find the corrections.
6. Give yourself a break. It takes time to become adept at something.
7. Realize what you want to do with your knitting and don't just do what everyone else is doing.
8. If all you want to do is knit caps....then knit caps for chemo patients.
9. If you want to design your own projects, jump right in....adapt existing patterns....and...make notes!
10. If you don't like the way something is working out...frog the whole thing and do something else.

And last, but not least....whether you are experienced or a novice....join Ravelry! There are so many other knitters who have 'been there and done that' with all sorts of projects and would love nothing better than to get you over the hurdle with whatever is slowing you down.

So, as EZ would say...Knit on in confidence! Be fearless!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are You a Yarn Snob?

I recently asked myself this question: Am I a yarn snob? The honest truth is.....I don't know. Being a spinner, I naturally prefer fibers like wool, silk, cotton, alpaca, camel down, etc. Once you feel the real stuff you don't want to work with acrylic if you can help it.

However, not everyone I knit for would want to care for something like 100% non-superwash wool or silk, especially if it is something that is going to be laundered quite often. I am finishing up a baby blanket out of microfiber that is super soft and will be easy to launder. Our daughter has 5 children and is expecting her 6th in a month and the one thing she doesn't have time or room for is laying something out to block and dry. Maybe, when they relocate to Texas in a few years that will change. I can always wash and block stuff myself!

So, in answer to my question....I really don't like the feel of acrylic yarn on my needles....it sets my teeth on edge. I guess I am a bit of a yarn snob, but I hope I am never an 'in your face' yarn snob. To each his/her own. I would never want to belittle the love and work that goes into ANY project made by any person no matter what the content of the yarn. But....when I have this stuff to spin for my own yarn....Hobby Lobby isn't so appealing any more.

Here Comes the Sun

The only thing more beautiful than snow is sunshine on snow...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let it Snow!

You just can't beat being snug in the house with a laptop and a basket of knitting on a day like this. All I need now is a cup of cocoa.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fiber Arts Meeting

I can't believe it has been nearly a month since I last posted something! Time flies. The Red River Fiber Arts group met today and we had a great turnout. We talked about taking a trip to Apple Leef Farm for Roc Day and we started working on a Knit Along with a simple faggot stitch lace scarf from Crystal Palace. It is great for a no-brainer take along knitting project.

We have several people who want to learn to spin and most of the group is wanting to work on knitting. I still want to explore the card weaving myself. If you are in the Sherman/Denison, Texas area look us up at the Sherman Senior Citizen Center on Thursdays from 1pm to 4pm.