Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yarn Harlot Visits New York!

I had the delightful, extraordinary experience of sitting in a full lecture hall at FIT in NYC on Thursday evening the 22nd, with 750 people, all knitting at once, laughing and hooting while listening to Stephanie Pearl Mc Phee ( aka Yarn Harlot) on the pleasures of knitting and the problems of communicating with the "muggles" who still believe that knitting isn't cool, and that there couldn't possibly be so many knitters who: like sock yarn enough to join a sock yarn of the month club, use computers, go to knitting conferences andretreats, read books about knitting or write "real" books about knitting...It was a fun, amazing event! They had red bags at each chair with a set of size 8 needles and some Patons SWS yarn, and instructions to make a block to donate to afghans...everyone knit furiously on socks. blocks, sweaters, etc.I didn't see anyone I recognized, but enjoyed sitting with generous strangers, one of whom was wearing a Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl in delicious jaggerspun Claret Zephyr, and another person who knits HarryPotter-themed hats. I saw many Clapotis, one Knit Around Sweater, tons of socks...on the way there, I stopped in at Habu textiles and School Products, which had tons of hand dyed cashmere, yak, camel, silk tape, etc.There are 17 yarn stores in NYC alone! Here is a link to a fantastic interactive map of them : Check out this . Stephanie asked us each to think of our own stash, then look around us and imagine all the stashes of all the knitters in the room--what an experience! I also got her new book, laughed some more on the train home reading it. The knitting world is different from quilters; more broad spectrum, more isolated I think, although with the rise of blogs and Internet sites knitters are beginning to connect more. It seems more shop-based rather than guild-based, but it is another (mostly female) force to recon with...fascinating to be in both worlds. Similar issues preoccupy both groups, but there is a lot of crossover. Sometime I'll have to write more about this, but I need more research. LOL... ...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Playing with designs

I was playing with graph paper and Excel for charting lace motifs , but disliked the constant erasing and laborious keyboarding. I was thinking I'd love some manipulable thing that could easily translate onto paper when I'd figured out the stitch sequences.. Well, a few years ago I bought a toy called "Magnetic Mosaics" from for my kids but never used it. I pulled it out, and was very happy to find a set of many colors of 1/4 inch magnets, and a magnetic board. I assigned each stitch a color, in this case blue for knit, black for yarnovers and green for K2tog and SSk, light green for K3tog. I placed a piece of 4 to the inch graph paper over the board, and lined up the magnets on the grid. I enjoyed playing with stitch patterns and was able to create some interesting patterns this way. It made it easy to create a motif, and then move it where I wanted. To insert a stitch, or change a K to a K2tog I could just switch colored magnets or slide a whole row over. I'm enjoying playing with this a lot! I just might design something new...when i finish all the other things in the works. Never enough time!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Joining Cotton yarn

I had to share my exciting discovery of the day. I'm playing with creating a cardigan sweater based on the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl in A Gathering of Lace, using Cotton Classic yarn ( because I had a bunch of it in stash). I'm having a wonderful time modifying the geometry of this square shawl into a top down in the round cardigan shape, but became annoyed by the tendency of cotton yarn to poke out when ending /beginning balls. "Weave in ends" just doesn't cut it. In wool, I like to spit splice, so the ends felt together and you don't have a noticable bump. In cotton, the stuff won't do that. So, what is a contemporary fiber artist to do?
I tried fusing the ends with liquid fuse ( a liquid product to fuse cotton fabrics together using heat from your iron). This left a fused yarn, but stiff and gluey. Not terrible, but not entirely satisfactory. Next I tried Bo-Nash powder. This stuff is little granules of fusable, and while it is annoying to work with as it flies around, can be tamed with a bit of water on the yarn, and using a paintbrush to apply granules to the remaining plies. I removed 1/2 inch of 2 plies on each end of the yarn, overlapped and applied a bunch of Bo-Nash, wrapped in teflon sheet as directed, ironed, and was thrilled to find a soft, almost un noticable, flexible join. I had to let it set for a little bit , but it was strong enough to withstand a gentle tug, and the label says it is washable, etc. For the small amount of stress that yarn gets after being knitted, it seems like this will hold sufficiently. It probably also would work for " tacking down" the ends that always seem to come loose in cotton yarns.