About Me

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Knitter's Log, Stardate 25.04.2006

Some UFO's just deserve to be zapped, not abandoned as permanent space junk, zapped out of existence, dematerialized. And so it was I zapped another lesson in humility from several years ago and unravelled an almost complete sweater I was trying to upsize from a child's pattern.
Knitting arrogance subdued again, awareness of the sin brought home with each re-wound ball.

The yarn, a rather nice pima cotton, seemed to have survived the ordeal without dreaded kinking, maybe because I tend to knit a little loose, maybe because it was good yarn, maybe because I got lucky. Actually I was very fortunate, as I also had close to a dozen brand new skeins of the same yarn! I decided to knit Sally's Favorite Summer Sweater from Sally Melville's Knit Stitch. It's a unique design in that it has both sheer and opaque fabric. It is an easy pattern, perfect for beginners.

I actually began this sweater last fall while I kept vigil with our terminally ill daughter. It was perfect in that regard because I could work on it somewhat mindlessly, just straight knitting and pause for an occasional measurement. I completed the front and most of the back and then set it aside. I don't remember much about winter and am still surprised to find it is spring, which has kept me very busy with crazy quilting. Now and then I would work on the sweater, but
the sameness was tedious and didn't hold my attention. It has occurred to me at last that summer is rapidly approaching, and if I don't get busy, I won't have a new summer sweater!
Sally's Fave has been rescued UFOdom, total assimilation soon to be complete.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Showed and Told

Yesterday I met up with my CQ bud and local mentor Karen South at a bead show. It wasn't crowded, I guess because of Easter weekend, so we were able to sweep through pretty fast, still doing our best to distribute our dollars among all the vendors. Karen is sensible and tries to buy only what she needs. She doesn't have to stash build; she's beein CQ'ing for years. Still I tried to tempt her with my own enthusiasm and managed to get her to cave when we found a great cache of vintage German and Czech glass buttons and beads. They were tiny and perfect for embellishing, and they were 50% off! In my greed, I mean excitement, I left behind my purchase from the previous vendor.

Next was lunch and the much anticipated show and tell. Karen also took Sharon B's Encrustation class so we shared our efforts. Karen has not yet finished, but her block is so stunning she could say it was complete and no one would question it. Her stitching and beadwork are so elegant and sweeping (not tight and crowded like my own) they deserve to be showcased and can easily hold the viewer's attention without other gimmicks. Also, she has a wonderful sense of color. I also got to see her block from the beaded round robbin. Everyone's beadwork was exquisite. Also got to see other of her blocks, finished and in progress, plus some hearts she's doing for international exchange.

Besides my block I brought along my challenge scrumble, "Winter Greys". I think several of us have just about convinced Karen to give scrumbling a try. Geez, she already knows how to crochet!

I grabbed some fibers for Karen as I was leaving the house. She brought me a wonderful
squishy with fabric she knew I'd love, some of her hand dyed lace, and other goodies. Surely she was equally thrilled with the used dryer sheet I gave her!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

lt's finished!!!

finished block, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

At last my block for Sharon B's Encrusted Crazy Quilting class is complete! I enjoyed every stitch of the adventure and look forward to Sharon's next course offering. I learned a new approach to embellishing a block; instead of completely embellishing one patch before moving on, we were encouraged to think ahead and work on the whole in specific stages. I think this keeps our focus on the entire block and helps us work toward a creative goal. Another thing that falls in place with this method is
unity, better balance of line, color and motifs, all the while maintaining paths for the eye to meander along.

Please take a look at the 4 detail shots that follow and feel free to comment or ask questions.


detail1, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.


detail2, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.


detail2, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.


detail3, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

I'm thinking of stringing some seed beads through the shells and rocks to give that area more unity. I may give the fiber fluff on the beads a trim. My egret is already having a bad feather day made worse by a bad hair cut and resulting split ends!

That floral fabric patch was problematic. It was large and bold, and I wasn't sure how to encrust it. I used the buttons as the flower centers, and it still looked plain .
Added those two disc flowers with leaves, and that helped. I'm not sure what those discs are. They appear to be horn and the edges are notched. I found them in NZ. That space still needed more, so I couched down some of the yarn I used in the woven seam at the top. Being neutral but varied in color, the yarn brings a little cohesion to the spot.

Should I fill the egret's tummy? He doesn't need more flyaway feathers, but I'm tempted to embroider a fish skeleton.


detail4, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

In the upper left you can see my leopard butterfly. You can't really tell, but he has dimension. He's made from the fabric of some wild looking yarn. That's the shape of the piece as it's plied in with the yarn. I pinched it together, tucked under extra length. He's so easily lost on the dark teal background, I gave him bright turquoise eyes and legs.

How 'bout those buttons! They're from the 60's, I expressed my disappointment to the seller when I lost the bid on a lot of jungle-y buttons. He put together a similar lot just for me and included some really neat surprises .

I had to fit in maize. Underneath is a piece of the onionskin dyed satin ribbon, which actually would have been fine by itself. I decided to add just a few beads to even out the outline. Well, those gold beads went together so nicely. I have to tell you they're
Delicas (Japanese cylinder beads)so they snuggle tightly. I then used seed beads for contrast (Indian corn)in color and got texture to boot.

Monday, April 10, 2006


progress 2, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

I tried 2 things I heard about on the Crazy Quilt Embellishment list.

First I used the press and seal plastic wrap to outline the mola birds.
I traced the major lines of the mola images with a bold permanent marker. Then plaed the tracing where I wanted it. Because the plastic wrap is somewhat translucent, I could better see to position the image. I did an outline stitch right over the tracing.
Then I had to remove the plastic; I'd been forewarned to use tweezers. I found it was rather stubborn and tended to pull on my stitching and tried to take any furry fibers with it.
Maybe my outline stitching is too loose. At any rate I probably will not repeat this method lest I distort any stitches.

Take a look at my butterfly. I experimented with used dryer sheets. I had a jar of onion skin dye that I used for dyeing some ribbon for this
project. Just for the heck of it I scrunched a dryer sheet in among the onion skins and let it sit on the windowsill for a couple of days --or until I remembered it. I got just what I had hoped for. A mottled russet
color on a textured sheer (I used Bounce brand fabric sheets) looked really cool, even wrinkled. I never did iron it (one could), just smoothed it a bit with my hand.

My original intention was to use the fabric sheet in lieu of organza or chiffon and had planned to do some machine freeform on it or other fiber play. I haven't gotten that far yet.
I decided to use it as a base for my
butterfly. It won't ravel so I was already thinking flower petals and wings. This was possibly the easiest butterfly I've ever made. Outline stitch in metallics, bugle bead body,
cylinder bead eyes, straight stitch
antennae. I added dark colored French knots to the bottom wings because this is a leopard butterfly. Those are tiger lilies (I always thought they should be leopard lilies because they're spotted)next to the right, and if you can recognize the hanging orchids above, they're leopard orchids.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Humility 101: Self Taught

I learned to knit when I was 10. I learned to make ski sweaters when I was old enough to realize how much ski sweaters cost. I was a precocious 11 or 12. My mother took me to a knitting store where I could pick out yarn and have assistance in making my first sweater, a
raglan-sleeved, cabled cardigan in bright turquoise, worsted wool with Norwegian heart buttons. It turned out well, I wore it often, but I gave it to my college roommate (who had ski pants that matched perfectly) in exchange for weekend rides to a ski resort.

I enjoyed knitting from that first sweater on, already realizing the theratpeutic benefits of the
craft along with the resulting wardrobe of Nordic style ski sweaters, all of which I still have! I'm thinking about fulling them and recycling them into something new. We'll see. This story is dragging on. The point I wanted to make is that when it came to knitting I was very confident.
I could interchange yarns, I could duplicate almost any sweater I saw, and I even designed one or two for myself. I could recognize quality yarn and knew how to shop for it. Then I stopped.
Kids were gone. I didn't ski anymore (no longer lived near mountains), and I had other interests that occupied my time and money. I simply stopped knitting for almost 20 years.

I wondered why I'd stopped and reflected that maybe I was no longer challenged. You can take your finger out of your mouth now. You are right, I was full of it! And I found out just how full
when I took up knitting again. I really wanted a St. Bernard sweater, and I was convinced I could make it nicer than the ones I saw and for less money. I sent for a pattern. Intarsia? What's that? Oh, picture knitting, using lots of colors. I can do that. DK weight? Hmpff,
whatever. I know how to change yarns. It's a ski sweater, right? Gotta be worsted or thereabouts.

Undaunted, I started to look for yarn. I had never knit with anything other than wool. I deplored synthetics. I decided I would knit in cotton so I could wear the sweater year round.
Even though I asked for advice, I was so darn sure I knew more than they did. Arrogance does not begin to describe my attitude. Finally I decided on a cotton blend, and owing to its availability, reasonable price and extensive color selection (I needed a kadjillion shades it seemed), I went with Brown Sheep's Cotton Fleece.

Started right in after a token swatch. What, me swatch? I always knit to guage, maybe a little
looser, but I want the sweater a little bigger. Evens out, right? Of course, I'm always right when it comes to knitting. Oh, and I'll just do this on circular needles like I've always done. No seams for me. Of course as I come to the color changes, I realize knitting in the round is a very bad, no, stupid idea. What was I thinking. I frog and begin again. Works up quick. I love knitting. Why oh why did I ever stop. I finish half the front and hold it up to me for a fit check in the mirror. Umm, it seems to already be the full length of the sweater, and if I pull it around me I think the sides might meet. Rip-it. Rip-it.

Dropping down 3 (or was it 4?) needle sizes later, the fabric in my swatch is getting rather firm and is still not to given guage, which is okay because I want it a tad bigger. I'll spare you the rest, especially about the intarsia part which I was trying to do carrying the yarn over in the back; ie, entirely wrong! I finished the sweater. I changed the ribbing and created a larger
neck opening. I made it tunic length. I made one ugly sweater. Blocking made it worse.
The sweater was so heavy it continued to grow every time I picked it up. I actually wore it
in public a time or two. I anticipated compliments when strangers approached me only to
cringe when they spoke, "Excuse me, you have a hole in your sweater. You might want to catch it before..." More holes than Swiss. And I wove everything so carefully...

Maybe I'll toss this puppy in the washer some day. It won't felt, but maybe it'll shrink.
I came to loathe Cotton Fleece even though it wasn't the yarn's fault. I really just didn't care for its properties. I will probably never use it again, so today I offered my leftover skeins free to others who wanted to try it. They may or may not like it. But at least they won't have to pay to find out. I do not consider the project a waste of time and money. I did everything possible
wrong even though I knew better. I guess I was complacent enough to think it didn't matter.
I learned a much needed, priceless lesson in humility.

It was 6 or 7 years ago that I knit that St. Bernard sweater. One of these days I will do it over
in an appropriate yarn of the appropriate weight in the appropriate technique, and I will follow the designer's excellent directions. I will not be cocky. I will reinforce the lesson.

Bad Dog!

saintsweaterfront, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

Alps in the Back Ground

saintsweaterback, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Progress at Last

progress 1, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

The block is now beginning to take direction. It wants to have a Central American folk artsy feel.

I pretty much finished my first bird --
that's a fish in his beak -- and knew I wanted my flora and fauna primitive and fanciful, folk artish. I googled images of molas for inspiration. You'll see I stayed within my initial pallette and used a different technique for each bird. The pair is
beaded, the toucan is bead with silk ribbon, and the bird feeding on berries is embroidered.

Centipedezilla was too overwhelming, so I reworked that seam. It's a vandyke stitch done in cotton pearl and
has definite dimension.

I wanted to somehow justify the animal print fabric, so I thought about jaguars and their significance in ancient Mayan culture. I started a pyramid and took the outline from a line drawing of a jaguar snacking on a human heart. It was a ritual thing and
goes back to my senior English term paper.

Still quite a way to go before this block can be considered encrusted. I hope when finished it will require a guide and interpreter. Next step I'll concentrate on flora.

Initial Seam Treatments

start of seam treatments, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

Justed wanted to prove I have been working on my block. I have completed just about all of the foundation seam treatments (added more since I took photo). I'm ready to add SRE and beading to the seams. I started a bird motif, and I pinned on a flower motif to break up the giant centipede.


project stash, originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.

I'm sooo behind. I had one scheduled interruption with houseguests, but I look so forward to their visits I didn't mind and did a bit of organizing ahead of time.

Understand, our spare bedrooms serve as my various work stations, meaning my CQ studio would be in use. You also
have to understand that when I'm working on a CQ project, I utilize the
entire room -- every available surface
including floor and queen size bed. I have to see everything as I work.
Okay, so I began the project prior to the visit, but in anticipation I kept
all of the fibers and embellishments I thought I might use in or near a big plastic bin. Instant tidy. Fit in perfectly with my token housecleaning duties.

At present I have tons more than you see here, all logically strewn for instant access. I've been stitching happily everyday, pledged this project will not become a UFO even though the class ended last Thursday.