Is There a Thing Called “Knitter’s Elbow?”

IMG_3480I’m entering week four … WEEK FOUR … of not knitting. Nearly four weeks of not knitting is a huge punishment for me. I always knit; every day! Even on those days that I teach all day I go home and knit.

This started at my fiber arts retreat (aka camp). I started to feel a pull in my left elbow but because I was at camp, I just kept knitting. When I got home on August 4th, I began my “rest” from knitting expecting a quick healing since it was a short time that it “hurt”. Well, here we are, three weeks and a little bit more later. And I still can’t knit.

What’s a knitter to do when she can’t knit?

IMG_3502 I bought a little bit of linen fabric at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine a few weeks ago. I also bought some needles and some DMC floss in six or seven different colors and an embroidery hoop. With my Making Magazine, “Color” issue in hand, I cut the fabric and started stitching. I’m making a project bag. It’s not knitting but it’s better than nothing! And it will be useful when I get back to knitting sometime soon.

I’ve been to pick blueberries (with my right hand!) and bought some peaches. I’ve made blueberry “Afternoon Cake” (two of them) and blueberry muffins. The recipe is in another Making Magazine “Dots”. I even made a peach pie with almost all of the four pounds of peaches. It was delicious! DH and I made blueberry ice cream, too … it goes very well with peach pie! And we’ve been getting pounds and pounds of squash both zucchini and summer from our CSA half-share. There are zucchini bread muffins and loaves in the freezer. So many frozen baked goods that we may need to buy a stand alone freezer!

 

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And today I finished my first Christmas gift. I can’t tell you what it is or who it’s for or I’d have to kill you (not really, but you know what I mean!) But suffice it to say that it’s a sewn and quilted gift for a very special person. It was the messiest project ever and I took it to a laundromat to wash and dry before I could put it into my machine to finish the drying process. It still filled up my lint thingy with lots of tiny pieces of thread. But I’m happy with the end result. Now it just needs a tag and some photographs taken. I’ll show more pictures after Christmas!

I’ve also read three books! I posted (here) about A Stash of One’s Own by Clara Parkes that I finished and was very moved by. I also finished my book club book The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn which I loved. I couldn’t put it down. Since I’m not knitting, I read it in record time. And I just finished The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg. That’s THREE books this month! You can tell I’m not knitting!

Next project is … oh, sorry, I can’t tell you that either!

 

“Terror Towel” Quilted Throw

 

Delivery ... and first thoughts

Delivery … and first thoughts

Several months ago a high school classmate asked me if I would be willing to make a quilted throw for him. He and his wife had collected “terror towels” from various sports events that he and his wife had attended.

I am a new but eager maker of quilts but this didn’t sound impossible to me but for months I’ve been “worrying” about this quilt. The terry cloth fabric is a different entity than the traditional cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the towels when I cut them to size.

So I picked peoples’ brains. I was advised that I should use a stabilizer on the backs of the towels. I was also advised that I should not use cotton fabric as a frame between the towels. The thought was that the two weight of fabrics would cause uneven wear. This made sense. Stabilizer, not so much.

As you can see from the picture above, that’s one funky shaped quilt. I had to somehow figure out how to make it square or rectangular … which meant making all the towels the same size.

Deciding on the design and directionality

Deciding on the design and directionality

What I ended up doing was using little paper “towels” to lay out my plan. If I could make the towels to a size of 14.5 x 16.5 inches I could piece them together and make a throw. After many hours of thinking and measuring, I had a plan. A few of the towels were not going to work in the size that I had chosen – three were too small (way too small) and one was printed in such a way as to make cutting it to any size difficult. But the rest of the towels, 16 in all, were going to work!

Day 1: I “ripped” out the stitching around the edges of the towels to make them a little bit larger and then I cut the towels to size. Even cutting the towels is a challenge. They really aren’t square nor are they printed with the designs exactly in the middle. But I used my 12″ square template to center the design and then worked around it to cut the two lengths thus making a 14.5 x 16.5 inch rectangle of each towel.

Day 2: I zigzagged the four sides of the towels to keep them from fraying. Terry cloth is a messy, messy (did I say MESSY?) fabric. Yuck! My studio is a horrible mess and I’m not even done yet!

Day 3: This is the moment … all the towels are laid out on the floor and I decided on the design placement. There are four towels with a different directionality. I chose to have them all facing the same (but different from the other 12 towels) direction. Here is the design that I liked best … the four towels with different directionality are not diagonally down the middle but one in each row and “randomly” placed.

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My final design … I’m ready to make strips!

So, today I started sewing together the rectangles. I decided that because terry cloth is so bulky that I had to sew the pieces together and then “tack” down the extra fabric on the wrong size by sewing them down. I sewed a 3/8 seam and then positioned my needle to the left and ran another line down each side of the seam tacking the bulk to the pieces. So far, I am really pleased with the strips. Tomorrow I will sew the strips together and then it will be time to find a backing. I am thinking that I would like to use two layers of cotton flannel. One white in the middle and a sports-themed print as the backing fabric. I will sandwich them all together but I haven’t decided whether I will simply stitch in the ditch or if I will stitch diagonally across the rectangles, too. I want them to be stable so that the towels wear well.

I’ll let you know how it progresses! I am thrilled to be working on this rather than “worrying” about it. Gone … sewing? (Actually my book club is coming and I’d best go get ready to greet them!)

Three Cheers (for the Red, White and Blue)

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day learning something new.

The Class Sample … this is what my quilt will look like

The Class Sample … this is what my quilt will look like

I took a Flag Quilt class at the Cotton Cupboard in Bangor, Maine with a friend and we had a great time. It was my first ever quilt-making class and it was a positive experience for this  once-a-failure sewer!

I’ve made a few other quilts in my life. I made several Amish Tied Quilts back when my children were little. One for each of them and a few others interspersed. They are funny to look at today … my color choices “date” the quilts with the exception of the eldest daughter’s which is red, white and blue. My quilt already shows that I was into the black and yellow “bee colors”. I have all of them here in Maine and one day they’ll go to the kids homes … when they all have room for a quilt.

My Log Cabin Quilt …  finished and on our bed

My Log Cabin Quilt … finished and on our bed

The last two summers I worked on a Log Cabin quilt which I finished and had quilted at Quilt Divas in Rockland. I love it and it’s on our bed.

The quilt that I’m working on for this class is a throw quilt and it’s got several things going on. It’s straight piecing, some appliqué and some curved sewing. I’ve never sewn a curved seam in my life! I felt relatively adept at the cutting and straight sewing although one of my classmates gave me a couple of new tips that I really appreciated. The appliqué I had done once and that was alright. I have a lot more stars to appliqué so I’ll be a professional when they’re all done! The curved sewing will take me awhile … and is my biggest challenge.

Curved seams … I did pretty well. It just takes time

Curved seams … I did pretty well. It just takes time

When I was all done, I was sore and feeling successful … I had only screwed up one star square (and have to cut a few other pieces to be able to finish my quilt) because I hadn’t been warned about making sure the squares were not all facing the same way. Fortunately I have extra fabric!

I will keep plugging along at it and I will show the pictures of the final project …. whenever I get it done (and quilted.) Since it’s a throw, I’ll plan to quilt it myself.

Gone knitting!

10th Annual Florida Fiber In

Today was spa day for my two little dogs and I decided, despite a not-so-good sleeping last night that I’d zip on down to the I-drive (aka tourist) area to see what the Florida Fiber In was all about. I’ve been here for seven of their ten years and haven’t made the event yet.

I made it just in time to catch the important particulars on Cool-Aid dying fibers.

Dying Yarn with Cool Aid

Dying Yarn with Cool Aid

I wish that I had thought, at the end of my time there, to take a picture of the finished yarn. It was amazingly colorful (and so were the hands of the dyer!) and I can’t wait to give this a try! She was working with a Brown Sheep natural wool yarn but you can use any natural fiber yarn.

The rest of my time was spent shopping and gabbing since I forgot to bring my knitting bag. Mostly because I left before having my coffee and my head wasn’t all together yet! Regardless, I loved seeing our Florida fiber truck!

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Four Purls Yarn Truck

Four Purls has been in business for several years and Laura decided to add the yarn truck to make it possible to take her business out to local events, fairs, etc. What she didn’t realize was that she couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. The truck is sleek and a really great way to spread the love of fiber! Four Purls was one of the vendors this year inside the event space and the truck was outside. I did, I must confess, buy a little yarn and a new project bag … seems I can help myself!

The vendors were great. There were multiple people demonstrating carding, spinning, and weaving on a giant triangular loom.

Seven Foot Triangular Loom

Seven Foot Triangular Loom

The Orlando spinners were in full force as they are at all fiber events in our area.

Spinners!

Spinners!

I still am waffling about whether I want to learn to spin … or not. And until then my mother’s reproduction spinning wheel (which is still broken from my move to Florida seven years ago) sits idle. And I buy yarn rather than roving! The same woman who did the class on dying gave me the name of a woman who might be able to fix my wheel for me … and that would be super cool. Even if I don’t choose to spin right now.

And, as I said before, despite saying that I wasn’t going to buy any yarn, I did manage to buy some fun things including a lovely Atenti project bag. I just loved the colors so much and the size is perfect for small projects to carry around with me!

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My bag – outside!

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My bag inside … dontcha just love the leopard fabric?

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My haul!

I got away with the Unofficial Downton Abbey book, two patterns, four hanks of Cascade’s Souk (color 5 colorway) and the Groovy shawl pattern by Annie Lee to knit with it. Swallow Hill Creations’ April (a skinny scarf with beads) and the necessary supplies to knit it up. And a Christmas present or two will be coming from my purchases so it’s not all selfish buying!

I had a great time at the Florida Fiber In! What a great start to my day!

Gone knitting!

 

Nuno Felting Class

I spent the day as a fill-in yesterday at the Orlando home of Terri Pike, Queen of Nuno Felting and all things felted. A pair of ladies had signed up to take the class and one needed to cancel, leaving a spot open … and I “nabbed”! Boy, am I glad I did! What a blast!

I’ve admired Terri’s creations over the months that we’ve been knitting together and listened to her felting stories.

We started the day with picking our silks and then choosing roving and other yarns, beads, etc. to use as decoration for the scarves in process! Decorating both sides of the scarves to make a reversible or two-sided garment/art piece.

Side one … my inspiration started out to be a Monet painting. More the idea of one than one in particular. Like a huge flower garden when you’re standing ten feet back and squinting (thank you Leslie for your theatrical perspective!) Anyway … you layer sheets of silk and wool roving and trips to make your design and then you carefully (with plastic wrap and long (I mean long!) pieces of insulation boards) flip it over.

Side two! This is the side that the fringe is on (if you want a fringe!) I decided to try it because I wanted to try just about everything possible to see how it’s done. And, you know, if I were a betting woman, I’d bet just about anybody with a pair of strong hands and a supplies list could do this successfully … IF (and that’s a big if) they were smart enough to use Terri’s videos!

So, here are some more photos of my scarf and Jane’s. It’s really fun to see how two people with the same teacher and the same supplies can make something totally different … and they’re both so pretty! Enjoy!

Jane’s beautiful scarf was on a rose colored silk with blues and pinks. More abstract than mine but I love the white “bobbles”  in the trip and on the other side she used a “sparkly” fun fur yarn as a trim.

 

 

 

On top of bubble wrap and under plastic wrap … getting ready to roll … and roll, and roll, and roll (switch) and roll, and roll ….

 

 

 

My scarf had to have a bee, of course! (There’s actually one on either side of the scarf!)

 

 

 

 

My scarf has been rolled (for nearly an hour and a half!) All the plastic wrap has been removed and it’s time to get it wet. The design is covered with a bit of netting while we get it wet!

After wetting and rolling and rolling, we shocked the piece with really REALLY HOT water and rubbed it by hand (more like wet felting). Then it was time to rinse!

What a great day!

Terri can bee (ha! Freudian?) found on Facebook and on the internet. Watch her videos, buy her e-book. Check out her website!

Gone to trim my fringe!

When Does Life (of a knitted object) Begin?

I know, I know, it’s a touchy subject but one that I think really needs to be addressed here in my blog.

Yesterday, I “mastered” short rows and knitted a complete Bandana Cowl. I’m not really sure when this cowl became a living garment … I’m pretty sure it wasn’t able to live alone until it was off the needles, birthed, so to speak, by me and able to survive as a garment without the needles.

Not sure what I’ll do today … maybe it will be cookie baking (the poor butter has lived out of the refrigerator for a day, was put back, pulled back out and put back in another time, too!) as the Christmas holiday is drawing nigh (how’s that for antiquated language?) and there’s not a cookie in the house.

I wonder when the life of a home-baked product begins … hmmmm.

Gone knitting.

Are You Going to (Common Ground) Fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme … For Fun!

Prize Winning Posies

A great weekend with my knitting buddy, Kelly. She arrived in Bangor on Friday night … just in time for a lobster dinner at the lake and it was good!

Saturday, despite the dreary and wet weather report, we decided to chance it and head to the Common Ground Country Fair (MOFGA) in Unity. N. took the truck for his Saturday morning visit to the Transfer Station and then we hit the road – Ethel the GPS, plugged in and working hard to direct us!

The fair was excellent! And it only drizzled a little bit – enough to be bothersome for a very (very!) short while. We had such a great time and I ran into two people that I know – feels like I’m almost a native Mainer!

Here are the highlights:

Yarn! Yarn! Yarn!

Yarn! Yarn! Yarn! The displays were amazing and spread all over the fairgrounds. I bought a couple of gifts to be given on birthdays coming up. Top colorful purple/yellow/green (like Mardi Gras?) and the ivory yarns are DK weight merino and alpaca blends, very reasonably priced, from Oasis Farm Fiber Mill in Otisfield, Maine. The pale pastels yarn is from Good Karma Farm in their sea foam color way. I love the colors of this yarn and it’s a wool and alpaca blend from Belfast, Maine. I had to visit every booth at the fair (yes, I mean “every”) to decide just which ones I was taking home (since I’ve still got a few from last year that I didn’t knit yet.)

The Fiber Tent was very interesting. We touched almost every single bag of fleece. We both want to learn how to process the wool all the way from animal to knitting needles. We ogled a few spinning wheels and the Wednesday Spinners in action.

Is Your Mama a Llama? Check out that underbite!

We viewed a bunch of critters … bunnies, chickens, a very noisy guinea hen, the most beautiful turkey (Best in Show!) with copper and iridescent feathers – a truly gorgeous bird! We saw the sheep, goats, horses, a couple of llamas and oxen.

Blue Ribbon Butts!

Veggies and flowers and preserved food, oh my!

Wall of Pretty Pickles, etc.

There was a tomato that looked like a duck and lots and lots of pretty flowers, beans, beets, pumpkins, gourds, squash, beets, radishes, onions, leeks, quilts, knitting (I may have to enter next year!), potatoes, pumpkins large and small … phew! I need to take a breath!

Tomatoes are Ducky!

 

Bee-Utiful!

Beans, Beans They're Good for Your Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had such a great time. We drank organic blueberry soda, ate stir fried organic veggies, some vegetable curry, pad thai, and for dessert a blueberry cheesecake cone (if you’ve never seen or heard of this, it’s worth a look for one!) The food area was simply amazing … if the day were a bit longer, we could have eaten more!

I found a really special poster from their 1998 fair … it’s un-BEE-lievably fun for this Queen Bee! It will be framed and hung in my Atelier! I’d love to show you a picture of it but it’s all wrapped up and waiting to travel!

I have only touched on a tiny corner of the iceberg (so to speak) and there was so much more to see and experience but I’ve not got the time here. Suffice it to say that while our feet and legs and hips hurt, our hearts and tummies were full and our souls were fed. It’s a great weekend, and a wonderful place to spend an hour or a whole day – next year, I’m taking my knitting and will sit and watch the people! Good for a family fun day, a girls day out or just about any “reason.”

We had a wonderful time at the Fair!