Stars in the Making is Here!

stars-in-the-makingSo much news! First, my booklet, Stars in the Making, has been published by Leisure Arts. They did an incredible job with the photographs of the stars and added bits of “Star Trivia” to each one. It is a beautiful booklet and I am so pleased with it.

SAFF is coming! SAFF is coming! Okay, so it is not until the end of October, but I have had to get everything ready for my classes because class registration begins April 1 for SAFF members and April 7 for everyone else. My classes and projects were all ready when SAFF had some teacher “adjustments” and we had to start all over with what I was to teach. So I am still hustling to get my samples ready for all the new classes I will be teaching. (Having the flu and a cold alternating for over a month has not helped my progress, but I am on the mend now.)

braided-gems-hat-and-wristersWe are taking Braided Gems to the next level and I’ve done a hat and wristers with beads – the wristers will be the class project.

entrelac-tote-bagWe did basic Entrelac a couple years ago, so this year we are doing Entrelac in the Round. I am having too much fun making samples of the little tote bag that will be the class project. Next month I will be teaching Entrelac in the Round with the option to felt it based on my large tote bag (photo below).

We are adding Take A Break classes this year. These are one-hour classes that allow you to Take A Break from shopping and sit for a spell to learn a technique. I had so many options that we couldn’t fit them all in. That means we will have more next year. YES!

drop-spindle-navajo-plyingI am having a great time making samples for the Take A Break and Learn to Navajo Ply on a Drop Spindle workshop. I simply love this technique! It has gotten me to use my drop spindle more than I usually do. Fun!

A Tribute To Lupin and Tonks

picture-017 The loom finally got warped, thanks to Geri showing me that great “c-clamp and chair” warping technique. Here is the scarf/wall hanging as of February 8. It is a bit longer now, though I have doubts that I have enough yarn to make it a scarf, so it will become a wall hanging. The warp is a commercial silk thread size 20 dyed by Red Fish Dyeworks. The weft is handspun 50/50 merino/silk in the Ruby colorway, dyed by Lisa Millman of Dicentra Fibers. Because I am in “learning” mode, I did not realize that the warp was spaced too far apart for a plain weave, so it is weft-faced. The lovely silk threads will show only in the fringe. I love the look, though, and am not at all disappointed with how it is turning out.

Wish I was having as much fun with the knitting. Though I did get a photo of my puppet head, Voldemort,

picture-027

there hasn’t been any more work on the puppets. I am working on three sweaters and a vest, all in different stages of frogging. If I ever get them finished, it means I have a whole new sweater wardrobe for next Winter!

2009 Studies

Andy Warhol wrote, “Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good any more.”

Gertrude Stein made a related point: “Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.”

New goal: Weave every day. Even if it is just two picks. Even if it is figuring the math and/or the colors for the next project. Weave every day.

Weaving is my “study” for 2009. I have projects lined up, projects that will push me forward to more complex and/or larger projects. First up: My silk scarf. The warp is a lovely light purple
silk 10/2 thread (commercial) dyed by Red Fish Dyeworks. The weft is a 50/50 silk/merino handspun single from a top dyed by Lisa Millman of Dicentra fibers. It will be a narrow scarf and the first using my handspun. Next up: rugs for the kitchen, hallway, and studio using both plain weave with colors and huck to try my hand at texture.

Study #2 is sculptural knitting. Learning just what can be done with texture, double-pointed needles, and the art of the stitch to sculpt yarn into forms. This all in relation to puppets.

What are you “studying” in 2009?

The Jedi Are Back!

onlyonekenitter

This is Only One KeNitter, a Jedi Knit, cousin to Obi Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Knight! He is knitted of 100% organic, natural-colored cotton that I handspun myself. His hair, goatee, and mustaches are dyed Corriedale top. There is a small cable running from the neck to the hem of his tunic. This cotton was spun fine and I used a size 0 knitting needle for the whole puppet. His utility belt took almost as long as the puppet. He traveled with me to teach in Connecticut, Chicago, North Carolina, and Georgia this Summer, blessing everyone he met with “May The Fleece Be With You”.

A Sneak Preview

pinksockwithbeads1-751

The Braided Gems socks – as they were originally conceived! Interweave didn’t like the beads or thought they would be too difficult to insert or whatever, so they are not included in the Braided Gems pattern in Handpainted Socks. To add the beads, do this: between the braids there are three purl stitches. One bead is placed on the center purl stitch every four rows. Work three pattern rows after the last bead row before beginning the heel. That keeps the bead away from the top of the shoe so it doesn’t rub on your foot. This fabulous pink/purple variegated yarn is Pagewood Farms sock yarn that I bought from the beautiful Joan at The Local Needle in Mcclenny, Florida, (904) 259-KNIT / http://www.localneedle.com. It works much better than the darker green colorway used for the book because the braids show better and this yarn is sooooooo soft – merino, yum. The beads are from my stash – just find small (tiny) beads that work with your yarn and are snug on the yarn when you string them. I chose the deep purple beads because they showed up better and because I already had them – I’m still stash-busting, even with my small collection of beads. And, yes, you can knit these socks using two circs or the Magic Loop. I am simply addicted to double-pointed needles – I LOVE them!

Handpainted Socks Almost Here!

http://www.interweave.com/knit/books/HandpaintedYarn/

That’s the link – if you click on “Table of Contents” and look to the right side of the page, you will see my socks, Braided Gems! Exciting! Though it is slated to be out in January/February, Interweave says it will be out in December in time for your holiday gift wish list! Be sure to add it now!

And, no, they didn’t get my name wrong. I have changed my name! More excitement! Out with the old and in with the new. No more Margaret Heathman, who was getting entirely too stuffy and stodgy in her old age. Bring on Elizabeth Ravenwood who is willing to step out and experiment and adventure into hitherto unknown depths of literature and fiber arts! You can find me as nevermoreforest on Ravelry.

My Red Heart Tweed, Pure and Simple sweater is coming along swimmingly and my goal is to have it finished by Thanksgiving so I can wear it to dinner at my friend, Cheryl’s, house. I also am working on my Reducio Sock Swap items – so far I have the mini-sock and the bookscarf finished and am working on an “official” Ravenclaw school sweater vest, a Butterbeer Cork Bracelet, a Ravenclaw Wizard Chess Board, and some knitted Weasley’s Wildfire Whizbang sparklers. Of course, everything is teeny-tiny, so I’m hoping it won’t take long to get it all finished. Also, for my swap partner’s package, I got some jack-o-lantern candies from the Halloween Feast, a set of “ghosts flying in formation”, and an “After the Patronus” bit of Dark Chocolate. I love these swaps! I get to meet folks from all over the world and get tiny things that have been knitted just for me! I keep my tiny sock collection on my keychain – no problem finding my keys, anymore!

A New Spinner

Yesterday my friend, Marsha, came over to learn to spin on her new Ashford Kiwi. She bought the wheel before she knew how to spin – an awesomely brave woman (must be a Gryffindor) – a year ago! Now she felt she was ready to forge ahead and forge she did. She spun four yarns from four different preparations and did fabulously. When she left, she was trying to decide if she wanted to save her first yarn as her “First Yarn” or crochet it into a coaster.

It was a wonderful day for me getting to discuss with Marsha such things as muscle memory, knowing “on the inside” when the time is right to try something new; the thrill of simply “plunging in” and learning what you want to learn without all the pre-lectures on history, means, and methods; learning something new when everyone else says you are “too old”; creativity (and noting that awesome quality in our friend Kathy who is never afraid to boldly go where no one has gone before); and other great discussion topics. We had such fun with Marsha learning to spin and seeing proof before her very eyes that even those of us who have been spinning for years make mistakes (I accidently plied in the same direction as I spun my teaching sample and, well, you spinners will know what happened. Not a pretty sight, but an excellent teaching tool!).

On the knitting side, I am working on a Knitting Pure and Simple pullover with stash yarn toward my goal of using up as much of my stash as possible this year. As usual, I can’t leave even such a great pattern as this alone and am toying with the idea of using ribbing instead of the rolled edgings on the sweater. Not a big change, but one that works better for me and my lifestyle. Also, yesterday’s spinning class got me excited about getting back to spinning more of the top for my multi-colored vest, so I may be sitting at the wheel more in the upcoming month. So much fiber excitement! What is the fiber excitement in your life?

Spectacular SAFF

Another Spectacular SAFF has come and gone and what a fabulous time it was! I got to visit with two friends Charlene Schurch and Geri Forkner – two of the most creative women on the face of the planet!!!! – have short visits with many, many more friends, and made some new friends (HI Puggerhugger!) along the way. I love fiber folk!

My classes were packed and my stomach is still sore from so much laughing. Yes, we had great times in class! I love that everyone comes to class with different yarns so I get to see what’s new since my yarn shop forays are few and far between these days. My spinning classes on Friday – Spinning the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars – impacted the Saturday and Sunday classes because all the glittery fiber we used kept flying through the air and I found it on all my knitting class samples. Too much fun!

I said I wasn’t going to buy anything, but spin from my stash this year. That resolution lasted until about five seconds after I entered SAFF. I came home with more Cormo – I LOVE this fiber – to spin up for a vest for moi and some of Tina Evan’s great mohair locks to use for puppet hair. There were so many vendors who had such creative wares that the short time I had to fly through the vendor area was spent with my mouth open – either in amazement or laughing at the funnies that popped out everywhere.

If you have never been to SAFF, you are missing THE BEST FIBER SHOW of the year. Plan to make the trip next year – you won’t be disappointed!

Now that I am back home and have checked my Ravelry groups, I am gearing up for the next Reducio Sock Swap! I also was able to check out the new HP movie trailer! Awesome stuff!

The Eclectic, Right-Brained Knitter

How many people do you know who would check out In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat (quantum physics), The Mole People (sociological study of people who live under New York City), The History of Puppetry, Voices (book in the sci-fi Babylon 5 series), Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, Marionettes and How To Make Them, and the DVDs of Miss Congeniality 2, The Sound of Music, Ratatouille, and Hotel Rwanda – all at the same time? This is what happens to a right-brained person – me – when let loose in a library. Actually, I have six more books checked out that are mostly on black holes, quantum mechanics, and puppetry – my current interests.

Not a knitting book in the bunch! Or is there? Actually, a closer look at how my right-brain works will give glimpses into my knitting world. The most logical – at least to me – are the puppetry books. I have been knitting and crocheting puppets for several years now and have become increasingly interested in techniques I can use to create puppets that are not made of
wood, plasticine, fake fur fabric, or other such materials. Nope, I make puppets with two sticks and some string (or one hook and some string, as the case may be). Looking through books on making puppets using these other techniques has helped me hone my knitted puppetry skills. My
puppet heads are now a wealth of short rows, decreases, increases, and lace holes as I create them from start to finish in one piece. Hence, the study of puppetry.

Okay, let’s move down the line of subjects to a bit more obscure connection to knitting – science fiction (including the real science of black holes). I am a huge fan of the Milky Way. I live in the country where smog is not an issue and the night sky is so, so close. While reading such books, I got to thinking about how to recreate the Milky Way through knitting. First, I would need a
sparkly yarn and the shops just didn’t have what I wanted. So I decided to spin my own. What a revelation! This stuff is not easy to spin! There are all kinds of tricks to spinning with Angelina and Firestar. I tried this and that until I found the best ways to incorporate these glowing fibers into my spinning fibers and voila! My “Spinning The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars” class was born and I now have plenty of star-filled yarns to use in projects.

The right-brained person can zoom in on a new interest in a nano-second or less. That is my greatest joy while being my most dire nemesis. I love learning about new topics. I also tend to drop my current projects in favor of the newer, more exciting one – until the next bit of “new” whisks me off in another direction. I have learned to enjoy the ride, knowing that eventually the old will seem new again and I will be back to finish projects with even more enthusiasm than the first time around. There are topics, however, that pique my interest to such an intense level that they stay on for a long, long time. These are my knitting “comfort food” and are usually the basis for my books and my classes. It is all about thinking out of the box, or in my case, asking “What box?”.

Get ready – October is (and, no, I am not making this up) National Right-Brained People Month! Will you be celebrating with me?

I’m Still Here!

I’ve been busy since getting back from Chicago. The woven scarf has not been done because just as I was about to warp the loom, a friend said, “why don’t you knit it this way?” It was such a good idea that I stopped to think about it and it has not had any forward momentum since.

In the meantime, I have worked on my puppets – details in the Knit Puppets and More blog – http://www.knitpuppets.wordpress.com. And, I have finally gotten back to my spinning wheel. Gale Evans – http://www.galesart.blogspot.com – gave me some beautiful silk roving she had dyed to spin and that is what is on the wheel now. I have so many spinning projects to do that my wheel should keep me busy for awhile.

UFOs: YIKES! I have been organizing – yes, still – my studio and have found about a bazillion UFOs! These are now being placed in specially designated tubs so I can work through them methodically. I made myself stop and think why each of them is still a UFO. I found some that simply got put aside when a more pressing project came to the fore. The ones that bother me, though, are the ones that got side-tracked because I showed the project to someone who said something like: “If I were doing it, I wouldn’t use that yarn-stitch-needle size – whatever.” or “Instead of doing it that way, why not do it like this?” And then the project stopped, not because I was thinking how to incorporate the suggestions into my piece, but because I lost confidence in my original idea, even though I thought it was a good one. I didn’t want to continue with MY idea, because I thought it might offend the suggestor. Okay, I need to get over myself! If I have an idea I think is good, I need to simply say, “Thank you for sharing” to the other person and carry on doing what I was doing to begin with. Sometimes people have good suggestions, but sometimes it is not what I want. So now there is another decision: do I not show my projects to anyone until they are finished or do I learn to say “thanks for sharing”. Or both. I think I need to get a thicker skin and stop worrying about others if I think my idea is a good one to begin with. Easier said than done.

In the meantime, I will continue chipping away at my UFO pile. Do y’all have this big of a UFO pile? I mean, seriously, there have to be more than 20 UFOs I have found “so far”. Let me know how big your UFO pile is.

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