Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fiber in the Park

Despite the cool, rainy day, I took the time to go to the 4th Annual Fiber in the Park ( festival in Earlville, IL. I've been attending this small gathering of fiber farmers for 3 years now and look forward to the opportunity to see (and feel) the wonderful handspun wool, alpaca and angora yarns that are raised here in Illinois.

I was specifically looking for a WPI tool (wraps per inch) and remembered that there were a couple of wood workers who particpate in this festival (one gentleman even makes spinning wheels). I found just what I was looking for at a booth where the husband makes guitars and ukeleles, then uses the special woods remnants to make shuttles, WPI tools, hand spinners, etc. He even puts a small hole in one end so that you can wear it like art when you aren't checking for the yarn weight of loose skeins of yarn! :)

I then spent a great deal of time talking to Sharon from Clearview Farms in Waterman, Illinois. She raises American Cormo sheep and the wool is beautifully white and so wonderfully soft. I was able to take home a piece of raw wool (full of lanolin -- I love it!) and she generously allowed me to take a sample of the spun Cormo yarn. Not enough to make anything, but I think I will take apart the thin scarf I made earlier this summer (from hand spun yarn that I bought at the Chaplin Creek Fiber Festival) and together with the Cormo yarn, I might be able to make something I can use (like wrist warmers or maybe hair scrunchies).

Sharon is a knitter and also teaches knitting and she tried very hard to convert me, but I've tried to knit and much prefer crochet - just a crochet girl all the way! :) Still, her knitted samples were gorgeous and I know she's just as passionate as I am.

I did see some wonderful chestnut brown Pygora wool blend yarn that I would have loved for a winter hat. The only problem was the cost (which was not out of line at all). I just couldn't justify $50 for a hat, even if it was as soft as silk and absolutely scrumptious! But I was good and only bought what I originally planned to buy.

If you have an opportunity to attend a local fiber festival, you owe it to yourself to go. These are local farmers who raise alpacas, sheep and rabbits for the wonderful fiber that they provide. Many of these farmers are enjoying the resurgence of the crochet / knit movement and they deserve our support.

Someday, I'll be able to afford to buy the glorious soft hand spun wools from these local fiber farmers and then I'll create a work of art!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taking a Mistake and Creating a Texture

I decided to make myself a new purse. Sounds simple, right? You don't know me!!!! :)

I never do anything the easy way -- crochet included.

I had some left-over, beautiful, Caron Simply Soft yarn in shades of lavender / purple (my favorite colors), so I began crocheting a rectangle in a shell stitch pattern, changing colors about halfway down to a darker shade of lavender, then a stripe of purple, the darker shade and finished the rectangle in the lighter shade of lavender again. I repeated this for the other side of the purse and had a nice front and back. So then, I decided to make the side panel / shoulder strap in one piece in the light lavender.

Weeeeellllllll, it was late and I was determined to get a good start on this long piece, so I began making rows of half double crochet. After a while I noticed something strange happening -- I was getting lines across the yarnwork. I stopped and studied my stitches. I wasn't beginning my hdc stitch with one loop instead of the normal two -- I was forming my stitch as I always did with the two loops. Then it hit me! I was crocheting in 2 loops on the front of the row, not top.

This is kind of out of focus (I still can't get the digital camera to focus on close objects). But I'm trying to show that there's 2 loops on the face of the row. (This is the right side of the yarn fabric.)
In the image here, I'm trying to show the 2 loops at the top of the row which would be wrong side of the yarn fabric.
So, on the right side, I crochet in the 2 loops in the front of the fabric, and on the wrong side, I crochet in the 2 loops at the top of the fabric.

I wish these images were clearer, because I can't be sure if I'm explaining this right.

Anyways, the texture created was great and I had a lot of fun when I realized what I was doing. By the way, I didn't have enough yarn to make the sides and bottom of the purse and also do a shoulder strap, so I satisfied myself with the light lavender on one side and then switched to the dark lavender for the bottom, and finished the other side with the light lavender.

The arrow points out the pretty line that is formed with this stitch "mistake" (and also shows the color change).

Well, after getting the purse shell completed, I was ready for the lining and figuring out some way to attach handles.

Needless to say, I put this project aside for a few weeks while I "percolated" ideas.

I finally ended up buying purse handles and then had to "percolate" ideas once again on how to attach them!

Well, after sewing a lining, tearing the stitches out, sewing it together again and tearing out the stitches a few more times, I ended up with a purse. I put lots of pockets in the lining (for my Palm, cellphone, ID card and credit cards, etc.) and attached the handles to the lining itself. I tacked the lining to the crochet shell purse body with yarn at the bottoms and sides. Finally, I crocheted a cord with the purple yarn (I only had a little bit left) and then attached a button that matched the handles.

Oh, and just to let you know, when I sewed the crocheted sides to the front / back panels, I sewed them inside out and had to tear that out, too. (Sigh!)

It's a good thing that I'm stubborn and didn't give up on this project. I really love the way the purse turned out and I use it all the time now.

So, I guess the idea is, if you make a mistake when playing around with left-over yarn, but it looks good, see if you can duplicate it and create something new!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again . . .

Well, so much has been happening and I haven't blogged in too long a time. I apologize.

I have 2 more designs on Ravelry, my Glam Clamshell Earrings is a Free download and my Nubby Mitt (which I consider to be a 100% unique creation) is available for a small charge.

I traveled with my son to North Carolina for my mom's 86th birthday and gave her the shawl I made. She is recovering from her 3rd stroke and the birthday was a little melancholy for us. But her reaction to the shawl made me realize the power of creating something by hand. It's hard to describe, but it was like she could feel the love and prayers I infused in my crochet stitches and I could feel the energy as I placed the shawl into her hands. You can see it on her shoulders here.

I love how crochet can bring the light into someone's eyes, if you know what I mean.

I also recently began testing my crochet skills with eyelash yarn. After a couple of fits and starts, I've got a good technique going and have made some funky and fun hats that I will donate to cancer patients. It's that time of year again and I'm looking forward to continuing my charity hats.

One or two people have asked me to create hats or scarves for them and though I usually abhor taking on commissioned work, these are good friends. And actually, it gets down to my being a little self-conscious making something for money and having it maybe not turn out right. Still have that old self-doubt pop up, though I know my work is very nice. Just doesn't seem right to accept money, though.

Finally, I've been lazy. I had all of these ideas that I wanted to post and I'd just come home from work and vegetate for the last few weeks. (Crocheted and vegetated, I'll have you know!)

So I promise I'll try to do better and post a little more regularly.

My next blog? Taking a mistake and creating a nifty design texture.