Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stash to Story -- Swansea Edition

A grant from the Swansea Cultural Council sponsored a session at the Swansea Public Library. Five wonderful women gathered to share stories about learning to knit and quilt.

Here's an excerpt from one story about learning to knit:

"Gramma was the one big influence in my life. In many ways I realize she encouraged me to be interested in many things -- gardening, church, and knitting. I sat for what seemed like hours on the floor at her feet, while she unwound skeins of yarn and it was my job to put the yarn into an ever-growing ball. She made sweaters for my brother and I and every afghan in the house was one she had made...once I finally learned the various stitches I made small things like blankets for my doll's cradle...Gramma's motto was one that many people lived by then, 'idle hands are the devil's workshop' so I always made sure I was busy...I still feel compelled to never have idle hands. If I'm not reading or writing, I'm knitting for embroidering. It's always rewarding to be productive. Being bored has never been a part of my life."

Knitters do have the advantage over boredom. And there is a beauty when a skill such as knitting is given to another person, especially a family member. The purpose of Stash to Story is to celebrate these moments and understand how they can lead to life-long appreciation of and participation in the arts. They can also shape a person's philosophy of life and affect quality of life for the better!

Thank you to the Swansea Local Arts Council. Thank you to Lorna, Dilia, Alice, Melissa and Marty for two wonderful evenings! Keep knitting, quilting, crocheting, embroidering, painting, crafting in all its forms. And, please, for me, tell the stories of your creative journeys so you can remember and celebrate!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Never Wear a Handknit Sweater to Chem Lab

This, my friends, is what they do not cover in the chemistry lab safety video. As you know, I filter much (if not all) of what goes on around me from a knitter's point of view. While I learned about putting out fires I couldn't stop myself from thinking, "I'm never wearing a hand-knit sweater to chem lab." Stains, acids, fires! I then remembered wool has some natural resistance to fire.

In honor of Embrace Your Inner Geek Day, which I learned about from my chem lab partner, I researched some of wool's properties and share them here with you. The following is from the American Sheep Industry Association (, Industry Facts/Fast Facts:

RESISTANCE TO FLAME Because wool contains moisture in each fiber, it resists flame without chemical treatment. Instead of burning freely when touched by flame, wool chars and stops burning when it is removed from the source of fire. Wool is self-extinguishing. It will not support combustion; this is why wool blankets are recommended for use in extinguishing small fires.

CHEMICAL STRUCTURE Wool is a natural protein fiber that grows from the follicles of the sheep’s skin. It is like human hair in that it is composed of keratin-type protein. Chemically these proteins contain 5 elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur. These 5 elements are combined into 19 amino acids linked together in ladder-like polypeptide chains.

OK. Evidence seems to point to wool being a resilient, marvelous fiber. Maybe, just maybe, I'd attire myself in hand knits for lecture and lab. How about you? Ever wear wool to dangerous places? Of course, with three kids, danger does seem to lurk everywhere -- juice spills, sticky lollipops (not in my cashmere!), baby drool. Knitters beware and be brave!

Embrace your Inner Geek and your stash of wool!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Post and Brag: I Felt A Leap of Knitterly Faith

Hello friends and knitters. Take a break with me. A little tea time for the soul. Below are the kanji symbols for gratitutde. And, today, I'm grateful for the finished object I'm posting and bragging about.


Have you considered a felting project? If not, maybe this post will tempt you.

This year I resolved to report on just a few of the great craft projects that I witness. I wish I had more time to celebrate all the wonderful crafting achievements of crafters I know personally and those who give me a glimpse of their craft through blogs, Flickr etc. There is so much creativity around us. Today, I'm focused on stopping to smell the roses in the wide world's craft garden.

My life is wonderfully busy right now (caring for my children, work, studying, writing, knitting, etc) so my craft time is a little cramped and I'm glorying in the finished objects of my crafting family.

This week I feature a beautiful felted bag by Evie, my friend and Ravelry buddy. While she was working on it I saw yards of shapeless and formless stockinette. Then one day she was toting this gorgeous, functional, and (quite) sturdy bag. It struck me that felting requries good patterns, measurements, and a leap of faith. It wouldn't hurt if the spirit of faith had a good agitating washer with super-hot water as an accomplice.

So go out and appreciate the wide world of crafting. Go and visit and search "felt." There is a great "Felt This!" article. Send me your pics and I'll be glad to post and brag about your project. Be inspired to take a leap of faith and try a new project. Maybe felting. Whatever it is, enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year 2009: A Fresh Start with Finishing

Happy New Year 2009 Knitters!

Yes, 2009 is almost three weeks old but greetings are still in order. I rang in the New Year finishing up old business. Really old business. I looked back at my posts and realized it took me over a year to knit the Artful Yarns Mohair and Ribbon cardigan. The cardigan from Post # 5 The sweater from my January 18, 2008 post is now complete and it was worth the wait!

What took me so long? I decided I was going to learn to finish the garment myself. I decided that I would not continue in my knitting life until I learned how to finish a garment properly. This from the woman who had trouble binding off her first scarf.

Artful Yarns pattern 92082 for a cardigan was suggested to me by my teacher (see Dedication) and was a good start in "good" yarn for me. The pattern is easy to read and uses two Artful Yarns: Cinema (cotton/nylon ribbon yarn) and Portrait (mohair, viscose, and polyester).

I did not want to ruin a perfectly knitted sweater (I can hear you snickering) with a bad finish. So, I learned my Sensei's technique of the flat-seam finish. The book from Japan, Ondori's Basic Knit book proved invaluable.

It took me so long that my knitting buddies who would see me slaving away at my sample swatch (see post"What is Wabi Sabi" from October 8, 2008) from at the yarn shop would say, "Are you still working on that same sweater?" For months (literally) the answer was yes.

What kept me going for the miles of stitches? The following list gave me inspiration to keep at a repetitive task, and multiple unravelings (yes, my own neologism) of incorrectly joined seams:
  • Listening to the Yarn Harlot's audiobook of At Knit's End: Meditations for Women who Knit Too Much
  • Target's Archer Farms Label Dark Hot Chocolate
  • The Joy of learning a new task (the process not always so joyful, the result? Pure joy!)
  • The knowledge that I would always treasure the sweater as the first I finished

OK, regarding the last item on the list: technically, I didn't finish the whole garment. Sensei set in the sleeves. You'd be waiting another six months (minimum) if I had attempted that myself. That's a task for another day.

I urge you to learn a finishing technique or two in 2009; It'll make you feel smart, powerful! Go knitters, no matter how long it takes, I know you can do it.