Playing with Nuno Felting

blueberry swirlEvery year there is a juried art show called Art In The County that is open to all artists living in Prince Edward County. I have entered a fibre art piece each year for, I think, 5 or 6 years now.

This is the piece I entered for the 2016 Art In The County and it actually won an Honourary Mention Award! This came as a complete surprise since usually the judges are painter, photographers, sculpters, graphic designer. They don’t usually have a whole lot of exposure to the Fibre Arts so to be recognized as my piece being a quality piece of art was wonderful!

Fibre Arts are sometimes a bit frowned on by people that admire high end art work. Fibre Arts are many times considered a craft and not an art form. This designation I have been working on breaking through for a decade now. I’m a knitter and a felter and so far the felting pieces get much more respect than the knitting, though in reality the knitting is way more complicated in many cases!

One of juror’s comments that was posted on the wall beside my piece was this:

“The technical ability of this work is remarkable. Silk and felt blend together in areas that are mesmerizing.” 

I have to say this made me feel really good that someone figured out how tricky it was to lay the wool the way I did and keep it from wiggling around while I felted it all!

Also I did sell the shawl at the show as well so I did an extra happy dance when that phone call came in!

IMG_8396 (200x300)IMG_8397 (200x300)I did have a free form knit & crochet shawl that was accepted in 2013 to Art In The County. This was a surprise to me since I thought for sure that one would be not accepted into a gallery of high end art. I always put my pieces on a lovely mannequin and let’s face it display can make a big difference in whether a piece looks high end or not. This shawl I got obsessed with finishing and since it is completely free form it was so hard to know when it was done! I was up until 3 am the night before the piece was to be taken in to be juried!

I did sell this piece to a lovely lady that looked spectacular in it and hopefully she still loves it as much today as when she walked out of the shop with it!

The Blueberry Swirl shawl shown above I tried something I have wanted to do for a while. I love swirls and curls and use them constantly in my art work and I wanted to do swirls on the edge but allowing the curls to have open areas around them. The tricky part was keeping the areas open that I wanted to stay open and not letting them get too big so that the shawl would not drape properly.

Felting is obviously a technique that shrinks wool and when you have a hole or opening as the wool shrinks it pulls away from the hole which then becomes larger. The other issue that occurs is all the tiny hairs from the wool that still sneak over top of the hole opening. Each hole has to be worked individually with fingers and your thumb rubbing around each holes edge to push all those fibres out of the way and clear and shape the hole properly.

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Each colour of wool was laid down individually and most of the openings between the colours I had to keep working separately to them open.

I want to keep working at creating negative space or openings around the wool. I have a couple of other ideas to help make this work closer to what I have rolling around in my brain.

Never a dull moment in working with wool!

Bursting With Colour!

It seems that every February I become so irritated with the grey weather and cold that I feel the need to create a very colourful new project.

I crave lots of bright colour, a dash of texture and some simple but interesting stitches to keep my brain happy.
rosehaven poncho
The fresh colours seem to bring in spring so much faster since I know that usually by the time I finish the project spring might well be on my doorstep. This also makes me stay on task and knit faster!! Oh the silly games we play with our brain to make the winter end as quickly as possible.

IMG_0947I made the “Summer Breeze” triangular shawl last year and my “Wonder Vest” the year before that so I decided on creating a poncho this year. I knew I wanted it to be a generous size that would cover down to at least my waist and I wanted it to be a rectangle that I would sew up to make the poncho.

This is my Wonder Vest that I used Malabrigo Worsted yarn a bit of Nuna (green) and every 3rd row is Fiesta Yarn’s Boucle in Rainforest.

summer breeze shawlThis is my “Summer Breeze” shawl that I actually did write down as a pattern and we have available in the shop. It’s a free pattern if you buy the yarn to make it. I made it with all cotton and linen yarns. Rowan Handknit Cotton (2 balls @ $7 each), Baby Bamboo by Sirdar (1 ball @ $7), Quince & Co.’s Sparrow (1 skein @ $12) and Katia’s Tahiti Spray (1ball @ $10) , which is a varigated cotton ribbon yarn.

 

 

 

I always start by going through tonnes of free patterns on ravelry to see if I can find something along the lines of what I want to make. I check on what needle size they are using and how many stitches they are casting on. After that I do my own thing.

Then I run around looking for colours that call out to me and textures as well. I try to start looking for yarn in my own stash but as you can imagine owning a yarn shop is sooooo hard! All those yarns calling out, “Take me! Take me!”, “I’m so pretty, you really must use me!”, “Look at me, I’m new and gorgeous and you know you need a sample of ME!”

IMG_0981I grabbed all my balls and piled them on my desk and then look at how well they will work together if I used the same needle size throughout the project. This usually cancels out a few balls. Then I look at colours and which ones look best next to each other. The colours to me are very, very important. They need to compliment each other and in this case I wasn’t looking for any background colours. I wanted all the colours to have equal prominence. Sometimes you want the fancy yarn to stand out and therefore need any other yarn to just be more of a framework or background.

This project I wanted all the colours to equally pop so they all had to have an equal intensity of chroma or brightness and clear colour. Lower chroma colours are usually a bit greyer. As if grey or a dash of black has been mixed into the colour to dull or quiet it’s intensity.

grey bluebright blueThese are two blues that show a good example of what I mean. The bright turquoise has a very high chroma while the more denim blue has a much quieter, more grey tone to it.

 

I found a poncho design that cast on 225 stitches and I was using 6.5 mm needles with a 60″. I started with a heavy cotton boucle yarn so that the bottom edge wouldn’t constantly try to curl on me. I also did few rows of garter stitch to also help it want to lay flat.

After that I just played with rows of K2tog and YO so it would create some eyelets in rows. I also added an occasional row of  K1, YO x 2, K1 repeat then on the next row I dropped all the yarn overs so that the stitches became nice and long and stretched out. This is a great way to make a row wider quicker too!

Every 6 rows or so I would switch yarns to change up the colours and textures. I always try and make any rows of one yarn a different number of rows to the next new yarn colour. Keeping the rows different widths keeps the design interesting to look at and doesn’t bog you down with having to be symmetrical. The human eye will look for symmetry in a design of colour so good design need to stick with good symmetry or go completely away from it or there will be something about the design that will bother you when you look at it. I like to pick asymmetrical since I then don’t have to do so much counting!!

I bound off the rectangle the other night and realized pretty fast it was way longer than I thought it was going to be. Now the question is do I keep it as a rectangular shawl using a pin or buttons to wear it or sew up the front edges like the image below?

front seam poncho wrap with button

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to play with some buttons and see if anything talks to me otherwise I’ll be sewing up of the edges. Also I’m not sure if one button will be enough to hold the shawl together well. It’s fairly heavy and it might just pull the whole thing a bit wiggy.

Well it turns out the button size I need for the weight of the shawl don’t fit through the fabric well and smaller buttons don’t hold the weight well so a sewing we will go.

IMG_0986Well sewing up the seam was definitely the way to go and it turned out fabulously!! It’s going to be a keeper for myself for a change, to actually wear!

I sewed the front seam but I didn’t start the seam at the edge but up about 6 inches. This leaves a bit of an opening which works great for your right arm to be able to easily come out from the edge of the poncho.

I love how it turned out, so bright and cheerful. I can’t wait for the weather to actually warm up enough to wear it out!

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New Cool Tools!

I’ve been working on this cable sweater for my husband for a while now and working with the chart has been a bit of a highlighterheadache at times.

I have tried to knit this sweater at Knit Night but usually have to put it away because there are too many interesting conversations and distractions for me to keep track of where I’m at!

I knit everywhere I go; the movies, a restaurant, the doctors office, the kids school functions where ever I’m sitting down. Some projects work fine for this but boy this sweater is not one of them!

knit chart keeper

 

Knitting on the run doesn’t work when you have to track each and every stitch and row. I know there are the magnetized chart holders with the long magnet bars holding them in place. I’m always moving too fast and I know I would end up shoving it into my bag and those magnets would move and I would be lost as to where I left off!

I like having my patterns in a plastic holder keeping them away from the inevitable tea stains and such.

Then the day came that someone whipped out of her knitting bag her highlighter tape and slapped a piece onto my pattern and I was hooked!

The highlighter tape is inexpensive ($5.75), repositionable on paper or a plastic cover and covers three to four lines of your chart so you know where you are and where you left off. I can run around with it clutched in my hands and have no worries about magnets slipping or sliding.

Plus you get a whole role of the stuff so you will have plenty for all those charts in your knitting future!!

 

Pam De Groot’s Felting Workshops

Well our week with Pam De Groot certainly flew by!

We had full classes of enthusiastic women that got to play with colour and fibre and what could make you happier than that!!

dying techniques The first day we made pre-felt using natural white merino and silk. The next day we got to play with all the different ways we could come up with to do resist dying on the fabric.

It was fascinating watching how the colours would change, blend and bleed to different colours from the points were there was pressure clamped onto the fabric.

We had all raided the hardware stores for everything from pvc pipes, clamps, screws and scraps of wood to create our designs. Even a few wine bottles were put to good use.

The results were varied and even the colours were different from fabric to rich coloursfabric. It depended on how long they stayed in the pot to how much dye had been already absorbed by the first fabric pieces to go into the pot. There was no disappointment just lots of ooohs and aaahs as we opened up and laid out the fabric to dry.

We all kept an eye on each other’s discoveries and borrowed ideas and dye pots to try to get similar colours that we liked. Each piece of fabric was like a snowflake and very unique.

The next part of the creation of our garments was the hard part. Now began the planning of where each piece would lay in the design of the tunic. It was like more planningcreating a large puzzle of colours and shapes but without a wasting a scrap!

Cutting into the beautiful fabric was a bit scary since once you cut you were offically commited to what you were doing. At least when it comes to felting you can save every scrap to be used another time in another garment.

There was also a bit of bartering going on between some of the ladies. A few bits of fabric that didn’t work for one person but worked for someone else were happily exchanged.

Most of the ladies didn’t finish fully felting their tunics but we did get a few photos and I’ll add more as I get photos sent to me.

Esther tunic dress Esther tunic back dress back Leah tunic's beginning

 

 

Knitting in the Round the Magic Loop Way

Knitting in the round is one of those things that comes up often in the shop when chatting to customers. There begins a discussion about favourite approaches and tools of choice and the Magic Loop method usually comes up. Lots of people don’t know exactly what this method is or in the case of new knitters they look apprehensive and just want to avoid the thought of trying to figure out another new thing. After all learning how to simply hold the yarn in your hand and how to knit and purl without dropping it is a bit daunting!

Isn’t it funny how simply giving a technique a fancy sounding name can make it seem like it will be scary and complicated? I was always intimidated when I would come across some new stitch in a pattern or horrors of horrors the dreaded bobble/pop corn stitch! I would tense up and then start the search online with our dear friend google and then off I go to see which of these links will actually explain clearly and give visuals so I can do it right. Then as I go through the steps and do it myself I find that I am surprised that it wasn’t nearly as scary as I though.

This definitely holds true with the Magic Loop method. I discovered I was already doing the magic loop method when I was determined to make a hat but couldn’t find my usual needles that are the correct length. The trick was that you use an extra long cable needle so that the excess cable can sneak out between two stitches on the far side of where you are knitting. Well duh! My cable has popped out through my stitches plenty of time when I was decreasing on my hat and hadn’t bothered to switch to my DPN’s.

Many new knitters when wanting to take on the next challenge after the creation of a rectangle, also known as the scarf, want to try creating a hat or socks or some other tube like creation. This of course means you are stepping into the unknown of “Knitting in the Round”!! (que scary music!). Cheryl Toy is our go to knitting guru in the shop and has classes on this exact thing so if you need a hand to hold while you try this then sign up! Cheryl is a fabulously patient teacher and knows all the ways to learn this easily.

Of course for those of you that can’t squeeze into your busy lives a class on this we have to rely on the good old internet! While crashing through various web searches (surfing is way too smooth and cool to describe my way of finding what I want on the web!) I came across a very decent and clear video of knitting in the round. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was done by our favourite knitting needle makers KnitPicks, all the more reason to trust it!

So without further ado here is the link to the “Magic Loop” video tutorial.

Happy knitting!

Felter Extraordinaire Pam De Groot is Coming HERE!!!

I am so excited to announce that Pam De Groot is coming to Rosehaven Yarn Shop to teach a 4 day and a 2 day workshop on felting!

The 4 day workshop will be August 24th to 27th from 9-5 and the 2 day workshop will be August 28th to 29th from 9-5. After that Pam is winging her way to Vancouver!

10491212_852928628052497_8674838530394716852_nPam is going to teach us how to create a gorgeous mosaic garment in the 4 day workshop.

Here is Pam’s description of the class;

In this workshop we are creating a cloth from multiple dyed pre felts. It is method of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction to discover a cloth with interest and complexity. The garment pieces are linked to unify the cloth with each maker creating their own garment of unique beauty and interest.

We will learn how to make a template from our own body measurements and to allow for differing shrinkage rates. We will be dying our own pre felts using safe dyeing practices.

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The 2 day workshop will be focused on creating jewellery. Pam has told me that this class is one of the best for learning a large multitude of techniques that can be utilized when creating many other felted items. We will be working with roving, silk fibres, pre felts and lots of other different embellishments that can be added to wool. Learn the skills of felting on wire and sculpting wool to bend to your will!

524140_481562238522473_1284598392_nThe 4 day Mosaic Garment Workshop will be $475 with materials included (plus HST). There will be a lunch break so you can bring a lunch or visit one of the local cafes right around the corner for lunch. There are 12 spots available and we have a list already begun of interested people so don’t wait too long if you are interested before you call the shop to register.

 

 

DSC_0007 copyThe 2 day Jewellery Workshop will cost $275 with materials included (plus HST). There will be a lunch break so you can bring a lunch or visit one of the local cafes right around the corner for lunch. There are 12 spots available so register by calling the shop at 613-476-9092.

We will be hosting the workshops at Picton’s Salvation Army gymnasium and large kitchen so we will have lots of room and good lighting.

Wine & Wool In The County – A Knitting Retreat!

jacksons fallsWe are putting together our first ever Knit Retreat and we are so excited to invite you all to come and enjoy a fabulous weekend in beautiful Prince Edward County, the capital of fabulous food and wine for eastern Ontario.

There will be classes each day being taught by Robin Hunter and Elizabeth McCarten.  Robin has been knitting her whole life, so long she has no recollection of learning. She brings her extensive background in sewing, tailoring, pattern drafting and millinery to her designs and to share with students. Elizabeth McCarten is a top knit designer and has created amazing and beautiful garments with the patterns available on Ravelry. Both of these ladies have also been showcased in Vogue knitting magazines for their talent and designs.

Jackson’s Falls Country Inn is built around the original old school house for the area and is filled with old artifacts from the school house including the original chalkboards and maps. There is a wood stove to cuddle up next too and a friendly dog that likes to wander in for an occasional pat.

Elizabeth steekingYou are welcome to bring your own wine to the Inn and can drink it in the public rooms or your own room with only a $5 cork fee to cover the legalities of the liquor license for the Inn. All the rooms are set up to be a shared occupancy so tell us in the registration form who you will be rooming with.

We have also invited a few vendors to join us and show us their wares on the Saturday so bring along some cash for a yarn treat to take home. Silver Cloud Alpacas, Anwyn Yarns and us of course Rosehaven Yarn Shop.

Follow this link to see the itinerary and to register.

 

Come join the fun in the County!

Rosehaven on the Road

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Leslie Hits the RoadWe squished, stacked, stashed and dashed down the road last weekend to two separate yarn/craft sales in Toronto. We pillaged the shelves of our little shop and took Rosehaven on the road; Diane and Amy headed to Knitter’s Folic while Lesley and I camped at CreativFestival. Though it was exhausting and the learning curve was steep, I think we arrived home to the County inspired and enlightened by the experience.

At Creativ, I had the pleasure of teaching two knitting demonstrations, one about Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-on and the other on the joys of i-cord. It was great to meet such fearless and  inquisitive participants, some of whom visited in the Rosehaven booth post-lecture. Several people asked about follow-up instructions for Judy’s Magic Cast-on and I’ve decided to post them here.

Back in 2006, Judy wrote a wonderful tutorial for the online knitting magazine, Knitty.com. The photos that follow are from that tutorial (which is worth a look if you find yourself confused). The following instructions assume you’re using a circular needle; this cast-on can be accomplished using double-points, but I don’t recommend it.

Judy's Magic 11) Hold your needle in the right hand with the tips together.

2) Leaving a tail (at least 18″, or long enough for the desired number of stitches), loop the tail over the top of the upper needle. Hold the yarn in place with the index finger of your right hand so it doesn’t slip off.

3) Position the yarn in your left hand as you would for a long-tail cast Judy's Magic 2on. Your index finger will be loading stitches onto the lower needle, your thumb will be loading stitches onto the upper needle.

4) With your index finger, carry the yarn under the lower needle and between the needles. With your thumb, carry the yarn between the needles and over the top of the upper needle.

5) Continue in this manner (under-the-lower-and-between, between-Judy's Magic 3and-over-the-top) until you’ve cast on the desired number of stitches.

Huzzah! Judy’s Magic Cast-On! That’s all there is to it! You’re now ready to proceed with your project, whether it’s the toe of a toe-up sock or the beginning of our Bird’s Nest Bag.

Happy knitting!

Rosehaven on “The Edge”

Lesley's VestEver since it appeared in the window late last week, Lesley’s drape-y vest has garnered no end of attention. People have stopped, admired, offered to purchase and asked how to make, Lesley’s vest. I don’t think she expected it!

Vest FabricThe magic of this piece is undoubtedly the fabric,  a product of Lesley’s fertile and fearless imagination. Wrought of alternating rows of Malabrigo Worsted and Fiesta Rayon Boucle, this fabric has magnificent drape and a surprisingly silky hand; it opens a world of color-play alternatives.  Due to it’s success, we’ve decided to bundle the materials, pattern and tools as a kit for CreativFestival, our upcoming Spring trade show.

Now, Lesley is what I’d call a “stream-of-consciousness knitter”. She knits from the gut, tapping into some natural, instinctive gift for abstractly combining colors and textures. This is an ability that provides for me, a confessed “nerd-knitter”, an endless, quizzical fascination and admiration. Just don’t ask her how she does it…and don’t ask her to do it twice. Enter ‘the nerd’ who will now attempt to codify the magic and attempt to write the pattern.

Because it is knitted sideways as a rectangle, this vest has two long edges running the width of the garment, which got me thinking about selvedge and edge treatments. I think we’ve all attempted to incorporate selvedge stitches into our knitting, whether to smooth the edge of a scarf, prevent curling, or to ease the pain of seaming knitted garments. Here are a couple of useful edge treatments I’ve used recently:

Slip-Stitch Edge1) Slip-stitch Edge: Slipping the first stitch in the row (as if to purl) and knitting it normally when encountered at the end of the row, is the among the most common edge treatments. It creates one long stitch for every two rows of knitting and eliminates that ‘loosey-goosey’ stitch often seen at the edge of knitted pieces. This edge can also be useful when seaming, as it creates a natural seam allowance which is very easy to see.

Yarn-over Edge2) Yarn-Over Edge: This is a very simple edge that works particularly well for garter stitch. It creates a lovely, finished, rolled edge, making it the perfect solution for reversible scarves. It is created by slipping the first stitch as if to purl with the yarn in front. Rather than passing the yarn between the needles to be in position for the next knit stitch, let the yarn run over the top of the right needle, creating a short yarn-over. The yarn-over is then worked together with the last stitch when it is encountered at the end of a row.

I-Cord Edge3) I-Cord Edge: I love this one so much, I used it to edge our new Tea Cozy pattern. It’s an easy way to create a super stable edge. Work it like this: Knit across to the last three stitches. Slip the last three stitches as if to purl. For extra effectiveness, give the yarn an extra little tug when you begin a row. Best thing about this edge? It visually matches the I-cord Bind-Off, meaning that you can create a border that matches all the way around!

Moss Edge4) Moss Edge: This is a simple, self-explanatory edge stitch ideally suited to bordering scarves because it is pretty on both sides and prevents curling. It also makes an attractive alternative to ribbing at cuffs and bottom edges. Do it like this:  Every row, on an odd number of stitches, *p1, k1* repeat until last stitch, p1. In other words, you’ll work each stitch the opposite way it appears. If it looks like a knit, purl it and vice versa.

Ribbed Edge5) Good Ol’ Fashioned Ribbing: ‘Nuff said! Ribbing looks great from both sides and prevents curling, too!

Happy Hump-day, knitties 🙂

My Brilliant Mom!

I love how I can always count on my Mom to have the latest cool and fun trick for playing with fibre, dyes or yarns. She and I often get together to dye silk as I mentioned in my past post. We also are always trading the latest tricks we learn and her most recent one is using silk men’s ties.

You have to start with a real 100% silk tie that has a pattern. Mom scored some great scarves by digging through a couple of second hand shops in our area. Luckily she can tell a silk fabric from acrylic or polyester simply by feel. There are burn tests you can do to threads pulled off of a fabric but obviously this would probably upset the owners of a second hand shop if you were walking around with a lighter burning things! Hee hee! The burn test works more by the way a fibre smells when it is burned. Of course if the fabric is a blend of natural and man made you won’t get anything but weird mixed results.

Silk tie dyed eggs
Silk tie dyed eggs

Back to the silk tie, assuming you found some 100% silk ties, The dye on a silk tie in the pattern actually comes off and will adhere to other fabric like the silk we were dying and apparently is neat trick to make decorative easter eggs!! This blog post shows you all the steps she did to make her silk tie dyed eggs.

My Mom just laid the silk she had cut into pieces from the ties, pattern side down, onto the silk and then carefully folded and wrapped it up into a small bundle. We then wrapped it up in cellophane and put it into the steamer for an hour. The different colours and dyes will bleed out differently from each different fabric so be prepared to be surprised by what the end result is. We had fun with it and the black dyes seemed to be the colour that took the best on the silk though one of the materials had a dot of red and that ended up being the strongest colour to come through.

Mom actually sold one of her scarves to a friend and she left me some of the tie fabric so I can play around with it the next time I am dying stuff. I was too focused and just getting some basic dying done that day so I didn’t try the silk tie technique this last time. You can bet I will be checking for the ties the next time I am at the 2nd hand shop for sure!! Do you ever wonder if the 2nd hand shop employees wonder what the hell is going on when there is a sudden run on one specific item like silk ties???