Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Yarn is Coming, The Yarn is Coming!







Today is the day I receive my first shipment of yarn from Universal Yarn. Woohoo! Or should I say, OMG, where will I put it? My sister, Rheta, made the three-and-a-half hour trip with me Monday to Concord, NC to make my first purchase. I was so impressed with the kind treatment from the staff there. They were all very enthusiastic and helpful with the order. We were shown (and touched and squeezed) skein after skein of the most beautiful yarns. And then came the selection process. I think it'll get easier, but for the first time, there were some hard decisions to be made. Every type of yarn really wanted to go home with me; I could just hear them whispering, "Pick me, pick me." The Universal line is so extensive. If you can't find a yarn you'll just love from them, you're not looking hard enough, or at all. When the final order was completed, we realized that we'd been sitting for about four hours! We'd totally missed lunch and didn't have time for the yarns to be pulled before heading back to Goldsboro. It was just as well as we were exhausted by the time we got back to my house. Poor Rheta still had a little drive to get home. I can't stop thanking her enough for making the trip with me since she has been suffering from a bad cold. I'll start posting pictures of the yarn on the website, The Irresistible Ewe, and hope to have it fully operational within the next two weeks. I'm posting pictures of the conference room. Here I am, exhausted and overwhelmed, but extremely happy that I made it this week before school starts back again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at My Parents'

Christmas Eve is always spent with family at my parents' house. I wanted to share warm times and a special holiday greeting.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Wishes

I have to apologize for being so quiet over the past month. My husband and I have both been through minor surgical procedures and with school in December, and trying to set up the new website, I've been really swamped. Still, I wanted to wish my readers happy holidays and a joyous New Year. Hanukkah has already passed, so I'm late with the wishes there. We are still making latkes, so that stretches it out a bit longer:). Christmas Eve at my parents is always nice with the family together. If I can get rid of the rest of my cold, I'll be there eating my sister's sweet potato casserole and my mother's buttermilk pie. I've been asked to make the steamed spinach again this year.
I haven't forgotten to write more about this year's SAFF. I have great video footage coming up for the podcast viewers/listeners. The website - The Irresistible Ewe is coming along. I have an appointment with Universal Yarns December 28 and should come back with a carload of yarn which will immediately go up on the website. An open house is planned for January to kick off the new business.
Enjoy your holidays. Keep crafting. Spend as much time with loved ones as you can, even if they're the furry or feathered types. I'll see you in the New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Art Fire Sale


I've put everything in my Art Fire shop on sale, 10% off, through December 31. I have one of each of these items, so check out the sales. I tried to place one of the scarves on my new website: The Irresistible Ewe today, but google sites won't accept pay pal buttons. Hmmm... Do I need another host website?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Surprise Gift


I received a beautiful gift from one of the other Exceptional Children's teachers and her assistant yesterday. I was very taken with the thought that went behind the gift as well as the gift itself. The arrangement was done in an Apache -made pottery bowl. They had included hand-made soaps (made by my friend herself). What really struck me were the floral pieces included. There was a sprig of eucalyptus from her backyard and also, a couple of pieces of dried pine straw.
I grew up in North Carolina where pine trees and pine straw are abundant. Everyone here knows the value of pine straw as mulch for flower beds. I'd never considered it as a design element, but it did lend an almost zen look to the piece.
We tend to ignore, or take for granted, those everyday things in our environment. When I've gone on websites looking for gourd decorations in the past, I've always been drawn to items from exotic locations. I don't usually think of using items I could easily grow myself in my own backyard.
I love to tell the story of a time when I was living in Pennsylvania and was shopping in a floral shop for decorative items. There on the shelf was a box filled with Sweet Gum pods, being offered for sale for 3/$1.00. I still laugh about that. Here in the South, although the Sweet Gum tree is a wonderful shade tree (and was my favorite climbing tree as a kid), we Southerners tend to snatch up every Sweet Gum tree sapling that tries to grow in our yards. Why, you ask? Because those 3/$1.00 gum balls really hurt when you step on them. They're in the way when you want to cut the grass, and they can sprout up everywhere. We don't exactly consider the design elements they could give when the little spikes are sticking into the bottoms of our feet. But, maybe we should.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fixing a Problem on the Rectangular Loom

I had a recent question about how to fix a mistake on a piece which was knitted on a rectangular loom and which has already been bound off. I wasn't sure myself and found a nice website called Loom Knitting Help. I wrote to Rebecca who writes the articles for this site. She has sent me the following information:

"As far as corrections, if it had been for a round loom, I could have uploaded corrections right away as I already have these written up. Making corrections to knitting on a knitting board such as a purple Knifty Knitter is more problematic. As you know, the knitting board works double knitting with a single strand of yarn, creating two interlocked fabrics by knitting, slipping wyib and then purling. The two parallel rows are wrapped and worked at the same time. It's much easier to correct double knitting worked with needles that uses the knit, slip wyib, purl method since it uses two strands of yarn and you can correct each strand. (I am aware that you can create double knitting with two strands of yarn on the knitting board and that there are a couple of different methods to do this but most people just use one strand.)

I think you may have missed in my last mail that I asked that you send me the exact problem. At this point, all I know is that the project has been bound off. Without knowing the issue, the only thing I can suggest is to remember "knit, slip wyib, purl" as the basic two connected stitches (front->back) for correction. Depending on the stitch, you may have more than one slip. She'll need to use a crochet hook to rework the stitches and will need to intertwine the stitches properly. If you can send me more information, I'd be happy to try to work up step by step instructions for her. There are quite a number of other corrections that I should write up for LKH for knitting boards, too."

Since I don't exactly know what the problem was, this is all I can do right now. I'd welcome any more input from anyone. I like the way Rebecca has also included some stitch corrections. I'll have to keep these in mind. Thanks so much, Rebecca for the help.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November Needles


I've been brushing up on my cables lately and found a fun pattern through Ravelry. The Swampfield Cowl was designed and shared by Sara Amaroso on her blog, Penguin Purls. Thanks so much, Sara, for sharing this wonderful design. I'm planning to make another one, but this time, I'll know how to do a better bind-off thanks to Cat Bordhi and youtube. I used Cascade 109 Tweed LE. Also, thanks to Interweave Press for starting me on this quest to find various bind-off techniques. In their recent newsletter, they featured three different bind-off techniques. I've found that I learn knitting skills better when I can watch someone doing it rather than just reading and looking at drawings. So, I read the instructions, then go to youtube to see if there is a demo out there, watch the demo, then come back to the written instructions. After that, they usually make much more sense. I'm still a little foggy on the invisible rib bind-off instructions, but I'm assuming it's the same as the rib stitch bind-off. Instead of knitting off each stitch when binding off (which gives a fairly inflexible edge), you knit off the knit stitches and purl off the purl stitches. This gives a much more "natural-looking" edge and a much more flexible one.
I've subscribed to all of Cat Bordhi's videos on you tube. She's not only a wonderful knitter, but also a wonderful entertainer. The way she describes each technique is like reading a novel. The stitches become characters in a story that one is not likely to forget. She has the best explanation for wrapping the heel that I've seen. The imagery of ladies with their hairdo's and not mussing them when the stitches are carried over them will stay with me each time I knit a pair of socks. I also love the way she did this using a flat panel so that the technique is what you're looking at instead of the sock which can get into the way of seeing exactly what she is teaching. I've put several of her books on my Amazon wish list this year. Her video on knitting a moebius without having to graft is amazing. I understand that she demonstrates this technique behind her back during classes. As I've said, amazing.
I've also finished two other projects. The first is adapted from a pattern from Lion Brand called the Knitted Tube Scarf and was knitted with their Landscapes yarn. I added a keyhole near the end of the scarf and shortened the length. I'm not too sure I like the keyhole with this size yarn, but it's there.
I also knitted a pair of fingerless gloves, based on E A Kelly's pattern Lovely Lichen. It features the moss stitch. I used Plymouth Encore Chunky yarn. They're very warm and wear very comfortably while knitting. Stay tuned for more projects. I now have my new 32-inch rigid heddle warped and have a new project in mind for it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Loom Knitting Socks


I finished my first sock using the small, blue Knifty Knitter loom and Isela Phelps' book, Loom Knitting Socks. It was a lot of fun and the sock that I finished wears like a glove. I tried the easiest one to start with, Socks 101, with Lion Brand's Wool Ease Thick-&-Quick. The cuff is done in a simple 2x2 rib stitch. The heel and toe are done exactly alike, which makes it very easy. The instructions are clear, but I think it did help having some knowledge of sock construction. I finished the entire sock in aobut a day. I've enjoyed this so much, I've ordered one of Isela's fine gauge sock looms to try some smaller sock yarn. I even managed to Kitchener stitch the toe together. But, and here's where years of teaching exceptional children comes in, I'm going to go back and highlight certain words in the instructions. Once you get past the first two steps in the Kitchener, or graphing the toes, it boils down to: Front/Knit/Off, Front/Purl/Leave On, Back/Purl/Off, Back/Knit/Leave On. This continues until the last stitch when you pull the yarn through the last stitch and weave in the ends. After a few minutes, this becomes kind of a mantra. I may even go back and write these simple instructions in the margins. When it comes to knitting socks, simple is much better than complicated.
The book uses the smaller looms which Isela and her husband sell for the rest of the patterns in the book. I do wish that they had included more patterns for the Knifty Knitter loom, but there are patterns on the internet for this. My other wish is that Provo Craft would develop a sock loom. I may be able to adapt one of their smaller rectangular looms with the loom clips, but they still wouldn't have as many pegs as the DA Looms provide.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Irresistible Ewe Yarn Shop Coming Soon


Great news! I've decided to open a yarn shop! I've wanted to do this for years, but I'm still a few years away from retiring from teaching in public schools. We looked around this area, then made a decision to open online to start with. I'm hoping to open officially by January 1, 2009. This will allow me to keep my full-time job, not worry about employees yet and operate in my own time frame. I also plan to do knitting classes (loom knitting and needle knitting basics) as well as holding yarn tastings for local groups. Delivery can be arranged locally. Please visit us in our online location. We are slowly building our site and should be adding merchandise very soon.

Mug Rug Sale


The Fiber Arts Club that I sponsor at the middle school where I teach is gearing up for a holiday sale. The students are making handwoven mug rugs using their Todd Looms and my Cricket Loom. They each had a go at the Cricket a few weeks ago and all did very well. This really speaks for the ease of using this loom. We're meeting again tomorrow and I hope to wrap up this segment of our fiber skills training. Of course, my cats had to get into the action while I was trying to take pictures of the mug rugs.
We meet again early December and I'd like to start them on knitting. Holidays are fast-approaching and it would be good to get them started so they can use their needles over the holidays. I'm hoping to use my knitting videos to instruct them. I think I'll teach the knitted cast-on. Just a slip knot, then start knitting the stitches onto the needle. They should be able to pick up a garter stitch - hopefully in one session. One of our office personnel visited last time and stayed to learn the weaving herself, taking home a loom to work with. It was great to have an extra set of hands and eyes. Thanks, Caryl!If the mugs don't all sell, I'll post them on Art Fire if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Picking up Stitches Video

I've been given permission from Jimmy Beans Wool to show their you tube video on my blog. I found it very helpful in learning to pick up stitches. I've tried knitting socks several times, but always seem to get stuck on this part at the heel. I think the method is shown very well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ending Blog

I wanted to let my viewers know that I will be ending this blog within the next month. I've enjoyed this blog, but find I don't have the time to devote to it that I would like. I will incorporate these articles into my other blogs, Crafterdays and my new online yarn & craft store blog, The Irresistible Ewe. I'm hoping to open the store on January 1, 2010, so please watch for it.I'll continue to look for ideas for our furry friends. Thank you so much for visiting and supporting this blog.
Kathryn Jacoby

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

SAFF DAY 2





Day 2 of my adventures at SAFF. My feet are tired and so am I. I'm missing Henry and my cats, but it's a happy tired. At least I got to snuggle an Angora rabbit in my lap today. What a sweet animal and so luxurious to just wrap this fur around your fingers. They're such docile and sweet animals, they make you want to take home two or three. Just kidding, cats, don't get nervous. I said, "want." One of the things I've enjoyed this weekend is getting to know the various breeds of sheep, at least through their wool. I got a lesson on Navajo-Churro sheep today. They're an old breed brought here by the Spaniards in the 1500's. They were obtained by the Navajo from the Friars in the 1600's, were phased out through government intervention, and are now again being raised by the Navajo for their double-coated wool to make their blankets. Who would have thought sheep would have such history? The Navajo-Churro wool is too rough for clothing worn next to the skin, but is extremely warm and makes wonderful rugs and blankets. Thank you to Ann Fay of Rising Meadow Farm in Randolph County, NC for the historical information.
I also had the opportunity to watch and video-tape a demonstration of cotton spinning on a great wheel by Kelsey Schissel, of Plays in Mud Pottery Studio in Asheville, NC. Her father, Lyle Wheeler makes the Great Wheels. You can find him at http://lylewheelerchairmaker.com/.
Neal Howard, the Weaver was also gracious enough to allow me to video-tape her while weaving on her Baby Wolf loom by Schact. She gave me quite a bit of information while being taped. Watch for upcoming episodes of my Craft Write podcast for these and the sheep shearing from day one.
Congratulations to Carolyn & Rick Beasley of Heelside Farms in Four Oaks, NC for winning Supreme Grand Champion for Ewe Wool Breeds at the NC State Fair. Just look at the expression on her sheep. Such a proud, pleased face.
Jeannie Giberson spent quite a while explaining to me and other knitters how to knit the border and entrelac sections on her Ashlar Cap. I bought Miss Babs "Yummy Toes" Sock & Baby Yarn for an Ashlar Cap for Eva and an ECU version adult size for me. I can't wait to get started on them. And, of course, I had to get some new Addi's in size 3 for these.
Most unique purchase of the day: New Zealand Possum/Merino blend roving from the Tail Spinner. Pictures yesterday of the needle felting class by Melissa Gray.
We didn't get back to the finish of the Sheep-to-Shawl demonstration. I did take a few pictures this morning of the process. We saw a demo of wet-felting a can cozy by Marlene's Felting Madness. This definitely looks like a future Fiber Arts Club project for school.

And last, thanks to JSMS Farm for taking the time to talk to me and Rheta about Romney sheep. I did learn one extra tidbit today: don't try to take sheep pictures at feeding time. They just won't stand still for such silliness as photos when dinner is being served.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

SAFF Is Here!


We're finally at SAFF! After waiting for months, my sister, Rheta, and I are having the time of our lives at the Southeastern Animal & Fiber Fair in Fletcher, NC. I've been told by several people, "Prepare to be overwhelmed." They were all correct. I can't believe the size of this fair. It's being held in the Agricultural Center here near the Asheville airport. So far, I've filmed a sheep shearing by Paula Ashworth, an incredible site watching an entire fleece being lifted in one piece from the small sheep. We've seen dozens of vendors with handspun, hand-dyed beautiful wools and fibers from alpaca to bamboo. I've finally been able to see up close the different breeds of sheep and to touch their wools. There is so much variation in the textures of wools such as Corriedale or Jacob's or Shetland. There are angora bunnies galore with the sweetest expressions. Too bad I'm not able to keep rabbits anymore at home; there are quite a few I'd like to add as my pets.
The Jacob and the Cotswold sheep have been the most interesting so far. I had a lot of fun filming and taking pictures of the various sheep and goats today. I didn't get to see the Jacobs yet. I believe they're arriving tomorrow. Some of them may have up to six horns and are really wild looking. I bought two sets of Jacob roving which is outstanding. I can't wait to get home to spin it.
There are classes galore. I haven't signed up for one yet, maybe tomorrow if one is open. I wanted to be free to see the demonstrations such as the sheep shearing today and the "Sheep to Shawl" demos going on tomorrow. I've also learned quite a bit from talking to other participants, such as the difference between spinning wool and cotton. I learned that you have to boil the cotton after it's spun to bring out the true natural colors and to set the twist. I also found out that it is illegal to grow natural species of cotton in most parts of the state because it might cross with the hybridized white species of cotton that are commercially grown today. I bought two bags of cotton roving to try. I'll try to take before and after pictures.
I did come across another rigid heddle loom which I couldn't pass up. I now have an Ashford 32-inch rigid heddle loom with stand which will find a place of honor in my studio at home. I already have plans for some rag rugs and woolen shawls. Well, more tomorrow.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Broom Decor


Okay, I have a thing for brooms. The styling of such a simple, functional item fascinates me. Over the years, I've collected antique brooms of various styles, mostly through antique shops and ebay. I've been lucky to come across a few from the Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. This folk art school was started in the 1890's to preserve the native handcrafts and to provide a market for Appalachian crafts. Their handiwork is stunning. If you haven't visited their site before, you should spend a while enjoying their pages. Keep in mind when you see their brooms woven with colored broomstraw, this is not an easy task. Broomstraw has a very hard coating which takes an extreme amount of heat to break down so that the dye can take. It's not like dyeing wool or even pine needles.
I'm including some pictures in this posting of some of my brooms. I use them in my home as I would any other piece of art. They line one side of the stairway going into my studio. I also have them paired with pictures on the walls. They're often an odd size which may be just what you need to fill a space on a wall or in a corner where another picture would be just too much.
If you're in the market for an antique broom, try ebay or flea markets or antique shops. I don't usually find these to be very expensive. You may get lucky to find an original from Berea.
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Broom Making 101 Part I


Well, my favorite holiday is fast approaching. I was afraid being too busy with school work and fatigue would keep me from getting back to podcasting, but I have managed to film one episode so far. I decided to start with a video podcast of broom making, specifically, making a Cobweb Catcher broom. I just can't seem to get those short little video podcasts like some other crafters. I'm always afraid I'll leave out a step; hence, four parts to this one. I did manage to get a couple of steps out of order. It's been a few years since I've made a broom and the steps were a little slow coming back. I will note here that you need to not cut the cord after doing the first three rounds of waxed linen and sewing through the broom stalks and around. Leave the long tail and begin weaving under and over the stalks at this point. This will make it easier in the long run. You'll still leave a long piece at the end of the weaving to attach whatever embellishments you'd like to include.
To do the top, or bristles part of the broom, just wind the waxed linen around three times, pull tight and tie it off. You'll continue around like I show in the video to stitch it and end the stitching. I hope this isn't too confusing. You can do exactly like I did in the video, and the broom will come out lovely. I just felt guilty afterwards for inverting a couple of steps. Happy broom making and Halloween. Please send any questions; I'll be more than happy to answer.
The videos will be posted on youtube under Kathryn Jacoby and on www.craftwrite.podbean.com.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SCBWI Conference



Well, it's finally here again, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference. This is the 17th annual conference and my fourth in attendance. I met up with several of my Goalie friends today for dinner and catching up. Jenny had two good critiques this afternoon, Christie one. Way to go! For myself, I'm taking it easy today - relaxing and unwinding. Tomorrow is an early one, getting up to help with early registration, then on to workshops with Joyce Moyer Hostetter, author of Blue, Best Friends Forever, and Healing Water; Bonnie Bader, Editor-in-Chief of Grosset and Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan (Penguin Young Readers Group); Carrie Ryan, autor of The Forest of Hands and Teeth (bought today) and The Dead-Tossed Waves (coming out in Spring 2010); and David Macinnis Gill, author of Soul Enchilada and Graham Salisbury: Island Boy.
I've already met at least five new members this weekend and picked up a new book to savor over the weekend. I even met a new knitting member and shared a few minutes of knitting. More later...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Woven Pieces



I'm posting a few pictures of finished items just to show the differences in texture between pieces that are woven in the same manner, but with different yarns. The top one is woven with hand spun (by me) and with cotton warp. The next is woven with Red Heart acrylic yarn and a nylon warp. I wasn't happy with the second piece, not because of the yarn, but because of the warp threads. They seemed to stretch and I ended up cutting the piece off early. I guess I can sew it together to make a purse. The yarn actually made a pretty piece, being variegated. I'll probably try it again using some of the Maysville cotton warp.