Monday, August 25, 2014

Fiber Arts at Recent Shows in the Bay Area: San Jose Renaissance Fair

I've gone to two shows in the past month, at opposite ends of the spectrum. The first was actually a Renaissance fair in downtown San Jose. I went with my husband looking for Burning Man clothes. I took the opportunity to see what knitted and crocheted items were available. There were few knitted (just some animal hats) and a lot of crocheted items available for sale.

The crocheted items for sale reminded me more of the 60s and 70s than of the renaissance time frame.

I'll discuss the second show, the San Francisco ACC show in a later post.


Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Bonk! Bonk!

A knitting friend of mine from Green Planet Yarn is having a baby. I have so few opportunities to make cute baby items, so I'm going all out. The baby's "theme" is a forest in colors of green, blue and brown. But we can't forget monsters!

A while back, I saw the Bonk! monster pattern go by on Ravelry. Its the perfect monster for the forest (because of the ears). In support of my LYS, I picked up 2 skeins of Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash - one "regular" and one "handpaint". Initially my goal was to knit one monster, but then it occurred to me that I had enough yarn for two monsters. So, I'm making inverse twin monsters.

So, here goes.

The monster starts with Judy's Magic cast on. I'm using US 5 (3.75mm) needles to keep the fabric dense. The body is easy enough and pretty straight forward; a few increases and decreases to shape the head. Otherwise, its straight stockinette.
The stitches are split in half and the leg is knit. At this point, the monster is stuffed and set aside as this is when you need to add the face, especially if you are using safety eyes.
The face is a simple shape, knit in the contrasting color. I left a long tail on the cast on edge and a long tail at the bind off edge for use when stitching the face to the body.
After a little research, I discovered that safety eyes aren't safe enough for babies. So I decided to duplicate stitch the eyes. (yes, this is the face for the second bonk! I forgot to take a picture of the first one.)
The top of the head has roughly the same shape as the face. The face is placed so that it is roughly centered in the same shape portion of the head. The face is whip stitched on, using my yarn tails, following a line of stitches along the bottom. The second leg is knit and stuffing is complete.
Time for the arms. Again, I cast on with Judy's magic cast on. After a few rounds, I wove in the starting end and tightened up any stitches that were too open. The paw is stuffed, before completing the arm. Before attaching to the monster, I whip stitched the end closed to make it easier to attach.
The ears are knit, pressed and whip stitched close.
The ears are folded over and tacked. I marked the center stitch and then brought the corner of the ear 2 stitches past the center and tacked it. Turn the second ear around and fold it the other direction. This diagram illustrates the process. (Click on the diagram to enlarge)
Ears are tacked down, with the folds to the center. The arms are tacked down, so that the top of the arms visually aligns with the bottom of the face. Weave in all ends.

All and all this is a fun knit and a well written pattern. Try one for yourself.

My project can be found on Ravelry at Forest Sprites. There won't be a lot of information or pictures on the project page until mid-October -- after the shower.


Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. "Bonk!" pattern copyright by Susan Claudino..

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stitches West Class Signup 2015 is OPEN

Stitches West class sign up was moved forward by almost 2 months. I didn't notice it right away, even though I received email stating such. Thank heavens my knitting friends discovered this fact. As it turned out, this change in schedule was a good thing as I got all of my classes with no trouble. Last year, the Stitches web site died or became overloaded (who knows which) in the middle of my registration. I'm hoping that the reason I didn't have any trouble has to do with capacity improvement and not the fact that a lot of people were taken off guard.

I ended up signing up for 5 classes this year:

  • Surprisingly Special Techniques with Anna Zilboorg. I have been told many times that Anna Zilboorg classes are good. So this year, I decided to see for myself. I I Guess I'm not the only one, since the class is sold out
  • Introduction to Double Knitting with Alasdair Post-Quinn. I was hoping to take the full suite of double knitting classes, but the second class conflicted with Anna Zilboorg, so this is the only one I'm taking. I probably could have figured this out for myself, but classes like this provide a lot of tips and tricks that make my knitting life easier. This class also sold out.
  • Zip Me Up! with Michelle Hunter. I've always wanted to know how to put a zipper in a sweater. Apparently so does everyone else as this class is also sold out.
  • Steeking:3 ways with Janel Laidman.This is another technique I've wanted to learn. At least 3 other Green Planet Yarn regulars are going to be in this one.
  • Demystifying Set-in Sleeves with Margaret Fisher. I needed to take another class on this topic. I'm hoping for more real math in this one.
  • While I managed to find a good selection of classes, there weren't a lot of conflicts. I love the years when there are so many good classes I don't know what to take. I'm hoping that next year offers a more interesting selection of advanced classes and new technique classes. I hope Alasdair returns so I can take the remaining double knitting classes. Unfortunately the 2 day intensive probably won't be there.

    Maybe I'll see you there!


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Social Experiment Progress Report

    Its been four months since I've started the stash reduction social experiment so how am I doing? I have to say, I have been doing pretty good. Almost immediately, I noticed a change in my attitude towards purchasing yarn. In addition 2 additional people have joined the social experiment with their own rules. The more the merrier! We help keep each other honest with respect to our own rules. My desire to purchase new yarn has reduced dramatically. The amount of yarn I've put up for sale has increased substantially. So where do I stand?

    Available Yardage (based on my rules)

    KnittedSoldSwapped OutPurchasedStill Available!!
    4852.921335.61616.2634754329.78

    Preemptive Listing of Yarn For Sale

    I have listed quite a bit of yarn for sale on Ravelry, but I haven't used any of this yarn to compensate for purchases.
    Preemptive ListedPurchased
    12682.050

    Legal Purchases Not Requiring Compensation

  • 4 skeins sock yarn out of 8 currently available to me. I'm sure I could purchase more skeins, but I just started recording the sock yarn shipments recently. Without the record, I have no way of knowing what is legal to purchase and I don't want to purchase 2 skeins for every shipment. I want to be strategic about the yarn I purchase.
  • 2 skeins for a gift.
  • Rule Modifications

    Over the last 4 months, I have added to or modified my rules as follows:
  • Does gift yarn count? If I receive a skein of yarn as a gift for a reason - birthday, reward for helping someone, etc., then it doesn't count. If the gift consists of more than one skein, then it counts 2:1.
  • Can I trade yarn? Yes. An equivalent yardage trade doesn't count. If the yardage difference is too great, greater than 25%-35% difference, then the difference counts 2:1.
  • Can I "borrow" yarn? If I need a small amount of a color, then I can borrow what I need. It won't count as long as I return the left over yarn and I can't count the knitted amount in my knitted totals.
  • If someone requests a knitted item or I need to make a knitted gift, I will try to use yarn that I have. If not, I can buy a skein to do the job. The yarn doesn't count against me and can't be counted as a finished project in my counts. I can count yarn leftover from the project as long as its less than a skein
  • Discontinued Yarns. If a yarn that I use and love is discontinued, I get an exemption to buy several skeins. This must be a yarn I really use and really like to receive the exemption.
  • Special Purpose Yarn Sets. Sometimes there really isn't a choice. You have to buy the yarn the designer used. For example, the Sari Shawl by Kieran Foley. This shawl uses multiple color gradient sets to achieve the affect. To get the effect of the shawl, I will need to purchase the yarn. I will exempt this type of purchase. However I can only purchase one set and must finish the shawl before I can purchase another set for another project.
  • Knitting a yarn I haven't knit with yet. How many times have I bought multiple colorways of a yarn I haven't tried? Well, I'm going to give myself a bonus of 10% for using these yarns. If I like the yarn, great. If I don't it immediately goes up for sale. I have found that the extra 10% is quite a motivator and it has the potential of destashing more quickly
  • Selling yarn that I preemptively put up for sale. If I sell a yarn before its yardage gets used to compensate for a purchase, I get a 10% bonus. The goal here is to put up as much yarn for sale as quickly as possible and not to wait around until I need to put the yarn up for sale with in the rules of this experiment.
  • I'm modifying my LYS Sock Yarn purchase slightly. I'm recording the new sock yarn shipments so I can track how many skeins I can buy. I do not want to rush into buying a skein just because I can when a new shipment arrives. So, I'm allowing delayed purchases based on these counts. My goal as always, is not to buy yarn unnecessarily, so this fits with my goals.
  • To the Future

    Am I going to continue with the experiment? You bet!! Its been very successful so far. I have much more yarn to put up for sale and more yarn to swap. I have many yarns in my stash that I haven't tried yet and many projects to knit.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry .