A textile lover in Ireland    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I recently took a trip to Ireland with my husband and it was obvious I was in the right place once we landed in Dublin and saw a sheep pasture outside of the airplane window.  The trip was a wool-lover’s dream! We drove through a lot of the country, hopping from city to city, and the drives were so peaceful with the sheep-dotted hills, stone walls, and farms filling the countryside. However, this feeling of peace and serenity would come and go as we found ourselves on the slimmest of roads holding on for dear life as cars flew past us.   

In addition to pulling the car over whenever I thought a scene was photo-worthy, Matt also stopped into every sweater shop we saw and patiently watched me touch each sweater in there... and there were plenty! The sweater shops were FULL of Irish knits and woven pieces that are *gasp* actually still made in Ireland – most by machine. The patterns and designs everywhere were incredible. I ended up bringing home a gorgeous woven throw. Just a quick squeeze of the fabric brings a smile to my face.

On the third day of our trip, we wound up in Limerick at the Hunt Museum. As we wove our way through the museum, inspecting artifacts, jewels, and art from the Hunt Family collection, we happened upon a room where two lovely curators were setting up an exhibit on Sybil Connolly, an Irish couture fashion designer from the mid-20th century.  The curators had their gloves on and were nice enough to talk to me and let me watch them unwrap the garments. I got to take some photos, learn a bit about the designer, and see the fabrics and designs up-close. It felt like a personal tour and was one of the highlights of the trip for me.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cream dress on the left has crocheted Irish ​lace flowers appliqued onto it. The pink dress has a lace overlay made by a particular group of Irish Nuns. Special permission needed to be granted to Connolly to dye it pink, as the lace is not supposed to be altered from its original white.

 


 

The garments are remarkable and unique and were probably even more so in their time. I left the museum feeling inspired to sew, create, and design. I hope you’ll find some inspiration, too!  

Wraps Per Inch    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Using Wraps Per Inch is a helpful tool for determining your yarn weights - whether you have a mystery yarn ball at the bottom of a box or if you bought a beautiful, nameless handspun at the Sheep & Wool festival. Using wraps per inch is a handy way to organize the yarns for my Zucchini Blanket Pattern – the pattern calls for orphaned and scrap yarns in fingering, sport, DK, and worsted weights. Figuring out the yarn weights can be the trickiest part of making this blanket.

Here’s how to figure out your Wraps Per Inch (WPI)

Wrap two pieces of masking tape around a spare straight knitting needle, measuring a 1” space between the tape. Alternately, you could mark a 2” space to get an even more accurate WPI. Make sure to double-check your measuring.

Holding the yarn next to one piece of tape, gently wrap the yarn around the needle to fill up the marked space. Do not pull the yarn tightly around the needle. This could distort your results.

Count the number of wraps within your space. (If you marked a 2” space, divide your number of wraps in two).

Use this guide to help determine your yarn weight.

Lace

35+ WPI

Fingering/Baby

19-22 WPI

Sport

15-18 WPI

DK

12-14 WPI

Worsted

9-11 WPI

Chunky

8-6 WPI

Super Bulky

5-2 WPI

 

For the Organized Knitter    Friday, January 31, 2014

...and even the not-so-organized of us: Mama's Notebooks "Knit & Crochet Notebook" 

My dear friend Heather is a super-organized mom of three who runs a tight ship! We met in high school and have birthdays only 6 days apart. We had some duo parties together, like our tea party, that were a blast! While writing this blog, it occurred to me that Heather is actually the first person I ever taught to knit. After our senior year of high school we began knitting together and it's been one of the special things that keeps us connected. 

Since Heather is an incredible knitter and tremendously organized (I think you have to be with three kids, right?!), she created a knitting notebook for herself and then began selling them when she realized how useful they are. Her notebooks have it all! There are pages for each project you’re working on and a table of contents to get to the right project quickly. My personal fave is the guide for taking proper measurements and the page to KEEP those measurements around for when you’re ready to knit for your lucky family member or friend. There are also pages for project wish lists, inventorying your needles and hooks, tracking your gauge for the yarns you use, and even a yarn reference page!

I started selling these for her in November and already they’ve helped many of my students tremendously. It’s nice to have all of your project information in one place. No more sifiting through little scraps of paper to figure out what row you left off with, no more wondering what needle you were supposed to use for that gorgeous new yarn you swatched last week, and no needing to stress about measuring your husband nonchalantly because you’d like to make him a sweater as a surprise. It’s all in the book!

Way to go, Heather! I wish you great success with your notebooks and am so proud to have you as my friend and my very first student. XOXOX

Check out Heather's notebooks here: http://www.mamasnotebooks.com/

Heather's Ravelry username is HeathersKnits

And, if you know a new mommy who needs help keeping to a feeding schedule or someone who likes to keep a weekly/monthly schedule and budget, her other notebooks are must-haves, too! 

New Beginnings    Saturday, January 18, 2014

It seems only fitting to gear my first blog post towards new beginnings - specifically my sister's recent nuptuals! Adina and Steve got married on a beautiful Saturday in October. It was an absolutely perfect day and a great way for them to begin their life together. There was something so electric about the energy at their wedding.

For their wedding gift, I made Adina & Steve a queen-sized quilt. I had only made baby-sized quilts before, so this was a big deal. I had a great time picking the pattern and fabrics... because if there's one person I know almost as well as myself, it's my sister. I chose Moda Fabrics "Barcelona" for the fun fabrics and used two layer cakes for the quilt. 

For the pattern, I used Eleanor Burns' Piece of Cake Pattern, because I knew Adina would love the modern look of it. I was very happy when I opened the pattern and realized that I didn't have as much cutting to do as I thought. The square patches are worked by sewing nine squares together and making two cuts down the middle. The thrilling part of quiliting to me as a newbie is that it involves so much math, logic, and spatial skills. I feel like I'm making new discoveries and it's incredible. Since I learned so much while making the project, Adina's quilt was really also a gift to me! 

After making the top and choosing the backing, I had the quilt professionally quilted by Janice Jamieson and I was so happy to give it to her for the hard part. While the quilt was being finished, I took a class at The Happy Quilter with Marcy, who had come to one of my necklace classes. I made Adina and Steve a matching neck roll pillow for the quilt. I still have yards and yards of backing fabric and plan to sew up some pillowcases for the lovebirds... maybe before their first anniversary!

 

 

 

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