Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Itsy Bitsy Bee

Take a looksee at my newest needle felting experiment...

I'm rather happy with the way in which this little one turned out. Although, my fingers are a bit dismayed after having endured repeated pokings from sharp objects. Nonetheless, I will be making many more of these for future use. Just you wait and see!

Copyright 2008 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Recommended Reading (and Viewing)

We've not discussed crafty good reads in some time. Not that I've stopped purchasing books mind you. I've just neglected to share my acquisitions. So, let's get those spines cracking!

Okay, so it's no secret that I've been working with yarn outside of my familiar box during the past year. I am spinning, dyeing, weaving and even embroidering on a regular basis in addition to my usual knit and crochet regimen. Needless to say, learning or relearning these processes (as with weaving) required a certain level of research material for me to make an honest go at these new frontiers. I perused and even purchased many a book before deciding which ones were best suited to both my learning style and reading comprehension. What follows are the new essentials in my yarn library.

Addicted to the application of color to fiber? You need this book...

Upon first perusal I began making notes, depositing Post-Its amongst the pages and became completely immersed in personal stories of the dyers profiled in this book. This compendium is filled with dye recipes for a variety of chemical processes and fiber contents, clear step-by-step instructions with requisite pictures, is well organized and just a delight to thumb through for the experienced and novice dyer alike. There are also plenty of mostly knitting patterns throughout in an effort to show off the plethora newly painted fiber wares.

All of the pros aside, could I pick this book up (having had no previous dye experience) and get colorfied? Ah, that's debatable. If you're detail oriented, love a challenge, operate with a
high degree of reading comprehension and have tons of space in your domicile with which to experiment in the messy world of hand dyed yarn, sure, this book will get you off and running. However, if you are a hands-on learner, I recommend that you take a class and then purchase this book to supplement the base of knowledge acquired in class. And the knitting patterns? They are nice to have, but really not necessary. The type of patterns found in the book are pretty average knitting fare, easily found in the wealth of knitting books available on the market today.

Wanna make some yarn? Here are two excellent additions to your spinning library!

First is a DVD featuring Mabel Ross titled, Handspinning: Advanced Techniques...

This instructional DVD is 112 minutes of Mabel's spinning genius. It was mesmerizing to watch this woman handle fiber and wheel. She teaches such varied techniques from preparing and spinning different lengths of fibers to making worsted and woolen yarns for weaving or knitting and using short draw and traditional long draw techniques. She also demonstrates how to create a plied yarn of any exact thickness with just the right amount of twist, for various purposes, and how to repeat it exactly at any time. Besides yarns of average thickness, very thick, soft knitting yarn and extremely fine gossamer for knitting lace are spun. Although, some spinning experience is required in order to make use of the DVD, as a novice, I found the entire DVD to be illuminating. I plethora of lessons on a disk!

My second spinning library acquisition is another Mabel find. This one in book format titled, The Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners.

This book is basically the DVD above and then some. I recommend purchasing both. They make a great set! Both of these items can be found online at Paradise Fibers and The Woolery amongst other sources. I buy lots (and I mean LOTS) of weaving, spinning, knitting and crochet supplies from both of these stores and I can vouch for their high quality of service. Paradise Fibers is, however, the source I buy from first and foremost. Family run business, amazing customer service and just all around nice people! Love them!

You can never have too many stitch dictionaries! I bought the new versions of the Harmony Guides (for knitting) by Erika Knight.

Knit & Purl...

Lace & Eyelets...

Cables & Arans...

I loved these dictionaries upon opening. The instructions are clear. The images are wonderful and I like that the techniques are separated into three separate books. In fact, these appeal to me so much that I was actually disturbed by the amount of negative feedback about them on Amazon. Basically, the reviewers seem to be dismayed by the lack of charts. Hey, what can I say, I'm old school. I learned to knit 31 years ago where the written pattern was queen! I could give a sheep's butt about charts. So, for me, these dictionaries are awesome.

I'm at home with my rebel within...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting Reacquainted

I'm back! I was able to leave Chicago on Friday before temperatures dropped to the single digits. Lucky me!

Anyway, this weekend was all about getting reacquainted with my family, friends and fibers. In accordance with this theme, I kicked off the holiday three day-er with an all day workshop on Saturday at one of my favorite local haunts, the Urban Craft Center, from one of my favorite fiber fiends, John Pitblado, on the fine art of fiber reactive dyes. It was awesome!

Now, I am familiar with this type of dye, having used it quite often as an undergrad in college. However, that, my friends, was a looooooong time ago. So, I needless to say, a refresher course was in order.

Just look at this lovely color...


More ribbon.



Rayon fabric.

The use of fiber reactive dyes differs a bit from that of their acid-based kin. Generally speaking they are more cumbersome in terms of their chemical components, application and final rinsing process. However, the results are really beautiful. Muted, natural beauty to be sure.

The resulting colors above are a nice contrast to my acid dyed wool below:

I really love the process of hand-dyeing fibers. For me, the color play involved satifies the latent painter within. I also enjoy the added benefit of the resulting unique yarns and fabrics than can then be incorporated into my design process. It just doesn't get much better than this!

Although I do tend to get equally excited about spinning...

And Sunday was all about that! Oh how I've missed my daily contact with my wheel! So, I got down to business and spun a few singles...

And worked on mastering my ply...

I'm really happy with the plied hank. So much so that I will be spinning up much more, enough for an actual project! I'm thinking knitting, but that may change. My mind is a jumble with ideas. I'll be sure to keep you posted...

I'm so happy to be back! Definitely ready for some regularly scheduled posts and catching up with what you all have been doing. Thanks so much for your patience and understanding!

Happy Monday everyone!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Too Much Travel

Too Much Travel
Originally uploaded by ladylinoleum
Okay, last week? Simply crazy.

I was in the office by 7:00 am on Tuesday for an early meeting. Wednesday, I was in court for another custody hearing, which, for all intensive purposes, went well. However, we need to go back to court in April. I am praying that this process ceases well before my soon to be 15 year old reaches the ripe old age of 18! Wednesday night I flew to New York on a red-eye. Yuck! Thursday, I conducted interviews all day in our New York office while attempting to stay awake. Ditto on Friday. Caught an early evening flight back to Los Angeles after conclusion of interviews. Taught a crochet class on Saturday at Abuelita’s Knitting and Needlepoint in Pasadena. Uh, yeah, I’m tired.

This week I leave LA on Wednesday and head to Chicago. If I don’t have a heart attack from all of this stressful activity, I should be home on Friday night for some much needed relaxation.

The only aspect of traveling for work that I actually look forward to is the uninterrupted aero-knitting or crocheting time. I basically worked a sweater from start to finish to and from NYC.

How cool is that?

A rather time-consuming cabling project will accompany me on this week’s Chicago travel extravaganza. Literally every other stitch hops on the cable needle. It’s nutty, but the results are well worth the effort. Stunning. Hopefully, I’ll plow through a majority of the work while sitting in the tube.

The other cool aspect of what I affectionately refer to as “my internment on the air bus” is the amount of reading I’m able to complete mid-flight. It’s awesome! I was able to read half of a novel in between knitting on my last trip.

I am happy to be home though, if only for a few days. I miss my family, friends and animals. My kitty hasn’t taken kindly to my comings and goings. Hubby and offspring have adjusted, but the cat? Yeah, she’s pretty darned perturbed. Leaves me “presents” all over the house for the entire week following my return from a trip. Totally annoying to be sure.

I have so many FO’s to share. I figured this week I work on Photoshopping everything in the airport. Thank you for being so patient with my intermittent posts! It’s been rough to find the time to attend to my virtual existence. Won’t last forever though. I have a few months of travel-free existence coming soon!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Wonderfully Woven

Lookie what I wove on my trusty tri-loom...

Shawl in "mid-loom".

Yes, that would be a lovely, loopy, quite tartan-like shawl! I even fringed it and I'm not a fringer!

Well, not a fringer in the myriad long strings sense anyway.

I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be weaving again! Although the process of making fabric differs somewhat when weaving on a tri-loom as opposed to that of a traditional floor loom. However, the rhythm of the weave transcends the type of loom used to create the fabric nonetheless...Over, under, over, under, over, under...

I love it!

Which is good because I have to finish up my diamond loom projects and make some time to dress my new Ashford Knitters Loom...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year Chrysanthemums

After finishing my December magazine projects I felt the need to work up a few quick items before beginning anything long and drawn out. Therefore, I give you the New Year Chrysanthemum(s)!

These versatile fuzzy flowers can be used as pins, as adornments for your favorite hats or even as an ornament on a chocker!

You'll definitely turn heads with the big ole flower strapped to your neck!

So, why don't you make one? Or two? The free pattern is below. Happy New Year everyone!

Chrysanthemum Pattern

  • Any worsted weight yarn will give you a nice size fleur. I used some of my own hand dyed stash. Go Kool-Aid!
  • US G hook
  • Tapestry needle
  • Pinbacks (optional)

ch - chain stitch
dc - double crochet
PM - place marker
r - row
rnd - round
sc - single crochet
sl st - slip stitch
st/sts - stitch/stitches


Rnd 1 - ch 2, 8 sc in second ch from hook. PM in first sc. Marker will move up as each rnd is completed to denote beginning of rnd.
Rnd 2 - working in back loops only 2 sc in every st.
Rnd 3 - working in back loops only (1 sc, 2 sc in next st) 8 times.
Rnd 3 - working in back loops only (2 sc, 2 sc in next st) 8 times, sl st to back loop of beg sc, fasten off.

Florets are worked in one continuous spiral in the available front loops on base. Beginning at the center of the base attach in the first front loop available.
Rnd 1 - (1 sc, ch 9, 1 sl st in second ch from hook, 7 sl st in remaining chains) repeat in each subsequent front loop on base. Fasten off.

Chrysanthemum Finishing
Weave in any remaining ends. If desired, sew pinback to back of flower.

Foundation chain - ch 43.
R 1 - 1 sc in second ch from hook, 41 sc in remaining chains, turn.
R 2 - ch 1, 42 sc, turn.
Rnd 3 - ch 1, 42 sc, ch 1, rotate work right, make 2 dc in the middle (same space) of short side, ch 51, 1 sl st in second ch from hook, 49 sl st in remaining chains, 2 dc in same space as first 2 dc, ch 1, rotate work right and work 42 sc along foundation ch, ch 1, make 2 dc in the middle (same space) of short side, ch 51, 1 sl st in second ch from hook, 49 sl st in remaining chains, 2 dc in same space as first 2 dc, ch 1, sl st to first sc to join rnd. Fasten off.

Chocker Finishing
Weave in any remaining ends. Sew Chrysanthemum to chocker.

Copyright 2008 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All rights reserved.