Crochet Circular Cast on

Crochet Circular Cast on

The intoxicating inspiration of FiberCamp 2014 spawned new project ideas, friendships and improved techniques in crochet, sewing and knitting.

In heady fumes of the moment, I imagined writing several blog posts about the weekend. In reality, I’ve only written on Tactile Travel. Erin from Knitting in Beantown has a lovely round up from her perspective.  Any one else? I’d love links to your impressions.

One of the weekend highlights was the Designer Showcase, organized by Julia Farwell-Clay. The Guild did a fabulous job spotlighting this Handknit Runway. Now that I’m finally writing, I’m sure I could go on and on and on…


Today I want to share the great way Jennifer creates a circular start in crochet. I’ve traditionally started granny squares or other circular items by chaining a few stitches, linking the chain to create a circle, then beginning the first round. There’s always been a gap in the center of the circle, but Jennifer’s method makes a nice tight beginning. Watch this!

P.S. Jennifer, if you have a web site or other way we can credit you, shout it out!



My first online yarn purchase: Miss Babbs

Living in the Boston area, wool lovers are spoiled with more than 20 local yarn stores (lys), multiple sheep and wool festivals and a bevy of fairs where you can find independent dyers tempting us with luscious fiber and colors. My yarn stash does just fine without purchasing yarn online.  Even Webs, that jumbo online yarn emporium with the amazing back room, is only 2 hours away.  Why buy online when there’s beauty all around you?

During the 2011 pilgrimage to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, I had a mission: find yarn to knit a cardigan for my daughter, who had texted a picture of something she saw in a a very posh shop.  “Mom, could you make this but in purple?”  Rhinebeck is a perfect blend of wool, food, and animals (the leaping llama contest is my favorite) mixed with crowds wearing wonderful hand made garments and Ravelry pins.Rhinebeck_yarn_shop

After much yarn handling, the alluring  Miss Babs  Yowsa super wash merino wool, color Clematis fit the bill.  I invested in 3 skeins, or 1680 yards of the lovely yarn.  Way  more than I needed, but 2 skeins would limit the design possibilities.  What a treat to touch Miss Babbs’ yarn after reading about their marvelous color ways online!

The following week, I traveled to Italy to work on future Tactile Travel tours and meet up with clients Giardini di Sole.  The long flight, train time would give me good knitting stretches.  Like many knitters, I don’t want to be caught without a project or twelve in the suitcase!  So I packed 2 of the skeins, my design notebook, a variety of needles and set off for Italy! The pattern and knitting proceeded quickly, but I only used one skein during the week.  Imagine my dismay when the other ball of Yowsa rolled under the bed at a friend’s house on my last night!  Theresa said she would send it via post.  Initially, I was reluctant to agree…. the Italian post office was not always reliable and perhaps I could finish the sweater in only 2 skeins.  Eventually I asked her to send it, and the wait began.

I wait, and waited and waited.  Two month later, I emailed Theresa, who said that the tracking said the package was  delivered three weeks after she sent it, sigh.

Checking Miss Babs online marketplace, I didn’t find the Clematis colorway.  Eventually I searched stashes of Ravelry users, hoping there was some leftover Clematis languishing.  Sympathetic negative responses yielded no results. Finally, Clematis appeared in her shop again.  I sent a sample of the yarn I used, hoping the dye lots would be a good match, and last September, I found a rumpled package on my doorstep.2012-10-09 21:44:48 +0000

“What on earth is this?” forgetting that the yarn might be on the way.  The return address label didn’t give many clues, so imagine my delight when I opened this tissue covered confection, complete with a stitch marker and sample of new yarn. Knit with Miss Babs Yowza This was my first online yarn experience, a fabulous customer experience and a sweater that my daughter now wears several times a week!
Alanna Nelson hand knit sweater
hand knit sweater by Alanna Nelson
Huzzah to Miss Babs!


FiberCamp Boston 2013

Did you think I was on the sofa, eating bon bons and watching “Downton Abby“?  Mais, non!  (Alright, I did spend the last two Sunday evenings with knitting and hot chocolate, watching season 3).  Fabric and yarn excitement and shifting priorities made the last three months simply sizzle.

Currently, the waning fireworks are from the Common Cod Fiber Guild’s Ignite Craft and FiberCamp… three days of creative energy, company and the opportunity to share with others.  On Friday night, I spoke at Ignite about the wonders of FiberCamp.

Ignite Craft 2013 speakers

All eyes on Guido Stein as we prepare for IgniteCraft Boston 2013.

I offered to facilitate three sessions at the FiberCamp  itself:

  • Making a Log Cabin Quilt Block (here’s my handout CreateLogCabinBlock)
  • Creating a Duct Tape Mannequin
  • Fair Isle Knitting (I had no idea there was such trepidation about this topic!)

FiberCamp 2013 SewingThere was also time to show Sheeri around her new sewing machine, fetch coffee, label rooms, browse the pop up vendors like Dirty Water Dyeworks (a skein from Stephanie is a FiberCamp tradition!), pick up that incredibly crazy “52 Pick Up” pattern from Fallingblox and some teal hand spun from SnowMoon3.

Good thing stash reduction was not a New Year’s resolution.

I treasured the session led by Jen Stark of BlueAlvarez, where she shared the Excel spreadsheet she’d developed to streamline pattern grading for knitwear design.  Jen is a creative and thorough designer who has experience, education and “the eye.”  Fit, function and statement flow from her designs.  Wow!  The SAORI Weaving session was at the same time, and I thought perhaps I would follow the “rule of 2 feet” and try to stop by both sessions, but I was totally absorbed with the possibilities and ease for sweater design.  What a great session Jen led.

Thank goodness I was able to enjoy Mihoko’s presentation the night before at Ignite Craft… I’ll be sure to share the video when it is posted.

Amy King of Spunky Eclectic led a bunch of sessions on Saturday and I managed to catch a bit of making patterns from existing clothing.  I have, on occasion, been burned by mistakes while doing this.  Most of these could have been avoided by placing my pattern paper on top of a soft surface (say carpet) and pricking important lines with T pins.  Now why hadn’t  I ever thought of that?
Amy King at FiberCamp 2013 Whatever the session, it was fun to dive in and see what might happen next. I crocheted aliens, overheard tips on thrummed mittens, and just enjoyed the company of the other FiberCampers.

Now it’s back to my regularly programmed life and posting about other fiberlicious projects in my studio.

Skirting detours

Throughout this spring, I wondered why on earth I didn’t have more spring sweaters.  The Lilly pullover was finally finished in mid June.  I even had an opportunity to wear it while working at Sit and Knit one day before it got too hot!  As I knit, I realized that my warm weather projects the last few years included:

Carmine in Berrocco Touche (this yarn was a great buy at the Boston Knitting Guild‘s yearly auction) was my first skirt, finished in 2009.
In 2010, inspired by those wild and wonderful women at Yarns in the Farms, here’s my “leftover skirt.”Floofy skirt made with leftover yarns in cotton, nylon and tencel
Lily Chin’s crochet dress crowned my spring/summer in 2011, which I wore to my sister’s wedding last year. I am very sorry to say that despite wearing this dress loads, I have yet to properly photograph it. You’ll have to live with this:

Making skirts and dresses has been great and I’ve worn them happily. That doesn’t change the fact that I need some spring sweaters. I retired a lovely cotton zip cardi in 2010. I still miss it. So what did I cast on?

Sasha, a skirt pattern from Louet

It was a fantastically wonderfully project for my long haul international flight. I had three skeins of Louet Euroflax in green and a few other skeins in the stash. I decided that the top ruffle was unnecessary enhancement on my short torso, so the idea was a green tier of lace, a yellow tier of lace and finish with blue.  Or at least that was the original idea.  I’ve finished the green and blue tiers.  What do you think?
2012-08-07 17:21:15 +0000

I’m very tempted to pull out the blue ruffle and move it up to the second tier and  have the yellow kick out of the bottom.  There’s a great temptation to  lengthen the skirt as well. Rippit?  Or, is it time to cast on a spring cardi…..