Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weekend with Sivia

We hope everyone had a lovely weekend meeting Sivia Harding and taking workshops with her. It should be no surprise if there is a lot of beaded lace turning up in show and tell over the next several months. We are so happy and thankful that Sivia could come teach. She is a delightful person as well as a very talented knitter and designer. Her understanding of how beads add sparks of light to knitting is inspiring. And I believe we all enjoyed looking at the many, many samples of different lace and different types of beads and their effects.

Many thanks to Kay, our VP of Workshops, for her unflinching hard work to make the weekend possible. Thank you to Marjorie for hosting the Saturday potluck dinner. And thank you to Diana for scheduling Sivia, a decision that was made back when Diana was VP of Workshops. Many thanks also to Linda, Whit, Eve, and Diana again for providing lunches and transportation for our superstar. Special thanks to Jane for taking Sivia on an Atlanta-area shop hop. Lastly, thank you to Elyse and Bill of Only Ewe and Cotton Too for providing beads and pattern support throughout the weekend.

At right is a picture of an Aquitaine beaded cuff, which was the Saturday morning workshop in which we learned four different ways to apply beads. Sivia did speak some about pre-stringing beads. She recommended sliding them down the yarn and parking them in smaller groups so that you don't have to pull your yarn through hundreds of beads. She says she does this by spreading out her yarn on the floor and moving the groups of beads. Obviously, her pet is properly trained. She also showed us how to use a very small crochet hook to add beads as you go. The beads that are added to the cast-on edge are a particularly delightful touch to this project. With all the varieties of yarn, beads, and color, it will be a lot of fun to see the differences and creativity in the final projects.

The Moonrise necklace was Saturday afternoon's workshop. This fabulous necklace was so popular that the workshop sold out well in advance.

Some artistic advice and reflections from Whit:
This was my first experience knitting with beads and it was so fun, I can see where this phase of Knitting could be addicting. It was much easier than I thought, and I can actually wear this first project someday.

Tips: Use strong, silk beading thread - not sewing thread. I found that the weight of some of the larger beads seemed to make the thread work out and show, sometimes, so I got the glue gun out to reinforce the beads. (Probably not Kosher, but it seemed to work and saved further sewing). The more beads that are used, the better to hide the base of Knitting, and one can almost not have too many beads on these necklaces as they look richer the more and varied there are. A variety of shapes give texture which is very needed. If one is using all blue and white, for instance, use a contrasting color in a small bead here and there. This will give the project a little Punch!
And some advice from Joyce:
I really enjoyed the class and have now some ability to apply the skills to jewelry in the future. Learning the process to make a curved necklace was valuable and my necklace is quite nice. However, the thread provided, while pretty and sparkly is scratchy and probably will be uncomfortable next to the skin. Sivia did say that any lace weight yarn with some silk would be a better choice for it is softer and more malleable.
Linda F. sent this beautiful picture of her Moon Flowers necklace. She writes, "I learned a lot about mixing beads with abandon, which is my favored style of knitting yarn too. I was so excited by the class, I went home and raided my bead stash to make another necklace and 2 bracelets."

We hope everyone in our guild enjoyed an equally inspirational weekend.

Friday, October 8, 2010

On the Origin of Yarn

I find that knitters appreciate the process of making yarn, whether or not they also make their own. Here in the South we have two autumn events related to the origin of yarn. These are especially good events for spinners and animal lovers.

Coming up in a couple weeks on 22-24 October is the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. This well-established annual event is at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, North Carolina (near Asheville). The class workshop schedule includes knitting classes as well as spinning, dyeing, crocheting, and felting. The market includes plenty of hand-dyed yarns from independent dyers as well as equipment and roving for spinning. There are live animals on site, including angora rabbits, sheep, mohair goats, llamas, and alpacas. I've even known people to buy a fleece while it is still being worn by the animal!

The second event is a newer one, but nevertheless quite welcome in the neighborhood. The Georgia Alpaca Association is holding the Royal Alpaca Challenge on 6 & 7 November at the International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia. (This is where the equestrian events were held during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.) If you've never been to an alpaca show, this is a great opportunity to meet these sweet animals in person. Alpacas come in two basic varieties (suri and huacaya) and a myriad of natural shades of white, black, grey, and a lovely full range of browns from cappuccino to caramel to chocolate. In addition to a market where you can buy alpaca products, there is also a knitters' lounge for fiber demonstrations and a silent auction. And, of course, if you are looking to get into the alpaca business, this is a place to show, buy, and breed animals.

Both of these events are opportunities to learn more about the materials we love and to support the regional breeders who raise our favorite animal fibers.