Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Holiday Use for Yarn

A wreath made of balls of yarn by Two Junk Chix is featured in the current issue of Ladies Home Journal. The original post on how to make the wreath is here. The updated post with some new ideas is here. Either way, this is a fun crafty blog that might give you some ideas of how to use those high-quality scraps that you know you just won't throw out.

(Thank you to Jolie's Mom for the link!)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sweaters on Parade

Loes Veenstra, a knitter in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has been honored with a parade of people wearing the more than 500 sweaters she has knit over her lifetime. Link to video.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Year of the Bears: AKG December 2013 meeting recap

This month’s meeting was our annual bear donation to the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.  The Atlanta Knitting Guild started out knitting trauma bears for police officers to take with them and over the years developed the relationship with the GCCA.  The GCCA sees between 650 to 700 children who are victims of abuse or witnesses to such abuse each year, and our bears provide a small measure of comfort to those children.

Last year we collected 311 bears, and I thought we could meet and beat that goal this year.  When I challenged the AKG at the July meeting where we distributed copies of the Beary Easy Sweater by Diana Rishel, I never knew how quickly and fervently our knitters would accept that challenge.

Last year also inspired one members’ granddaughter to collect bears with her Daisy troop, and this year that same girl’s Brownie troop carried on that tradition.  All year long the same group of girls collected bears.  We invited them to come before the actual meeting to see the dressed bears ready to go for this year, and they brought bags of bears with them again.  I loved seeing their delight when they saw all the dressed bears.  Not only have they been learning the joys of community service in a way that doesn’t involve a DUI and a judge, but I think we’re planting the seeds of a new generation of handcrafters.

I’d been told there was another young lady collecting bears, and that she would be attending with a friend.  What I didn’t know is that this had been her service project to graduate from elementary school.  She attended with two friends, as well as two younger brothers in tow, and they brought bags of bears and non-bears.  She and her friend had set up collection boxes at her school, made posters and written articles for the school paper.  The five of them dove right into dressing and labeling the bears with enthusiasm, even forgoing cake and snacks until their job was completed.

In the meantime, the members of the AKG had stepped up and been knitting bear clothes at an astonishing rate.  Earlier this fall, our longtime bear coordinator, Jean G., had let us know that she would have to give up her position due to exciting new opportunities in her life.  She said she could help through the December meeting, and in the meantime, we found not one, but two wonderful members to step into her shoes.  Jeanne K.  and Joyce O. came in with all sorts of new ideas about how to reach out to the community to collect bears and spread word of our mission.  They took in bears, washed the ones that needed a good bath, dressed them in donated clothing, and tagged them.

Joyce, an amazing quilter, even made an Atlanta Knitting Guild Bears tablecloth.  I was astounded to see it that night!

Jeanne was told of a charity luncheon held by the …, which she attended.  She came from that luncheon with another 80+ bears!  She and Joyce got them dressed and labeled before coming to the meeting.

Whit also had the opportunity to get some bears from the Atlanta Mart, and she donated 50 bears to our efforts.

As usual, the bears kept coming in all during the night.  Thank goodness we had a stack of sweaters waiting for them.  We also received a pile of bear scarves that Arlene of Needle Nook brought.  She had encouraged the attendees of the first Wine and Wool retreat to knit scarves from mini skeins she had received from one of her yarn reps.  Needle Nook’s customers contributed about 170 knitted and crocheted items to our bear this year.

What’s our goal for next year?  That’s a great question.  While I jokingly said that we should aim for 450 bears, I know that’s a lot to ask.  However, Brenda from the Georgia Center of Child Advocacy told us a story of a 16 year old boy who had been beaten nearly to death by his father.  After his interview, he was taken to the room where the bears are, and the counselor who was working with him invited him to take a bear if he wanted to.  After all, he’s a 16 year old boy.  This young man did take one of the bears.   This is why it’s so important to dress and donate these bears.  The GCCA works with children as young as 3 up to teenagers.  They are why we collect and dress the bears.  It’s a small kindness to let these children know the world has kind and caring people in it.  For that, I thank everyone who has participated in making this year so amazing and bountiful.  As an aside, it took 2 SUV’s to get all the bears packed last night.  As for the non-bears, we sent them to the Atlanta Women’s Day Shelter for the children there to enjoy.

- Blog Post by Eve B., our faithful leader

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Knit & Crochet Museum?

Your humble former blogger has returned from the museum symposium in Madison, Wisconsin. There is much to report.

Karen Kendrick-Hands has done a wonderful job of shepherding the idea of starting a museum of knit and crochet. The gathering last weekend in Madison was a big step forward, as it was an opportunity for interested parties to meet. About fifty people attended, including one from Canada and one from the United Kingdom. We were able to share our hopes and concerns. We were able to hammer out a name and tag line: "The Center for Knit and Crochet: Preserving and promoting art, craft and scholarship." We were able to form a seven-member board whose immediate job is to write articles of incorporation and file for 501(c)(3) status. There will be much more discussion about the goals and scope of the museum. We will want to start small and grow sustainably. This means we will need to be patient. This also means the museum will probably start with activities other than outright collecting. We aren't yet sure when we will meet again, nor where nor how often. There is an enormous amount of planning work to be done behind the scenes. Yet we also have an incredible range of talent within our group -- museum people, academics, authors, teachers, and enthusiastic practitioners. I left the weekend with confidence that this is going to happen.

A huge thank you goes out to the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Yarn Group of TNNA. Together they provided logistical and financial support that went a long way towards not just making the symposium possible, but making it successful.

The Wisconsin Historical Society also staged a small exhibit of knit and crochet objects. It was exciting to see such work under glass in cases with museum labels. Some of the work was quite fine on tiny needles at a gauge most of us would consider masochistic. My apologies for the image quality -- no flash in low light under glass. Here are some of the items on display:
International Treasures
A very fine knit and beaded hat.
Crochet? Mittens in an unusual pattern.
A fancy bib(?) with unusual shaping.
There were other object including a pair of knitting needles that looked as if they had been whittled from tree branches. They were gently curved, perhaps due to the bend in the initial wood? And there was a long, narrow, fine sampler of lace. I'm not sure which was more impressive, the number of lace patterns or the border that had been worked separately and sewn on. I can't imagine finding the fortitude to slog away on perhaps 10 or 12 feet of fine gauge lace edging.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oh, the Tangled Webs We Wear . . . in our hair.

There is a new beauty trend this year that does not involve sweaters, cowls, scarves, mittens, socks or shawls.  Apparently, the fashion designers knit too, and they found a new creative way to use up their excess stash.

The blog-mistress is actually speechless.  As we attorneys like to say, the pictures speak for themselves.  I have nothing to add.  

What are your thoughts on the new yarn designs?  Do you find this a fashion worth following, or does your head hurt thinking about the tangles you will need to brush out to remove the strands of yarn?  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kathy Zimmerman Rocked!

Folks, if you weren’t there, you missed it.  Kathy Zimmerman rocked. 

I’m not much of a “theorist.”  I love practical discussions about how you can accomplish a task by following steps A, B, and C.  Kathy did not disappoint.  Her discussion on Thursday described the design process from the point she received the request for submissions through the life of the garment once it has been   She even discussed her start as developing a reputation as a samples knitter for several years before being invited to submit her own designs. 

I appreciate Kathy’s frankness about how she designs her garments to meet the needs of the editors.  For example, she knows which editors prefer or dislike certain finishes and design features, and she designs her submissions with those preferences in mind.  On a personal note, I appreciate Kathy’s love of worsted and bulky weight yarn.  The project moves so much faster with bigger yarn and gives slow knitters (like me) a needed sense of accomplishment much sooner.  And I suspect that she chooses the larger yarns exactly for that reason.  Well done!

While I was only able to attend two of Kathy’s classes, I found both of them inspiring.  The first class I attended was the slip-stitch sampler.  

I love the different combinations that you can create with the simple slip-stitch – who knew?  I don’t want to say I was inspired by the class, but I immediately went home and created this little beauty from Mason-Dixon Knitting:

The ballband dishcloth is a little distorted because my youngest got a hold of it, and we had a great game of “keep away.”  On a side note, the Peaches and Cream yarn holds up extremely well to extreme abuse.   

For my next class, I studied fringes, ruffles and scallops.  Again, her class did not disappoint.  What I found especially interesting is how knitting into the back loop is an integral part of these patterns to twist and tighten the stitches and to help the edgings keep their shapes. 

By the end of the day (not the end of the class – remember the slow knitter thing), I had the following edgings:

Someone noted that the fringe looked like the beginning to a pattern for a trauma bear.  I agreed, and a new pattern is in progress. 

 I’ll post the final product when I have it.

A big thank you to Kathy Zimmerman for all of her wisdom and inspiration!  We thoroughly enjoyed having you as our guest and teacher, and we hope you will come see us again. 

And, of course, thank you to everyone who made this event possible, including Kathleen, Eve, Marian, Betty, Ellen R., Joan, SEFAA and its members, and the entire AKG board.  It was an amazing weekend.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Catching Up - Live and Let Dye

Okay, I’m way behind in the blog posts. I missed the last AKG meeting and have absolutely had no idea what to write.   In fairness, I didn’t miss the meeting because of a conflict or an overwhelming desire to eat bon bons and watch Oprah reruns.  My sick husband had volunteered to watch our kids, but he wasn’t in any condition to do anything that required more effort than lifting the remote control.  Thus, given the choice between attending the meeting and sparing my husband the antics of our three boys, I opted to spare my husband.  After all, he knows where I live.

Apparently, this was not the meeting to miss.  The meeting topic – Live and Let Dye - and speaker, Judy Forster of Mama Jude’s Plant Dyed Stuff (, were phenomenal.  You could hear a pin drop during her presentation, which covered everything from different dying techniques, what natural materials to use for dying, where you can purchase these materials, and guidelines for safe dying (my favorite is to not drink while dying because you could pick up the wrong container).  Be sure to go to the link and check out the yarn and other products at her store.

Judy also was kind enough to relay her favorite dying resources:

Colors from Nature by Bobbi A. McRae

Nature’s Colors by Ida Grae

Wild Color by Jenny Dean

A Passion for Color by Sarah Burnett (also available at the AKG Library)

A Weaver’s Garden by Rita Buchanan. 

At the end of the impressive lecture, the AKG was able to shine with its own impressive display of our member’s work:

I can’t wait to see what we have to share with our upcoming superstar speaker, Kathy Zimmerman, this Thursday.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Controversy that is Yarn Bombing

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about yarn bombing.  On one hand, I appreciate the need for artistic expression.  Seeing a hotel decorated in yarn, as recently described by the Yarn Harlot, has to be quite a sight.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I find a lot of value in using scraps of yarn to cover random objects simply because it can be done.

There have been some great examples of yarn bombing used to decorate utilitarian objects.  For example, the AKG has a member who “yarn bombed” an old chair, giving it new character and life:

In another instance of decorative yarn bombing, a group of senior citizens from the West Flamingo Active Adult Center in Las Vegas and the local Boy Scout Troup 238 decided to “yarn bomb” a utilitarian pedestrian bridge over a local parkway.  The group created a sun motif designed to complement the work of nearby Sunrise Hospital. 

Anyone who knows me also knows that I can’t resist good social or political commentary.  So imagine my delight when I found this juicy piece of yarn bombing:

You guessed it!  That would be a naked Prince Harry (or nekked, for those true Southerners) guarding the family jewels that were otherwise publically displayed recently in Las Vegas.  What makes this yarn bombing especially delicious is that this irreverent display sits near the very proper the Royal crown and other decorations that were crafted for the recent Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. 

So let the controversy begin:  Yarn Bombing – creative expression or a poor use for perfectly good yarn.  Please be sure to leave your comments below.  And all posters are encouraged to use the term “family jewels” in their posts.  I look forward to reading your thoughts on this pressing topic.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our Summer of Adventure Continues with Socktopussy

The summer programs have been full of James Bond adventure, and August’s program was no exception.  With the help of Diana and Joel, we were able to tackle the pressing question of the day – to knit socks toe up or cuff down?   I’m not sure we received a definitive answer to the question, but we sure enjoyed the show.  We received some great sock-knitting pointers, including a favorite cast on for to-up socks and how to avoid the “noose” when transitioning between the leg and the instep.

Diana clearly enjoyed her role as Soctopussy . . .

Please don’t forget that we have wonderful resources in our AKG library, including books about sock-knitting.  I especially enjoyed Socks A La Carte by Jonelle Raffino which uses flip charts to create your own sock pattern.

Trauma Bear Project.  On a separate note, we’ve done an amazing job making sweaters for our Trauma Bear project.  Over 52 sweaters were donated in August alone!  Needle Nook has joined the AKG in its quest for sweaters, and it has produced over 30 sweaters.  Keep ‘em coming!

Show and Tell.  As usual, our members create the most amazing knitted projects.

I hope my version of Wingspan looks have as pretty as these FOs.

BTW - the yarn over variation on Wingspan is found on in the AKG forum.

The picture does not do justice to this beautiful jacket . . .

or this sweater.

And I am in love with these beautiful scarves:

I keep hoping that this sweater is available in my size. . . .

And that I can wear the sweater while curling up in this blanket . . .

See you next month!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Trauma Bear's Personal Trauma

You probably remember Ford.  He’s one of the spokesbears for our Trauma BearProject.  After the August meeting, I volunteered to take him home and watch him until next month.

Someone in my house discovered Ford the next morning. 

Initially, Ford got lots of love, and even enjoyed watching cartoons with the boys.

I don’t know what happened after I left for work, but when I came home at the end of the day, I found this.

Our president, Eve, received a formal request from Ford’s representative requesting hazard pay.  I hate to admit it, but I think he might have a case.   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Don't See the Problem Here

Before I begin this post, I feel the need for a disclaimer.  I am not what you call an avid sports fan.  In fact, you may describe me as the anti-avid sports fan.  I watch no sports either live or on TV.  I attend my children’s sporting events to socialize with other parents, take gratuitous pictures of my children, and occasionally keep up with the actual score.

That having been said, I absolutely cannot understand the fuss that was created over a woman in England who was caught knitting in a public place.  Big deal.  It was a sporting event.  Again, I’m not impressed; I knit at all my children’s sporting events.  (See disclaimer, above.)   The event was televised.  This merely means that, if she drops a stitch, she can watch the heated exchange on instant replay.  Yet, this knitter made international news. 

The BBC taped this knitter knitting during a heated moment in a Wimbledon match. 

Responses to this woman’s activities have been mixed.  Some people feel that she should have abandoned her seats since she clearly doesn’t care about the tennis match.  Other commentators were confused as to why she was knitting a sweater during the summer.  Knitters have vigorously defended her actions, noting that multi-tasking is possible, wondering how many people were Tweeting or otherwise engaged in cell phone activity during the match, and commenting that people are supposed to knit sweaters in the summer BEFORE they are needed in the fall. 

Personally, I do believe that this knitter hoped to attract attention to her activities.  After all, bright pink yarn does make a statement.  I’m sure she had a pair of socks or some other project with less conspicuous yarn somewhere in her stash.  Yet, she boldly chose to go with the bright pink.  I also don’t think she was that “into” the match since she was videoed doing a row of purl stitches.  I would argue that, if she were that excited about this match, she would have found a project that involves a simple garter stitch pattern. 

Regardless of her knitting selection, I give this knitter a tremendous amount of credit.  She joined her family for a spectacular sporting event without missing a stitch.  You go you knittin’ girl!