Saturday, October 14, 2017

2017 North Carolina State Fair Winners: Biscotti

The 2017 North Carolina State Fair opened this week and my daughter and I checked out my entries to see if had I won any ribbons. I wasn't expecting as many ribbons this year, but, nevertheless, I did win several ribbons. (I also had some "also-rans" which I will describe in a separate posting.)

My only 1st place award was not in a fiber craft at all. For the 2nd year, I entered the biscotti competition and beat my last year's 2nd place win with a blue ribbon this year. I baked the Butter-Pecan Biscotti recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

The recipe called for butterscotch bits along with toasted, chopped pecans, and, to increase the buttery flavor, I used Lorann Professional Kitchen's Butter Vanilla Bakery Emulsion instead of regular vanilla extract. 

Oh my, these were tasty and I will be making them again.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

NC State Fair Update

If you've wondered why I haven't posted anything for several weeks, it's because I've been busy working on my North Carolina State Fair entries. Crazy me, I registered 11 fiber-related entries this year. This morning I finished the last of 9 out of the 11. Of the 2 that I'm not entering, one, a filet crochet table runner, is larger than the rules require (I should have read the rules more closely on that one), and the other (a tatted edging on a handkerchief) is because I just ran out of the time and momentum to finish it (maybe I should start on next year's entries next month 😊). Even though I'm retired apparently I still can't stop creating pressure and stress for myself by setting strict deadlines and then procrastinating until the last minute.

I'll be dropping everything off tomorrow morning, and then spending the rest of the day baking my 2 cookie entries.

I'll post photos of everything after October 10th, the day entries are judged, and then photos of any ribbon winners I might have. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Another shawl made from one skein of yarn I bought at the 2017 Carolina Fiber Fest. The yarn is hand-dyed 100% superwash merino wool in 1-ply fingering weight from Iria Yarn Company out of Raleigh, NC. The colorway is "Boho."

The pattern is "Close to You" by Justyna Lorkowska. It's available as a free download on Ravelry at

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Keeping Busy

Not much to post these days as I am busy working on my ELEVEN! North Carolina State Fair fiber entries, and I don't like to post photos of them until they've been entered in the fair. It remains to be seen if I will be able to complete pieces for all the categories in time, but with several weeks before the fair opens in October, I'm working hard to get things done.

I got a happy surprise this week when I visited the Lace Knitting Facebook group. One of the photos of my butterfly scarf was used as the group's page banner. I had no idea that they would feature the scarf since it is not as lacy as most of the pieces on the page.

Despite all the activity devoted to the fair, I've also signed up to participate in a gigantic art installation Love Across the USA - Raleigh. Dozens of participants will be crocheting 2' by 2' squares that will be assembled into a huge mural that will be installed on the Raleigh convention center in October. It will be the third mural in the series planned by Olek, the artist designing and managing the project.

The design (portrait and quotation) will not be revealed until the mural is installed. The first two murals were Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, NY. I finished my assigned square quickly so I could get back to my fair projects.

Friday, July 28, 2017

June 2017 Knitting: "Butterfly" Scarf

This was an interesting and, for me, a challenging project: each ruffle is knitted on top of the previous ruffle. The last row of stitches of the previous ruffle are knit together with the next ruffle that has been formed...and so on till one side of the scarf is finished. After the second half is finished, the halves are joined together. 

The yarn is Jojoland Melody Superwash in 100% wool in colorway "Lilac Rose." The pattern is "Butterflies Are Free" from Lace One-Skein Wonders edited by Judith Durant (Storey Publishing, 2013, ISBN: 978-1612120584). 

The pattern calls for 700 yards of yarn, but I didn't have that much in my stash. After a bit of measuring and weighing I made some adjustments to accommodate the amount of yarn I did have. Each ruffle is supposed to have 3 repeats of the charted pattern, but I did only 2 repeats. Each side is supposed to have 9 ruffles, but I only have 8 ruffles per side. With these changes I did not run out of yarn, and I think the final result looks fine.

June 2017 Knitting: Lacy Hand-dyed Yarn Shawl

Another shawl made with yarn I bought at the 2017 Carolina Fiber Fest. The yarn is hand-dyed from Iria Yarn Company out of Raleigh, NC. The fiber is a 2-ply lace weight, 60% suri alpaca, 40% merino wool in colorway "Raspberry."

The pattern is "Magenta Mohair Lace Stole" from Lace One-Skein Wonders edited by Judith Durant (Storey Publishing, 2013, ISBN: 978-1612120584).

Monday, July 24, 2017

Latest Blinged Tatting Shuttles

Here's what I've been playing with lately: Bling on a Roll. The "jewels" are attached to a clear strip of sticky tape. You just cut the length you need and attach to the shuttle. I then applied clear protective coats to secure everything.

I bought Bling on a Roll at AC Moore in the scrapbooking department. For a person who does not scrapbook, I sure buy a lot of supplies there.

Here's some closer views of the shuttles

It was hard to get a good shot of the pink one; it looks much better in real life.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

June Knitting 2017: Tote Bags

I've been knitting up a storm this summer and neglecting recording the results here in my blog. So I'll try to remedy this in a series of postings. First are two tote bags I knitted, one for myself and one for my sister after she saw the first one.

The one on the left is knit from yarn I bought at Downtown Knits in Apex, NC, at the Spring Yarn Crawl. After my sister said she'd love one I went back for another cone. As you can see they're both black and white (the colorway is called "TV Static"), but due to the source of the yarn there are always variations. 

The yarn is Wool and the Gang's "Jersey Be Good" T-shirt yarn made from factory offcuts. 

The pattern is called "Zigzag Shopper" and is also from Wool and the Gang. It's knit on size 19 needles so it knits up very fast. The resulting piece is rather heavy so I don't think it would be comfortable in a garment. Years ago I knit my daughter a T-shirt out of T-shirt yarn and she found it much too bulky and heavy to wear. (It probably ended up as a charity shop donation.)

Because of the source for this yarn, it apparently does not have the uniformity of most yarns. One thing I noticed when I started the second bag was that the yarn on that cone was wider than the yarn on the first cone, making a much thicker fabric. I was concerned that I would run out of yarn because the cones are measured by weight, not yardage. Rather than risk having to buy yet another cone to finish what is supposed to be a one-cone project, I took scissors to the yarn and split it into two narrower bands. As a result, I have the equivalent of a third cone still in my stash for a later project.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Off the Needles: Eifelgold Shawl

One of my purchases at this year's Carolina Fiber Fest was a kit for knitting Eifelgold, a shawl that has been a popular knit-along project in this area.

The kit included the pattern and 2 skeins of fingering weight superwash merino yarn from The Fibre Studio, out of Charlotte, NC, The main color is 5 ounces in "Noir" and the contrasting color is 3 ounces of "Holly."

The pattern is made up of solid-color areas of garter stitch and two-color areas of a slip-stitch or mosaic stitch, easy knitting since mosaic stitch (unlike fair isle) requires only one color to be carried along a row. 

I did have a bit of trouble getting started: you begin by casting on 8 stitches and make increases on right-side rows. I kept messing up my count in the first 7 or 8 rows partly because the yarn plies split a little and partly because it was hard to see the stitches in the black yarn. I had just about given up hope of getting going with the project when I went to a film class where another knitter had brought her almost-finished Eifelgold shawl. I was dumbfounded at her progress since it was only a week after the Fiber Fest. But she told me that she didn't get the yarn at the festival; it was from a knit-along at one of the local yarn shops and she had been knitting it for several weeks. 

Inspired by her progress, I went home determined that before the end of our class I would have the shawl done and ready to show her my version. And 3 weeks later I had finished all but the blocking. I can't say there weren't still a lot of rows that I had to frog and reknit because of losing a stitch, but overall it was a very satisfying project. It has been a lot of years since I had done any mosaic knit patterns, so it was nice to know that they still give me knitting pleasure.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Blinging Shuttles Continued: Printing Your Own Decorative Paper

During the class on embellishing tatting shuttles and in discussions later with attendees, two ideas came up which I decided to explore.

Idea 1:  Shuttles decorated with Scottish tartan patterns were sold in the 1800s as souvenirs and are now highly collectible. I got into a discussion with my tatting friend Anitra about how it would be fun to find authentic tartan patterns and use them to make our own tartan shuttles.

Idea 2: So if we did find photos of tartans that we wanted to use and if we then printed them using an inkjet printer, would the printed result hold up to multiple coats of decoupage medium or would the ink run, thus ruining the pattern?

There are several books that provide illustrations of the clan tartans, and I suspected, rightly, that I could find many more from online sources. One of the sources I use to search for designs is Spoonflower, a company that is just down the road from me in Durham, NC. Spoonflower allows designers to submit their work and then prints on-demand custom textiles and papers for their customers.

You can search their database for designs by color or by topic. My search using the term "tartan" resulted in 35 screens of designs, probably more than I could possibly find in any book of patterns.

Using a program to capture an image from the computer screen, I saved a sample tartan to a file which I then printed on my inkjet printer at the highest resolution. Once I had the image on paper, I treated it just as I did the origami paper that I usually use. I am pleased to say that even with multiple coats of Mod Podge and Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss finish, the printer ink did not run or smear.

Here's the final result, Royal Stewart tartan on a Clover tatting shuttle:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

More Shuttle "Blinging" Lessons

The tatters who signed up for my "Bling Your Shuttle" class this month were not the only ones who learned new things. I have been working on embellishing plastic shuttles with thicker plastic stickers but finding it tricky to get them to stay on. One of the scrapbookers in the class suggested I first apply a paper layer to the shuttle and then put the stickers onto the paper for firmer adhesion. I'm happy to say that her suggestion does work better when using these stickers. The pink shuttle is my first attemp at applying the stickers directly onto the shuttle, while I first applied purple origami paper to the shuttle on the left before putting on stickers.

For both shuttles I put many, many coats of Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss Finish to get a nice finish. I'd like to experiment with other glossy finishes so I've been looking for other products in craft stores. It turns out that Mod Podge does make a finish that it says will give a glass-like finish to pieces. However, according to the directions on the bottle the drying/curing time is FOUR WEEKS! I think I'll stick with the Martha Stewart product for now.

Another suggestion I got from the class is to use washi tape instead of sheets of origami paper. Most of the washi tape I found in craft stores is too narrow to cover my shuttles, but I did find this decorative tape that is wide enough. Like the plastic stickers it has a tendency to peel off too easily, but coats of the MS gloss, especially around the edges, seemed to fix the problem. The proof, of course, will come after I use this shuttle for tatting projects.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

"Blinging" Shuttles Class a Great Success!

I'm so proud of how well everyone's shuttles turned out at the "Bling Your Shuttles" workshop that I taught at the North Carolina Regional Lacers Spring Lace Day held today on International Tatting Day. Everyone was able to get the 1st coats on 2 shuttles before the end of class. And I got some ideas for new things to try on shuttles from the scrapbookers in attendance.

Here are some of the beautiful results from the class:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tatting at the 2017 Carolina Fiber Fest

Another opportunity to promote our love of tatting! Today the Tri-Tatters group displayed and demonstrated tatting at the 2017 Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, NC. We had a grand time meeting with other tatters and tatter wannabes. Many of the people we talked with signed up for our mailing list, and we hope to see some of them at our monthly meetings.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Carolina Fiber Fest 2017

Once again I had a display of fiber arts at the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, NC. For the past 3 years I've demonstrated using non-traditional materials in fiber crafts, but after so many years, I was ready to try something different. I volunteered to display and demo crocheting if no local guild was available to do it...and my offer was accepted. Here are some photos of the display I set up.

This is the giant crocheted LED rope light doily that I made a few years ago. It's always an attention-getter when I take it to demos.

Here are some more items I brought including several that won ribbons at the NC State Fair.

It was a lot of fun meeting and talking with crocheters during the day. Many feel left out or overlooked because of the popularity of knitting so they were pleased to see that crochet was represented at the event. I've been asked to participate at the Twisted Threads Guild booth next year as they would like people to see that crochet is one of the crafts that they promote. It will be nice to be part of a larger group after being a solo demonstrator for so many years.

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Blinging" Tatting Shuttles

On International Tatting Day (April 1st) I will be leading a workshop, "Bling Your Shuttle," at the North Carolina Regional Lacers Spring Lace Day in Chapel Hill, NC. Participants will decorate tatting shuttles using a selection of origami papers and decoupage medium. To further inspire the tatters and give them ideas, I will also have a display of shuttles that I have decoupaged in various ways. The class should be a lot of fun for everyone.

I show here some of the examples that I plan to bring to the class along with comments on the process for each one.

This is one of my earliest efforts. The paper is origami paper on a Susan Bates plastic shuttle. Origami paper comes in a vast selection of patterns and lends itself well to decoupaging. The decoupage medium is Mod Podge Gloss.

Here's another shuttle decoupaged with origami paper, this time on a Handy Hands Moonlit shuttle. The addition of the hook means that care is needed to make sure the paper is secure on that end of the shuttle so thread doesn't catch on it when using the hook.

I've included this example to show that selection of paper is as important as careful decoupaging. This design came from the same pack of origami paper as the one above. But the design is so pale that is fades into the background. The shuttle is a Handy Hands Sunlit and the decoupaging was done with Mod Podge Gloss and finished with a couple of coats of Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss Finish.

This is a Lacis Sew Mate shuttle decoupaged with paper a little heavier than origami paper. It's from a book of papers that simulate the effect of marblized paper. One thing to watch out for when using some printed papers is that part of the printing can rub off during the decoupaging process. You can see on the bottom left edge that this has happened in a small spot. Repeated coats of the decoupage medium can prevent this from spreading. Again, Mod Podge Gloss was the medium used.

Here's another Handy Hands Sunlit shuttle, but this time only Mod Podge Extreme Glitter was used to decorate it. So you can play around with various coatings and get some interesting effects without the addition of paper. 

Here's another Handy Hands Sunlit shuttle coated only with Mod Podge Extreme Glitter and and the addition of a little piece of tatting in size 80 thread. Not only is this a great way to show off your tatting, but the texture of the tatting provides a good grip on the shuttle.

Yet another Handy Hands Sunlit shuttle, but this time, instead of origami paper, I used a decorative  bag made of almost tissue thickness paper. The bag contained a souvenir from my daughter's trip to Italy so not only is the design a fun one to have on a shuttle, but it's also a reminder of my daughter's thoughtful gift. Using papers collected on trips (paper bags, paper napkins) is a nice way to create a useful remembrance. 

I usually only decorate the top side of my shuttles, but this Susan Bates shuttle is the exception. It is an example of a decorating failure and a rescue from that failure. I originally painted this shuttle with Martha Stewart Crafts Gold Liquid Gilding. I've had great success using this on a damaged wooden picture frame, but this was the first, and only, time I used it on plastic. It did not do well on this surface and the gilding rubbed off in an unsightly way. You can see some of the remains of the gilding on the underside of the tip in the bottom photo. I decided to cover the ugly with origami paper on both sides. I used Mod Podge Gloss to attach the paper and then several coats of Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss Finish to give it even more shine.

Here I'm playing with little plastic stickers, the kind found in any scrapbooking department in craft stores. The Handy Hands Moonlit shuttle was first coated with Mod Podge Gloss and the sticker applied to the wet surface. After drying, several coats of Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss Finish were added to give the surface a shine and to insure that the sticker would stay stuck.

Here's another attempt that taught me something. This Clover shuttle is decoupaged with silver metallic origami paper. I find that this paper can be more fragile than the non-metallic papers. During the decoupaging operation, some of the paper almost rubbed off as can be seen near the tip of the shuttle. I won't be using this type of paper again. I added another from my sticker stash and gave the shuttle many coats of Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss Finish to protect the paper from further rubbing off and to make sure the sticker would not peel off.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Butterfly Magnets for Lace Day

For the past two years I have made magnets for the North Carolina Regional Lacers Spring Lace Day goody bags The first year I made heart shaped magnets and last year I used a star shape. Although each year I use a different design, the process is generally the same. This year's magnet is a butterfly. I just finished making 110 of these since we often have quite a number of registrants for the event.

The paper is Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor paper, a heavy stock with a slight pebbly surface. I used a paper punch to make the butterfly shapes and backed them with small squares of peel-and-stick magnets. Each piece is coated with Mod Podge Extreme Glitter decoupage medium and left to dry.

The thread is Lizbeth size 80 in colorway #155 "Ocean Sunset." Some of the butterflies have four tiny tatted rings and others have a cluster of three little tatted flowers made up of multi-picot rings. The pieces of tatting are glued to the paper shapes with more Mod Podge and the pieces are again left to dry.

After the second drying the tatting is given a top coat of Mod Podge Extreme Glitter to secure them  onto the paper and to add more sparkle. Now they're ready for the goody bags, and I'm already thinking about what shape I'll use to make next year's magnets.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Attaching Tatted Edging to Pillowcases

As a tatter, I mostly tat edgings that I apply to handkerchiefs and pillowcases. Typically, handkerchiefs, especially vintage hankies, are treated delicately when washed. Pillowcases are another matter. They are usually thrown in the wash along with the sheets and other household linens. Because of this, my method of attaching edgings to pillowcases involves two practices: (1) I always attach the edging a few inches from the pillowcase edge, and (2) I always sew down (usually by hand) both sides of the edging. The photos below show three methods of attaching edgings to pillowcases and the results after years of washing in a top-loader washing machine.

Example 1: traditional attachment on the pillowcase edge

After years of being agitated in a washing machine, this hen-and-chicks edging has not only become detached from the pillowcase in several places, but the tatting itself has broken apart. At this point there is very little that can be done to salvage this edging.

Example 2: attaching the edging a few inches beyond the pillowcase edge and sewing down one side of the edging

Here's another hen-and-chicks edging that has held up quite well in many washes, but the unsecured side curls and bunches up after drying. Of course, one could simply iron the curly edge down, but do you really want to spend time ironing pillowcases instead of using the time for tatting?

Example 3: attaching the edging a few inches beyond the pillowcase edge and sewing down both sides of the edging--my method

This edging lies flat with no ironing needed, unlike Example 2, and doesn't take a beating in the washing machine unlike Example 1. Yes, it does take twice as long to attach the edging using this method, but the results are literally years of enjoying using your beautiful tatting without having to hand wash it.