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Tutorial: How to Unwind a Skein

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About a week ago I got a great question from Mary, one of my students and customers.  She wrote, “How do you unravel a twist of yarn? Made a mess and I am sure there is a correct way but I’m not privy it and I have three more to go….Mary.”  When Mary was talking about a twist of yarn, she was talking about a skein.  And this can be quite puzzling if you’ve never dealt with yarn stored this way.

I thought it was a great question, so I’ve put together a tutorial about it.  Since it’s a fairly picture-heavy post, I’ve put the rest of the post behind a cut so the photographs won’t slow down the loading time on the website.

But first, why is yarn stored in skeins, and not pre-wound for customers?  There are a couple of different reasons.  First, it’s generally agreed that keeping your yarn wound into balls for long periods of time can stretch out the yarn, especially if the yarn is wound up tightly. Keeping it in a skein allows the yarn to breathe a bit more.  Second, it’s easier for yarn companies to ship their yarn in skeins: they take up less space, squish better, and lie flatter in boxes.  Yarn that is in balls tends to be hard for LYS’s to store – I used to call a couple of different balled yarns “tribbles,” as they seemed to jump off the shelves whenever my back was turned.  Finally, for hand-dyed yarns, gradients and a few other yarns, skeins allow customers to see all the colors in the skein better, so they’re not surprised by a “mystery color.”

So that’s why you often may get your yarn in skeins from a Local Yarn Store.  Most stores offer balling services if you buy the yarn in the store or if you pay a small fee.  But do expect to wait – often sales clerks have to fit in the winding of yarn around their other duties!

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It’s Never too Early to Think about Summer Camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

It’s getting to be the time to think about summer camp, and for me, that means I’m talking about the summer camps I’ve been running the past few years!  However, Tinking Turtle has a couple of changes happening this year (spurred on, in a large part, because of our impending tiny turtle).

As I’ve talked about many times before, some of my most formative years were spent going to a summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Camp Chimney Corners.  Summer camps are a great way to foster independence, expose children to new experiences or hobbies, and foster a different type of learning than what school offers.  And I’ve been proud, the past two years, to work with Montgomery College to bring fiberarts summer camps to the DC/Rockville area.

So it’s with sorrow that I say that I will not be running camps with Montgomery College this year.  The amount of traveling I’d do to teach the camps in Rockville, MD would be a little too much for our small family.  But it is with joy that I’m announcing that this year, I’ll be bringing fiber arts camps to my hometown, Ashland, by pairing with the Hanover Arts and Activities Center!

I’ll be hosting two camps this summer:

  • String Theory, happening August 8-12th, is a high-energy introduction to the fiberarts suitable for ages 8 & up.  It features spinning, knitting, basic sewing, weaving and dying.  Students will be working the week through on two different projects, with opportunities to customize and tailor their interests.
  • Next Step Needlecraft, happening August, offers a glimpse into some of the lesser-known handcrafts.  Suitable for ages 10 & up, this summer camp features spinning, punch-rug needlework, needle felting, crochet and dying.  Students have the option of planning and creating a variety of projects, which they will work on throughout the week.

If you live in the Ashland/Richmond area and know kids who would be interested, I’d love for you to pass my information along!  You can find out more at the Hanover Arts and Activities Website.

Snowstorm Projects

It’s grey and overcast.  Every once and awhile I see a stray flake drift down from the sky, and there’s a hushed breath feeling to the air when I stepped outside this morning.  Like any good snow-day or snowstorm, I have on a ratty sweater with penguins on it, and my favorite pair of pajama pants.  Unlike my childhood snow-days, my list is full.  Self-employment (especially when you work from home), means you get to keep working until the power goes out – and sometimes you don’t stop then.

Still, I’m planning on knocking out all my internet things this morning, and curling up with a blanket and my projects this afternoon.  Just in the time I’ve been typing this, the snow’s started to come down harder, and is starting to show up on the walkways.

So what will I be working on as the snow comes down?

Hairpin lace against a table

hairpin lace, looking like some strange creature’s spine

I’ve got a hairpin lace project I’m working on for Piecework – I have to get it off by next week.  I’ve created a lovely swatch, and now need to get cracking on the real piece.  One of the things I love about Hairpin is how it comes together so quickly, once you get the strips done.  I’ll put on an audiobook, and get a good chunk of it done this weekend.

still working on the puppy-chewed blanket

still working on the puppy-chewed blanket

This blanket is turning into the project I can really only work on for two-hours at a time – before my brain needs a rest and my back needs to stop hunching over it.  This too has to be done by the end of next week.  I’ve got one more big hole to fix, one smaller hole, and a bunch of worn places to reinforce.  I’m really happy with how this is working out, and hoping to get a good picture of it when it’s done.  This is logistically a little difficult right now, as our downstairs guest bedroom has become a staging ground for a larger home project, and the upstairs really doesn’t have a good spot.  I’ll figure something out, though.

The final project I don’t have a picture of, but it’s my near full-to-the-top meding bag.  It’s one of the larger bags by erin.lane (seriously good project bags – she doesn’t do anything revolutionary, other than having really cute fabrics, a well-lined bag, and sturdy reinforcing at stress points… but really, isn’t that all you need?), and it’s filled with hand-knit socks that need darning or reinforcing.  I made a dent in them this week, and I’m hoping to make a bigger dent in them, as I’m down to two pairs of handknit socks, and that really isn’t enough.

And now, in the simple 40 minutes I’ve been working on this, the snow has really started to pick up.  We’ve got accumulation on most of the concrete surfaces, and Mr. Turtle’s chomping at the bit to walk into town, get our snowstorm wine and cheese, and take a romantic walk in the snow.  So, I must be off!

What’s your snowstorm project?

Atlantic Beach

birds in the sky over the beachIt seems like every year that I’ve know Mr. Turtle, his family goes to Atlantic Beach over Martin Luther King Weekend.  I am told, that once upon a time, the family also went in the summer time, but with adult schedules being what they are, it seems that the off-season is the time we all make it work.

textures in the sand

patterns in the sand at Atlantic Beach

I like Atlantic Beach in the off season. The pace is slow: there is time to spend hours on a puzzle, a book, or a piece of handwork.  The tone has some things in common with the farm: we unplug, play games, and rest.  But there are things about the beach that are different than the farm: most notably, there’s always something to fix or do at the farm.  At the beach it is quiet and lazy.  There is time to bundle up and take long, multiple mile walks along the shoreline.  Most of the time you don’t have to share your space with anyone else; there might be a native with her dog, or a couple walking hand-and-hand, but these events are few and far between.

There’s time to sit on the balcony with binoculars and look for dolphins, fishing vessels, and “german u-boats.”  We look for shells, take artsy beach photographs, and spend time with family.  In the evening we cook in, or go to the Channel Marker, where we eat delicious, delicious seafood.  Seriously, if you’re ever in Emerald Isle, this is the place to go.

swatching in hairpin crochet

swatching in hairpin crochet

I made the choice not to bring anything with a pressing deadline with me, and managed to carve out some time for play – fooling around with shapes and textures and swatching for future things.  Since the pregnancy seems to make me always tired, I’d fall asleep on the couch to the sounds of the family working through a puzzle or playing a game.

I made a small hat as a class sample that’ll be for Kiwi afterward.  I caught up (a little) on my darning, and plotted for my next piece in Piecework.  It was lovely, and quiet and fun.

Me with all my tools, taking over the couch. My big crafting bag at my feet, my tin of stitch markers, my pile of scraps, and my scissors.

Me with all my tools, taking over the couch. My big crafting bag at my feet, my tin of stitch markers, my pile of scraps, and my scissors.

Is there an Atlantic Beach in your life?  A place to unwind and take the time for things you normally don’t get to do?

Boston Ivy Sweater, in Interweave Crochet Winter 2016

black and white drawing of young man in sweater with hat on.

Original idea for Boston Ivy.

I’ve been checking Ravelry and Interweave’s Crochet website for the last two weeks, waiting for the most recent issue of Interweave Crochet to come out.  And now, I’m pleased to announce that Interweave Crochet Winter 2016 is on the shelves (or will be in the next few days), and available to purchase.  In this issue is my design, Boston Ivy.  Boston Ivy is a design that’s near and dear to my heart, as it started out as a request for a sweater from my brother, Matthew.

Boston Ivy was originally pitched as an idea based off of my brother, Matthew, and his descriptors for a perfect sweater for him.

He wanted it to be warm.  Not necessarily sweater warm, but more like rugged sweater/jacket to wear outside.  Decoration and cables should be kept to a minimum.  It had to had to have a collar that would go around his neck, and it had to be something he could move and be active in.

At the same time I’d been playing around with a crochet or knitting technique involving using long strips of fabric.  I’d braid the fabric, and then pick up stitches on either side of the braid, making it look like a particularly interesting cable. Boston_Ivy_Sweater_medium While I’d seen the technique done, a little, in crochet lacework, I’d never seen it done on larger pieces.  I also hadn’t seen it done all that much.

I thought this was a great pity that I needed to remedy.

I began pitching the idea to a variety of magazines, with little interest.  Until Interweave Crochet.

Boston Ivy is a sweater for men and women.  It’s sturdy and comfortable, with drop shoulders and a distinctive braided pattern down sleeves and front.

Worked in single crochet thru the back loop, it creates a ribbing that’s warm and stretchy.

And I love it.

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A Collection of Life Notes

Today’s a bit of a mishmash of life-notes and thoughts, being that I’m still working through the laundry from Thanksgiving and have all my deadlines looming right at the same time, mid-month.

Not much personal knitting/crocheting has been happening in the Turtle household lately, which makes me a very boring person indeed.

I’ve been working in a sweater made in a size small.  Working a size small sample always makes me nervous: even though I know my math is correct, and the piece is measuring out correct, when I look at the knitted piece I have a hard time believing it would actually fit a real live adult person.  I keep going over to my size small dress form and holding it up, reassuring myself it really is the right size, and then working myself up into a tizzy again a few hours later.

For some reason it doesn’t happen when I work a size medium.

Anyone else ever have this problem?


Being away from home means the cats have been very needy the last two days.  I suppose this is a good thing, as I’m doing 3-5 hours of knitting each day to meet a mid-month deadline.  They can sit on my lap and I can work, work, work.

Watson and Peake helping with the knitting

Watson and Peake helping with the knitting – if you look close you can see my current project!

Still, it’s grey and rainy out, and due to be the same weather until Thursday, which seems like such a long way away.  That meant yesterday my knitting time became my nap time for entirely too long.  It also means my needy white cat, Watson, has been in my face saying “pet me! pet me!” … with his claws.

Still, it’s good to be home for a little stretch, even if it’s just shy of two weeks before we’re off again.


 

Crochet lace about to be repaired

Crochet lace about to be repaired

I’m tearing through the last of the finishing that’s due before Christmas, and hoping to get it off a little before the holiday.  I’ve had a number of rather challenging projects: a fisherman’s sweater that had seen better days, and a crochet bedspread made a difficult repair simply because it was so LARGE.  If you’ve been waiting on your finishing to arrive before Christmas, it should be going off sometime around the 18th.

Meanwhile I haven’t started on Christmas cards, nearly any shopping, or cleaning the house.  I’ve been vibrating a little with holiday tension. If I wasn’t knitting for work, I’d be knitting for stress relief.

Still, I get to listen to as much of the holiday music as I can stand, which is a huge plus.


duplicate stitch on knitting

Foxes being embroidered

When off shopping with my mother and sister over the holiday, I noticed no fewer than five different shirts on adults and children (in different stores) featuring foxes.  One of my current designs has a fox on it.

I’m so excited for it to be out in the world.  Foxes are soooo in right now.  And it’s great – I think they’re adorable!

 

Stained Glass Rug, Out in the World

Woman working on padded crochet motif.

Woman working on padded crochet motif.

Two weekends ago I had a really fun class I taught at Fibre Space on one of my favorite patterns I’ve designed: Stained Glass Rug.  The class which focused on padded crochet was dynamic and fun – and the students walked away with a good grasp of where to go next.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of their finished projects!

Stained Glass Rug has been getting a lot of attention lately: it continues to show on Knitting Daily TV and public television.  Students continue to love learning how to work it in the video I produced with Interweave.  It’s no surprise – working up quickly, it’s a great way to make a holiday gift, use up scraps, or try out different color combinations.

And best of all?  It’s free if you sign up for the Knitting Daily Website!

I’ve been loving seeing the color choices, variations and interpretations students make to the pattern as they make it their own.

Nearly finished Stained Glass Rug Motif!

Nearly finished Stained Glass Rug Motif!

One student I had chose this lovely greenish brown color to be her neutral, and had a yarn the color of bricks to be her “pop” color.

Back in August, Ravelry User BarbR made this lovely interpretation of Stained Glass Rug.

rug in teal, blue and cream

BarbR’s Stained Glass Rug, used with permission

Barb said of the project,

“I wanted to find something for some old wool that I had in my stash for a long time. It is a sturdy wool that is perfect for a mat. Your mat was something different and it really caught my eye.
The yarn was much thicker than what you had in the pattern, so I had to adjust the stitch count to get it to lay flat. The new stitch count doesn’t quite cover the cord as well as in your pattern, but does the job.
When I do it again, I will have to be careful to not pull the cord so tight, the circles don’t lay perfectly flat.

Stained Glass Rug Motifs, all stacked up with a padded crochet basket on top!

Stained Glass Rug Motifs, all stacked up with a padded crochet basket on top!

As for myself, I’ve been contemplating a rainbow Stained Glass Rug – still figuring out the details!

New Online Learning Videos with Interweave

You may remember that over the summer, I went to Interweave in Fort Collins, CO to film four classes. This was part of Interweave’s Online Learning video program.  The first one, based off of Stained Glass Rug, was released a couple of months ago.  The others, I’m happy to report, have just come out!  Let me tell you about them!


Short Rows in Crochet: Learn Shaping and Texture Techniques for a Great FitEP12640

This class is based on a method of working short rows that I uninvented.  I’ve been using this technique for a while now, as I love the texture and look it gives crochet fabric.  I also love how shaping can be achieved to create projects that imitate ribbing in knitting, or allow you to play with color.

This class has two free patterns that come with the download or video: Riverbend Skirt and Ski Slope Hat.

In addition to teaching you about short rows, this class also has a great tutorial about using the mattress stitch to seam together crochet stitches.  I think you’ll love it.

You can purchase the class here, for $19.99.

 


Quick Crochet VestQuick Crochet Vest: Learn Broomstick Lace, Short-Rows, Back Loop Stitches & More

I love my Pattern Crossed Arrow Vest, and I think it’s the perfect project for beginners looking to challenge themselves!  Going into the class, the only skills you need to know are how to chain and single crochet.  I take you through the rest.

What I love about this pattern is how, with very little shaping, you create a very flattering vest that works as a great layer piece.  And the best part is, with a bulkier weight yarn, this project just flies by.  With the video you get a free copy of Crossed Arrow, plus my instruction as I walk you through each of the steps to complete this project.

And if you’ve never tried broomstick, this is a great project to start on.  You’ll get the hang of it in no time.

You can purchase the class here, for $19.99.


 

Crochet Barber Pole Cowl: Stranded Colorwork Techniques and MoreCrochet Barber Pole Cowl

My Barber Pole Cowl has been featured in several of my classes, and I’m now glad to bring it to video with Interweave.  Like Crossed Arrow, this is a pattern that’s completely accessible to beginners: if you can single crochet and chain, I can teach you how to make this project!

With a lot of color options, this project is always popular around fall – a perfect pattern for working up in school or team colors, just as the air is getting nippy.

Here, I take you through learning how to crochet through the back loop (can you tell it’s one of my favorite techniques?) and also how to work stranded crochet – which is different than tapestry crochet!  Stranded crochet creates a fabric that is warmer (because of the two layers of yarn) and much stretchier than tapestry crochet.  It’s a fun and helpful skill to have in your arsenal.  In the process of learning this technique, you also learn how to change colors in crochet without making a jog.

If you like the pattern and love my classes, I think you’ll get a lot from this one.  You can purchase the class here, for $19.99.


Got questions about the videos?  I’d love to answer them!  And if you have bought the videos, how did you like them?

 

Welcome Marly Fans!

Stained Glass Rug

The right and wrong sides of Stained Glass Rug

If you’re coming here from Marly Bird’s The Yarn Thing, welcome!  I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.  Feel free to read some of my previous blog posts!  If you enjoy tutorials, check out How to Set a Zipper in a Sweater.  If you like a behind-the-scenes look at designing, check out some of my posts on my designs in Crochetscene.  And if you’d like to revisit some of my oldest sock designs, check out a side by side comparison of two older designs.

If you’re already a regular… have you listened to my interview with Marly Bird on her podcast?  We just wrapped the interview up!  You can listen on  BlogTalk Radio.

 

Tomorrow I’ll give you a glimpse into some of the things I’ve been working on lately!

Mitts and Crochet: New Classes at Untangled Purls

Starting next week I’ve got a great lineup of Fall classes at Untangled Purls, in Fredericksburg, VA.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to teach at Untangled Purls: Most of my classes for the last year (with the exception of my camps) have been workshop based – that is, one and done.

I’ve missed the camaraderie and relationship that builds with a class when you teach week after week: you get to know your students better, and you get to watch students progress in a way that is different than workshops.  I wanted to highlight two of the classes I’ll be teaching at Untangled Purls.

Photocredit: © Ambah O'Brien

Photocredit: © Ambah O’Brien

Beginning Stranded Knitting is based of of a wonderful pattern called Maroo Mitts by Ambah.  This is a great introductory project to stranded knitting, and I hope you might be able to join me!  Learn more about the class here.

 

Photocredit: Freshstitches

Photocredit: Freshstitches

Crochet Softies is based around four of Stacey Trock’s FreshStitches patterns: Kepler the Lion, Nelson the Owl, Flavia the Unicorn and Cliff the Brontosaurus.  I love these patterns because they’re a great next step for students who have learned how to crochet, but haven’t quite mastered reading a pattern or working in the round.  I have so much fun helping students create these fun stuffed animals: and they make perfect gifts!  You can find out more about the class here!