Do you have a pair of crocheted mittens? Of all the projects I’ve crocheted, I have never crocheted a pair of mittens for myself. I’ve crocheted a few mitten sets as gifts, but I’ve realized this fall season that I, too, need a pair! The Venturesome Mittens, designed by Brenda K. B. Anderson and featured in Interweave Crochet Fall 2018, might be the perfect pair of crocheted mittens. Read on to discover all the reasons I can’t stop thinking about this project!

The Venturesome Mittens are the perfect color! | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

The Venturesome Mittens are the perfect color! | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

1. They are the perfect color.

I love neutral colors for the fall season. This lovely suede color will go with all my fall sweaters and jackets. I’ll be taking these with me everywhere I go!

The Venturesome Mittens use a new yarn. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

The Venturesome Mittens use a new yarn. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

2. They use a new yarn.

Marly Bird has worked with Red Heart to develop a brand-new yarn! These mittens are made with Red Heart Yarns Chic Sheep by Marly Bird, and it’s everything I’ve been waiting for! It has the same affordability and ease of availability as other Red Heart Yarns, but this one is made from a lovely mercerized merino wool! Your hands will be so happy to live in this yarn!

These mittens have a unique cable pattern. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

These mittens have a unique cable pattern. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

3. Check out this unique cable pattern.

I’ve seen this large cable pattern in a lot of knitted projects, but I rarely see it in crochet. It’s a pattern I’ve been admiring for a long time, so I can’t wait to try it out on these mittens. Every 4th row requires your stitches to cross, but the rest of the time, you are working post stitches. This cable packs an impressive visual impact without excessively complicated stitches.

These mittens are so cozy and warm. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

These mittens are so cozy and warm. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

4. They are super cozy and warm.

Crocheters who have worked a lot of cables know that small holes often appear on the sides of the cables where your stitches cross, which isn’t great for a project meant to keep the cold air out! Brenda K. B. Anderson developed a way of working the edge stitches of the cable that eliminates the holes in the sides of the cable. Check out the pattern to try your hand at this innovative technique.

You will love these buttons. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

You will love these buttons. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography

5. They have buttons.

I just love buttons! And the beautiful wooden buttons on these mittens remind me of time spent up in a mountain cabin watching the leaves change! These buttons are purely decorative, so no need to worry about fussing with button holes. Just stitch away and add the buttons once you’ve finished the mittens for a decorative touch.

The final reason I’m so excited about these mittens is that you can now get them in a kit and make them for fall. My next list will include all the fall adventures I want to enjoy while wearing my Venturesome Mittens (such as taking walks, navigating corn mazes, picking pumpkins or apples, and driving through the mountains to watch the leaves change). Anyone else crazy excited for fall-mitten weather?

Happy mitten making!
Sara

(Featured Image: The Venturesome Mittens from Interweave Crochet Fall 2018. | Photo Credit: Harper Point Photography)


Make these mittens and more!

 

Published in 1992, Jan Brett’s story Trouble with Trolls (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers) remains a favorite among her readers. The skillfully illustrated thirty-two-page picture book tells the story of a resourceful character on an exciting adventure.

While climbing Mt. Baldy, the heroine, Treva, encounters a group of mischievous trolls who attempt to steal her dog, Tuffi. With clever determination, she manages to outwit them. The story is set in the beautiful Norwegian winter countryside, and Jan’s meticulous drawings depict not only the splendor of the landscape but also aspects of traditional folk styles. Details within her illustrations play an integral role in the telling of the story.

Jan Brett

Kathy Augustine re-created the boots worn by Treva in the Jan Brett story Trouble with Trolls (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 1992) in miniature. Baby is going to love and treasure these adorable boots. Photo by Joe Coca.

My re-creation of Treva’s boots pays homage to Jan’s feisty heroine. Knitted in the round with double-pointed needles, the resulting fabric is then wet-felted and embroidered. Bring Treva’s spunkiness into your home by making the pair for a special newborn, an 18-inch (45.5-cm) doll, or to decorate a holiday tree.

— Kathy Augustine

Kathy Augustine has been a longtime fan of Jan Brett’s work. Jan’s books were incorporated into the home-school curriculum for both her daughters and they became beloved favorites. Kathy lives with her family in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, where she spins, knits, weaves, and dyes alongside her dog and three cats.

Download a copy of the September/October 2015 issue of PieceWork to make your own “For a Special Baby: Treva’s Boots to Knit, Felt, and Embroider.” Plus read Kathy’s companion article, “Stitching with Paint: Inside the World of Jan Brett.” For another project inspired by the work of Jan Brett, read our blog post “Giving the Gift of Needlework and Literature: The Mitten by Jan Brett.”


Stitch more needlework inspired by literature with PieceWork!

Spinzilla challenges us to spin as many yards as possible in one week, but beyond that, what fiber we use or what gauge we spin is up to us. Have you made a plan or created a queue of tempting fiber options to help you treadle your way to the finish line?

Strategy 1: Random Happiness
This is a great approach for busy folks who never get to spend enough time playing with fiber. Spinzilla can encourage us to make time for spinning each day, to sit at our wheels and enjoy the fibers in our hands. For competition week, choose some hand-painted braids, squishy roving, or organic cotton that makes you weak in the spinner’s knees.

spinzilla

You can make a Spinzilla plan based on random, delicious fibers. I adore this braid, a limited edition Frabjous Fibers blend for Susan’s Fiber Shop.

Strategy 2: Fiber Focus
Fierce Spinzilla competitors often choose one easy-to-spin fiber and fill bobbin after identical bobbin. A common fiber choice is roving or rolags that can be spun with a woolen draw. This speedy drafting technique can help you roll through pounds of fiber and rack up an impressive number of yards for your team.

Strategy 3: Pick a Project
Planning a project can help some spinners feel like they are not only spinning for yardage with their team but also making progress on a personal goal. Is there a project that has been sitting in your Ravelry queue that is calling to you? Are you anxious to spin several thousand yards for a winter weaving project? Let Spinzilla inspire you to get started!

Spinzilla, here I come!
In past years, I’ve been a “random happiness” Spinzilla participant. This year, however, I’m planning projects. I’ve chosen several, but the project at the top of my list is the Pyrope Shawlette from the Winter 2016 issue of Spin Off. Oh, how this lace-edged beauty has called to me! But I’ve never made time for it . . . until now!

spinzilla

Heather Zoppetti’s patterns always catch my spinner’s eye—have you seen the Dahlia Cardigan?

The Pyrope Shawlette by Heather Zoppetti combines a luxurious fiber blend with knitted lace and garter ridges. I’m using Lisa Souza’s yak and silk blend in her new colorway, Salmon Run—check it out on her Instagram.

—Kate

Featured Image: Get ready to treadle!


Get Ready for Spinzilla!

Bring on the sparkle! Swarovski crystal releases their latest collection, just in time for building new designs for the holidays and into 2019. And just in time for treating ourselves to a new design, or two–something just for us. And “just for us” is the focus of the Swarovski trends presentation, highlighting the need for reflecting our own individuality and to Be Yourself.

To follow are direct quotes from the Swarovski crystal trends presentation, visuals to help inspire you, and a little insight on the new products. For more information on the new products and other ways to use Swarovski crystal products, visit: https://www.create-your-style.com/

In an era of “stuffocation” and data manipulation, with algorithms feeding us our product choices, consumers demand, not only to look different, but that their products are created to reflect their individuality. Driven by the “Selfie generation” even previous group activities, such as karaoke, are being overturned. And it does not end there, individualized technology called Ego-Tech, where technology makes actual consumption decisions for the individual consumer, has arrived.

Swarovski Trends for Fall/Winter 2019/2020

Check Yourself

Swarovski trends

Check Yourself trend flag

A renewed appreciation for vintage items highlights the creation of unique jewelry pieces with sophisticated, encrusted surfaces in crystal and pearl cluster designs appearing in brooches and modern settings for a younger consumer. As interior selfies become important, bold interior accessories experience a revival in an eclectic mash-up of directions. The extreme lo-fi meets high style direction, showcases the on-going desire for individualization across all segments – from jewelry through accessories to packaging and electronics.

Swarovski trends

Nostalgic muted mid-tones are how to get this trend done right.

Nostalgic muted tones reign in the Check Yourself trend. Swarovski crystals and pearls in crystal azure blue, crystal mint green, silk, crystal dark red, crystal silver night, crystal cream pearl, and padparadscha all fit in well here.

Find Yourself

Swarovski trends

Find Yourself trend flag

For fashion, the season sees the emphasis shift from protest to play in a slew of free-flowing layers as off-grid living engenders an anti-fashion sentiment in a mash-up of styles. Accessories become practical, paying homage to the worker and life-on-the-land, with elements upended to create a recycling mindset transitioning summer to winter outfits with folkloric influences, handstitched and embroidered elements all core design components.

Swarovski trends

The Crystal Lacquer Pro effect expands to include DeLite Effects, adding subtle, natural colors to the opaque line, perfect for Finding Yourself.

Warmth and authenticity are on point for the fall and winter seasons, no matter the trends. The colors on trend for 2019 into 2020 are predicted to include muted tones of green, burgundy, teal, light grey, and orange. Swarovski crystal colors that suit the trend are: crystal army green DeLite, crystal burgundy DeLite, crystal cappuccino DeLite, crystal iridescent Tahitian-look pearl (the latest addition to the pearl colors), crystal light grey DeLite, and crystal ochre DeLite.

Excess Yourself

Swarovski trends

Excess Yourself trend flag

Denim, in lightweight formats, begins to infiltrate and take over from the long-standing reign of Athleisure Chic, while accessories appear as pared-back iterations of eras past. Vintage designs, across all segments, become highly coveted to assist in the slowing down of throw-away culture with interiors referencing the deconstruction of traditional shapes to breathe new life into the known.

Swarovski trends

We all need a little Excess every now and again.

Swarovski crystal products to inspire you when creating a little Excess in your next design, include crystals and pearls in: burgundy, crystal buttercup, crystal iridescent dove grey, crystal ivory cream, denim blue, and jet.

Dress Yourself

Swarovski trends

Dress Yourself trend flag

Urban extravagance appears in clusters of pearls and crystals on fashion items, highlighting “Glamore” dressing – for any time of the day or night. Glossy, theatrical and lustrous elements step to the fore in party-ready looks, as grown-up glamour continues to rise as a counter-trend to the sportswear influence of seasons past.

Accessories are non-sensical and fantastical to highlight the all-pervasive sense of self and push the individual’s personality. Plush, darkly opulent elements arise in interiors and new segments to highlight the increasing more-is-more attitude.

swar

The Dress Yourself trend bursts with brilliant, bold color and is a perfect place to highlight the new crystal iridescent Tahitian-look pearl.

The Dress Yourself trend is represented here by Swarovski crystals and pearls in: amethyst, blue zircon, crystal iridescent Tahitian-look pearl, crystal metallic sunshine, crystal velvet brown, graphite, and tangerine.

No matter which trend resonates with you, you won’t go wrong by adding a little sparkle and color to your next design. Up first for me will be something made with the new DeLites. I love the crystal lacquer Pro line as you can see in this bracelet. The new colors in the Pro line are truly divine and calling me!

Swarovski

Crystal lacquer pro bracelet with free project by Tammy Honaman.

Which trend is your favorite? Which Swarovski color (new or classic) is your favorite? Please let us know in the comments below.
Tammy
Editor, Beadwork magazine


Choose your favorite then deck yourself from head to toe in crystals and color.

|Sponsored| Does the audiobook play a role in your handmade life? Our staff stitches and listens with some voracity, although certain projects may not work so well with riveting storytelling. There may be frogging involved once a plot point gets too intense. But if the audiobook in question is worth the mistakes, you’ve made an excellent choice.

Recent audiobook choices among the Interweave staff demonstrate that although tastes in fiction can vary, it is the constant repetition of the stitch that can carry the listener away. Whether you’re into the multi-perspective narrative, short stories, or a touch of fantasy, audiobooks can help elevate the time you spend with your knitting needles.

Check out additional suggestions from Penguin Random House Audio along with the suggestions we have for you below. The storytelling experience of an audiobook has the potential to make your stitching soar.


Do Not Underestimate the Housewife

Anne Merrow, Group Editorial Director, Yarn & Fiber

The modern world is not kind to housewives. Where homemaking was once expected and respected, today’s pop culture often portrays it as outdated, unnecessary, even stifling to women. Housewives, you might think from television, are as current as a rotary-dial phone.

Sound familiar? Maybe it’s because you’ve heard all those things about knitters.

I sat down with a new knitting project and American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis, and I soon had a problem: I couldn’t stop listening to these stories of independent, sassy, variously deranged women.

I got so much knitting done that week. As I worked on a new cowl project, I relied on stitch markers to keep me from losing my place in the pattern. Otherwise, I would have ended up with a foot-long tube of mesmerized stockinette stitch instead of the pattern I’d chosen.

I vowed to follow some of the advice in “How to Be a Grown-Ass Lady” and most of the wisdom in “Take It from Cats.” I thought better of a posh life on the Upper East Side after reading dispatches from the trophy wife vs. cat lady battle in “The Wainscoting War.” And I finally found a celebrity reality TV show to love: “Dumpster Diving with the Stars.” (And that’s even before we get to the bra fitter.) Each of the dozen stories is told in the voice of a different formidable woman, and 4 talented narrators invite you into their worlds.

I first fell in love with audiobooks when I first learned to knit. I received a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I listened to the book (on tape!) as I knitted my first scarf. Ever since, I’ve kept an eye out for all kinds of books to knit to. American Housewife is my first audiobook of short stories, but if this is the kind of funny, can’t-look-away experience I can look forward to, it won’t be my last.

Give it a quick listen! Click on the below to sample Anne’s selection.


Stitch and Listen Multi-Tasking

Susan Horton, Editor, Handwoven

Working as editor of Handwoven magazine means that I split my time between my home and family in California, and my job and apartment in Fort Collins, Colorado. That means I am in airports and on airplanes—a lot. I would like to tell you that I’m always dutifully working on my laptop, but in truth, I usually knit and listen to audiobooks. This is triple-tasking: waiting (or flying), knitting, and enjoying a good “read.” Recently I picked out Delia Ephron’s Siracusa which turned out to be an audiobook that made the transition from triple-task status to “I can’t wait to get back to it” status.

Each of the four main characters of Siracusa narrates the story from his or her point of view. As you hear their description of events, you come to know the characters, their many flaws, their finer points, and their ulterior motives. Many times they are self-serving in their descriptions, and at other times unflinchingly honest. Interestingly, the character that doesn’t speak, Snow, one couple’s daughter, is the catalyst that drives the story. Without their being aware of it, Snow cleverly manipulates the adults to her will with devastating results.

If you like a good story with compelling characters and twisted relationships, one that unfolds in a beautiful place with spooky undertones, Siracusa is a must-listen. You might flub a stitch from time to time when Snow works her “magic,” but it’ll be worth it.

Sample Siracusa in the below player.


The Plot Thickens, and My Needles Quicken

Laura Hulslander, Project Editor, Knitting

I love books. Microhistories, thrillers, classic lit, trashy romance novels—I love ‘em all. Unfortunately, life being what it is, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read as much as I would like. However, audiobooks make it possible for me to enjoy books without having to carve out time for them. I can listen to a great story in bits and pieces as I run errands around town, or make dinner. Best of all, because the audiobooks are on my phone, they’re always with me. Stuck in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? Pop in your headphones and drown out all the coughing and sniffling with a fun tale.

I have found that knitting on the couch with my ears engaged in an audiobook is the best of all. Stitching along to a riveting story moves my needles in a way that I don’t experience while ingesting other forms of entertainment. If the project has a repetitive stitch, I can dig in and simply let my muscle memory do the work. This was definitely true for the last book I listened to, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin.

The Immortalists tells the tale of four brothers and sisters from New York who visit a fortuneteller only to discover which day each of them will die. The story follows each sibling from their visit with the psychic to the day of their death, examining their life and where it took them. It’s such an interesting thought experiment: how would you live your life if you knew when you were going to die? Did each character choose their path, knowing their final day, or were they swept along by fate? It was a highly intriguing and enjoyable stitch-and-listen—I would definitely recommend it!

Click below listen to a clip of The Immortalists.


For more crafting suggestions, visit TryAudiobooks.com and you can sign up for the Penguin Random House Audio newsletter to receive an exclusive sampler of new releases. We would love to hear about what kind of stories you stitch along to. Let us know in the comments!

I’ve always loved the look of a double-wrapped loop in wire wrapping. It’s my go-to method for joining beads into chain for bracelets and necklaces. The double-wrapped loop gives your piece a more substantial look while providing a sturdy link that is less likely to become misshapen when worn.

Teaching myself to make a double-wrapped loop resulted in a wonky link when trying to wrap one on either side of a bead. That all changed when I learned Tracy Stanley’s technique! In her book Exploring Metal Jewelry, Tracy spills all her secrets to perfect double-wrapped loops every time. Plus she shares how she adds a spiral cap to the bead as well! Let’s take a peek inside the pages of this must-have book to see how it’s done.

Wire Wrapping: Making a Double-Wrapped Loop with Spiral Cap

Excerpted from Exploring Metal Jewelry by Tracy Stanley

A double-wrapped loop is a decorative detail to add to your beaded links. Use this type of loop when the bead hole can’t accommodate heavier gauge wire. The double-wrapped loop gives the illusion of a heavier wire and visually balances a piece that mixes gauges.

Wire Wrapping: Tools

To make a double-wrapped loop, you need flush cutters, round- and chain-nose pliers, and a permanent marker. As practice, use a 10″ (25.5 cm) length of 18-gauge copper wire and a bead approximately 12mm in diameter.

Wire Wrapping: Technique

wire wrapping: how to make a double-wrapped loop, from Exploring Metal Jewelry by Tracy Stanley

1. SIDE ONE
Mark the spot on your round-nose pliers where you will make your loops. Grasp the wire on the mark, leaving about 2″ (5 cm) of wire above the tool. Holding the wire from below with your fingers, rotate the pliers away from you, turning only as far as is comfortable. Loosen your grip on the wire, and rotate the tool back to its original position. Rotate the tool away again to complete the loop. At this point, the shorter wire should be pointed straight up (Fig. 1).

2. Remove the loop from the pliers. Reposition the round-nose pliers and place the loop back on the mark on the nose of the plier farthest away from you. The wire below and above the loop should be straight up and down (Fig. 2).

3. Keeping the loops in the same position, grasp them with the chain-nose pliers and pull the loops back to create an angle at the base (Fig. 3). Note: Don’t be afraid to exaggerate the angle by pulling hard on the loops. This is referred to as “breaking the neck,” and it creates a nice crisp angle under the loops.

4. Place the loop back onto the round-nose pliers; hold the tool in your non-dominant hand with the tip pointing up. Note: If the working wire isn’t pointing toward you, reposition the loop so that it is. Grasp the working wire with chain-nose pliers and wrap the wire once around the base of the double loop. Don’t cut off the extra wire (Fig. 4).

wire wrapping: how to make a double-wrapped loop, from Exploring Metal Jewelry by Tracy Stanley

5. SIDE TWO
Slide the bead onto the wire. Use the round-nose pliers to grasp the wire about 1-1/2″ (3.8 cm) from the bead; the amount may vary depending on the size of the loops. Holding the bead in your other hand, rotate the tool away from you, letting the end of the wire pass around the tip of the pliers (Fig. 5).

Getting Loops in Just the Right Spot

If the two complete loops you’ve made aren’t against the bead, don’t worry; you can still save your link! To lower the loops so they sit on the bead, simply reinsert the pliers in the loops and turn the pliers away from you, as if you are making another loop. Loosen your grip, return to the last position, and pull the wire back up straight. Continue until the loops are down tight on the bead. Knowing just the right spot to grab takes practice!

6. After one complete rotation, reposition the round-nose pliers, and then rotate the tool again until you’ve formed a second complete loop. The end of the wire should stick straight up, and the loops should be right against the bead (Fig. 6).

7. With the chain-nose pliers, grasp the loops, then pull the tool toward you to bend an angle in the wire under the loop and on top of the bead (Fig. 7).

wire wrapping: how to make a double-wrapped loop, from Exploring Metal Jewelry by Tracy Stanley

8. Place the loops back onto the round-nose pliers and hold the tool in your non-dominant hand, with the nose of the pliers pointing up. Fold the wire over to secure the loops (Fig. 8).

9. Leaving the loops on the round-nose pliers, grab the end of the wire with your hand or chain-nose pliers and spiral the wire several times over the end of the bead, capping it. Repeat to form a spiral cap on the other side.

10. Cut off the excess wire from both sides (Fig. 9).

wire wrapping: how to make a double-wrapped loop, from Exploring Metal Jewelry by Tracy Stanley

Wire Wrapping: Double-Wrapped Loop Tips & Tricks

  • As you rotate, the end of the wire that sticks up above the tool must pass on the open side (tip side) of the pliers, rather than the side with the handle. Doing so ensures you can make both loops the same size.
  • Always keep the wire below the tool oriented vertically.

Give Tracy’s double-wrapped loop technique a try and let us know how it works for you in the comments below. And for more great wire wrapping and metalsmithing techniques, be sure to grab a copy of Exploring Metal Jewelry.

Kerry Bogert
–Editorial Director, Books

All images are copyright F+W Media, Inc.


Explore wire wrapping, riveting, stamping, and more in these great resources!

Weldon’s Practical Needlework houses a wealth of information on Victorian tatting. Here’s our ninth installment in this series from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 4. The following are instructions for tatting a “Simple Edging Worked with Two Threads.” The material is reproduced here just as it appeared in England in 1889. No alterations or corrections were made.

victorian tatting

Illustrations from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 4.

Fig. 16.—SIMPLE EDGING WORKED WITH TWO THREADS
For the 1st oval—Make a loop with the shuttle thread, and work 5 double, 1 picot, 2 double, 1 picot and 1 double alternately four times, 1 picot, 2 double, 1 picot, 5 double, and draw up close; reverse the work, take the second thread, and placing it behind the oval between the thumb and first finger of the left hand, pass the thread in a loop round the fingers, twining it once or twice round the third finger to keep it secure, do 4 double, 1 picot, 4 double; * reverse the work, and for another oval make a loop with the shuttle thread, and do 5 double (beginning quite close to the last stitch upon the second thread), join to the last picot of the previous oval, 2 double, 1 picot and 1 double alternately four times, l picot, 2 double, 1 picot, 5 double, and draw up close; reverse the work, carry the second thread along behind the fingers bringing it round and form a loop by twisting the cotton once or twice round the third finger, do 4 double, 1 picot, 4 double; and repeat from *, continuing an oval and a straight bar alternately for the length required. This edging is very suitable for trimming under-linen; you work upon it a line of crochet to serve as a heading by which to sew the edging to the garment—1 double crochet in the picot in the centre of the straight bar, 6 or 7 chain, 1 double crochet in the next picot, and so on. In working elaborate patterns with two threads, if it is desirable for the tatting to have a right and a wrong side, you work the bars with the second thread in “reverse movements,” that is, work first the second movement, then the first movement, and the same in every stitch worked with the second thread, which brings the reverse side of the stitch upwards in working the bars, and when you turn the work you will see the picots in the bars look just the same as the picots in the ovals, whereas by working in the ordinary manner there is a trifling, though almost imperceptible difference.

If you missed any part of this series on Victorian tatting fromWeldon’s, you can catch up on all of the blog posts here. Stay tuned for more Victorian tatting from Weldon’s in future posts! Until then, find out more about tatting in our video download Shuttle Tatting with master tatter Georgia Seitz.

Featured Image: Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 4, offers up a wealth of information on Victorian tatting.


Learn more about tatting with PieceWork!

Your fiber stash—do you love it or fear it? When you find some neglected batt, long-forgotten roving, or half a bobbin of mystery singles, are you excited and grateful to see your forgotten treasure—or does it feel more like an obligation nagging you to spin it already?

I’m selecting treasures from my fiber stash to spin at a fiber conference. (“Selecting treasures” sounds better than “rummaging through bins like a cartoon raccoon,” doesn’t it?) As I find forgotten fiber, I’ve come up with the following strategies for taming and spinning my secret fiber stash.

fiber stash

A quick trip through the drumcarder can make your stash fresh and exciting. Photo by Joe Coca

1. Use a drumcarder.

If you don’t have your own, borrow one from a friend or guild. It takes some time and practice to learn how to use a drumcarder well, but when you have the hang of it, a drumcarder is a quick and delightful way to breathe new life into your fiber stash. Whether it’s creating your own custom fiber blends, blending a gradient, or just recarding a squashed batt, nothing takes a lot of fiber from depressing to delightful like a carding session.

2. Practice something new.

If you’re not sure what to do with a bit of fiber, try a new technique. My go-to is spinning slubs, which Sarah Anderson explains and demonstrates so beautifully but my fingers still find challenging. Learning something new uses up loads of fiber and gives you incredible dexterity.

fiber stash

Marilyn Wright’s Stash-Buster Afghan took dedication but transformed plenty of fiber and handspun yarn stash into a beautiful project. Photo by Joe Coca

3. Imagine giving it to a friend.

When I think of winnowing down my fiber stash, it hurts to imagine letting go of some of my treasures. When a friend wanted some yarn, though, it was much easier for me to part with something to give to her. After she’d chosen what she wanted, I found that it was too much trouble to put some things away, and I wound up letting them go after all. Jillian Moreno suggests having a party to share and rehome some of your fiber stash.

4. When all else fails, repackage.

After I went through my fiber stash, I put everything away carefully in resealable plastic bags, squashing out the air and nestling them back in the bins. It didn’t use or eliminate any, but it was much smaller, and I felt much better about it.

Anne Merrow

Featured Image: Is your fiber stash full of potential or full of anxiety? Either way, you can put it to good use. Photo by George Boe


What will you do with your fiber stash?

Kimberly Costello is a talented bead artist with a whimsical style. Her “Pop” Goes the Needle beaded needle case project is featured in the October/November 2018 issue of Beadwork. Learn how Kimberly got started beading and discover her unique perspective on creating new beadwork designs.

Learning to Bead

Q: How did you get started beading?
A: Three things happened around the same time that led me to start beading. First, I was looking for a hobby to help me cope with stress. Second, I saw the most beautiful little peyote-stitch beaded amulet bag and I wanted to learn how to make something just like it. And third, my mom had just started beading as a hobby. I found my mom’s new hobby intriguing and decided to try it. I checked out some books from the library, bought some Delica beads, and taught myself how to bead weave. (This was back in 2000, before instructional videos were available on YouTube!)

bead artist

Beaded earrings. Photo by Kimberly Costello.


Q: What’s your favorite stitch?
A: I find myself going back to peyote stitch over and over again. Peyote stitch is very versatile (flat, circular, tubular, odd- and even-count). I also like the way peyote stitch looks. I really enjoy working with it.

Inspiration and Creativity

Q: Where do you get your design ideas?
A: Anything and everything inspires me! Whenever something catches my eye, I wonder, “Could I make that into a beaded object?” or “Is that something I could bead around?” Once I decide to bead something, I spend a lot of time thinking of different ways to make it work. I’m always thinking about new beading designs.

bead artist

Beaded spools as pencil tops. Photo by Kimberly Costello.

Like many beaders, being out in nature also fuels my creativity. Specifically, I draw a lot of my inspiration from flowers. They have so many incredible colors, patterns, and wondrously varied shapes and designs! I have a notepad app on my phone so that when an idea comes to mind I have a place to put it so I’ll remember it later.

Q: Do you plan your designs in advance, or do you just let the creativity flow?
A: Usually, I have an idea of what I’d like to make and the colors I want to use. I check my notepad app frequently, too. Once I start to bead, I let my imagination run wild. Sometimes the end result turns out pretty differently from my initial idea.

Q: How do you get out of a creative rut?
A: I used to think that all the great bead-woven designs had already been thought of. But then I started questioning this idea, and I realized there have to be designs still waiting to be discovered. I had to change my way of thinking about designs and beadwork. Rather than letting myself believe that trying to come up with new ideas is a waste of time, I decided to take the creative process a bit more seriously and put some real effort into it.

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One of Kimberly’s latest projects. Photo by Kimberly Costello.

One thing that helps me get out of a creative rut is a change of scenery. Going for a long walk or just spending time outside can make a big difference. Most of the time, I’m working on about three or four projects simultaneously. When I get stuck with one project, I pick up one of my other pieces and work on it instead. And last but not least, a trip to the bead store always gets my creative ideas flowing again. I usually end up with ideas for several new projects that I hadn’t planned on — including the beads to make them!

Color Theory

Q: How do you approach the use of color in your designs?
A: Color fascinates me. Any time I find a beautiful color combination, I either photograph it or save the image in a special “Colors I love” album. I have a color wheel that I use frequently, which I’ve found very useful. Studying nature also provides wonderful ideas for stunning color palettes.

I’ve found that adding metal finishes to a colorway (for example, rose gold, copper, or bright silver), as well as adding black and/or white to a design, makes the palette more pleasing to the eye and gives the finished piece a more polished look.

A Serendipitous Design

Q: What was the inspiration for your “Pop” Goes the Needle beaded needle cases?

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“Pop” Goes the Needle beaded needle cases. Photo by George Boe.

A: My inspiration was actually the chrome pop-top! I bought a package of the bottle caps during one of my “getting-out-of-a-rut” shopping trips, with no particular project in mind. I then discovered that the pop-tops fit perfectly on top of my wooden needle-case caps.

My dad is a carpenter, so I spent a lot of time in his workshop learning about wood and how to work with it while growing up. It occurred to me that I could use sandpaper to give my needle cases a pop-bottle shape.


To learn more about Kimberly as a bead artist, and to see her adorable beading space, see “Kimberly Costello’s Beading Studio Is Small but Charming.” For a tutorial on which beading needles might be best for you, see “Stitch Pro: Which Beading Needle Should I Use?”

While they last, get a kit to create a beaded needle case like Kimberly’s “Pop” Goes the Needle design. The Soda Bottle Needle Case Starter Kit includes 2 wooden needle cases, 15 mini bottle caps, and plenty of thread. It comes with the October/November 2018 issue of Beadwork, where you’ll find the pattern and instructions for Kimberly’s design. The kit also includes a blank template so you can create your own needle case label.

Lavon Peters
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

Featured Image: Kimberly Costello and some of her beadwork. Photos by Kimberly Costello and George Boe.


Find Kimberly’s “Pop” Goes the Needle design in the October/November 2018 issue and subscribe to Beadwork for more fun projects and bead artist profiles!

My love of weaving kitchen towels seems inexplicable. Why do I spend hours on my computer designing, hours at my warping board winding, and then hours on my loom threading, sleying, and weaving something that I can purchase for $7.95 at a big-box store? I’m sure that it seems, to an outside observer, like insanity, but for a weaver, it somehow makes sense. I recently heard another weaver say that weaving satisfies both sides of her brain: the mathematical/logical side and the creative side. It’s math with color. Hooray for the handwoven, everyday kitchen towel that combines the two.

Why do I love weaving towels?

  • Towels are a relatively small format but large enough to make a statement.
  • Towels can be woven on a rigid-heddle loom or a 24-shaft loom.
  • Towels are usually woven with cotton or linen, two wonderful fibers.
  • Cotton and linen yarns that work well for handwoven towels come in a wide range of colors.
  • Handwoven towels are completely customizable.

That last bullet point is why I became interested in inkle-band weaving. I started noticing that many commercial kitchen towels had a band on them for hanging. Then I saw a few handwoven towels with pretty bands on them for hanging, and I became more interested in weaving inkle bands. Just as I want to weave a towel that is both useful and beautiful, I want the hanging bands on my towels to be both, too.

inkle bands

Susan Foulkes’ Baltic Hearts Tea Towels have bands of hearts woven into them and an added bonus of matching hanging bands. Credit: Joe Coca

I don’t weave super-fancy inkle bands for my towels, but I do weave simple bands that either match or perfectly complement them. For a set of color-and-weave towels, I wove stripes of the same colors that I had used in the towels. For a set of white Ms and Os towels that I gave to a friend who recently became an American citizen, I wove inkle bands in red, white, and blue.

inkle bands

The matching hanging band for Susan’s towels. Credit: Joe Coca

Why do I love weaving inkle bands for handwoven towels?

  • Inkle bands are a relatively small format but large enough to make a statement.
  • Inkle bands can be woven on an inkle loom, a very portable, fun loom.
  • Inkle bands are usually woven with cotton or linen, two wonderful fibers.
  • Cotton and linen yarns that work well for inkle bands come in a large range of colors.
  • Inkle bands are completely customizable.

If you, too, love to weave, love to weave towels, and want to add a special touch to your handwoven towels, try inkle-band weaving. They are like little math equations with color.

Weave well,
Susan

Featured Image: Inkle looms and cotton are a perfect match. Credit: George Boe


Here are resources to help you weave pretty bands for your own handwoven towels!