Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

All I Can Think About Today

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 12:31 am on Friday, September 2, 2005

Give what you can, how you can.

Spotty Blogging Ahead – and a Little Behind, Too

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 4:47 pm on Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I see I missed blogging here yesterday. Not surprising – stuff has been happening.

It’s actually the leading edge of what will be intermittent blogging until just after Labor Day. Gryphon took time off from work, and while we can’t go anywhere, we will be able to do things together that there isn’t time for in the normal work week.

I’ll blog again as it fits the flow of our days, and I’ll get back to a regular schedule after Labor Day.

Have a good one!

Books/Fiber/Paper/Decoupage/How-To: Take Silk

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 8:15 pm on Monday, August 29, 2005

A Guide to Silk "Paper" for the Creative Fiber ArtistTitle: Take Silk
Author: Pinnell, Judith
Publisher: Milner Craft Series
Copyright: 2001

This is a book that was only recently given to me as a gift, and I haven’t had much opportunity yet to evaluate it. Let me, then, offer you instead some quotes from the Introduction by author Judith Pinnell:

Silk ‘Paper’

The process of making the silk ‘paper’ is simple and results in a colourful and lustrous substrate from which you can create a myriad of exciting projects.

As I work predominantly with a sewing machine, I have aimed to interest and excite machine embroiderers. However, if you love rich colours, the feel of silk and have a desire to create, then silk ‘paper’ is for you. Both traditional and hand embroiderers will find plenty to interest them; to experiment on, using rich threads and other accessories; with which to create two- and three-dimensional pieces that are completely original.

Raw silk is processed and sold in many forms. Unspun dyed silk or silk ‘tops’ are strong and yield the best results for making silk ‘paper’. Using these and a simple forming process, you can create a substrate (base material) with many of the characteristics of both paper and felt, and with the rich lustre that only silk can produce.

The book describes a process that uses silk fiber, and falls somewhere between felting, papier mache, and collage. With the instructions given, one can make a material somewhat like paper, somewhat like felt, that can be stitched, glued, embroidered, and sculpted.

Recommended for fiber artists who are looking for a new direction, or for those timid of fiber arts who want something easy, yet very versatile.

Books/Fiber/Knitting/How-To: Stitch ‘n Bitch, The Knitter’s Handbook

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 9:27 pm on Friday, August 26, 2005

Title: Stitch ‘n Bitch, The Knitter’s Handbook
Author: Stoller, Debbie
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Copyright: 2003

Additional Category: Books/Fiber/Knitting/Patterns

Yes, it’s true – even though I’ve been knitting since the late 60’s, I own a copy of Stitch ‘N Bitch.

This book was so on the leading edge of the explosion of knitting as “hip” and “trendy” a couple years ago that – well, heck, it defined the edge. And yet, as an experienced knitter (“I was knitty when knitty wasn’t cool”), I still found that I could learn things from Stoller’s explanations.

The author has accomplished something that most knitters who set out to teach someone the craft never manage to do. She has noticed all the little things that we never think about in our knitting anymore, that can trip up a newbie knitter badly and make them give up. Like making sure when you turn your work, that you carry your yarn around the correct side of it, lest you wind up with something that looks like two stitches on the needle where there is only one. And she has illustrations for all these things, and she explains not just the differences but why things are different, and how to make it look like it should when it doesn’t.

Stoller’s own knitting is based on a long-standing family tradition, and she leads us into the knitting adventure by giving her own knitting history. It serves as a stepping-off point for understanding the place of knitting in women’s history, and how women in the post-feminist age are reclaiming it for their own.

Between the tutorials, and the anecdotes, and the knit-witty sidebars, this book is packed with good, solid, information. Add a hefty selection of patterns by multiple designers that range from cute, to trendy, to “hey wow, how’d you do that?” – with a good dose of the traditional basics – and Stitch ‘N Bitch becomes a real winner.

Recommended for any knitter, of any skill level. In fact, if for some reason you can only have one book in your knitting library, you wouldn’t go far wrong making it this one.

P.S.: Just for the record, the term “Stitch ‘N Bitch” has been around for decades. Among other uses, it has long been a traditional term applied by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism to any gathering of needleworkers, seamstresses, and tailors, especially if they’re female (though not exclusively). No one owns it, and anyone who claims they do is pulling your chain.

Books/Fiber/Quilting/Patterns: Patchwork Puzzle Balls

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 9:03 pm on Thursday, August 25, 2005

Patchwork Puzzle BallsTitle: Patchwork Puzzle Balls
Author: Beyer, Jinny
Publisher: Breckling Press
Copyright: 2005

I have always considered myself a multi-crafter, but for years I would say that there was one craft I wasn’t likely to do – quilting.

Nevertheless, I watch quilting and sewing shows on television, mostly because creativity is creativity, no matter where you find it. Ideas come from everywhere, and I like to be informed about every craft I can so I can be all the better at the ones I do.

One day, I saw author and quilter Jinny Beyer on a quilting show. She was demonstrating the Patchwork Puzzle Balls that are the subject of this book. I watched her put together a set of squares and hexagons to make a sphere, and I was hooked.

Okay, so I’m slow to get moving. I have pieced the two halves of my sphere, but I haven’t yet sewn it together and stuffed it. But I’ll get there, I promise.

This book offers 9 different patterns that make patchwork balls of different levels of complexity. She offers a full set of instructions for piecing each, with diagrams that show where the parts have to go together. There is also a section for the math enthusiast that shows how to draft your own pattenr pieces, but fret not – it’s not essential to your participation in this book if you don’t want to go there.

Patchwork Puzzle Balls can be made in a variety of sizes, and have many uses – children’s toys, holiday decorations, home decor. I’m looking forward to exploring this one more.

And of all things, it got this non-quilter to pick up a little quilting. There must be something to it!

Books/Fiber/Knitting/Philosophy: The Knitting Goddess

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 8:41 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Finding the Heart and Soul of Knitting Through Instruction, Projects, and StoriesTitle: The Knitting Goddess
Author: Bergman, Deborah
Publisher: Hyperion
Copyright: 2000

Additional Categories: Books/Fiber/Knitting/Patterns

This colorfully-covered volume integrates mythology and folklore with knitting projects that invoke the philosophies of the goddesses presented. Bergman presents discussions of how knitting (and any creating with the hands) connects to the soul; shares traditional myths about goddesses from a number of world traditions; and then offers tutorials for the beginner as well as projects for knitters of all skill levels.

Each chapter includes tips specific to the project at hand, and also calls out a special section titled “New Knitter’s Workshop” which explains the more basic concepts that may be unknown to the newbie.

This is another book where I haven’t worked any of the projects yet – but I enjoy browsing through it and reading the myths, along with Bergman’s suggestions for how to celebrate the goddess qualities in yourself by knitting.

Recommended for any knitter who feels a spiritual connection to working fiber, and who wants to know they’re not the only one.

Books/Fiber/Knitting/Philosophy: The Joy of Knitting

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 1:05 pm on Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Title: The Joy of Knitting
Author: Myers, Lisa R.
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Copyright: 2001

Additional Categories: Books/Fiber/Knitting/Patterns

The Joy of Knitting was one of the first of a “new age” of knitting books I acquired several years ago. This is a small volume, in a nice hardcover edition.

Although there is a small, illustrated section at the back with “knitting basics”, this is not a “learn how to knit” book. Rather, many chapters choose some aspect of modern life, and talk about how knitting relates to it. A project that ties in with the chapter is then offered.

For instance, “Knitting in the Community” talks about forming or joining a knitting group. The project given is the “Collaborative Baby Blanket”, where each participant knits separate squares that are joined together to make one finished product.

Other chapters focus on some aspect of knitting itself, and encourage exploration of technique, texture, and color. Experimentation is highly recommended by the author, and she gives guidelines for how to go about it.

I’d suggest this book for anyone who has been knitting a long time, and is feeling in a rut – or for a new knitter who is curious about the vast possibilities of their new craft. It would also make a great gift, if you have a needle-pumper in your life to buy for.

Books/Fiber/Knitting/Patterns: Knitting With Wire

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 5:41 pm on Monday, August 22, 2005

Title: Knitting With Wire
Author: Wiseman, Nancie M.
Publisher: Interweave Press
Copyright: 2005

Additional Categories: Books/Beadwork/Wire/Patterns; Books/Wire/Patterns

Like her other book published at the same time, Crochet With Wire, Nancie M. Wiseman has created a comprehensive study of how to use knitting techniques with wire in a surprisingly small book.

If anything, this book is even better than the Crochet book. Nancie shows knitting with wire on ordinary knitting needles, of course. But then she goes on to explore using an ancient technique called Viking Knitting, which was actually used in ancient times to create chains from wire. Viking knitting mostly resembles our knitting needle knitting in finished result – it looks like a standard, but twisted, stockinette stitch – but is created by “stitching” the wire as if it were threaded into an eyed needle, interlocking it with earlier rounds of loops as you create a mesh tube.

Finally, Nancie shows how to use wire to knit on a knitting machine, which produces large, even pieces of knitting fairly quickly. The scarves shown on the cover of the book were created by machine.

This is another of my many books that I haven’t done any projects from yet, but it intrigues me every time I pick it up. I’m sure at some point I will start casting wire onto my knitting needles – or dig out my Sweater Machine and start working off some of the stash of Artistic Wire I’ve built up.

Recommended for anyone who can’t get enough of knitting, and wants to find innovative new tricks to do with it!

Books/Fiber/Crochet/Patterns: Crochet With Wire

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 9:12 pm on Thursday, August 18, 2005

Title: Crochet With Wire
Author: Wiseman, Nancie M.
Publisher: Interweave Press
Copyright: 2005

Additional Categories: Books/Beadwork/Wire/Patterns; Books/Wire/Patterns

This is really a cross-over book, being that it will appeal to both crocheters looking to branch out from their usual yarns, and beaders who want new ways to use wire. It’s a small volume (88 pages, 6″ x 7.25″), but jam-packed with ideas for projects.

Crochet with wire is really no different than crochet with thread or yarn. It’s just that the material you’re using needs to be handled differently. You don’t want to wrap it around your finger to tension it, for instance – you’re likely to either cut into your finger or break the wire.

The projects in this book range from jewelry to fashion accessories to home decor. There are many designs for bracelets and necklaces, both with and without beads. For those into something more sculptural, there are four patterns for boxes and baskets that will give ideas for working in three dimensions.

Others have written about working with wire and beads; others have covered the subject of crochet with beads. This is the first book to really focus exclusively on that exact combination, and to explore what it means when wire is the crochet medium.

Recommended for anyone in beading or crochet who wants some inspiration with a twist.

Books/Fiber/Knitting/How-To: Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 3:27 pm on Monday, August 15, 2005

Title: Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls
Author: Waterman, Martha
Publisher: Interweave Press
Copyright: 1998

This is the book I’m using as a reference as I strive to design my own lace shawl. While there are step-by-step instructions for creating 8 different lace shawls, the bulk of the book – and its main purpose – is to serve as a design guide.

Readers are taught about the materials used in lace knitting; how to create a design; how shawls are shaped; and how to finish a shawl with a border. A multitude of stitch patterns used in lace knitting are provided, enabling the knitter to choose those they like best to create a truly one-of-a-kind shawl.

Instructions are clear and easy to read. Stitch patterns are given in the form of charts, with a guide at the back of the book to the symbols used. A big plus are two sections in the middle of the book – one with instructions for caring for, storing, and mending shawls, the other showing different ways that shawls can be worn.

Even if you never choose to knit a lace shawl, this book will give you an appreciation for them that you will cherish. Knowing the work that goes into planning and creating a shawl only helps you love it more.

I highly recommend this book, for knitters and knit-lovers of all skill levels.

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