Sunday, July 22, 2007

FREE GUIDEBOOK to New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail

I just found the most wonderful FREE guidebook at my local yarn store: the guide to New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails.

It covers over 200 local fiber artists and 71 different destinations, organized by region. You can visit artists who weave, spin, make rugs, dye fibers, run fiber farms, galleries, "trading posts" and fiber studios, many offering classes.

How cool! And, I repeat, it's free!

Frugal Tip: You can get your own free copy, immediately! Visit to download it.

Or you can request a copy through the website to be delivered by mail. If you're not in a hurry, that's your best bet, because the booklet is beautifully photographed and printed.

Or, get it the old fashioned way: call or write New Mexico Arts, P. O. Box 1450, Santa Fe, NM 87504, 800-879-4278 or (in-state) 505-827-6490.

There are several destinations right here in the East Mountains area, including my local Edgewood yarn store (Good Fibrations) and my neighbor Connie's Shooting Star Farm.

In addition to her alpacas, llamas, angora goats and rabbits, and of course Itty Bitty the donkey, Connie raises Navajo Churro sheep, a heritage breed that was teetering on the brink of extinction ... and is still designated as a "rare breed".

ChurroSheep You can read a fascinating account of how Navajo lives and philosophy intertwined with those of these special sheep at Sheep Is Life (Dibe - Dine bi' iina).

All of the artists listed on the Fiber Arts Trails applied to the New Mexico Arts organization to be included in the Trail guide, so you can be sure that they really do welcome visitors. Connie says she's already had visitors from Michigan, Kansas and Wyoming!

However, the booklet recommends that you confirm visiting hours and such before you go. Also bear in mind that sometime this year or next, New Mexico will get its second area code (woohoo!), and some of the telephone numbers listed in the Guide will no longer be area code 505.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Monday, July 16, 2007

Knitting a Nano-Sock

Just a quick note before the dinner timer goes off ... I finished my sock-with-lanyard for the iPod! <Taa-daa!>

This project involved two firsts for me: I had never designed my own pattern for anything, and I'd not made an I-cord before.

Yeah, there are a gazillion patterns already out there for iPod socks, but I had very specific features in mind:

  • For starters, I wasn't gonna use dpns, or two circular needles, or anything kinky like that.
  • I wanted it done, like, right now, so that ruled out felting.
  • I wanted it to be sturdy, since I wear it every day.
  • And, I had to be able to hit the iPod Pause button quickly ... when my dear library patrons ask me questions, they don't give me a lot of time to get "unplugged" to hear them.

So here's what I came up with.

This first picture shows the Nano Sock "open", with its flap up.

And here's the Nano Sock closed, with its flap down and the earbud connector just pushed through the fabric. Very convenient!

I wanted to end up with a sturdy knitted fabric for the project -- without felting -- so I chose a light sport weight acrylic-rayon chenille, very little stretch, that I got cheap-cheap from "Susan's Yarn Barn" on eBay.

(She's a great source of inexpensive chenille, BTW, and a darned fast shipper. But she's moving to a bricks-and-mortar store this month, so her shelves are empty now, till the move is done.)

I downsized my needles to a US 3 to get a tighter fabric. I cast on 20 stitches, wider than the Nano but I wanted the flap wide enough to wrap around the edges; then I decreased down to 14 stitches. (This sock fits over the Nano's skin, by the way.)

Then every so often I carried along a sassy strand of flame-red eyelash yarn for a couple of rows.

The end result was roughly a rectangle measuring 6 inches from cast on, down the back to the Nano's little bottom, then 3 inches up the front.

I keep the Nano in there upside-down, so the earbuds attach through the top flap, and I can easily get to the Pause button. The sock is 2-3/4 inches wide, but 3-1/2 inches wide at the end of the flap.

Finally, I knitted a 4-stitch I-cord -- again, looking for stability -- to make the hanging lanyard.

I wanted it to attach securely, without pulling up the edges of the sock, so I had the brilliant idea of incorporating the I-cord the whole length of the sides.

Stitching the cord in between the front and the back, as a sort of gusset, turned out to be tricksier than I'd imagined, so I think next time I'll stitch the front and back together first, then attach the I-cord.

And I learned that making a 40-inch, 4-stitch I-cord (yikes, enuf hyphens for ya?) is not the most interesting thing I've ever done.

CloverWonderKnitter In fact, it sent me screaming out the door to Hobby Lobby, where I purchased a Clover Wonder Knitter.

This is the gizmo I used to call a "Knitting Nancy" only much cooler: imagine if ole Knitting Nancy's head spun around like The Exorcist.

It comes with two wheels to make small or large diameter I-cords, using from 2 to 6 pegs.

What a great little toy! I even -- oooooh so casually -- handed it to my husband, who cranked out about 200 yards of I-cord while watching TV.

Hah! Brilliant! Maybe it should be called the “Tom Sawyer” Knitter.

Now I'll just go bask in the warm glow of a finished project.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Words & Music to Knit By

This week I suffered a tragedy: my trusty (old, very old, and cheap) MP3 player bit the dust. It’s tragic because I absolutely must have something to listen to while I do my day job – I’m currently under-employed as a public library page.

(Note: A library “page” is the lowest form of library life, I put books on the shelves all day long. Some days I take books off the shelf, too. For this I got a master’s degree? Yes. So you can see why I need audio input.)

Anyway, my husband gallantly gave up his iPod <insert sound of celestial choir here> to get me through what would otherwise have been a horrifying week. Wow! It’s a whole new world! Now I’ve finally, belatedly, at long last, discovered podcasts.

I started at the iTunes Store in the Podcast department, and just for grins, entered the word “knit” as a search term. Lo and behold, more than 100 entries! And interestingly, some are identified as “clean” and others “explicit”. Hmmm.

Next day on the job, I listened to Knit-Pick’s “To The Point” podcast (clean), and the Knitters Uncensored podcast (explicit). Enjoyed both, and now understand why a knitting podcast might be labeled explicit!

Knit-Pick’s podcaster, Kelley, is planning to work her way through Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac: a full year of knitting with a different, distinctly “Elizabeth-an” project each month. You can knit along with her, if you like. I have since ordered the book from Amazon as there is not a single copy in the entire Bernalillo County library system, but I’m a little nervous as an Amazon reviewer suggests that these are projects for intermediate to advanced knitters – which I am not … yet.

Knitters Uncensored are three ex-pat pals living in Munich, an American gal, a Canadian gal who only knits scarves in garter stitch, and a guy from Thailand who speaks 7 languages including, he says, Elvish and Esperanto. The ex-pat perspective really interests me after my years living & working in Belize.

While I can’t say that I learned much about knitting, exactly, from Knitters Uncensored, other than a couple of German words for yarn and color, I discovered new music, which is almost as important and sometimes more so.

DiedreFlint At the end of their podcast, the uncensored knitters played The Bridesmaid Dress song by Deidre Flint, from her album The Shuffleboard Queens. It’s wonderful! I had to have it! And I can’t wait to hear one of her other songs called “The Boob Fairy”.

Here’s Amazon’s album review, as I’m not feeling especially articulate at the moment:

This Philadelphia singer is in love with language. Verbiage spews out of Deirdre Flint as if she were a caffeine-addled linguist. Unable to resist good fun and the choice pun, Flint trips and traipses through life's little indignities with unabashed zest, addressing everything from cheerleaders to footwear to large bosoms (or the lack thereof). One particularly delightful couplet: "I'm well-bred and you're, well...not." Seven words, seven syllables...devastating. --Steven Stolder

Hurray for new music!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM