July 24, 2015

Georgia FiberFest: The Best Dinner in Town!

As a fiber arts vendor, I'm finding that the days of vendor dinners and vendor perks are gone.  The last few years it's been more like "here's your booth in the furthest corner we could find and if you want heat or air conditioning, there's an extra fee." With few exceptions, the "thank you" attitude is gone and the "give us money, more money" attitude reigns supreme.  That's why you will find that I am not going to be attending some of the events this year that I have in the past. Vendors are used, abused, and just flat out unappreciated.

The Georgia FiberFest, however, is completely different.  I've become personally involved with the promotion of this event because this is one show that is built around expanding and nurturing the fiber arts community with a genuine sincerity. Sure, there's money to be made from every angle, but this event is about bringing people with a love of handcraft together to learn new things, meet new people, and just have a really, really good time!  

On that note, every year, the organizers of the Georgia FiberFest, Sharon Bogenshutz and Karen Cross, arrange for a catered dinner for the participants of the event that tops any fiber event that I know I have ever attended (and that certainly includes Stitches South and all its many questionably coordinated after-hours events).  The dinner always includes a speaker with whom everyone, no matter their crafty preferences, can relate and benefit. This year, as I've mentioned in a previous post, the speaker is Pam Powers. You can go to the Georgia FiberFest website and find out all about her or read my previous post or make a visit to her Revelry pages.  But, to be honest, that's not what this post is about.  This post is about food, because when you go to an event like this one, an event that is out-of-town for pretty much everyone who attends, vendors and visitors alike, there's always that issue about food.  We are all comfortable with what's local where we live, but throw an out-of-town trip into the mix and, well, sometimes the most adventurous thing about your journey is finding a place to eat that doesn't turn your stomach.  I hate going somewhere, spending an uncomfortable amount of money for food, and then it turns out to be gross, you know?  Last year, the night before a show, I stopped at what I recall now as a sketchy little Chinese restaurant off the highway, you know how one does, just to get something quick that's a change from fast food. There was so much MSG in that food that the overnight and following day result was a sickness so intense that I am sure that I very nearly didn't survive that dining experience. I don't like to dine out when I travel.

That's one of the reasons why I like this event so much. They make it possible for you to eat food that won't kill you dead.  Not only are there great restaurants within walking distance of the convention center, but Sharon and Karen have consistently made the effort every year to provide a catered meal to alleviate some of that anxiety about where and what to eat. The food is always fabulous! This year I expect it to be no different.  They've stepped away from the traditional venue catering (even though it was pretty fabulous last year!) and hired their own chef.  By that, I do not mean that they hired their own executive chef from a corporate catering company.  Nay, nay!  They've hired a chef out of his own restaurant  to cater a very complex dinner for us (and by "us" I mean anyone who wants to make a reservation and have a seat).

Chef Keating's restaurant, Epic, is rated with 5 stars on Yelp.com, and is considered to be the best dining experience in Columbus.  But we aren't eating in his restaurant. Nay, nay!  We are dining at the RiverMill Event Center. Not only do we have the best chef in Columbus catering for us, but he is doing it in an historic building with a riverfront vista. I'm told that Chef Keating, his wife, and staff have bent over backward to accommodate our wishes for the Georgia FiberFest. You don't get that at any ol' fiber festival.  

To make your reservations, go to the Georgia FiberFest website or click here: dinner. The dinner may seem a bit pricey, but it's really only about $5 more than last year and did I mention it includes a top-notch speaker? As well, there are menu options for gluten-free and vegetarian diners. If you live somewhere like Atlanta, you know that it's going to cost you that much just to walk in the door to an event like this, let alone pay the valet to park your car, but the other perk is that you don't even have to drive! Sharon and Karen have hired a shuttle so that you can park at the Convention Center and be chauffeured to and from the dinner.

Oh, but that's not the best part. The BEST part is that there are PRIZES!! Every year, the vendors donate items from their booths, and before the dinner concludes, MANY, MANY lucky diners go home with some really superb gifts.  I will be donating a few goodies from my own shop, and you will certainly want a chance to win those! 

Alright, so now I'm off to dye an insane amount of yarn for a custom order, but I hope that you will explore the dinner option because, well, I'm going to be there in the company of some of the best handcrafters in the South, and we would love to share a meal with you!

July 13, 2015

A Good Day for Edging

My latest pattern, the Market Street Shawl, is such a favorite of mine that I've knit the body of a second one in Velvet (colorway: Davy Jones) in about a week. But, as I approached the cast on for the edging, it occurred to me that not everyone may understand what is meant by "knit-on edging".  I've consequently updated the notes in the pattern about it (updates should be arriving in inboxes already) and thought that this second shawl provides a great opportunity for a tutorial.  So, grab your Market Street Shawl and let's get to it!

First, you need to understand that the edging and the shawl are a continuation of one another.  You do not break the yarn to cast on 25 stitches and then try to attach a new set of stitches to the shawl. Please DO NOT do this.  Also, DO NOT BIND OFF any of the live stitches. Instead, when you finish your last right-side row, simply do a knitted cast on 25 times (25 new sts).  It's like increasing for a dolman sleeve, really.

Once you've cast on those 25 new stitches, turn your work and start the edging instructions on the wrong-side row. The important thing to conceptualize is that you will now be working sideways along the edge of the shawl with the live stitches. Every other row that is worked will be attached to the original shawl fabric with a K2tog. The original live stitches will just sit on the cable of the needle until you need them.

And you just keep plugging away until you've worked all of the live stitches. That's it. It's genius, really.  I don't know if Elizabeth Zimmerman is the inventor of the knit-on edge (probably not), but I learned to do it from her, and I am ever so grateful that she decided to share her knitting knowledge.

Well, I don't know about you, but I have a few edging repeats to get started.  Cheers!

July 09, 2015

Let's spin!

Although the week is about over, this past week has been the Tour de Fleece (which coincides intentionally with the Tour de France in case you aren't a spinner ... yet!). Admittedly, I have not participated this year. I've been busy with sheep, farm, garden, dyeing, shipping orders, grading essays for the PARCC test, hanging out with my daughter, and knitting some behind-the-scenes stuff for the book that a friend and I have in the works. But, TODAY I have made it easier for you to participate in Tour de Fleece because look at all of these beauties (plus a few more) that are now available in the shop!

Water Lily
Window Box
Canyon View
Cotton Candy

Monster Mash
Each 100% superwash merino top braid is either 3.8 oz or 4.0 oz, has been hand painted one at a time, is dyed with eco-friendly acid dyes that are fixed so you don't have that annoying dye transfer to your hands while spinning, and is SUPER lofty and squishy.  Dare I say, your next favorite roving is waiting for you to spin it up?

You might not believe it, but these were a tag-team effort between myself and my daughter who, by the way, has quite an eye for color.  This was a new experience for Rocket, and we had a blast!  I'm not allowed to going to show you pics of the dyeing process ("OMG mom! Don't post those! I'll be so embarrassed!") with Rocket, my soon-to-be pre-teen, so I will just show you the pre-dyeing pics of our wanna-be helper Otis.

So stop on by my online shop if you are in the mood to shop and spin.  And if it's natural, undyed fiber that you're in the mood for, well check back next week because a TON of drum carded alpaca and llama blended batts are going to be available.

July 02, 2015

The Market Street Shawl

It's really about time that I got around to publishing the Market Street Shawl pattern, don't you think?  This is the same shawl that I was sure that I would have finished last December in time for New Year's Day. Seriously. No kidding.  It's certainly not that it was a difficult knit, but that I've had so many other projects in the works that I kept putting it down.  I finally wrapped it up in May, and then it took me until yesterday to get around to getting the pictures taken.  It's been very busy on the farm this year.

But here's the absolute bright side:  I'm releasing this pattern just in time for you to be able to start it, finish it, block it, and wear it by Labor Day.  When those cool evenings return, sister you'll be ready! I have already begun wearing mine to restaurants, movie theaters, and the grocery store where the air conditioning is just a bit over the top.

So, let's talk about this pattern then. Knit flat but using a US #8 (5 mm) circular needle--32 inches is ideal--this crescent shawl works up to be 72 inches (183 cm) wide and 23 inches (58 cm) deep.  Yes, that's correct. 72 inches wide. I used Madeline Tosh Merino Light (2 skeins) for the shawl in the photos because I love everything made by Madeline Tosh. However, you could also use Cedar Hill Farm Company's Velvet, Journey, Rocket Sock Medium, or any fingering weight yarn that is a close approximation to the characteristics of the original.  Please, however, avoid emailing me to ask me if the yarn you like better will work--if the yardage per 100g is pretty darned close, you have a winner!

The body of the shawl is a super-speedy stocking stitch that you can whip through while reading, watching TV, commuting on the train or bus, in a movie theater, or riding in the car, or even while at your local knitting group where, you know, you can't knit on anything that requires you to think while talking.  The pattern requires about 800 yards, but it wouldn't be wrong to go with 840, just in case you are a bit of a loose knitter.  This really isn't a pattern that requires you to worry about gauge since it's all about stitch count, not stitches per inch, and that's always a bonus!

The knit-on edging of the shawl is a vintage pattern that I found in my Weldon's Practical Needlework collection. Why do a knit-on edging you may ask? Well, you know, the thing about knit-on edging is that A) there's no grafting like you have with, say, Estonian lace; B) there's no seaming like you have with, say, an edging that you knit separately for a blanket; and C) knit-on edging tends to give you a bit of a ruffle, whereas an edging that is really just the last section of a pattern and then you bind off tends to exactly follow the dimensions of the whole piece, like with a semi-circular or triangular lace shawl. Every now and then a girl needs a little ruffle.

And I suppose I should throw in a blurb about the name.  It's the simple result of my thinking that I wanted a shawl that I could wear to the farmer's market or the Asian market (both of which are probably kept at the same temperature as a meat locker), to run errands or take my daughter to violin lessons (where they have 6 air conditioning vents in a 10 x 12 waiting room!!), or out to dinner with my man on those rare occasions when we go somewhere that requires ironing and there isn't a backlit fast food menu on the wall.  I wanted a versatile piece.  So, since the original idea was to wear it to the farmer's market, I thought it should have "market" in the title.  There you go.  Not as intriguing of an explanation as I bet you were expecting, huh?

So, with many thanks to my awesome husband/photographer (who tries very hard to read my mind when I say "just take some pictures") and despite the third week in a row of rain on the scheduled day for the "shoot", here it is, the much anticipated Market Street Shawl.

You can find this pattern at the Cedar Hill Farm Company websiteCraftsy, and Ravelry, or you can click on the picture or the button on the right sidebar.  All links lead to the Market Street Shawl.


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