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Bringing home the blue

  • LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWSCathy Riotto's hand-knitted tablecloth took the blue ribbon at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
    LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWSCathy Riotto's hand-knitted tablecloth took the blue ribbon at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Published January 23. 2015 04:00PM

For many years, Cathy Riotto had a fan club of friends and family who were awed by her knitted creations.

It's only been in recent years that the Barnesville woman has entered state competition; and this year, she added two more Pennsylvania Farm Show blue ribbons to her many awards.

Her silk and wool knitted tablecloth won the Home-related Accessory category, and her mohair and wool stole won the Clothing Textile Open category.

Not only are her garments handmade, they are truly from scratch. Cathy and her husband Frank raise Angora goats, which produce mohair. Their goats are sheared, and Cathy spins the fleeces into yarn.

"For the stole, I know that the mohair came from Charlie and Carmel (two of the goats), and I added in wool while spinning," she explained.

"In that category, the award is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Mohair Growers, so the entry must be 30 percent mohair or more."

All of the two dozen goats the Riottos have are named and enjoy ranging the hillsides around the farm, where they're accompanied by Lilly, a Pyrenees Mountain Dog that guards them.

Riotto estimates that it takes her about six months, using free time during the day and evenings, to knit a tablecloth.

This year's entry is from a pattern of Herbert Niebling (1905-1966). Riotto works from a chart of the pattern, which she "reads" by counting and figuring the complex design.

She also used Niebling patterns for her winning entries at the Farm Show in 2010, 2011 and 2013, and her Best-in-Show at the Bloomsburg Fair in 2012 and 2014.

Riotto, who travels to fiber (natural yarns) shows, said she's seeing a trend.

More and more people are using natural yarns such as mohair, linen, alpaca and silk to knit.

"The natural fibers are getting more popular," she said. "There's a type of yarn for everybody, and for different projects."

Riotto teaches classes in spinning yarn, and will go "on site" to teach.

"It's all about practicing and anyone can do it," she said. "It takes a lot of practice before you can get the uniformity in the yarn, but some people may also like the yarn that isn't uniform, has some chunk spots."

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