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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What's your Nemesis?

Today's class is brought to you by the word Nemesis.  Nemesis: something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.

We had a lively conversation around the concept of a nemesis and life lessons. It went something like this... 

Allison's cardigan came back from the finisher because she had knit one of the pieces in the wrong direction. The way the pieces of the sweater are knit, you have two pieces that are identical and produce a left front and right back. Then you have two other pieces that are identical and flipped creating the right front and left back.  It plays mind games with you.

Allison had inadvertently knit a third of one set - twice.  You follow me?

Me (to Allison): "this sweater has become your nemesis."

Trammi: "a nemesis helps you grow".

Me: "Spoken by a woman without a knitting nemesis."

© Vera Sanon

Calann: "I'm coasting, I've had enough life lessons."

This from the woman who is knitting her own nemesis, the Tressage top. Calann, I don't think you realized that during class!

Calann got a hole when she worked the two legs of the "double stitch" from her German short rows (in her Tressage top).  I took back the stitches and showed her how to identify the two legs of the stitch.

Cornelia was having a heck of a time with the cable directions of her #23 Cabled Tunic. You could call it her nemesis. There is a 12 stitch cable section that has a shifting 8 stitch cable.  We finally figured out when she was reading the instructions she counted the 4 stitches slipped onto the cable as part of the 12, when it was really part of the 8 stitch cable.  Maybe you had to be there.

Perseverance paid off, she totally got it.

And let's just take a minute to admire Cornelia's latest finished sweater: Vivacious Hi-Low Sweater in Cascade 220 Superwash (Worsted: 100% Superwash Wool, 220 yards). This not being a custom-fit sweater, the sleeves came out too long.  No worries, Cornelia likes the cuffs.  

Eleanor finished the Little Boater Sweater in Zara (DK: 100% Merino, 137 yards). She is ready to revisit her customfit sweater and maybe a future draft choice.

Jane started a 3 x 3 ribbed scarf in Stargazer (Sport: 75% Llama, 25% Silk, 218 yards). If you have never felt this yarn you are simply missing out.

© Iris Schreier
Allison cast on for Artyarns Winging It Shawl

Her colors are gorgeous! The pattern starts out with a garter tab cast on. The directions for the garter tab read like it is complicated. If you click the link, you'll see it is easier than you'd expect. The pattern also has short rows, however there is no wrapping or turning. Allison is going to be, wait for it, winging it.

Trammi was finishing the back of her Cabled Jacket. This jacked may be Eleanor and Calann's next sweater!
Trammi shared with us her Rhino Flops. They are really beautiful. If you visit the website, be sure to read the about us page.

I found a random stitch marker near Harry. Suspicious. He even looks guilty. 🐶 Good thing he's adorable.

Monday, May 22, 2017

[Cast on (off) party - depending on how you look at it.

I started this before I went on a trip, so just bear that in mind.  Consider it going in the way back machine....

Before I go on a trip I spend far more time on what I will bring to knit versus the clothes I bring. This is a picture of a carry-on size suitcase filled with yarn. I was away for two weeks and needed options!
Once I finished my Spring Lake Hi-Lo Pullover, it was time to figure out what I would bring on my upcoming trip to Ireland and Scotland. Whatever it was, it had to be easy to knit and it had to be portable.

© JumperCables
Make Ends Meet. I love the look of this cowl/neckwarmer.

I was especially pleased that it worked for this Miss Babs Polydactyl kit I bought at Rhinebeck in 2014.  When I started swatching it, I ended up modifying the beginning a bit. Then there was the fact that I would have to carry seven mini-skeins with me ~ not so convenient. Next up was...

V-Neck Boxy  in another stashed yarn from Rhinebeck, Miss Babs Katahdin (Fingering: 100% wool, 1750 yards). Yes, you read that right, 1750 yards. I washed and blocked my swatch and began the short-row shaping.  The good news is that it would be a one skein project. The bad news is that carrying a skein of yarn the size of a birthday cake did not fit the definition of portable. Next...

Customfit Relaxed V-Neck Pullover in a fingering weight yarn that I bought at Rhinebeck in 2009! Again, I dutifully washed and blocked my swatch. While I began this project, I realized that since it is a hand-dyed yarn, I was going to alternate between two skeins of yarn every two rows to mitigate the difference between skeins.  Survey says - NOT PORTABLE.  And we move on...

I wanted to bring one crochet project because I have heard customers at Westport Yarns say they have had knitting needles taken from them at security. So I brought Boteh Scarf. This was a keeper.

I looked through my stash on non-wool yarn and found this beauty, Louisa Harding Yarns Anise (Bulky: 45% Acrylic, 45% Cotton, 10% Nylon, 76 yards). I treated it as more of an Aran weight yarn and brought the Seaweed Scarf to knit.

This one I actually finished while away. It's a perfect scarf for cold, rainy spring/summer days (like today).

Finally I settled on String Theory in Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles (Fingering: 100% Merino wool, 400 yards). This project was the subject of a recent blog post.

The dogs fell asleep just listening to this whole process. Though I think Harry is faking it, he has one eye open.  Little bugger. 😉

Friday, May 19, 2017

While the cat's away...

I was traveling in Ireland and Scotland and left my knitters defenseless in the wild for two weeks. Just kidding, Westport Yarns had their back(s) in my absence.

Calann is done knitting the Anemone Poncho. Since she is petite, she knit 8 repeats versus 9 in the pattern. It's ready to be blocked and finished.  Yarn: Artyarns Regal Silk and Artyarns Beaded Silk and Sequins Light.

She is knitting yet another Azel Pullover (Poncho). This time for her daughter's friend. Calann is making it smaller by going down one needle size and it's going to be 28" versus 33" wide. It's a very oversized garment.

© Tahki Stacy Charles, Inc.

Cornelia tried on her Vivacious Hi-Lo Sweater after the finisher sewed it together. She wanted to determine whether to make the neck higher. She joyfully reported that the sweater fit her perfectly.  We were both overjoyed!

She finished up to neck/shoulder shaping of her #23-Cabled Tunic. The directions call for working both sides at once. She's going to work each side separately, less confusing. Yarn: Baby Alpaca Grande (Bulky: 100% Alpaca, 110 yards).

© Rose Callahan
Next she will cast on for the front. She is omitting the pockets so we moved the cables to begin after the ribbing.  Since the cable pattern was charted and not written, I wrote it out line by line.

Trammi has started her first (of two) Humphrey Bears in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (Worsted: 100% Wool - Targhee-Columbia, 140 yards).  She enlarged the chart. (Did I mention the pattern is mostly in chart form?) Since she is making two of these, we suggested she laminate the chart. Trammi is using a highlight tape to mark what row she is on.  The tape can pull off a little of the ink and therefore works better over a sheet protector or laminated surface.

She shared an interesting experience with us. While waiting for her car to be serviced, a woman who worked there remarked that she had never seen someone else knit Portuguese before. Her grandmother taught her how to knit this way with a safety pin. Kind of cool for both of them to share that knitterly moment.

Allison is knitting our shop pattern, Trains, Planes Scarf which she has renamed her "Farewell to mohair scarf". It's a color block scarf knit with Kidsilk Haze (Lace: 70% Mohair, 30% Silk, 229 yards). Taking out mohair is no picnic, that's while it is a farewell scarf. 😖

She is doing well on her 2 ply Cashmere Cardigan knit with Artyarns Merino Cloud (Fingering: 80% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 436 yards).

Mallory continues to make progress learning jogless stripes on her 21 Color Slouch hat.

© Sublime Yarns

Eleanor didn't knit on her trip to Tuscany, so she has resumed knitting her Little Boater Crew in Zara (DK: 100% Merino, 137 yards). She is making the most of Zara since it has been discontinued.

© Danni Conway
Jane cast on for Danni's Tango Cowl pattern

in Shibui Staccato (Fingering: 70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk, 191 yards).

Books Discussed: 
Hillbilly Elegy
Gentleman in Moscow
Under the Tuscan Sun (movie too).
Every day in Tuscany - (Eleanor read this before her trip to Tuscany.)
Princes of Ireland - (I began this before my trip to Ireland.)

And on Wednesday...

Terry had crossed a cable in the wrong direction of her cable block (Building Blocks Afghan). I suggested she place a stitch marker where the cable direction changes as a wake up call.  She knows how to work the cables, she just gets in the zone.

Lois is knitting my Bedford top in a gorgeous color of Stella (Worsted: 74% Silk, 26% Metallic, 77 yards). She was motoring along when she realized she had a dropped stitch way, way back.  I was able to track it up quite a ways. I'll tack it carefully when she finishes it ~ it will fall under the arm.

Harry was happy to have me back.  Just to make sure I stay put, he is lying on my foot. 😉

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Let 'er rip...

A couple of months ago a student of mine, Melissa, came to class wearing a dramatic infinity scarf.  I literally forgot I was the teacher and was all about her scarf. It looked like she was wearing a skein of yarn. I asked her to take it off and peppered her with questions:
  • What's the pattern?  String Theory
  • What yarn did you use? madelinetosh dk (pattern uses dk or fingering)
  • How did you do the bind off? trick within the pattern ~ no spoiler.
The basic premise of the pattern is alternating knit and purl sections.  When you reach the desired depth, you drop the purl stitches down to the cast on.  The designer did an excellent job of including a photo tutorial for the bind off as well as a trick to keep the knit stitches from unravelling.

I decided to make this project one of my travel projects (to Ireland and Scotland) because the knitting itself was mindless and easy.. The yarn I chose is a compelling shade of Hedgehog Fibres Skinny singles, dragonfly (Fingering: 100% Merino Wool - single ply, 400 yards). This color is just magical to me.

The project fit perfectly into my "day bag" and was featured in my "I will knit" photos on Instagram and Facebook. Clockwise from top left: on a tour bus, breakfast with scones and clotted cream, at the oldest pub in Dublin,  on the plane, breakfast with black pudding and haggis, on a boat on Loch Ness, and in a replica of an fisherman's house.

I did not knit much after the Guinness Brewery tour 

or after the Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. 

But I digress.....

I documented the finishing journey of the project. This was an e-ticket ride (probably dating myself). Hindsight being 20/20, a special beverage might have been bracing. 

Just for grins, giggles and the nerds out there (present company included), here are some measurements:
  • 22" circumference before bind off
  • One purl section measures 1.5"
  • One dropped purl section measures 6"
  • Pre-blocked (wet) circumference) measures 61"
  • Blocked (stretched would be more accurate) measurement: 96" and will probably go to 98".

After dropping one section.  Point of interest, since my yarn was single ply/roving, it didn't run fast like a plied yarn or silky yarn.  I had to coax it row by row.  Sometimes it got sticky and I'd have to coax it with a little more enthusiasm. I admit to breaking into a bit of a sweat initially,

Halfway point and hitting a groove.

Having previous experience with hand-dyed yarns running a little bit when soaking, I added a splash of white vinegar to the water.  The water was clear when I took it out.

The pattern instructs you to hang it with weights.  I didn't and should have.  Also, there were some sticky sections that didn't unravel the whole way, so I'll soak it again.

Final verdict - LOVE IT! Definite do-over on a smaller scale maybe with a precious skein of Artyarns (variegated) or a non-wool yarn for summer wear.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

No yarn for you - two days.

The past week we have been in Ireland. Prior to leaving I contacted Hedgehog Fibres in County Cork to see if I could visit.  They said I could and I was SO excited.  Of course I looked forward to the touring we would do as well, this was a cool happenstance. 

Unbeknownst to us, we arrived in Dublin on a bank holiday.  No one was really sure which bank holiday as it was the third one they'd had in a short while. Between that and the way our travel schedule played out, I wasn't able to visit Hedgehog Fibres.  We drove through County Cork on a Sunday when they are closed. I was disappointed about that and then I reminded myself of where I was and how great it was to tour Ireland.

On Monday we drove the Ring of Kerry. On our way back to our hotel in Klllarney, we caught sight of a sign for Kerry Woolen Mills.  My friends generously agreed to turn down the narrow "road" to see.

We parked at the empty car park (our first clue) and wandered into the buildings.  Sadly there was no one about.  We realized that it was the Bank Holiday.  Note to self - check that next time booking travel.

Kerry Woolen Mills turned out to be an operating 17th Century Woolen Mill. 

We planned a second foray to it on our way out of County Kerry. This time they were open.They sell hand crafted sweaters, accessories, and home goods. 

In the back of the shop we found merino tops, and they were soft!

Red roving ;) and cute husband.

Purple roving.

My friend bought two skeins of a great green color to remind her of our trip to Ireland (think Shrek green).

I couldn't decide between getting traditional undyed wool to knit my own authentic Aran sweater, or a color more to my liking.  In the end, I decided to buy a lovely light lilac.  It's enough that the wool is authentic Irish wool.

On our way out there was a sweet dog basking in the sunlight. A good time was had by all.