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Thursday, September 3, 2015

How many is too many?

It's a trick question.  The answer is, "there is no such thing as too many"... projects to bring when you are out for a day, a week, or more.

I take you back to the other day when it was time to bring Thing #2 to school.  The drive is less than two hours. That means approximately four hours of car time mixed with random acts of knitting should we hang around at all.

Since I was swatching for two upcoming design projects, I would bring those yarns and several needle sizes.  That was easy if not particularly time consuming.

The next project is a design in process, boot toppers.  They were nearly done. I'm knitting them in Ultra Alpaca Light (Sport: 50% Alpaca, 50% Wool, 144 yards).

May I say at this point I felt very responsible and productive bringing my time sensitive knitting.  It just didn't feel like enough.  Nothing I was bringing was very time consuming.  This is assuming I finished everything I brought. 

I decided to throw in the Bandana Cowl that I'm knitting in Malabrigo Merino Worsted (Worsted: 100% Merino, 210 yards). 

Here are the results of the trip:
1. Swatch completed.
2. Couldn't work on swatch #2 since we were using my phone's gps and I needed the stitch dictionary on said phone. (For those of you saying "work the cable without a cable needle"... don't like to do that. On a small needle and it would've been fiddly at best.
3. No cable needle for boot toppers.  Curses, foiled again.  I had paired down bags for this journey.  Note to self: don't do that.  More is MORE.
4. Thank goodness I brought the Bandana Cowl.  I would have been without knitting!

Moral of the story: 1. Make mini notions kits for each project and put it in the project bag. 2. Bring as many projects as my little heart desires.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

I want to go on record saying that I wasn't the one that used that expression first. I may have been thinking along those lines, but I wasn't saying it.

Cornelia finished her Houston Top and was ready to send it to the finisher for blocking and sewing.

With that project off her needles, it was time to cast on for her granddaughter's poncho in Rasta (Super Bulky: 100% Merino, 90 yards). She knit several swatches before getting to the right needle size, #17.

Jane was at long last swatched and ready to begin the Madison Weekender Coat she's knitting for her daughter in Jamieson's Shetland Heather Aran yarn, (Aran: 100% wool, 101 yards). Her knitting repertoire as centered on afghans for so long, she can't believe she's actually starting a sweater.  
Cue the drum roll.

So here the two of them were, ready to cast on.  I don't know how it escaped my notice before, but Cornelia was using the "easy wrap" method to cast on. When I saw how she wanted to cast on, I put the "kibosh" on that method.  It serves it's purpose, but in my opinion, is not one of the better ways to cast on for a garment.  It's not as elastic or pretty as the long-tail cast on.

I set about teaching her the long-tail method.  Boy did she give me a run for my money.  With such exclamations as "I can't do this" and "I'll never get this" it was a long 15 minutes.  Cornelia really felt she couldn't learn something like this.

Jane decided she didn't like how she had cast on and wanted to learn what Cornelia was doing.  I turned the tables on Cornelia and had her teach Jane. Cornelia did, in fact, teach it properly to Jane. And after a bit of practice mixed with a low key fuss, they both learned the long-tail cast on.  I really earned my keep during this lesson! It was Jane who uttered the fateful words, "so you can teach an old dog new tricks". Well done ladies.

Trammi finished her Malabrigo Scalloped shawl in Findley DK (DK: 50% silk, 50% wool, 131 yards). She had the pattern and yarn for a while and was glad to finally have knit it.  If I admitted to what projects fit that description, well, there must be a statute of limitations or something. I'm taking the fifth.

She shared the progress on her zickzack scarf in Mille Colori Baby (Fingering: 100% Merino,108 yards).  Her 8 year old son loved her zickzack scarf. He loved everything about it, the stripes, the chevrons.

She gave him yarn, needles, and a project bag and taught him how to knit it.  He was so happy with it. She may use this pattern to teach kids in the elementary school.  You may not know this, Trammi learned to knit in the first place because one (or both?) of her sons wanted to learn how to knit and she decided to learn at the same time.  End result, she is an avid knitter, the kids - not so much.  But points for wanting to learn.

Trammi swatched for my Essence Pullover knit with Tahoe (Aran: 32% Nylon, 27% Wool, 25% Alpaca, 16% Yak).  Her gauge was a little tighter than called for.  This will work out well because she would knit an extra small size if there was one.  Her tighter gauge will in effect give her an extra small sweater.

Swatched and ready, she cast on and did the set-up row.  The sweater is knit from the top down. There is still room in the class this fall (shameless self-promotion moment).

Rosie began her swatch for the customfit sweater class.  Unfortunately there was a miscommunication.  She was told to knit a swatch.  Literally this means in garter stitch (knit every row) vs. stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row).  With her usual good cheer she will take it out and reknit it.  I love her yarn (I may be influenced by the color), Berroco Ultra Alpaca (Worsted: 50% Wool, 50% Alpaca, 215 yards).

She is under a deadline to finish knitting his/her hats as a wedding gift.  In the first hat, she hadn't learned the jogless stripe, so we picked out a jazzy button to cover the blip in color change.  For the second hat I was able to show her how to knit a jogless stripe.

To avoid a jog when knitting stripes in the round, proceed as follows: *after joining the new color, work 1 round. At the beginning of the second round, slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn in back.  Work remaining rounds normally*.  Each time you change a color for a stripe repeat from  * to *.

Hat pattern can be found here. Yarn is Anzula For Better or Worsted (Worsted: 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 200 yards) If nothing else, you should buy their yarn because of the clever name. 

Mary is knitting a garter for her third (soon-to-be) daughter-in-law on #00 circular needle for a September wedding. G-d Bless her, her fourth son got engaged today. (That will be it for the garters.)

She finished the lace square from the Building Blocks afghan

and is moving onto cable square.

Moral of the day, just when you think you can't do something new, 
try, try, try again.


as Yoda would say, 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What motivates you?

Cornelia is nearly done with her Houston top in Silkystones (Worsted: 52% Silk, 48% Linen, 109 yards). She's working on the neck shaping. Because both sides are worked at once, she has to use two skeins of yarn at the same time. We reviewed the pattern together. She's motivated to finish this so she can move onto the next project.

This is a gorgeous cashmere vest Cornelia knit last year in Lobster Pot Cashmere (Aran: 100% Cashmere, 100 yards). Unfortunately it came out too large.  She's going to work with the finisher to see what can be done.

Eleanor and Allison are working on their customfit sweaters knit with Kid Paillettes (Lace: 42% Mohair, 40% Polyester, 18% Silk, 136 yards). Eleanor has almost finished the back. For selfish reasons I'm looking forward to seeing their finished sweaters.  I can't decide which color I want to knit for my own sweater!

Allison is highly motivated to finish hers before Eleanor since she started hers first. Motivation comes in many forms. She has almost finished the second front and then onto the sleeves.

She finished her Yowza Weigh It Shawl in Yowza - Whatta Skein! (Worsted: 100% Merino, 560 yards).

Allison also swatched for the Burrow shawl in North Star (Bulky: 92% Camelid - Alpaca, 8% Nylon, 109 yards).
Blue Sky Alpacas
Eleanor was enticed by the Twin Harbors Poncho in Blue Sky Alpacas Extra (Aran: 50% Baby Alpaca, 50% Merino, 218 yards).  She's thinking of black for the turtleneck and light green for the body.  She is making a deal with herself to finish the Madison poncho she began a couple of years ago, before she starts this poncho.  Sometimes we have to make these kind of deals with ourselves to motivate us.  By the by, I'm going to knit this poncho with a black turtleneck and red body. 

She just got the yarn to knit Leftie with 1 skein of Cascade Heritage Silk (Fingering: 85% Merino, 15% Silk, 437 yards) and a Cheshire Cat Mini-Skeins kit from Wonderland Yarns (Fingering: 100% Merino 640 yards).

We are all motivated by different things.  Sometimes we need to finish up old projects to give ourselves "permission" to start a new project.  Sometimes a new project can be just what we need to get us excited when we've lost interest in an old project.  Perverse, I know, and it happens all the time.  What motivates you?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Aha Moments in Knitting Class

Lately in my classes, I've been asking students (at the end of the class) what their big Aha! moment was.  It's been very interesting for me as a teacher and for the students as a group.

In this weekend's Building Blocks Afghan class several of the students were on the block that introduces lace knitting: yarnovers and leaning decreases. Here's what they had to say:

Janice: "Not to get nervous about two yarnovers near each other leaving holes." She thought she did something wrong until she understood the purpose of the yarnover/decrease in a pattern.

Mary Ellen: She joined us for the first time today and hadn't knit in a while.  I loved her Aha! moment. "You can get back into knitting. I rediscovered the zen of knitting."

Annie's Catalog
 Louise: She was knitting into the back of her stitches. "I was knitting the wrong way.  I learned how to knit the stitches properly and they look better.  It does make a difference."

Mary Y.: Hers was more a "Tada" than and "Aha".  She was on block six and it was giving her a tough time.  She had finished one row. Tada. ;)

 Robbie: Her aha moment came from the realization that "I learned a lot in the Exploration Station shawl I knit prior to this class and it really prepared me for the yarnovers in this square."
Mary S.: That the different ways you can decrease a stitch: k2tog, ssk, skp, k2togtbl, affect how they learn.  Specifically in this block: k2tog leans to the right and k2togtbl (through back loop) leans to the left.

I'd love to hear your Aha moments.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

And it shall be named, Tucker Hat

I have completed my Mission: Super Bulky Hat. Thank you to all who contributed names for the contest.  Susan O. was the winner with "Tucker". Congratulations, Susan.

It seemed only right to have Tucker's mom to model the hat.

One of the best attributes of this hat is that 

  • Great pattern for beginner knitters. Instant gratification.
  • It’s important to swatch no matter how much you hate swatching, you want the hat to fit.
  • Knit with super bulky yarn, this hat is a super quick knit.
  • Sizes based on 21” (23”) head circumference with 1” negative ease for a snug fit.
  • If you want the hat to be more slouchy, add more yardage.
Clearly Tucker can't handle all the fame and glory.

The pattern is available on Ravelry here. Cast on today and be done in no time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tuesday Stitch and Chat

Eleanor made serious progress with her customfit knit with Kid Paillettes (Lace: 42% Mohair, 40% Polyester, 18% Silk, 136 yards). However, she was under one stitch. 

 While looking for it, I found a few random purl stitches on the right side.  

I used fix-a-stitch to ladder down change the stitches and ladder back up.

Rosie was inspired the customfit garments last week and chose Berroco Ultra Alpaca (Worsted: 50% Wool, 50% Alpaca, 215 yards) in a lavender shade and will join my customfit class next month.

She finished her first hat last week with yarn her mother-in-law bought her.  Today she swatched with Anzula For Better or Worsted (Worsted: Worsted: 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 200 yards) for two more hats. This yarn is simply gorgeous.

Apres Vest did not work in the Brushed Fleece, the yarn broke when she worked the ruched stitch pattern. ;(

Trammi and Eleanor both wanted smaller projects to fill the gaps between larger projects.  Eleanor chose a skein of Yak yarn and a lace cowl.  

For Trammi, I found a pattern from a filtered search on Ravelry. She is going to cast on for the Hourglass Cowl with two skeins of Meadowcroft Dyeworks Paleo-Indian Woolens (Worsted: 100% Merino, 218 yards).

I love the dyeing of the Meadowcroft yarns.  I'm knitting a one skein scarf with the Paleo-Indian Woolens Worsted.

She decided to cast on for ZickZack scarf to learn how to carry colors every other two rows.

Allison was truly motivated to finish knitting her Kid Paillettes customfit sweater after seeing the progress that Eleanor made.

She also was swatching with North Star (Bulky: 92% Camelid - Alpaca, 8% Nylon, 109 yards) for the Burrow shawl.

The knitting needles are flying around here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Just call me the 11th hour knitter

Thing #2  stopped by to see me at the shop and wanted to make a date. Otherwise known as "take me, bring me, buy me".  I know I'm being a little harsh. In her defense, she's worked hard all summer and wants to spend time together before going back to school. At an age when kids often want no part of their parents, I'm happy she likes me. Today.

We decided to get pedicures together. While catching up, we had the following conversation:

Me: "Do you want a knitted something for Hanukkah or are you knitted out? (Foolishly thinking I'd be ahead of the holiday game.)  Oh, wait! You wanted a sock monkey. You can pick the yarn."
Her: Eyes wide, "I want that for school."
Me: Eyes wider, "ok (thinking, great, I'll make that for Hanukkah)."
Her: "I want that for starting school, I told you that"
Me: Eyes wider still with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Silence.

 She leaves for school in 10 days.

So there you have it, with design projects and sample knitting lining up like planes at a busy airport, I will be making a sock monkey in week's time.

All those expressions come to mind:
"The 11th hour"
"Best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
"We Plan, God Laughs."

I'm sure I could find more, but you get my drift.  Also, who has time to surf the web for quotes when there is a sock monkey to make?