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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tuesday's Stitch and Chat

Cornelia in a glamming it up for the picture wearing her new poncho. Note the perfectly matching shoes.  Per Cornelia, "It's just beautiful!  Judy did a wonderful job.  I told her it was like the Phoenix rising from the flames to be reborn as a poncho!  I finished all the fringe today."

Three generations in their hand knit ponchos!  Beautiful!

She finished her Customfit swatch in Artyarns Ensemble Light (DK: 50% Cashmere, 50% Silk, 400 yards).

Mallory was ready to work the heel of her Christmas Stocking. 

Allison continues to make progress on  The Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief in Meadowcroft Dyeworks worsted weight yarn.

Berroco Burrow in North Star (Bulky: 92% Alpaca, 8% Nylon, 109 yards).

Eleanor finished her (modified) Dangling Conversation in her leftover Kid Paillettes (Lace: 42% Mohair, 40% Polyester, 18% Silk, 137 yards).

She picked up for the neckline of her Customfit sweater (in Kid Paillettes).

Eleanor followed the recommended pick up rate in the pattern and was 20 stitches over.  Then we/she mapped out the math per section and came out closer to the suggested number. 

She was wearing her Eyelet Cowl a/k/a In the Snood, with toshdk (DK: 100% Merino, 225 yards).  This is a very versatile pattern and lends itself easily to modifications.

Eleanor's grandson wearing his Roo Car Pullover . He is soooo cute!  You can tell he's a little charmer.

Mary's customfit tunic sweater is coming along nicely in Seedling (Aran: 100% Cotton, 110 yards).

In spite of all her concerns, Mary's Otto bear is coming together.

There was a request for more book titles, here is what came up:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
One Summer, America 1927 by Bill Bryson
In a Sunburned Country Bill Bryson
Books by Edward Rutherford:
New York
Books by David McCullough

Monday, November 23, 2015

Girls just want to have fun

What is your idea of (knitting) fun?

I'm in the home stretch of obligatory knitting for the holidays.  My mind is wandering to visions of things I want to knit. Since I am knitting for my family, when we are sitting together, I knit the Artyarns Watercolors Shawl. I don't want to knit their gifts right in front of them. Call it my decoy knitting project.

I modified the pattern to a scarf by casting on less stitches.  I used two different colorways of Ensemble Light (DK: 50% Silk, 50% Cashmere, 400 yards). Every two rows, you switch colors.  I blocked it yesterday and wore today before the ends were woven in.  

Recently I knit the Frieze Shawl for a class at Westport Yarns.  It. was. so. much. fun.  

The pattern is a series of slip stitches and the quilt stitch while alternating between two yarns.

In my Frieze, I used a Blue Sky Alpacas Extra (Aran: 55% Alpaca, 45 %Merino, 219 yards) in green and Artyarns Big Merino Cloud (Worsted: 80% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 219 yards) in a multi.

 I enjoyed knitting this so much I plan on knitting another one in Silk Garden (Aran: 45% Mohair, 45% Silk, 10% Wool, 110 yards) and Serenity Worsted (Worsted: 75% Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 175 yards).

Then there is Exploration Station which I'm knitting for an upcoming winter class at Westport Yarns.  The shawl is knit with four different colors and explores different stitch patterns: short rows, brioche, slip stitches, and chevron stitch.  The pattern is very well written.   Forget about the old "just one more row" it is more like "just one more color". I'm knitting it with Anzula Dreamy (and yes, it is dreamy) (Fingering: 75% Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Silk, 385 yards) and Koigu PPPM (Fingering: 100% Merino, 175 yards).

All this color and color work makes me feel very happy.

THEN we got a call from Iris Schreier from Artyarns suggesting we check out her Gemstones kits.  While on surfing my way to the Gemstones kit, I got side tracked by the gradient kits.  I was literally jumping up and down in my seat, my eyes glittering with excitement, saying to Beth, "Can we get them, can we, can we, CAN WE?" Thankfully she was (almost) as excited as I was. 

The Artyarns arrived the VERY NEXT DAY.  This is the text I got from Danni while I was on my way to work. Talk about instant gratification. 

For a change from my purples, I bought the red gradient.  I'm knitting the longer version of my Karma Chameleon.

I confess to not straying too far from my beloved purples.  I bought the Gemstones kit in purples ~ sparkly purples at that.  After all, my birthday is coming up....

So, to answer the question I asked at the beginning of the post, my idea of knitting fun is yarns drenched in gorgeous colors and stitch patterns that bring out the best of them.

With all this yarny goodness, I honestly don't know if I want to break into song with, "I'm so excited"

Or, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". I haven't been this excited over my knitting in a while.  Kind of like when you haven't read a truly fantastic book in a while. 

Have I enticed you to cast on for a fabulous pattern with some gorgeous yarn?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Don't Let Your Slip Show

 Allison was the belle of the ball, wearing her completed Customfit sweater. The sweater is sparkly and magical.  This yarn is definitely next up in my customfit queue.

Now she is working on The Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief in Meadowcroft Dyeworks worsted weight yarn. 

Cornelia's daughter and granddaughter wearing their ponchos. A very rewarding moment.

With her own poncho at the finisher, she began working on a new swatch for her next Customfit sweater.  The yarn is Artyarns Ensemble Light (DK: 50% Cashmere, 50% Silk, 400 yards).

Mallory was ready for the final decrease rounds of the Fool's Fair Isle Baby Hat that she knit with Adriafil Knit Col (DK: 100% Merino, 137 yards).  She wanted help transferring onto the double pointed needles now that there were too few stitches for the circular needle.

Progress continues on her Christmas Stocking.  We are both looking forward to adorning the packages under the Christmas Tree.

 Mary reached the point of grafting (Kitchener stitch) the nose of her Otto Bear.  Next we picked up for the neck and began the body. We discussed how to interpret the language of the pattern and how punctuation is part of the directions.

Mary Ellen is loving knitting the All About the Yarn Cowl with Artyarns Big Merino Cloud (Worsted: 80% Merino, 20% Cashmere goat, 219 yards).

Eleanor pinned her Customfit sweater together to sew.  She is using her leftover Kid Paillettes to knit the Dangling Conversation.

Carol finished 3 squares for her Anthology Cuffed Shawl Sweater from Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein.

The yarn she's using is Plymouth Select Worsted Merino (Worsted: 100% Merino, 219 yards). I didn't show the third square, it was simply stockinette. 

Carol asked me to expound on knots in knitting. She used the phrase, "Don't let your slip show" as a metaphor for "not completing the look" or in our case, not finishing your knitting to it's best potential.

Emphatically, I do not believe in leaving knots in knitting.  They are a false sense of security and can ease apart at anytime. There are two separate issues with knots in knitting.

1. Random knots occurring in the yarn. Here is a link to a blog post that explains why they occur.
2. Should you knot your yarn when changing balls?

There are several different ways to go about joining a new ball of yarn (when you're at the tail end of the old ball of yarn, and you need to add in a new ball of the same color). Personally, I choose to do this near the end/beginning of a row. However, if I'm knitting a very textured piece (i.e. cables) I might join mid row and hide the ends in the bulk of the cable cross.
Picture from techknitting.blogspot.com

1. Overlapping: (Often used mid row) Knit a 3-4 stitches with the new (ball) of yarn together with the old yarn (creating a couple of double stitches). On the next row, knit or purl them together. Downside: it can be a bit lumpy/visible in your knitting. Techknitter adjusts the tension to alleviate that problem.
Diagram from techknitting.blogspot.com

2. Felted Join or Spit Splicing: This may sound yucky to some of you, however it is a pretty cool trick.  This only works with 100% wool - not merino.  You take the tails of the old and new yarns and overlap in your hand, then you wet it (traditionally with spit) and rub the ends together until they become one.

3. Joining at the beginning of a row by knotting the old and new yarns together. Personally I tie a loose knot with the old and new yarns a stitch or two in from the end/beginning of a row with the intention of removing the knot later and weaving it in.  In the same blog post from Techknitter, there was a great suggestion of leaving tails long enough for sewing and using the tails for sewing the seams later on.

4.  Drop the old yarn and begin knitting with the new yarn: Similar to step 3 minus the knot.  Your tension will be a little loose and can be adjusted after a row or two.

Diagram from knittingparadise.com

5. Magic knot: I have not tried this, so I'm sharing it without commentary.

In class we discussed the first and third methods.  Having delved into this a little further, I might knit a few swatches and test out the techniques....after the holidays.

I would love to hear from about how you join yarn and whether you do it at the end/beginning of a row or wherever your yarn runs out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Knitting isn't just about knitting

It's about people getting together for a common interest.  In between the teachable knitting moments, conversation wanders all over the place. You can learn a lot about a little. You learn that no matter how diverse we are, there are so many ways in which we are the same. 

Over the past week, conversation in my classes has taken us into the world of medicine, British history, cooking, and digital clocks- to name a few.
by ysolda Flickr

While teaching the Otto Bear class at Westport Yarns, one woman remarked to another that she was really knitting very fast. The "fast" knitter said that the "knits people together" all day.  She's a Surgeon PA.  How cool is that?  Did knitting make her a better Surgeon PA where she sews people together or did her job make her a better knitter? Maybe a little of both.

That led to a discussion of how our interests when we are young often translate into our life choices.

Mary's son liked to speed when he was a new driver.  Today he is a nurse, EMT, and drives an ambulance.  Awesome - right?

When I was in the 5th grade I had just learned to knit.  At that time, I also wanted to be a math teacher.  Now I teach knitting and design.

The students were learning how to work the Kitchener Stitch which grafts stitches together seamlessly.  Since I like trivia, I explained the origin of the Kitchener Stitch. The short version is that is came about during WWI and is named for The British Secretary of State for War, Horatio Herbert Kitchener.  You can read the full story here.

Rosie asked if that's the man on the recruiting posters in England.  She later sent me a picture and this link.

Last night at the Frieze Shawl class we talked about how the way things were done historically influence how they are done today - whether or not the reason for it still exists.  I'll explain...

It started with a discussion about why the Iphone snooze button is automatically set to 9 minutes. 
"Historically speaking,  clock experts say when snooze alarms were invented, the gears in alarm clocks were standardized. The snooze gear was introduced into the existing mix and its teeth had to mesh with the other gears' teeth. The engineers had to choose between a gear that made the snooze period nine-plus minutes or 10-plus minutes. Because of the gear configuration, 10 minutes on the nose was not an option. From this page and here.

That reminded me of the old story,

"The new Jewish bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother's brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, "Why do you cut off the ends — that's the best part!" She answers, "That's the way my mother always made it. "

The next week, they go to the old bubbie's house, and she prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she asks her grandma why she cut off the ends.  Grandma says, " Dahlink that's the only way it will fit in the pan!"

I grew up watching my mother wipe down meat with a wet paper towel, so I did too - for years.  Only to learn that the reason why (she did that)was a holdover from her being raised in a kosher home where you're supposed to wash meat.

Of course when I decided to write this post, I google-checked my information.  The (current) opinion is that "this is where habit and tradition bump up against modern science and understanding of what actually spreads germs." 

Public Service Announcement from the USDA, "Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination."

Of course these kind of random acts of conversation can happen when you get a group of women together under other circumstances. Knitting groups are my (most common) point of reference.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I know I dropped that stitch somewhere around here.

Tuesday's Stitch and Chat was fraught with dropped stitches and incomplete stitches. The problem with fixing mistakes is that you have to make them repeatedly to learn how to fix them.  Luckily we drop stitches repeatedly and get ample practice.  Here is a link to common knitting mistakes and how to fix them.

If you want, you can knit a swatch with leftover yarn and make deliberate mistakes to practice fixing them. (Stitch and Chat students, bring it in with you to class and we can work on it together.)


Rosie dropped a couple of stitches and had a couple of incomplete stitches in her projects.  She had several opportunities to practice picking up stitches.

Calann had some difficulty turning the heal of the socks she was knitting.  It turned out that she was following the directions for the wrong size.  She has knit this pattern so many times, it was hard to discern the right size a midst all the faded pencil marks of past socks knit.


She started knitting The One & Only Morehouse Alligator Scarf. She likened it to a Picasso painting.  Nothing was where it is supposed to be. In this picture you are looking at the beginnings of the snout.


I know Christmas is looming when I see Mallory. Over the past couple of years she has been knitting stockings for her whole family.  I think this is #5.  While switching colors she also had dropped a couple of stitches and had a couple of incomplete stitches. 

Somehow we got on the topic of the timely finishing and gifting of hand knit items.  We wondered if Emily Post had a crafters version specifying the period of time before a gift is late.  Mallory told us a story of how she had finished a (couple's) wedding gift when they had their first baby! I don't see anything wrong with this. 

Carol, wanted moral support for putting stitches back on the needle. This is the Enchanted Forest Cardigan. She had a mis-stitch and had to rip back a few rows. This is the second time she has knit this sweater.  The first time being 23 years (after the she knit the christening gown and before the christening). She washed the first sweater so many times it looked worn.

Sometimes when you are returning stitches to the needle (if you're nervous or the yarn is slippery) get them on any which way - whether they are split, facing the wrong way, whatever.  Then go back across the row and right the wrongs. You want to take out stitches as if to purl, meaning insert your right hand needle into the stitch as if your going to purl and pass it from one needle to the next.  Make sense?

For Carol's next knitting adventure, she is going to knit this sweater from Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein. The sweater is knit entirely in blocks.  We are both excited about it.

The yarn she's using is Plymouth Select Worsted Merino (Worsted: 100% Merino, 219 yards).

 Mary Ellen finished her first Building Block square.  Well done. The yarn is Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash (Worsted: 100% Merino, 219 yards).

Cornelia had a plan for the day:
1. Finish her poncho (which she did).
2. Get daughters back from finisher and add fringe (that happened Wednesday).
3. Swatch with Ensemble Light for something that is not a poncho.

She has knit three ponchos in in super bulky yarn over the past month!


She looked fabulous in her CustomFit sweater.  I love seeing people where their finished knits with pride (and joy),


Trammi shared her progress on her Outline. I like the color-play between her yarns.  There is a mixture of hand dyed and regular dyed yarns. The variegated yarn picks up the colors in the solids.  She also finished the body of her Essence Pullover Sweater in Tahoe (Aran: 32% Nylon, 27% Wool, 25% Alpaca, 16% Yak, 179 yards). It was time to learn the twisted rib pattern for the bottom.

Jane picked up and knit one border to her sweater coat. She learned the knitted cast on for when she makes the button holes on the other border.

Allison wanted to understand how the stitch repeat work out in The Burrow.  We worked out the math together.  If (at the row in question) there were a total of 40 stitches and you subtract the12 border stitches it equals 28 remaining stitches to incorporate the pattern.  Divide 28 stitches by the 4 stitch repeat and you get 7. The pattern repeat is 7.  This is compounded by the fact that there are two sides/charts for the top down shawl.

Cindy is not familiar with circular needles so we worked on reading her row. She has is knitting with very difficult yarn.  It's hard to tell the knit side from the purl side.

In the end we restored all the stitches to their proper places with a collective sigh of relief and we went on to knit another row.