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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Brioche, not just for breakfast anymore

Which came first the pastry or the knitting technique?

Interestingly enough, the word "brioche" maybe derived from French slang for "mistake". Brioche is a French pastry that is light and slightly puffy.

By (knitting) definition, "Brioche produces a lofty, ridged fabric that resembles knit 1, purl 1 rib. Brioche knitting belongs to a family of stitches that rely on slipped stitches worked in conjunction with yarnovers. On one row, a stitch is slipped, and at the same time, the yarn is carried over the needle to create a yarnover. On the next row, the slipped stitch and its adjacent yarnover are worked together."

I teach an ongoing Brioche Knitting class at Westport Yarns. Many of the women have started together and are moving up the Brioche "food chain", choosing projects with increasingly challenging techniques. In my opinion, Brioche is not a difficult technique to do, it's hard to fix mistakes.

Kaede is working on two-color Brioche, flat, in the scarf above (knit with stash), 

by TalenaWinters Flickr

and the Revolution Toque in the round in Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash (Worsted: 100% Merino, 218 yards).

Susan has been knitting Polyjuice Potion hats, 

in Berroco Millefiori (Aran: 50% Wool, 50% Acrylic, 186 yards) and Sweetgeorgia Superwash Worsted (Aran: 100% Merino, 200 yards).

 Robbie is knitting Love Ewe Baby in Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles (Fingering: 100% Merino, 400 yards).

Diane is newer to the group and is working on her first single color brioche project, Straightaway, also in Sweetgeorgia Superwash Worsted.

If you're interested in joining this class to learn this technique, call Westport Yarns at 203-454-4300.

There maybe Brioche pastry too.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Surrounded by knitters

Knitters in the north ~ Knitters in the south

By spending the winter in Florida and coming up back to Connecticut monthly, I am blessed to be surrounded by knitters wherever I go. Teaching (knitting) in both states has intensified my feelings and expanded my gratitude for the connections and relationships I find so rewarding.

Westport Yarns ~ Westport, CT
This common interest (obsession?) bonds people together that might never have met given the differences in ages and lifestyles. I think that's one of the things I like best about sitting with a group of knitters.

Knitting is what brings us to the table to knit, however, it's the joy we get from being together that brings us back.

Knit or Knot ~ Jupiter, FL

We inspire each other with our projects and yarns.

We grow by listening to each other's life experiences.

We share books, movies, TV, restaurants, recipes, travel, and anything else that comes to the table through conversation.


When we are together we lend comfort, encouragement, laughter, understanding, affection, and not necessarily in that order.

The more time we spend together the more the differences in our ages and lifestyles blur and we go from a group of individuals around the table to a group of friends who are as interlocked together as the stitches we knit. (How's that for a metaphor?!)

Apart we are like uniquely hand dyed skeins of yarn. When combined we create a beautiful tapestry.

I am grateful to be a part of my knitting groups.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mother's Little Helper

It was great to be back with my Tuesday Stitch and Chat Ladies. I've missed our sessions! 

Eleanor knit up Rock the Pompom in Katia Azteca Milrayes (Aran: 53% Wool, 47% Acrylic, 197 yards).

Her daughter liked the yarn and stitch pattern so much that she asked for a matching scarf. That's such a rewarding feeling when your knit gifts are not only appreciated, but leave them wanting more!

Allison brought in a yoke sweater she knit years ago for show and tell. It is a beauty.

She knit the Tucker Hat in Plymouth Baby Alpaca held double (Bulky: 100% Baby Alpaca, 110 yards). She was experiencing floppy pompom syndrome. Never a good thing. I showed her how to use a button to secure the pompom: take a (flat/no shank) button and hold it to the inside of the hat. Draw the pompom threads through (different) holes in the button to the wrong side of the hat. We used a threader. Then tie the threads by pulling against the button to secure it.

The button allows more torque to hold the pompom firm.

We repeated the process for a Rock the Pompom hat Mallory had finished.

Allison and Trammi were both casting on for hats that began at the top and were worked on two circulars rather than double pointed needles. When using two circulars, it's a good practice to use either two different lengths or color needles so you you are using the right ones at all times.

Trammi is knitting the 24.2 Viola Pompom Earflap Hat.


Calann had me check her swatch for the Simple and stylish quick knit top down - P113 baby sweater.

 She had a mis-stitch in the wedding garter she is knitting.

While knitting away during Stitch and Chat classes, our conversations run the gambit. We talk about food, plays, books, and just about anything else that comes to mind. What's that expression? If it's on your mind it's out of your mouth? Please someone tell me what that expression is! Today was no different.
We had an interesting conversation about the expression "Mother's Little Helper" and how that meant different things to different generations. Calann referenced the Rolling Stones song, Mother's Little Helper, 

What a drag it is getting old
"Kids are different today, "
I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill
There's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day
 Trammi said that she thought a mother's little helper was the young girl you hired to help out with your kids. Calann and Trammi are both right, they are speaking from different generations.
Jane T said her mother had many expressions, one of which was, "If you sing before breakfast, cry before night". I looked it up, it goes back at least 500 years!  "This idea originated in the classical notion that a person should not celebrate the day’s achievements in song before the day’s business has begun." Here is a link, if you're interested. Another interpretation was that it was meant "to keep kids from getting into mischief or just stay quiet".
Calann came up with one of her own, "You can grow all the marijuana you want, just don't have a baby in the bathtub". Fairly self explanatory, don't you think?

Our book conversation led to these titles:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Study in Contrasts

Thursday (January 4) for the Northeast meant a blizzard. For me, it was a beautiful (if chilly) day in Florida.

Friday amidst forecasts of record low temperatures, I headed back to Connecticut for a week of teaching ~ reconnecting with my students, co-workers, friends and of course Thing #1 and Tucker.

During our descent into NY, we experienced significant turbulence.  When we landed a much deserved round of applause went up by the passengers.

As we were preparing to leave, the man next to me said, "During the turbulence, I was looking any/everywhere for something to hold on to. There you were knitting away. I fly often, maybe I should take up knitting!" I replied, "Yes, you should, it has a great calming affect. Although, in all honesty, if you looked closely, you would have seen white knuckles gripping the knitting needles."

While in Connecticut, I enjoyed wearing my hand-knit winter woollies. Each day meant a new ensemble ~ right down to my hand-knit socks. From top to bottom: Rock the Pompom Hat in The Periwinkle Sheep Merino Aran (Aran: 100% Superwash Merino, 180 yards). Infinite Cabled Cowl in Lobster Pot Cashmere (Worsted: 100% Cashmere, 100 yards). Customfit Pullover in Rowan Lima (Worsted: 84% Alpaca, 8% Merino, 8% Nylon, 120 yards). 2 @ time Toe Up Socks ~ Magic Loop (a soon to be published pattern) in Zen Serenity 20 (Fingering: 70% Merino, 20% Cashmere goat, 10% Nylon, 400 yards).

I got to catch up with Tucker who kept me warm while watching movies with Thing #1.

 and he kept me company at the table while I enjoyed my morning coffee and the snowy view. I think he is giving me the "hairy eyeball". He might have wanted a cup of tea.

Now, ten days later, I'm back in Florida enjoying the beautiful, temperate climate.

Apart from the severe contrast in temperatures, I noticed a major contrast in lifestyles. No real surprise there. While living in Westport, I am working at Westport Yarns, teaching, and designing. I am the "city" that never sleeps. I thought nothing of setting up a (visiting) schedule for myself where on some days I ate three meals at the shop. It was not a big departure from how I schedule my normal routine.

Then we come to Florida, to a period of time where I have minimal commitments. I found that I was sleeping, breathing, knitting (more) and even exercising. I didn't even mind normal mundane household chores.

My goal is to figure out some middle ground between the two ways of life. We will see how I fare. It is a challenge. Harry, on the other hand, has it all figured out. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cast on, Cast Off

Such is the nature of our craft ~ and life. Beginnings and Endings. Very philosophical don't you think? I figured any post at the beginning of the new year should be somewhat philosophical. That may be the extent of my musing, we'll see.

There are many reasons that I (we) cast on...

Gift knitting, this is a baby gift, The Taylor Blanket in Berroco Pima 100 (Worsted: 100% Pima, 219 yards).

And a sweater for my Mom in Juniper Moon Farm Neve (Worsted: 100% Cotton, 222 yards). This started out as DROPS 112.  However, given that it's a collaboration with my mother and for my mother AND that I get my design/never leave well enough alone genes from her.... it is evolving into its own unique design. The sweater is black, so not much to show yet.

For fun, I cast on for Mirror by Yumiko Alexander. I've been intrigued by her designs for a while. Luckily the shop here in Florida, Knit or Knot Yarns, carries DanDoh Cotton Fine (Fingering: 100% Cotton Tape/paper, 435 yards). I am knitting it in exactly the color/yarn the pattern is pictured in. I can count on one hand the number of times I have done that, Riverbend being the first.

Last month I cast off on another Rock the Pompom Hat  in Periwinkle Sheep Merino Aran (Aran: 100% Superwash Merino, 180 yards) with a FELL pompom. LOVE IT. Given the temperatures in New England, I will be wearing this home for my visit later this week.

I knit up Frieze for an upcoming class at Knit or Knot Yarns.

My "purse" project was the Bias 'Before & After' Scarf in Koigu Lace Merino (Lace: 100% Merino, 292 yards). This fit in my purse perfectly, nice and small.

I collect random leftovers of yarn that (I think) work together, and knit up Margaret's Funnel Cowl (shop pattern from Westport Yarns).

The pattern encourages creativity and I enjoyed knitting it.

Lastly, I'm toying with some design ideas for Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles (Fingering: 100% Merino, 400 yards).

Harry has been by my side every stitch of the way ~ or on my lap if he feels I need a break from knitting.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Friezing in Florida

Mosaic knitting is one of my favorite color-work techniques. This eye-catching shawl/scarf looks more complicated than it is.  
© maliha

The Frieze Shawl by Lisa Hannes is pure knitting fun. Per the designer, “It is an elongated, asymmetrical triangle shawl with a curved top edge. You’ll start knitting with just a few stitches at one tip, then work your way across to the opposite edge creating the triangular shape by increasing/decreasing at the edges. It is finished with an i-cord bind-off.” 

It's knit up on larger needles, US #8-10 (depending on your yarn). The pattern requires 200 yards of worsted/aran weight yarn in two colors with good contrast. It can be a solid and a variegated or two solids. Either way, it is really striking.

I've knit the pattern three times, once for a sample for Westport Yarns (and a class). Yarn: Blue Sky Fibers Extra and Artyarns Big Merino Cloud

Next I knit one for myself in Noro Silk Garden and Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Worsted.

I just finished my third Frieze Shawl for an upcoming class at Knit or Knot Yarns in Jupiter, Florida. For this shawl I used Noro Taiyo Aran and Berroco Comfort Solids & Heathers. Given the climate, I chose non-wool yarns. 
As you can see, I am partial to variegated yarns as contrast to the solid color. Yarns with long color repeats (like Noro) knit up with in stripes of color. The first shawl I knit had a randomly variegated yarn which results in random color shifts. The shawl could easily be knit with two solids for dramatic effect. Click here to view a knitter on Ravelry who chose two solids.

If you're in the Jupiter area and not freezing elsewhere, join me for the Frieze Shawl class at Knit or Knot. For more information, call the shop at 561-746-1005 or email them at knitorknotyarns@gmail.com.