Archive for February, 2011

i’m scared . . .

Monday, February 28th, 2011

omigosh, it’s the end of the month already—how did that happen?
i’ve been home two weeks and i’ve accomplished practically nothing. and i’m going away at the end of march again, yikes—i gotta get my act together and produce some patterns . . .

actually, i’ve cleared up a lot of busywork, which, as you know, takes up a ton of time with very little to show for itself. still, it needs to be done:
tax organizer—check
christmas gifts put away—check
yarn photographed and stowed—check
email box cleared—check
four weeks of bookkeeping—check

you get the idea. not much knitting, but lots and lots of tidying up.
(and still more to do, but all in good time)

therefore it is a complete pleasure to finally turn my thoughts to fiber pursuits. but first, let’s celebrate the winner of last wednesday’s book giveaway (drum roll please . . . )

the winner of charts made simple by JC briar is: helaine c.!

congratulations, helaine and enjoy your prize—i think we have 438 very jealous friends here, so use it well.

and look—i finished something

the inky dinky jacket and hat are done; they’ve even had a bath. man, that was so much fun to knit—i might have to design another baby thingy soon (yes, debby, it could be a dress next). i just need to get some buttons; i can’t believe i don’t have anything just right, but there you have it.

i’m going to have to steam the corner of that collar though—somehow, while it was upside down during the drying, that corner got pressed upward and it won’t go down—it’s totally bugging me.

like i said, knitting time these last couple of weeks has been scarce, but i think i’m slooowly getting back to normal (i do still feel as if i left half my brain at alice’s, but i’m trying).

now that the baby jacket is done, i’ve been focusing on the final cabled hat sample in mountain meadow wool laramie, a chunky 2-ply “baby cheeks” merino (baby cheeks, cuz you can’t stop squeezing it). this one is in colorway coconut and it’s for david—since this hat really looks best on him.

i tried—i knit one for me in their new DK weight, colorway sprout, and well, i love the the way it feels and it’s great for shoveling, but it’s not the look i’d strut about town, if you know what i mean, haha. oh boy, it’s cute in that grass green color though; i like the it so much i may try again with a different hat—maybe a lacunae or maybe something new.

the pattern for this toque is all set, so as soon as this coconut sample is finished, i can take photos and release it.

maybe it’s the weather, but it’s all about hats this week. i’m making my way through a second sample of the mink monkey bread hat to test my charts for the pattern. as soon as i have that written up, i’m sending it to jocelyn for testing (she’s on a hat kick, too) and it won’t be long after that that we’re ready to roll it out (i know you’re waiting; i hear you!).

the luscious mink/cashmere yarn for that scarf and hat is from great northern yarns; this one is in the deep forest colorway. if you’re trying to plan ahead, i’ve used three skeins for this wider version of the scarf; the narrower version will require two skeins. and the hat takes a little less than one skein. craig expects a shipment of back-ordered colors in early april.

like i said a few times since i got home—i have spent a great deal of the last two weeks slogging through personal and business paperwork, email, and tidying up all manner of situations i put off while i was away.

plus (and i can’t believe i haven’t even shared this yet), david has torn up half the second floor to begin work on our main bath as well as a replastering job on our bedroom ceiling. which means that:
A) i have yet to sleep in my own bed and
B) my closet is sealed shut to keep it clean inside

which means I AM STILL LIVING OUT OF MY SUITCASE. sigh.
now i wish i had overpacked . . .

anyhow, i’ve been a little disembodied and not very in touch with my inner designer (maybe it’s the purple sweat pants i’ve worn too many times to count??)

so it was with great delight that i had a moment of genuine artistic response today, whilst preparing photos for the blog. i was in my work room taking pictures of the baby set, when i noticed a basket filled with the bobbins of newly-plied yarn i finished up this week in spinning class.

i had totally forgotten about them and realized with glee that this would be great time to skein them up and put them in the wash—i love skeining handspun; it’s so satisfying to learn what the final yardage of all that labor amounts to.

i unpacked the basket onto the winding table, left the room for a sec and when i came back i paused—the yarn was so beautiful, laying there in the morning light that i was inspired to grab the camera and create a little photo love-in on the spot.

in 2009, our spinning class purchased the best in show fleece at the great lakes fiber show—a gorgeous white coopworth that sparkled when the sun hit it.

we were looking for something to create a custom gray sock blend, but we melted at the sight of this one and bought it. we had it cleaned, carded, and blended with some nylon—we each ended up with about 13 ounces to spin.

this past october, i decided i’d spin it up to knit socks for david’s anniversary gift (good thing i didn’t say which year they’d be finished).

i decided on a 3-ply, which meant spinning very fine, so i had to settle in for a longer commitment than i’d originally imagined. and then i was away and we didn’t have class for many weeks. but now it’s done

i ended up with about 700 yards of 3-ply and about 360 yards of a finer 2-ply—plenty for a couple or three pair of socks or maybe 2 pair of socks and a shawlette . . .

coopworth is a very interesting fiber—at least to me. i worked with my first coopworth very soon after learning to spin. it was louet fiber—i dunno if they still do this, but at that time, they left quite a bit of grease in the roving. i wasn’t familiar with any of that and was a little disappointed and underwhelmed at how wiry and lank the resulting yarn was.

but then i dutifully washed it and was completely taken aback by the transformation in the yarn—what had been a stiff and unpleasantly wiry yarn had bloomed into a soft, poofy, pillowy one. i liked that.

now my white coopworth was still wet from the wash when it got too dark for pictures today, but i promise i’ll take some when it dries and share those, too. for now, we have these lovely still lifes to look at (can you tell i’m a huge fan of dutch paining?)

so that’s it for today—have a good monday everyone. i’ll be back soon . . .

eliza

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

it’s funny what inspires a design . . . when asked to create a pair of fingerless mitts for the Y4S NOT SO SOCK CLUB 2010 that would be appropriate for a “my fair lady” themed kit, my very first thought was that i wanted to put a pleated hem at the cuff.
why that?? i dunno—that detail just seemed to exemplify everything about a mitt that a victorian flower seller would wear.

as it turns out, that pleated hem is the most remarked-upon feature of the design—which brings a secret smile to my heart every time it’s mentioned, because it’s my favorite thing about them, too.

well, besides the yarn, that is—this year, i was once again paired up with kim from the woolen rabbit as my yarn collaborator and she came up with a color so fresh and true-blue that i was a little scared at how perfectly it matched the idea i was carrying in my head. every stitch of this project was a complete pleasure; it just sings out that spring is on the way, paraded in by with lady slipper, cornflowers, larkspur, lupine, campanula, forget-me-nots, and all of their blue, blue sisters.

shown here: size small, in woolen rabbit lucent, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend with a gorgeous sheen, in colorway lady slipper. it’s not in kim’s shop yet, but if you plan to attend SPA knit and spin this weekend, she will have plenty of this yarn and the pattern in her booth. everything will go up in the online shop when she returns on monday.

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

you know, kim and i have collaborated on many, many projects by now, yet each time i am awed by our synchronicity. it’s as if we are seeing the project with the same set of eyes; she possesses a fearsome level of artistic insight and intuition (it actually sends a little shiver down my spine—but in a good way). thank you kim, for the way you open your heart and mind to possibility! if you haven’t yet been to kim’s shop, please visit—you will be enthralled.

we were so lucky to have phoebe and claudine on board to test knit this design; many thanks for their help and feedback on this pattern. we could not get along without their patience and good cheer for working with projects in progress.

once again, i must say that i’m blown away by the beauty of this photo shoot—david and kim really know how to make knits look great, don’t they?

charting a clear course

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

yarn isn’t the only thing that arrives on my doorstep when i’m not home—i received a couple of nice books during my absence as well. this one by JC briar—charts made simple—is especially appreciated, because it fills a gap on the reference shelf that’s been too long standing.

JC is a talented tech editor, teacher, and designer who describes herself as a technique junkie and whose classes are offered at virtually every large-scale knitting event (i’ll be seeing her soon at sock camp and the loopy ewe spring fling, in fact).

i really love the simplicity of this book—its black and white interior layout highlights one simple concept about chart reading on each page or spread with minimal text, thus allowing each statement to have importance and space. it’s just the format a learner needs to become a skilled chart reader, one step at a time.

while my friend clara parkes has explained very well why a book about chart reading is necessary, i’d like to tell you more about the book itself and why THIS book is the one you want.

JC begins at the beginning with basic chart reading concepts, explained simply and precisely, then builds on those concepts step by step as she proceeds through the book’s contents.

there are tips and tricks for tweaking charts to make them easier to look at

and guidance for reading/marking charts in a manner that is aligned with your actual knitted fabric.

many times when i teach lace classes, we get into a discussion of chart reading and why it’s a good skill to acquire. we are able to do some skillbuilding in class, but not in the depth this book allows.

i like the detailed way she matches the chart to the knitted fabric in this example of a broken chart, which is typical of examples throughout the book.
like i said—step by step—it’s brilliant!

later, she guides the reader in sorting out more complex types of charts and symbols, such as those with traveling stitches or changing stitch counts

next up is a view into charts for oddball stitches and unique symbols

and finally—my personal favorite—charts that move from side to side or those for which the round marker moves at some point.
**newsflash**—if the sight of that page spread made you gasp, you need this book (you won’t be sorry you bought it).

if you think you can never learn to read charts—think again; with a book like this, you can. the way it’s set up, you can start with the basics and put them to use, then go back to absorb new bits as you need them.

experienced knitters will want this one too, for learning more about the complex charts related to advanced knitting projects. this would also be an awesome book for any teacher to read as well; even if you’ve seen everything at least once, finding a way to explain it to others can be challenging and a guidebook can help you formulate that material for classes.

best of all, it appears that this book is just the beginning of what i hope will be JCs “knitting on paper” series—we can only hope there are more of these clear, concise guides to help unravel the mysteries of knitting.

now here’s the very funnest part—JC has offered to send a copy of charts made simple to one lucky winner. leave a comment at the end of this post between now and 9pm EST on saturday, 2/26. we’ll pull a name randomly from that pool and announce the winner on sunday or monday morning.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

now let’s take a look at another, completely different, but beautiful book i brought home from my trip to TNNA

vintage modern knits, by courtney kelley and kate gagnon osborn, who are the driving force behind kelbourne woolens, distributors of the fibre company yarns (that’s a skein of fibre company savannah, photographed with the book).

i’ve known kate and courtney for a couple of years now, since they first flagged me down at TNNA to say hello—i’ve always like them so much and their aesthetic really appeals to me. this book of vintage-flavored modern designs assembles garments and accessories that feature a variety of classic knitting knitting techniques.

although everything in the book is photographed on a model, i can picture each and every one of these pieces on kate or courtney too—you can tell these pieces were created to be comfortable and wearable for actual working knitters.

what i mean by that is that the garments included are wearable for everyday, both around the house or out in the world—anywhere—AND they put all of our favorite knitterly skills to work in the making. so that when you’re done, you’ve got a garment you enjoyed creating and one you are proud to wear.

from sweaters to accessories, the design choices and styling are wonderful—familiar enough to call comfortable, but smart enough to be part of a working wardrobe.

that is not to say that the collection is lacking in whimsy or nostalgia—not at ALL. there are these adorable thigh-high socks

and then there is this—i really, really want this.

or i might want to knit it for david.
i wonder if he’d wear it?

the best part?? i got my book signed—thanks you two!

meanwhile, back at the ranch, i’m wading through the last stages of catching up with paperwork—completing my tax organizer, ugh.

i told myself that i had to get this done before i was allowed to look at any pattern work or new knitting. so i’m plowing through it. thanks to everyone for your patience while i get things back in order here—it takes a while after a big trip.

the good news is that i do have a little time for actual knitting at night and i’ve managed to complete a couple of projects.

the mink/cashmere scarf, infinity version, is done, blocked, and sewn together.

and i love it. the pattern is waiting patiently for me to get back to it—sorry. i know you want it, i do. there is just so much time in the day, though, you know?

it’s funny, the days have virtually disappeared this week and i know what the culprit is—email, haha. i’ve spent too much time attending to that and not other things. i’m going to have to set limits so i can get my other work done.

oh, and i have more knitting . . . a nearly-completed inky dinky sweater and hat. i have to explain that i haven’t mentioned the yarn used in this project because it’s an older, long-discontinued superwash yarn. it’s very nice and i love the color, but there’s no point mentioning the name, since it’s not available anywhere.

the sweater just needs the underarms seamed and a nice steaming. i have to pick out buttons; not sure if i have something on hand that will work, but probably—a plain shell button should work nicely and i have a ton of those.

i’ve been taking my gray zig-zag lace scarf everywhere with me and knitting a few rows whenever i can. and guess what? it’s growing.

i love this classy charcoal gray blend of yak/mink/merino/soy from great northern yarns; it’s knitting up so lovely in this stitch pattern. this would be a nice lightweight scarf for a man, but i’m keeping it for myself—i think it will travel very well and take that sort of abuse in stride (craig’s yarns are great that way; they just don’t pill).

i like the contrast between the two stitch patterns in certain light; that shaded effect this is most clearly visible in a smooth, multi-ply yarn such as we have here.

i have the matching shawlette on the needles too, but it’s waiting patiently for me to devise a hem chart. i’m so behind, yikes!

with that in mind, i’m going to return to my tax work so i can finish up and move on to patterns. tomorrow we have a new release that i think you’ll like—something you’ve been waiting for, yay.

poll redux

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Hello All, firstly, thank you to everyone that recently participated in our club poll. Most endearing to how many of you found the time to assist in a bit of research, it was greatly appreciated. Sadly the poll was not configured properly, as a result the data was not terribly useful. To this end we have created a new survey of which will collate the data in a more meaning way. I humbly ask, if all of you with a desire to see a Knitspot club come to fruition, please take another moment and partake of the survey anew. See link below:

when finished, click the ‘x’ in the upper right corner to close the survey window

Thank you so very much and apologies for the inconvenience.

-Mr. Knitspot