Monday, February 17, 2014

DAM Good Knitting

      I finally got down to the Denver Art Museum's new textile floor to see the Thread Studio that opened to much acclaim in May, 2013.  There in the center of the lace making exhibit hangs the Shetland stole, knitted by E.B. Manson, that I collected in Lerwick some years ago while I was there teaching knitting.  It's a beautiful hand-spun, hand knit stole, and the docent who was sitting in the gallery spinning told me that the shawl has been inspiring spinners to try hone their skills to such fine yarn.  It is a wonderful piece and I'm so pleased that the DAM has given it a gorgeous showcase.

   I have to say I was sadly surprised to see that the description card had no mention of the knitter's name.  I was especially happy to have supplied the curators with that information as so many gorgeous textile pieces are anonymous, the maker lost in history.  Well as they say, "Anonymous was a woman", and apparently she still is.  But you and I know.....

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Haiku

Late winter morning.
The chickadee makes notes while
frost sparks in the sun
     I'm basking today in the afterglow of the time I spent with lots of beautiful knitters at the Sew Expo last week.  So much inspiration and joy!   Thanks to all of you who came out in the nose-nipping cold weather.  It really warmed my heart to see you!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Groundhog's Day....Again

     It was sunny and glorious outside yesterday for Groundhog's Day but the local weather predicting rodent, Flatiron Freddie, was up before the sun cleared the clouds and did not see his shadow, so we're hoping for an early spring here in the Rockies.  It is sort of rigged in spring's favor though as Flatiron Freddie is actually a stuffed marmot (I kid you not) who hasn't  seen his own shadow in a very long time.  Too grim.  Well there are other sure signs.  See those beautiful buds on that icy cottonwood branch?  Spring is on the way!

  I took this shot while I was in the sun knitting on a new Hanten Jacket to include in my trunk show at the Rocky Mountain Sew Expo this week.   If you are thinking about coming, there's a discount coupon for entrance admission in the show link, and your admission is good for all three days.  I love this show for it's inspiration, with classes and free fashion show events happening all day long and lots of information about fashion, styling and wardrobe planning.  I enjoy having a trunk show each year at this event.  Sort of feels like being involved in the big time Fashion Week shows in New York! (I can dream, can't I?).   I'll have lots of garments to try on and loads of yarns there.  Drop by the booth and let me know you read the blog or get the newsletter and I'll be giving one free digital pattern of your choice to each of you who do.  Just so you know, the Hanten is done and blocking,  ready to be tried on at the show.  This one is knit in Dancing Colors Evening and there are lots of other color options, too.

      Now a bit more lore about the coming of spring.....did you know that the first couple days of February are also celebrated as Imbolc, an ancient celtic celebration of the beginning of the lambing season, a sure sign of spring, and as St Brigid's day, Brigid being an ancient Celtic goddess of the spring?  Another character in this story is the Cailleach, the Crone of winter, who is said to go about on February 2nd to gather more sticks for her hearth fire.  If the day is fine and sunny, she can gather lots of wood to keep herself warm and so she'll make the winter last for many weeks, but if the day is cloudy and cold, the Crone will lie in bed and not gather enough wood to keep herself warm for long and so she'll bring winter to an end much sooner.  Sound familiar?  Sunny day, longer winter; cloudy day, spring comes sooner.   Poor Punxsutawney Phil, getting hauled out of his burrow every year,  probably wishes we'd all just look outside ourselves to see if the Cailleach can gather her wood or not.  Well at least he's not stuffed, eh Freddie?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Knitting It Together

    Yesterday I had the privilege of teaching the Irish Diamond Shawl Workshop at Knit Knack.  The shop absolutley booms on Sundays and the reason is that there is a wonderful sense of community there among the knitters who come every week to be together and knit. 

     Getting to watch knitters with each other is always a joy for me.   It is one of my favorite things about knitting, the way it brings people from all backgrounds together, while their mutual love of working with the wool gives them common ground on which to meet.  Friendships are formed that often last a lifetime.  I've watched it happen over and over during the past twenty years of the Knitaway® retreats, at guild workshops and LYS around the country, in homes and coffee houses, and it never ceases to warm my heart.  It is simply beautiful seeing folks knitting it together. 
    If you haven't connected with a knitting group, do try to find one and see what you think.  Ravelry is a worldwide virtual meetup and also a great place to connect with knitters who live close to you.  One of my knitting friends founded her local group by putting a funny ad in the paper ("If you are rude, crude, socially unacceptable AND you love to knit.....") and years later many of the original respondees are still knitting together.  Or take a knitting class at your LYS.  As a teacher I know that  knitters often come to classes as much for the social time as for the learning, and I make it a point to create an atmosphere where both can happen.
   Of course knitting retreats and the Big Glam Events are fabulous.  Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp has been an annual highlight for me this past decade and registration for the four sessions of what is the world famous and original knitting camp opens early next week.  Imagine a room full of sixty of the most amazing knitters you've ever met, with Meg Swansen as the gracious and brilliant leader, all sharing and learning together.  Mind blowing!  And though I have to be absent from Camp 2.75  this year, I will be there in spirit, because that's what connection does, it gives you presence in the moment.
     If you've got a hankering for connection, please also consider joining me here at the Studio for a class or  Knitaway®.  There are so many ways we can get our knit together.  It's good for you and, I believe, it is good for the entire world.  Let's make that connection and see where it will take us.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thistledown Too

     Caught the last bit of sunlight in the Studio garden today to take this photo.  Thank goodness my garden angel was standing by to model for me!  I'm binding off the ruffle on a cream colored Thistledown shawl in Just Beautiful alpaca.  It's another piece for my booth at the Rocky Mountain Sew Expo, Feb 6-8, at the Denver Merchandise Mart.  Do come by and try it on.  There will be lots of other shawls to explore there as this is going to be a very shawl-centric show for Cheryl Oberle Designs.  Besides, I always have chocolate in the booth.

     I'm also teaching a Sunday afternoon workshop on the Thistledown Shawl at Knit Knack on February 16th.  We'll make a miniature shawl and learn all the great techniques that make up this cutie.   As we'll be launching your full-sized shawl too, the class fee includes the pattern and Gerri's shelves are stocked with gorgeous yarns to suit every taste.  Thistledown is knit from the top, shoulder-shaped, simply laced and with just a bit 'o ruffle.   You just might want to knit more than one of these.     

Monday, January 13, 2014

Setting Up the Edge

    This week, as I've been knitting the last few lace repeats on a new shawl design, the question of  how to end the shawl has been rolling around in my head.  Originally I had thought to make the end a match to the beginning and that would have looked fine; the simplest solution is often the best.   But I kept having this niggling thought that I wanted to do something different than planned, something a bit unexpected or at least not symmetrical. Asymmetry is a design principle that I've been employing and enjoying in my work a lot of late.  After years of designing on the needles, listening to my wooly muse, I know to pay attention.  It may not get the shawl done as quickly but experimenting and allowing for something unplanned often is the key to creating a really good design.  So I kept knitting and thinking.  Finally after letting the shawl, now complete except for it's edge, rest for a day or two I decided to use a favorite lace edging. What really tickles me though is the way I set up the edge before I began to knit on the border.  I think I will do this every time from now on.

     Here's the three row set up: work a purl ridge on the right side by knitting on the last wrong-side row of the lace pattern, then on the next row work *yo, k2tog, repeat across the row, finally work another right-side purl ridge by knitting across on the wrong-side.  Below is what the set up looks like before attaching the edging.

     Do remember to make sure your stitch number is correct for your edging repeat and adjust that number by fudging a stitch or two on that last wrong side knit row if necessary.  I was attaching to live stitches of the shawl but this would work for picked up stitches on an edge as well.  And that is it.  As you knit on the edging (I usually use an ssk to join and then slip the first stitch of the next row as if to purl with yarn in back) the join tucks into the purl ridge and the edging looks to me like it has somehow been grafted or attached via the yarn overs in the set up rows.  As I said, it just tickles me.  Give it a try next time you are attaching a sideways lace edging.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Starting with a Bang

     2014 started with a knitting bang here, or rather the finishing started so, as I blocked two projects on New Year's Day.  My Scottish wool Long Collared Jacket finally made it onto my back.  It arrived there a bit later than it's Thanksgiving due date but I'm thankful for it now as baby, it's cold outside!

     If you follow the blog, you know I've knit this one before, having had the pleasure of working with Cully at Schoolhouse Press on test knitting the model in  EZ's Knit One, Knit All.  It's a great design and I see that Schoolhouse Press has just release SPP 51, the Elizabeth Zimmermann Coat that looks like it could be a sister to this one.  More knitting to come...
     I do love the fit on the body but I think I could have made the sleeves a bit more fitted and definitely shorter.  I also found that the three-needle bind off at the shoulder and the "attach as you knit" back neck did not have enough stability for the weight of this yarn in garter stitch; the shoulders were drooping and the collar was flattening out, not sitting snug and close around my neck.  Seeking stability, I took up a crochet hook and worked a slipped-stitch chain (yep, I can do that much crochet!) on the inside of the shoulder seam from the sleeve to the neck, filling up the gap from the three-needle bind off.  I  picked up a whole stitch of the jacket fabric from the bind-off gap for each chain stitch.  It works beautifully, giving the seam structure while still being flexible. There's no pucker at the sleeve cap or on the shoulder seam.  Can't even see it from the outside.

     I also blocked the Irish Diamond Shawl variation.  I modified it to be about 50% smaller than the original and used a yummy DK yarn, Sylvan Spirit from Green Mountain Spinnery, in the color Sterling.  The finished shawl came out to be about 30% percent smaller than the original because I used the larger gauge yarn; with the original yarn I'd have gotten a half-sized shawl.  Little Irish Diamond is going to be a favorite shawl around here, I can tell already.  I'm not smiling like this for nothing!

     "How did she do it?"  I can hear knitters ask.  Well for those of you with access to a copy of Folk Shawls, it's a breeze.  If you can join me for the Irish Diamond Shawl Workshop at Knit Knack in Arvada on January 26th, we can get it going for you there.  Just give the ladies at Knit Knack a call for details   For all the rest of you, here's how.....

 Little Irish Diamond Variation
     Using the pattern for the original Irish Diamond Shawl in Folk Shawls, cast on and work as written  through row 8 of Lace pattern 1, then repeat rows 1-8 of Lace Pattern 1 seven more times (instead of 13).  Then work the four rows of Eyelet 1 as written (ending with a wrong-side row), and begin Lace pattern 2, working rows 119 (RS) through 138 once.  Finally work rows 159-163 and end with the Garter Stitch border, as written.  Block and enjoy!

    I got the new website up this week, too.  The 2014 Knitaway® in the Studio dates are posted there along with online ordering for all the yarns.  You can also subscribe to my newsletter.  Technology is amazing.
     Happy New Year!