Sunday, October 23, 2022

RE: Knitting

[The hinge squeeks as Cheryl opens the long-closed door to the Knitaway blog.“Seven years and not a speck of dust,” she muses. She settles herself at the keyboard, smiling in anticipation of once again writing about knitting.]

Change. We know it too well. The chaos of the last seven years has seen everyone’s history swept up and carried on to events, people, and places that few could have imagined.  Here we are, here I am and I can finally, with much gratitude, say that I am home. Through it all has been the Knitting, providing both focus and comfort in the midst of transformation, just as it has done for my whole life. That’s what it does. Knitting abides.* 

There's been a lot of wool over the needles since the move from Big City to Tiny Town. The most interesting parts of the “missing” years will, no doubt, show up here and there in future blogs. My intention is as before, to share with you thoughts on all things knit. We are fortunate enough to be living in the midst of the knitting renaissance, and thanks to the sharing of their genius by many, I find myself continuing to learn techniques, old and new. I have a backlog of designs and I’ve uncovered a few surprises from the past. I look forward to again exploring it all with you, knitter to knitter, one post at a time.

Now is the Right Time.

* A tip of the needle to “the Dude”.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Studio Adieu

      The boxes are packed.  The rooms echo in strange ways.  The moving truck comes tomorrow.  Tonight is the last night I'll spend knitting in this place where all my books and designs have come to be.

      Thirty-four years in this dear Edwardian era building and now a new adventure begins.  We are very happy to be going to our new home and I have spent most of my time over the last eight months getting ready for this day.  Still, thirty four years is a very, very lot of stitches over the needles, a lot of skeins dyed and a lot of laughter and good knitting with students and friends.  It all deserves some thoughtful moments.  Tomorrow I'll take my memories and my knitting along to the sweet new house.  Just for tonight I'm very happy to have my kimono shawl here with me, knitting along as I say adeiu to the Studio.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gifts of the Season

From  June's roses to harvest and now whoosh! the summer has passed.   Look with what scrumptious delights I was gifted yesterday!  An urban farmer (and dear friend) shared her bounty!

      This has been an unusual summer full of inspiration and expansion. There are big changes afoot here at home and in the studio.  This summer has seen us make a big decision to relocate lock, stock, and barrel (and yarn, and paintings, and studios) to the beautiful western slope of Colorado.  You'll be hearing more about it as I intend to blog the process of change from our urban home base of 30+ years to our dream of simple country living.  As with any major event in my life I will be knitting my way through it all.  The Knitaways in October will be the last big events for my Studio here, but look for our new location to tempt you to come to a future Knitaway there.   It's all in the works....
      How many of you have made a major move like this?  Any advice?  And can you tell me why I ever thought keeping all this stuff was a good idea?  BTW, yarn is not "stuff". ^-^

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Old Fashioned Rose

     The Studio Garden continues to lure me out of the knitting nest.  This week I've become curious about my favorite "old fashioned" rose.  I "rustled" this one  (with permission) from the back yard of another 100 year old house in our neighborhood.  I wonder if she's got a name?

     She is a wild thing, with fluffy, unkempt blossoms and a love for sending up shoots where ever she can.  And she's not a thornless beauty either.  We've enjoyed the blossoms almost all summer for 30 years now, though June is the month that she really loves to bloom.  I give her some epsom salt early each spring as I was taught to do by another rose lover.  The magnesium in epsom salt boosts both the leaves and the number of blooms.  Works beautifully for me at a cup per plant worked gently into the dirt around the base and watered in well.

     The most amazing thing about this bush rose is the fragrance, a heady, rich scent that is the epitome of summer in my mind.  It was the fragrance that convinced me to add this rather invasive plant to my tiny garden.  I discovered last year that the scent lingers in the petals and is even more pronounced after they are dried.  So I've begun to collect the petals from the blown roses.  This bush produces flowers that last just one day, going from a lovely bud to the full blown glory in a few hours.  There are lots of still-fragrant petals to collect each morning as soon as the dew has dried.  It has become a favorite ritual of these spring days, visiting with my old rosey friend and collecting her essence to enjoy while she sleeps it off this winter.

      My berry washing bowl with the holes in it works perfectly to dry the petals.  And the smell is wonderful, filling the house with roses.  What a gift this little bush is!  The garden Faeries must love her too as I often catch a glimpse of movement in her leaves even on the most still of mornings.  Well I like to think it's the Faeries anyway.  Whimsey does feed the soul.
      I know lots of you are rose fans.  Any idea what variety this rose might be?  Does she have a name?  Or is she just one of the lovely unnamed joys of summer?  I'd really love to know.
     Today I think I'll pull up a chair and go knit in the garden. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June Simplicity

      I had a blog post in mind for this week and then it went right out of my head as I was simply overcome by the pure beauty happening in the Studio garden.  I wanted to share this joy with you.

What moments of simple beauty can you find this week?  I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mark It

    Our Ravelry Knitaway Group spring KAL for the Bird's Nest Shawl from Folk Shawls is moving along beautifully.  The knitters have chosen some fabulous yarns for this one.   I believe I am the slowest  knitter among them though I realize that part of it is I am so easily distracted. Perpetual spring fever, I call it.

      When knitting lace however, getting distracted can be a real problem.  Lace is particularly unforgiving in terms of stitch count.  Do not think that you can just "fudge" at the end of the row and have the pattern work out on the next pattern row.   Believe me..I've tried.  Especially on long rows of lace, keeping track is easier if the row is broken up into repeats.  Use markers to do this.  You see I have two different markers in the shawl above; the first marker indicates both the beginning of the lace pattern and the beginning of a right-side row.  I use a fancy marker for that prime spot because it is really annoying to work a right-side row on the wrong-side and vice versa.  The string markers are placed every so many repeats of the lace so that I know if the lace pattern hasn't worked out when I knit to each marker, my error is between the markers, with just a few stitches involved.  This ends the agony of realizing you have knit 344 stitches and gotten off on your pattern back about stitch 99.  Without markers between the repeats, that happens way too often and makes lace knitting rather miserable for many.  Use a marker every repeat or every two or every five, your choice.  It's a tool to make your knitting pleasant for you.  As I am fond of saying to my students, a marker is your friend.

      I know.....some of us are soooo good at knitting that we don't need no stinking markers.  Right.  And some of us are so good at ripping that we look for reasons to do more of it.  I use markers.  And I seem to have quite a collection of them.  Below are some of my favorite fancy markers, shiny and bright, like jewelry for my knitting. I usually reserve these for a special place like the beginning of a round or a seam line.  For me, too many beads makes my knitting too heavy and adds to fatigue in those long hours of design knitting.  I am even more picky.  Fancy markers have to be functional and not just pretty to stay in my knitting bag.  More than one fabulous looking marker with a snaggy join or sloppy, weak ring has ended up recycled into my bead box and I shop very carefully for them now with functionality in mind.  Below are some of my go to favorites.  Though I sadly have not kept track of the makers of each of these handmade beauties, I psychically send them my gratitude each time I slip one of their creations onto my needle.
    And then there are my favorite plain markers, the totally functional, not so pretty but essential tools in the knitter's tool kit. These markers help you count, but they also hold a dropped stitch, or mark a special shaping row, and some can be moved when needed.  They are inexpensive, lightweight, and if you lose one you don't cry (unless, of course, you've also then lost your place in your knitting.  Rats!).
     What do I use the most?  The home made string marker with a long tail is my favorite of all.  I make sure that I always have some string available in my knitting bag to make markers or stitch holders.  The long tail is especially functional in keeping the marker in place when, as so often happens in lace knitting, a yarn over wants to go hopping on over to the next repeat.  I just give the marker's tail a tug and it zips back into place, neatly corralling the yarn over.  Also string markers do not tend to jump out of the knitting like solid plastic or medal rings do.  That's what I like about the rubber "O" ring markers (far right) too, they do not "fly".  Safety pins (coilless please), and safety pin-like markers can be moved and clip in and out of your knitting as needed, as do the old standby "chicken ring" split ring markers.  All handy tools.
     I am a basic organizer nerd and I use the very common variety of plastic divided carrier to hold my markers, functional and sturdy.  I think these were originally created to carry fly fishing flies.  Mine is always in the main knitting tool kit, within easy reach of the knitting nest. 

  And though these plastic organizers now come in tempting bright colors with glitter (oh my!),  I like to be able to see what's in my carrier, so it's basic translucent white for me.  Except of course when I find a tin I cannot resist.  I use my "Smoochers" tin in my travel supply bag.  It is not organized but it's compact, holds what I need when traveling, and makes me (and other knitters) smile.  And yes, I bought the candy just for the tin.  Ever done that?
   So what markers do you have in your bag of knitting tricks and why?  I'd love to know.  You may have something I need to add to my collection.  And please join us in the Knitaway group spring KAL on Ravelry.  We're having some fun.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Going Back to Rio

     I am on a serious studio clearing and sorting binge.  Spring does that to me. This week I found pieces of a  yummy hand dyed cherry-red sweater in my "to finish" basket.  I have the back done and the front is still on the needles with a note pinned to it to "get more yarn from Rachel".  Sleeves still to go so I will need about another 50% of what I've already used ( as a rough estimate I usually figure that the body uses 2/3 of the total amount of yarn in a sweater and the sleeves use 1/3). 

 This is Rio, one of the pieces I was asked to design years ago for Handpaint Country to feature the gorgeous hand-dyed yarns of Rachel Brown,  who was a world class fiber artist/dyer.   To showcase the yarn, Rio is a simple mistake-stitch ribbing pullover, one of those "wear it all the time" sweaters.  And in keeping with the theme of last week's blog, I intend to finish it as part of my fall wardrobe of hand knit "daily wear".  Plus it's nice nice knitting, the kind I can do in the garden after dinner.

    The yarn is a single worsted weight. I believe that Rachel used Brown Sheep's Top of the Lamb as the base for her "tweed" dye magic.  In a mistake stitch ribbing, the single yarn does not pill and it lends the sweater a sweet hand spun look as well.  In fact a hand spun yarn would  also be wonderful in this project, too.  So there's another possibility.  Always more inspiration and projects on the horizon.  It is a never ending list of knitting "what ifs" in my mind.
    I have a large stash of Rachel's yarns from her store, collected over the years on my many trips to  Taos.  There are boxes of her boucle and mohair and tweed, treasures that make a knitter's mouth water.  I loved using the many different textures of yarn that Rachel dyed for the Ruana that was the cover shot for Handpaint Country. 
     Rachel's granddaughter, Teresa Lovelace, is carrying on the tradition in her own way now,  returning to the roots of Rachel's dream and creating gorgeous traditional yarns for weavers.

     So I'm going back to Rio.   I can tell you now that you can expect to see some spin offs of this design as well.  Rekindling  happens.
     What have you got in your knitting basket that could be on your back by fall?  I'd love to know.     I think we can all use encouragement to finish or at least revisit some of our WIPs and summer is a great time to  clear the fall decks.   What say?  Can you find one thing to finish this summer?  Let us all know what you decide.