Friday, December 30, 2011

Knitaway® 2012: Shawls from the Center

     Have you ever tried starting a knitted shawl in the center and been a bit befuddled by all those needles and just a few tiny stitches?  You wouldn't be alone.  But there are many ways to get a beautiful start on a shawl from the center and some of them may surprise you with their ease and beauty.  The start pictured here is one I've recently "unvented" and actually needs only two needles to get going.  I've put it on double-pointed needles to turn it into a square but it could become a circle or a rectangle or a spiral just the same.  I could have chosen instead to use the magic loop or two circular needles and any of these methods would be perfect for the start of a new lacy beauty.

      I'm intrigued, rather obsessed, with alternate methods of starting and shaping shawls and have been indulging my whims by collecting ideas and experimenting with techniques.    I recently taught a one day workshop  entitled "Shawls from the Center" and while preparing the handouts I realized that I had enough material, techniques, and design ideas to fill several days, enough to fill a book.  So that's exactly what I'm doing. The new book,  Shawls from the Center,  is rolling off the needles and for the  2012 sessions of the Knitaway® in the Studio I'm inviting you to explore the many wonderful ways to begin your shawls from the center,  letting them bloom outward, from zero to lace.  The design opportunities seem endless and my fingers (and those of my test knitters) are flying as we work through the ideas.
     I'd love to have you join in the excitement.  What are the dates for the four sessions of the 2012 Knitaway in the Studio?  April 25-29,  May 2-6,  October 10-14, and October 17-21.  Registration opens very soon, Tuesday, January 10th, to be exact.  Join me for one session or stay for two, come in the spring and return in the fall.  There is a lot to learn and share.  I do hope you can come along to enjoy a Knitaway this year.  Can you tell I'm excited?   I look forward to meeting you here in the Studio for some "centered" shawl knitting.  
    And to you and yours, a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Early Winter Greetings

The solstice sun rose yesterday on this winter scene, taken from the deck of the cabin.   It is a beautiful world.  Even better, it is a world where sweaters and shawls and all knitted things are most welcome.  I love the snow.

       In this season of light, I hope you get time to celebrate your own gifts, especially the ones right beside you.   Wishing you and yours the very best, warmest, cheeriest and magical holiday season imaginable, and a brilliant New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ever done this?

It's a busy week for many of us.
Note to Self:   Slow Down, please.
      You know you are moving too fast, trying to do too much, when you've just dropped your ball of yarn into your breakfast bowl of oatmeal, yogurt, and honey.   Sticky yarn, fuzzy breakfast.  I get the hint.
Another note to Self: Enjoy the moments, they are what life is made of.  

I'm happy to share this particular moment with you all.  Have a chuckle and know that I've eaten my breakfast and the slightly damp yarn is now being knit into the shawl.  Slowly though, and with enjoyment. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mystery Winding Up

Just a quick post this morning to let you see the first sample hank of the Mystery Wool.

         I plyed it yesterday, using the rule of matching plying twists to crimp waves in the wool.  I like it.  It is soft, not wire-y (which I've heard that Romney can become when twisted/plyed too hard) and has a beautiful drape and sheen.  It's a bit fuzzy (I like that too) and I'll be interested to see if it gets more fuzzy after knitting and use.  Right now it is wrapped around my neck inside my turtleneck  up against my bare skin.  This is my personal "testing ground".  It is so soft that  I even forgot that it was there.  The Mystery Wool is very wearable.
       I'm itching (no pun intended ) to get it on the needles and give it a test knit.  First though  I want to show it to my spinning friends who will meet here in the Studio today.   There are some real experts in that gang and I'll get their feedback on my technique.  Then I'm ready to ply the rest of the first two bobbins.
      I seem to always think "Shawl" when I get some hand spun off the wheel.  Why is that, do you suppose?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just Dyeing

It was a good week last week in the dye studio.  I've been experimenting with some new techniques for dyeing roving and I like the results.  I'm in what I call the "Run for the Markets", my annual dyeing marathon that occurs this time every year as I stock up for some big yarn and fiber events that will happen in January and February.   Experimenting is my treat after another session of dyeing my regular favorite Dancing Colors.  I keep notes like crazy just so I can understand what's happening with the colors and fibers.   Endlessly fascinating.
   January will start off right with Knit Knack in Arvada hosting the Dancing Colors Trunk Show, January 19-21.  I'll have lots of hand-dyed yarn there and we'll be trying on garments and planning projects all three days.  On Sunday, January 22nd, we'll top off this event with a one-day workshop on the Cusco Jacket from Knitted Jackets. 
     Cusco Jacket
       Then February takes off with the annual Rocky Mountain Sew Expo.  This is not just for sewing fans!  I have a booth at this event each year with yarns, books, spinning fiber, Japanese textiles, and usually some surprises as well.  This show is one of my favorites, the fellows that organize it really put on a good show, and it is filled with inspiration for all kinds of fiber-y craft.  It's a beautiful spot of color for the early days of February.
    On February 11, I'm pleased to announce, we've arranged for Wild Yarns to hold a one-day trunk show of my OM hand-dyed organic merino micro dye lots.  Come take a look at these one of a kind colors in this yummy yarn.  We'll have great project ideas too, including an upcoming class (in March) at the shop on Carol's Clever Little shawl.

     The end of February I'm off to Stitches West with 400 pounds of goodies and new designs.
     Whew.  So it's back to the dye pots.  Looks like another good week is in the works.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On and Off the Needles

          I try to have a new shawl ready to wear on Christmas each year.  This year's shawl is yet another variation on the Wool Peddler's Shawl from Folk Shawls, this time with long tails and an altered application of the lace pattern.  I enjoy doing variations on a theme.  There seems to be endless possibilities in some ideas.  It's sort of like shawls that exist in parallel universes; they are similar but each has a life of its own.  This one is definitely red, Crimson to be exact, in my Dancing Colors hand-dyed yarn. Crimson is one of the Reflections colors, tonal, with highlights but with not too much color variation.   I prefer this for lace patterns as I hate to see my lace work disappear into a swarm of colors.  Just me.

And off the needles last night, another Goodie Bag Hat using Noro Kureyon is great earth tones.

It's a gift for my Dear Fellow who has been asking if guys can wear the Goodie Bag Hat too.  A hint, I believe?  I think it's pretty good in these colors.  More rugged but still fun.  I'll  definitely take it if he's not crazy for it, though I think he'll look mighty handsome in it.  I might be prejudiced, do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Mystery Spins On

      I've been spending time each day at the spinning wheel.  It has become a daily practice and I use it as the wind down to the studio day; with the day's projects tucked in, there's time to "unwind" at the wheel.  As a result, the first bobbin of Mystery Wool is resting on the lazy kate.  There are about 4 ounces of fiber on this bobbin and it's destined to be a 2 ply, probably rather fuzzy, yarn.  I'm already dreaming up projects for it.  
     It appears that there is much more to the mystery of the wool than just it's origin.  The process of turning an entire fleece into spinning fiber and then into yarn, has it's own mystery.  Those who work with their hands know the joy of the connection to others, past and present, who have also loved both the product and process of these crafts.  I feel that connection on many levels through spinning., as I always have through knitting.   It is one of my favorite experiences.  It is a sweet mystery.

Sitting at the wheel towards the end of the day, 
A knitted shawl keeps the dusk chill at bay. 
Norwegian folk music streams on NRK. 
This is time out of time, 
With the others who have treadled in rhythm
To well loved music,
And spun the wheel. 

       What I'm describing will be very familiar to experienced spinners, and it is, for me, an amazing new journey.  Beginner's Mind, you know.  It's a gift to be discovering the charms that preparing and spinning a raw fleece holds for the many who would never work with anything but fleece they have prepared themselves.

       I have only done a tiny bit of carding in my spinning time so far, so just thinking about carding such a huge mass of fiber, even with a drum carder, was daunting.  With my favorite trick of breaking large projects down into smaller events, I've been carding one batt a day (most days) for the last two weeks. So far I've collected about a pound of lovely carded batts that spin like a dream. 
     I really love the multiple colors in the fleece and wanted to avoid blending them so much that those color variations were lost.  With this in mind I've only run the batts through the carder once, one and a half times, if you count the teasing that was also done on the wonderful Louet drum carder.  (FYI the tutorial for this teasing on the carder process is available as a pdf on the Louet site and was first published as an article by Beverly Nissen in the Winter 1994 issue of SpinOff Magazine).

      You can see that the color variations are indeed intact.  Huzzah!
     For me, this is the perfect wool to spin away the last days of this year, the year I really came to know the love of spinning.  I am having a wonderful time!  And the Mystery?   Well, as writer Tom Robbins said,  "'s always there, somewhere......Everything is part of it."  So it is.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Goodie Bag Hat

A new hat came off the needles over the holiday weekend. 
It has come to be called The Goodie Bag Hat. 

  The cold weather is creeping up on us here and every year I face the dilemma of finding a hat that really stays on with my wild head of hair.  My hair physically and actively resists the dreaded "hat head" by simply pushing off any topper I put on. And my ears get cold!  A solution came to me this week.  The Goodie Bag Hat is a tube knit circularly, with yarn over eyelets through which a simple draw string creates a closure at the top. Just sitting on the table, the hat looks like a little bag of goodies,  everyone's favorite thing to see this time of year.  Hence the moniker, " The Goodie Bag Hat".

     The deep and warm garter stitch border utilizes my recently unvented method of garter stitching in the round that I call (with a wink) Gartering Arownd.  That's sewing up.  Some of you may have tried this, having come across it in the new version of  Elizabeth Zimmerman's Tomten Jacket pattern where Meg was kind enough to include it.  It's a pretty good solution I've been told, for those of us who like our garter stitch to be all knit rows, even in the round, thank you.
     The adjustable top closure works really well for active sports like snowshoeing too; just open the top for more ventilation as you get warmed up while keeping the frost from tipping your ears.  And if your hair wants to pop out the top, all the better!  The pattern is free below, available as a download in
my Ravelry store or just click here or on the link at the top of this post to get the pdf from my website.  A little "coming on winter" gift from me to you.  Hope you enjoy it.

It's snowing here this morning. Think I'll knit another Goodie Bag.

Cheryl Oberle’s 
The Goodie Bag Hat
© 2011

The  Goodie Bag Hat is knit in the round with a garter stitch borders and stockinette stitch top.   The technique for circular garter stitch, Gartering Arownd,  is truly circular AND knit every rownd (these are not quite rows and not really rounds, so while knitting this technique let’s call them “rownds”); there’s no purling and no sewing!  Yee ha!  Near the top of hat, yarn overs create eyelets through which a drawstring is pulled to make an adjustable closure for the crown.

Yarn:     Heavy Worsted weight. approximately 170 yards.
Needles::  16” circular size 8 or size needed to obtain gauge;
Notions:  Stitch Markers

Gauge: 16sts and 24 rows per 4 inches in Stockinette St.

Finished size: circumference: 20 inches (see note #1)

#1:  To make a different size simply add or subtract stitches in sets of 10 sts.  At the given gauge, this will alter the circumference of the hat by 2.5 inches either way and will keep the yarn over placement at the top in the correct sequence. Alternatively, use the numbers as given but change the gauge to increase or decrease the circumference;  i.e. a lighter weight yarn knit at 5 sts to the inch will make a smaller hat.)

#2:  While the pattern is written to utilize it, Gartering Arownd is optional. You may knit the bottom border in garter stitch flat and sew it up afterwards.   In that case you will not join on the first round of the border nor will you purl one round (just knit on), BUT you will need to remember to join the stitches to knit in the round above the garter stitch border.


K = knit
P  = purl
St(s)  = stitch(es)
YO   = yarn over
k2tog = knit two together

Gartering Arownd right side stitch detail

CO 80.  Place a marker on the needle to indicate the beginning of the round, join, being sure stitches are not twisted and set up by purling one round (the only purl row around!  This just makes a nice ridge on the bottom).

Gartering Arownd: All Knit Circular Garter Stitch Border
Rownd 1 (RS):  Knit to the end of the rownd, (leave marker on left hand needle.)  K into the rownd below the next st. on left- hand needle, pass the last knitted st of the rownd over this new st, turn.

Rownd 2 (WS):  Slip the first st as if to p wyib, give the yarn a good tug to tighten it up and k to end of row, turn.

Tip #1:  when “knitting into the rownd below” on rownd 1,  you may choose to knit into the stitch above the “ridge” or into the stitch under the “ridge” of the last rownd (this second option is actually two rownds below).  Just be consistent in your choice!

Tip # 2:  Mark the RS of the fabric to easily tell which rownd you are on.  Placing the marker in the fabric to the right of the beginning of the RS rownd will alert you to the upcoming knitting events!  
Repeat rownds 1 and 2 fourteen more times; 15 times total. At the end of the last Rownd 2, do not turn, but continue in stockinette st around. Keep marker on the needle to indicate the beginning of the round  (Now you are working in regular rounds; join your knitting if you have knit the border flat instead of using Gartering Arownd.  See note below)

NOTE: the crown is knit in traditional circular stockinette st; knit every round, and do not turn at end of round.
Knit all rounds until crown (above garter st border) measures
4 1/2 inches.

Work the Yarn Over Round as follows:
*K3, k2tog, YO; repeat from * around.

Knit all rounds until the crown measures  2 inches above the Yarn Over Round.

Top Border:  Work Gartering Arownd (or flat garter) for 6 more rownds,  binding off in knit on the last Rownd 2 (WS).

            Make a 26”drawstring cord using twisted cord, crocheting a chain,  or even using ribbon (cute baby hat!).  Lace the drawstring through the yarn overs, beginning on the side opposite the join.

Tie ’er up and keep warm!

Please drop by for more knitting ideas.

Oh and..Enjoy your Goodie Bag!