Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Loved Shawl

     The winter solstice has arrived.  The beautiful holiday traditions are gathering around us like a favorite shawl.  Soon the presents will be all wrapped up and you'll be thinking again about knitting for yourself, so here's a pattern for my own favorite go-to shawl of the last two winters.  I seem to always have this one by my side.

       A version of the Simple Garter Stitch Prairie shawl from Folk Shawls, this one has elongated tails that make sure it stays on, feels great and looks just right, no matter what your holiday attire.  I've even worn it out building snow people.  It looks delightful with fresh snowflakes sparkled on top.  


     I knit the second one this summer, also in Dancing Colors, and now it's ready to go for the holidays.  I used one size larger needle on this year's vintage and it is one very large and wrap-worthy piece of knitted joy.  I think the next one will be knit in Unspun Icelandic yarn.   Warm and light as a feather.
       So below are the instructions.  I hope you enjoy this little gift from me to you.   How I'd love to see you all wrapped up in a Best Loved Shawl.

Happy Holidays!

Cheryl Oberle’s
Best Loved Garter Stitch Shawl

© 2012


 The Best Loved Shawl is a triangle worked from the bottom to the top, all in garter stitch.  Long tails for secure and elegant wrapping are shaped with extra increases.  Work increases by kfb on rows 1-13 until the bottom border is formed, then use yarn overs as increases and, when the tails are formed, kfb will be used again for additional shaping.

Yarn:  Approx. 1000 yds DK weight yarn.

Needles: circular size 9 or size needled to obtain gauge.

Gauge: 12 sts and 20 rows in 4 inches in garter st.

Finished Size: approx. 84 inches across the top and 35 Inches from top to tip.  Note: the shawl’s extreme width is due to its nice long tails.....perfect for wrapping.

 st(s) : stitch(es)
kfb: knit in the front and back of the stitch.
RS : Right side
WS: Wrong side
Cast on 3 sts.
Row: 1: Kfb, k1, kfb. - 5 sts on needle.

Row 2 and all WS rows:  Knit

Row 3: Kfb, knit to last st., kfb. - 7 sts on needle.

Row 5 - 12: repeat rows 3 and 4. - 15 sts. on needle.

Row 13:  Kfb, knit to end.  - 16 sts. on needle.

Row 15:  k8, yo, k8.  - 17 sts on needle.

Row 17:  k8, yo, k1, yo, k8.  - 19 sts. on needle.

Row 19: k8, yo, knit to last 8 sts, yo, k8. - 21 sts. on needle.

Row 20: knit.

Rows 21 - 184: repeat rows 19 and 20. - 185 sts on the needle.
Long Tail Shaping

Begin increasing at a rate of 4 stitches every other row as follows:

Row 185: K8, yo, k2, kfb, k to last 11 sts of row, kfb, k2, yo, K8.

Row 186 and all even numbered (WS) rows: knit.

Rows 187- 250:  Repeat rows 185 and 186.

Top Edge Yarn Over Row

Row 251 (RS): K8, yo, k1,*yo, k2tog, repeat from * to last 8 sts, yo, k8.

Row 252 (WS):  knit.

Repeat  rows 19 and 20 once, then row 19 once more.
 BO VERY Loosely!      



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Knitaway® in the Studio, 2013...Got a Date?

I do!  Four of them to be exact for the 2013 sessions of the Knitaway® in the Studio.  The details are up on the website and the basic information is below as well.  We'll explore Shetland shawls in the spring and Triangular shawls in the fall.   Registration starts January 14th.  Hope you can join me in the Studio for a Knitaway® in the near future.  2013 is looking like a mighty fine year.

Knitaway® in the Studio 2013 
Registration opens January 14th, 2013

Session I: April 24 - 28, 2013  
Session II: May 1 - 5, 2013
Spring session topic: Shetland Shawls: Tradition and Beyond

Session III: October 9 -13
, 2013
Session IV: October 16 - 20, 2013
Fall session topic:  Shawls at an Angle: Triangles All Ways

Friday, December 14, 2012

Calling All Snowflakes

       The Hurry-up Last Minute Sweater is done and being cozily worn.  As usual, it was fascinating working with EZ's instructions to get such interesting detail and fit.  Always a joy to see that brilliant mind at work.  I did deviate from the original in making this sweater considerably longer than called for.  I had a plan, you see.

     As some of you already know about me, I often operate on the premise that anything worth doing is worth overdoing.  In this tunic I can make a snow angel and not get a wet derriere.  With tights and boots it's cute enough (and warm enough) to wear to a holiday party in an igloo or an ice palace.  So I'm ready for the snow.  Where is that white stuff?


Friday, December 7, 2012

December's Here

     And so is my Hurry-up Last Minute Sweater!  It's on the blocking floor and will, I hope, be dry enough to wear for a walk in the snow we're expecting this weekend. 
     The finishing took a bit of time;  I do take time with that as I think it makes all the difference in the look of the sweater.  I did a few things differently than EZ suggested, but I think she might have approved, being as I did think it all through before proceeding.  I use hems a lot in my own designs and I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of my favorite tricks.

      On the edges with the provisional cast on, I created a purl ridge before proceeding with the hems as I wanted a nice crisp turning edge on the bottom, cuffs, and neck edge.   Once hemmed the edge is beautiful and sharp.  Notice what looks like a pin in the fabric? Another trick of the trade.......

      Before hemming, turn the very rolled up stockinette stitch hem inward, and steam it to make it more docile and easy to work with.  Use large safety pins to hold it in place for one final spurt of steam (watch out! those pins get hot) and leave them in during the hemming.  Works like an extra hand to keep the hem smooth and even.

     The live stitches of the hem are kept on a piece of scrap yarn until they have been tacked down.  I like to use a smooth cotton yarn for such a task; it tends not to get entangled with the stitches it is holding and pulls out easily when no longer needed.
     In the actual stitching, be aware that if you take too much of the sweater fabric into the hemming stitch, the hem will pull on the sweater and make the hemline more visible on the right side.  Prevent dreaded hemming dimples by passing the finishing needle through the sweater stitches so as to split the stitch, never venturing too near the outer surface of the sweater.  And don't pull the hemming stitches too tight.  Tacking down a hem is best done with a light hand.
     I find it most satisfying to pull out the holding yarn once the stitches are secure.  I'm funny that way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

December's Coming Up

     And so is the neckline of my Hurry-up Last Minute Sweater.  Time to pick the yarn for the hems.  I want a contrasting color, of course and, as Elizabeth Z suggests, I'll use a lighter weight yarn to make the hem.  A light worsted is most suitable for keeping the hem nice and trim.  Now to choose the color. 
     Here are the three candidates.  Looking at this photo I can already tell that the plain red is out;  it is just too predictable.   The other two are a toss up.  The top ball is Amber in Dancing Colors, and the ball at the bottom is OM organic merino (I know!  I really do need to find a way to get OM up on the website....well that story is another post).  I love rust and grey together, but then the softness of Om at my wrists and neck is most appealing.  Hmmmm.  What do you think?
     The shaping on this sweater is brilliant and most satisfying.  Watching the sleeve decreases converge toward the front neck is exciting and I can barely put the knitting down, racing toward the finish(ing) line.

       Notice the difference in the look of the decrease lines?  That's the effect called "tracking" and is caused by the yarn being a single, not plyed, strand.  You can see it also in the stockinette stitch, one side of the stitch standing out more than the other.  Some of that will block out along the decrease line, but most of it will remain in the body of the sweater.  That is just fine.  I was expecting it.  It's like an automatic texture stitch, and charmingly rustic looking, simply perfect for a sweater that is slated to become my go to for winter walks and picnics.
    At this point this is one hefty piece of knitting.  Not a project for the weak-wristed, I can tell you.  With it's neckline still wide open, it has a definite 80's retro kind of Flashdance thing going on.   But wait!  Add leggings and a belt?  C'est au courant!

      I definitely want to try to figure out this shaping in a lighter gauge.  What is the solution to this stitch/row gauge puzzle?  Elizabeth mentions in the Knitter's Almanac that in her own endeavors at such figuring, she ended up with a rather complicated version of this sweater.  I wonder if she wrote that down anywhere?  I dream that there are loads of pages of things that Elizabeth wrote that we'll see, if we're lucky, sometime in the future.  Now wouldn't that be grand?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wild Turkey Feathers

      Last week while visiting in the heart of Kansas, we saw flocks of wild turkeys roaming the fields, skirting the shelter belts.  They leave lovely feathers scattered in the woods and I consider it one of my favorite treasure hunts to look for them.  I have gathered a bouquet of them over the years and keep it in my design Studio.  The colors are so rich and the pattern of stripes intriguing.

      Being as I live in the U.S., wouldn't you know that turkey is on my mind this week?  Along with knitting, as always.  So today I trotted (yes, I said trotted) into the Studio and found Just Beautiful alpaca  in what I think are the perfect colors.  Hmmm....  I feel some swatching coming on.
       While we're here together, let me wish a Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate the holiday and to each of you wherever you are in the world,  best wishes for all the blessings of an abundant and beautiful autumn.      
       Now then, where are my needles?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Workshops at Wild Yarns

     It's that gorgeous time of year when the knitting just flows from your needles.  Come spend some time in the charming space at Wild Yarns and join me for a couple of classes/workshops. 

Long Loop Scarf with reversible lace technique
     We've got two Thursday evening mini workshops lined up, Smooth Starts on November 8th and Fabulous Finishes on December 6th, to get your knitting toolbox primed with cast on and bind off techniques.  Then there are one-day Saturday workshops, one to end the year and one to start the new.  The Long Loop Scarf, December 8th, could be the perfect last minute gift and the Faroette Shawl, January 12th, will start your year off right.   See Wild Yarns' blog for even more class details.

     Hope you'll join us for a mini or a day.   It's Knitting Season.... Huzzah!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Van Gogh and Yarn

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the Denver Art Museum to consult with them on a project for the Becoming Van Gogh Exhibit that opens there tomorrow.  It seems that the brilliant painter and colorist used balls of yarn in his color studies.  Who knew?

 A  red lacquer tea caddy containing small amounts of yarns wound together with what is a recognizably Van Gogh sense of color and balance was found among his belongings in his studio.  The original box is in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  Above is the replica  my husband and I created in our studio.

This was truly a labor of love.  After meeting with the DAM committee and having the opportunity to  analyze photos of the box and it's contents, I spent some time winding sample balls of yarn from my stash to show them how their display department could accomplish this same look.  I came back to the studio bubbling with excitement;  Van Gogh, arguably one of history's greatest colorists, actually used yarn as a way to  explore the mysteries of color interplay! 

My husband Gary, a painter and faux finish artist himself, caught my enthusiasm.  Having long  created boxes as upcycled art pieces, he pulled the perfect container from his collection and proceeded to transform it.  Photos of that amazing process are below.  From modern French wine box to 100 year old aritist's tool in a few hours.....

 And then I got to wind some balls of yarn and place them inside.  What an outstandingly cool way to play with color, don't you think?   The artistic process never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Last Minute of the Season

     Autumn blew in last week in a huff.  It reminded me it's time to get going on my winter projects, looking toward those long pale days of chill and snow.  There's a sense of urgency in the air that makes me want to clean and sort and knit from stash yarn.  So while I continue knitting on the shawls for the new books, I've launched a project to knit all of the Elizabeth Zimmermann sweaters from my long list of admired designs.  I've already been working on the Hurry-up Last-Minute sweater from Knitter's Almanac.   

        One of the guidelines I hope to follow in this project is to work from stash as much as possible.  I have such good, solid, beautiful yarns in my stash, I like to think that Elizabeth would appreciate that.  Burly Spun in a charcoal heather is my choice for this one.  It will be a real "get outdoors and enjoy the day" kind of a sweater, I can tell already. 

    I'm not used to knitting with such bulky yarn, and as EZ predicted, the going is slower than you'd imagine.  I am planning, after completing this version, to experiment with the shaping in another gauge as well just to figure out why, according to Elizabeth, it only works in a macro gauge.  All very curious.  This is one of the reasons I love working with the designs from EZ; even those that appear to be the most simple have a depth of technique and interest that warms my knitting nerd's heart. They never fail to inspire and to expand this "thinking knitter".

      Here's some of that thinking going on.
      I used an provisional cast on for both the sweater and the sleeves. These will both be finished with a hem and having the stitches remain live until I'm ready to knit the hem eliminates the need to pick up on the cast on edge and will, I hope, also eliminate some bulk at that point.  I use provisional cast on a lot.  I like options when I'm ready to finish.  Maybe I'll end up with seed stitch instead.  Or lace! A provisional cast on gives the knitter choices.
      I like the provisional cast on that is called Crochet-over-the-needle and directions for it are below and included in the technique sections of all three of my books.  It is easy to start, the stitches are easy to count, and it comes out quickly.  Basically you just crochet a chain ( hey! I can do that!) that has the knitting needle stuck in the middle of the process.

Be sure to start with the slip knot on the hook, not on the needle;  this is the tricky bit that I usually correct for first timer's on this technique.

     Go over the top of the knitting needle and pull the scrap yarn through the loop.  throw the scrap yarn to the back of the needle again and repeat....  but wait!  Here's a refinement that I learned from Susanna Hansson ......
     After following the instructions as written, when the the first stitch is on the needle, instead of placing the yarn behind the knitting needle every time, just wrap it around both the needle and the hook and then pull straight down.  Repeat.  Brilliant!  Give it a try.  Exercise your options.

Crochet-over-the-needle Provisional Cast On 
With contrasting smooth cotton scrap yarn, make a slip knot and place it on a crochet hook.  Hold the yarn in your left hand and the hook in your right.  Hold a needle on top of the long strand of yarn in your left hand.  *With hook, draw a loop over the needle and through the slip knot. You will now have pulled the yarn over the knitting needle and cast on a stitch.  Place the yarn behind the knitting needle and repeat from * until you have the required number of stitches on the needle. With the last loop still on the crochet hook, cut the yarn and slip the tail through the loop on the hook.  Pull up loosely.  When you’re ready to take out the cast-on, pull the tail out of the last loop and tug on it to unchain the cast-on edge and place the stitches on a needle.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Knit Wear Fiber Art Experience 2012

         Start your fall off right by joining me in Fort Collins this Sunday for a gem of an annual event called  KnitWear.   Part of the Lincoln Center annual ArtWear event that coincides each year with Fashion Week in New York,  KnitWear market is a one day celebration of fiber, showcasing some of the local yarn / fiber producers from our region.   Besides the great vendors, there are free demonstrations scheduled all day.

       My demo is of techniques developed to knit with the beautiful Recycled Sari Silk ribbon from Treenway Silks (a Colorado company!).  I spent some time this summer obsessed with this intriguing alternative fiber source which comes from co-ops in India where women sew together strips of gorgeous fabrics reclaimed from the sari garment industry.  The colors and textures are inspiring.  And the knitted  fabric is like nothing else I've seen.

        Sari Silk creates a unique garment every time.  You just have to try this one on.  I've got a small series of garments designed for the techniques. The first pattern will be up in the Ravelry shop soon.  I hear that a big shipment of the yarns is due in mid October,  just in time for gift knitting.

        While we are anxiously awaiting the Sari Silk ribbon yarns,  I'll also have my hand-dyed yarns, Just Beautiful Alpaca, and lots of shawls and garments to show you.  Plus some of my favorite yarn places are included in the vendor list like Brown Sheep CompanyCowgirl Yarn,  and Lambspun.  So come along to KnitWear.  Spend a Sunday getting inspired.  Love to meet you there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More Stories About Wool and Food

     The Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival held treats for lovers of both fiber and food.  I taught two day long knitting workshops,  plus I had an entire day before my classes to tour the festival grounds and market.  I must have been thinking "green" as I couldn't resist adding a Greensleeves spindle and some Green Mountain Spinnery yarn to the market basket.  You'll see the yarn again soon as it  is destined for an Elizabeth Zimmermann design, the Three and One Sweater.

      An early morning cruise over to the sheep barn found this wooly one waiting for breakfast, and obliging the camera with a winsome pose.  Sorry BaaBaa, but I've already eaten all my cherry pie.  Dearie, your earrings are très cyberpunk!

     Right out side my classroom was the Future Farmers of America ice cream wagon.  A fresh strawberry sundae is perfect for lunch.  Hey! there's fruit and protein in there!

 The young ladies selling the treats thought is was pretty odd that I was taking pictures of my food and not of them, so I took this snap, promising to mention that they are members of the Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, chapter of the FFA.  There you go, girls.

      Getting to meet Carol Rhoades, famous spinner and instructor extraordinaire, was icing on the cake.  She is also the translator of many favorite knitting books that are in the Studio library.  Her class was just across the hall and I poked my head in a few times to watch the spinning wheels turn.

 Carol teaches all over the country and at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival every year.   Think I to myself, now wouldn't it be great to return and take a class with her there next year?    hmmmm......

Friday, September 14, 2012

Yarn Along the Rockies... here goes!

      Just a couple days left of the first annual Yarn Along the Rockies yarn shop crawl.  After being out teaching all last week, I'm caught up on sleep and ready to get going on the event.  I know I won't make it to all the shops but I can't resist getting to as many as possible and collecting those buttons!  What a great idea the shops came up with to alleviate the pain of having to turn in the stamped passport to be in the drawing, each shop giving out a button to pin on your Yarn Along the Rockies souvenir tote bag.

 I got my bag yesterday at Knit Knack in Arvada. Getting to give Gerri Bragdon a hug made my day.  Gerri was the one who got the ball rolling, literally, on this great event by stepping up to contact all the other yarn shop owners when it was all just a dream. The shop owners have been amazing, creative and organized, in pulling this all together. Brava!
     Last evening I walked the few short blocks to Wild Yarns to check in there.  Got another button!  Kelly had her resident button-making elf (Hi Norm ^-^) in back feverishly cranking out more buttons....the turnout for this event has been stupendous!  I bet local button making machine shops are wondering why there's been a run on button making machines this week.  What fun!
   So off I go to capture a few more buttons. Oh and I know some more goodies will be following me back to the studio.  Yarn Along the Rockies simply rocks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whirlwind Wisconsin Tour

    Just home from a whirlwind, week=long tour of Wisconsin.  From the beautiful North Woods country to Waunakee (the only one in the world), and from the fabulous Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival to Madison, I met hundreds of knitters and saw lots of dear friends.   And we knit..boy, did we knit.


      I taught two sessions of the miniature Nazo Vest workshop and over 60 knitters tackled this little puzzle.  I like nothing better than fielding questions, listening to knitters as they reason out the process and then watching the projects come off the needles.  Along with a Faroese Shawl workshop and a Lace Sampler workshop, the marvelous knitters of Wisconsin put me through my paces, and  it looks like I put them through their's as well.  Intrepid knitters all!

       All the while they made sure that I was well supplied with pie.   Have I told you all that I am absolutely crazy for good pie?  They've got it in Wisconsin!  

      Over the next few posts I'll cover the great events I attended on this trip, explore the ins and outs of some new techniques, and share the inspiration I always find on my travels.  For now I plan to sleep for a couple extra hours and knit on one of my favorite Elizabeth Zimmermann projects. Hmm which shall it be?
      You'll be hearing from me soon.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rockin' Lace at Cowgirl Yarn

The knitters in the Lace Sampler Workshop at Cowgirl Yarn were an amazing group. They had some lace going on!  Look at some of their work, beautiful before it was even blocked.

      Getting to teach outside is always a treat.   Cowgirl has great ambiance with historic buildings all around the patio and a train whistle or two to give the feel of an old west boom town.  Barely even a  whiff of wind came through to ruffle our pattern pages. 

    It was a perfect day, with fine knitting, delicious food, and jovial companions.  Thanks to all the great knitters who participated and to Lori Kirk, the owner of Cowgirl Yarn, who made it possible.

    We topped off the weekend with a hike around Lake Marie in the Snowy Range outside of Laramie.   Now can you blame me for loving what I do?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Trending toward fall

    There are some big yarn events coming up in the next few weeks, including a trunk show, Lace Sampler Workshop, and book signing all at Cowgirl Yarn in this coming Saturday, August 25th.  Join us if you can.  Love to meet you in Laramie.  It's the last weekend of the Hot August Knits yarn crawl, too.  Not to be missed.
   I've spent the last few weeks dyeing every color in my palette.  That's over 250 hanks now waiting in the Studio to find their homes.  It's like a yarn harvest!
 Dancing Colors in Ivy
Seems that one of my Reflections colors is showing up big time for fall in the fashion color trends.   I call it "Ivy" and the trenders are calling it "Jade".

 Dancing Colors in Azurine
   Since cobalt blue is also on the fall trend scene,  I think both Azurine  and Bluet (another Reflections color) fit the bill as well.

Might be quite enjoyable being trendy for the fall.
 Dancing Colors in Bluet

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy birthday, Coco

On what would be her 129th birthday just a little bit of inspiration from Madame ......

"Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future."
                                                                         Coco Chanel 

Today's page (146) from a favorite book on Chanel, Chanel and Her World 
 by Edmond Charles-Roux..... 
  C'est magnifique!

   And here's a video link about Chanel... and another book that I will surely have to read.  

I think a tiny slice of cake might just top of the day.