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.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Imagine a Maker World

I have just over 20 ounces of 2-ply,  DK weight Romney yarn spun now and I am really getting excited to start a garment with it.  It will be a cardigan jacket of some type and I am sketching and swatching and loving every minute of it.  Design ideas are dancing in my noggin.

      Having spun the yarn myself is really icing on the cake for me.  I know I will have to spin more to get through the project, and while some spinners like to have all the project yardage done before they cast on (that was my original plan), I don't think I can stand to wait as the swatch has got me longing to cast on.  I am encouraged by the fact that I have been spinning on this yarn for a long time, and even with breaks in between for spinning other fibers (or even times of not spinning much at all), I seem to be able to produce a yarn that matches what I've spun earlier.  I'm easy though. The inconsistencies in the spinning please me.  It is my first hand-spun sweater and it's ok that it looks like I made it.  In fact it is the point of doing it.  Making my clothes matters to me.  And making the yarn..well like I said..pure icing!

       Now we come to one of my favorite subjects for contemplation: what if we lived in a world where we all wore clothes that we ourselves made or that were made for us by someone we actually know?  As knitters, we know the joy of wearing, or watching someone wear, our creations.  It's one of the major reasons we knit.  Kaffe Fassett once spoke profoundly to the effect that seeing someone wearing one of his garments, seeing it moving through the world, was one of his greatest joys.  We get that.  The making and wearing of hand-made clothing creates a connection that is important in more than just a superficial way.  It's a connection to our being as humans, to our common history and to our creative spirits. 
     Mother's day having just passed, I've spent some time reflecting on the gifts my mother gave me which include both her enjoyment of knitting and her appreciation for a beautifully sewn garment.  She made most of my clothes during elementary school and she taught me to sew.  Choosing the pattern and the fabric was (and still is) like a ritual, and the garments were so well made that many of my school dresses lasted to be passed down to many another little girl.  I didn't have a closet full of clothes, but I had a different dress for each day of the school week (!) and one or two for Sunday, plus slacks and tops and, yes, even my PJ's were hand made.  A few years ago I came across a hamper of cloth scraps in my mother's house with pieces of fabric from almost all of my little dresses. Connection happened again.
       Funny how thinking about something can bring along a synchronicity.  I picked up Sally Mellville's 2013 book, Knitting Pattern Essentials  from my "to read" stack this morning and in the introduction Sally asks,


"Why not make - and have hours of pleasure doing so - the one sweater that we treasure rather than spending hard-earned cash on the six that we don't?  Why not revert to the way humans have lived for most of their history - as makers rather than consumers?"

     Anita Luvera Mayer, author of Clothing from the Hands that Weave, and one of the most inspiring fiber artists I've ever had the pleasure to meet, believes that each day we should wear something magical and unique, something made by hand, something that expresses who we authentically are. She thinks it is more than important, that it is essential, and she shares her skills and her philosophy around the world in her book and workshops.
     Imagine a maker world, a world where we may own less but connect to it more.  What would it look like do you think?    Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Birds Nest Shawl KAL

      We've got a KAL goin' on in the Knitaway Group on Ravelry for the Birds Nest Shawl from

     Today is the "official" cast on day and my swatch is almost dry.  Get into your stash or hit the LYS  and join us.  We are pretty relaxed on our KALs.  It's all about having an excuse to knit together.
      Yes, I swatch even for shawls and especially when using a yarn that is new to me. It's a superwash too which seems to often give me surprising results.  Always block the swatch too.  I'm very glad I did on this one as it blocked out half an inch wider than expected  That's makes a quarter of a stitch per inch difference in the gauge and added up over the entire length of the shawl that's an increase in length of 4.5 inches.  I'm ok with that. This version is a gift for a tall Scandinavian friend who can carry the extra length, but imagine if this was a  garment that had to fit.  Like a sweater for instance.  Just a quarter of a stitch per inch makes a big, maybe deal breaking, difference.  You get my point here.....Swatch, please.
        You can see it's a gorgeous yarn and the color, Sugar Plum, perfect for my friend who has a penchant for roses.

 It's Celeste from Luna Grey Fiber Arts, an indie dyer from the western slope of Colorado.  She is doing some really beautiful colors.  I found the yarn at  one of my LYS, Colorful Yarns, but she's on Etsy too for those of you who aren't near me.  

Some of you probably know that I rarely work with superwash for reasons I'll not go into here.  Just really a personal preference I suppose.  We all have them.  My friend will greatly appreciate the easy care aspect. And this color and feel was irresistible.  I can be convinced.  I am ultimately more practical than I am stubborn.
     So will you join us?  Some of the knitters in this KAL have already knit the Bird's Nest Shawl but, like me, found another yarn tempting enough to have another go at it.  It's a pleasant knit, I think.  I may be prejudiced.  And this brings up an interesting question.  How often do you knit  the same pattern again?  Ever? Often?  Please leave a comment with your opinions and insights below.  Inquiring designers want to know. 
      Hope to see you at the KAL.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ribbing the Sampler

      A couple weeks ago the Tuesday Studio Knitters began working through the marvleous Sweater Sampler from the Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee.  I did one of these samplers over twenty years ago (that's it on the right in the photo) and I learned great basic techniques that have served me well in the years since.  It's funny looking but full of knitting merit.

     Jacquie Fee could be called an Elizabethan Knitter (she attended Elizabeth Zimmermann's camps for years) and so her thought processes in creating this circular sampler of techniques to use in knitting and designing circular sweaters make great sense to me.  It is great fun that the Tuesday Studio Knitters wanted to use the book and the format of the sampler to explore techniques as well.   I like the new revised edition, with its additional historical photos and updated designs, but I won't give up my first edition either.  Yes, my bookshelves do groan!
     We are taking our time knitting through this project, exploring just one or two techniques each week.  As my teacher did before me, I am adding to and expanding on the techniques already in the book.  The layout of the Sweater Workshop book includes lots of space on each page to add one's own notes and I'm encouraging the TSK's to be brave and write all over their own fresh new copies of the book.  I certainly am doing so.  And in pen.  Fearless aren't I?

    We are currently exploring 1 x 1 ribbing in the Sampler.   In the photo below, the ribbing at the bottom is regular k1, p1 ribbing, looking a bit irregular as it will when worked, for convenience sake and as the book directs, on the same size needle as the rest of the Sampler.  So here's a great chance to expound my standard  ribbing rule of thumb:  always go down two to three needle sizes to do a ribbing on a sweater.  Purl stitches mixed in with knit stitches will puff up the fabric, which can look dreadful,  especially in ribbing.

     Now take a look at the two k1, p1 ribbings in the middle of the photo, both of which are of the twisted variety.  The left-hand side has the knit stitches twisted (by knitting into the back of the stitch) every other round and on the right-hand side I have twisted the knit stitches on every round.  Until I did this particular sampler I was of the opinion that the EOR twist was the best looking but now I am really enjoying the looks of the knits twisted on every round. It is more crisp and defined to my eye.  Of course you understand that it is only because we are working in the round that twisting the knit stitches every round is at all tempting.  On a flat piece of knitting, getting that same look would entail purling into the back of those stitches on every other row. That's a bit too fussy for me.  If I was knitting a flat ribbing and wanted a twisted look, I would choose the ribbing on the left which is still handsome (especially worked on a smaller needle) and just as easy to achieve on either circular or flat pieces.
     From what I can tell there is not much difference in elasticity among the ribbings though the every-round-twist may be a bit more firm.  Elasticity of 1x 1 ribbing tends to be influenced more strongly by the depth of the ribbing, with more rows creating a more elastic fabric than do fewer rows, and I expect  that any difference in the elasticity of these two ribbings could be adjusted by knitting more or fewer rows as desired. 
     So maybe it's all just a matter of aesthetics. Swatching will tell and I love to have choices.  What do you think?  Any opinions on which is better and why?  What's your experience with a 1 x 1 ribbing?  I'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave your comments below. 

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!