A Fear of Stranded Knitting Conquered

Starting the Lobster Hat

I bought a Lobster Hat kit at Over the Rainbow Yarns in Rockland, Maine several years ago. I bought it for my daughter for Christmas that year with a promise that I’d knit it for her. Fast forward to today and I “found” the kit in my time out cabinet and decided to give it a go and see if I can’t finish it (finally!!!) All those years ago, I’d begun the knitting but I wasn’t particularly confident about it. I didn’t know how to carry the floats well and my tension was wonky. So I frogged what I had begun, rewound the yarn and started over.

I had avoided stranded knitting/colorwork and Fair Isle for a long, long time. I’ve blogged about this before. But a few years ago my co-worker showed my a pair of beautiful (and warm) Snowflake Mittens and I HAD to knit them. I’ve knitted many pairs of them (one story included two left hands!) and have taught many knitters to make them, too. Worsted weight yarn and only two colors didn’t feel too overwhelming but I wasn’t really eager to try the finer yarns or more than two colors.

This year, however, the stranded knitting projects have been coming at me from everywhere! My co-worker, Peggy, and I made the Sunset Highway sweater. I found a knitted coffee cup cozy pattern that is a Fair Isle pattern knit in the round and steeked as a practice for a sweater I want to knit. I made a Christmas stocking for my daughter. I am knitting a pair of socks, as part of a MKAL and our 2020 Sock Knitting Challenge that is stranded knitting. I just took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone that turned into a test knit project for her, the subject of which was a Fair Isle cowl (the pattern is coming soon!) And then I found the Lobster Hat.

So, riight now, on my needles is a pair of socks and (ta! da!) the lobster hat. I need to cast on another pair of Snowflake mittens, too, for a friend. I’m really pleased and proud to say that I am feeling very confident with colorwork/stranded knitting. Progress through practice!

Gone Knitting!

You can find out more about these projects and more on my Ravelry Project page. I’m lindar on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook and Instagram @QueenBeeKnits.

Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

The American Queen of Fair Isle Knitting, Mary Jane Mucklestone at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Mary Jane is holding my knitting and balancing on one leg because her class sample is on her raised right leg! She does it all!

YOU GUYS!!! I took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone!!!

Late last week, my co-worker, Glenda, shared with me that she was going to take a class at the Farnsworth with Mary Jane Mucklestone. Needless to say, I was hoping that my calendar and husband would be supportive of me doing the same … and that there would still be space in the class when I signed up! The knitting gods were smiling in my favor so on Saturday afternoon, Glenda and I, driven by my handsome hubby, went to Rockland!

Mary Jane is a wonderful and knowledgable teacher. The class was inspired by my friend and knitting idol, Katharine Cobey, who has a one woman show at the Farnsworth through April 12, 2020. Go see the show. It’s magnificent. I blogged about it here. Katharine made famous diagonal knitting and the class was a Fair Isle design based on “diagonal” knitting but the Fair Isle way. Mary Jane was kind enough to bring one pattern for her Flying Geese Cowl about which she had intended to teach the class. She also was inspired to design another cowl pattern very shortly (days) before the class was to happen and we also got that cowl. It is, as yet, unnamed.

Choosing Colors

We learned a lot about choosing colors when knitting in the Fair Isle way. We were to come to class with an inch or so of ribbing in a dark, high-contrast color. I chose an Ella Rae Classic Wool in a dark charcoal gray. (Details on all my yarns are on my Ravelry project page. Find me on Ravelry, I’m “lindar”.) I brought a bunch of leftovers from my stash in various colors that I like which you can see above. Since you don’t need a whole lot of any one color, in this case, I brought bits and bobs. We needed three colors to really have some fun and I finally chose the creamy white Galway worsted and the one right next to it which is an ice blue colorway in a Paton’s Classic wool. All three are worsted weight and plain old wool.

While we were knitting, Mary Jane serenaded us with stories and tales about her travels to and knitting from Fair Isle. She is a wonderful story teller and full of knitting knowledge. I really enjoyed listening to her talk. She brought TONS of samples of Fair Isle motifs, talked about and demonstrated how some yarn colors, shades and tones, play well together – or don’t. It was a wonderful day.

Glenda, my co-worker, has finished knitting her Flying Geese cowl and she was blocking it when we last spoke. I must be knitting too slowly. I am planning to finish my cowl today because we have a snow day today so it’s an unexpected “free” day to sit in my atelier to knit. I don’t think I have to tell you that both cowls are fun to knit and a good way to learn to knit with two colors at a time (and you don’t have to catch the floats!)

I offered and Mary Jane has accepted me as a test knitter for this pattern and I am happy to oblige. Deadline is 2/13/2020 … so I had best stop “talking” and go knit!

Gone knitting!

Proof. Fan girl photo! Thanks for obliging me, Mary Jane!

CYC Certified Knitting Teacher

I passed my second level of knitting certification and will soon have my certificate and pin to prove that I am a certified knitting teacher! A step up from Certified Knitting Instructor! Yay, me!

It’s amazing to think about spending an hour on the phone talking about knitting and designing knitwear with a stranger, but that’s what the process was. My master teacher, Edie Eckman, received my packet of materials (close to the end of the time frame that I had to complete the work) and reviewed it and we had a lovely chat about my work.

I had not tried several of the techniques that I had to knit swatches for – but I feel as though I am at a place in my knitting career where I am rather fearless and can try anything. Most everything I try, I can do. And I can do it well enough to teach it to someone else. Whether or not I will choose to do a lot of knitting (intarsia and mosaic and fair isle) in some of these styles (?) remains to be seen. But I feel comfortable enough with them.

I would, come to think of it, like to make a pair of fair isle mittens or a hat … some garment to use this technique as I think it’s remarkably pretty. I have a sweater pattern to make for my niece that will give me a chance to try it, too.

So, the Certified Knitting Instructor has grown into the Certified Knitting Teacher … now I have to decide whether to attempt the next level or if I’ll do the Knitting Guild’s Master Knitting. I need to keep learning and stretching in order to grow in my craft. It’s wonderful to that I have choices to invest in for myself.

Gone knitting!

Soon to be Certified Teacher!

Soon to be Certified Teacher!

Putting it “Out There”

Last year, for the first time, I joined my knitting guild group and entered a couple of items in our Central Florida Fair. I was (super) nervous about putting my work “out there”! But the rewards were great – not only did my work receive recognition, but I felt so good doing it.

This year, I’ve decided to enter a few items again. I can always change my mind but I think it’s healthy to submit my work asking for criticism and showing people the work that I am so proud to do. So, what did I submit?

The rules state that all items have to be completed during the calendar year between fairs. I have chosen the “mini-me” leg warmers that I knitted copying the adult-size ones that I made for my daughter for Christmas. My first efforts at Fair Isle knitting (and I, honestly, forgot to watch the joins which are not joggless so we’ll see how that goes.) I may even re-knit them. Time permitting.

"mini me" infant leg warmers - original Fair Isle pattern

“mini me” infant leg warmers – original Fair Isle pattern

I also entered a little light green seed stitch dog coat that I designed for my little dogs. Last year I submitted my first original dog design for my Prima Dogma line. This is number two. I like the color and the edge which is a simple single crochet in a black & white wool which contrasts really nicely with the light green. It was a quick knit … I really need to write down the pattern and post it! I need to find a way to display it … stuffed dog or something!

The last three items are still on my needles.

My Vintage Velvet scarf with its wonderful reversible cables is one. Second is the little hat that I started knitting yesterday and will finish today, Downton. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. Check it out! Third is the fingerless mitts that I will finish (I hope) in time to submit that I am knitting along with the Jimmy Beans Wool Downton Abbey KAL “Lady Violet’s Dinner Gauntlets”. Despite the fact that I am not totally in love with the colorway, I like the project. (And it’s my first ever KAL!) Both the scarf and gauntlets can be seen in my previous post, Queen Bee WIP here.

I will report on the final decisions of what I will submit (the deadline is still distant enough to add a project or two if I decide to do so) or that I may decide to withdraw. It’s a woman’s perrogative to change her mind, after all!

Gone knitting!