SNOW!

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We had our first snow Saturday. It’s still only October and this seems pretty early but it was thrilling to see! After living in Florida for ten years, and Ohio before that, the anticipation of winter makes me feel like a little kid again!

I’ve been knitting a little bit but I also am very cognizant of needing to take my re-entry into knitting slowly so that my tendonitis (knitter’s elbow) doesn’t return! So, each day I knit for a very short while and then I do something else. On Friday I bought some new supplies to make an embroidered pillow. I purchased the pattern ages ago (seriously, several years ago when I went on the Maine Quilt Shop Hop. I haven’t been out on a shop hop for at least two years. So, the pattern is at least that old.)

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The pillow, if I can get it done by Christmas, will be for my dear husband. I hope he doesn’t read my blog or I may have just ruined a surprise. Anyway, I’ve traced the design onto the white cotton fabric that I bought and ironed on a thin stabilizer. Now I can stitch the design. Stitching  with the stabilizer will slow me down because it pulls the same muscles that haven’t been feeling well but that’s ok.

And I have finished the knitting portion of a little baby sweater. This is a gift for a new baby. I can’t give too much information but it’s the Zip Up the Back baby sweater. (This pattern is a free pattern that we have at the Yardgoods Center where I work. I am not sure if it’s a Ravelry pattern or not but if you happen to read this and want a copy, I’ll send you one from the store. Just ask!) All I have to do is get a zipper and sew it in. (And sew in all the ends!) It will be sent off as soon as I get it finished and I hope it will be a good surprise. Meanwhile, another of my daughter’s friends has had a baby and I feel like I need to knit something for him, too. I may knit this sweater again. It was quick and easy and I really like it! I made this sweater in Plymouth Yarns Encore worsted in the Ravelry Red colorway. It took two skeins.

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I continue working very slowly on the Frosting shawl in Manos Del Uruguay’s Alegria yarn. Very slowly. It’s difficult to knit only a couple of rows a day but I know it’s what I need to do to heal completely. I am getting there! I am eager to be all better and back in the saddle. I have a shawl/scarf that I “owe” to a friend as a trade of services. I’d love to get it started for her!

No Christmas knitting from my house this year!

Addition by Subtraction Lit-a-long

 

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Charcoal and White are dark and light. Gray speckle is blender. Gold is “pop” of color!

Several of us at the Yardgoods Center are working on the Addition by Subtraction Lit-a-long by TryStitchual Designs. This is an intriguing and unique MKAL (mystery knit along) as far as I am aware. There is a wonderfully funny and clever mystery story that accompanies a MKAL.

The MKAL requires that you start with four yarns. Fingering weight. One in a light color, one in a dark, the third unifies the two colors and the fourth is a pop of color. I used two stashed yarns that I bought last summer at the Maine Fiber Frolic and two new yarns that I bought at the shop.

Chapter One – I really love garter stitch. This garter stitch section uses all four colors and is broken up by three columns of stitches with twisted stitches on the edges and a knit or purl stitch in the center. There are also short row wedges in the “pop” color. At one side is an i-cord edge (see below) and an edge that contains a regular yarn over sequence of stitches.

IMG_2769The i-cord edge hides the yarns as they are carried up the side of the garment. It’s a brilliant idea! I’ll admit to having a bit of a challenge getting the i-cord edge started, but I figured it out in a couple of rows! There is a TON of knitting in this chapter! Phew!

I was almost finished with this when Chapter Two was released.

Chapter Two – I’m starting this a little bit behind and so I “rushed” to finish chapter one and get chapter two started. Chapter two uses three colors. The “pop” has been cut and set aside for this section. We are heading on with a slip stitch section between sections of alternating three-color garter stitch. This was a challenging start because I was following the written instructions rather than the charted instructions. I found out that the chart was the better way to go and had no trouble after the third row. I love this section and it makes me happy to see how interesting it is.

Chapter two also has a lot of knitting.

I am hardly half-way through Chapter two when Chapter three is released. No way I was going to catch up on this week … I had a shawl to knit as a store sample for the Maine Yarn Cruise that takes place beginning on Memorial Day weekend. Oh well. As I tell my students, “knitting is not a race”, time for this teacher to take a dose of her own medicine!

Chapter Three – This section is called the Illusion Section and as such, the knitting looks like an illusion. I think this may be my favorite section yet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this and it’s fascinating!

Once again a color (this time the speckled “blender” colorway) has been cut and we are now working with two colors only. The two colors remaining, light and dark, are alternated in pairs of rows. The second of which alternates between knit and purl stitches. It’s fantastic!

When I was ready to start chapter three, the clue for chapter four had already been released so I am now a full week behind! I’m laughing at myself for keeping track.

IMG_2938Chapter Four – OK, this chapter was released and I hadn’t even begun the previous one. I am telling you, there is a lot of knitting each week. If you work at a job or are a stay-at-home parent, or do anything but knit, you will not have been able to keep up with this MKAL! I  am a relatively quick knitter and I’m waaaaaay behind!

Chapter four is a lace section. Both sides of the section are the same (it’s reversible!) and the i-cord and yarn over ends are still going on as through the whole project. The lace section is very simple and very graphic (I think that’s the term) … it’s not lacey lace, it’s squared off and linear. I’ve just now gotten to begin it and I think it’ll be a good addition to the shawl. I’m getting closer and closer with each row and each decrease. It’s repetitive enough that I can remember this section’s pattern so I don’t have to count every stitch and watch the graph too closely.

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A stitch is dropped at the end of each section … creating a “line” parallel to the i-cord edge.

Did I mention that at the end of each chapter, a stitch has been dropped?

The stitch between the columns of twisted stitches is dropped after Chapter One. A second is dropped after Chapter Two. I happen to like dropping stitches and seeing how that changes the look of the stitches. There’s one more stitch to drop at the end of section four. With twisted stitches on either side, the dropped stitch is “controlled”. I am eager to finish and block this baby!

Having gotten this far writing about this project, I wanted to let you know that there is an Epilogue. Yes, there is! The epilogue seems to consist of an i-cord that is about 84 inches long that is woven through the yarn over side of the shawl. The pattern wants the i-cord to be in color C which for my shawl is the gold color or the “pop” that was only in the first chapter. Yippee! I was hoping that color would come back!

I’ll update you when I have finished and blocked the shawl!

Gone Knitting!

 

You can find out more about my knitting projects on Ravelry. I’m “lindar” on Ravelry!

WIPS Wrestling – Ravellenics 2016

imageRavelry has a wonderful knitting challenge during the Olympics and I’ve chosen to be on the “WIPS Wrestling” team and challenge myself to finish several projects during the Olympic Games. I’m proud to say that I have challenged myself to finish, and have finished  four projects so far.

Rustling Leaves Beret

Rustling Leaves Beret

I had a commission to make a lace hat for a customer. Her hat was begun just before the Olympics started. I knit Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos. It’s a fun knit and pret quick to knit up as well. My customer bought Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock yarn in a navy color. Now, all knitters worth their salt know that dark colors (particularly black but any dark color) are difficult to see your stitches. The biggest challenge for me with this hat was counting, or more specifically, dividing stitches. You begin the hat casting in stitches and I used DPNs. Needless to say, I divided wrong the first time and came up with 30 stitches short. It was going to be a very small hat! The hat is delivered and my customer has requested another hat just like it but in a little brighter blue! I blocked the hat, as directed, on a dinner plate and it was just gorgeous!

Drachenfels - times two

Drachenfels – times two

I also finished my Drachenfels Shawl. I really enjoyed knitting this shawl. I had chosen yarn based on a sample that I saw knitted up at the Maine Fiber Frolic in June. Green is not usually a color I knit with but I loved the three colors together. Drachenfels is by Melanie Berg and is a slightly “off kilter” triangular shawl knit in garter stitch with an Icord bind off. I knit mine with a dark gray, a medium blue and a deep apple green. I loved knitting it and I love e finished result. The sport-weight yarn makes it a quick knit and the shawl is a good size! Two other women in my Froday class are/have knitted this shawl and it’s really fun to see the results in different colors.

Number 2 Pencil Socks

Number 2 Pencil Socks

The wonderful and fun Number 2 Pencil socks are also finished. This was yarn that I waited for for what seemed like forever because the first shipment was lost or stolen in transit. When I finally did get it, it went immediately into my stash to be used as encouragement for me – encouraging me to finish some other projects. It was a very fun project and I can’t wait until it’s cooler and I can actually wear them! The yarn is hand-dyed by Yarn Enabler (she has an Etsy shop). I had seen in on Susan B. anderson’s blog or Facebook page  and it was a total impulse buy but totally worth it  I bought the pattern from Yarn Enabler, too though truth be told, I only partially followed it  I used a heal flap heel rather than a FLK – but I’ll attempt the Fish Lips Kiss heel another time for fun!

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

Last but not least, is the second pair of Snowflake Mittens. This pattern is a very old pattern gifted to me by my friend and colleague Bette. I made myself a pair and this pair is for my friend. I’ll make a third pair for my sister-in-law in Massachusetts. I typically have a rule to never knit two of the same thing. This pattern is an exception and I fully plan to knit it repeatedly! I used Brown Sheep Company’s Lambs Pride Worsted in White Frost and Navy Sailor. I love the contrast in the colors and I love these mittens. I avoided color work for years but this pattern made me begin to think about conquering my fear of color work. I think I have succeeded. My favorite part of these mittens is the pattern on the inside of the thumb. Isn’t that silly?

The only other thing I’d really like to compete is the Aran Sweater that is sitting in a bag in my studio. It’s been swealtering hot the last few days and I could not sit under it. It was too darned hot! Tomorrow I head to the beach in Virginia with my college girls for a few days. Friends for 40 years, we always have a wonderful time together and Virginia Beach is gorgeous for a little R&R. I may choose to drag it with me and try to seam it in air conditioning. I really haven’t decided.

Next another hat will go on the needles.

Gone knitting!

Crushed by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits

Crushed Shawlette

Crushed Shawlette

This post is long (LONG – yes, I am screaming!) overdue. I finished this lovely knit ages ago and it has languished along with my knitting mojo in a bin in my atelier (studio in French).

IMG_4202I have had a gorgeous skein of a gradient yarn in my stash for a couple of years. It was gifted to me by my sister-in-love and brother. Every time I stuck my fingers into the sock yarn bin in my atelier I would see it and think about what it would like to become. Yes, I really do think that way. If you force a design on a skein of yarn (or several skeins in the case of a sweater, etc.) it tends not to work. At least that’s my experience. The yarn and pattern speak to me (not literally, of course, but I hope you know what I mean) when they’re ready to pair up … that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

In the case of my Vice gradient yarn, it seemed to want to become “Crushed” by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits. (Pattern is available for $6.00 US on Ravelry.) Crushed is described as a heart shaped shawlette and if I have one complaint, it would be that it isn’t big enough. I loved knitting the pattern and would have liked to continue it a bit more for two reasons: first, to make it a little bit larger and second, to use up all or more of my yarn. With that said, I did create a few more repeats of the pattern so that the beautiful bright yellow was more prominent in my scarf because I love all the colors of this yarn so much.

Edge Detail

Edge Detail

I blocked the heck out of this little shawlette *with my added rows* and it measures 62 inches from tip to tip and it’s 27 inches long at the widest part.

The yarn was Blurred Lines by Vice in the “Loki” colorway. It’s a fingering-weight yarn with a wonderfully soft hand and slowly changes from black to bright yellow. The in-between colors are fabulous near-dark forest green and grey with a tinge of yellow. The fiber is a merino and nylon blend and would have made fun socks but I felt that it would be a shame to “waste” such a beautiful gradient on socks – This yarn was screaming to be something much more “public”. I love the way this yarn knitted up with no splitting and it was even and smooth despite coming off the cake in a crimped form. At first I thought maybe it head been knitted and then tinked before being wound but it was consistent throughout so I figure it must have been intended to be that way. Or maybe it was a “sock blank” in a former life. I’m not sure why but it’s so pretty I’m not askinIMG_6530g any questions.

I wanted my shawl to be black up by the shoulders and near my face and the yellow to be along the edge. I rewound the cake to make it a center-pull cake with the black in the middle. It makes the yarn stay put when you’re knitting.

The pattern was wonderful and simple to follow. I mostly used the charts to knit from and on occasion (when I hit a snag – my brain’s fault, not the fault of the pattern) I would refer to the written instructions. I enjoy chart knitting and I think it’s good for my brain to be challenged to think differently when I am knitting. Charts feed that part of the challenge for my brain. And since we are knitting flat, the charts read right to left and left to right which is another challenge for our brains. Another reason that knitting is healthy!

I’m not sure whether I’ve shared this with you before but my mother died having suffered 10+ years with Alzheimer’s Disease. I am working quite intentionally on doing things that challenge my brain. Eating healthfully, cutting way back on sugar and carbs, focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based oils and as organic as I can possibly do. It was painful to watch someone you love do a quicksand-sink into their own world. This fact makes my efforts to be healthy and challenge myself ever more vital as I age (and I’m aging quickly!)

I am looking forward to cooler weather so that I can wear my beautiful Crushed shawlette. And when you live in Maine, it could be later on today even though it’s June! Meanwhile, I’m challenging myself with more knitting and quilting. Stay tuned!

Gone knitting.

Private Lessons

Sock Anatomy … I love teaching knitting!

Sock Anatomy … I love teaching knitting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I taught one of my knitting friends how to knit socks (on DPNs.) She was apprehensive at first and cast on with a death grip on the yarn. Row 1 was a bit easier but not natural yet.

“Keep at it, the muscle memory will come. I promise”, I coached.

And it did! By row two or three she got it! Yay!

I can’t wait to meet next week and teach her to turn a heel!

Gone knitting!

Provisional Cast-On … Easy Method

Three Shades Mohair Cowl – Color Choices

Years ago, when I entered what we were allowed to call the Ravelympics, I had decided to  try to make my first lace scarf. I hit a road block when I read the patter for the first time and saw that there was a provisional cast on required. Since this was before the Internet really took off in my house, it was really difficult to find instructions that were clear and well-written (and illustrated) for this very visual knitter. Needless to say, I fell on my needles and was injured enough to totally back out of the challenge. (I also had kids at home and was working … not a lot of time to spend on doing something for myself back then!)

Fast forward a few years and I have learned how to do a couple of provisional cast ons. One with a crocheted chain that you then pick up stitches in the little bumps on the back (do not try this with black “waste” yarn) and another where you use an extra needle and let it hang at the bottom of your piece. Since I’m not an adept crocheter, my bumps are never consistent. The extra needle hanging at the bottom is a little bit cumbersome. So, I was looking for another option and this morning I found it!

Wendy Bernard over at Knit and Tonic has a great illustrative article on this long-tail provisional cast on where, in essence, you make a slip knot with your working yarn and your “waste” yarn (preferably something that is slippery) and then with your waste yarn over your thumb (toward you) and your working yarn over your index finger/pointer finger (away from you) you cast on just as you would normally. When you’ve gotten to your desired number of stitches (don’t count the slip knot/first stitch) cut your waste yarn and start your project.

The waste yarn is sitting nice and neatly down at the bottom of your work and can be easily unwound when you need to put your stitches back on your needles at the end of the project. Cool, yes?

I’ve just cast on 80 stitches in no time! Thanks, Wendy! I love it when you can learn something new and apply it to your day to cut off a few hours of tedious work!

My new project is another mohair cowl. It’s knitted a bit on the bias which makes it a little bit more interesting. This one is a custom order from a client in New York. After I made the first one, I thought about making one in three shades and she liked the idea, too. So we’re using a silver, a charcoal and a denim color – I think it’s going to be lovely! Kind of like the ombre garments and home furnishings that you’re seeing everywhere! The yarn that I’m using is called DK weight (but I’d say it’s more a fingering weight) and it’s Rowan’s kidsilk haze in charcoal #639, Debbie Bliss Angel in denim #15008 and kid seta Madil in a silver (#408) colorway. I will start with the charcoal, then head into denim and last, add the silver. I’m pretty excited to see what it looks like – I’m sure we’ll all be delighted at the results!

So, there you go! Learn something new today!

Gone knitting!

1. belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something. 2. new; fresh; inventive; novel

I’ve been working on designing a line of original dog sweaters and coats for a year or so now. I just came across the notes I took from a teleconference with a friend who has been in the garment industry (for people) for her entire career and whose wisdom and experience I truly value. We had talked about having twelve (TWELVE!?) designs and changing out the fabrics for the seasons. Well, the seasons may be do-able but no (freaking) way I’ll have twelve designs any time soon! A girl’s got to make a living and without taking my little business all the way to an Andean village where women can knit for me, I need to get these patterns written, tested and knit up a few samples.

I have four designs at this point in time that I can use as my base.

The Señorita Lolita, a sassy dress with a ruffled skirt and a big colorful flower on the shoulder. Fingering weight yarn makes it more time-consuming to knit but makes the little dress flow-y and light. I just sent my first iteration of this sweater off to the Central Florida Fair as my submission to the “Other” category. Submitted with this photograph of my little Lola (“Whatever Lola Wants…”) who is my inspiration for the design.

The Boyfriend is a classic turtleneck sweater knit in bulky yarn which makes it pretty quick to knit up unlike it’s sibling above. The design is based on the women’s sweaters with the same name that are bulky and loose and snuggly … hoping that the feeling of wearing a boyfriend’s sweater will translate to the feeling of caring for your fur baby.

The MacTire. Irish knit-style cabled sweater with a turtle neck collar. Right out of the pages of GQ! (Is that still in print?) I love this sweater with the “hugs and kisses” cable down the back. Also a relatively quick knit as it’s in a bulky wool, it’s simply classic and appeals to my Irish roots.

MacTire (mock teerah)

Last but certainly not least is the Nor’Easter Coat. Seed stitch is one of my favorite textural stitches and with this bulky or super-bulky wool, it is a visual thrill. The stitches are tightly knit and make a really warm coat for chilly days. I’m working on the finishing touches to the pattern. This may be my current favorite!

Patterns to come!

Gone knitting!