The Fourth Mitten

4-Needle Snowflake Mittens

Three years ago … THREE YEARS AGO … I wrote a blog post about finishing a pair of mittens that were samples for a class that I was teaching. 4-Needle Mittens were the subject. (Laughing All the Way is the post.)

Anywho … today, three years later, I finished the fourth mitten!

These are my favorite mittens and I love knitting this pattern. They’re the first color work that I knitted and where I fell in love with the technique. I’ve made quite a few pairs, lots of different color combinations, all beautiful.

I started this mitten on Friday and finished it today (and I worked all day yesterday at the shop!) It’s not rocket science but it’s necessary to know how to follow a chart. In this pattern, the first mitten, the left mitten, is knitted by reading the chart from right to left. To knit the right mitten, you ready the chart from left to right. Obviously, when I taught my class, I made a slight(ly huge) mistake and read the chart for the second mitten the wrong way! (Duh!) This time I got smart and used a simple tool to remind me to knit the chart the right way.

Good Tools are Great Help!

The neon pink “Highlighter Tape” is a great tool to use when you’re knitting. I used the tape to mark the completed rows and added an arrow to remind me to knit from the left. I keep my patterns in a protective plastic sleeve and the highlighter tape is easy to move and replace! It helped me keep track, too, of where I am. I bought mine at my LYS and it’s available at Amazon.com, too.

My favorite, FAVORITE, part … the inside of the thumb

I’m so pleased to have finished the mittens and to have sold them to a dear friend for her daughter with cold hands. The pattern is really old and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere other than on the often-copied pattern given to me by my colleague, Bette.

What colors will I use for the next pair?

To be continued.

Gone Knitting.

Collaboration

I’ve completed a collaborative knitting project with my friend and lady farmer, Mary Perry of Winterberry Farm, the last organic farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is also animal powered … not a tractor to be found!

My DH and I have been fans and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members for several years. This year, I helped Mary at her farm store on several winter days when the interns aren’t yet arrived to help with the farm. My DH fed all of the animals a few times when Mary and her family were away overnight. I learned a lot about what it takes to own and run a farm. Anyway, I got a call from Mary a few weeks back and she wanted to put together some knitting kits with her yarn and needed some help finding simple patterns that would work with her yarn that she has spun at a mill nearby.

I chose three patterns: a simple hat, a simple scarf and socks.

The hat pattern was knitted up in the blue colorway and is Barley Light by Tin Can Knits. What I love about this hat is that it is a simple stitch pattern that results in a lovely hat in a lighter weight which is good for the border seasons of fall and spring.

The scarf pattern that I chose has been a favorite in my knitting classes for students who are starting to feel more comfortable with their knitting and are willing to branch out and try something new … and a bit more “complex”. The Workday Scarf by Sue Flanders is one of my favorite simple scarf patterns. I chose to knit the shop sample in the neutral, undyed/natural colorway and it is stunning! There is nothing better than a lace pattern (or any pattern for that matter) knitted up in a light natural color yarn. Both the yarn and the pattern are allowed to shine!

The sock pattern is being knitted up for Mary by her sock knitter, a local woman who knits socks for purchase (in case someone doesn’t knit their own) in the Winterberry Farm Shop. I sent the pattern for the socks to Mary and they’re being knitted for the shop. I guess you’ll have to stop by the shop to see which colorway was selected and what the socks look like!

Winterberry Farm is located at 538 Augusta Road (Route 27) in Belgrade, Maine. Come see the farm and shop for yarn! Or buy a kit! They’ll be available soon. Meanwhile, come visit the farm, join the CSA and shop for pies, farm-made canned goods and frozen foods, and yarn!

Gone knitting.

Hat, Hat, Spring and the Big Decision

It seems that Spring has finally come to Maine!

I took a walk around the yarn this morning before I headed off to work and the flowers both wild and “domestic” (is that what you call them?) are starting to bloom! I love seeing my yard in full bloom! The rhododendrons were purchased years ago from a big box store and they were teeny tiny and nearly dead. We bought three plants to add some pretty between the guest cottage and the woodshed. One got stepped on during the construction of the new house and didn’t survive. The other two are starting to get bigger. Although they’re nowhere near enough to make a “statement”!

Trillium, Violets and (I think) forget-me-nots. I love seeing them! The Bleeding Heart and Creeping Phlox is just about to bloom, too. It’s simply gorgeous and it makes me very happy!

Happiness makes me think of yarn and knitting! (Duh!)

Winterberry Farm yarn

I’ve been working with my “lady farmer” at Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is an organic farm and their sheep provide Mary with lovely fleeces that she has spun into yarn. I’m working with Mary to make up some knitting kits with her yarn and some simple yet fun patterns that will let her yarn shine. The first sample I knitted up for her is a hat from Tin Can Knits free patterns called “Barley Light.”

While my photograph isn’t the exact right color, it’s pretty close. I like this simple hat pattern because it lets the beautiful, lanolin-y yarn be the star of the show. A one-skein project. The “corrugation” adds just enough interest to make it interesting.

I’ve also knitted a rainbow-stripe hat for the Yardgoods Center. Joyce, who owns the shop, asked for a ribbed hat in a new yarn (to us). It’s a West Yorkshire Spinners “Colour Lab DK” yarn which is 100% British wool. I love working with this yarn. It’s stretchy and squishy soft. And the colors are fabulous! We have three or four colorways at the shop.

The pattern that I found is on Ravelry and it’s a free pattern by Chandi Agee at Expression Fiber Arts called “Boyfriend Beanie”. A 3×2 rib all the way up to the crown. when the decreases start, it becomes fully knitted. A quick knit and super fun! Since it’s ribbed, it’s stretchy and will fit any adult head.

And my big decision?

Oh, my Sunset Highway.

I’m not ok with the main body color. It’s too busy and it detracts from the beautiful colorwork. So, after discussing my options at knitting class on Friday and with the help of color expert, Marlene (Hi, Marlene!), I’ve decided to frog the body of the sweater and reknit it in a different yarn that isn’t so crazy busy. I’m not saying that I don’t love the MC. I do. But I don’t like it here on this sweater. I think the new yarn will be much better and will let the colorwork be the main attraction. So, that’s the big decision that I have made and tomorrow I will be doing the frogging and starting the body over.

I know I wasn’t settled with it and this is a good choice. I’d rather love the sweater and wear it than let it languish on a shelf in my closet. There are also the two different colorways. Strikes one and two and that’s all I need to inform my choice. I’m frogging the body.

Gone knitting!

Sunset Highway

For years and years, I’ve been knitting and avoiding color work.

Several yearns ago, I made a pair of snowflake mittens and I had caught the bug. I liked the smaller, more manageable projects, though. I admired other’s beautiful sweaters, socks, vests, blankets, etc. but there was no way that I was going to attempt a bigger project, say than a hat!

Well, then my friend and co-worker, Peggy suggested that we both knit Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter. Fingering weight yarn and a color work sweater for me?!?! Yeah, maybe not. Or maybe so. We started playing with yarn choices one slow afternoon at the shop and before I knew it, I’d bought some new On the Round yarn because nothing that I had in my stash would work. (Right!?)

Iteration 1 – I started with the smaller needle size, knitted up the ribbing and began the color work with the first choice of yarns. I had chosen a burgundy solid and a tonal “gold” and I didn’t like it. The fabric was too tight (and I thought it would be too small.) So, I put it away in a project bag for a few months and let it sit.

Iteration 2 – I frogged the first iteration because I didn’t like the colors and returned the yarns that I hadn’t used and bought the On the Round yarn in the Eclipse colorway. (Note … my stash has already grown by two skeins!) I was still going to use the gold … until I didn’t like them together and bought a second skein of On the Round in the Always a Bridesmaid colorway. I had a skein of Wicked with most of it left over from a baby gift that I had to make … but I didn’t really love the green at that time so I went back to my stash and found a skein of burgundy-ish that I did like. (Stash addition down to one skein.) Forging ahead! By the time I got past the colorwork chart and on to the main color, I wasn’t loving the Rebel colorway that I had chosen but I forged ahead again. I really love the yarn and although the colorway is busier than I would probably have chosen had I known ahead what it knitted up like, I still like it. Until I hit the second skein which was quite a bit different. Rip back and start over or keep going? I kept going.

Tonight I reached the bottom of the body of the sweater. There is a “line” that I can see where the skeins changed. I wish I had thought to start with the two skeins that were the same and leave the third skein for the sleeves but I didn’t. So, I am going to finish it and I think I will like it. If I don’t, I can always frog is later and start over! 🙂

One of the things I love about knitting is that it is not finite. It’s fluid. It can always be changed – frogged, re-knit, changed. I’ve learned a lot about acceptance from knitting. Accepting those imperfections, even loving them. Learning all the way.

I’m learning. Gone knitting!

Nearly Done

This is my Neck Down Summer Cardigan by Knitting Pure and Simple. It is nearly done! I’ll be excited to get it off the needles when I complete the button band and front band. Which I am determined to do today!

I am knitting this sweater with a stashed yarn. A deeply stashed yarn that I have been carrying around with me for almost ten years. It may, in truth, be more than ten years. I don’t really remember. Anyway … the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Tweedy Wool. It’s a (light) worsted weight yarn in wool with a bit of acrylic and viscose (the flecks). I’ve liked knitting with this yarn and the sweater is ok … I’m not sure I love the color any more but I’ll wear it … I think. 🙂

My swatch came out a bit off from the gauge recommended for the pattern. I decided to make the x-large rather than the large to compensate for my swatch rather than to change the needle size because I liked the way the fabric was when I knitted it on a US 7 needle. I wouldn’t have liked the fabric had I knitted with a larger needle.

The front bands shouldn’t use any more than the rest of one ball of yarn so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I used seven balls (50g, 136 yards each) of yarn to finish this sweater. It’s really cute and I’ll make it again. Initially, I just needed a good travel project … now I have a spring sweater. I think it’d be a fun one to knit in a solid yarn and embellish with some embroidery.

Knitting tip: When knitting the sleeve of this sweater, I wanted it to be around elbow length or just a touch shorter. Touching the top of the elbow. I alternated decreases, knitting two rounds, decrease a round and then knitting one round until I had 80 stitches. I did six rounds of ribbing so it wouldn’t roll and then bound off … but I bound off with the larger needle so I had some stretch! I don’t like it one little bit when the edge of knitted garments aren’t stretchy! This worked like a charm. Typically, when I am knitting garments, socks, etc. I bind off with a needle that is one or, in this case, two sizes larger than the one I was knitting with. I used a US7 for the body of the sweater and a US5 for the ribbing. I bound off with the US7.

My new favorite needles are the Chaio Goo Red Lace needles. I have three circulars. I used them all for this sweater and they make me happy. The tips are wonderful but the best part is the cords that have no memory and don’t get all tangled up in themselves. I’ll be buying more!

Gone knitting!

My Favorite Things!

Spring has arrived, finally, in Maine! I had completely forgotten that i planted these bulbs last year and it was the sweetest surprise when they popped up out of the dirt! I’ll add more because there’s nothing better than true signs of spring after a long winter!

When I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago, I visited Knitty City on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. What a lovely shop, and what welcoming people! I really enjoyed browsing the local yarns and I always like to see what shops carry that is different from what we carry at the Yardgoods Center.

I bought a couple of skeins of a new-to-me yarn dyed locally to New York. One fingering weight sock yarn and a mohair to go with it. I also bought a set of circular needles that I have learned are now my favorite needles. Chiao Goo Red Lace (with the red cord that has no memory!) The cords make knitting so much easier and I wish I had a complete set of them. We sell a set of interchangeable needles at our shop and they may have to be my next acquisition!!! I love them.

Thank you to our customer Kelly who introduced me to the Chiao Goo Red Lace needles by gifting me a US7 16 inch needle. It was such a nice surprise and I’ve, obviously, decided that I love it! They’ve got the best sharp tips and those cords are to die for!

On another note, I have finished my ginormous Boxet Bag with a pocket! It’s pretty heavy all by itself but I really like the way it turned out and I like the orange edge with the rainbow stripes! I’m not sure where this Boxet will be living but for now, it’s standing by itself in my studio.

Gone knitting.

A Safe Place for All People

An Inclusive, Accepting, Safe Place for all People

The community of makers: knitters, crocheters, stitchers of all kinds has been having a discussion around racism and inclusiveness in our community and the broader communities we all live in, in our country, in the world.

When my children were little, I volunteered to run a program in the elementary school called “Everybody Counts.” It was to teach young children what it is like to live with physical challenges. As part of the program, the children wore socks on their hands, walked blindfolded with a cane, wore eyeglasses covered with scotch tape, and more. The idea being that if they experienced what it felt like to live with these challenges then they would be compassionate and accepting of others who are “differently abled.” Who are different.

I wish that we, as adults. could all spend some time in the shoes /lives of others; those with different skin colors, those who live in different countries, who are a different gender, religion. To better understand their experiences. I have friends who are white and have children who are black. I know their experience of having sons is different from my experience. I never thought that my son’s life would be in danger if he was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. My friends do. This is not acceptable. My daughters aren’t (to the best of my knowledge) followed by clerks in stores. My friend’s daughter is. This is not acceptable. These are only two experiences that I know about. I’m sure there are many, many more.

I can’t step into your lives, your shoes, your bodies but I want you to know that I am listening to the stories on Instagram and elsewhere by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and I will continue to listen and to do my own work. I can do better. My goal is to make my little world here on the internet and in my classes, safe and accessible for all people. ALL people.

I see you, I hear you. I am listening. Thank you for your stories.

(Any negative comments will be deleted. If there is to be a discussion, keep it positive and civil. Thank you.)