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!

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.

Snow Day!

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I’m so thankful to be here in Maine. Florida was a nice place to live but it never really felt like home. Maine is home. Many of my friends ask if we are sick of the snow yet or if we regret moving here, regret leaving the south. Nope. Not even one little, teeny tiny bit!

Yesterday was my regular day off and I was nursing a sore back. Today my back feels mostly better and my boss closed the yarn shop for the day. Snow Day!!! Most everything is closed; restaurants, town offices, schools, courts, etc. I’m up in my studio finishing projects and working on others. I love working in my studio.

Yesterday I was working on my Zick Zack Scarf. I have admired this scarf at the shop for a long time. I even loved the colors of our store sample so picking my colorways was easy. I love this scarf and may be able to get it finished today!

I was also working to finish my fingerless mitts kit from the Alpaca Yarn Company.

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The Forget Not Mitts are really pretty and I love the argyle pattern. The yarn is gorgeous and I love knitting with it. I wish there was more contrast between the two colors in the kit. I feel like the pattern doesn’t pop like it could. I’ve got two thumbs to complete as of this morning and then I’ll block them. These will be finished today.

I finished a shop sample last week. It’s a really cute hat! We used Juniper Moon Farm’s Moonshine in a deep red colorway.

img_2509.jpgThe pattern is the Gigi Hat and it’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I knit the hat exactly according to the pattern (because it’s a shop sample and it would be misleading to change a pattern and then show if off in the shop.) The only thing I did differently was to add an i-cord around the brim of the hat, tied in a little knot. I think it came out really well and the yarn is so … SO … super soft! I love it.

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Last, but certainly not least, is the 1898 Hat for my husband. I’ve made four of these hats now and this one is the last for now, but also the warmest. (I even blogged about it before. Here.) I gave N. one of these hats for Valentine’s day in a beautiful Malabrigo Rios to match his slip stitch scarf. He asked me if I could make the top of the hat doubled like the earflaps. He also asked for the two colors which I happened to have in my stash. When knitting the hat, I followed the directions on the hat and then picked up the stitches inside the brim and knit the top of the hat a second time. I knit two fewer rounds in order to compensate for a smaller space inside the first hat and then decreased exactly according to the hat pattern. I wove the ends inside the hat so they’re visible but still inside. He loves the hat and it sure will keep his head and ears warm.

Gone knitting!

 

All of these projects have more details on my Ravelry project page. I’m “lindar” on Ravelry. Find me on Facebook as Queen Bee Knits. I’m on Instagram, too!

 

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!