Vaill Island Vest Version 2

I’ve had this vest in my WIP pile (actually a pile of project bags full of future projects and projects half-done) forEVER! I love the first version of this vest so much that I’ve encouraged a couple of my knitting students to give it a try AND I cast another one for myself on back in mid-January. Yes, it’s been that long!

Every once-in-a-while I’ve pulled it out and finished a few rows and then away it goes in favor of another more current and seemingly imperative knit. Well, yesterday I took it to my knitting class with me with the thought that I didn’t even remember how much I had left to knit. I got the back finished and one of the front sides nearly finished at class and then continued late into the night … when I started to notice mistakes. (Hey! I’m usually in bed by 9 or 9:30 and last night it was after 11.) This morning I will frog back a couple of rows on the last front side and re-knit so that I can get it finished this weekend and I will be able to wear it this fall.

Vaill Island Vest designed by Gwynn Ericsson for Halcyon Yarn in 2008. This is a free pattern on Ravelry.

I really like this pattern. The repeat is simple, it’s knit bottom up in one piece (at least mostly in one piece) and I can wear it over my self-imposed work “uniform” which is almost always a pair of slacks and an oversized tunic/blouse. A wool vest will be great … as is the cotton vest (first iteration). I used Ella Rae worsted wool in a deep red colorway (it’s on my Ravelry project page). The color is really closer to the first picture. The second is to show a close-up of the stitch pattern. So close!

Vaill Island Vest … nearing completion

Stitch Pattern … this yarn has great stitch definition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found a mistake in the pattern, though, last night. The directions for the left front say that when I slip the stitches from the holder that I should have 45 stitches. Well, I had 50. That’s the number of stitches that I was told to slip onto the holder and they’ve just been sitting out there for all this time. So, having adjusted the stitch numbers, I had 50 to slip onto the needles, I bound off 8 right away (42 sts). Then I begin decreases, one every other round six times, to 36 stitches. Neck decreases total to 5+4+11=20 and now I have 16 stitches which is the correct number in the pattern. Thankfully, I am still able to count and could figure this out as I knit so it’s all good in the end. I will write to the designer and see why this hasn’t been corrected since the pattern’s been out for several years!

Happy Saturday to anyone who reads this!

Gone knitting!

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Laughing All the Way

I have had a wonderful experience teaching three wonderful students a stranded knitting class. We made “my” Four Needle Snowflake Mittens. These are my favorite mittens to date. I love knitting them. The pattern came from my colleague and teacher, Bette. It’s an old and often-copied pattern but it’s a great one!

At our last class, I was explaining the difference between mittens that are the same (can be worn on either hand) and mittens that are knitted specifically for either the left or right hand. I pulled out my finished pair of mittens to show the ladies what I was talking about  and …img_7658

Do you see the problem?

How about now?

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Ha! Ha! Ha! It’s so good that I have learned how to laugh at myself! I realized that I had knitted TWO LEFT MITTENS!!! What a teachable moment! Even the teacher can make mistakes!

I’ve shared this story with everyone at work, my other classes and just about everyone that I have spoken to and every single time I laugh. Out loud! I still find it hilarious!

Since these were to be a Christmas gift for a very special person who happens to have a left and a right hand, I have had to finish a third mitten … this one is for the other hand! LOL. My students continue to teach me as much as I teach them!

Now, I’ve got them fixed – and the fourth mitten will be finished after I complete another pair. Wait until you see them!

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Today’s lesson learned – never take yourself too seriously!

Gone knitting.

#20 Adults Aran Sweater by Yankee Knitter Designs

Love Love Love the Raspberry Stitch in the middle

Love Love Love the Raspberry Stitch in the middle

The Adult Aran Sweater has been a bucket list project for a couple of years. I love the cardigan … I love the pullover, too. There is something so classic and beautiful about Aran knitting. I have always felt drawn to the Irish part of me (yes, I am partly Irish) and maybe my attraction to Aran knitting is because of that. (or maybe not.)

Regardless, I’ve mostly completed the cardigan for myself. It has been blocked and is nearly dry enough to seam together. It should be a cinch to seam as most of the seams will be straight  and simple. That said, I will wait to finish the seaming before I go about bragging about it being easy – I’m sure to jinx myself.

This pattern was a joy to knit. I loved the pattern and it was the first time that the pattern was so well planned that it was easy for me to memorize so that I didn’t need to refer to the pattern every row. I knitted mine in stashed yarn that I have been carrying around for nearly a decade, Galway Worsted yarn in the natural colorway. The yarn is made by Plymouth Yarn Co. It’s a sturdy worsted weight wool and it should wear well. I plan to wear this sweater a lot!

I love the Galway worsted yarn by Plymouth. I bought a whole bag (or maybe two) to make the Great American Aran Afghan about eight years ago. I’ve started a square twice and never finished them. So, when I was searching my stash to make this sweater (because I am in a severe stash busting mode right now) it was evident that I would have more than enough of this yarn to complete my cardigan and I would bust my stash a bit, too! The afghan will go back on my knitting challenge bucket list for those times when I can sit quietly by myself and count all the stitches. For now, my life is too full of people and activities and that’s a good thing.

A good start - I chose to make my ribbing with the larger size needle so it doesn't get too blouse-y

A good start – I chose to make my ribbing with the larger size needle so it doesn’t get too blouse-y

I chose to knit my ribbing both on the bottom of the body and the sleeves with the same size needle that I knit the rest of the sweater with. I didn’t want it to be super blousey. I loved the twisted rib and it adds a little something special to the sweater’s edges. Otherwise, I knit the sweater as the pattern is written. I made the sleeves a little bit longer than the 20 inches called for because I have gorilla arms.

Blocking

Blocking

I always seem to block my knitwear on the guest bed in our guest room. It’s so much easier on my back! I blocked this out to the chest size that was in the pattern and the sleeves were blocked to the length that I wanted them. The only thing that would improve this pattern (and be helpful for blocking) would be to have a schematic diagram of the way that the pieces are supposed to measure. But, having a little bit of experience, I knew that the crucial measurements for me are the chest and the arm length. The rest will work itself out.

I never buy buttons until the sweater is completed and I won’t break my rule for this sweater. I imagine that I will choose simple buttons because the knitted pattern is so pretty that I don’t want to take away from it but I will cross that river when I get there. (And I will check my button stash first, too!)

Once dry, I will weave in the ends and then seam the sweater up! I can’t wait to have this one finished. And, of course, it’s now summertime and it’s going to be awhile until I get to wear it. But when it’s done, I will post photos of it all together.

Gone knitting.

I Hate it When This Happens

Happily knitting along on my Wonderful Wallaby and my right hand feels a lump.

I hate it when this happens!

I hate it when this happens!

Thankfully, I’m knitting with wool and since it’s a natural fiber, I can do a “spit join” and it will be a seamless (and end-less … read this as no ends to weave in) way to keep on knitting.

To do this, all you have to do is:

1) cut out the knot with your handy dandy scissors

2) separate the plies from each end of the yarn

3) mine was 4-ply. I cut out two plies from each end of the yarn

After separating the plies, cut out half of them & wet both ends and lay them together again

After separating the plies, cut out half of them & wet both ends and lay them together again

4) “spit” on the yarn (or dip it into some water) and hold the two ends together and rub them between your two hands. The heat and agitation will bind the fibers … like magic!

Magic! Ready to knit on!

Magic! Ready to knit on!

5) knit on!

Gone knitting!

A Wonderful Day in Maine

Yesterday we decided to take a drive. It’s an old-fashioned idea, I know. My dad used to take us on a drive on Sundays. We’d all climb into the back seat of his car (sometimes with the top down) and, though there was always some “Mom, he’s over the line” bickering, off we’d go. Once I recall my brother letting go of a cloth diaper when the convertible top was down. Not sure how he survived that one!

Anyway, I’ve wandered from my purpose here.

Yesterday we decided to take a drive. We had a slow, lazy start to the day with coffee on the front porch and then packed up the dogs and headed to Bath.

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My plan was to visit Halcyon Yarns. (N had his cameras and can always keep himself busy for a couple of hours while waiting for me to shop for yarn. And it was cool enough for the dogs to come with us rather than be crated in the house.)

Part of why I love to visit Halcyon Yarns is because it’s not just a knitting shop. I can while away hours imagining learning all the crafts that they carry the stuff for – needle felting, spinning, rug hooking, tatting, weaving, and crochet. I’ve probably missed a few. Aisles and aisles of fiber from warp (or is it weft?) to cotton, and wool and alpaca and silk threads and many different weights of each. Some are actually Halcyon yarns and some are from well-known companies like Noro and Cascade. And a room full of pattern books and mugs and yarn bowls and … well, you get my drift.

I carefully paced myself as it can be a dangerous thing, shopping for yarn. But this time I was “good”. I only bought a few things …

Noro Taiyo Sock - Color S17 Lot D Cotton, Wool, Polyamide & Silk 24-26 sts x 36-38 rows = 4 inches on US 2-3 needles

Noro Taiyo Sock – Color S17 Lot D
Cotton, Wool, Polyamide & Silk
24-26 sts x 36-38 rows = 4 inches on US 2-3 needles

Two skeins of  Noro Taiyo Sock yarn (in Color S17-D) for another (more colorful) Bermuda Shawl. And, yes, the two skeins are the same colorway! I can’t wait to start knitting with this yarn!

Noro Taiyo - Color 35 Lot A 100 grams, 200 meters Cotton, Silk, Wool & Nylon

Noro Taiyo – Color 35 Lot A
100 grams, 200 meters
Cotton, Silk, Wool & Nylon

One skein of Noro Taiyo (Color 35-A which was on sale) for a knitted lamb from the new Noro (Spring/Summer) Magazine. I also bought the magazine.

Hlacyon Gemstone Soft Twist Silk - Lot 15989 - 240 yards 100% silk, Sport weight 5-7 sts = 1 inch on US 3-5 needles

Hlacyon Gemstone Soft Twist Silk – Lot 15989 – 240 yards
100% silk, Sport weight
5-7 sts = 1 inch on US 3-5 needles

I bought a hank of Halcyon’s Gemstone Soft Twist Silk in a silver color (not sure what the gemstone is … diamond? I like diamonds!) This is to knit a necklace that I saw online … on Facebook, if my memory serves.

Indulgence Sock Yarn - Color 105 Lot 18411 426 yards, 21 sts x 27 rows = 4 inches on size US 3-6 needles Merino wool & Polyamide

Indulgence Sock Yarn – Color 105 Lot 18411
426 yards, 21 sts x 27 rows = 4 inches on size US 3-6 needles
Merino wool & Polyamide

And last, a ball of Indulgence 6-ply (also on sale) Sock Yarn with which I’ll make socks. I just loved the colors in the yarn (and it’s really soft, too.) The sample that was on the table was a tubular scarf knitted in all of the different colorways … I almost bought one of each. Almost.

Halcyon also has a bunch of wonderful-sounding classes available if you’re looking to take one! And the people who work there are very friendly and helpful … if you don’t mind wandering aimlessly, you can do it for hours at Halcyon Yarn! You’re going to enjoy the ever-changing samples at Halcyon, too! I saw no fewer than three sweaters that I would like to knit. Too bad I brought three projects with me from Florida!

And while you’re visiting Bath, it’s worth your while to visit the Bath Iron Works and the Maine Maritime Museum. For $27 (adults) you’ll get admission to both a 1-hour tour of the place where our US naval warships are being built. Some are so super secret that you’re not allowed to take photographs! Really fascinating! You can also visit Popham Beach (beware, the water in Maine is wicked cold!) and Reid State Park.

Parks, new things to learn and fiber. Just a few of the reasons that I return to the area every year!

Gone knitting.

Wet Blocking vs. Steam Blocking vs. Spritz Blocking

Some tools you'll need: Eucalan (or Soak) wash and stainless steel t-pins

Some tools you’ll need: Eucalan (or Soak) wash and stainless steel t-pins

It took me awhile, when I started knitting, to figure out just what blocking means. There are a few (maybe several) terms that knitters use regularly that are not really clear to those who are new to the craft. So, I’m going to try to give a general description of two often-used blocking techniques – wet blocking and steam blocking.

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Blocked Shawl – wool. Wet blocked.

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Close up of what happens to garments when blocked – the lacy details just come alive!

For most sturdy fibers, I like to wet block. Wool is a sturdy fiber (and if it has a little bit of man-made fiber blended in, it’s still sturdy enough). I would also suggest wet blocking linen garments. I’ve read that some people “whap” their linen once soaked … sounds violent to me but I know it does get “softer” when washed a couple of times.

To wet block a garment, you want to immerse the garment completely in cool water mixed with a little bit of wool wash like Eucalan or Soak. Gently lift your garment out of the water and gently squeeze the extra water out. Never (NEVER) wring hand-knit garments. I usually put the garment on a clean bath towel, roll it up and then press gently to get even more water out of the garment. Then lay it flat on a blocking board or a new clean towel on your guest room bed. Or on an infrequently traveled area of wall-to-wall carpet. Gently pull the garment to the right shape and measurements and let it dry. It may take a couple of days.

An alternate method is to steam block. I set my garment on a clean bath towel and with my steam iron set to the steam setting, Pin the garment into the shape/size that you want it to be. I hold the iron over (without touching) the garment and give it a jolt of steam or two or three. The heat and moisture will relax the fibers enough to make it possible to give it a little bit of adjustment. Let it dry completely. (Another way I’ve heard some people steam block is by using a wet (clean) pillow case on top of the garment and putting the iron onto the pillow, pushing the steam button, until the pillow case is dry. This is a gentler method than wet blocking and you should get the same result.

Note: If your garment is made of hand-dyed wool, and the color isn’t “fixed” and you see dye in the water when wet blocking, you can also add a little bit of white vinegar (a cap-full or two) which should help “fix” the dye. If color is bleeding, keep rinsing with cool water until the water runs mostly clear.

Lacy edge of a mink & cashmere blend shawlette

Lacy edge of a mink & cashmere blend shawlette (it’s for sale, if you’re interested)

The last method that I want to discuss is spritz blocking. If using this method (which is good for any fibers you have doubts about soaking in water or steaming with an iron … in my house that’s alpaca, silk, mohair, cashmere and anything I’m not sure of … I pin it into shape and then spritz it with a plant sprayer. Make sure the sprayer is clean (hasn’t been used for cleaning chemicals or anything) and filled with water and just spritz the garment until it’s moderately damp. Leave it there until it’s dry.

There you have it. A primer, if you will, on blocking. I hope this helps!

Gone knitting!

321

I like that number … 321 … so when we get to “like” #321 on Facebook, there will be another wonderful gift given to a random person … you can be someone who’s been following me for years or someone who just “liked” my Facebook page. All’s fair in my knitting world!

So, the promise made was that I would post the pictures that I took yesterday at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor. We meandered our way through several different Maine towns and saw some fun art. For me, however, the knitted life-sized animal pelts was the best – inspiring as someone who has designed a pair of mittens and a couple of garments for ten-pound dogs!

“Vanished into Stitches” by Ruth Marshall. She knit these life-size, anatomically correct pelts with wool. By hand. After making a full-size chart of the pelt with an accurate replication of the coloring … the artist studied real pelts and animals to make sure that her knitted ones were spot-on (no pun intended.) Many of them are more than six feet tall and when suspended from their bamboo “frames” …

The are awesome!

The artist wants you to know that only 3,200 tigers live in the wild today. Maybe we knitters can make a difference by refusing to buy their pelts in any form … unless they’re knitted, of course!

so you can see the stitches ... just in case you had any doubt

Remember the number 321. Have all your friends and family “like” Queen Bee Knits. So far, I’ve given away a pair of wonderful green fingerless gloves and a pair of “Circle of Life” socks (designed cleverly to stay on a baby’s feet by Cat Bordhi). You’ll never know what I’ll come up with next!

And for now, I’ve gone knitting … not animal pelts, though!