Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Winter Classes at Charlotte Yarn

Jane’s Winter Knitting Classes

Jan. 9, 16, 23 6-7:30 pm Beyond Beginners ($45)
Jan. 14 1-3 pm L-Shaped Scarf ($30)
Jan. 27, Feb. 3 10 am-12 pm Mosaic Knitting (Bag) ($45)
Jan. 28, Feb. 4 1-2:30 pm Caberet Bag ($35)

Feb. 17 10am-3:00pm Altering a Pattern to Fit You ($60)
Feb. 20, 27 6-7:30 pm Knitting Disasters and Creative Opportunies ($35)

Mar. 3, 10 10am-12 pm Beyond Beyond (New Class) ($45)
Mar. 4, 11, 18 10am-12 pm Top Down Summer Sweater ($65)
Mar. 13, 20, 27 6-7:30 pm Beyond Beginners ($45)

Design your own class -- For three or more knitters.
Choose a subject, a day and a time and Jane will teach your class. Email Jane to discuss arrangements. (jprater@carolina.rr.com) Put “knitting class” in the subject line.


L-Shaped Scarf
A Merely a Suggestion pattern, this scarf is knitted using patchwork knitting techniques. Originally I attempted to make this scarf in stockinette stitch, but it was just too boring to knit. I love the work of Horst Schultz and was inspired to shape this scarf using techniques I learned from his books.

In this class you will learn how to:
1. manage a very long cast on
2. knit a mitered angle
3. add new yarn and weave in ends
4. use gauge to adapt this pattern to any yarn you choose

Materials needed:
Two skeins of Shine or @ 250 yds or sport wt. yarn
Optional: Complimentary yarns from your stash in small amounts
Size 24” circular needle size 9 or 10 (Any size that gets gauge!!)
Pattern is included.

Mosaic Knitting (Bag)
A very easy way to knit with two colors and create some lovely geometric designs. This technique is undergoing a renewed popularity somewhat because it is so much easier and speedier than fair isle.

In this class you will learn how to:
1. read a mosaic knitting chart
2. select color values to enhance your designs
3. fast and furious lining for a bag (Handsewn)
4. easy zipper insert technique (Handsewn)
5. design your own bag or knit the sample—or both

Materials needed: Smooth, worsted weight wool or wool blend yarn in a solid, light color, a dark color and an in-between color (Check your scrap basket!) , Size 7 or 8 needles, scissors, stitch markers, tapestry needle, tape measure, pencil and paper. Project yarn will not be needed until the second class.

Caberet Bag
Use this simple drawstring bag (a Merely a Suggestion pattern is included in the fee) to learn about mixing yarns and using double –pointed needles. Most of the bag can be knit on a 16” circular if you wish for speed. Merely a Suggestions pattern included. See samples in the shop.

In this class you will learn how to:
1. cast on and join yarn on a circular needle
2. create eyelets for a drawstring strap
3. attach new yarns, carry unused yarns, and weave in ends
4. use double pointed needles
5. close the bottom of any tube to create a bag or hat
6. create a twisted cord purse strap

Materials needed:
16” circular needle, size 6; dp needles, size 6
10 markers
1 skein solid DK or worsted yarn to serve as MC, 1 skein of two different novelty yarns to coordinate (or bits and pieces of your leftovers)
Scissors, tapestry needle, pencil and paper.

Altering a Pattern to Fit You
If you don’t custom fit it, why bother? Land’s End is cheaper and faster.

In this class you will learn how to:
1. measure for a knitted garment
2. make you swatch work for you
3. make a paper pattern to use as a check sheet
4. check their math (Sometimes patterns lie!)
5. re-figure the pattern for your gauge
6. shape the pattern to flatter you

Materials needed: a 4” by 4” swatch which has been washed and dried or blocked (use a yarn you are thinking of making a sweater from), pencil and paper, 12” ruler, measuring tape, a sweater or jacket pattern you really want to make (not an oversize fit); other supplies will be provided.

Knitting Disasters and Creative Opportunities
Error? Miscue?
Ripping out is the last resort. Learn to fix it, prevent it, adapt it, transform it—even embrace it.

In this class, you will learn how to :
1. recover from running out of yarn
2. integrate two different dye lots
3. recover dropped stitches
4. alter an incorrect stitch
5. change the length of a garment after it is finished
6. recycle yarn

Materials needed: Small amount of smooth, light-colored worsted weight yarn (like Cascade 220 or Encore); needles size 6. 7. or 8; tapestry needle, scissors, crochet hook size F, G, or H; HOMEWORK SWATCH.

Homework swatch: With smooth, light-colored worsted weight yarn (like Cascade 220 or Encore), cast on 15 sts.
Knit 10 rows of stockinette stitch.
On next right side row, K5, P1, K4, P1, K to end.
Continue in stockinette st for 6 more rows. DO NOT BIND OFF.

Beyond Beginners
You’ve knit scarves, shawls, place mats, dishcloths and every thing else you can think of which is rectangular. You need new shapes.

This class explores the techniques needed to make some curves. We also will attack the “little” questions you’ve been wondering about. This class is unique because the students determine the content.

We will begin with various ways to increase and decrease in order to shape a garment and make it fit. Topics chosen by previous classes to explore have included new cast ons, how to attach a new color, simple cables, correcting mistakes without ripping out, seaming pieces together, pattern reading techniques, solving the mystery of gauge, and others.

Prerequisites: Must be able to cast on, bind off, decrease and increase one way, knit and purl comfortably, and have completed at least one project.)

Materials needed: Smooth, worsted weight wool or wool blend yarn in a solid, light color. (Check your scrap basket!) , Size 7 or 8 needles, scissors, stitch markers, tapestry needle, tape measure, pencil.

Homework for the first class: Bring a knitted project, successful or disastrous, to show and tell.

Beyond Beyond
Designed for the experienced knitter, this class adopts the philosophy of Beyond Beginners. Students will determine the content of the class. Suggested techniques include grafting/Kitchener stitch; knitting backwards; alternations after the fact; picking up stitches evenly; error corrections; pattern/chart reading. Bring your knitting problems to class and we’ll all learn.

Materials needed: Smooth, worsted weight wool or wool blend yarn in a solid, light color. (Check your scrap basket!) , Size 7 or 8 needles, scissors, stitch markers, tapestry needle, tape measure, pencil and paper. Also bring any knitting problems or questions .

Top Down Summer Sweater
Did your last sweater project fit the way you wanted? For a perfect fit every time, knit from the top down.

Barbara Walker’s book Knitting from the Top Down is a classic. In this book she describes how to knit a sweater of any design without being tied to someone else’s numbers and without having to wait until it is finished to discover IF it fits. We will knit a mini version of a top down sweater, and then get you started on a summer shell of your choice.

In this class you will learn how to:
1. take the measurements you really need for a sweater
2. shape an armhole
3. shape any type neck
4. add short rows for a larger bust
5. define a waist
6. decide on your perfect length

Materials needed: Smooth, worsted weight wool or wool blend yarn in a solid, light color. (Check your scrap basket!) , Size 7 or 8 needles, scissors, stitch markers, tapestry needle, tape measure, pencil and paper. Sleeveless sweater patterns of your choice and yarn for project will be discuss in first class. Barbara Walker’s book is highly recommended.

Friday, December 15, 2006

When in doubt, LISTEN!

There they were--two skeins of Lorna's Laces Vera. Stunning. Gorgeous. The fuschia popped and the green, brown and pale whatever were a solid foundation. Great socks were just ahead.

I cast on and did a very flat 4X1 rib. I knit both cuffs, both heels, half a foot on each and just could stand it no longer. They just lay there in my lap--no life, no pop, no fun. I felt I had killed a beautiful colorway. Why hadn't I suspected stockinette was death to this yarn?

I frogged.

Then I swatched!!! Entrelac was attractive, but too complicated for the moment. Also too many entrelac patterns floating around in cyberspace. I wanted something a bit more mindless and new. I needed a solid to pop this yarn. Apple green--well, I have been fixated on the chartreuse/apple green section of the color wheel. I knit a small swatch.

Small swatches lie!!

I knit both cuffs, both heels, half a foot on each and just could stand it no longer. They were ugly--no, they were butt-ugly. I knew they were this ugly four inches into the first sock, but I hoped the pattern would grow on me. Well, it did resemble lichen in a certain light. I couldn't gift these ugly socks, not even to an enemy; I couldn't offer them as a pattern, not even a free one; I couldn't even keep them to wear because I don't wear UGLY socks.

Plan C. First we frog, gently this time. While knitting the ugly ones, I would sometimes goof and leave out the second row of green. I had to correct this several times. Subconscience calling????? I actually liked the error. At least I think I did. What to do--knit this new pattern until I have two almost finished socks and then decide -- OR -- knit a big swatch, wrap it around my leg and check it out. Naw-w-w-w. Compromise; knit the first cuff and look at it for a few days before committing.

Then either I knit the socks or burn the yarn. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

JDP, Knitter and Contractor

Holidays are coming. The local paper had a big article about the Darren McGaven movie "The Christmas Story." It's a big fave in my family. We watch it every year. The first year DGS#1 was around, we watched it and then I gave DD#1 a package to open. It was a rabbit suit just like the pajamas in the movie. It was an old Lion Brand Kit, but the point was to laugh not to impress. He wore it for Halloween for two years. This year DGS#2 wore it. I do have a picture of that to share.

Someday he'll hate me for this.

Where have I been? Well, I just don't think I can write if I don't have pictures and I always forget to take them. I've been working on some patterns that I may submit somewhere and can't post pictures yet, so that makes me even more reluctant to blog.

Enough excuses. Pass me my toolbelt--the one with the screwdrivers. I have been spending time with moisture control guys and heating specialists as I get ready to fix up the house. I'm also watching every home show on TV. This takes time, but can be done while knitting. I want my very own nailgun. What power! Want a bookcase? Just simple measurements and straight cuts and then KAPOW, KAPOW, KAPOW with the nailgun and it's done. It's all about the tools.

I only have a drill. I use it to wind bobbins for weaving. Oh how sadly underexposed I've been to the world of power tools. No more. Stay tuned for adventures.

I'm playing with my class schedule for next year. I'm planning a Mosaic Knitting class where the students get started on a bag I've designed. It's been fun to try new patterns and plan the sequence for the class. I also want to do mistake class; of course, most of that is really a planning not to make mistakes class. Other topics under consideration include couture cast-ons, knit to fit workshops, another lace shawl, knitting with handdyes. Of course I'll offer my favorite Beyond Beginners and maybe even a Beyond Beyond. I think skill/technique classes are the best to teach. People are so often shocked at how creative they really are.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

To be or not to be?????

ARGHHHHHHHHHH! This house thing has me just stunned--gobsmacked as the Brits say. DH thinks we can build a new house for X dollars. Wonderful architect comes and says 3X dollars. Dear friend who is realtor says 3X dollars. Jane says Whoa!

So, Plan M. M may be for moisture. The guy comes tomorrow to check for mold and moisture damage---and he will find it. DH says is won't cost much to fix. I've lost faith in DH's ability in this area. The guy is a creative genius of engineering, aviation, cycling, F1 racing and Shakespeare. He don't know nuthin' about buildin' houses.

I've decided to fix this one up as I would to sell it, but then not. I'm going to put my laundry upstairs somewhere and then just be happy. It's as simple as that.

Once that decision was made, I could knit again. In fact, patterns are jumping up all over in my brain. I have several sock patterns in mind and some wristlets. I made Jake a sweater (See opening photo) since he has been groomed and no longer has his Wookie-hair to keep him warm. Last walk Henry peed on Jake's head, so I guess a hat is next for him.

I've knit 10 mini-sweaters and two mini-socks for my Christmas tree. Pictures are on the guild's blog. I really enjoyed teaching the program. The socks are just plain old 24 st socks and work up quickly. Use your leftover yarn.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Finished and Almost Finished

Finally I am knitting a Dale sweater for a DGS. Dalegarn book #142. I fell in love with the cowheads which may show up on other projects. The braided cast on that I used really flips up. I hope the blocking will control that. If not, plan B. I love the colors. They are soft and gentle but still boyish. Also hope he gets two years wear out of this. Lots of leftover yarn which will go into socks.

Speaking of socks . . .

. . .finished another pair. This is the combo of Cherry Tree Hill supersock and a solid Louet gem merino that I started as part of the pre-med procedure. I really love this Birches colorway from CTH. I can't wear these colors near my face, so they go on my feet. The Gem Pearl is fern green. I also have some mustard and some goldilocks which will work well with this. Enough is left over to make another pair for someone else. Maybe stripes.

Last picture of the Austrian socks. I include it because they are finished and because Candace Eisner Strick has a pattern in the new issue of Knitters. The pattern calls for using a cable needle to twist the stitches. This is not how Candace really does it, but her way, while faster and easier, is harder to explain. Take her class on this technique. She is amazing, as is the stitch definition on this technique.

Check her website Strickwear. I bought the Merging Colors Pretty Picot Shoulder Scarf kit in Purple Passion, but haven't started it yet. The yarn is lovely.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dogs and Docs

Well, I survived the beach trip with only a wounded liver. Didn't get all that much knitting done. Wonder why?

This past week was filled with medical pursuits. I had the "nose thing" removed by this really neat lady doc in incredible stilletos. Seriously these were like Jimmy Choos or something. Five inch heels and open toes. She had great legs. too. More power to her. I, of course, asked about them. How many doctors work all day in hooker shoes? She confessed an out of control obsession which harms no one else. This is a doc you could look forward to visiting just to see the shoes.

Second doc is not one to revisit, but he was very sweet. It was time for the colonoscopy and EGD or whatever. Anyway they video the digestive track from teeth to tail. Slept through it so the "taping" was not a problem. It is the prelim that will kill you. Under no circumstances should you choose the Lemon-Lime flavor of the trilyte. Never. Oh my lord is it awful?????? Everything seems to be pretty much okay. He put me on Prilosac. Even mounds of knitting isn't keeping the stomach acid at bay.

Speaking of -- in my nervousness and lack of food on fast day before the big event, I started another pair of socks. These are a combo of Cherry Tree Hill supersock and a solid Louet gem merino. I knit both cuffs that day and have finished the heels--Lucy Neatby's garter st ones. I'm almost through with the second foot. Most of the sock is just stockinette. The yarn is pretty enough to stand on its on and I wasn't in the mood to think at all. I'll post pics as soon as they are finished.

Went to South Carolina today and brought home a rescue dog for Henry. They called him Jake and I think the name may stick. He's a Shih Tzu mix, 5 years old, and with serious dental misalignment. He's healthy and really quite sweet. Meghan laughed at him, but I didn't send that child to cotillion as a teen and I've regretted it ever since. He's made himself right at home, took to his bed like a champ and napped all day. Henry's adorable little 20 watt brain is just not quite sure what is going on or whether he likes it, but he'll come around. Steve doesn't say much but grins a lot and clearly is enjoying the boy.

I'll have to knit Jake a coat before the weather gets really bad. That should be fun.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Knitting at the Beach

Finished the red sock which is the mother of all socks. Great yarn, great fit, fun techniques. I married Louet gem merino with Candance Eisner Strick's Austrian Traveling Stitches and Lucy Neatby's garter st heel and toe. I love this sock. I love the heel and the toe and the design. I love the wool.
This is the perfect sock.
For the Austrian Stitches, you really need to take Candance's class. There isn't a book. And I've not seen an instruction that was really the sharply defined, traditional technique. Sorry.

The toe and heel are described in an article on the Interweave Knits website. Very clear instructions. The heel and toe are thick which I find a plus for winter in sandals and clogs.

The Swallowtail shawl from the fall IK is also finished and hanging at Charlotte Yarn to advertise the class which starts October 5th. This one is made from the Misti Alpaca on a size 4 needle. It, as intended, is small, more a suit shawl. Others have knit this pattern and been very happy with it in Silky Wool (#8) or Brown Sheep Handpaint (#9). Those two came out more normal shawl size. I think there is a new deep purple one in my future. PlumFun yarns got a new shipment of Silky Wool with a deep deep purple that I covet.

Wild Dunes is beautiful and the weather is great. Lots of laughter. We brought out own food to the beach cottage. I would share more, but we have agreed that what happens at the beach stays at the beach. The second beer run was less that one day after arrival.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

See Jane's House Fall Down

This is my home. Built in 1941 and with all the lovely problems that can bring. Inside it is a cluttered nightmare. I've got yarn in every room somewhere. I've got a bit of everything in every room. I keep trying to de-clutter and all I do is move stuff around and never get anything consolidated. Also I never get happy with the layout.

Enter Meghan's father-in-law. Lee is a contractor in Wisconsin and was visiting. Helpful man said he'd come look the place over as we get ready to talk about remodeling for the 900th time. Lee comes. Lee says cheaper to level it and rebuild. Jane and Steve smile.

Everytime we leave with the dog, Steve prays for fire.

This seems the right decision.

Creative juices will go into this project for a long while, so I bought another person's pattern to occupy my mind. It is the Eris pattern from The Girl From Auntie. I have been wanting a zippered sweater so this is perfect. It is a downloadable pattern -- all 40 pages. Ran out of ink at page 12, but am impressed already by her discussion of the pattern in the intro pages. So much info to set you up to knit it easily. It begins by knitting the cabled collar and then picking up stitches and knitting down. My favorite way to knit. Now to find the right yarn in my stash. Please--I want to use something I've already got. Lessens the amount to store,

Still knitting socks and chasing the perfect heel. Have started a new pair using a honeycomb pattern. Pics soon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Free Pattern for Holiday Decoration

Top Down Miniature Raglan Cardigan

I designed this to help teach a top down class for students who don’t yet use dpns well. It makes a cute tree ornament, present topper, or may even fit Barbie. I'm going to use novelty leftovers to make some for my holiday tree. DGSs won't be able to break these

Materials: I used Worsted Weight Wool, US size 6 circular needle.
CO 16 sts. Purl a row to place the markers thusly: P3, pm, P2, pm, P6, pm, P2, pm, P3.

Next row (Inc row): *Knit to marker, inc, slip m, K1, inc; repeat from * 3 more times; then Knit to the end of the row.
Following row: P 1 row.

Repeat the previous two rows 4 more times. You should have the following number of sts on your needles: 7,10,14,10,7 = 48 sts
Set up to knit the body and place the sleeve sts on holders.

Knit 7 front sts, sl m, place 10 sleeve sts on a holder, remove marker, knit the 14 back stitches, remove marker, place 10 sleeve sts on holder, sl m, knit the 7 front sts. Purl the next row. (Ignore the sts on markers.)

Continue in stockinette st or a pattern st of your choice until the sweater is the desired length. ( I knit 8 rows.) Knit 4 rows of garter st and bind off. Use a smaller needle for the garter stitch if you have one.

SLEEVES: With RS facing, use the circular needle to pick up one st from the underarm, knit all sleeve sts from the holder onto the needle, pick up one st from the underarm . Picked up stitches are at the beginning and end of the row. (12 sts)
Purl the next row which is a WS row. Continue in pattern or st st for 6 more rows.

Row 7: K1, dec 1, K to the end. Continue in pattern for 3 more rows.
Row 11: Work in your chosen pattern until only 3 sts are left on the needle, dec 1, K last st.
Work 2 more rows in pattern (or in garter st) and cast off.

Repeat these instructions for the other sleeve.


Sew the underarm seam.

With RS facing, pick up stitches along the edge of the right front and knit 2 rows; bind off. I picked up 15.)
Pick up stitches along the edge of the left front and knit 2 rows; bind off.
Pick up sts along the neck edge and bind off.
Close the fronts with a pin or ribbon.
Make a hangar out of wire and place on your tree.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Knitting in Public

So when was the last time you knit in public? How many people did you attract?

My favorite place to knit in public is hotel bars, preferably while watching some sporting event such as soccer or beach volleyball. Of course a large beer (brown ale) is required. Just sip it or you'll be ripping stitches all night. No one expects you to be knittng in a bar, so people react. They ask about your project or, my favorite, they tell you a knitting story from their life. I think that is a bit of a gift. Usually it is a young man that comes over to ask. Women just smile at me unless they, too, are knitters and then all bets are off.

I wonder if the 20-something generation discovered this aspect of knitting--the attract a cute guy or at least give him an opening to talk to you aspect. Walking a dog used to be the thing. My daughter enjoyed us visiting her at college with the dog. She walked him and talked to all kinds of cute guys. Perhaps some of the fellowship we enjoy from knitting doesn't even involve other knitters. Probably not.

But anyway, pick up your knitting and go someplace unexpected to knit. The MS Bike Ride to the Beach is coming up and my husband will ride it. I will tag along as a support person which means I drive him from the finish each day to the motel. I plan to take my knitting and a lawn chair and set up near the finish line. I'll meet some interesting folks and some of them will tell me their knitting stories. A day well spent, I think.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jaywalkers Done!!!

Here is my version of the popular Jaywalker sock from magknits. I changed so much in order to get it to fit my fat thigh and small foot. The yarn I used was from elann.com; it is called Esprit and is very similar to Cascade's Fixation. It is way too thick to use a size 0 needle and that is what I would need at 80 stitches. So . . . . my first change was to lose two stitches from each pattern repeat. I cast on 68 stitches using size 6 needles. I was very worried about the sock stretching enough to go over my heel. I knit the ribbing and switched to a size 5 to begin the pattern in the cuff. An inch or two of that and then I went to a size 4. Thus I shaped the cuff to fit my weird leg. At the very end I dropped two more stitches per repeat by doing the double decrease without the K f&B inc.

In my neverending quest for trying new heels and toes, I chose the Balbriggan heel. (from Ireland and Nancy Bush)

I knit the flap over half the stitches (30) using a ktbl, p repeat across the front and purl all across the back. It's very textured and I like it better than the plain k1,p1 heel flap. I switched to stockinette to turn the heel and fiddled with Nancy's numbers because I had 30 stitches and her directions were for 40. Figured it out, though, and the heel turned nicely.

Kitchnered the heel. Worked beautifully. Left a very smooth piece to stand on. Then I pick up the 30 sts I had used up for the heel and began the foot. No gusset decreases. I hate decreasing for the gusset. No good reason. Just hate. I did use a new pick up for me. I picked up only one strand and knitted it tbl to close it up a bit. This was great. You cannot feel a seam. I think that seam is what I don't like on traditional heels.

Now for a new toe. I chose the round toe which decreases much like the top of a hat. If you hate Kitchner (I don't understand why) this is an option for you. It merely spaces K2tog decreases around the foot with ever decreasing even rows in between the decrease rows. All of this is in Folk Socks by Nancy Bush.

They are finished. They slide on nice and easy. I'm pleased, most of all by the Balbriggan heel. I will definitely use that again because it cups my heel so well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Classes and Projects

It hasn't been blocked, doesn't have shoulder pads, but Meghan was available to take the picture, so here it is.

Yes, that is a thumb support in the picture. Left thumb really hurts; right thumb hurts. Strange pains come and go in both hands. Does anyone know a good hand doctor?

My progress toward class samples has been greatly slowed. I may never get back to those two pair of socks.

I have planned my classes for now until the end of the year. Lots of quickie weekend classes and few for the more advanced crowd. Hope everyone finds something they would like. If not, let me know.

Newest project is the Swallowtail shawl in Interweave Knits. I'm using the yarn it calls for--that's a first! Misti Alpaca that I had in my stash. The shawl knits from the top down and the pattern is only 24 inches. I don't like shawls that come to my knees. (No short jokes, please.) The first section after the cast-on and set up is a nice 6 row lace pattern with return row purl. I did use a safety line, but didn't need it. Then I got cocky.

For section two, a lily of the valley lace that I had never knit before, I forewent the safety line because I'm so good I don't need one. After tinking 3 tedious rows of botched lace over 200 sts long, I put in the safety line, practiced the pattern until I began to get a handle on that P5tog thing and then restarted. Actually it is coming along quite well. It just slows for the P5tog some of the time. It's so pretty that it is worth it.

Class schedule in brief. More details at www.charlotteyarn.com
Sept. 23 10am – 12 Cables Workshop Adv. Beg
Sept. 24 2pm-4 Knit with Me Free
Help session for students who have taken classes in the past few months. Invitations will be sent by email.
Oct 1 – 8 1pm-2:30 Double Pointed Cabaret Bag
Oct. 5-19 6pm-7-30 Swallowtail shawl Intermediate
Oct 7 10am-12 Couture Cast-ons Adv. Beg
Oct 10-24 6pm-7:30 Advanced Sock techniques Intermediate
Nov. 4-11 10am-12 Beyond Beginners Adv. Beg
Nov. 5-19 1pm-2:30 Plus Size Fit Class Advanced
Nov. 9-16 6pm-7:30 Finishing workshop Adv. Beg
Dec. 2 10am-12 Lace Baby Bonnets Adv. Beg
Dec. 3 1pm-3 Lace edgings Adv. Beg
Dec. 17 1pm-3 Knit with Me Free
Help session for students who have taken classes in the past few months. Invitations will be sent by email.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bike Socks finished!!

The alternating dark-light pattern in the gusset is a departure from Lucy Neatby's pattern as is the dark-light striped toe. I just love the effect of that toe and it finds its way into many of my socks. (Actually, it just makes it easy to remember if I have decreased or not!)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Precious Pals--An Opportunity to do Girly Stuff

This is my first Precious Pal to be donated to the Charlotte Police Department. He's wearing a sweater knitted from the pattern on The Knitting Guild of America website. Officers will carry these animals in squad cars and use them to communicate with children who have been involved in or witnessed a crime. While shopping today, I acted on a hint from Debra Davis and stopped in at the Dollar Tree on South Blvd. I bought ten bears to dress for only $1.00 apiece. They are 20" tall and very soft.

I can't wait to get to work on something for the green bear. Since I have no granddaughters (two amazing grandsons), I plan to do a very girly sweater for this bear. Maybe metallics or ruffles. Maybe both.

The Guild is having a Knit In at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Southpark on August 19th. We are planning to work on this project there all day. I'll take some of my bears to share with others.

Henry was a little confused. Okay, Henry is always a little confused. But he did wonder who all these guys were sitting on his sofa.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Great Sock-a-long: A Guild Challenge

My knitting guild is sponsoring a Sock-a-long. This is like a knit-a-long only we are all doing different patterns of socks. Some of the group are first time sock knitters and we have put them in touch with some web tutorials and some appropriate patterns. We veterans of sock knitting are available for help as needed. The veterans, some of whom are true nut cases (Harriet), will be tackling different patterns which will offer us a chance to do something new. The Jaywalker pattern will be a choice of several, I think. I am looking at some new techniques.

My socks have a tubular cast-on that I discovered online. My Fashionable Life. I've played with tubular cast ons and cast offs before, but they didn't really stick in my brain.

I've complete the cast on for both socks and I like them.

Second challenge is an Austrian Twisted St pattern on the cuff.

It went really well on the first cuff, but it is a thick pattern. I decided that I didn't want the bulk in my clog so I decreased stitches and went to a smaller needle and continued in a K2, P2 pattern to knit the gusset. The heel botton and the entire sole will be st st. I'm very pleased with them so far. The Euroflax Gem Merino yarn is wonderful; practically knits itself and it's machine washable.

Final challenge is to use the new heel technique I discovered online where you knit the gusset first and then just turn the heel and continue. None of that nasty picking up stitches. I've completed one and it was effortless. I first saw this technique on A Time to Knit.

I used my old standard method of turning the heel which does not require a wrap before the turn. When I knitted her sample, I followed her directions and liked the effect that leaving the wrap made. It was a nice textural detail. I did use her lifted increases instead of my standard M1's and thought them excellent. This may become my preferred heel because you never slow down.

Friday, July 28, 2006

World Cup Knitting crawls toward conclusion


Here we are so far. This is the body and yes the front and back are different. The yarn for both is Debbie Bliss Cathay, my new favorite, cotton/silk blend. I knit this from the top down and inserted vertical darts. See below.

This is the back. I included a sort of medallion like square at the top. Intention is to draw the eye away from my derriere and upward. At 5"2" I don't go upward very far. I added the light blue and gold at the bottom on the advice of my friend Beth. She took Lily Chin's design class at Camp Stitches and has truly become a wealth of good advice on the subject. She said to add a color I never wear to the design just to put it somewhere not near my face. What a great idea. This has kept the piece from being just another pink and purple sweater. This pic also shows the very beginning of the sleeve.

Found the pattern for the sleeve in one of Barbara Walker's books. The yarn is Noro Lily--more cotton and silk. I expect to use this stitch pattern again because it is so easy.

1 (WS): Purl
2 (RS): Knit
3 (WS): Knit 3, Purl 3 across the row
4 (RS): Knit the knit sts as you see them, purl the 1st purl st, knit into the st below the 2nd purl st, purl the 3rd purl st

Repeat. Only every other 3rd row should be P3, K3 to offset the designs.

I've done even more, but DH is in Oshkosh at the Fly In with the camera. More pics as it finishes.

First class at Charlotte Yarn is next Saturday and I am excited. This will be a simple lace scarf class, but students will receive two patterns that I have designed. Remember my motto--keep it easy and mindless whenever possible. Thank the good Lord for plastic st markers.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Socks with Bicycles

Thanks to the design skill of Lucy Neatby , DH is getting a pair of socks with Bikes. He's a cycling fanatic. It's been a long time since I knit anything for him. The very first piece I ever knitted was a fisherman knit wool sweater. (No one told me it was too hard.) It took 2 years. He was pleased. Said, "This will be great to wear when I take out the trash." (@#$#%$#^) What he meant was that it would keep him very warm no matter how cold the temp. Took me 20 years to figure that out.

As I started this sock, he reminded me of his "dainty" ankles. They match his dainty knees. The pattern calls for 80 stitches and I wasn't interested in tinkering with the pattern to hide decreases and increases, so I used smaller needles: 00 needles that took me two weeks to find. Worked well. Tried them on him and he said, "The ankle could be a bit looser." I said, "No, it couldn't." Now I remember why I don't knit for him.

I really don't knit for someone who doesn't appreciate my enormous skill and effort. I follow EZ's advice and always knit for myself even if the product will go to someone else. I make the things I am interested in making. And I darn well expect my family to rave about them. I explained this to DD#1 recently. I simply said that if she expected more sweaters for herself or her son, she should make a big production of praise when I gave them. It doesn't matter if she truly loves them, it only matters that I get some praise. Later I'll ask for advice for the next time and she can carefully word any criticism she has at that time. Seems fair to me.

Bama Harriet is coming today to plan a sock KAL for our guild. Neither of us have done this before so we are going to copy the organization we have seen others use. The tough part is that it has to have several knitting levels in order not to leave anyone out. Also, I believe in dpns and she is a 2-circs kind of girl. I've been playing with the "knit the gusset first" option and she may win me over---at least for that pattern.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Enough said!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Not Enough Time

Too many ideas!! I made new Austrian Traveling stitch wristlets using a Tulip pattern that Candace shared. The Gem Merino fingering weight from Louet was much better than the Cashmere at holding stitch definition and at just bending things around. I also did a small piece in linen/cotton. No stretch. Agony to knit. My traveling stitch projects will be wool and that probably means socks.

My multi-Cathay jacket is coming along. This was to be my World Cup Knitting, but has become my Tour de France and entire season Formula I racing project. I placed the vertical darts a bit high and had to frog the two front panels. Then my idea for shaping the back in a similar, but shallower, way was a failure. I always learn more from failures than successes, so frogging equals progress in my world.

Steve's Bicycle socks are coming along. I'm through with the section depicting the guy on the bike and heading for the heels. I just read a pattern for a heel that makes the gusset first and then turns the heel--no nasty picking up stitches--so I dropped the socks and started a mini-sock to figure it out. More when finished.

My new classes for Charlotte Yarn have been posted on their website (www.charlotteyarn.com). I go up today to put up samples and posters. I am looking forward to meeting lots of new people to join the great group of knit students I already know. I am still knitting visual aids for the classes.

I have a new idea for a bag pattern, several great new yarns, an inclination to do some really fine lace work, two grandsons who need sweaters----- I need more time!!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Camp in Colorado


The above link is to my photos from the Colorado Knitting Camp. What a blast!!! Austrian Travel Stitches are just beautiful, but demand attention. They allow me to get the look of a wonderful texture like an Aran, but they don't make the fabric so bulky or stiff. Check out my first effort which was Wrist Warmers out of Noro Cashmere from a few Christmases ago. The design is my own, but the techniques, including the picot bind off, I owe to Candace Eisner Strick who taught the camp.

This is by far the most diverse and supportive group of women I've ever met. About half come to camp every year, but do not really see each other except in July. After many years together their bonds are strong. However, they manage to make each 1st year (or returning after 7 year) camper feel that they are totally part of the group and will be so forever. It is truly amazing. So much knowledge, yet knitters at many levels, and so much laughter. Every knitter should attend this camp at least once. The whole thing is a tribute to Sidna Farley who started this camp about 20 years ago. Sidna's health is very grave, but her legency lives.

I bought some lace weight 2 ply worsted spun Cormo from a local resident. I think a lace shawl is in order, but haven't decided which one. My last one was too delicate for a klutz like me. I pulled it on everything I passed. I'll knit this one to a tighter gauge. The yarn is natural in color, but I intend to dye it. Color depends on the size and shape.

I also bought one of those crank out the I-cord devises. Talk about fun. I may make Icord out of all my scrap yarn and turn it into a rug--or not. I love the look of Icord cast ons but not the tedium of knitting them. This may change my whole design process. I feel an Icord class coming on.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Living on Advil

Getting ready for camp. Finally read the directions about what to bring. Plenty of supplies in my stash, so I'm ready. I'm taking the last of my Christmas cashmere to make some wristlets. Maybe a small project won't hurt my hands too much. I am taking Advil and trying not to knit. Battle lost!! At least I am resting every two rows.

Finished the top down raglan for older grandson. I love this sweater. I used a superwash dyed by Danette Taylor in her Purple Haze colorway and another superwash which was undyed. I swatched for a long time to find a pattern that allowed the beauty of the hand-dye to show. Just knitting muddies them all except, of course, the marvelous Noro. (It's spun in the colorway rather than dyed.) Finally settled on a two row pattern: (1) K2, slip 1; (2) Purl. Changed colors every two rows. So simple and a great vertical effect on the horizontal rows. It looks like a rib only not as stretchy.

I'll hang it at Charlotte Yarn to advertise my class in top down raglans.

Also on the needles--an original designed inspired by the multi-yarn cardigan in Leigh Radford's book AlterKnits. It's my World Cup Knitting project which will not be finished due to injury timeouts for overuse damage!!!!!! I'm using vertical darts in the fronts as well as short rows. The back will have the shallowest of darts. Don't know what shape or length the sleeves will be.

Steve's bicycle socks are underway. Had to buy needles from Bath, England. I really like Inox needles and needed size 0. Needles in Concord had them but they were just ignoring their website even though it was sending acknowledgements for orders. (New owner will take over in late July.) More on these later.

Judy Ditmore will be bringing yarn to sell to the Colorado Knitting Camp. I wish I had the control to leave my credit card at home. Don't!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Frustration/Class ideas

Both thumbs hurt. Try as I may, I cannot quite put all the blame on too much computing. It hurts to knit.

I spent yesterday spinning--Heaven forbid it be a fiber-less day--and didn't touch the needles until the evening. Knitted until it hurt and stopped.

I must be good. I must be good. I must be good.

I leave for Colorado Knitting Camp next week and I do want to be able to fully participate.

The Color Techniques class at The Sewing Bird has been so much fun to teach that I may offer it again at Charlotte Yarn in the fall. I also could offer it in individual sessions. Many people have complemented my Recycled silk bag (just above) and the new Noro Fair Isle one (first pic), so those could go in the mix. They were both fun to make and I do love the compliments they get.

I've enjoyed the scrumbled bag, but scrumbling is a tricky business. The technique is easy and absolutely forgiving, but color is hard. There are a lot of UGLY scrumbled pieces out there. Some of them are mine!! I gathered yarns to knit the Chris Bylsma Crayon Jacket (which would look awful on me because of its shape) and I think I will try scrumbling with some of them. Keeping it to many shades of two or three colors may be the answer. It's worth trying anyway. This is the only scrumbled piece that I have actually turned into anything.

Always thinking!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fall Classes

I'm into my favorite teaching place--planning the units. I'm moving to a new LYS to teach beginning in August and will introduce myself to their folks with some lace classes. One is based on a horseshoe lace scarf I designed. This is for knitters who just want to try lace for the short term. For those who want to do a bit more, I'm designing a small sampler scarf. Which patterns to include and in which order--that is the question.

First and foremost--I have to enjoy knitting the pattern. That probably means the WS rows are just purl. It's nice to have a break from thinking. It also means that after one or two repeats, I am no longer stuck to the directions, but can "See" what comes next. Less thinking, more knitting is always my watchword. Actually I do a lot of thinking, I just want to do it before I cast on.

The new LYS has many young mothers as clients, so I'm also putting together a top down raglan class for them. I believe we should always knit top down if we really need a good fit. This class is a great starter for anyone. I'm just about finished with a sweater for DGS#1 in a slip stitch pattern which I just love.

I've knit DGS#2 a blanket in stripes using Cascade's Luna, which is their answer to Mission Falls cotton. Bad answer. Every skein has had at least one knot and some have had three. I'll never buy this again. I do like the colors and I am putting his name and birthday on it in duplicate stitch. Hope it's a hit with both DD and him.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup Knitting

I missed the Olympic knitting because I just missed it.. Regreted I didn't get up for it. Decided not to miss the World Cup challenge though. I am knitting a jacket based on the one in Alterknits but with much different yarns and some extras. The back is purple Debbie Bliss Cathay; the front will be Cathay in Pink. As of now the sleeves will be Noro Lily in a spring green. I have done a small Celtic knot in intarsia in the upper mid back using Noro Sakura. I'll add some embellishment to this and will use the Sakura again either in the lower flap or the front pocket flap. Having fun mixing the yarns. Will even use some Maggi'e Linen in gold somewhere. It's more sedate than it sounds.

I'm revving up for my move to Charlotte Yarn to teach. I'm excited that I may be able to do some classes based on children's sweaters. We just don't have young mom's at the Sewing Bird. I love the fun of children's clothers and the fact that they knit up so quickly. Also---fit isn't such a stress. At some age they will wear it and kids are far less picky than adults about that kind of thing.

The Guild begins a new year and I do so hope it will grow. I hope we can get some energetic new members. Charlotte could support a very large guild with great benefits to many people.

Gave platelets today. A small thing, but so badly needed. The folks at the Red Cross are always so caring and kind.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Reading Wendy Knits

How did I not know that Wendy Johnson had written a book? Senility!! Anyway, I bought it while in Athens this weekend and am enjoying her knitting journey. I've been looking at her work for years, especially her fair isle sweaters which I discovered throught the Knitting Beyond the Hebrides group website. Lovely book from a nice and talented woman.

My Four Corners shawl? in Touch Me is coming along. I had to use a #7 needle instead of the #10 called for in order to get gauge. I think I will have to use a 6th ball. At $14.95 per, that is not good news. I have denied myself this piece for years, but decided to make it as a Sewing Bird swan song. The darn thing better look reasonably good on me or there will be some dead chenilles around here.

Also on the needles is a Maggi's Linen jacket that I am designing as I go, a Trendsetter butterfly coat made from cheap Turkish railroad yarn instead of Binario, and a modified Market Bag as a result of teaching an entrelac class recently.

New Yarn Harlot and the Mason-Dixon book are due tomorrow. Lots to read while I knit and plan some color techniques to teach after the May knitting with fabric class.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Life changes

The Sewing Bird is closing, so I must re-think how I will spend my retirement. Laughter is important. Knitting is also important. The friends I have made, students or staff, must be kept and I am so bad about that. What to do.

I no longer want to be the next Sally Melville or Valentina Devine. I do want to be able to spend time with designers and master knitters. Lord, I hope there isn't substitute teaching in my future.

If I can continue to learn and make things, I will be a happy woman.

Will we start a new business? Retreats? Creativity workshops? Whatever.

Age has taught me to like women, to enjoy their friendship. Most of my life I've been happier talking to guys. No longer. Interesting. Is it the lack of competition of the crone years? Well, it's a nice place to be.