Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays and perfect gifts

Happiest holidays to all of you and thank you for caring enough to check in with me here.

DH isn't the easiest man to buy for, but the kids and I nailed him this year. Bike jerseys with Prater sarcasm--he loved them.

And, of course, as soon as we returned home, he hit the streets. Well, it is 65 degrees here. The neighborhood kids are in shorts.

Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merisoft by Punta

Sandy discovered this yarn and Remi ordered it and I bought it. It is wonderful. I am making another version of my new hat pattern which will come out after Christmas. The colors are marvelous. Some are subdued blends and others very intense as is the blue I chose.

I generally don't like a single twist yarn. But this one is different. The yarn is twisted enough that it won't pill like crazy or develop weak spots. It is quite firm, yet very, very soft. The firmness will allow the yarn to show stitch patterns. I haven't cabled with it, but I'll bet it's great for that.

It has a nice price point for such a luxurious feel. Only $15.00 for 197 yards. That's a lot of yardage. It's a worsted weight, so I knitted it on an 8US for my first swatching. Lovely and wearable.

I'm discovering a real affection for worsted weight yarn after years of tiny yarn obsession. This and the Selridge Farm Soft Wool have made me a believer. And guess what? It knits up a lot faster than fingering weight. Duh!

Check your local yarn shop and prepare to fall in love with Merisoft.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thoughts; new pattern progress

Looks like this might be the next pattern released. I had hoped it would be Top Cat but I am having some problems writing that one specifically enough. I like to write a pattern that helps you custom fit things to yourself, but sometimes that leaves a newer knitter a bit anxious. Kate, my trusty and excellent test knitter, has given me some food for thought and I plan to rewrite Top Cat a bit more specifically.

Above is Encircle, a collar or neck warmer I designed for the shop to show off the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk yarn. It needs a quick test knit and will be ready to go. It's less bulky than most neckwarmers which makes it great for here in the South and perfect for Winter warming seasons up North. The key is a great button.

Knitting as jewelry has always been my favorite.

Here's a non knitting treat for you.

From Zen Crafting

And, here are some words of wisdom from Lesley Riley’s Quilted Memories; Journaling, Scrapbooking and Creating Keepsakes with Fabric (2005):

Just because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would does not mean it isn’t any good.
Don’t be so critical of your own work. Don’t spend time fussing and fretting, just finish and go on to the next project. This was actually a valuable lesson my daughter taught me when she was two years old. I watched her draw (scribble) picture after picture without ever stopping to judge, criticize, or ask my opinion. It was obvious the joy was in the making, not the product. I have realized that with quantity you get quality.

I've been reading some non-knitting sites and have loved looking at pictures of paper art. The above quote just knocked me out. So often I react to a swatch as a failure, instead of as a new possibility for another time. I'm going to work on that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

When do you block?

Knitters often ask me when they should block. Usually they mean a sweater and should they block before or after they sew. That is not the only time the question should be asked. Above is a new lace scarf pattern I am designing--OR--a swatch of a lace piece that didn't work. I won't know which until it dries.

Is the yarn I chose suitable for this design? Or will it draw up into a lump or fail to hold the stitch definition and become a limp rag. Never know until I try. Even though I tend to design on the needles as I go, that doesn't mean I am willing to labor long on merely a possibility (pun). So----I block while it is still on the needles.

I love these Brittany needles because of the curved points. I also love them because you can immerse your knitting for a pre-blocking soak without taking it off the needles. No rust; no swollen wood; just good old plastic.

When do I block? Only when I must. For lace, you must in order to see its beauty. For a cotton pullover that will be washed and lain flat to dry, why bother? I will steam things to set the stitches before I wear them, but that means I will steam them each time I launder them to just perk them up. The stretching and pinning kind of blocking is reserved only for things I will again stretch and pin as I launder. That will never apply to a casual garment that will be worn and laundered often.

Maybe that evening wear Aran with the boa feathers in Nicky Epstein's new book . . . .But where would I ever wear it?

This is the beginning of a Jojoland pattern for a scarf or shawl. I love modular knitting and hexagons seemed like fun (They are.) The yarn is sinfully inexpensive and this blue is my color. Why am I stalled? How the heck do you block this? Even with blocking wires, it will take a million pins. I'm trying to decide if it is worth it.

Sometimes strange details determine if you start or finish a project.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fun sites and pattern news

Garnstudio sent out an email asking for votes for which patterns should be available first in their summer/spring selection. I did vote. I based my vote on techniques I wanted to see--a how did they do that kind of thing.
I chose this because it appeals to my ADD knitting style. I like to mix colors, styles, etc. I also prefer color blocking to hand dyes for my garments.

This is very neat. I have a ss pullover that appears to be knit this way. I think it will really catch the eye. This could even be a stash buster project.

I don't like this yarn, but I do like this shape. I think it will emphasize a curvy figure whether you have one or not. I also want to see how they stabilize this to prevent bias stretching---If they do that. So many diagonal knits don't.

I also liked these. I love mitered squares and think these would be easy to figure out just from the photo. I've seen versions of this lots of places, but these were just cute enough to ring my bell.

If you are unfamiliar with Garnstudio, go to their website. Thousands of free patterns, all with schematics and well written.

Sing up for their Christmas calendar and get a new holiday pattern each day in the month of December. It's not too late. Lots of cute stuff.

No one is getting a knitted Christmas present this year. I'm so wrapped up in writing patterns or figuring out new designs that all my time has been spent there. No complaint. It's been fun. I even like knitting swatches. I'd better. A lot of them tell me to NOT use this stitch for this purpose. I am learning a lot, but I have not got much to physically show for my efforts. Don't care. Having fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I have resisted joining Facebook or any of its clones. I already waste too much knitting time on Ravelry and have trouble keeping up with the blogs I truly want to read. But Tvini sucked me in. She sent me a post from a former student from Smith Junior High--we are talking many years ago--naming me her favorite English teacher ever. This student has a degree in English, so I'm facing tough competition for this honor.

Well, after dribbling all over myself at the post, I registered and now I just sit around grinning stupidly. I have located so many great kids who have grown into great adults. You think you really know who they will be; at 16, the possibilities are obvious. Finding out who they are now is exhilarating. So many East Meck kids whom I loved and who taught me so much. A few from Northwest who were very special to me. And the nutty crowd from the early days of my career at Smith.

Yesterday reminded me that it was worth it. Even the bad years at the end. I wish everyone could have the joy of knowing that you touch the future. We all do, but teachers get to know it every day.

I'm grateful that I still get to teach. My knitting classes bring me such joy. Even when I'm designing or writing a pattern, I still approach it as if it is a lesson I'm planning. Even advertising my classes, I think in terms of what will you learn.

I never wanted to become a teacher. Took the college courses to get certified because my mother nagged. (What if you need to work and raise children at the same time.) I quit as soon as I had my first child and was tricked into going back after my second started school. Three months later, I was devastated to think I might not be able to teach after my temporary assignment ended.

I didn't choose to teach; Someone else chose me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brain Waves

Image from

This is me. I've either been at the computer or at the needles for the last week. My brain is fried.

I finally put myself out there by publishing a pattern which I charge for. Now I have the typical writer's fear of what to do next. Lots of ideas just swirling, but I haven't focused yet. I'm running between joy that so many people like Curvaceous to fear the next one will be a disappointment--no, humiliation.

Time to just suck it up and write.

Life at the Charlotte Knitting Guild is getting exciting. The retreat for late February is going to be awesome. And we are very proud to be bringing it in at such an affordable price. (Non-profit is our goal.) The three classes Charlene Schurch will teach are nicely varied and geared to every level.

The lace class will be interesting because she is publishing a book on lace soon. The heel class is suitable for expert sock knitters as well as beginners. If you've never knit a sock, you'll just start your learning process at the heel.

My favorite is the class where we explore using handpaints. I have often bought a gorgeous skein of handpaint, caressed it lovingly, planned the project and, after knitting, found the color less exciting than in the skein. I can't wait to hear her tips on making the most of my special yarns.

Find out all the details about the weekend at

The guild board is also throwing around some ideas for workshops to be taught on the weekends later in the year--2009. We are collecting ideas. I'm pushing Sue Dial to teach how to make her gorgeous shawl pins from clay. Speaking of clay, Cat Babbie might teach some button making. Dyeing is always a fun afternoon. Guess I'm just in the mood to make something. How about some spinning workshops? Maybe the Fiber Guild would like to co-sponsor?

Like I said we have ideas swirling and are looking for more. What would you like to see as a workshop? Do you have a favorite teacher we could bring in?

Can you make a basket? Let me know or just comment on the guild website.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Curvaceous, a scarf

Exhilaration is the only word to describe how I felt last night. I (with some struggle) got my new pattern up in my new Ravelry store (thanks, Turtlegirl76) and in 15 minutes I had sold one to some wonderful human being from France. Mouth open, eyes wide, I went screaming it to tell Steve.

I didn't expect to have the pattern finished until early December, but I am ahead of deadline. Imagine that. It's selling on Ravelry as a download and at Charlotte Yarn in hardcopy. It can be bought in a cumbersome way at jpknits, but Miss Dani will have to hold my hand to set up that efficiently.

I promise to stop talking about this soon. It's just like a new puppy and I feel so good about others liking my work.

For those in town, I will teach a class on this on Nov. 30. Details at Charlotte Yarn or jpknits.

Friday, November 14, 2008

So where have I been

Blame Davey. Well no, blame me some. Mostly me. I bought an iPod. Simple. But then I decided to try to use some of the software that came with my iMac--several years ago. Of course my PC laptop with my beloved Outlook that I can't use because I had to use Palm Desktop is immediately to my right. So basically, I have too many calendars and not enough brains.

Oops. I also have a paper calendar on the frig so Steve will know when I won't be here for dinner.

So when Katherine called earlier this week to say where are you you are two hours late and you promised to work on my computer----all I could say was I forgot. You aren't on any of the calendars--but she was, just not the ones I had checked.

When you keep having a nagging feeling that you are supposed to be someplace, you ARE!

The iPod has some neat games and will search the web in a pinch. As soon as I get my mail fixed, it will be even better. My mail would be set up except I can't remember the combination of username and password to set it up. I only have several of each, but the permutations are overwhelming me.

In the meantime, I have finished a new pattern which will be released Dec. 3rd. It's a reversible cable scarf that I just love. I'm teaching a class on it Nov. 30th at the shop (Charlotte Yarn) of course. Here's a sneak peak . . . If you have read this far, you deserve a look.It will be for sale at Charlotte Yarn and on Ravelry.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lace Scarf Finished

This is the scarf I'm using to teach my Lace Sampler Scarf class Dec. 7th. Above is Fishtale lace that I love.
Another traditional one is this fern lace.
This is a vintage pattern I discovered from Cindy Moore's yahoo group The Art of Knitting.
Faggoting and Beehive--sounds a bit risque.

I've forgotten this one, but I like it and will find out what it is.
Milanese Lace--I love this.

There are several more patterns, but you get the idea. The class is intended to introduce folks to some of these designs and to show how to pick random designs and put them together into your own scarf. There is some math involved, but not much. We'll also talk about edges and edging.

This is perfect work for me because by the time I'm bored it's time to change patterns. Looks stunning. (I'm such a shy and humble person.)

The yarn is Malabrigo Lace; colorway--verdi.
Size 4 needle.
Less than one ball.

I also found a simple but lovely edging in Nancy Bush's new lace book. She also explains a clever way the women of Estonia attach their edgings.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cold Air, Warm Feet

I'm in love again. It's been at least one entire winter without felted clogs and I had forgotten that special feeling. I only have them now because of a failure to check the felting process and the fact I have very short (insubstantially short) feet.

These were for Erica for Christmas---sorry kid. I was "teaching" BFF Kate to felt. The washer is down in the basement and my knees are @#$%^ed. Kate's pumpkins faired well, but two pair of clogs went to Shortville. Surely the DGS will grow to the greens ones.

I wear them everyday. Some nights I sleep in them. I hate to go out because I have to take them off. I thought I could just give the ones still on the needles to one of the girls, but . . . . After all, those are bright blue and black and were designed just for me. It wouldn't be too selfish to keep them, would it? (Be sure to answer correctly here.)

I use the old FiberTrends pattern which I have rewritten so it can be easily read. That blue paper is for the birds, and even white paper doesn't help when the print is small and all crammed together. Oops. That is another rant, I mean, topic.

Felted clog tip: Choose a color that is brighter than the finished color you want. My soft pink is a little too soft and looks a bit faded. Felting always dulls the color some.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Late Night at the Yarn Shop

I love Remi for lots of reasons, but clearly a big one is that she lets me create. Yesterday, bad knees and all, we stalked the creative muse to discover some more display options. First she let me play in the windows, begin some displays and discover things we needed to make it all better and easier. (Those gorgeous baskets were from Phyllis.)
Next we bought chain at Home Depot to use for hanging garments from the ceiling.

(Picture cute Remi pushing her grayhaired Nana around the store in a wheelchair. Men were falling all over themselves to help us find what we needed and I don't mean the employees.)

DH Steve was enlisted to climb and engineer after hours. Remi, Phyllis and I gave him more suggestions that he needed.

Remi selected garments for the walls and other displays. We all kept in mind her new mantra of "Clean, Classic, Elegant." It is hard to keep it clean lined because we have so much to display and sell. This is our new challenge--to be incredibly innovative and clever in use of space.

Even Steve had fun. Don't forget to notice the new chair cushions that Sandy made. They fit the mantra well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Works in Progress

The Mitered Something progresses. I sort of see these as the front panels of a vest or jacket. I have several sketches, but I don't really have to commit yet. The jewel tone colors are drop dead gorgeous--a mix of Fleece Artist, Cherry Tree Hill, and oddball leftovers.
In November, I teach a class on Lace Sampler scarves and this is my prototype. I like knitting a pattern for 5 or 6 inches and then changing. Appeals to my short attention span. Patterns come from Barbara Walker's books, magazines, and sites online. I'll put together a complete list when the scarf if finished and blocked.
The mittens Beth sent me are moving along a few rows at a time. Note the dropped stitch held by the marker. In this dark wool, it can't be seen, so I will tack it to the back with yarn after I finish. I really like the Jamieson Wool. This is my first project with it.

Also knitting some family gifts which will remain secret. One of my girls actually reads my blog occasionally.

The stitches are out of my knee and I walk pretty well. Still some healing to do. Again a big thank you to all of you who nursed me through this.

SAFF is this weekend and half of Charlotte will be there. I'm staying home and allowing others to buy all that beautiful yarn. Makes me feel noble.

Friday, October 17, 2008

To be or not to be?

Ten skeins of Shelridge Farm worsted. Unbelievably soft. What should it be?

My first thought was a wrap cardigan from Vogue. I love the soft, reversible cable edge. I spent time swatching and revising the pattern to knit it strip by strip to ensure a perfect fit, but ------

Lots of pictures of this type of pattern are showing up in the knitting world and the bottom edge drapes dramatically. Drama rarely flatters big hips. Pendulous draping is only for tall people. (Us shorties worry about stepping on the hems and falling on our noses.)

In my never ending quest to look tall and slim, I’ve decided to forego this pattern. At least for the moment.

So now what?

Yes, I have scoured all 165 pages of cardigans on Ravelry.

This wool is so soft that the project must be cuddly. The solid color of the yarn needs textured stitches or----BOREDOM.

So, I’m thinking gansey. Arans make me look like a fire hydrant (Am I confusing cause and effect?) so lots of cables are not really acceptable.

I have a cotton fleece gansey pullover that is as cuddly as a blankie. It’s my favorite comfort garment for when I don’t feel well. This is beginning to seem like a good idea.

Designing a gansey is fun and easy. I’ve devoured the wisdom of Beth Brown-Reinsel in her book Knitted Ganseys (on my top ten list). I’ve even taught a class on ganseys a time or two. There are still some tricks I want to explore, especially a saddle sleeve version.

But I don’t know.

This is special souvenir yarn and I don’t want to blow it. I could incorporate another color to give it punch and do some intarsia thing.

I don’t know. Help.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bobbles gone bad.

This sweater is knit beautifully and fits her very well. I love white, so I am attracted to it. But--how many times have I warned you about checking the design as you go. I do have a friend or two that I would suspect of intentionally placing these bobbles just to watch men try to not look at them. But . . . .

Knee is mending. The original problem seems to still be there, but the tear has been fixed and that section greatly improved. Ain't science wonderful? Still not driving which is a bummer; don't think I could slam on brake in an emergency. DSIL and DGS come by today to walk the dogs and entertain Nana.

I have the attention span of a flea. I will knit half a mitered square and stop; then two rows on the mittens and stop; then 6 or 7 clues on a crossword and stop, etc. Hope it is just a side effect. Otherwise my finished object stats are going to be a disaster.

My friends, and you know who you are, have been just great. Lots of calls and emails and nursing and feeding. Thank you all so much.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Knee Surgery; new class update

I am having some Meniscus tears repaired tomorrow. Both knees have just been devastated and the pain has been pretty constant for the last few weeks. Remember Tim Conway on Laugh-In? (Ages you if you do) I walk a lot like that. I do so hope the repair and possible arthritis cleanup will eliminate the pain in the right knee. Then maybe the left knee will recover from overuse protecting it's sister.

Anyway--I can already feel the well wishes. Thank you in advance.

While recuperating, I will plan the new series of classes. I'm planning to teach several colorwork classes and some technique ones as well. Time slots will be Saturday and Sundays at 1pm. Remi and I will put those out sometime next week. Intarsia and continental knitting will be among the first.

In the meantime, knit the knits and purl the purls.

On the needles

These are a gift from Beth in Boston. She had started these and became disenchanted. The yarn is Jamieson's and the pattern is from the cover of the last Vogue. The green ones.

I'm enjoying these, but may morph them into fingerless gloves which is more suited to my environment. Can't wait to wash them and feel the wool softened.
I call this LacePlay. It's a scarf sampler of various lace patterns knit in Malabrigo Lace, color Verde. I'm using a size 4 needle. I started this because I wanted to watch various lace patterns at the pattern-shift point. I'm discovering some patterns that I like to knit enough to do a larger project and some that I'd like to combine into the elusive perfect shawl pattern.

The yarn rocks. So soft and easy to manipulate.

It's another experiment. It's beautiful, but I still don't know what it wants to be. Goal is to make mitered garments shaped for human bodies--which are rounded! More to come as I figure it out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nana Rocks and Super Cyclist

My grandson thinks his Nana is #1. I made him a new sweater with an Autobot on the front. (Transformer good guy) It was a surprise and when he saw it, he just lit up. Worth the incredible effort to knit that image in intarsia in the round. Never again!! It can be done, but isn't worth it. Bring on the seams.

The graph for the autobot is from Lori Magnus of

It's a top down raglan, so he can grow with it some. I like the rolled neck for him because it is easy to get on and off. The yarn is Schulana Super Cotton. I bought it at Charlotte Yarn for a bit of nothing. I think it is older than Remi. The composition is 70% cotton with 30% polyester elastic.
Number 8 needle.

Steve rode the MS Ride last month as usual. But this time he rode for a particular person--Lynda Murray, the saint. She signed his bandana for him and he wanted to display it so no one would miss it.
The little ponytail in the back is just too cute. As is DH.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Charlotte Yarn has moved

Kate and I took on the project of saving the old white shelves. Thanks to Cat for jumping in on the final coat.
She who brings the camera does not have to show the world her work outfit or her left leg painted battleship grey primer.
We were supervised for the last coat by Mr. Brody.

The new shop is at Kenilworth Commons on East Blvd. Where the Harris Teeter is. Next door to Foot Solutions. It's bee-you-ti-ful. Come and see.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FO and Some Fun

The Ode to Cristi toe up socks are finished. Pause while I eat some more words. I had some interesting discoveries with these.
You can do a heel flap heel in a toe up sock. The directions for this came from Wendy Johnson's Seaweed Sock pattern. It is easy to do (well written instructions) but the flap is a bit short. I will think about that some.
The sock on the left was the first to be started and I was using the pattern in Wendy's Seaweed, but I couldn't really see it in this yarn. Sometimes it works best just to go with plain stockinette. Doing so did not hurt the impact of this design and it sure made them more portable. I wear so many clogs that a plain foot is often preferable.
I finished these in Canada. You need to know that because of the cuff design. I didn't want to knit a stockinette cuff--too boring, so I decided to knit a design I have used before on an unreleased sock pattern. Surely I could remember it. Yeah, well.

I fiddled and messed up and kept knitting and then looked down and liked what I saw. It isn't what I intended, but is something I like. I am still playing with this 10 st design, because it can be even better. I'll let you know when I've finished swatching and then you can try it.

Major discovery: If I knit toe up, I can save the best for last. The cuff is always the most interesting part for me. Now, if I can just find my perfect heel.

Yarn: Schachenmayr Nomotta Regia Bamboo Color, 2 skeins
Needle: Size 0, 32" Magic Loop technique

Another new design rattling around in my head is this.This is a building in Toronto and the picture was taken through the bus window. Look at the pinkish building. It's a sweater--even has a V-neck. The windows can all be the same contrasting color, or multi colored, or ascending tints of the same color. I used to take lots of vacation pictures of architectural features that could be quilted; now it's buildings to knit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Georgian Bay and Cottage Industries--yeah, Yarn!

On the way to Georgian Bay, we stopped at Shelridge Farms.
Inside the workshop, one wall held most of the designs done for Don and Buffy by Lucy Neatby and Maureen Mason-Jamieson.

Most of these are available in kit form in their yarn (It ain't called Soft Touch for nothin'.) at their website.

How do you choose? And this comes in Worsted, DK, Fingering/Sock, and Lace.

Don met us at the end of their driveway which was too small for the bus. However, Barbara Spohn had let them know about my knee problem, so Buffy drove her car down to save me the walk on the unpaved drive. Isn't this why we love fiber people so much? Would a stock broker have done that?

Buffy set up the dye table that she uses each day to dye their product and members of the group were invited to dye up some stock.
Foreground is Maureen who talked about her design philosophy some and just played with us. She is a marvelous teacher. I've had several classes with her and I like how she structures and controls a class.
Don and Buffy's daughter has a bakery. Aren't these adorable?
And i bought 10 skeins of Soft Touch W4 to make a jacket or sweater or maybe just to sit and hold for a while. It really is amazingly soft---beyond Malabrigo.
More important that the product is the cottage industry process they have created. Scan back at the photos and try not to look at the yarn or people. Look at the workroom. It isn't all that big. Maybe a three car garage with very high ceilings. Yet they manage to run a business to support themselves and their family with only two employees--Don and Buffy.

Koigu wasn't any larger, if as large. Maie and her daughter and another artist create all of the Koigu yarn that is sold in the world in a small building in the woods in Canada. That is astonishing to me.

The courage it takes to begin one of these businesses leaves me very humble; I know I don't have it. This trip has caused me to wax philosophical about the role of the Small Business in the creation of American society. In this scary economically volatile time, I'm not asking what is best for the people, but what is best for the small business owner--like Remi at Charlotte Yarn and Donna at Harding Realty. They are the people who risk and give back and create the caring communities that make life better for all of us.

Sorry, but I'm reading about the FairTax and I'm convinced.