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.