Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spindle Success

I learned to spin on a wheel--actually an 18th c. reproduction at a local history site--

I'm a fair hand at it. I spin by the seat of my pants. No math, no data, just two ply sport and dk weight yarns.

Drop spindles came much later and were a disaster for me. Merike Saarnit took me in hand at a dye workshop and I discover top whorls and bowls for parking. Still clumsy though.

Jet's talented husband Preston began making spindles. Gorgeous, intricate whorl patterns. Small, "lady-like" spindles. Had to have one. (Mine is one of his simpler ones.)

Bought it; couldn't spin with it. We all knew it wasn't the spindle that was the problem.

Enter friend Cat!

She said, "Oh. Change hands. Spin it with your dominant hand and draft with the other." A-hem! That's how I do it at the wheel. Duh.
She said, "Park and drive."
I said, "Park and draft."
She said, "Whatever."

Result--Sock and lace weight singles. Can ply or can knit energized singles a la Kathryn Alexander.

I love Cat.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Coloring with Cat

Cat came over Sunday and we decorated my yard. Actually this was my first time dyeing with someone outside of class and it was inspirational. Well, of course, when you dye with an artist, good things have to happen.

Cat was amazing. She used 15 colors to get just the right one for this silk. I stand instructed.

This seacell is so gorgeous. I think I actually like it better than the silk.

I dyed some old handspun. I only used two colors--violet and silver grey. They blended quite a bit in the pot (another first for me) but I like the colors. On the left, some Wensleydale and on the right, mohair.

The first part of the day we dealt in soft colors.

Then we dyed roving. I love my green and my red roving. Waiting for it to dry is agony.

Cat overdyed some roving (on the right) and made lovely intense colors

This is what I knew how to do BC. (Before Cat) I dyed this in a center pull ball in the microwave. I only have 75 yards, but I'll mix it with something.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brookgreen Shawl Finished

The story here is more about the photo taking session. It's me with my new haircut trying to look sophisticated (impossible).

The length is very impressive here. I blocked the #$^%$ out of this thing. Made is less bouncy, but drapes nicely.
A shorter look when wrapped around my body. Nice and warm.
This shows the back (top) and front of the shawl at the same time. I almost like the back better.
Steve just takes pictures. He doesn't really look at his subject too often and never waits until I am ready.
The back view! Wouldn't you think he would have mentioned that it wasn't really draped well. At least I can enjoy that the huge backside has shrunk a bit.

I need a more involved photographer. Meghan-n-n-n-n-n!

I knit this lengthwise, in the round, and cut a steek. I think I'll offer it as a class for there is much to learn.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sassy--in Process

She is almost finished. But NOTE: I have already finished the neck and sleeves, well, not sleeves. I have even done the tie.

I telling you right now----You do NOT have to wait until the end to finish a piece. I even blocked this just before I started the bottom. Yes, wet blocked. I like this do it as you go. When I finish, I will be able to just weave in that last tail, put it on, and go. Do I sound like a kid at the shoe store? I always wore my new shoes home.
Here's a closeup of the tie and the bottom pattern. Notice that the whole sweater is on a string, not a needle. This is the only way to try it on and be certain what it will look like and how it will fit. This is not punishment, but opportunity.
Three rows of single crochet and then crab stitch.
One row of single crochet and then crab stitch.

Remi wants me to write this up. I am going to give it a try. I'll probably write it as a standard pattern, but fill it with optional fit suggestions. For instance, don't choose your sweater pattern size by your bust measurement!

I'll be using this a bunch in the Top Down Custom Fit Shell class in April. If you like it, and even if you would like it a bit more subdued, join us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Socks a la Fassett

Steve's new socks. I used his favorite K4, P1 cuff. It doesn't interfere with the color and the color is what these socks are ALL about.
The toe is a K1 color A, K1 color B pattern. I knit from the outside in, but to get the other color, I pulled from the inside until I found one that would contrast well.
The heel is a K2 (A), K2(B) offset on rows 3 and 4. For this one I wasn't as choosy about the contrasting color. Also the large size of the heel flap used the color repeats more rapidly than the toe.

Sorry the photos are so small. But you get the idea. They are on my sockblockers which don't show them off to my advantage. I think I need to buy him his own sockblockers. Cristi, do you do bicycles?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


A new sweater--top down of course--in process. I have stopped here to make a decision on where it goes. Definitely empire line, but what will be the bottom? Katia Bombay, 100% mercerized cotton. Has some bounce. I may publish the pattern.
Please note the crochet on the edge of the neck. Big important tip!!! Use a row of single crochet or a running basting stitch along the edge of necklines and armholes to prevent over stretching them while you are knitting the rest of the garment. When you complete the garment, you can remove them or use them. I like options.
Regia sock yarn in a Kaffe Fassett colorway. This was souvenir yarn from a beach trip with the gang. Way back when I bought it, I had not yet seen this available in Charlotte. Now Charlotte Yarn stocks it regularly. The colors are too beautiful.
However-----I have to break up the strip somewhere, somehow. Tune in later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sweet Thing Sticks to Your Shoulders

The latest Merely a Suggestion pattern.

This scarf/shawl works well as both a simple shawl which is shaped enough to stay on your shoulders (First important design detail) and
as a scarf worn with the triangle in front and the ends wrapped around the neck and falling to the front.
The lovely lace edging is simply knitted on at the end of the pattern. No sewing on or knitting tiny rows forever and slip stitching them to the body. (Second important design detail.)

I used the new Araucania yarn Ruca Multy for the main body of the shawl. It is 100% sugar cane, hence the name. Softer than possible, it drapes beautifully over the body. After much swatching I discovered the colors were shown best in simple garter stitch. The yarn is available at Charlotte Yarn ($14, 263 yds. per 100 gr) and you only need one skein.

The lace edge is knit in Crystal Palace Panda Silk ($9, Bamboo, Merino, Silk, 204 yds/ 50 gr.) and uses less than one skein.

Sizing the shawl up or down is easy and the directions for doing so are in the pattern. It is available from Charlotte Yarn, jpknits.com, and Ravelry. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keeping Track

Often in classes, I'm asked how to keep track of things like increases and decreases. Here is a raglan jacket for DD#2. I've shaped it to skim her body. At each decrease is one of my favorite markers.

This is how I keep track.

The light blue thread marks the place where she tried it on for length and I saw I needed four more inches to reach her waist.

One of the secrets to a custom fit is to try it on often and mark where you are.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pride and Copying

I am a Jane Austen fan, hence the title.
My great-good-forever-friend Pat Moore made her own version of my Top Cat pattern. Truly this is a great gift to me. Doesn't she look beautiful?

I read the blogs of Yea I Knit and Turtlegirl 76 (links in sidebar) Both seem to belong to the same dishcloth KAL. Both posted pics of a stitch pattern that intrigued me, and so I have copied them. It's fun to knit, feels "sproingy" and mystifies non-knitters.

Check it out for yourself. Pattern

Monday, March 09, 2009

New Yarn from the Retreat

Miss Babs brought us a trunk show of yarns. The fingering weight sock yarns were beautiful. I, of course, need more sock yarn like Iceland needs snow, but I felt a responsibility to purchase after her huge effort to support us. Honest!

The grey ombre (OOK Storm)is for doing some fancy colorwork with all the bits and pieces of left overs I have---or maybe something more planned.

The silveriness appealed.
This green colorway (Bluegrass) is a bit more vibrant that the pic, but it still has a soft, feminine quality to it.

A Strand of Purls, one of Hickory's LYS, opened Saturday evening just for us. It was a nice thing to do, and I wanted to support her, also, with a purchase.

Her base yarns seem to be Universal Yarn and Sublime. I wasn't interested in either of those. Her sock yarn didn't interest me because I had just seen Miss Babs' show. I almost bought some Rowan magazines. I never knit anything from them, but I can enjoy the photos for years,

Finally I found a Louisa Harding silk yarn called Mulberry in a great color for me. I also liked the spin which really shows the luster. I had never seen this yarn before and it was screaming "Lacy shawlette" at me. I bought four skeins to play with. (126 yds/ 50 g; 100% silk)

I'm in a small shawl / large scarf mood just now. More on this later.

I think I showed remarkable restraint. Just don't ask when I plan to cast on and knit these babies.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Retreat in Hickory---late report

Shelley and I wind Kate's sticky yarn.

This is what I wrote after I arrived at the Catholic Conference Center near Hickory--
I'm always glad to travel Hiway 321 because the roadside is so clean--no billboards. The grass isn't very green and the trees are stark naked. Even so, the absence of civilization (except for the big asphalt ribbons of road and the occasional truck) is a nice mental break.

At that point, Lynda M showed up and put me to work. And it started . . .

Sallie, Linda, Heather
The "campers" were all interesting folk with great stories to share. Meal times were lively. As camp food goes, it was better than some I've been to. My fish on Friday night had been baked with lemon and capers and was good. Breakfast provided lots of choices and I didn't have to eat that biscuit---which was so go-o-o-d.

Rachel, Pat, Kate
Charlene Schurch is an excellent instructor. Her visual aids were really excellent. She pitched the class so taht all levels learned. We got to see the socks from her two great books. I loved that she confessed most of them have no mate.
Meg, Lynda, Dinah
When I first started designing, I wore my pieces. Then I realized I needed to be able to show them, so now they go into a drawer. It hadn't occurred to me to knit just one. Hm-m-m-m.

Charlene's Frost Flower lace shawl was my favorite. This picture doesn't capture the vivid color, but you can clearly see the pattern.
Jet, Karen, Elizabeth
I thought the weekend was a blast. The location was truly a retreat from a busy life; class and yarn shopping was fun, but best of all, was the two night slumber party.

Shelley who loves to have her picture taken