Friday, April 30, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week - Day 5

Location, Location, Location
Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you like to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub?

This is going to be easy. I like to knit anywhere and everywhere I can get away with it. I will not knit on a skilift, too dangerous and I am not that stupid. If it's an easy pattern, I knit in the car (as a passenger). I've definitely knitted away many hours on airplanes. I knit on my front stoop and in the backyard. While watching TV on the couch, or after dinner while others clear the table. (I did make the dinner, after all!)

I do believe this was the most picturesque knitting spot. Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, September 2008.

And here's a last minute reminder:

Yarn Yard Sale is TOMORROW! It's literally in my backyard. Please keep your eyes on the yarn and ignore the weeds which are sprouting up quite nicely. I'll get to them after the yarn is gone, OK?

There will be a giant stash sale, and also a separate table with some Periwinkle Sheep yarn.

The weather looks like it will co-operate! You're more than welcome to hang out with your knitting, I have a picnic table and some chairs. Soccer mom chairs are welcome if you have them!

See you tomorrow!!!!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week - Day 3 and 4

Nope, I did not fall off the earth again or drop the ball. I simply had a very busy day yesterday and barely made it to the computer - hence two days of Knitting and Crochet Blog week are scrunched together in one.

Yesterday's subject was this:

One Great Knitter
Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

And boy is that a hard one for me to answer. I have taken workshops with Beth Brown-Reinsel, Candace Eisner Strick, Cat Bordhi, Melissa Leapman, Nancy Bush, Norah Gaughan, and Lucy Neatby. Every time I came home from one of these workshops, I was completely smitten with the skill of these women, their control of the needles, their design sense, inventiveness, ability to teach and pass on what they know, their knowledge of the history of Knitting AND current trends.

If I had to pick, I probably learned the most from Lucy Neatby. There simply is not a single knitting issue the woman cannot solve, not a single thing she can't design, write out, and knit. While we were at the workshop, which was about double knitting, she was making an astonishing double knit blanket. There were on display some double knit mittens complete with thumb shaping and everything a mitten needs to have - except it was completely reversible. Or how about these reversible socks?? Do they not blow one's mind?

Every time I think of these possibilities, I feel like I am reaching the end of my capabilities.

I absolutely LOVE love love Norah Gaughan's designs, especially the more timeless ones in her book Knitting Nature, and the early booklets she designed for Berroco. They are different, but not unattainable. They look at the body and how to knit for it in a completely different way. Norah approaches design from utterly different angles, turning pieces sideways and slanty, upside down even, and yet they always cover the figure in this flattering way...

Anyway here I am getting lost in design reverie.

Please do tell me who your favorite knitter, designer, or knitblogger is that keeps your interest over and over again.


Today's topic is:

A New Skill
Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? Maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork.

This may sound utterly silly to you, but somehow I would really like to be able to read crochet patterns.
I learned how to crochet when I was in grade school, and I learned the basic stitches. (I even made my mother a filet crochet table cloth when I was a teenager).) My hands still know what to do, and I know the basic terminology -- in German!

With knitting, I made the transition so well that I now write knitting patterns in English; I can decipher charts pretty easily. Crochet language has always eluded me - it may as well be Chinese or Arabic. Single crochet is not single, double is treble where I come from - or is it the other way around? It's not even that I want to suddenly make a ton of things in crochet, but it sure would be nice if I could even produce a decent granny square. Yes, I think I would have fun with that...sigh.

Maybe one of these days a knowledgeabe friend could be persuaded to teach me. Just beware, I might be muttering things under my breath...and you won't understand a single word.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week - Day 2

Today's task is this:

"Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!"

Where do I even begin?
I wish I could knit and crochet and take pictures as beautifully as Bonnie.
I wish I could design like Norah Gaughan.
I wish I had knit an Alice Starmore sweater when they were all the rage in the Nineties.
I wish I had the time for some really involved lace, just to say "Why yes, I made that!"

I'm not that good at spinning (yet!), either. I'm getting there.

Knitting, crocheting, spinning, dyeing - the possibilities are so endless, and that's why working with fiber has kept my interest for so long. There really is something for every kind of taste, skill level, and budget.

But when I really really think about the above task, when I ponder the one project that I really aspire to, it's that I want to write my own knitting book. I want to not just design a sweater here and there, I want to sink my teeth into a project that has several, maybe 18 or 20 designs in it. Write about the how and the why. Talk to fiber producers and get their stories.

You know I have that book in me. I thought I had it ready about a year ago, but then I let one tiny piece of criticism get the best of me and I talked myself out of it. In fact, I spent a whole year talking myself out of the one thing that I really want to do.

After my little episodes this winter/early spring where I wasn't feeling so great, I realized that I need to stop talking myself out of things that I really want to do. I need to keep going with the book. So I worked up my courage and talked to a wonderfully supportive person I met at the Sock Summit last year. She read what I had so far and has been very encouraging. She is my mentor who will tell me honestly what works and what doesn't. So I'm going to give it my best shot.

The plan is that while I recover from surgery, I will hunker down and re-visit the manuscript. I'm not giving up this time, not until I've done my darndest to give this book a chance.

There, how's that for a "project to aspire to"?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting Out - Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day 1

I learned to knit in second grade, 1970. Growing up in Germany, we had a subject called Handwork (Handarbeiten) , which all the girls took. The boys went to a similar class but they were using saws and glue and wood and such. By the 4th grade, we all took the class together, and seemed to alternate between your typical boy's and girl's crafts.

In Handwork, the teacher taught us how to knit, crochet, needlework, and basic sewing. Knitting is what stuck.

I do not have my "early works" handy anymore - I remember crocheting a skirt for my barbie. My first knitted item was a potholder, which had a crocheted edging. I gave it to my Oma, and she kept it all her life.

Here is an early pair of socks that I made, I think I was 16. The first pair was red, and I am not sure where they ended up. I know that this pair is well worn, it has a couple of weak spots on the sole, and they are a bit pilly. The heels and toes are reinforced. The heel is a typical German (or Dutch) square heel, a construction which I adhered to until only a few years ago, when I discovered Nancy Bush.

My Magnum Opus in high school was this cardigan:

My Oma (I come from a family of knitters) had given me equal amounts of 3 colors of Shetland wool for my birthday, which I had picked out. I used a Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and selected my stitch patterns. I knew I had to dsitribute the colors evenly so I woldn't run out of any one of them.

The design at the bottom has rows with 3 colors in them.

I wasn't using a sweater pattern and was making this completely freestyle, from my head. I knew nothing about knitting a sweater in the round, or steeking, so I made the whole thing in pieces, back and forth, and did my darnest to not make it pucker.

I totally winged the sleeve increases and the neckline. Yeah - as if you can't tell by looking at this!

This cardigan took me a year to make, and I wore it proudly, and often!

The back was actually narrower than the fronts...can you see the sideseams? But aside from the construction flaws, I am still in awe of my younger self...

I made this next sweater when I was in college. My roommate and I went down to Munich one weekend and stumbled upon a yarn shop. Even back then, I coudn't pass up an opportunity to buy yarn, and with my limited budget raided a sale basket. This was a bulky weight single ply wool. Turned out there wasn't quite enough, so I had to creatively augment my sweater.
Again, no pattern, freestyle knitting. Back and front different from each other, and sleeves different again. Cables, knit/purl combos, and mistake stitch rib.

view of the back
Another sweater that I loved and wore all the time.

This next one is made from Reynold's Lopi, a yarn I bought during my first year as an exchange student here in the US, 1983. I was very disappointed that there were no yarn shops around here. I did find a nice craft supply store that stocked Reynold's and Unger yarns.
For this one, I again consulted my trusty Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and made the whole thing up.

And again, knitted in pieces, and seamed.

Some Bohus-style patterning (though I didn't know what that was at the time...) - in bulky yarn!

I know there was a knitting break between the body and the sleeves. Hence the different patterning here.

And there you have it: a brief history of a knitter; beginnings.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week

I just stumbled upon this and thought it might be fun to participate! Please go to THIS BLOG for more information - if you are a reader of blogs, it will give you more information as to what is about to happen this week, if you are a blogger, why not join? It all sounds like a whole lot of fun and you can put as much or as little into it as you are able to.

Meanwhile, I am going to continue to sort my yarn for the Yarn Yard Sale next Saturday. You already know you're all invited, as per previous post, and I thought this Knit and Crochet Blog Week might make waiting easier.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, April 23, 2010

sale, and a heads up

I will be holding my Yarn Yard Sale on Saturday, May 1st, from 10 am to 2 pm

right here in my very own back yard (I keep typing back yarn) , where all the lovely dandelions are in full bloom right now, next to the daffodils

32 Harris Ave
Albany, NY 12208

Bring a friend or two, carpool if possible. There is street parking.

Please enter the driveway to the right of the house, go past two wisteria trees (which hopefully will be blooming by next week, too!) and keep on going. Bring your knitting of you want and hang out a bit, I'll round up some extra chairs.

FOR SALE will be stash yarn, with a lot of lovely fibers represented. There is wool and alpaca, mohair, more wool, some blends, and a tiny bit of bamboo. There are handdyeds and commercial yarns. Prices range from $1/skein to $30 for a sweater's worth. I have bagged everything up to keep things tidy.

Also I will have a little bit of Periwinkle Sheep yarn on sale.

FOR THOSE of you not local, my etsy shop will be open until Friday, April 30th. Then I will pull all remaining yarn and put the shop in vacation mode for the month of May. I will have thyroid surgery on May 10th and expect a recovery period of a couple of weeks.

I am planning on dyeing some yarn ahead of that during the week of May 3-8, so I can restock as soon as I am able to fill orders and mail them. Also I am planning on having some yarn at the Massachussetts Sheep and Woolcraft fair over Memorial Day weekend, in the Sliver Moon booth.

Whew, I think that's all the housekeeping for now.

Please let me know if you have any questions, I'll reply to you in the comments over the weekend.

Happy Knitting!!


This morning, I caught the early light coming into my back yard

and I remembered how yesterday was a day of light and color.

First thing, I uploaded these to my etsy shop.

edited to add that these two colorways, above and below, are SOLD.

Then, it was a day of Running Errands, one of which was most pleasant: I needed to go to the Spinning Room, where my new drivebands (I ordered an extra one, just in case) for my spinning wheel had come in.
While there, I visited with Periwinkle Sheep yarn. It's always nice to see it 'in the wild'. :)
I wanted to tell you about the turquoise scarf that Liz had made, but I am drawing a complete blank right now and I am hoping she will leave a comment telling me about the pattern! Janna the shop helper and I looked it up and everything...maybe one of you will recognize the pattern. All I know it's on knitty.

Here's a display of the Spinning Room's custom color.

On the way home, I have to drive by Indian Ladder Farm, one of our most favorite places for apple picking. I sort of brought the car to a screeching halt and pulled into a field path - the apple trees are in bloom!

The surroundings there are a bit magical....I can only imagine what tremendous hard work it is to run a huge farm like this, and I am glad we have such a place so close to the city.

rows of blooming apple trees with the Helderbergs in the background

I am imagining colorways for yarn here...

Alas I did not have time to hang out there more.

When I got home, I paid tribute to the dandelions in my front yard. I know I have to dig them up lest they take over...but I love the purple grape hyacinths and the dandelions together. They only last a few days anyway, then the spectacle is over. Besides, it was Earth Day.

Last but not least -

the Japanese cherry tree is about to explode again with a million flowers. I hope there'll be some left for you to see when you come to the yarn yard sale next Saturday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


There seems to be a neverending stream of UFOs at the Periwinkle Sheep. I am finding all these projects that were abandoned at one point or another.

Today, I'll show you a little Tomten Jacket (from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting without Tears). I know exactly why I put it down: I'd been using a variety of single skeins.

I was afraid I would run out of yarn for the second sleeve.

Though I am using single skeins, I do aim for symmetry, as that caters to my sense of balance. I'd be loathe to have to add a different shade of wool at the end of that little sleeve... but I THINK I have enough red yarn to work a button band.

Knitting at the edge of my seat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FO: baby hats and an Acer

While the stash sort continues, I also made 2 baby hats from the book Vintage Knits for Modern Babies which went to the Chicks' next round of donations.

One skein - no label - of what I think was an Art Yarn Ultramerino 6 ply. I got a DK gauge of 5.5 sts/in on size 6 needles.

Today, I put the buttons on my short sleeved Acer, a pattern by Kirsten Kapur. I only had 8 skeins of Silkroad Aran, a discontinued Jo Sharp yarn, in the colorway "Batik". Many of you have made one and are familiar with its top-down construction. I simply bound off after the garter ridge that end the yoke, cast on 6 sts to bridge the underarm between the fronts and the back.

I didn't block it yet, but couldn't resist wearing it!

Now back to sorting out that stash....

Monday, April 19, 2010

the big reckoning, aka "stash sale"

I've been thinking about my stash, and how ridiculously large it has grown over the last 10 years. Over the last several months, or maybe longer, I grew tired of all the space it was taking up, physically and mentally. I am tired of having to find projects to go with the yarn, or else if I have a project in mind, I am tired of digging for the appropriate yarn.

Mind you, I have loved this yarn. Everyone that knows me a little, knows that I love yarn. I've always loved yarn for as long as I can think. Ever since I was in second grade, I've done things with yarn. Unfortunately, my love for yarn is bigger than the amount of time I reasonably have to knit it all up. Having become a spinner and a dyer in the last 3 years, doesn't help one bit.

So the other day, I began sorting. The first step was to bring every single bin of yarn I have out of the house and into the back yard on a sunny day. I thought I had 24 bins.

There were 30 18 gallon bins. Also there are 3 30 gallon bins on the enclosed front porch that I didn't drag to the back.

The goal is to reduce the yarn stash by half. I also have 4 bins of spinning fiber, which I am not selling. It's too new, I am too attached to it, I am looking forward to working with it.

This week, because my dyeing fiber is backordered from the company and I can't dye (grrr...), I'm dedicating most of my time to sorting and pricing. There will be a big yarn yard sale on Saturday, May 1st, raindate May 2nd. Consider yourselves warned. My blog readers are the first to hear about it, but I am considering advertising on craigslist.
As I am sorting, I will show you what I have, so you can get an idea and decide whether it's worthwhile to come over. I will have everything neatly packed in ziploc bags, and priced. It will be a cash only sale.
If anything is left over, I will either put it up for sale online or donate it, depending on what it is.
I'll leave you today with a picture of a yarn that I will NOT sell. It's a German yarn that I got about 20 years ago, I made my mother a sweater from it once. There are 6 skeins of it, it is pure white DK weight; fiber composition is 50% microfiber, 25% alpaca, and 25% merino wool. Very nice stuff.

It's just the name that's a little unfortunate.

(Woll Butt was a venerable yarn company)

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm a chick!

My list of things to do today says: blog about something.

The Something has to do with these projects that I finally finished during the month of March. Some of them only needed ends woven in, or buttons added.

This is a toddler vest that I started 10 years ago. It's probably my oldest UFO! It was time to stop chastising myself for not finishing it, and wash and block it and add buttons.

These are mittens made from leftover Encore Chunky; I made them during the Winter Olympics.

This little scarf needed a bath and the ends woven in, too; made from Dale of Norway Freestyle.

Last fall, I made a baby blanket. 5 skeins of Jaeger Baby Merino dk. Again, all it needed was the ends woven in and a blocking! What possesses me to leave things laying aroud for so long??

Well evidently all these project were waiting to be donated to a good cause. This week, I was part of a group - The Chicks with Sticks of Glenmont - which delivered 103 handmade items to the local USCRI office in downtown Albany, NY. It was a big deal in that the Chicks had reached the tremendous milestone of 1,007 items made by hand since they were founded by Jody Mason 5 years ago. These ladies are prolific knitters and crocheters! With my minor contributions, I am so glad I'm a Chick, too.
Please go to Jody's blog and say hello! She tells the story of that day.