Friday, February 25, 2011

reprise and finis

2. Music .

a. a repetition.

b. a return to the first theme or subject.

Winter came back today.



end; conclusion.

My sister's socks, begun in October last year, finally finished and packed up for sending.

Yarn from HERE.

When I was at her house last fall, she had started knitting socks, too.

Now I'm worried she won't have a need for my hand knit socks anymore.

Better not take so long next time!

But right now, Crafty Girl wants a pair out of THIS . I gave her this skein last year for her birthday, because she loved it so much for the bright colors, "just to look at". One year later, it's time for new socks.

May winter treat you kindly, and may you have colorful socks on your needles!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

two and a half pounds

After I got home a week ago Friday, I stayed up until 12:30 am and finally finished this blanket for the latest Youth Campaign at afghans for Afghans. The deadline was February 14th, and after my dear husband dropped me off at the cookie a. workshop, he went to the post office and mailed the package.

The finished blanket measured 40x45 inches and weighed two and a half pounds!

It all started in December when I volunteered to make a blanket square for a generous soul on ravelry who was collecting them to make blankets for donation. I started the square, which should have taken all of two evenings to complete, set it aside and proptly was sidetracked by The Holidays.

I didn't find the square again until after New Year's, went rummaging for yarn, and decided to keep going and just make a whole blanket myself.

As with all log cabin designs, the first few blocks are a breeze. I knocked one out a night. As the rows got longer, each block took several evenings. The weight of the project was starting to wear on my arms, and I could feel my tendonitis flare up. I went to alternating knitting on this and other projects, plus rest nights.

Meanwhile the deadline kept creeping up faster and faster, until finally I needed to stay up past my bedtime and finish it. I had woven in ends as I went along, which was a blessing in the final minutes as I was getting a bit bleary-eyed.

The thought of being able to help even one child stay warm kept me going the whole time.

I used up about 1850 yards of stash yarn, about half of it was Lamb's Pride Bulky, half of it from a batch of yarn I had gotten a few years back at Rhinebeck for which I just never found the right project. It was a handdyed dk weight yarn that I held double. Then there were some odds and ends too.

leftovers - enough for mittens?
I tucked a bar of chocolate into the package for the volunteers who so lovingly pack everything up for the long journey to Afghanistan. Ann Rubin sent me an email to let me know that everything arrived safely and on time, after my anxious inquiry.

Now they are gearing up for part 2 of this campaign, and I'm thinking I might just have to make some mittens for it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

new tricks, part 3: Sweater Fitness

Anne Hanson explaining fit

my yarns ready for swatching

Anne swatches copiously to get the fabric right

Anne showing her numerous swatches from various designs

Last Sunday, I took a "Sweater Fitness" workshop with Anne Hanson of knitspot.  If you've ever used an Anne Hanson pattern, you know how detailed and exact they are, with many measurements given.

Workshop participants did not have to bring an Anne Hanson pattern, in fact it was quite interesting to see how different designers present their patterns differently.

But to start at the very beginning, we paired up first thing and measured each other very thoroughly. We had a handout from Anne with diagrams and numbers to fill in. It was eye-opening! Right away I want to encourage everyone who knits anything for themselves to actually have a friend measure them top to bottom and left to right and write it all down!  Spend some time considering ease in conjunction with looking at ready-to-wear garments in your closet. THEN go find the proper size for your next garment, if you want it to fit right!

After the measurements, Anne spent a lot of time going around the room and helping each knitter select the proper size for themselves, and offering advice on how to adjust garment pieces. While we were waiting, it was really helpful to have swatching yarn on hand and - spend time swatching!

Later in the afternoon, the whole class was given many tips and tricks on how to change a given pattern to suit the individual, including body length and width and what to do if you need more or less fabric in certain places.

Of course fabric - after all, when we knit, we make our own fabric! - and how it performs and hangs is essential in connection with fit, so time was spent on looking at numerous swatches of Anne's own designs. I thought I was a decent swatcher, but again, my eyes were opened to what is really involved. I will be spending much more time on swatching for future projects, especially making separate swatches for different needle sizes and blocking them AND making swatches in the stitch pattern, not just stockinette stitch.

Thank you Cookie and Anne for coming to our parts - thank you Robena for making it all possible. It was fun to be able to take advantage of different design and fit workshops! Even after many years of knitting and also designing my own garments, I learned so much!!

Oh and at this point you are probably waiting to hear which sweater I'm going to make? Oh, it's a tough decision!! But I THINK I fell in love a little with this. I'm going to dye my own yarn for it. AND I want to wear it at Sock Summit.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

new tricks, part 2: Sock Innovation

Ok now is the time to tell you about the "new tricks" part of my weekend. I'll tell you about Saturday first.

I took a workshop with cookie a - "sock innovation". We were learning how to design our own socks from a master who has published 56 sock patterns, one more innovative and complicated than the next.

Now I've done some pretty complicated knitting in my time, like lace and colorwork and lots of cables. Except never on a sock. My socks are always plain as can be. cookie promised she could change all that.

Holding up Thelonius from "" All socks in the following pictures are from that same book, except where otherwise noted.

We learned about re-sizing stitch patterns to make them fit OUR sock.

Lots of sock examples were being passed around. It was so cool to see most all of her socks LIVE!


Marilinda with the "3 stitch thingie". If you've ever taken one of cookie's workshops, you know what this means.

After an in depth course on how to use stitch patterns and resize them if necessary, we were handed stitch dictionaries we couldn't read.  I loved it. Charts only! There were German and Japanese ones, and I took a Japanese one because I didn't want to cheat. It was the most delightful discovery to see how knitting language is universal. There were pictorials in the back of the book explaining the stitch maneuvers. You bet I am going to hunt for these books now.

I picked number 266 out of 300. The beauty of this was that there were several stitch repeats shown, not just one, so you could see how they spread, and looked in a larger piece of fabric.

Meanwhile, more of cookie's socks were being passed around for inspiration.

Twisted Flower

The class was hard at work.

there were actually lots more students on the other side of the room!

cookie offered and provided plenty of help. Turns out my stitch pattern had double decreases and double increases in it that jumped from round ro round, requiring me to rearrange my stitches after every round. cookie is a mental gymnast that can easily and with a super sense of humor set you straight if your thought process is going in the wrong direction, but also is a superb teacher that gives you just enough help so you can get back on track, and gives you room to figure things out on your own.

I was able to proudly proclaim that I managed all 8 rounds of the pattern repeat on my own in the end. Only thing I was worried about, looking ahead, was that I had 5 stitch repeats going around my sock, ---- so what would have to happen once I needed to divide the sock for the heel?? And me all alone at home, with no cookie at my side? Would I be able to work 2.5 repeats across the top of the sock and it would still look good?? She told me to just do it, it would work out.

I believed her, somehow.

Then it was time for me to go an hour early, because my daughter had a soccer game I wanted to go to. I asked cookie if there was anything I needed to know about the things she was going to teach during the last hour.

She paused for a second, and then proceeded to tell me that she had actually designed a sock with that very same pattern.

It's called Glynis and is published in Sock Innovation.

Now, what are the odds of me picking a pattern out of threehundred Japanese stitch patterns that I had never seen in my life? Of course I have cookie's book, but I don't have all her patterns memorized.  I know, as my smart daughter pointed out to me, the odds are exactly 300 to 1. But seriously? What are the odds of that happening?

We laughed and laughed. I was actually so relieved to find out that I didn't have to figure out the whole dividing business myself, that I could just go to the book and read all about it. What I loved about cookie was that she had me work hard to understand the inner workings of sock design, and didn't just tell me in the morning - "oh by the way I already designed this sock so go look for another pattern!" I now have a much better understanding of what goes into designing a sock, because I did it myself; I didn't just copy her. Also of  course I can appreciate even more what a sock design genius she is.

Next thing though I need to figure out is the color of my sock.

periwinkle sheep watercolors sock yarn, "nutmeg"

I'm thinking it's a wee bit too dark to show the stitch pattern properly. Somehow I have the feeling that cookie picked the perfect color already!

Monday, February 14, 2011

new tricks, part 1

One of my LYSs and a shop that carries my yarns,Trumpet Hill, had a couple of very special guests this past Friday:

 Anne Hanson of knitspot fame and cookie a. There was a Meet and Greet and booksigning on Friday night.

I decided to surprise them both with a sampler pack of my yarns.

They were like little kids on Chirstmas Day!

I had selected specific colors for cookie and Anne that I thought they might like. I think they were pretty happy. :)

No pressure to design anything with them, just go play!

Here's one of many knitters who had made cookie's famous monkey socks.

When I joined the big knitting circle, I caught Robena, the shop's owner, dancing a little jig in the middle.

Noshes, yummy yarn, famous designers, lovely company, what could be better?

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

a gift of love

A week ago, right after the latest snowstorm, I received a most wonderful gift in the mail.

It was comprised of many different colorful squares,

see the cat hair? guess who took a nap on the blanket?

surrounded by black crochet for a stained glass effect.

And then surrounded again by miles of I-cord.

It is my new, beautiful, warm, comforting, Stash Knit Down Group Cares! afghan.

By way of offering you a bit of background, I need to tell you that I am the founder and one of the moderators of the Stash Knit Down group on ravelry, which has over 3550 members. Over the last 3 years, a wonderful community has formed. It all began with the desire to knit down the stash. We have lots of monthly and yearly challenges to help us knit up the yarn we already have. We talk about the pitfalls of yarny temptation, growing pattern libraries, Cold Sheeping, even Fabric and Fiber Stashes. Eventually, we got to talking about life and things that life throws at us. Out of that grew yet another thread, called "Stash Knit Down Cares!" where volunteers donate blanket squares for a blanket that goes to someone who is having a tough time.

Last year was not a stellar year for me and a lot of people I love, which was something I shared with the group as events kept unfolding. Last August, a group of members of Stash Knit Down decided that I need to have my own blanket.

They worked very hard on it, and last week it came in the mail, along with cards and yummy treats.

I was simply blown away by so much generosity, beauty, warmth, and love. I love my blanket, and what I love about it other than the fact that I can wrap myself in it and take naps :) is the fact that now I know what it's like to receive a gift like this. It inspires me to keep knitting for others, because I know it will make them happy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Katie's shawl

I need to catch you up on a story.

A couple of years ago, I gave a friend one of my shawls. She loved it. Turns out her daughter Katie loved it too, and needed her own shawl - in a kid size! Her mom told me her favorite color is blue. I took 2 skeins of my watercolors worsted, colorway stonewash denim, and made her a little shawl of her own.

Of course I had to add a bit of ruffle for the girl!

When I finally brought the shawl over after Christmas, she put it right on, and was happy to pose for some pictures.

Katie loves dogs and has a collection of stuffed animal ones that she takes very good care of.

In fact she declared that the shawl will make an excellent doggie blanket! I agree!

But I might just have to use the leftover partial skein from the shawl to make her a real doggie blanket. How can I resist so much cuteness?

Shawl specs are a bit rough, I made it up as I went along.  It is about 18 inches long, just right for a 4 year-old.

approx. 350 yds worsted weight yarn
size 8 24" circular needle
gauge is: 4 sts/in in garter stitch

Top down construction in garter stitch, with 2 increases at each side and 2 at the center, every right side row.

After 32 garter ridges, work yo, knit 2 across the next RS row, while maintaining the other 4 increases.

After 16 more garter ridges (maintain regular increases!), Kfb into every stitch.
K one row and then bind off.

I did not block this shawl, I know with wash and wear it will stretch and accommodate growth for a while.