Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Yearling

This is the yarn I spun from the lavender Corriedale roving I got last October (just about a full year ago!) in Cornwall, NY.  I love the various shades of purple that you can see in the skein (the green yarn is just the yarn I tied the skein up with).  This was my first time spinning a singles yarn & since I knew I was over spinning it, I did some research on how to finish the yarn to avoid bias.  Most of the advice I found suggested soaking it in hot water for about 30 mins, smacking it against the edge of the tub or sink to release the twist (not sure if that worked but it was fun!), then weighing it down while hanging it to dry.  So I did all of those things & the yarn still had a bit of twist to it so I twisted the skein against the yarn's natural twist & that seems to have done the trick.  You can still see a little bit of twist in the skein & even more in the photos I took when the yarn was hanging up to dry.  This doesn't bother me too much as I've seen it in indie handspun yarns here & there.
This yarn also has a bit of a halo, which I don't know how to explain or avoid in the future.  I'm not sure if it's the fiber itself that creates this or something about how I'm drafting or spinning it.

In other purple project news, the Vite Cowl is just flying along despite my reduced knitting abilities.  Huge needles & super-bulky yarn can make even the slowest of us feel accomplished!  Plus knitting on large needles doesn't bother my wrist as much as small needles do.  I think I'm already well over halfway done.  It's going to be super-warm & comfy & I just love the ginormous leaves!  Unfortunately I'm not really sure when I'll finish this as I'm back on the knitting sidelines for the moment.  I'm taking a week-long break to rest my wrist.  This one is self-imposed, rather than doctor-imposed, though I'm going back to the physical therapist tomorrow for her opinion.  Each time I take a break like this, I find myself aimlessly roaming the house in my free time, not sure how to occupy myself.  I think that probably means that I have a co-dependent relationship with my knitting.  Maybe I should just be going to a therapist!  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Round & Round We Go

I may be the only knitter on earth not currently thrilled that it's autumn but my body clock is a little out of whack with the change of seasons this year.  I think I spent an even higher proportion of our short summer indoors behind a computer than usual so I didn't experience enough summer to feel like it was actually here.  Now that it's over, that doesn't feel right either & that means that the time of year I usually like best feels weird & out of place.  But while it's still sunny, there is no denying that autumn is indeed here.  

The photo on the left was taken at Bainbridge Island's Bloedel Reserve, a beautiful nature preserve that Dan & I visited a couple weeks ago before stopping by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas to check out the Brooklyn Tweed trunk show & say hello to Jared Flood.  Imagine my excitement when Jared remembered me from February's Madrona Fiber Arts Festival!  

I figured I just had to buy some Shelter or Loft whilst I was there so getting to examine & try on the BT pieces was really helpful.  It turns out that the Original Loop size of the Eternity Scarf from BT Fall 12 fits exactly like I want a cowl to fit: it covers my neck completely when wrapped double.  So I chose 4 skeins of Loft in the Tent colorway for some cold-weather knitting.

Cowls seem to be my knitting theme this year as I just completed my Gray's Ferry Cowl.  Like I mentioned above, I'm rather particular about the way cowls fit & although I enjoyed making this project, it does not meet my fit requirements.  It leaves too much of my neck exposed & that just won't do when it gets cold & damp (as it soon will).  So I've decided to donate it to the Warm for the Winter project.  Hopefully someone else will find it useful & enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoyed knitting it.


But that's not the end of CowlQuest 2012, oh no!  Last year's obsession with chunky knits has re-emerged & finally found an outlet in the Vite Cowl.  I love, love, love this fat, leafy, squishy ring of warmth and am currently knitting it in Cascade Eco + held double in the Dark Plum colorway.  It is downright luscious!  Unfortunately I have no photos right now but I'll include some in my next post along with the photos of the thick-&-thin handspun I mentioned at the beginning of September.       

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Skacel's 25th Anniversary Party

Seattle is a pretty fun place to be a knitter.  We've got annual events like Stitch 'n Pitch & the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival.  We've got about a million great yarn shops & knitting groups.  And we have distributors like Cascade & Skacel right in our backyard.  Until recently, these two members of our knitting community were almost completely invisible to me.  However, Skacel recently threw a party to celebrate their 25th anniversary & I discovered a new wealth of knitting awesomeness hidden away in an unassuming office park.

Most of the day was spent participating in activities like yarn bombing, games & posting photos to Facebook, all of which earned points that could be redeemed for knitting-related prizes.  Oh yes, there were prizes!  In fact, I walked away with a few good ones: 3 skeins of yarn & a Skacel-branded beer stein!  There were also piles of delicious free food & beer, all with a German theme to celebrate the founders' German heritage.

Nothing but yarn as far as the eye can see.

We also got to take a tour of the factory, which was by far my favorite activity.  We saw enviable amounts of yarn & learned that Skacel is the sole North American distributor of Addi Turbo needles!  I also wound up meeting the proprietor of the recently-closed Yarn Stash, a yarn shop which was across the street from my dentist's office.  I had recently stopped in during their liquidation sale & scored some killer deals on yarn & magazines (all magazines for $1, including an issue of knit.wear from 2011 which retails for $15!!!) so it was nice to thank her for having a great shop & wish her well in retirement.  Though going to the dentist will be slightly less rewarding from now on.  :)

The tour ended in the samples room, where we saw tons of garments knitted in the yarns we'd just seen on the shelves. I love seeing how a yarn knits up & which projects the experts pair it with.  But we were not confined to just looking.  In fact we were encouraged to take the garments off the shelves & try them on.

This was a great opportunity to hang out with other knitters & learn more about a major player in our local knitting scene.  If only more bland industrial zones secretly held warehouses full of yarn!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Out-Of-Date Update

For this post, we will travel back in time to the long-ago month of June 2012.  E3 was nearly over, no new jobs were on the horizon & Brenda Dayne was just about to wrap up Cast-On Tour 2012.  As my last day on the E3 job came to a close, there was just one stop left on her tour & it happened to be in Corvalis, OR.  So on a whim (& with no idea where Corvallis was, other than in Oregon!) I signed up for a spot in Brenda's class & began planning a road trip!  After all, Portland is in Oregon & that's only 2-3 hours from Seattle, so how far could Corvallis be?  Let's not talk about the fact that Portland is located at the northernmost tip of Oregon & there is a whole huge state below it.  

Well it turned out that Corvallis is 4.5 hours from Seattle but by the time I realized that, I had already paid my class fee & I was mentally committed.  So this turned out to be quite a road trip indeed!  

The table on the right is where the class was held.
 The class was held at  Stash, which is an  adorable yarn shop,  located in equally  adorable downtown  Corvallis & staffed by  even more adorable  women.  It's a perfect  small-town  LYS & I wish I could  visit more often.

Once I arrived, I realized I was not the only person from Seattle who had made the trip!  A group email had gone out before the class with everyone's email addresses in the To line so I had thought about responding to everyone to ask if any other Seattlites were going down & if they wanted to carpool.  But after a moment of contemplation, I figured I was surely the only one crazy enough to make that trip so I abandoned my email.  And while I apparently was not the only Brenda-crazed Seattlite, I was the only one crazy enough to make the trip there & back in one day.  My fellow road-tripper, on the other hand, did it right by checking into a bed & breakfast after the class to practice her new knitting skills & save the return trip for the following day.

Thumb tack for size comparison.
Speaking of new knitting skills, the subject of the class was Sherman toes & heels.  This is a brilliant & fast method of making toes & heels that requires very little math (& easy math at that!).  We spent pretty much the entire class knitting so by the time we left we had the makings of the world's tiniest sock.

When I left, I also had the makings of carpal tunnel but I didn't learn that for another couple of weeks.  This has had the unfortunate consequence of capping my knitting time at 15-20 minutes in order to keep the discomfort at bay.  Knitting on small needles also bothers me more than large needles so not only have I not practiced this technique since learning it but I've made very little progress on my Mermaid Lagoon socks.  Between this & the impending onset of autumn, I think it's time to cast on for a chunky cowl or set of slippers or mittens.

Speaking of cowls, the Gray's Ferry Cowl is nearly finished.  I realized that I made a totally rookie mistake by not carrying the yarn along the inside during the color changes but it's too late to fix that now.  There will be much weaving in of ends but so it goes.  

And while knitting almost instantly irritates my carpal tunnel, I have a higher tolerance for spinning so I've been using my wheel a lot more lately.  I spun up the lavender roving that I got in NY as about 60 yards of thick-&-thin singles & that is drying right now.  It's my first time doing a thick-&-thin singles so I know it is overspun & the yarn will probably bias.  I probably should have run it through the wheel in reverse before winding it off the bobbin. 

I've also been working on some fiber that a friend destashed to me for my birthday last year.  She couldn't remember what type of fiber it was when she gave it to me but after spinning with it for an hour or so, I realized it had all the characteristics of alpaca.  I'm maybe a quarter of the way through it & while the photos below don't do the color scheme justice, I'm really excited to finish it.  It's looking like it will be DK or light worsted weight after plying.


That pretty much brings you up to date.  I've got one more fiber adventure to share with you but I'll save that for next time!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mi Vida En Español

The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza
Earlier this year, Dan & I had the incredible opportunity to spend a week in Mexico with some friends & it was one of the best trips I've ever taken.  While Seattle was still cold, rainy & nasty we enjoyed plenty of relaxing, sight-seeing, delicious food, frosty drinks on the beach & lots of opportunities to brush up on my Spanish.  Nearly every time I travel, I return with a hunger to see more, do more, learn more about the world as well as with an appreciation of how good my day-to-day life is.  Especially after visiting Mexico (even the tourist-trap, Americanized city of Cancun), I realize how luxurious life in the US is in comparison.  

Before I left, I had completed two Boob Hats for the tiny humans that a couple of acquaintances have just/will soon welcome to the world.  I gave the first one away at a baby shower just before I left & the second to a friend-of-a-friend who was visiting.  Sadly, both went to their new homes before I photographed them.  I'm not usually one for knitting baby items but a friend posted the crocheted version of this hat to my Facebook & someone asked me to make one for them.  I just happened to have some nipple-colored yarn in my stash so I tracked down some soft & yummy Karabella Aurora 8 in a matching shade & cast on.  A couple hours later, I had two boobs.  I knit the newborn size & I just couldn't get over how small they were.  These hats fit comfortably over my fist & it's crazy to think that someone's head is that small.  

For vacation knitting, I brought Sadie Bellegarde's Mermaid's Lagoon Socks pattern & the skein of Punta Merrisock Handpainted that I got from the Cornwall Yarn Shop in New York over the holidays.  The pattern was a little more complicated than I'd had in mind for vacation knitting so it progressed slowly, mostly due to the fact that all the knit stitches are knit twisted.  It looks awesome but it is tedious as hell. 

By the way, this sock is nowhere near as far along as it appears here, I just couldn't get it any farther onto my foot!

Since returning from vacation (which admittedly was a few months ago), I've also started on the Gray's Ferry Cowl by Courtney Kelley, from Knitscene Spring 2012.  Still a little burnt from my CPH, I needed something truly mindless & the socks just weren't that project.  I'm still working on them but when I want something I can just zone out with, this is my go-to project.  I even had the yarn already in my stash!  The brown yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight & the green yarn is Frog Tree Alpaca Sport Weight, both of which I picked up back in 2008 on a knitting group field trip to a going-out-of-business sale in Bremerton, WA.  The whitish/yellowish yarn is a mystery fiber that I got from a yarn swap around the same time.  I think they go great together!  

There appears to be a typo in the pattern (as others have pointed out on Ravelry) in which you are asked to place a marker every 30 stitches when you should be placing one every 40 stitches.  Other than that, it's an easy, laid-back project that I hope to get some wear out of during the transitional seasons (which is most of the year here).  I'm just a little concerned that it might stretch as two of the three yarns are 100% alpaca.  I knit some gloves out of alpaca a few years ago & they stretched, pilled & felted like crazy.  It's a warm, super-soft fiber but nowadays I prefer it in wool blends.  In my experience it just isn't very durable on its own.      


Friday, June 22, 2012

Out From the Inside

As you may or may not have noticed, things have been pretty quiet around here over the last couple of months.  This silence coincided with a contract I just finished at Microsoft as a member of the team that collected, tracked, compressed and distributed the 100+ videos that were used as part of Microsoft's presence at E3.  This contract started off innocently enough & for a while there, I was working from 9am to 5pm like a normal person.  This was not just refreshing but actually a little weird for someone who is used to 10-14 hour work days.  Unfortunately it was not to last as we ratcheted into a full week of 15-20 hour days as the event approached.  Now that it's all over & done with, I can finally give this blog the attention it deserves again, which I'll start doing by closing the loop on this variegated yarn swatch project I've been talking about for months!

For anyone who's forgotten (& I wouldn't be surprised if that was everyone), I took a mini-class back in February from Margaret Radcliffe on working with variegated yarns.  She spent most of the class teaching us her pattern for Rose Fabric, which involves knitting into the stitch below the one on the needle, to stretch out & break up color repeats.  She also discussed some well-known stitch patterns that best make use of short color repeats & sent us home with a pamphlet full of even more patterns for us to experiment with.  

Upon returning home, I immediately began casting on swatches in some of the stitch patterns from the pamphlet to see how they changed the look of the yarn.

Of course, I started with a plain old stockinette swatch over 15 stitches as my control:

Once I knew how the colors were naturally inclined to knit up, I cast on a Garter Rose Fabric swatch, also over 15 stitches:

To me, this didn't change much.  I still see the colors collecting in pretty much the same way they collected in the stockinette swatch.  Perhaps these swatches are too narrow, but if anything, I actually see more pooling in this swatch than the stockinette one.  This pattern does blend the colors better than the stockinette one does, but overall I'm not too crazy about it.

So I decided to incorporate a little lace by trying out a Knotted Openwork swatch over 21 stitches:

Now this one I like.  In fact it might even be my favorite.  The colors get broken up really well & they blend beautifully.  I can see using this pattern for a scarf, a pair of fingerless gloves or a cropped sweater (I actually have a cropped sweater in a similar pattern & while it's made of a solid-colored  yarn, it looks awesome).  The swatch had a bit of a bias when I knit it up but that seems to have blocked out well.

Next I cast on a Mock Honeycomb swatch over 17 stitches:

I like the sense of depth this creates but it's a little too busy for a yarn containing such contrasting colors as these.  The pattern really seems to get lost in this yarn. 

I found some photos of this pattern worked into hats & jackets in more tonal colorways & they looked a lot better.  One thing Maggie emphasized is getting to know your particular colorway & what works best with it.  There's not really a one-size-fits-all solution for variegated yarns, each one responds best to a different stitch pattern.  To me, this swatch is a great example of that. 
I'm a big fan of shell patterns as the cuffs for gloves or as cowls (they also look great as the skirts of tunics but I'm not much of a skirted tunic wearer).  I also wanted to see how this yarn looked in a wider swatch so I cast on a Razor Shell swatch over a whopping 49 stitches.

I really love the way this pattern looks in this yarn.  By creating teeny bunches of color separated by strong rows of slipped stitches, the color changes compliment this pattern rather than overpowering it.  This is tied with the Knotted Openwork as my favorite swatch.  Just ignore the stair-step on the bottom left where I messed up the slipped stitches.  :)

Lastly, no selection of stitch patterns for variegated yarns would be complete without the oh-so-popular Linen Stitch.  So I cast on 19 stitches & tried it out.  I'd never knitted Linen Stitch before & I immediately understood what Erin of Doublepointed meant when she said it's a tedious stitch pattern.  I couldn't agree more & was glad when it was time to bind off.

Perhaps this stitch pattern is just not the right match for this yarn, but I'm not too excited about this swatch.  The blue & purple pooled a lot (this could also be due to the width of the swatch) & I just don't find this particularly interesting.  Plus I wouldn't want to knit anything large in this pattern as it was pretty fiddly & slow-going.

So, what did I learn from this project?  Well, oddly enough, working with such a colorful yarn cemented my preference for subtler tonal variegated yarns.  Aside from that, I learned the importance of swatching for design as well as for gauge.  I learned to look more critically at the length of the colors in a variegated yarn (as well as the relationship between those colors) & how that impacts the way they knit up.  Finding the right pattern for a variegated yarn still takes a lot of trial & error for me, but I have a better sense of where to begin those trials now.   

Monday, April 23, 2012

3KCBWDAY1 - Colour Lovers

I just learned about Knitting & Crochet Blog Week earlier today & decided to throw my hat into this ring while I'm in a blogging mood.  I've got some work lined up for this week so I certainly can not guarantee that I'll be able to participate every day but I'm off to a strong start!

All participating bloggers receive a theme to write on each day & today's theme is Colour Lovers.  

From the KCBW website: Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

Quite a big topic, right?  So to start with, I find myself drawn to different colors depending on the season, the weather, my location & what's trending in knitwear.  For example, over the winter I couldn't get enough of chunky grey knits.  I didn't actually knit anything like that because I already had a bunch of stuff on the needles but every time I saw a project that fit that description I wanted to cast on for it immediately. Never mind that I live in the world's greyest climate for most of the year so there's no good reason I should want more grey.  I just did.  In the fall, I find myself knitting with oranges & burgundies.  Now that's springtime, I've got something blue on the needles (more on that in a future post).  In fact, I think the only colors I avoid are black & white.  I've already got so much black in my wardrobe, it just does nothing for me on the needles.  

Photo from Knitty by Cookie A.
I love yarns with subtle color shifts, like semisolids & tonal yarns such as Knitpicks' Swish Tonal. I'm currently obsessed with the colorway that Cookie A. used to knit her Monkey socks from Knitty, Winter 2006. It's the perfect variegated yarn: it has great depth without being too busy & it doesn't conflict with the pattern.  This is one of the only patterns that I want to knit in the exact yarn the designer used.  Usually I like to pair a project with a yarn in my stash or I like a pattern but prefer a different colorway.  But for this project, I think Cookie chose the perfect combination of pattern & yarn.

Photo from Ravelry by Jacks1080.
Another project that has been on my mind for a few years is the Indigo Banded Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald from Knitscene, Fall 2009.  I was visiting my family in NY when this issue came out & I positively scoured the Hudson Valley looking for a copy of it.  This project immediately stood out as something I must knit but the colors just don't appeal to me.  So I filed it away in the back of my mind for a while until I'd finished my Highland Park Hoodie & realized that I wanted it to be my next sweater.  So I looked through all the projects on Ravelry & was amazed by how many people had knitted it in the original colors.  Jacks1018 however had knit it in a cozy combination of chocolate brown & pale blue, which created exactly the look I wanted for this sweater.  When I get around to finally casting on for this sweater, I'll either use these colors (I already have a great blue in my stash) or I'll change out the blue for a pale green, also in my stash.

Color by Number

A few weeks ago, my friend Lucretia & I took a 45-minute drive north of Seattle to the adorable town of Edmonds, WA.  One of our friends owns an awesome women's clothing store right on Main St & the town boasts such other great finds as Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door.  The last time I'd been in Edmonds was in 2007 while traversing the northern leg of the Local Yarn Shop Tour.  I visited Spin a Yarn on that trip & was excited to see the shop again.  Last time I was there, the shop was run by a delightfully eccentric old lady who walked me through every room of the shop (there are 3 rooms downstairs & 3-4 rooms upstairs) making sure I didn't miss a single item in her knitting, needlepoint or latchhook rug stock.  Far from being irritating, I found this absolutely endearing & I was actually looking forward to the updated tour.  However, in the intervening years it seems that the shop has been turned over to this woman's daughter, whose style of hospitality involved allowing us the luxury of the self-guided tour.    This was probably for the best as we were on a bit of a schedule. 

Unchanged since 2007 is the shop's decor, which resembles a country-style bed & breakfast, complete with antique furniture & life-size wooden sheep. 

The organizational structure is also the same as it was in 2007 giving this shop the distinction of being the only yarn shop I've been to whose stock is organized by color.  While this makes for a very visually pleasing display, I'm not sure how easy I'd find it to shop for something specific here.  

Spin a Yarn has a constant supply of sale & close-out yarn & this was my favorite section of the store.  I picked up a skein of NY Yarns Gypsy in a very springy colorway.  This looks to be a bulky weight medium-color-length variegated single whose colors run the gamut from pink to purple to blue to green. I have no idea what I'm going to make with it yet but I look forward to experimenting with plugging some of the stitch patterns I learned at the variegated yarn class I took at Madrona into a garment.  And lest you think I've forgotten about my swatch project, the results of which I promised to share oh so long ago, fear not!  The swatches are complete & ready for blocking & photographing, after which they'll be ready for blogging!  

Saturday, March 31, 2012


OK, I'll admit it, I knew I was going to have to disappear for a while there.  But I really didn't expect my absence to be this prolonged & for that I apologize.  But there's been a lot going on these past few weeks.  First was the epic battle to renew Washington State's Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (AKA the tax incentive that rewards movies, commercials & TV shows for shooting here, AKA a little thing that makes it possible for me to work & therefore afford to knit).  So it is with great joy & relief that I share the fact that weeks of anxious emails, letters & visits to legislators have finally resulted in a renewed incentive, despite the varied & treacherous obstacles that blocked our path.  It was truly a roller coaster every step of the way & since recounting it would make this a mighty long post, I will simply direct you, if interested, to the blog that kept us informed & motivated over the past few months.  

While all that was going on, I joined the production team of a web series called Journey Quest, which sucked my life up for 5 weeks & only recently spit it back out again, soaked in rain, covered in mud & battered by hail.  I truly look forward to seeing the final product.  

Once that was over, I ran headlong into promoting a writing workshop I'm organizing for Women in Film Seattle.

And now I'm working on a Microsoft job that's about to start shooting in London & NYC (no I don't get to go).  

So yeah, it's been busy.  But none of that means I haven't been knitting!  In fact, there's been lots of great stuff happening on the needles.  Like this for instance:

Yes, friends, the Highland Park Hoodie (renamed to give props to my 'hood) is finally complete!  And may I say, in no uncertain terms, that I love the shit out of it!  I love the colors, I love the way it fits, I love the buttons I found at Seattle Yarn & I love all the stuff I learned while making it.

The biggest thing I learned is that I had no idea how to sew seams before making this sweater.  In fact, even when I started the finishing for this sweater, I had no idea how.  And while I'd always known that I was kind of figuring it out for myself, I had no idea just how wrong I was getting it.  Luckily, my belated Xmas gift from Goldie (recipient of the Peekaboo Scarf) was the amazingly informative Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters, which includes an entire, beautifully-illustrated chapter on seaming.  And wow, did it show me the light. 
                                Seams sewn before reading Finishing School.

Seam sewn after reading Finishing School.

I was also happy to see that the fix I came up with for my mistake of continuing the cable pattern up the hood worked.  The hood calls for a series of small decreases in the center but when I decided not to rip out the misplaced cables, I moved those decreases to either side of the cable & let the cable terminate where the two sides of the hood get sewn together.  And I'm really happy with how that came out.

Finally, there are some inconsistencies in drape between the different types of yarn I used (most noticeable when the sweater is closed) but I plan to take some advice from my friend Bea & block the sweater with some hair conditioner then pin it out to try to loosen up the contrasting color.  Despite that, I think this was a great success for my first sweater & I can't wait to cast on another one!  I've got some smaller stuff on the needles now (including the first baby item I've ever knit) but I'll talk about those next time.  It's good to be back!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Madrona Fiber Arts Festival Wrap-Up

Yep, that's me & Jared Flood at this weekend's Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in Tacoma, WA.  I got lucky enough to run into him at the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas booth & he was very gracious about letting me get a photo with him.  He takes the beautiful photographs that grace Churchmouse's in-house pattern collection & will be appearing at their shop on Bainbridge Island this coming Tuesday 2/21 from 5-7pm.  That will also be one of the last opportunities to see his Brooklyn Tweed trunk show before it gets shipped down to Portland.  Sadly I can't make it there but if anyone reading this can, I want all the details.

Madrona was full of awesome stuff this year.  Having been to Rhinebeck just a few months ago, it's hard not to compare, but I'm going to do my best.

I went down on Saturday with some friends & fellow knitters & almost immediately stumbled upon Sandra McIver & the Knit, Swirl trunk show!  She gave us a detailed description of the construction of each style of her beautiful knitted jackets then let us try them on!  I have to admit I was skeptical that there was such a thing as a pattern that would flatter every body type but after seeing the same jacket on a couple different women, I'm convinced.  Unfortunately I didn't manage to get photos of that comparison but I did get the three different jacket styles below on my friends Bea & Cass & each one looked terrific on them.


I also got to check out some examples of Jazzknitting, which I'd heard of but had absolutely no idea what it was.  For whatever reason I'd come to associate it with fun fur, but I am happy to report that the two have nothing to do with one another.  
This interview with Jazzknitting creator Ilisha Helfman explains the technique & shows some examples.  The video doesn't do justice to the knitted pieces but there are some nice photos on the website.  I saw the ginkgo leaves Ilisha is wearing in the video in person & they were really beautiful.

This morning I took a mini-class with Margaret Radcliffe called Get the Best from your Variegated Yarn: Patterns & "Un-Patterns".  I was excited about what I might learn in this class but when she started out by saying that she usually teaches this class in 3 hours rather than the 1.5 hours we had today, I had a feeling it would be more of an overview.  And indeed our hour & a half passed in a blur of knitting, listening, scribbling notes & trying to match the samples she passed around with the stitches she discussed until they all started to blur together.  I did learn one really cool technique called Knitting Into the Stitch Below or, as she called it, Rose Fabric.  This technique breaks up the typical patterning of a short-color-repeat variegated yarn & creates more of a blended look, while giving the fabric some texture.  The process of knitting into the stitch below the next stitch on your needle creates an inverted V-shapes when the next stitch drops off the needle, unravels & hangs from the stitch below it.  With such a whirlwind class, I didn't get much time to practice but she left us with handouts describing this technique & others so I'll post a photo of my swatch once I've had a chance to experiment some more.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Formula for Joy

It is a sad fact that as the amount of work I have increases, the amount of time I have for knitting, & the blogging that documents it, decreases proportionally.  In fact, I'm writing this while waiting for my computer to export the latest changes to the video I'm currently editing.  

I have however, managed to sneak a little knitting in here & there.  I've finished the hood on my Central Park Hoodie & am now knitting the first button band.  I'm really looking forward to choosing some buttons for this sweater!  In fact, I should add them to my list of things to look for at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival next weekend!

I hope to spend both Saturday & Sunday at the festival.  On Saturday, I'm going to check out the marketplace with some friends & members of my knitting group.  And on Sunday, I've signed up for a class entitled Get the Best From Your Variegated Yarn: Patterns & "Un-Patterns".  Everyone in the class is required to bring one skein of worsted or bulky weight yarn where the color sections are between 1" & 6" long.  So after realizing I didn't have anything quite like that in my stash, I went to Weaving Works & picked up a skein of Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl in Berry Compote. It was unseasonably warm in Seattle that day & I think I was inspired by the bright floral colors.  I can't wait to see what it becomes! 

For now though, it's back to work.  Because you know what they say.  All play & no work makes V! a broke girl!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mysteries Revealed

This photo was taken with an iPhone.  Seriously.

At this point, we might as well call this a Valentine's Day present.  This is the Peekaboo scarf by Kim Hamlin & I had all intentions of giving it to my friend Goldie for Xmas.  It's got a knitted framework with ribbon yarn woven through the ladders in the pattern.  It was a very fast & simple knit, so simple in fact that it was a little mind-numbing at times.  I brought it with me on my annual holiday trip to NY & it made great plane knitting, even if it is rather long (around 100"-120").  I actually flew through the knitting portion then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, got extremely lazy about blocking it.  So it languished in my knitting bag for weeks, until Goldie gave me my Xmas present & I started feeling guilty about not finishing hers.  So into the sink it went, after which it proceeded to take up every single one of my blocking mats for 2 days.

I knitted it in Manos del Uruguay Clasica, in no small part because the artisan who spun it is named Vanesa.  Her name is spelled differently than mine (Vanessa) but it still felt meant to be when I opened the ball band.  In reality, I was already leaning towards this yarn over a different yarn & colorway so seeing that just sealed the deal.  I have a soft spot for single-ply thick-&-thin yarns, to me they look the way I think yarn should look.  Not overly processed or perfectly even or made up of a million teeny threads, just spun, soaked & twisted into a skein, still full of its original wooly glory. 

Also taken with an iPhone.
The Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon yarn complements the Manos beautifully.  The purple in the Sari yarn is a perfect match for the Manos purple & the blue & gold accents really pop.  Plus the colors look awesome on Goldie.

This is the third pattern I've knitted from the Fall 2006 issue of Interweave Knits Knitscene, making it the most useful pattern collection in my library.  For whatever reason, I'm terrible at knitting the patterns I have.  Instead, I keep seeking out a pattern for a specific type of project I want to make or a pattern to match a yarn in my stash.  A few years ago I subscribed to Interweave Knits but finally ended my subscription under the premise that I was not allowed to re-subscribe to any knitting magazine until I'd knitted one project from my year's worth of issues.  Last year, I finally knit my first project from Interweave Knits (the Ogee Lace Skirt) & promptly asked for a subscription to a knitting magazine this past Xmas!  I subscribe to the Knitting Daily newslettter from Interweave & have been doing my best to avoid any mention of the just-released Spring 2012 Knitscene (the first issue in my subscription) as I'm anxiously awaiting for it to arrive in my mailbox!