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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

May there always be work for your hands to do
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

I am so lucky to have stopped into a lovely local yarn store today. If you ever get a chance to visit the Daytona, FL area make sure to get to “She Sells Yarn” on South Beach Street in Daytona Beach.

It was a great way to spend a little bit of time on a rainy Florida morning talking about projects and making new Ravelry friends.

I snagged a lovely bag of hand dyed merino to spin up when I get back to NY in my favorite color —green :) Who would have thought that you would be able to find spinning fibers while on vaycay in FL? But this cute store had a variety of fibers that are dyed my a local artist, “Weelamb Creations”. Whatta ya think? If I left the merino out by my mom’s garden gnome would it be spun in the morning?

I also treated myself to a skein of luscious hand painted sock yarn. Heritage by Cascade Yarns in #9826,a blue, fuchsia & of course green combo. I can NOT resist buying sock yarn…..so sorry family folks this will lead to more hand made Christmas socks.

Ladies Fancy Silk Mittens Rule 24

The minute I saw these gloves in the Fall/Winter 2010 Piecework , I knew I was going to try to make them. They just looked so gorgeous and even though I can not fathom where or when I would be able to wear them, it doesn’t matter. I will find a time & place for them. I basically wanted them in my life.

Oh, and they must be the same color as shown in Piecework, RED. No shy away red, but right in your face RED. This way they will draw all the attention that they so rightly deserve.

Luckily I had a willing yarn candidate in my stash, Phildar’s Chambord in ROUGE, lace wt, 70/30 acrylic/wool blend. Great color with a nice twist. Too bad they don’t make this yarn any more.

I worked up a swatch on the suggested size 0 needles, and was quite pleased with myself when I thought I had gotten the suggested gauge.

So off I went merrily following the pattern not ever thinking that the size might not work out for me. After all—- I “thought” I got gauge.

Well I finished the cuff and on to the increases for the thumb gore. Knit knit knit, the color is so pretty, & the pattern is an easier than you might think 4 row repeat.

It wasn’t until I slipped the thumb sts onto a holder did the thought come to me, perhaps the one size of this adapted pattern from the “How to Use Florence Knitting Silk No.4″ would not render me an especially well-fitted mitten as the Piecework article described.

So, yes, I pulled it off the size 0 needles, and tried it on my hand. Insert BIG SIGH, yep, it is too big. Seems I had NOT gotten the suggested gauge :(

Granted I think that back in the 1880′s this type of garment may have been utilized as an over mitt. Perhaps to be worn over other not so fancy ordinary gloves, and in that case, they needed to be somewhat large to cover on top of plain mitts, & to go over the sleeve  cuffs of a coat.

Well this is not how I wish to use them, so seems I am off on an antique knitting adventure of my own.

Now I have always been intrigued by older patterns, & I have been collecting some over the years, but have only copied one.

For my first daughters’ communion, I crocheted a child’s size version of a tiered cape from a very old book of crocheted patterns. I have to get out to my studio and find this book so I can add the title to this post. I should really see if I can find a picture of my daughter in it to add here as well, but it always seems as though I am doing the posty thing at the last minute when I should really be doing something else….

Now I don’t have the original pattern from the “How to Use Florence Knitting Silk No. 4″, so working from the Piecework adaptation, I figured I would have to eliminate 2 of the 9 st lace pattern repeats.

So I have cast on 64 sts to start over, but I am not taking back the first mitten just yet. I want to use it as a comparison as I go along.

So my Red Rule No. 24 mitten has been thrown into the ring!

I love a challenge, even when it is just an imagined challenge, that I have challenged myself to.

VK LIVE! NYC

Well I feel as though I must jump into the fray and post about my experience at Vogue Knitting Live last weekend.  It was a veritable fiber frenzy and has taken me a full week to recover from it.  Not at all in a bad way, I was just so tired after being emersed and fully focused in this knitting vortex for the entire weekend.  So I spent this  week recovering by reading all the knitterati blogs and comments on Ravelry.  On the whole, it seems that getting what I heard to be close to 3k knitters together with over 50 of the top world -class instructors, in the center of Manhattan, in the middle of winter, wasn’t a crazy idea after all. Some of my favorite reviews of the event are from Franklin Habit,  Beth Brown Reinsel, Clara ParkesCirilia Rose from Berocco, who used to work with my daughter Kt, at that store in NoHo, and of course Stephanie Pearl McPhee.

I had registered for the 5th Avenue Getaway Package back last September. That’s 6 classes + 2 Lectures + Purls & Prosecco Opening Cocktail Reception + NY, NY Gala & Mohair Design Awards Dinner + 2-day Marketplace tickets.  It took me such a long time to decide on what classes I wanted to take because the list of instructors and class offerings just made my head spin.  I knew I wanted it all, and had to get into as much as I could.  Albeit some of my choices were already sold out by the time I decided to go whole hog, but I was very happy with the classes I chose.  The anticipation leading up to this knitting getaway was enhanced by the fact it was a first ever venture for Vogue Knitting and I was going to be able to share it with two of my knitting pals from the Long Island Knit & Crochet Guild, Sara & Valarie.

We planned on catching an early, early LIRR train into NYC on Friday morning, and of course it was snowing to beat the band, but we did not care.  We were finally on our way to this much anticipated & talked about event.  The three of us, loaded down with our knitting bags, suitcases, boots, and all types of wooly apparel, squished into the seats of the train car, giddy like school girls. We were all going on about all things knitty, when a slightly grouchy (male) commuter in the seats next to us, remarked  “Ladies, this is a commuter train, and most of the people here use this time to sleep”!?!?!  Well, excuse us!!  We politely smiled and him an unable to contain ourselves continued our conversation.

When we arrived at the Hilton, we quickly registered, and we were off on our separate ways to our classes.  I have to say this, and many others have already said it, the volunteers at this event were fantastic.  They seemed to be everywhere helping & giving directions.

Both my Friday classes were with Fiona Ellis, Morphing Cables & Celtic Cables. Now, I really am sort of a cable addict, believing it to be a sure way to improve any pattern. Just throw some cable work into that collar, edge, or wherever…. but Fiona’s classes opened my eyes to the true power of the cable technique. Here are some pics of her samples she shared with the class……

In between classes we were among many who attended the lecture “This is your brain on knitting” with Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the one & only Yarn Harlot. What a feeling to be in a room filled to capacity knowing that every attendee is just as nuts about knitting, crocheting & fiber creating as you are! And Stephanie really understands the madness.

After filling my head with cable combinations all day with nary a minute to grab a bite to eat, we were off to change and get back for the Opening Night Purls & Prosecco Reception. Now there were so many famously knitty people there, that being that close to Meg Swanson, Debbie Bliss, Kristin Nicholas (ps- on a side note I have one son named Nicholas, and one daughter named Kristin-which really has nothing to do with Kristin Nicholas, I just think it is one of those weird karma things), Melissa Leapman, Nancy Bush, Jared Flood, Franklin Habit, the list goes on……was a tad overwhelming. Sadly we were all looking forward to having a glass of Prosecco, but there was none to be found, and upon inquiring for it at the bar we received the strangest looks form the bar keeps, Prosecco?,,, Proscuitto?,,,,Proscenium?,,, (clearly they had no idea of what we were asking) ….. No- we have none of those, alas.

After that we were off to bed, in the city that never sleeps, to dream of  what would await us in our Saturday classes.

Saturday morning came upon us very quickly, and Valarie & I took the opportunity to get the real first full meal we had since embarking on this journey.  We “dined” on scrambled eggs, french toast, all the fixings, coffee and a much needed cuppa tea for me, at the Cafe Metro on the corner of 54th & 7th, for what seemed to be a mere pittance as compared to the prices for food inside the Hilton. Now with our tummies full were we able to face the day.

That day I had two classes with the very serene Beth Brown Reinsel, Norwegian Purl & Twined Knitting. I can say she was very serene because our classes were held in one of the suites on the 5th floor of the hotel.  They had taken out all of the regular furniture and replaced it with tables, chairs, and some very dim table lamps. Clearly knitters did not plan this, but Beth was the veritable calm in face of adversity, and we all quickly adapted to the situation. We all took turns, one half of us at a time to gather around her while she demonstrated the techniques. I was truly amazed at the samples, and her knowledge, that she shared with the class and can’t wait to put her teachings into my future knitting projects.

I really am not one for woking with multiple colors, but after this class I feel that I owe it to myself as a knitter to expand my horizons, which is one of the main reasons that I wanted to participate in VK Live.

Now let it be known in between all the classes and stealing off for nibbles of food, we got to attend the Marketplace.  Hurried moments of pure bliss, surrounded by the likes of  Buffalo Gold, who were so nice to take a few minutes to talk to me about their Buffalo rovings and their test spinning process. Tess Yarns was just breath taking, Adirondack Yarns, Blue Moon Fibers, Leilani Arts, Woolstock,  Bijou Basin  Ranch, plus our friends from KNIT on Long Island,  and so many more. It was just so, just so, just pack me up and take me away, because if I stayed any longer I would be bankrupt.  The only thing that I fear I need to mention was that the lighting was very poor, which made it hard for the vendors to present their stocks, as well as hard for the buyers to choose.  Otherwise the variety and selection offered was outstanding. I ended up with Buffalo Gold rovings to spin, some Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama in a deep purple and Louisa Harding’s Kashmir Baby in pale teal, plus a bottle of some yummy smelling SOAK, that I plan to use to clean a fleece I have waiting to be spun.

Plus there were fashion shows and demonstrations all going on at the same time, it was mind blowing.  Mochimochi Land was awesome :) and check out this huge knitted stockinette stitch whale!

Every where you looked you could find little bits of inspiration.

And yet this was only day two, capped off with the Gala Dinner & Mohair Awards. It was great to see that ballroom packed with people really enjoying the evening and the history behind Vogue Knitting Magazine. The Mohair Design Finalists were all so wonderful, I do not know how they were able to choose a winner.

We were just able to crawl our way back to our rooms, hoping that the knitting goddesses would bestow upon us enough strength to carry on into day three….

It was a cold, cold, cold Sunday morning, even for me and I grew up in this city.  My Sunday was spent in an all day class with Cat Bordhi, Engineering New Stitch Patterns.  By this class, I was just about fried mentally, but so glad I was able to participate. We were all given cards with various pattern stitches on them and told to use them to create our own combinations. At first I thought how could this be, but let myself think out of the box, and learned that nothing new will come from following the old straight and narrow ways of copying stitch patterns stitch for stitch.  We all had adventures learning to let go and play with our swatches to see where they could take us. Highlight of the class was when Cat taught us all the invisible cast on….. Wow, now how many ways can you think of to use this new technique?

Plus squeeezed in to the middle of  the day was “B is for Purl: A Brief History of Knitting Patterns” with the most squee Franklin Habit. Being a bit of an old soul, I really found his lecture most informative, well written, well presented and come on, just fun. The perfect way to break up a day of intense knitting challenges.

Plus he is just so dam cute  – here his is in his antique knitted night cap, an inspiration to all of us antique pattern collectors.

Well seems that I have packed this post with enough links to choke a stockinette stitch whale….

Guess you can venture that I had an awesome weekend and can’t wait to do it again!  It was as this last picture shows the raspberry on top of the mousse.

Knitting Yin & Yang

In all things there are opposites. Those things that are diametrically opposed.

There is the yin & yang, right & wrong, black & white, up & down, in & out, male & female, you get the idea.

I recently learned of an interesting drink that I must try, also called Yin & Yang, which mixes the diametrically opposed, at least in my world, coffee & tea. Seems that this is an accepted drink in some Chinese cultures, where hot coffee is poured over a black tea bag, and the tea then steeps into the coffee. I have yet to try this, as I am not really a coffee lover, but my curiosity I know will get the best of me soon.

In knitting the opposites are knit & purl. It is the endless variety of combinations that these two basic principles offer which forms what we call knitting, & it is the endless combo of these two opposites that constantly enthralls me.

Recently while working on two very simple rib combination patterns for scarves I was making for charity, I noticed that my knit stitches (the females for the sake of this example) were not “behaving” up next to the purl stitches (the males). Now I formulated this knitting genderness (is that even a word?) as the knit stitch on the right side of stockinette forms a V, and the right side of the purl stitch forms a little bump like an Ω. Don’t ask me why I think the V shape would be female, and the Ω shape would be the male, I am trying to keep this a family rated post.

So, on my kiwi colored scarf with a 6 stitch box repeat, (K6, P6), the last knit stitch in every repeat would be all loose & misshapen. Like it went all goofy up next to the next set of 6 purl stitches.  Sort of like a girl out in the school yard, she couldn’t hold it together next to a boy, or in this case, next to a group of 6 boys!

I tried really paying attention to my tension, and especially when changing from the last knit stitch in the repeat, to the first purl stitch in the next. But this wasn’t really solving my problem completely. I was still having to go back to the last loosey goosey knit stitch & with the tip of my needle or a crochet hook, pull that bit of extra yarn back across the previous 5 knit stitches, so all 6 knit stitches were of a more even size. It is kind of hard to see in this picture, but if you look closely you can see the last knit stitch of the 6 stitch repeat is a little larger than the others. Now wouldn’t you think this would fall into that group of things that your mother always told you a galloping horse wouldn’t notice, so why sweat the small stuff and all that?

By this point, somewhere well into this 60″ plus long scarf I thought to myself, why am I going so nuts over something that I am going to give away?

Then I realized that most of what I make, I give away as gifts, so why would this knitting be any different, and why would I settle by making anything I was not happy with, all obsessive compulsiveness aside. I was on a mission to learn from this experience.

So I could tell my problem was in moving from the last knit stitch to the first purl stitch in each repeat. Now to take a closer look at how I move the yarn to go from a knit to a purl.  I knit with my yarn in my left hand, continental style.  So when finishing a knit stitch my yarn is behind the needles. To then purl the next stitch I have to bring the yarn forward, to in front of the needles, and then purl the next stitch.  It is here where I seem to be leaving too much slack.

In watching others knit at gatherings, very spy like, I caught myself craning my neck and asking, “Let me see what you are  working on”, and “How do you do that?” to several of my knitting friends. I found out that no matter how many people you know who knit, each and every one of us has our own unique methods of getting the same two essentials, knit & purl done. Some of us hold our yarn in the right hand, some of us in the left, while others throw & pick, still others wrap the yarn around their necks.

I also learned that you either are a front of the stitch worker or a back of the stitch worker. I knit & purl into the front of every stitch (unless I am purposely trying to twist the stitch). I wrap my yarn under my needle to knit & over my needle to purl.

Using my stealth like observances, I saw others wrapping the yarn over the needle to knit, and under the needle to purl, and still getting the same results. How can this be???   My quest for knitting knowledge turned into a sort of a grade school science class experiment at this point.  I came up with the hypothesis (science word) that there is more than one way to get the same knitting end result.  From there I went on to observe (science word) that changing the action of the over and under, front and back, were where my research would be.

After doing several swatch experiments, the following is my interpretation of the data (more science words):

Knit into the front of a stitch makes the “V” lie flat, that is to say with both of the sides of the stitch next to each other, neither of them twisting or lying on top of the other, and on the returning row this stitch will face you  & it can easily be knitted or purled into again from the front.

Knit into the back of a stitch makes the “V” twist, that is to say the front side of the stitch will twist to the left & will lie on top of the back side, and on the returning row this stitch will turn it’s back to you, making it harder to knit into the front, but easier to knit into the back. It can easily be purled into either the front or the back.

Purl into the front of a stitch makes the “Ω” lie flat, that is to say flowing from right to left without any twist, and on the returning row this stitch will face you & it can easily be knitted or purled into again from the front.

Purl into the back of a stitch makes the “Ω” twist, that is to say the front of the stitch will twist to the right & will lie on top of the back side, and on the returning row this stitch will face you & it can easily be knitted or purled into again from the front.

In conclusion (last science word – I promise)

To achieve flat stockinette,  knit into the front on your right side row, and purl into the front on your wrong side row.

Flat  stockinette can also be achieved by knitting into the back of the stitch on your right side row, & then by purling into the front of the stitch on the wrong side row by pulling the yarn through the stitch under the needle instead of over it.

Anyone thoroughly confused yet? So how does all this experimenting resolve my loose stitch issue? I found that I could tighten the last stitch of my 6 stitch knit group by knitting into the back of it on the right side, then purling under on the wrong side. How or why does this seems to work for me? Knitting into the back twists the stitch, perhaps making it tighter & then purling under instead of over shortens the distance the yarn has to travel to go from a knit to a purl.

It worked for me – still not sure the coffee/tea thingy will work for me though………

Here are the finished scarf experiments.

Swift less no more

Let it be known that I have not, nor ever will be swift. I could never run very fast nor was I ever quick on the draw or uptake.
None the less I am now the happy owner of a beautiful handmade yarn swift.
I found this beautiful handmade work of art on etsy.com made by Hornshaw Wood Works. It is wonderfully balanced, so easy to use, & folds up nicely to store away.
Seems strange that having been a fiber addict for as long as I have been that this was something I had never acquired before now. Perhaps I needed to really get going with my spinning to realize the need for such a basic tool.
Perhaps I always had a set of willing or unwilling hands that I could coax into assistance.
Not that having this has changed my life but it sure has made it a great deal more fun.
Besides using it for my hand spun, I recently used it to turn some old crappy worsted acrylic from my stash into a basket of pure joy for our cat Duane.
I had been keeping this nice little basket on the end table next to my chair in the living room and was filling it with my hand spun as I went along. When I had spun a skein, into the basket it went. This made me happy to see my progress every day whenever I passed the table. But Duane also found this basket full of fluffy new wool irresistible.

 Little did I know that this basket was just the right size for cat naps. Duane quickly adopted this space as his own. At first I thought this was so cute as he looked so happy & peaceful sleeping atop my nice new yarn. I was glad he was enjoying it too, until I tried to pull a skein out to swatch for a project I had in mind.
Well needless to say it was covered in cat fur.
Nuts to this idea I said to myself! Duane will have to find another place to nap. Out came the vacuum cleaner & I had to vac off all his bleeping furry deposits. I then sorted all my hand spun & sealed them in plastic bags, safely away from cat hair.
This then left the basket sadly empty, while I waited to decide what to use it for. I liked the way it looked on the end table, but couldn’t decide what to put in it. So it went empty exactly one night.
I sat down to some knitting & TV watching that evening & Duane was there to join me. But alas, no cushy soft fluffy yarn basket for him to crawl into! He circled and clawed at the basket all the while throwing what I perceived as nasty glances in my direction. What is going on here!? Where is my yarn!? His eyes were glaring at me very disapprovingly.
Now I have had my share of guilty feelings thrown at me in my life, but from a cat?? Come on now get over it I told myself.
Since I did not get up to remedy Duanes’ predicament, he proceeded to leave in a huff & went upstairs to nap & deposit furry bits on my bed.
Well the guilt took over & the very next day I was out in my garage studio sorting thru my stash for yarn that I would not mind getting covered in cat fur.
There were three prerequisites for the yarn I was looking for. 1) It had to be something that I couldn’t see myself wanting to use someday for a project. 2) It had to be washable, so if I should ever need to clean it, I could. 3) It had to be “old” stuff from way down back at the spawning stage of my stash.
So I’m f….ty something, that would put the spawn sometime around 1960 something.
Here’s the hidden treasures I pulled from the mouth of the beast (my new pet name for my stash).
All 100% 4-ply acrylic from back when acrylic was really acrylic, pantsuits & tube top epoch.
And I was excited to find three colors that would actually match my couch. This was turning into a home decorating project!

There was this horrid green acrylic, along with some rose, & an off white that looked like it was from the dawn of time.  The only one with somewhat of a label confirmed my treasure hunt had hit gold.  Melrose Orlon Sayelle,color “ANT ROSE”, made in good old  Brooklyn! Ah those were the days – who am I kidding the yarns available today are to die for, we have come so far.

                                                                                                                                    Onto the swift it went, and magically it transformed into loosely wound skeins of fluffier than I had imagined basket stuffing feline heaven.

                                                                                                                          Since Duane was there all along supervising the yarn winding and skein forming, it didn’t take him long to crawl right in, give his new yarn some soft kneads, and settle down for a nap. Sigh – yarn has kept me content for so long, and now I have shared the peace & simple joy it brings…….Yeah, with my cat.

I Write Like

I write like
J. K. Rowling

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Who would have ever thought that? I am definitely going to explore this more deeply as I feel I have neglected my writing capabilities.

Living in the Present

I wanted to kind of mix things up a bit here, and actually post about something recent instead of always trying to catch up on “older” items that I want to share but haven’t had the time.

So, just a quick note about the fun I had last Wednesday night at the Long Island Spinners Study Group out in Smithtown. This was my first visit to any sort of spinning group, and it was just great to see all the other spinners with their wheels and fiber spinning, talking and sharing.  The group presentation for the evening was about spinning directly from the fleece, and I found it informative and the presenter (sorry I am too new to the group to remember her name) was very skilled and knowledgeable.

Overall – it was a bit of a trek to get out there from Nassau County, roughly 1/2 hr, but I think well worth the trip. I posted a link to their site on the side here under Spinning Sites.

A special treat for the evening, as it was St. Patrick’s Day, there was a bagpiper, with the gift of a few songs.

There was also a few people selling some rovings on the side tables, so of course I added to  my fiber stash, all in the good faith of experimentation, and practicing to learn a new skill.

A cuppa tea, some goodies from the snack table and I was on my way to a good evening.

Vintage Knitting Memories Reborn?

This is yet another got to catch up entry.

Back in November, my guild, LIKCG, had a charity yarn auction that for me was an opportune way to get to add to my stash, without spending too much moola, & at the same time do something good for our guild charities.

Now mind you, I have been known not to want to miss out on a good chance to add to my stash but this evening spent with kindred yarn loving knitters & crocheters was special.

The LIKCG members all came prepared, and we all bid to our heart’s content. Some of the bidding got intense with everyone enjoying the competition. We bid on yarn, tools, books & magazines that were all donated to the guild or the guild charities especially for the auction.

I was able to pick up several bags of some really cool vintage wool.

But my personal prize for the night was 6 skeins of Reynolds Classique in the very same color, Bleu Yacht, that I had used to make a sweater for my son some 25+ years ago!  The sweater itself I have no idea what happened to. I think it may have gotten on the hand me down chain and gone to my sister and then on to others on the chain.

Finding this yarn has put a bug in me to recreate the pattern even though I have no little boy to make it for right now, I am feeling very reminiscent about this yarn.

At the time I made the sweater, I was working in a little LYS (Yarn Boutique in Queens, NY) and Classique was the “in” yarn to knit with.  100% cabled wool – made in France – great bounce and stitch definition

I dug through piles of papers in my old knitting files and was able to come up with it – my original notes on the sweater!

Nevertheless after searching the old pictures boxes that I have yet to organize at any point in my entire life, I was not able to come up with one stinking picture of my child in this sweater…..

But I’ve got my scribbled notes and I’ve got my  graphs.

Wish me luck in the re-creation :)

Turn-A-Square Hats

Even though I am trying to keep up to date with this blog thing, my real life just keeps getting in the way.

I never seem to have the time to sit down and write out what I have on my mind’s list of things that I want to share.

So with that said, I realize that I have to come up with a new way to get this done.

My approach to getting things done has always been an if you really want it done, you are going to have to do it yourself sort of mind set.

Now this might sound like a strange way to get my thoughts out here, but I have found that I can text myself some notes whenever I have a few minutes, then gather them into some kind of form that makes sense, then just paste them up here.

This is my first try at this.  I also don’t have the greatest text typing skills so maybe doing it this way will help me improve my texting!

OK then on to the hats – I became obsessed with them.  I found this pattern on Ravelry, by Jared Flood from Brooklyn Tweed fame, so easy and at the same time so satisfying were the results that I just had to make more.  These little hats are packed with cool knitting techniques that keep the work interesting, -1- circular knitting -2- color striping with the jog-less jog -3- mitered decreases that shape the top -4- switching to dpns to finish off.  I think they rival sock making, so if you are a sock knitter and want to try an interesting hat, give this pattern a look.

I stopped myself at 4 – but a little voice keeps calling from the back of my head – “use your stash to make more! – use your stash to make more!!”

So I may just listen to the voice —-

I know I have a pic of the 4th somewhere, I just have to find it- but if I go looking for it I might just find the stash needed to start another one…..

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