Posted in Crochet, Project planning, Technique

Next project: The Tunisian Terror

Remember how much my mother wanted this afghan?

Mosaic Afghan 12
And I told her no?

I also told her I’d make her an afghan of her choosing, as long as she bought the yarn. So at Christmas, when she was here in Georgia, she looked through my afghan books and picked out a pattern. The pattern that caught her interest is pictured below:

Mom's Tunisian 3

Blue Ribbon AfghansThe book is Blue Ribbon Afghans from America’s State Fairs (click the pic to be taken to the Amazon listing), and the pattern is the Take-Along Sampler Afghan.

“Sure, Mom, no problem!” I said. “Next time I come to your house, we’ll go look at yarn.”

The day after Christmas, when all the family had gone home, I sat down and took a good look at the pattern. “Oh boy,” I thought to myself. “It’s Tunisian crochet. I’ve never done Tunisian crochet. And it’s colorwork Tunisian, no less. Oh boy.” But I said nothing to my mother, because, you know, I can do it, Mom, really I can.

The next time I was at her house (which was sometime in March), I told my mother that Tunisian crochet would be a new technique for me, but I had always intended to learn it, so this was the perfect opportunity. We went to the local yarn store with the book and ordered the yarn. The box of said yarn was delivered to my house about two weeks ago, whereupon it sat, unopened, while I ignored it and my obligation because, um, Stitches was coming up and then our anniversary trip to Savannah, and then it was yesterday morning and my mother asked me, “How’s my afghan coming along?”

Busted.

I confessed I hadn’t even opened the box, but I had read an article on Tunisian crochet the day before and I planned to start the afghan with one of the squares that didn’t involve a lot of color changes. Then I went upstairs and opened the box.

Mom's Tunisian 1

*gulp*

Wish me luck.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Technique, Yarn stash

Stitches South 2014

What’s new about Stitches South this year? New venue! New classes! New transportation options! New yarn! Well, the new yarn and the new classes are a given, but the rest? All new!

I never particularly liked the Cobb Galleria Centre, so I wasn’t displeased when I heard several months ago that Stitches had changed locations this year, especially when I heard it moved closer to the airport. The chief thing I disliked about the Galleria was the lack of easy public transportation options and the PITA of parking. Okay, parking was free, which is always a plus, but the Centre itself isn’t all that easy to drive to: exit here; no, here!; turn right, then left, then right, then omg I’m totally lost inside this corporate office park and just where the hell is the parking garage, anyway? And the conference center itself, for all its high ceilings and large rooms, felt claustrophobic because there are so few walkways with windows, and those few it has are all overhung with huge verandas, so not much natural light actually reaches the interior.

GICC 2The new location at the Georgia International Conference Center is everything the Galleria is not: easy access to and from the interstate, easy parking (you pay for it but the Stitches discounted parking rate is $5, the same as a round-trip MARTA ticket; either way, the best deal in town, or darn close), easy public transit options by taking MARTA to the Airport Station and the Sky Train from the airport to GICC. The center’s concourse is bright and airy, with lots and lots of windows all the way around the building, and art installations in almost any direction you look. You can’t really see them in this photo, but scattered throughout the curved concourse are round leather ottomans of varying sizes, perfect for sitting and knitting alone or in groups. Some are even big enough for three adults to lie down across them — which is what I saw one giggling group of women do while having their picture taken.

Speaking of art installations, take a gander at this mobile. It’s huge! And fascinating! I stood and studied it for quite some time. It’s too bad there wasn’t a convenient bench or giant round ottoman in the vicinity, because I could have sat and studied it for at least a good 30 minutes.

Mobile 1

(And now that I say that, I see in the first picture above there was in fact a giant round green ottoman that was behind me when I took the second picture. *sigh* Next year. Actually, I just found on the GICC website that an audio art tour is available, so I may do that next year, too.)

If GICC has a drawback, it’s that the only food available within the convention center is the one concession stand inside the exhibit hall and various vending machines scattered throughout the building. The closest real restaurant isn’t within an easy walking distance — it’s close to a mile away, and you’d have to know where you were going in the first place, something that many Stitches attendees, including me, won’t necessarily know. XRX provided a remedy to that situation with a free shuttle to local restaurants at mid-day and during early evening hours. I didn’t take advantage of the shuttle — with only one day at Stitches this year, classes morning and afternoon, AND a ticket to the banquet that evening, the only time I had available to shop the market was mid-day. Again, maybe next year.

This year I took two classes: Secrets of the Sleeve Cap with Patty Lyons; and Mix-It-Up Miters with Edie Eckman. Both are utterly delightful, and I highly recommend anyone to take one of their classes.

ClassroomClassrooms were spacious, if a little dim. “Secrets of the Sleeve Cap” was in the morning, with no knitting involved, just math, making it a good class to take first thing in the morning. But it was cool math: algebra and geometry and engineering combined. I mean, who knew the Pythagorean theorem and the point of inflection were crucial to making a sleeve cap, right? Anyway, the gist of the class was to teach us how to design a well-fitting sleeve cap as part of designing or altering a sweater pattern; and also how to adjust the pattern for an already-designed sleeve cap when row gauge isn’t quite on track. Very informative and not as difficult as one might expect! I also learned about a thing I didn’t know existed: a bendable ruler. I will be stopping by my local office supply store soon to pick up one of these nifty tools.

Between classes, I shopped the market, but that story will have to wait until I get all the pretty yarn and button pics edited and organized.

Classmates“Mix-It-Up Miters” took up the afternoon, and this class was hands-on and practical, so we did bring out our yarn and needles. By the way, those two lovely ladies on the right are Becca and Lori, who flew in from the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the sole purpose of attending Stitches South. I didn’t know them before, but I’m glad to know them now. Girls, if you’re reading this, make sure you come back next year, y’hear?

EdieI took this mitered squares class because the remnants of many skeins of sock yarn are floating around my craft room — well, technically, they’re not “floating”; they’re stored in a plastic box — and I just can’t bring myself to toss them out because there’s still so much yardage left on each. Some of them may have up to 25 or 30 yards left. (Even if there were only three or four yards left of each, I wouldn’t get rid of them, but that’s beside the point.) I’ve looked at several patterns specifically for sock yarn remnants, like The Beekeeper’s Quilt, but it turns out the patterns I liked best that suited my parameters — (A) free and (B) relatively non-fussy — involved either entrelac or mitered squares. I learned entrelac last year or the year before, but hadn’t learned mitered squares. Thusly, a need and a class that suited said need! Edie (to the left) was most helpful in talking us through the anatomy of the square, or rectangle as the case may be. I can now safely say I understand the whys and wherefores of the mitered square and feel confident about creating my own “crazy quilt” type blanket with all that leftover sock yarn. (The practice swatches below were made with worsted weight, BTW.)

Mitered Squares 1

At the banquet, the menu was as follows:

  • Mixed Field Greens with Fresh Raspberries, Candied Pecans, Crumbled Goat Cheese and a Champagne Vinaigrette
  • Blue cheese crusted beef tenderloin with truffled mashed potatoes and a port demi-glace
  • Fresh fruit tart with sliced seasonal fruit and berries on French pastry cream in a fresh baked tart shell

All of it was delicious.

I entered the Student Fashion Show and modeled my “Rose in Winter” cardigan (see this blog entry, and this one, too). Lots of amazing projects were entered, including one by a woman who, although not a professional knitwear designer, teaches fashion design and merchandising at a local university. She created the most intricately designed colorwork tunic-length cardigan I have ever seen. I wish I had a picture. Keep watching the Stitches website because I can almost guarantee that one will make the grade for publicity shots.

And, in other news, I kept the four-year winning streak going and got a door prize!

Cowgirl Bandana 1

I don’t know that I’ll use the yarn to make the intended pattern, but we’ll see. It’s lovely yarn, though: a fingering-weight merino/bison blend with a tight twist. With 400 yards of each color, I have lots of options.

There’s yarn booty from the market to show you, and buttons, too, but that’s another blog entry. Watch this space!

Posted in Finished object, Knitting, Technique

FO Friday: The Third Day of Christmas Edition

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we celebrated Christmas the old-fashioned way? Let the month of December be the reflective season of Advent, with the focus on preparation for the coming of the Christ; and let Christmas be the celebration of that holy birth with the traditional twelve days of joy and gift-giving, beginning on Christmas Day. Of course, the religious aspects of this sort of celebratory tradition will apply only if one follows Christianity, but still, isn’t it a marvelous idea: a winter month of solemn contemplation and introspection, followed by almost two weeks of joyous revelry?

We do this in a small fashion in our home: I refuse to put the Christmas decorations away until Epiphany (January 6), the thirteenth day after Christmas. The gift-giving, not so much, except for you, dear readers. Here on this third day of Christmas, I give to you three completed projects.

Entrelac CowlPattern: Entrelac Cowl by Preita Salyer
Yarn: Noro Cashmere Island, colorway #6, two skeins (220 yds). Actually, it was just under two skeins. I had barely 4 grams of yarn left out of 40, and that works out to about 11 yards remaining. I don’t like having a lot of leftover yarn, so that was perfect. Mini yarn review: This yarn is a single, and it tended to break. A lot. But it was soft and cushy, and the end product is so lusciously warm and cozy, it makes the breakage worth the trouble, at least in this small project. In a larger project, I can see it becoming a royal pain. However, the yarn is discontinued and, except for those 11 yards, I have no more, so it’s a moot issue at this point.
Needles: Addi Turbo U.S. size 6, 20-inch circular
Satisfaction with end product: As mentioned above, the cowl is warm and cozy and cushy and soft. It’s big enough to pull up and cover the wearer’s ears, if needed, but not so big it can’t be worn beneath a coat. I liked it a lot. In fact, I was tempted to keep it for myself, but it was always intended as my sister’s birthday present, so I gave it to her. By the way, this was my first entrelac project, and I’m quite pleased with the result. Noro, with its long color repeats, is the perfect yarn for entrelac. And, as I knitted each tiny square, I used the “knitting backwards” technique I learned at Stitches South in April so I didn’t have to turn my work every seven stitches, making the knitting go faster because I didn’t have to constantly re-adjust my yarn and tension.

Molissa's Scarf 1
Molissa's Scarf 4
Pattern: Richelieu Scarf by Carol Wolf
Yarn: Southwest Trading Company Tofutsies, colorway #921, approximately 390 yards of a 464-yard skein. Mini yarn review: Easy on the hands, no breakage, nice soft feel and drape. I have another skein in a different colorway that I’ll definitely use, maybe for a shawlette.
Hook: Boye aluminum, U.S. Size G
Size: Roughly 7 feet in length, and 8 inches in width. Plenty long enough to wrap around one’s head and neck and still leave a decorative tail to drape across one’s coat.
Satisfaction with end product: Pleased. The pattern was fairly simple for me. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to a beginner. Also, I’d have preferred the directions to have been charted, but the written directions were easy enough to follow. The scarf itself blocked out beautifully, with a wonderful drape. I was a little unsure about that intricately-detailed edging. I was afraid it would look busy or sloppy, but it blocked out nicely. This was a gift for my sister-in-law, who made all the appropriate noises of appreciation.

Craft Room 1Craft Room 2
And finally, this. All the yarn is sorted into the appropriate bins; all the bins are stored in their cubes; all the books and magazines are on the shelves; the sewing machine is stored in the closet but the table is ready for use; the sewing notions, knitting needles, and assorted craft accessories are organized and put away; in short, OMG, it’s a craft room! Thank you to my fabulous spouse who not only assembled the wall units and set them up, he didn’t complain (much) at the cost of said wall units and fabric bins. Craft Room 3Now all I need is a comfy chair and ottoman for sitting and knitting, and all will be perfect! Well, almost perfect. There’s still one corner of the room that needs a little help, and I have several doilies made by my late grandmother that need to be pinned out and mounted in shadowboxes and hung as decor. But the work surface for such pinning and mounting is available!

7cde9-fofridayThis post is part of the FO Friday round-up hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click on that badge over there to see what other folks have finished up this Friday.

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Posted in Book stash, Knitting, Technique, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: To Nupp, or not to Nupp

Knitted Lace of EstoniaSome time ago, I bought Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, simply because the projects were so beautiful, and put it on the bookshelf next to all the other knitting books, where it sat, forlorn, forsaken, forgotten. Well, not exactly forgotten, because every now and then, I’d take it down and thumb through it, thinking: “I really ought to make one of these scarves, but nupps. Hmmm….”

Then one day, shortly after I arrived in Atlanta, my friend Kathy took me to Lovin’Knit Studio in Marietta, where I fell in love with MountainTop Vail, a fingering weight alpaca/bamboo blend by Classic Elite. I bought two skeins, not knowing what I’d do with them other than make a lace scarf or shawlette.

MountainTop Vail by Classic EliteAnd finally, a month ago I brought these two items together: Vail, meet Knitted Lace of Estonia. Estonia, meet Vail.

Luckily, these two hit it off. Match made in heaven, even. I chose one of the smaller scarves to start out, because, well, nupps. And, hoo boy, did those puppies give me trouble. In fact, I wasn’t able to make them the way they’re written. Okay, I could do the stitch, wrap, stitch, etc., in the same stitch part easy enough, but when it came to the next row, the purl row, I couldn’t get my needle through those five stitches to purl them together. Or, if I actually succeeded in making the nupp as written, it looked like crap. So I adapted. Instead of making the traditional nupp, I knitted into the front and back of the nupp stitch like I was starting a bobble, and then purled it on the next row. Looked exactly the same as the “traditional” nupp and was easier, to boot.

Lily of the Valley ScarfAnd here it is! The pattern is the Lily of the Valley scarf, and I’m very pleased with how it’s turning out. I love the cast-on with the yarn doubled, which gives a wonderful substance and heft to the edge. The photo here was taken on July 9, so I’m actually much further along than this. In fact, I attached the second ball of yarn Monday night. This project will go with me to Baltimore next week (work thing, plus a couple of days added on to play tourist). While I may not finish it by the end of my trip, I’m sure to make good progress sitting in the hotel room each evening.

WIP WednesdaysClicky the badgy to see what everyone else is doing!

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Project planning, Technique

4KCBWDAY1 — The House Cup runneth over

2013 Blog Week Banner

Today’s topic: Taking a cue from Harry Potter, choose your house and post about your crafting outlook/style and why you chose this house.

Wait. I have a crafting style? Well, I suppose I do. I did, after all, choose a house based on a two-line description. Here’s that description, by the way: “HOUSE OF MONKEY: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.”

And here’s the house banner:

House of Monkey

And my crafting style in a nutshell, then, is embodied in that house description. I love a challenge. I love taking yarn and turning it into something spectacular. I love learning new techniques and trying them out. My goal as a knitter and crocheter is to know everything there is to know about either craft. I have a list a yard long of things to accomplish, and I love ticking off the little boxes beside each one as done and done and done. The thing is, the longer I work and the more I learn with either craft, the more I discover that I don’t know, and that list keeps growing faster than I can check off boxes.

It’s like this at work, as well. For example, we have several different presentation software programs we use to prepare lessons both for live classes and online demonstrations. I only know one of them — Powerpoint — and am far from proficient with it. I can make a decent presentation, but I certainly don’t know all the bells and whistles. I will, though. Just give me time. And the other programs? Camtasia, Articulate Storyline, and Adobe Captivate, you just wait. I get you, my pretties, and your little dog, too.

I’m the same way with other areas of knowledge, too. I’ve afforded my husband no end of amusement during our marriage as I become absorbed with a new interest that occasionally will blossom into full-fledged obsession. First, it was planning our wedding. I bought every bridal magazine that graced the newsstand of our local bookstore and read them cover to cover. For a solid year. I don’t even want to take a wild stab at how much money I spent buying bridal magazines. It probably would have paid for another week’s worth of honeymoon.

Then it was Bookcrossing, in which I took great joy for a couple of years. Bookcrossing is a social networking type site where one can register books, tag them with an ID number, turn them loose in the world, and wait and hope someone picks them up and logs in to register the find. Click this little badge to learn all about it:

Read and Release at BookCrossing.com...

As I said, it was a great deal of fun, and and I met loads of lovely and interesting people online in the forums, some of whom I actually met in person and who remain friends to this day.

The challenge with BX came with the release of the books. Sometimes we organized mass releases, with people pledging to release 20 books in 10 hours or some such; sometimes a themed release, say books with blue covers or books that corresponded to a particular holiday; sometimes a release to honor a hero or historical figure. Creativity was encouraged. In fact, Bookcrossing is the reason I acquired my first digital camera: I desperately wanted to take pictures of the books I released, especially when I left them in clever or unusual places, like on a picnic table at a isolated rest stop somewhere in Montana.

Shortly after I started becoming less involved with Bookcrossing, I picked up yarn again. In fact, now that I think about it, returning to the art of crochet in 2006 and learning to knit at that same time is probably what rang the death knell for BX. Seven years later, I’m still going strong with the yarn thing. You might have noticed. 😉

Other noteworthy obsessions — which were all-consuming at the time but stopped short of cosplay and convention attendance — have been Battlestar Galactica (the “new” one), Law & Order, Firefly, Stargate SG-1, and now Doctor Who. With nearly 50 years’ worth of Doctor Who to watch, I don’t see that particular fire being extinguished any time soon.

Nor will the fire burning under the yarn obsession, by the way. There’s still far too much to learn and do. I have yet to knit and steek a Fair Isle cardigan, although now I know how. I have yet to make anything other than a swatch with entrelac or doubleknitting. I’ve not even attempted Tunisian crochet, nor broomstick lace, nor Estonian lace, for that matter. I’ve never made a short row heel, nor altered a pattern with bust darts and armhole finagling. I’ve made a few designs that need writing down, and a couple of designs have been living in my head for quite some time and need details worked out, not to mention the actual knitting thereof.

So much knitting and crocheting to learn for this little monkey! I’m definitely in the right house.

To read other posts from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 4KCBWDAY1, or click here.

Posted in Project planning, Technique, Work in progress, Yarn stash

WIP Wednesday: Something new!

WIP WednesdayI’m still plugging away at weaving in those endless endless ends on the afghan. The other day my mother was at the house. She cast her acquisitive eyes upon it and declared I should give it to her because it matches her bedroom. (It does not, by the way. Well, one color matches her color scheme, and that color is not the predominant burgundy.) I’m tempted to hand it to her as is, and say, “If you weave in the rest of the ends, it’s all yours!” I made it for me, though, and now am struggling with daughter-guilt over wanting to keep it for myself.

Moms. What are ya gonna do?

To relieve myself of the guilt, and to celebrate finishing the TARDIS shawl (pictures forthcoming on Friday!), I retrieved from stash a yarn I’ve been dying to use ever since I bought it at Stitches South in 2011.

Dolce by Cascade Yarns, colorway 980

I fell in love with Dolce at first touch. It’s a worsted-weight alpaca/wool/silk blend that feels like heaven. The color I chose is a soft grayish green that reminds me of the deep forest at twilight. As per usual, I had no idea what I would do with it when I bought it, but I bought a sweater quantity anyway. Just in case.

So, now, I had to find just the right pattern. The yarn screams “Cable me!” After scouring Ravelry and my pattern library for days, looking at every pattern with cables that fell into the right weight and yardage categories, I finally found the perfect project.

Button-Back Shrug from Knitter’s Magazine 101

I subscribed to Knitter’s Magazine for only one year. I let the subscription lapse because I wasn’t overly impressed with their patterns, but they had a few gems in that year. This was one of them. I love the casual drapiness and unusual construction. I especially love that button-back detail, which gives me the opportunity to use some spectacular buttons I also bought at Stitches South that year.

Of course, now I have to find those buttons again. They’re here somewhere. Buried. *sigh* It’s probably a good thing we’re moving, because I’ll be forced to reorganize the stash at one end of the move or the other.

Anyway, I cast on Sunday evening. With luck, I’ll have it finished by the time cold weather sets in around Thanksgiving. Well, maybe Christmas.

(Click the badge at the top of this entry to see what other folks are up to this week.)

Posted in Knitting, Miscellaneous, Technique

Stitches South Day 1

I left home early yesterday afternoon to drive to Atlanta, about 2 1/2 hours away, mostly interstate. The drive was uneventful. I remain resentful at the State of Alabama for reducing the speed limit on I-20 between Birmingham and the Georgia state line to 55 mph. It feels like the car is crawling along…and one doesn’t dare speed because Alabama is generating a good portion of its state revenue these days from speeding tickets along this stretch of road. State troopers are everywhere.

The Renaissance Waverly is a beautiful hotel.

With some really nice art pieces in spots. Unfortunately I neglected to pack the USB cable for my digital camera, so any pics I post before getting home will be from the cell phone….(the one above is from the hotel website.)

Kelly was already here when I arrived. After a quickie catch up chat, we went out to dinner to a Brazilian steakhouse a short drive from the hotel. Sal Grosso boasts an all you can eat buffet of various ethnic foods, and gauchos wandering by the tables with large cuts of beef on skewers for the diner to select. I had the garlic beef, and omg my mouth thought it had died and gone to heaven. Soo good. And so expensive! But worth it, absolutely.

Oh! And I shared the elevator with Anna Zilboorg! She was our first speaker this morning. She talked a little about the history of knitting, and showed up some fabulous slides and examples of her work. Her latest focus is on embellishments. She brought a couple of cardigans she had knit and then added embroidery between ribbing or inside cable loops. They were stunning…I wished I had brought the camera with me but I thought it would be rude…

Anyway, at lunch we had tablehopping designers. The only one I had heard of was Lily Chin. She’s a hoot. And I’m definitely taking her all day class on fitting next year.

My first class was this afternoon: “Left Can Be Right For You”, in which we learned the basics of Continental knitting and purling, along with a few other techniques for left handed yarn control, like the Norwegian purl. We also had a quickie lesson in Portuguese knitting, in which yarn tension is controlled by looping the working yarn around one’s neck. It’s fairly easy on the hands but a little counter-intuitive, because the knit stitches are pulled toward the knitter and the purl stitches pushed away. Takes a minute to wrap the mind around that.

Internet access in the guest room is pricey, so I’m taking advantage of the free wireless in the lobby. There are knitters everywhere.

S S 1

I’m a happy girl.

The Market should be opening here shortly, and my wireless access time is running short. Back tomorrow with more news from the frontlines.

Woo hoo!

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Miscellaneous, Project planning, Technique

2KCBWDAY6 — Aspirations

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft?

In 12 days, I will be in Atlanta, Georgia, for Stitches South. From Thursday afternoon on April 14 through Sunday morning on April 17, I will be sitting in various classes with other yarn fiends, learning new techniques, making new friends, and generally having a good old time. Class schedule as follows:

Thursday 1:00-4:30 PM — Left Can Be Right For You: Learn the basics of controlling your yarn with your left hand. We’ll start with Continental knitting and purling, then take a trip around the world to survey knitting styles and innovations that make purling (and knitting) with the yarn in the left hand more efficient. Students will learn and try Norwegian purl, Eastern Combined knitting, and Portuguese Knitting.

I’ve watched people knit Continental style and it fascinates me. Because I was a crocheter before I was a knitter, I think this style of knitting would suit me better and maybe be less tiring on my hands.

Friday 8:30-11:30 AM — Joy of Finishing: Learn the joy of sleek shoulder lines, invisible seams, picking up the perfect number of stitches without counting, beautiful buttonholes, ‘shortening’ sleeves, taming sleeveless armholes, and other finishing touches. If it is worth knitting, it is worth finishing beautifully.

Being a self-taught knitter, my finishing skills are, shall we say, less than stellar. Oh, I can sew a seam with mattress stitch but the finer points elude me. This class had homework swatches to make ahead of time and bring to class.

Friday 1:30-4:30 PM — Fearless Fair Isle: Stranded Fair Isle style colorwork is a classic technique that belongs in every knitter’s repertoire. Experiment with 1-handed and 2-handed methods to see which is more comfortable for you. Learn simple tricks for keeping your tension even. See why certain color combinations sing while others fall flat. You’ll leave with the beginning of a hat, or a finished headband.

Colorwork — Fair Isle in particular — intimidates the hell out of me. See this sweater?

I covet it. And it involves the two techniques that scare me silly. Fair Isle, of course, and steeks. It’s so gorgeous, though, that I must conquer my fear and master them. This year I’ll tackle Fair Isle. Next year, I’ll take on steeks. And perhaps the year after that, I’ll knit this sweater.

Saturday, 8:30-11:30 AM — Cut and Paste: Does the very thought of Kitchener Stitch make you queasy? Get over it! Practice grafting a variety of stitch patterns, then apply what you’ve learned to an elegant hem and a flawless seam. Discover ways to modify your knitting: Sleeves too long? Wish you’d started with garter stitch instead of ribbing? Hate the colors in that band of Fair Isle? Cut out the bad and graft in the good.

Kitchener stitch doesn’t bother me, but the idea of deliberately cutting my knitting does. Here’s another class intended to help me get over this particular trepidation. And perhaps provide a springboard to that other deliberate type of cutting, steeks. More homework swatches here:

Saturday 1:30-4:30 PM — Double Dare: You’ll do a double-take when you see what you can do with double knitting, double colors, and double hands! Learn how to create a 2-sided fabric with 2 colors using both hands. After you master stockinette stitch you will continue on, learning several different stitch patterns.

I’ve never tried double-knitting but like the idea a lot.

Sunday 8:30-11:30 AM — Intro to Entrelac: Entrelac knitting creates a fabric with a wonderful basketweave or quilted appearance. Create an Entrelac sampler as you learn all the steps of this fascinating and useful technique.

I love the appearance of entrelac but can’t quite get the hang of it simply reading the instructions. I’m generally a visual, hands-on learner rather than an abstract theoretical learner. So I jumped at the chance for a hands-on workshop.

Six new skills or techniques will soon be added to my repertoire. I can hardly wait!

See other blog entries on this topic here.

Posted in Blog Week, Finished object, Knitting, Technique

2KCBWDAY2 — Skill + 1UP


Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Normally, at the end of each year, I write a year-in-review blog entry, with just this topic in mind. I didn’t do one this year. Looking back, I can’t think of the reason why, other than the fact I’ve been obsessed with Netflix and Facebook and haven’t done much blogging at all in the past several months.

A survey of the projects completed in Calendar Year 2010 reveals no major leaps forward in techniques or skills learned. In fact, the only thing worth mentioning is my tentative step into the world of knitted lace.

I’ve done crocheted lace forever. When I ventured back into yarncraft a little over four years ago, after a hiatus of 20+ years, almost the first project I made was a lace baby blanket for a dear friend. The written directions nearly drove me out of my mind but then a kind-hearted soul on Ravelry shared the chart with me, and the project became a piece of cake.

Finished lacy baby blanket 3

Knitted lace, however, was somewhat intimidating. But one day I found a pattern for an adorable summer hat. I loved it, but it had a lace brim. And a provisional cast-on. The charts looked so arcane, with funny circles and slashes and weird upside-down tree-like symbols. Of course, the chart key was included in the pattern, and I refused to let any sort of yarn thing defeat me….and so, I sallied forth. I followed the directions for the provisional cast-on — a new technique — like they were scripture, knitted and decreased to the top, and turned that puppy over to start the lace border. The result?

Green linen 1

I was rather proud of it. Then, a few days after posting the finished pic to Ravelry, I received a PM from the designer wanting to use my photo as an example on the pattern page. Totally made my day!

Thus emboldened, I went searching for another lace pattern suitable for a lace newbie. Hey Teach! caught my eye. I had an appropriate yarn in stash, and so cast on. It took a while, but in about ten weeks, I had a cute little cardi for work OR weekend.

Hey Govt Employee

Lace has taught me the importance of keeping the stitch count correct. Lace does not forgive counting mistakes. Lace is forgiving of flubs like K2tog instead of K3tog, as long as that extra stitch gets removed somewhere along the way. And missing a yarnover isn’t a project-killer either, again as long as that missing stitch is added back somewhere along the way.

Look at these socks:

Belle Epoque 1

See what I mean? I bet you can’t even tell where I screwed up in the lace columns. What do you mean, the picture doesn’t show enough close-up detail? Pshaw. Don’t be a whiner. 😉

I have my eye on a couple more complicated lace projects now, like the Sideways Cardigan:

or the Apres Surf Hoodie:

or maybe the dainty lacy Tribute Socks:

Whatever the next lace project may be, I look forward to the challenge. You can be sure you’ll hear all about it in the pages of this blog.

See what others have posted on this topic here.

Posted in Book stash, Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Technique

Bonanza!

Interweave Press tempted me beyond bearing a couple of weeks ago.  The email about their "hurt book sale" sent me over to the website in a flash and, before I knew it, I had loaded up my cart with all sorts of knitty goodness, with a little crochet tossed in for good measure.  The worst part of it, though?  Waiting for delivery after placing my order.

However, UPS paid me a visit today.  I tore open the box so fast that packing paper and bubble wrap flew every which way.  "Oh Oh Oh!" said I in a frenzy of booklust.  Spouse lifted his gaze from his computer and spotted me carrying on like a banshee.

"More books.  You bought more books." 

"They were on SALE!!!!"  He rolled his eyes and went back to his spreadsheet.  And so, without further adieu, I present to you the latest additions to the avanta7 yarnie goodness library.

Poems of Color
Wendy Keele

I've lusted after Poems of Color ever since I first read a review in one of the Interweave mags a year or so ago.  I'd never of the Bohus Stickning movement before then, but the subject fascinated me.  Little did I know this book includes not only a history of the Swedish handknit tradition, but gorgeous patterns and color charts too!

I am the least ethnic person you'll ever hope to meet.  That doesn't prevent me from loving the designs in Knitting out of Africa.  Beautiful sweaters in vibrant geometric color patterns based on traditional tribal designs…a feast for the eyes and a challenge for any knitter.  I don't know that I'll ever actually make anything out of this book, at least not in the near future, but I love looking at it.

Marianne Isager pops up in another must have book.  Inca Knits contains more ethnic-inspired patterns, this time stemming from traditional South American themes.

The designs are colorful and fun, including not only geometric color work but intarsia animals and other whimsical designs.  Again, I haven't mustered the courage to try colorwork yet, so actually knitting anything out of this book will most likely not happen anytime soon.  It's still lovely to look at, and dream, and plan.

And then there's No Sheep for You.  I am not allergic to wool, thank heavens, but I love working with non-animal fibers.  I'd been putting off and putting off buying this book.  When it showed up on the hurt book sale for a fraction of its cover price, it was a given that it would go in the cart.

A quick scan of the patterns reveals lots of cables (I love cables) and mostly solid color knits.  The first pattern to really catch my eye is a bathrobe of bulky silk.  A bathrobe.  What a great idea!

Okay, enough with the patterns.  I also acquired some basic library reference material.  Because one can never have too many reference books.

Not sure how to make a left slant increase?  Look it up!  How about that pesky Kitchener stitch?  Look it up!  Those two techniques and a zillion others can be found in this handy dandy and easily portable flip book.  Required equipment for every knitting bag.
 

This little pamphlet should also be required equipment for any knitting bag.  I don't know about you, but I can't count how many times I've been in a yarn shop and fallen in love with a gorgeous hank of fiber, but NOT BOUGHT IT because I didn't know how much I'd need for the intended project.

Crochet reference was not totally neglected in this purchase.  A guide to crochet yarn requirements…

…and the Crocheter's Companion round out this latest orgy of acquisition.

All this lovely stuff for only $85.03, including shipping.  Wow.  At full cover price, this order would have been $151.60, plus shipping.  I have a good job, and so does spouse, but I would have definitely thought twice before making that purchase.

Wonder what will be in the hurt book sale next year?

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