Monday, February 25, 2013


I've gone back to my Briar Rose sweater and am almost back to where I had to rip out. This time you'll notice that the live stitches of both shoulder straps are facing the armholes as they should. I'm so proud.
I haven't minded retracing my steps on this one because I enjoy the combination of yarn and stitch pattern. I'm also motivated to get it finished before I have to put all my sweaters away for the summer.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Join Me at the Castle

I am happy to announce that I've been selected to teach at Knit East 2013, the Atlantic Fibre Fest sponsored by Cricket Cove this fall (check out their Ravelry group: KnitEast).

This festival includes "classes, marketplace, demos, yoga for knitters, spinning 101, contests, and everything in between" September 27, 28, and 29, 2013. The event takes place at the historic Algonquin Resort, a tudor-style castle (!) that overlooks Passamaquoddy Bay in St Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada. I don't make it to the East Coast to teach very often and I've haven't taught in Canada before -- and I've certainly never stayed in a castle -- so I'm pretty excited about this trip.
And the teacher line-up is pretty impressive, too, including Susan B. Anderson, Deb Barnhill, Bristol Ivy, Mary Jane Mucklestone, and the Yarn Harlot herself -- Stephanie Pearl McPhee! I don't know what pearls they will be teaching, but I can tell you that I'll teach Sweaters from the Top Down (gotta promote The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, doncha know), Cast-On Techniques, and Introduction to Sweater Design. 
If you can fit it into your schedule and budget, I'd love to meet you there!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Sock Down

It started snowing late yesterday afternoon so I brewed some tea and curled up under an afghan to knit away the evening hours. Once the heel is turned, this sock is smooth sailing to the toe. I worked the gusset decreases adjacent to single purl stitches at the edges of the instep stitches for a clean demarcation between the instep and sole. I finished with Kitchener stitch.
I'm quite delighted with the sproingy nature of the yarn/stitch pattern combination!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wacky Windmill Sock

I decided to take break from the sweater and work on a sock.
The yarn is a gift from The Wacky Windmill (TWW Crazy Sock in Find a Penny colorway). I'm following the pattern for the Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks.
Yes, I am shamelessly using this venue to promote my own book.
I've just finished picking up stitches for the gusset and have made four deviations from the printed pattern:
1. Because I'm getting a gauge of about 8 stitches/inch (instead of the 6 stitches/inch specified), I'm following the stitch counts for the second-to-largest size (CO 72 sts) to end up with socks that will be about 8 1/2" in circumference.
2. I used one size larger needles (3.0 mm) for the cast on and upper half of the leg, then changed to size 2.75 mm needles for the rest of the sock. I placed a marker in the leg on the row where I changed needle sizes.
3. I worked the heel flap in the Reversed Slip 1, Knit 1 pattern (see page 27), in which the yarn is held to the front as every other stitch is slipped. This produces more of a woven texture than the standard thickly ribbed texture.
4: To balance the seeded rib pattern on the heel (and therefore on the instep as well), I worked the first row under the Heel heading by knitting 17 stitches (instead of the 18 instructed). I turned the work, then purled 36 stitches as instructed and worked the rest of the heel as instructed.
Here's what I've got so far:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why I'm a Spoiled Brat #20

Last week I had the exceedingly good fortune to take part in Cat Bordhi's Visionary Retreat, which is a symbiotic group of knitters, spinners, and crocheters. Most (but not all) visionaries have published works and most of those have been self published. It was an exciting adventure in new ideas and techniques that left me weak in the knees.
On each end of the retreat I stayed with visionary Jeny Staiman of Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off fame (check out her blog at Jeny is a self-proclaimed knitting geek and the creator of several ingenious patterns that are FREE through Ravelry. We had mind-bending conversations about bind-offs, cast-ons, and sock construction. As I headed out the door, Jeny handed me a goodie bag of tasty morsels, which included jerky from the elk her husband shot, chocolate, and a pair of her most fascinating Double Heelix socks! Check out those heels--that's where the socks begin! And don't you just love the spot of contrast at the toes? I'll need a new pair of shoes to show them off.
Click here to download the pattern that was initially published in

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Winner

My father thanks you all for the birthday wishes! The winner is the 11th comment (Feb 8 at 11:52 am), in which Malin said:
Happy birthday to your father! He is the same age as my garndmother and she certainly couldn't go downhill skiing, wow! It must be the Norwegian sweater ;-)
I'd love to win Knitted gifts, it is full of small fun projects.
Malin, send me your mailing address and I'll get the book in the mail.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do I Feel Stupid

We all do stupid things when knitting and I'm certainly no exception. I thought I'd knit the sleeves before finishing the body so that I could get all of the shaping out of the way. Imagine my dismay when I took the waste yarn out of the saddles and realized that I had attached one in the wrong direction. The live stitches are supposed to be at each armhole edge, but they are at the neck edge on one side!
I didn't have stitch holders with me when I knitted the saddles so I put the live stitches on lengths of the working yarn. Because I didn't use contrasting yarn, I didn't notice that I had one oriented the wrong way when I picked up stitches for the back. I toyed with the idea of just picking up stitches along the cast-on edge of the errant saddle, but that would spoil the continuous line from neck to cuff and it would have been apparent (to me at least) that the stitch pattern changed directions at the join.
Here's what I can salvage: two saddles, one front, and a few balls of kinky yarn.
Thank goodness I didn't decide to knit the entire body before the sleeves!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Glory Days -- Upper Body Complete

The fronts are little tricky because you have to remember to work short-rows to shape the shoulders at the same time as new stitches are cast on at the neck edge, all while maintaining the stitch pattern. Fortunately, the stitch pattern repeats over just four stitches and there are only three steps to the short-rows and five steps to the neck shaping so it's all over pretty quickly.
I've joined the fronts and back here. In order to maintain pattern continuity around the sides, I cast on 11 stitches (instead of 12) at the base of each armhole. That gave me a total of 241 stitches (instead of the 240 called for in the second chart of number on page 200), which is a multiple of 4 stitches +1.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ninety-Two Years!

Today my father turns 92 and that's cause for celebration. If he hadn't dragged the family to Switzerland in 1968 so he could do research in Europe and northern Africa, I might never have learned to knit.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a couple of years will remember that he had a bad accident on his daily bike ride that landed him in the hospital with 7 broken ribs and a punctured lung. He recovered and continues to bike whenever the weather allows. Today, my brothers and sister will take him downhill skiing to celebrate. I'm enormously proud of him.
Here he is in a photo I took a couple of years ago. I knitted the sweater he's wearing back in 1980 and he's worn it most days between October and March since then. I wish I remembered what yarn I used because it has never pilled and shows very little sign of wear more than 30 years later.
I am participating in a retreat (on San Juan Island!) and won't be able to celebrate with the rest of the family today. So, I'll celebrate by holding a raffle for one of my print books (check out my website for a list; sorry--electronic books are not included in this offer). Respond to this post to indicate which book you'd like and why and I'll use a random-number generator to draw a name when I return home next Thursday.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

ACK -- There's an Error in the Book!

Well, I was feeling smug about the quick progress I've made so far on the Glory Days sweater and I should know better.
When I started to knit the front, I realized that the book doesn't mention that the shoulders have to be shaped with short-rows to match the back. I can't tell you how many times I flipped back and forth between the pages, but the errant instructions never appeared.
I am mortified and I apologize for the omission! To make it worse, the error was repeated for the child instructions too.
Here are the corrections:
Page 177 (Child Sizes): The heading for Crewneck Style at the bottom of the left column should read:
Working each set of front sts separately, work 1 WS row even.
Work short-rows to shape the shoulders as for back and at the same time shape neck as foll: ...
Page 178 (Child Sizes): The heading for V-Neck Style at the bottom of the right column should read:
Working each set of front sts separately, work 1 WS row even.
Work short-rows to shape the shoulders as for back and at the same time shape neck as foll: ...
Page 192 (Adult Sizes): The heading for Crewneck Style in the center of the page should read:
Working each set of front sts separately, work 1 WS row even.
Work short-rows to shape the shoulders as for back and at the same time shape neck as foll: ...
Thankfully, I managed to remember the shoulder shaping for the adult V-neck style on page 195.

Glory Days -- Off to a Good Start

Sometimes the combination of yarn, needles, and stitch pattern come together so beautifully that a garment seems to knit itself. That seems to be the case with the Briar Rose Glory Days yarns, size 5 needles, and textured rib pattern that I'm using for my next sweater.
I'm following the instructions for a saddle-shoulder cardigan in The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters (page 187) for a 40" circumference at 6 stitches to inch.
The textured rib pattern is a multiple of 4 stitches + 1, so instead of working the saddles on 20 stitches as directed for my size/gauge on page 187, I worked each on 21 stitches. To make it easier to pick up stitches along the edges of the saddles later, I knitted the first and last stitch of every row to make garter selvedge stitches:
RS rows: K1 (selvedge st), *k1, sl 1. k2; rep from * to last 4 sts, k1, sl 1, k1, k1 (selvedge st).
WS rows: K1 (selvedge st), *p3, k1; rep from * to last 4 sts, p3, k1 (selvedge st).
To begin the back, I picked up 24 stitches across one saddle, used the knitted method to cast on 41 stitches (instead of the 40 instructed to accommodate the stitch pattern), then picked up 24 stitches across the other saddle. This gave me a total of 89 stitches (instead of 88), which balanced the stitch pattern at the two armhole edges (with right-side facing, both sides have a selvedge stitch followed by a k3 column).
Again, knitting the first and last stitch of every row for garter selvedges, I shaped the shoulders with short-rows (in two increments of 7 stitches as directed, but working 8 stitches in the last increment), then worked straight for 6 1/4" (indicated by the marker), then started the armhole by increasing one stitch (using the M1 technique) at each end of the needle every right-side row six times, followed by casting on 4 stitches at each side to end with a total of 109 stitches (instead of 108).
I've just picked up 24 stitches along the other edge of one saddle to begin working the right front.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Two New Starts

I started two (2!) projects last weekend.
As promised, I swatched The Wacky Windmill yarn (the colorway is Find a Penny) and decided to knit  the Seeded Rib Socks on page 88 of Getting Started Knitting Socks. The socks in the book were knitted at a gauge of 6 stitches/inch, but I want a denser fabric. I get just over 8 stitches/inch on size U.S. 2 (2.75 mm) needles. I figure that if I follow the instructions for the second-to-the-largest size (cast on 72 stitches), the socks should end up about 8 1/2" in circumference, which is the size I want, and work perfectly with the 6-stitch pattern repeat.
For this pair, I decided to work k4, p2 ribbing for the first inch instead of starting the seeded rib pattern right after the cast-on. For flexibility, I used the Old Norwegian cast-on, which is my go-to technique for top-down socks.
I also swatched the Briar Rose Glory Days yarn that I got to knit a replacement for the Unisex Zip that I knitted out of Briar Rose Legend (which is no longer available) for the The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters (see my blog post for Dec 3, 2012, titled Unisex Zip Revisited). The sweater never made it into the print book but is included in the electronic version.
I swatched the same simple two-row pattern:
RS rows: *k3, sl 1; rep from *.
WS rows: *p2, k1, p1; rep from *.
I like the fabric best knitted at 6 stitches/inch on size 5 (3.75 mm) needles. I loved knitting the swatch and am anxious to cast on for a saddle-shoulder zip-front cardigan. (I apologize for the blurry image!)
 Anyone want to place bets on which project I finish first?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back at It

Am I ever glad that January is behind us. The days are noticeably longer and the sun is minutely stronger every day. I think I can safely say that the doldrums are behind me.
This week, I finally finished a sweater that I started more than a year ago -- the Diamond Jacket from Marion Foale's Knitting Collection 1.
This is the first sweater I've knitted at such a fine gauge--9 stitches to the inch on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. I bought the yarn, pattern, and buttons at Tutto Santa Fe, which I make a point of visiting whenever I'm in Santa Fe. The stitch pattern is a series of stockinette and reverse stockinette triangles that form an embossed texture. The edgings are all garter stitch, which I absolutely love when knitted at fine gauges.
Finishing the sweater gave me unexpected creative energy and I promptly went out and had my hair cut very short and ordered purple (!) glass frames.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why I'm a Spoiled Brat #19

One of the students in the Sweater Design Basics and Finishing class I taught last week for Craft Cruises Knit & Ski in Steamboat Springs, CO, is one of a growing number of indie dyers. I'll call her Kim because that's her name. Kim lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, blogs at  The Wacky Windmill, sells yarns and batts through The Wacky Windmill Shop on etsy.
On the last (which also happened to be the second) day of class, Kim presented me with a skein of fingering weight yarn that she had dyed. Not only did Kim use one of my most favorite fiber combinations for socks (80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon; 435 yd/100 g), but she dyed it in the rich golds, rusts, and burgundies that I cannot resist.

I've decided to use Kim's generous gift for a pair of socks for my own selfish self (I haven't knitted myself a pair of socks since I finished the Pussy Willow Stockings in Sock Knitting Master Class back in September). For fun, I'll use a pattern (I decide on which one after I swatch) from my own Getting Started Knitting Socks. I plan to wind the yarn as soon as publish this post and knit the socks during my upcoming travels. I'll keep you posted.