A virtual gathering of people sharing their knitting, books, thoughts, and random threads of conversation!

Live ~ Laugh ~ Knit

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When the cat's away, the dogs will play.

I received a distressing phone call from Thing #2 this morning.  It is never a good start to a conversation when your chld says, "I hate making this phone call, but...


the dogs got into your yarn while I was out this morning." Of course it was a ball of black Superior cashmere."  Ugh!  They shredded the whole skein, all 300 plus yards of it.  It is positively heartbreaking.  

They have never done anything like this before.  The only time they have played with the yarn is when I'm knitting next to them.  I certainly hope they don't develop a taste for yarn as a toy. Joe thinks they are mad at me for being away and this is their way of showing it.  I bet he's right.


Thing #2 has locked the room and any other that has easily accessible yarn.  


I made her barricade the doors. In the meantime, she'll watch them to make sure they didn't consume any.


She called me again to say they found another tangled mess of blue yarn.  I couldn't tell what yarn this one was.  I'm guessing merino since they weren't able to shred it. Sigh.


It is a good thing they are cute, I love them, and most importantly...


I wasn't the one to catch them.  THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN UGLY.


I'm going to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and try to recover my composure.  It's only yarn (sniff), it's only yarn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Do you take your knitting wherever you go?

I like to keep a small portable project in my purse at all times.  When I forget to bring my knitting with me I get really anxious. I imagine that all of a sudden I'll be forced to wait endlessly and not have anything to do.  It's the stuff (knitter's) nightmares are made of.

Portable knitting projects (for me) include anything that will fit in my bag.  Did I mention I carry a large bag that is akin to a piece of luggage?  Socks, hats, gloves/mittens, and baby knits all make perfect portable knitting projects. 


 I keep them in Laura's Fibers Entwined knitting bags because everything should be pretty.

So far this week, my magic loop sock has accompanied me to the car rental place.  It took longer than anticipated.
It was perfect poolside knitting.  I've had knitters stop in front of me and say, "I never thought to knit outside (in the warmer weather).  They do not know what they are missing.


It is a beautiful thing to be in harmony with your knitting and a lovely day.


It was the topic of a Facebook post today, "Do you knit on the slopes?"

The general consensus of  those of us tagged in the photo was, 'if I skied, I would definitely take my knitting on the ski lift.'  That being said, none of us ski and would rather knit in front of a fireplace in the ski lodge. 


And randomly a drone flew overhead today.  Joe didn't think the picture would come out.  It's blurry, but it's there!

Remember, you can take it with you. ;)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Beware, there are knitters everywhere.

Of course whenever I travel (or go anywhere for that matter) I have knitting with me. While on a plane fleeing south, I had a flight attendant approach me and ask what I was knitting. I showed her the hat I was knitting (a secret squirrelly knitting design).  She was lovely and made all the appropriate oohing and aahhing sounds.

A few minutes later she came back and asked me what type of needles I was using.  We had a whole discussion about types of circular needles and interchangeables.  I suggested Knitter's Pride, personally I've used the Dreamz, Karbonz, and Marblz.

I asked her what she was knitting.  She told me she was knitting her first hat and there was no pattern.  She was copying something she saw on television.  (I forgot to ask her what show.) She explained that she was almost out of yarn and wasn't sure how to work the decreases because there were cables split up by sections of eyelet stitches.  I told her if she had it with her, I'd be happy to take a look and see if I could help.

She was delighted and ran off to get her knitting (that was really sweet).  For a new knitter to be knitting without a pattern and mixing up eyelets and cables is impressive.  She was doing a great job.  I suggested that she omit an eyelet in each section, every round while continuing to make the k2tog.  That would keep the cables intact till she reached the end.  Then she could pull it in like a drawstring and top it with a pom-pom.  We were both happy with the idea.  It was a "charming interlude" while traveling.

On another note, while my dad was taking his daily walk and chatting up various neighbors, he happened to mention that I managed Westport Yarns.  His neighbor, Allison (from CT) was thrilled.  She told him our shop was her favorite.  Later I went down to meet her and we both recognized each other.

It is a small, small world.  You never know when a knitter is going to pop up. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The best-laid plans of mice & men (and knitters) often go awry.

I haven't seen Mary in ages.  She always brings cool things to show me, whether it's clothes that she wants to recreate or magazine pictures (with the same intention). She bought these two woven pieces,  this poncho and

this hooded scarf.  She balked at the idea of the linen stitch (not her personal favorite) so it wasn't the stitch that intrigued her, it was the garment/accessory.  That's very doable.

Mary is knitting a wedding garter she has knit before. She misread a line in the directions and flipped the pattern.   I'm telling you, that selective reading this is a real bummer.

She's knitting the Sheep Roll Neck Roo Sweater. Her transitions from color to color were perfect, there were no holes.

 Her issue were the yarn floats in the back.  Mary was carrying the yarn across too many stitches so her sheep was puckered in the front.  She's going to rip it back and use yarn bobbins and limit the yarn carrys to 2 stitches.

Sunaina brought out a sweater that she and I both have knit, Miley Tee in Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool (DK: 45% Wool, 35% Silk, 20% Nylon, 192 yards).  Initially she wasn't liking the neckline so she sewed up part of it to create a keyhole neckline. She thought the neckline gave her quadruple chins, which I have to say is never a good look.

 When she went back to it, she didn't like it and decided to take it out.  Unfortunately, she cut into the cast on (the sweater is top down). This is right on top of the keyhole seam she sewed.  After reviewing it, she's going to send it to our finisher to see if she can capture a row of live stitches and take out the seam.  Then she will refinish it the way it was intended.

Here is a very happy and proud Sunaina surveying her kitchener stitch handiwork on her Noro Log Cabin Afghan. She came up with a pattern modification for me to reduce the amount of picking up stitches needed.  At the end of knitting a square, join the border color and knit the required number of rows - leaving the stitches live for grafting.  Thanks, Sunaina!

Lois revisited her Marshmallow Fluff Cowl, knit with Twinkle Handknit Soft Chunky (Super Bulky: 100% Wool, 83 yards). Since she hasn't worked on it since Thanksgiving she wanted confirmation of what row she was on. 

There was a moment where she changed the way she was reading the instructions and it wasn't coming out right. This was how it was written: "slip stitch as if to purl".  Despite doing the pattern correctly for a 8+", she decided it (now) meant "slip with yarn in front".  Lois blamed it on the pattern, somehow it was (magically) tricking her. Go with it.

She's working on the Basic Vest for Men for her husband.  Her ribbing was off in a few places.  I was able to "right" her stitches with the Fix a Stitch tool.

Elizabeth knit another mitered square (Mitered Square Afghan) with Cascade Eco Plus (Aran: 100% Wool, 478 yards) to compare the borders. This was categorically a nicer edging than the other one. (See below)

Her daughter took the mittens she knit last week, Postwar Mittens. The fact that one mitten was noticeably different in size did not bother her.  

Her son thought the sweater she finished, Coraline, was store made, true compliment for a knitter. It's lovely how her kids appreciate her knitted works.

Linda came in to work a specific row in the lace repeat of Etched Rio Poncho.  She knows how to do it, and she knows that she can do it, she just wanted me there.  Literally. Sitting next to her.

There may be a a felted Pam doll in the future (to sit on your shoulder). Maybe a key chain, a knitting good luck charm.

Here is a picture of Linda's new granddaughter wearing the sweater I knit her in Knitcol (DK: 100% Merino, 137 yards). This picture makes it all worth while.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You talking to me?

No, I'm talking to myself. We all do it. Talk to ourselves under our breath while knitting. Narrating the steps we are taking to make sure we are doing it right.

 Trammi began working on the button bands on her husband's sweater, Slade. The designer is using a vertical button hole which neither one of us had ever heard of.  We were learning it now!  It's actually really cool.  You work a set up row placing markers evenly spaced for your buttons, then you knit short rows in each section without wrapping the stitches.  When you finish each section, you leave a long tail.  That's used to closed and reinforce the button hole.

The pattern is from the Brooklyn Tweed collection and is really detailed.  Every thing Trammi has had to do in the pattern has contributed to a very elegantly finished sweater.  The picture above shows the tubular cast on for the ribbing.  The yarn is Plymouth Select Superwash (Worsted: 100% Merino, 218 yards).

While traveling, Trammi picked up the pattern book, Zealana Passport. She particularly liked the Teela Stole.

Cornelia is knitting the Confidence Pullover in Cascade 128 Superwash (Bulky: 100% Superwash Merino, 128 yards). We reviewed the 'slip n slide' otherwise known as ssk. Also this pattern has a really cool design element of cabled decreases along the raglan.  This method took some practice along with a quiet pep talk (to herself). In the end, she was knitting with confidence as the sweater purports.

Eleanor finished sewing her customfit sweater together.  Would you believe she didn't try it on until we were together?  I could not have waited that long.  I've barely cut the strands free before I'm trying things on.  Her sweater fit her absolutely perfectly, it was magical!  What's left is picking up and knitting the neckline and then the button borders.

Jane is nearing the finish of this incredible aran afghan she's knitting as a gift for her son's Vermont house. There is a history to this blanket; Jane had put this aside 10 years ago mid-row with maybe 18" completed.  She brought it to me a few months ago along with very detailed notes.  After we figured out where she was, she jumped right into it.

Today when she came to class, she had two questions for the village with regards to the afghan:
1. She has the better part of one skein left, should she make it longer?  - Yes
2. The pattern calls for tassels on the ends of the afghan, should she add tassels?  - To that there was an emphatic NO!.

Her next question was about a pattern her daughter wanted her to knit, a fitted cabled sweater coat.  The pattern was from a Lang yarns magazine.  The instructions were translated from another language and something was definitely lost in translation.  Moving on...

It turns out Jane has never knit for herself.  I highly recommend it!

Patty decided she wanted another project in addition to the ribbed scarf she's knitting for her son.  She's going to knit a cotton, lightweight infinity scarf in Seedling (Aran: 100% Cotton, 110 yards). She definitely wanted something easy and mindless.


We found the Michael Kors (Inspired) Infinity Scarf.  I showed her how to work the long tail cast on without estimating by making a double slip knot with a strand from the outside and a strand from the inside (of the skein).  Casting on as many stitches as needed and cut one strand free.  When you get to the end of your first row/round, pull out the double slip knot, it does not count as a stitch.

Allison was back from a whirlwind trip to Sweden.  She brought her hitchhiker scarf to knit while she was away.  While she was in Sweden, she spent one night at the Ice Hotel.  How freakin' cool (literally) is that???

As conversation criss-crosses around the table, all we heard was that Allison was hitchhiking and having one night stands! It's like a bad game of telephone. ;) My grandmother once said that conversation is a 3-way street and I am inclined to agree with her! While all this was going on, she was working on her customfit sweater.

Given that it was St. Patrick's Day, we had a discussion about corned beef crock pot recipes and whether or not to add beer.  There was a resounding YES on this too.  Footnote, I added Palm Ale to my corned beef concoction and it was delicious.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

NYC Yarn Crawl ~ Day 2

It was raining Saturday when we woke up.  Robbie checked out public transporation options (yes, on an app).  I left her to it.  In my mind, it was a cab day. In the end, Robbie got there on her own.

Our plan was to visit Annie & Co. Needlepoint & Knitting, Knitty City, and The Yarn Co. in that order.

Like the name says, Annie & Co. is half needlepoint and half yarn.  We were greeted by the needlepoint woman who was very nice and explained the way the shop was set up.  Robbie and I made our separate reconnaissance' around the shop.  The shop was well lit, lots of yarns to choose from, and tables to sit at.

I liked the Double Scoop Scarf/Shawl knit with Prism Saki (Fingering: 75% Merino, 25% Nylon, 440 yards) and Heritage Sock yarn (Fingering: 75% Merino, 25% Nylon, 437 yards).  I know it may come as a shock to you, I believe I have a gorgeous skein of Saki that I've had for years that has be languishing without a project.  There might even be some Heritage Silk Sock lying about too.  What are the odds?  Well, pretty good actually.

Robbie admired the Exploration Station that one of the shop girls was wearing.  She picked up the yarn to knit it.  There is a section with Brioche in it.  I told Robbie, we will be together when she is knitting that section!

We enjoyed shopping at Annie & Co. the shop girls were helpful and fun. We enjoyed listening to their banter as we shopped and they invited us back to knit.

Before hitting Knitty City, we had an AMAZING breakfast at the Irving Farm Coffee Roasters.  Delish!

Fully fed and caffeinated, we were ready to visit Knitty City.  I really liked this shop.  There was an eclectic assortment of knitting bags, notions, and fun stuff.
I immediately picked up these two bags.  One is obvious.  The other one is a quote from A Tale of Two Cities referring to Madame Defarge.  My neighbors nicknamed me that because I knit in the summer at our gatherings.

Knitty City had a really good energy, the shop was filled with people sitting and knitting, a class, and of course shoppers.  I re-introduced myself to Pearl, the owner, who I have met on other occasions. There was a wide variety of yarns ranging from major companies like Cascade to smaller indie dyers.

Best of all, there was a huge book section which is so rare nowadays when everyone flocks to Amazon.  I was able to look through a number of titles that interested me. Robbie and I were totally absorbed in the yarn and the books. I have a feeling that this was a random picture by accident.  A photo equivalent to pocket dialing someone.  I love it though, especially since Robbie wouldn't let me take any pictures of her in front of yarn stores.  Gotcha!  She was a happy camper.

There was a customer with a LeSportsac with knit stitches!!!! I tried to find it online but was unsuccessful.  It's not that I necessarily want it either.  It's that it exists that gets me.

Our last stop was Yarn Company.  We learned that this is the oldest shop in NYC, 37 years. In that time it has seen several owners.  The shop has carved out a very specific niche so as not to be (I guess) redundant amidst other NYC shops.  They specialize in indie dyers, exclusive colorways, and exclusive patterns.  There were two binders of samples from which you could buy the yarn and get the pattern. All the samples were on hand. It reminded me of an art gallery for some reason.

Having met our goals, we went back to Robbie's apartment to knit for a while and play with yarn.  It was a terrific trip.  We each had our favorites, some overlapping.  When we go into a shop, I can go off and do my own "thing".  Robbie wants to feel engaged with the staff and energy of the shop.  I totally get that.

It was also inspiring to walk around NYC and see what people were wearing.  It was cold enough that there were still an abundance of scarves and hats.  I took many a clandestine picture of inspirational knits.

Monday, March 16, 2015

NYC, here we come!

My friend Robbie and I went on a self-directed yarn crawl this weekend.  I took the train in to meet her.

While on the train into the city, I realized that I forgot my notions. I had changed bags and completely forgot to transfer them.  I felt so vulnerable without my notions.

I realized my oversight when my interchangeables needles were loose while knitting a swatch. How will I tighten them?  It was an 'Oh S#!t' moment.  Then it occurred to me that I could use a thin paper clip to tighten them.

Measure swatch.   'Oh S#!t', no notions.  Thankfully, there's a ruler app.

Our plan was to visit six stores in two days.
Friday was to be the nicer day, so we planned around that:
Downtown Yarns (Greenwich Village)
Purl Soho (Soho)
String (East Side)

We had random people helping us wherever we went.  We were about to cross the street (admittedly before the light changed) and a lady standing next gently admonished us and urged us to take our time, not to rush. We walked in the same direction for a bit and  I asked her if she'd spend the day with us. ;)

On the subway to Bleecker street we couldn't hear the guy announcing.  When he said "watch the doors" it was loud and clear.

When he announced a stop, it sounded like the teacher on Charlie Brown. We tried to use a subway app to no avail. There were two young guys that could barely speak English, they looked out for us.  Every time the subway stopped, we'd look over at them to know if it was our stop.

When we got out of the subway, we tried to use a Starbucks app to find the nearest shop.  A passerby overheard us and directed us. The moral was that people were better than apps. Every time we attempted to use our apps, a person interceded faster and better than the app. We decided to proceed "old school" and actually ask people the rest of the trip.

Found Starbucks, enjoyed our coffee, got our bearings, and chatted up a Swedish family visiting with a 14 mo old and 3 yo. We walked to Dowtown Yarns.

Downtown Yarns is on Avenue A. It was a delightful little shop filled with interesting yarns and samples.  The women there were friendly and helpful. We each found a hat we wanted to make, they were store exclusives.

There was even a shop dog!

The most unusual yarn I saw was Nettle Yarn.  I asked what (on earth) people used that for? Wash clothes was one example.  In a word, OUCH.

From here we walked to Bleecker St. My first neighborhood, when I was born.  It was really cool to see where my parents (and I) lived.  Their descriptions and landmarks were spot on. The first two apartments I lived in were literally right around the corner from each other.

One was a 3 story walk up (tough with a baby), so they moved to the (then new) 6 story high rise, or a "modern tenement" as my dad called it because the fire escapes were on the front.

I may not have remembered any of it, but I literally walked down memory lane. 

Next we walked to Purl Soho. It was a very pretty shop to look at. Many of the samples that have been in their newsletter were displayed on tables.  They had a reasonable assortment of yarns.  It was not as warm and welcoming as Downtown Yarns had been.  Robbie found yarn to make a baby sweater. 

I bought Koigu solids to knit Peat Fingerless (Fair Isle) mittens. 
I'll add a natural and black to the mix.

We took the subway to the East Side to go to String. Cynthia was expecting us and gave us a tour.  The shop looks great. It's on the second floor with windows all the way across and lots of seating for knitting and hanging out. There were samples for inspiration and friendly, knowledgeable staff. Stacy Charles happened to be in shop at the same time, that was a nice treat to see him too.

                                                                   © Linus Ouellet 

I bought more Koigu to make these Candlesmoke mittens,

the background is a sparkly purple (keep your comments to yourself) the foreground is a soft grey.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Vivoli Retaurant. There are few things better than a day filled with yarn, good friends, and good food.

Then, after walking 11,500 steps, we fell into bed to do it all over again tomorrow.  It was a wonderful day. More to come....