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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Adventures with Two-Color aka Stranded Knitting

Saturday, Beth, Robbie and I drove up to the Kent Knitting Retreat.  We had signed up for one day of classes.  While we were getting settled, we ran into Amy Herzog, designer and mastermind behind Customfit sweaters. We offer the Customfit program at Westport Yarns and wanted to say hello.


I took two awesome classes with Mary Jane Mucklestone.  She has written three books on color knitting.

The first class was Two-Color Knitting. I just learned two-color knitting a year ago when I knit the Koigu Mobius Cowl. I fell in love with the technique. As with any technique there is always room to learn more.

I attending the class with Beth, Robbie and met up with several Westport Yarns staff and customers.  The class was FULL!

We made this headband (could've been a hat if I wanted to continue).  If you knit Continental, she taught you how to knit carrying both colors in your left hand.  If you knit English style, she taught you how to knit with one color in each hand.

I had learned both methods. I was more comfortable holding a color in each hand because I tended to get really twisted up when I attempted two colors in my left hand.  She taught us how to avoid getting tangled and how to manage your yarn so your floats come out right.

I have to give you a visual here. Working the color in my left hand, knit Continental style, is a smooth process (if loose).  Since I don't actively knit English, my movements are totally exaggerated, like a caricature of someone throwing the yarn. I could've lassoed a wild animal with the reach of my throwing of the yarn.  Beth was knitting to my left and Sari (a customer) was behind me.  They helped me economize my movements.  It still felt completely clumsy because I was unaccustomed to it.

Here is the (potentially) life changing observation.  My gauge with the color knit English style was remarkably tighter than my Continental color. Considering that I have to go down a minimum of two needle sizes just to get gauge, this could revolutionize my knitting.  I left this class in an elated fog of how much we learned and what all this means for my gauge going forward.


At lunch we ate at an outdoor cafe. Next to us was a couple with two Bull Mastiff dogs.


They were ginormous! To give you perspective, I wear a size 9 shoe.  Yikes. They were sweeties.

The afternoon class was about Scandinavian knitting.  First off she explained that one of the major differences between Fair Isle and Scandinavian knitting is that Scandinavian knitting has motifs of people and animals.  Fair Isle does not.

There were several pattern options for trying out Scandinavian knitting.  Julie and I chose the "insane" one.  I mean really, go insane or go home.

First off she taught us how to knit two color garter, in the round, with no purling.  Think about that for a few minutes.  You'll get it. Garter knit flat is knit every row.  Garter knit in the round is (ordinarily) knit a round, then purl a round and alternate between the two rounds.

I decided to continue to pursue my gauge discovery as a bonus to learning the Scandinavian knitting. (I'm getting really good at typing Scandinavian) Now this will be hard to see, you can pretend you see it, that's fine.The white yarn was knit Continental.  The blue yarn, English style.  After four rounds, my gauge for the blue was so tight, it felt like the blue stitches were disappearing.  I went up a needle (unheard of for me) and it was markedly better.

This could've been a hat or headband as well.  However, with my gauge all over the place, it will stay a swatch.  I keep all the swatches I knit in classes for future reference.

Stay tuned for gauge play comparing and contrasting my results with Continental and English.

Yarn Organization

I haven't seen Trammi in at least a month, so it was great to catch up.  She lamented the number of 'works in progress' that she has going and that she loses track.  I hear this from a lot of customers at the shop. Since I'm the poster child for multiple projects going at a time, I can speak a bit about this.

This is not to say that I follow my own organizational constructs all the time, that in and of its self is a work in progress. The projects that have the yarn AND pattern go into ziplock bags and then into a bin.  I tuck a list into the bin of what's in there.  Then I add these projects to my queue on Ravelry.  That way when I'm ready to start a project I know where to look.  For yarn without a pattern, I have created an excel spreadsheet by yarn weight so I know what I have.  I'm not religious about keeping the list up to date, but it's something.

Trammi prefers not to use electronics whenever possible but knows if she writes it on paper, she'll lose the paper.  I find it really useful to put all the pertinent information for a project and save it on Ravelry.  

We  revisited several of Trammi's projects.

1. Perla coat in Milano (Aran: 40% wool, 28% nylon, 18% silk, 14% other, 105 yards). We adjusted the pattern to make it an extra small. She was trying to figure out where she left off. When we showed Cornelia the picture, she complimented Trammi on the dramatic look of the coat and likened wearing to look like a swooping bird of prey. Great visual.

The pattern is translated from Italian, so every now and then there are parts of the directions that literally 'lose something in translation'. In the picture above, they use (our) symbol for division the same way we would use a dash.  You have to read the sentences before and after to get the full context.  Just like they taught us in grade school.

2. She wanted to learn how to work the garter tab on the Garter Triangle Shawl she is knitting with Noro Kureyon (Aran: 100% wool, 110 yards). The garter tab is actually very easy once see how it is worked.

The garter tab is the center 3 garter ridges at the top of the picture. The pattern called for a #8 needle.  Trammi is running out of 8's.  Since she uses  (Knitters Pride) interchangeables, she took the #8 tips off the Perla coat and put on point protectors. This is one of the benefits of interchangeables and also a red flag.  Don't leave headless horsemen; make a note what needles you were using and pin to project and/or use your Ravelry project page to keep track.

3. Customfit sweater. She might redo the sleeves because she is not sure she did the increases correctly. 

Cornelia will go kicking and screaming before switching to using circulars. She is enjoying knitting her customfit sweater in Malabrigo Worsted (Worsted: 100% wool, 210 yards). So far she has learned how to work slanted decreases and increases and likes the way the shaping looks.

Post written, time to sit and knit a bit.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wednesday Stitch and Chat

Michelle is in finishing mode:

She was working the crocheted border on her sampler afghan in Cobasi (Light Fingering: 55% Cotton, 21% Nylon, 16% Bamboo, 8% Silk, 220 yards).

The of Paintbox afghan is done. It was knit with Cascade 220 Superwash (Worsted: 100% Wool, 220 yards).

She's ready to sew the Houston top in Berroco Origami (Worsted: 58% Acrylic, 16% Linen, 15% Nylon, 11% Cotton, 98 yards).

You know what all this finishing means don't you?  She's ready to swatch for her next project: two customfit summer sweaters.

One in Hempathy (DK: 41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, 25% Rayon, 153 yards) and 

one in Sublime Bamboo and Pearls (DK: 70% Bamboo, 30% Other, 104 yards).

Sunaina got sidetracked by the hem on the front of her Houston Top in Tahki Monet (Aran: 52% Cotton, 40% Acrylic, 8% Nylon, 60 yards).  

She was having trouble knitting the hem closed.We fixed the hem and now she's knitting the front. It makes me all kinds of happy that Michelle and Sunaina are knitting my design.

We looked over her Krazy Kurti sweater.

Her Reversible Striped Scarf in Jade Sapphire 6-ply (Worsted: 100% Cashmere, 150 yards) feels amazing!

Eileen joined us for the first time. She is knitting a baby dress for a granddaughter that's on the way and wanted help learning how to using double pointed needles.The sweater is knit in Cascade 128 Superwash (Bulky: 100% wool, 128 yards). I misplaced the note with the name of the pattern.  If you're interested, let me know and I'll find out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sweaters in Progress

Cornelia gave her Confidence Pullover sweater to the finisher to block and sew.  She was absolutely thrilled with result. Now she's ready to pick up for the neck.

She's also working on her first Customfit sweater in Malabrigo Worsted (Worsted: 100% Merino, 210 yards). This yarn knits up beautifully. She dropped a stitch a few rows down and learned how to pick it up.

Allison is working on her Customfit sweater in Skacel Kid Pailettes.  Her ribbing has an uneven number of stitches and she keeps kgetting off pattern. She's working both fronts at once and one side is off by a few rows and too many stitches,.  She'll have to work one side over again to get it to match.

She  is nearly done with one of her (Susie's) fingerless gloves that she began last week.

Karine came in to learn how to crochet the strips of her Sampler Afghan together.  She knit it in Cascade 128 Superwash (Bulky: 100% Superwash wool, 128 yards). All the strips were blocked and the afghan feels soft and cozy.  The yarn was originally going to be a sweater for her husband and got repurposed into a lovely afghan.

She's also working on this exquisite sweater called, Pride and Prejudice, in a fingering weight yarn. Lovely!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wednesday Stitch and Chat - Prempted

It was Tuesday night. I was all set for my Wednesday Stitch and Chat, the only thing in my way was confirming whether or not I had to show up for jury duty. I crossed my fingers while dialing in, hoping to hear my name dismissed only to hear, "All Jurors Must Attend". Drat, Double Drat.

I began to prepare what to bring to the courthouse. I knew from the juror materials that knitting was not allowed.  I figured I would take a chance and bring crochet.  Yarn is my security blanket. This meant searching through my favorites (tagged with crochet) and finding a project.


I settled on the Boteh scarf to knit with an Ellyn Cooper yarn I picked up years ago with my sister, Nancy and our friend Ann.  We were in New Hampshire and I don't know how I remember this but I'm pretty sure the store's same was The Fiber Studio.

Wednesday morning dawned and I needed an appropriate mug to match my mood. My sister and I share a love of fun coffee mugs. I think half my "cool" mugs come from her.  At any rate, I decided not to use the "I'm just a bill" because I thought it would some how jinx me into being picked for jury duty.  What can I say, this is how my mind works.  I picked the "Don't tell me to keep calm" and it served me well.

So prepared with my "busy bag" filled with yarn, hooks, paperback book, magazine, kindle, and snacks, I headed off.  I knew I had to go through a metal detector, however, I did not even consider how thoroughly they go through every.single.pocket. Just to give you a mental picture, my bag has bags within bags all with countless zippers and pockets, clipped together in a highly technical way.

The woman checking my bag found a blunt tipped chibi (tapestry needle), my kitty snips, and a mini metal tape measure and deemed them suspect. The security guard felt someone could be choked with it. I was allowed to bring those back to the car.  I walked back to the parking lot with a woman bringing two metal tape measures.  She was more of a threat, I think. When I came back, I had to go through the search/metal detector again.  It does make sense when you think about it.

All kidding aside, the security people were kind, patient, and throughout.  They perform a valuable service to our safety. I felt bad about the pockets and they just shrugged it off as something to do.

Then the waiting game begins.  I found it interesting that the news is on in the jury assembly room. Anyway, THANKFULLY my name was not called for the two groups of twenty people that were led out for jury selection.

I worked up the Boteh scarf with an E hook (left) then an F hook (right). 

I thought I'd prefer the size worked with the F hook, but when I lay them out side by side, I think I go back to the E hook. I know it looks like exactly the same picture - look at the width of the top of the triangle.

You're probably holding your breath as to whether or not I was picked.  Thankfully, no.  We were released midday.  Now this project will probably go into hibernation having served it's jury service.  I don't know. We'll see.

Harry was calm about the whole jury duty thing.  
He had his security tennis ball at the ready.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tuesday's Stitch and Chat

Eleanor finished  L'Enveloppe in Noro Silk Garden Solo (Aran: 45% Mohair, 45% Silk, 10% Wool, 110 yards).

She counted the garter ridges to measure and sew. Then picked up the stitches to work the side bit.

We measured where to sew sleeve and voila! Finished!

She is knitting lap blankets for local nursing home in Cascade 128 (Bulky: 100% Superwash Merino, 128 yards). 

Eleanor was finishing a toddler sweater she bought while visiting in Cleveland. The Anytime Cardi is a house pattern from the Cleveland Shop. The sweater is for her great goddaughter.

She was working on the neck and picked up the stitches along the right side.  As she began to knit, she realized that it was creating an unsightly ridge at the back of the inside neck. 

Since the collar is supposed to fold over she decided to pick up stitches for neck on wrong side so that the inside will not have a ridge.

Patti cast on for the Dropped Stitch scarf as infinty scarf for her daughter. She will swatch Seedling (Aran: 100% Cotton, 110 yards) on #15. Her daughter wants the scarf to be super wide. Patti will cast on more loosely with larger needle.

In analyzing the scarves she just finished, she noticed that her cast on was much tighter than her bind off. That's not uncommon.  That's why in the future she will cast on with a needle a size or two larger than the needle she used to get gauge.

Allison was weaving in ends on her Hitchhiker in Pashmina (Sport: 75% Merino, 15% Silk, 10% Cashmere, 360 yrads) in the colorway Fog. This scarf is the fourth in her Hitchhiker series; two have been gifts.

She cast on for Susie's Reading Mitts in Rowan Lima (Worsted: 84% Alpaca, 8% Merino, 8% Nylon, 120 yards). Casting on with double points is always a little clumsy until it gets going.

Michelle stopped by to show us her Paintbox afghan. I love this afghan! The colors are so happy. She knit it with Cascade 220 Superwash (Worsted: 100% Superwash Merino, 220 yards).  

What we are reading:

The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

A Little Life  by Hanya Yanagihara

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let the swatching begin

This past weekend I went to Boston to visit my sister and my oldest daughter.  It was my first time on an Amtrak train and it was pretty cool. I thought I could fit everything into one suitcase.  Who was I kidding?  I had to bring yarn, yarn, and more yarn.

I got 3 votes for Big Damn Heroes, 1 vote for the Bergere sweater, and 1 for the Lang sweater.  I'm going to swatch all of them. 

I started off with Big Damn Heroes with Dragonfly Pixie (Fingering: 100% superwash merino, 475 yards). The pattern called for a #6, so I began on a #5. Since the cast on is a small number of stitches, I decided to swatch by just starting the project. 

I like it so far, the red will be pretty.  I found it hard to concentrate on the train, so I went onto the next swatch.
I changed to the Lang Pullover. Calls for #6, so I'll start my swatch on a #5.  I'm trying out Knitter's Pride Marblz needle tips that I picked up somewhere in my travels. They are pretty, 

Not surprisingly, I have to go down at least two needle sizes.  What was I thinking?  This yarn is almost as thin as dental floss. I do like the stitch pattern and will persevere. As far as the Marblz needles go, if you want a slower drag on your stitches, this will give you that.  The point is ok, but not as pointy as the Dreamz.

I thought I took a picture of my swatch for Song of the Sea, but alas, there was user error involved.