The week has been picture perfect. Comfortable temperatures, blue skies and the mountain colors at peak. Guess we're I'll be this weekend;-) Leaves in the valley are on the verge of changing. It just couldn't be more beautiful today.
Monday is the official kick off for the Twisted Knitters Dye Spin Knit Along. Dyeing for me is a group sport, so until I can meet up with some home grrls I plan to spin some of the lovely fiber already purchased and waiting in the stash. This yummy yarn is Crown Mountain Fiber's Superwash Merino and it spins like a dream! I have always been a fan of the Rolling Stones and for that reason (and for the pinky goodness), Satisfaction will become my first pair of handspun socks. However, after spinning up a sample skein yesterday I find my skills unsatisfactory. While this fiber spins easily, my lack of knowledge about its properties has produced funky (and not the good funky) results. I will continue to practice and learn what to do. Any tips on spinning superwash would be welcome!
Because Claudia and I have many of the same knitting philosophies, I decided to do the same meme that she took from Grumperina. Ten knitterly things you don't know about me...I think you don't know them about me, anyway.
- My knitting looks great on the blog, but often I fudge, fake, neglect to fix errors and often fly by the seat of my pants in the hope the project will just work out. You could ask the Dr. Phil question…"How's that working for you?" My answer is "Just fine, thank you." Few errors are seen, but if it is a matter of fit, or other glaring problems, the error is fixed (usually). You can also chalk up much of my knitting success to pure, unadulterated luck.
- My favorite yarn color isn't pink. It's
sky blue, bright red, lavender, red violet, blue violet…it's not green or orange.
- I'm a selfish knitter. I do charity items from time to time and have knit a few gifts, but over all, I knit for me, me and me. I love my knitting more than anyone else ever could.
- I also believe in the Sweater Curse. Several beautiful sweaters were lost to 'bad' men over the years. Smith got a hand tied quilt before we were married – nothing knit. In fact he thought knitting (or any crafting was 'silly'). As you can guess, he was quickly disabused of that notion.
- You already know my sock yarn stash runneth over, but I have very few unplanned sweater yarns in the stash. Like Claudia, I don't buy yarn on sale. If I fall in love with a yarn, (which happens rarely) I'll buy enough for a basic cardigan. Only Peace Fleece and Beaverslide yarns have been worthy of stashing. Oh, and Plain and Fancy Wool Co., too.
- I did not knit lace until I started to blog in 2004. Charlotte's Web was my first lace and first shawl. It was a struggle, but when the shawl was finished I was hooked on lace.
- Fulled knitting isn't something I like to use or do. I did do several bags when the 'craze' was new. I haven't touched it for a couple of years and don't plan to again.
- I tired to learn to knit in 1974. It took nearly the whole year for me to learn and then I had to sit down and teach myself. It's the same way I learned to spin. Gathering info from others, study on my own and then attempt to work on my own. Eventually the information sinks in and I'm on my way.
- While I don't mind tweaking a pattern to make it fit or make other slight changes, I have no desire to design. It's hard work and I like my knitting to be carefree. My mind doesn't really 'think' outside that proverbial box. I rarely say "What if I tried this?"
- This isn't really about 'knitting', BUT I will be bringing back a wheel from Rhinebeck. Just sayin'.
Once my knitting mojo returned Cutaway became a good knitting companion. Last week I took a little time and blocked out the body before heading onto sleeve island. Time on sleeve island doesn't bother me much as it is a relaxing, kick back kind of place. I can enjoy a fancy drink, you know the kind with a paper umbrella, and still get my knit on. The island offers a nice place to unwind after spending time with cabled and lace scarves. There is little thinking, and no chart reading needed on the island, as only increases or decreases need be watched. It's proven be a very fine knitting vacation. So good, in fact that I finished the first sleeve at SnB Tuesday night.
The yarn for Cutaway is a softly spun alpaca and while it may look slightly 'pepto', it's a very pretty pink. Heather said it looks very nice with my skin color. There are grand plans to embellish Cutaway with knit flowers and beads. Hopefully the intentions will come to fruition...soon.
Bonne Marie has a new design and, once again, it's just 'my' thing! Ariann is a stylish cardigan that will wear much like a classic jacket. It's a 'go away where' style, one you can wear with jeans or a dressy pair of slacks. It is now high on my 'to knit' list.
I've knit many Chicknit designs and enjoyed every single pattern. They are all well written and the finished garments are comfortable and wearable. CeCe has been so much fun to wear this summer and I'd like to make a second one next spring. The Eyelet Cardi has become one of my favorite sweaters ever and I also wear Ribby Cardi frequently. Ribby Shell & Chickami are very sexy and classy under a jacket and both were very quick knits.
It's our good fortune to have so many talented designers here in Blogland. I'm going to go knit as fast as I can to finish Cutaway so Ariann can move up the list. The perfect yarn may be in my stash...what do you think of this?
Wood Rose Heather from Beaverslide Farms. It's already swatched and washed. Stay tuned.
When the spirit flows from the hands, it is called 'labor'. From vacant space the hands start to create various shapes of things. The hands are the ones that are the exit of spirit. The movement of the hands embodies human longings and human beings are formed by the working of the hands.
The hands create forms that never existed before, and this art of creation is uniquely human. That is, human hands carve an image of the individual out of vacant space.
Humans recognize the level of their own spirit by looking at what they have created with their hands. That is, the hands enable the spirit to come out as a work, and will return to you as an evaluation. As results, what is in your heart shows in your work, and the hands will reflect what level you are, sometimes joyfully, sometimes pitifully.
Iwao Saito – founder of Kurenai-Kai in Japan
Master Saito is speaking of all forms of work that we do with our hands, but he was a master embroiderer and he knew the amount of study, practice and dedication needed to create art.
As we work at a piece of knitting, handle it (with or without care), and form each loop, we don't often think of it as 'labor', nor do we think of it as part of our spirit or a reflection of who we are as a person.
Spinning has made me think more about my hands and the work that I create with them. Not only what they do for me daily; the typing, cooking, cleaning, etc., but the beautiful things that come from a desire to create something unique, useful, and lasting.
Recently when I picked up the Mountain Stream Scarf that had been abandon last May, I stopped to admire the fabric that was being created with well placed holes and stitches. Susan, a friend, had created this pattern with countless hours of trial and error, knitting and reknitting, until it was perfect. The amount of thought and understanding needed to know how to create lace boggles my mind. Designers are truly unique individuals who look at knitting differently than the 'rest of us'.
Using my hands to recreate this scarf, designed by a friend, and watching it grow by my hand is a humbling experience. Knitters are so blessed to be able to produce items of beauty to be worn by family, friends, perfect strangers, and people in need. It is a gift and a talent we shouldn't take for granted.
Smith was unable to attend Rosh Hashanah services this weekend, but felt the need to get in touch with his Jewish roots. His answer was to make one of the only dishes he knows how to make (besides being a superb barbecuer), latkes. Being a very good man he knew that I am fond of sweet potatoes, more so than regular white potatoes, so he decided to cook up a batch just as a treat for me. My, oh my, they were so good, so beautiful and flavorful. He has quite a knack when it comes to latkes and matzo ball soup.
To reward this dear man, I joined Sandy's Hands KAL because of the need to fix the gloves he has worn for a couple of years. Now there is a bit of story to this pair of gloves, so sit back and I'll share it with you.
Nancy Bush's Polperro Glove pattern was published in Piecework Magazine in January/February 2004, while I was looking for a pattern to make Smith a pair. He loved the style and color, so I contact Nancy and bought a ball of Wendy Gansey yarn. They were very quick to knit and within 4 days I had a pair of gloves…both LEFT handed. Don't you just hate when that happens? So instead of ripping out one glove I called Nancy and bought another ball of yarn. I did not confess the error of my ways, just told her I wanted a second pair (technically, not a fib. She was also impressed with my knitting speed and that's how I came to knit for her last sock book.)
A right hand glove was successfully knit and Smith has worn the pair every winter day for 2 years. At the end of the first year I repaired a small hole in the pointer finger and at the end of last winter he had worn a hole in the thumb, of the right hand, in both cases. There is still plenty of yarn left for repairs and, also, enough yarn for another right hand. I may just break down and knit one so there will be a second pair ready and waiting when the day for a new pair comes along. Smith is very happy to know he'll have his favorite pair of gloves to keep him warm for several more winters. A man who is so thoughtful, and doesn't mind spending time in the kitchen, should be warmly rewarded.
As requested, here is the new camera. It's a Nikon CoolPix L1 and I have yet to spend any time with it. I'm having seperation anxiety from my old, clunker camera (c.1998). It has been tried and true, but only holds about 100 pictures. The new Nikon will hold hundreds of pictures and with the upcoming trip to the East (in Utah we say 'back East') it will be nice to have. I just need to get it away from Smith long enough to learn it's ways.
Twisted Knitters Update
As time allows, invitations to post on the blog will be sent out to knitters who have signed up for the Twisted Knitter Along. We have over 60 members now and will accept new signer-uppers until the end of the year. By then we hope to be nearly ready to knit our hand dyed and/or spun items. Some of us have spun before and others haven't even bought a spindle as yet. Thank you for the great repsonse and we'll have info for you by the start of next week, our official kick off day, October 2nd.
The weekend was full of spinning, knitting and shopping. It was so nice to have the sun return and chase the chill away. The week to come will have perfect fall weather and yet, cool enough the snow may stay on the mountain peaks. The shopping we did included a new camera and the picture on the right is one Smith took of the mountain bowl that has a bit of snow in it all year long. You can see it in the photo above, but now we can bring it to you up close and personal (if you give it a click). Close-ups of knitting will be shown on this blog soon. The next couple of weeks will give me enough time to figure out how the camera works so it can bring home great pictures of Rhinebeck. We leave 4 weeks from tomorrow!
In preperation of Twisted Knitters Along (yes the blog is up!) I've spent the last couple of weeks spinning a beautiful Ashland Bay Amethyst Merino Top purchased at the GBFF. It really has been a heavenly fiber to spin and I filled two spindles with it. Saturday morning was spent plying a skein, 150 yds., on Lizzy. After winding the yarn onto a niddy noddy and giving the skein a bath, it was a humbling experience to hold the skein in my hands. I had spun this...with my two hands, and it really was nicely done. The job of spinning wasn't quick, but the point wasn't speed . The point was creation, making something useful and beautiful...with my hands. The skein ended up balanced, which made me wonder, "How could I make this beautiful, nicely balanced skein? Where did this skill come from? Could it really be that 3 months of practice has given me the needed knowledge to end up here?" The whole process fascinates and surprises me.
Blogless Karen has a post on the Twisted Knitters blog that shows the hand spun and knit socks she has created since learning to spin. When I brought up the idea for this dye, spin, knit along, she dyed up some fiber and created her latest pair. They really are wonderful so check out the blog and join us in some fun!
After a week of very cold, rainy days (and 12" of snow in the mountains), there is a strange bright orb in the sky! Indian Summer had better be looooooooong!
All over Blogland knitters are hearing the call of the spindle and the wheel. It's futile to resist if you've heard the call and felt the pull of the wool. Do you want to use that new found desire and latent talent to have some fun, learn something new and stretch your horizons? Are you ready to get Twisted?
When I first started to spin, Marcia asked if I had the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook. It had been sitting on my self for several years as I had purchased it (socks in the title of a book is a good way to get me to buy anything) and then let it sit. I didn't spin, didn't really want to dye, either. But, when I looked at the book after my venture into spinning, I was psyched! This was exactly what I wanted to do on my spinning journey. My very next thought was that it would be so much fun to have many spinners, new and accomplished, take this journey with me. Are you ready? We're going to dye, spin and knit for the next 6 months.
Blogless Karen is a dyer, spinner, and knitter extraordinaire. She will be our guide along the treacherous path of dyeing and spinning. (It's very likely you already know how to knit.)
Here are a few of the ground roolz:
- You don't need to dye your own roving. There are many resources for purchasing roving or try your LYS.
- You must spin your own yarn by wheel or spindle. Extra points are given to hand spindling. (The points are from the yarn goddess who will smile on your efforts.)
- You can knit your beautiful handspun into anything you like. Hats, socks, scarves, bags or go for the big deal…a sweater!
- You must have a good time, encourage each other, and not give up. October and November will be for dyeing, December and January for spinning, and February and March for knitting.
- You don't need to keep to a schedule, however. Dye, spin and knit when you like!
Sign ups start now, today. Email TwistandKnit@gmail.com to sign up. The Twisted Knitters blog will be ready next week and invitations to post will be sent by Oct. 2nd. That way everyone can share progress and encourage each other.
Join us and let's play!!
Susan wanted to make sure that you knew how soft the buffalo yarn is...it IS very soft and luscious, perhaps close to cashmere in softness. The book from which I took the cable pattern is The Knitting Stitch Bible. I've had it for a long time and refer to it often. Isela asked for more info on why the need for a provisional cast-on and the I-cord edging. Seaman Scarves have a unique design with ribbing at the back of the neck to decrease bulk. Here is a good example of the basic design. Any stitch pattern can be used on the front sections. Myrna Stahman's book, Stahman's Shawls and Scarves, is a very good resource, but it is hard to find. Two free designs are available here.
The provisional cast-on is done with a crocheted chain (mine is done with red yarn), but Dorothy suggested a crochet cast on, which she finds even easier. The link is to Eunny's lace tutorial which has very good photos of several good invisible (or provisional) cast on methods. (My my, bloggers are a smart lot!)
The provisional cast on edge is used because the scarf is knit in two pieces from the neck down. Start knitting the chosen pattern after the cast-on and finish at the bottom edge with a cast off. The live stitches are then picked up and the ribbing, which sits at the back of the neck, is knit. Ribbing is used instead of the patterned stitch for less bulk around the neck. When the ribbing is complete the other end with the scarf pattern is continued. This insures both ends of the scarf are the same, especially if you have a pattern that looks best in one direction.
The I-cord edges Susan suggested are knit with the last three stitches of each row. I couldn't find an on-line resource for the method, but know it is often used for felted purse handles. It keeps the edges clean and smooth and the scarf edge from rolling. In this case the pattern didn't need a wide border, like the seed stitch edge in the free pattern, so the I-cord edge was a good choice. I could not have started this project without Susan's input and direction. She rocks, as many of you know.
We had a very fun birthday night at SnB on Tuesday. Can you believe that 'spread'? We ate until we could barely make our way home. Every single treat was exceptional. Ewe-tah grrls are multi-talented! Katherine (left) and Teri (right) had a great night and that's what counts.
Speaking of birthdays. Today Carole's birthday! Go show that grrl some love. Happy Birthday, grrlfried!!
You know that feeling of fear that strikes when you decide to tackle something new? It's not that you think you can't do it, but your brain seizes with fear anyway. "No, no! Not something new! Not something else I have to learn by trial and error. Just think of all the mistakes I'll make."
Even though I may be considered an experienced knitter, fear creeps in when I think of trying something new or something that is out of my comfort zone. There isn't anything I haven't been able to do, but the trepidation is there nonetheless. When the idea of a Seaman Scarf crossed my mind I thought it would be easy…it's a scarf and it should go quickly. When I asked Susan about it (she likes Seaman Scarves) she said things like 'provisional cast on' and 'applied I-cord'. Oh no…not the dreaded provisional? I stewed over it for a few days, and when the buffalo/silk yarn came up from the depths of the stash, it just had Seaman scarf written all over it. I asked Susan what pattern she would suggest and she sent me a link. It wasn't exactly the look I'd wanted, which lead me to rethink her favored techniques. I thumbed through a book of knit stitches and found a 44 st. woven cable pattern that struck my fancy. I then suspended disbelief in my abilities and cast on (provisionally) enough stitches for the pattern, began with the applied I-cord and knit and knit and knit! I couldn't stop. It looked great, it felt great. It was going to work and better than that I COULD do it. The buffalo yarn is so soft, so rich in texture and color. Next time I'll be less fearful of trying something new (or different). It's well worth the effort to try!