Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cowling All Knitters...and a book giveaway!

I recently wrote a mini-article about the stress of holiday knitting, and how we knitters should think about making ourselves something, along with the procession of gifts for others. Then I went back to my holiday to-do list, hypocrite that I am.

My preferred knitted gifts these days are cowls. Done on larger needles, anywhere from size 9 to 15, they go very quickly and are a great way to use stashed yarns. Moreover I've discovered that I actually prefer wearing cowls with much of my heavy outerwear (cold is a way of life in New England!), because they don't lump up inside the jacket and create the Michelin Man look, and they can also be pulled up in the back, if they're sufficiently wide, to serve doubly, as both neck-warmer and hat. When I make a cowl for a friend, I don't feel as if I'm giving something just for the sake of giving, because I actually wear these things myself, plus I have the satisfaction of creating space in my stash for cramming in new purchases. Amen.

So, when a book about cowls crossed my desk recently, I was extremely interested to peruse the patterns, which are plentiful, and dream of future cowl projects.

As my devoted readers will recall, I am particularly fond of "60 Quick" series, published by Sixth and Spring Books. It's not just that there are enough patterns included to make all in the series very reasonable buys, but also that the patterns come from a range of experienced designers, so they're all distinctive and attractive. Moreover, since the designs in this series--whether for cowls, Baby Essentials, Quick Knits, Luxury Knits, etc.--are smallish projects, they offer useful opportunities to learn different stitches, techniques, and so forth, without intimidation. When you knit a cowl that involves beautifully complex cables, it's just not as daunting as doing an Aran sweater. I think of the cowl patterns in this particular book as small canvases that let you trial new techniques, yarns (all the featured yarns are from the Cascade Yarn Company), and stitches.

This beautiful, if unfortunately named design, gives you lots of cable practice without locking you into the months (years?) that a comparably-patterned sweater would entail, and when you're finished you've got this classy hybrid cowl-capelet that's both gorgeous and super-warm. (This is definitely on my to-do list for moi). The cover illustration, similarly offers coin stitch and applied I-cord practice, and looks like it's a lot of fun to work up.

So, not only am I going to recommend this book to you, gentle knitters, but I'm also going to offer a free copy, courtesy of the publisher, to the first reader who correctly identifies the following lines:

...I like a cowl;
I like a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles:
Yet not for all his faith can see
Would I that cowléd churchman be.

To enter the contest, which will close on 6 December at midnight, please leave your answer in the comments section of this post, then make sure to check my next post for an announcement of the winner. In some past contests, the person who has won has not responded to my request for contact information, so that the publisher was unable to award the prize.  NB:   If you want the book, and your answer is correct, then please stay tuned.

NB:  We have a winner, Bonney, and a runner-up already, and it's still 6 December.  So, contest closed for the nonce.  Bonney, will you please email me via the button on my profile with the address to which you want the book sent? I need it by tomorrow midnight (12/7), else I move on to the next runner-up.  Happy Chanukah to all.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What you make of it...

A review copy of Debbie Bliss's latest, The Knitter's Book of Knowledge, arrived at just about when I needed a refresher on how to make buttonholes. How lucky was that?

I was finishing a Barbara Cowl for my friend Barbara, and as often happens when I'm in the middle of a pattern (or recipe), I realized I wanted to change something. The thing about this pattern is that you knit it as a scarf on straight needles, then sew it together. Since no provisional cast-on is required, you're left with a long rectangle that has a short seam, rather than an invisibly grafted-together loop. Had I realized this before I began knitting, rather than plunging right in, as is my s.o.p., I would have done the whole thing differently...but so it went, and there you have it. I needed to finesse the issue of a visible and clunky seam.

The fix was, I decided, to put in some buttonholes near the end, and sew on some matching buttons. That's where this lovely Debbie Bliss book enters the scenario. The book offers four really good methods of buttonholing (plus helpful ancillary information about reinforcing them, etc.), and I followed the instructions for one of them, and it all turned out very well.

Now Barbara can choose to wear her Barbara Cowl as a cowl or a scarf (hurray for versatility!), and she will be none the wiser as to the snafu I encountered.

Often when I receive books to review for this blog, I peruse them, but don't use them--that is, I never take the time to knit up one of the many patterns contained therein (most are pattern books), but merely ascertain from reading them whether or not I could in good conscience recommend them to you, gentle knitters. Those I can't recommend I simply don't review, as I don't feel it's an effective use of my time to write the hard truth about a problematic tome. But those I do recommend, I'm happy to extol, because they have appeal, utility, and durability. The Knitter's Book of Knowledge by knitting guru Debbie Bliss is one of these.

It's not just that I used it, and can verify the clarity of instructions, illustrations, and layout. It's also that it's a great reference work.

Reprinted with permission from The Knitter’s Book of Knowledge © 2015 by Debbie Bliss, Lark Crafts, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Kim Lightbody. Illustration by Cathy Brear.
And while it's pitched to a wide audience--knitting lessons are contained within (see above), as well as more advanced instructions--that's also part of its beauty. A decades-experienced knitter like moi consulted it and found interesting tips on how to make a better buttonhole and inset pockets (file for future reference). A neophyte will appreciate the sections on yarn suitability, color theory, trouble-shooting, etc., and especially enjoy the way in which processes like casting on and binding off (to mention only two of many) are broken into comprehensible steps. And there's also the fact that it's attractively designed and laid out.

So, in my considered opinion, this is a book worth owning. Or giving. I'm sure you know a knitter who'd enjoy this as a holiday gift.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Homage to Harrisville

Some places speak for themselves, so I'll let these photos do the talking. Except I'll say that the 139 mile trip, from New London, Connecticut to Harrisville Designs, in Harrisville, New Hampshire, was both scenic and worthwhile. The day was overcast but not rainy; steely light, foliage gone. We arrived and surveyed the historic mill buildings, exemplars of the Industrial Revolution still manifest in rural New England.

Inside, a warmer world.

Yarns by the cone and skein, looms and loom notions, pattern books, knitting magazines, and knitting notions. Also, a beautiful area to sit and knit.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...
How is it that some yarn shops have so much charisma and others don't? Harrisville Designs is a magnet, one of the nicest yarn venues I've ever encountered. Shop personnel are lovely. And the Harrisville yarns--so utterly distinctive, their colors and textural traits bringing the nineteenth century into the twenty-first.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mindless knitting

It's my practice to have several ongoing knitting projects, and there's always one I think of as "mindless." This means I can do it automatically, so I can talk to others while knitting, or stop and start it often, as when I'm traveling and have to sit down/get up/embark/disembark/board/deplane, etc., and not worry about losing my place. My place in the knitting, that is.

The Knitting Goddess once observed that all knitting design was nothing more than rectangles and tubes. With this in mind, and knowing well my own limited ability to combine shapes, I decided that my current Mindless Project would be a long rectangle knitted of lace-weight mohair on #9 needles. (I use a circular so I don't worry about dropping stitches when it's packed away.) Said project accompanied me during a recent trip to a shockingly beautiful part of the world called New Mexico. Ultimately the project will become a very lightweight, warm, and lovely shawl/scarf thing.

I'm using Schoppel Mohair Lady yarn, 80% mohair, 20% nylon, in 50 gram balls. One ball yielded about 18" of generously wide shawl, so I'm thinking maybe four or five will do the entire job. The color, teal, is gorgeous; the yarn is not so wonderful to knit, however, even though it looks great. Mohair knitting is not for the faint of heart. It snags and slips, and it's a horror to frog. (At the unfortunate Brandon Mably workshop I attended last winter, I did learn one useful thing--that if you have to frog mohair, put the yarn in the freezer first. Apparently mohair is a very juicy kind of yarn, and freezing will tamp down the cling action.)

So, we had a wonderful week in New Mexico (the usual suspects: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos), and I met some great fiber people, bought some amazing hand-dyed yarns, and all the while knitted my Mindless Project.

Outside the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe NM

We came home, unpacked, unpacked, unpacked (translation: still unpacking), I caught up on things, knitted this and that, and suddenly realized I couldn't locate my Mindless Project.

In typical extremist fashion, I ripped through all my usual hiding places, interrogated H whom I trust to know where everything I've lost is (he didn't), replayed endless scenarios of when and what I'd been knitting in the week since our return, and finally decided I'd lost my knitting. I began to mourn it. I had sleepless nights. I considered a fairly reliable but desperate last-ditch tactic--to begin knitting the project all over again. This would once again validate my Theory of Duplicates, which goes thus: If you lose something, buy or create an exact replacement. This guarantees that the original will reappear.  I was very reluctantly screwing up my courage to do this.

But then I noticed a tote bag on top of a shelf in my closet. I opened it, and there was the knitting! 

Calloo, callay, O frabjous day! she chortled in her joy.

It's remarkable how impacted I am by a vast, though somewhat repetitive, cycle of self-created dramas. Most of them are pointless and downright neurotic. At least this one had a good ending, even if it temporarily disproved my concept of mindless knitting .

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Indian Summer

Recently harvested hand-knitted, hand-washed socks line-drying, late afternoon, today.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Knit Your Own Autumn

Why not? There are instructions for knitting your own dog, your own cat, barnyard critters, even knitting the sky.

This came about because I asked my friend--we'll call her Chavvy (NB:  not her real name)--what color she'd like me to knit her a scarf/shawl/birthday present. The response was NO...she had too much of that stuff. (Nothing like blunt honesty, d'acc?) Could I please just knit her a flower, preferably one she could pin onto her clothing?

Hmmmmmmmmm. I checked out patterns and somehow these absolutely didn't ring my chimes. The designs I encountered seemed so, um, tea-potty. So I decided to knit her a pair of mitts and pin a seasonal something onto them. This is the result.

Go on Ravelry and search for "leaves," "acorns," and the like. You will be amazed.

I think I'm celebrating Autumn because my summer was such a drag. I had an unpleasant visit to LA (adult son acting out, grrrrrr), I've been dealing with ongoing hand problems (see last post), and in late August I broke my left foot while standing on a perfectly flat surface, an asphalt driveway, and simply being the klutz that I am.

The good news is that my hand problem has recently diminished, thanks to some awesome medical treatments, and my foot healed fast. And now it is AUTUMN! This is the most beautiful season of all in New England. No wonder I'm knitting oak leaves and acorns. (I may also have a squirrel ancestor.) Note to self: knit an autumnal corsage for thine own adornment.

Gentle knitters, I highly recommend my latest article, in the most recent issue of Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts. It's an inspirational profile of an up-and-coming New England designer, Bronwyn Heffernan (aka Casapinka), whose patterns provide mood-elevating knitting and wearing, and who herself is a paragon exemplar of survival and reinvention. The piece is called "Rescue by Design," and you'll find it on pages 56-58.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Doing the Continental....

Gentle knitters, I'm kinda sorta having a needlecraft crisis.  A repetitive motion disorder (aka traumatic chronic tenosynovitis) is afflicting my dominant (right) hand and I've been ordered to back way off. Ergo I decided to learn Continental style knitting (see mangled mess in above photograph), hoping it will allow me to stay on the road to Knitsville. Continental style is more ergonomic (fewer gestures necessary to make a stitch) and the work happens more in the left hand than the right. Perhaps this will be my salvation.

Continental knitting videos are available gratis on Youtube and  I found the latter more concise than those on Youtube, many of which are Kommandant-style by disciplinarians with a sketchy command of English. (Although they're often unintentionally amusing, especially after a couple of drinks.) I also purchased a Knitting Daily download, Continental Knitting with Biggan Ryd-Dups, which seems, likely, the best of the bunch. Report to follow, sometime....

Perhaps because my own hand is misbehaving, I decided on the best use for the Buddha's Hand fruit that has been growing on my little Buddha's Hand tree, purchased a couple of years ago from Logee's Greenhouses in Danielson, CT.  It was very, very ripe.

Buddha's hand has no pulp; it's all rind. A type of citron, its culinary value is in the rind, which has a bright lemon-orange scent. I couldn't bear to mutilate this extraordinary fruit by skinning it, so the natural and best use seemed to be as the principal and only flavoring in a vodka infusion.

It takes a few days for the magic to work. Could this be the cure...?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Magic

Oh look!  A dog house!

And a couple of really cute dogs who are sort-of friends.

The dog on the left lives in the little house, which, like a snail, he carries with him always.

This lovely book by Susan B. Anderson features the dog in the doghouse design on pages 95-103.  Another nice quality--it's spiral bound.

And while I'm on the subject of lovely books, a review copy of 60 Quick Knit Baby Essentials came my way recently.  

While the book's patterns showcase a newish acrylic-nylon yarn from Cascade called Cherub, I think you could substitute another Cascade or comparable of the same weight, approximately DK or light worsted. Like many of the Cascade-related books published by Sixth & Spring, there's a lot of bang for the buck, plus the designs are a good mix of practical and super-cute. What I particularly like about them is the practice they offer for color-work, cables, lace trim, and intarsia. 

If you're interested in learning a new technique or refining one you've already tried, think of these designs, whether for clothing, toys, blankets, or pillows, as miniature study opportunities. Knitting a classic aran sweater or onesie for a baby enriches your cable and bobble skills but doesn't commit you to the heavy challenge of an adult-sized fisherman sweater. (Yet it might inspire you to make something for yourself that uses the same stitch repertoire.) And if you know a special baby who deserves something hand-knitted and adorable--the designs are sized from about six months through eighteen months--you'll find many enticing projects.

The publisher has offered a copy as a giveaway to my readers, so post a comment before midnight on June 7th, and I'll select a winner (with a US mailing address). 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

My mother made these mittens for me in 1984.

The seam on the right suggests that they were done on two rather than four needles.

Here we are in 1973 (my sister on the right).

Requiescat in pacem, Muriel Moss, 1929-2006.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Exit Eneri Knits

How sad to report that Eneri Knits in Exeter, Rhode Island, will close this month. Irene Garza DeVerna, the shop's founder, did an impressive job of creating a welcoming venue for knitters and crocheters, supplying excellent yarns and notions, sponsoring enjoyable classes, and fostering a community of people interested in needlework and camaraderie. Although she's not participating in the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl, which happens on the weekend of April 17-19, Irene asked me to mention that Eneri Knits will be open then, and the shop's remaining merchandise and fittings on sale.

Thanks, Irene, for everything.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Seasonal knitting

Time to expand our notions of what seasonal knitting implies! Passover provided the opportunity to knit yarmulkes for two of my guys.  Here they are, facing the promised land.

T, left, models yarmulke made from self-patterning Fair Isle sock yarn; H, right, models yarmulke of  silk/cotton blend DK yarn.

I discovered this lovely and quick pattern on Ravelry. It's free, of course. Designed by Jennifer Tocker, the yarmulke is intended to be in reverse stockinette, but I found that it's completely reversible. (Model on left is in reverse stockinette, model on right is stockinette.) Pattern instructions are meticulous and detailed. Thanks, Jennifer!

And then I learned that April is National Stress Awareness Month, and that the Craft Yarn Council is running a campaign to "Stitch Away Stress." To that end, it's providing a free pattern for a knitted or crocheted stress ball shaped like a lemon.

Possibly you're thinking, "I need this like a hole in the head"?

Look--if it reduces stress, why not? And you might have some yellow yarn in your stash that's just yearning to be liberated. And you have loads of free time to sit around knitting lemons, right?

I checked out the Craft Yarn Council website, which I've in the past consulted for design issues, like sizing measurements, and this time, under their Health heading, I was favorably impressed by a video in which folks discuss how knitting reduces anxiety, and so forth. There are also compelling anecdotes in the readers' comments section. You can see them all by clicking here. You can add your own two cents, if you feel so moved. On this website you can also find ways to connect with other squeezable lemon-knitters/crocheters by posting on FB, Instagram, etc. (I don't travel to those places, so I leave it you-all to figure out the nuances.)

Et voilà:

Lemon Stress Ball Pattern
Designed by Twinkie Chan
Knit Version:
Approximately 4.5 in. (11.4 cm) long and 2.5 in. (6.4 cm) wide.
  • Red Heart Super Saver by Coats & Clark, 7oz/198g skein, each approximately
    364 yards/333 meters (acrylic)

  • 1 skein in #E300_324 Bright Yellow (MC)
  • 1 skein in #E300_672 Spring Green (CC)
    Note: Approximately 18 yards (16.5 meters) of MC and 1 yard (91.4 cm) of CC used to make 1 lemon
  • One set (4) size 7 (4.5mm) double- pointed needles (dpn) OR SIZE TO OBTAIN GAUGE
LH = left hand
M1 = Insert LH needle from back to front under the strand between last stitch worked and next stitch on LH needle. Knit into the front loop to twist the stitch.
MC = Main color
RH = right hand
rnd(s) = round(s)
st(s) = stitch(es)

  1. Place a slip knot on the RH needle, leaving a short tail. Wrap the yarn from the ball around your left thumb from front to back and secure it in your palm with your other fingers.
  2. Insert the needle upwards through the strand on your thumb.
  3. Slip this loop from your thumb onto the needle, pulling the yarn from the ball to tighten it.
  4. Continue in this way until all the stitches are cast on.

With CC and single cast on method, cast on 5 sts.
I-cord row 1: Slide sts to RH end of dpn, slip the slip knot onto RH needle. Pull the end tightly from the end of the row, k to end. Slide stitches to RH end of dpn.
I-cord row 2: Drop the slip knot, (kfb, k1) twice—6 sts. Pull on tail to
release slip knot and tighten i-cord. Distribute evenly over 3 dpns. Place marker for beginning of rnd and join, taking care not to twist stitches. Next rnd Knit.
Cut CC and attach MC.
Rnd 1: Knit.
Rnd (inc) 2: (K1, M1, k1) 3 times around—9 sts.
Rnd 3: Knit.
Rnd (inc) 4: (K1, M1) 9 times around–18 sts.
Rnds 5–7: Knit.
Rnd (inc) 8: (K2, M1, k1) 6 times around—24 sts.
Rnds 9: Knit.
Rnd (inc) 10: (K5, M1, k7) twice around—26 sts.
Rnd (inc) 11: (K7, M1, k6) twice around—28 sts.
Work even until lemon measures 4 in. (10 cm) from beginning.
Dec rnd 1: (K2tog, k5) 4 times around—24 sts.
Next rnd: Knit.
Stuff lemon firmly. Additional stuffing may be added as necessary while decreasing as follows:
Dec rnd 2: (K2, k2tog) 6 times around—18 sts.
Dec rnd 3: (K2tog) 9 times around—9 sts.
Next 2 rnds: Knit.
Dec rnd 4: (K2tog, k1) around—6 sts. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight to close. Weave in ends.
• Stitch marker
28 sts = 5 in. (12.7 cm) and 7 rnds = 4 in, (10 cm).
Take the time to check your gauge.
CC = Contrasting color
dec = decrease
dpn = double pointed needles
in(s) = inch(es)
inc = increase
k = knit
k2tog = knit 2 together
kfb = Knit into front and back of stitch
Photos and text are © 2015 Twinkie Chan Inc. All rights reserved.
Well, this lemon is a win-win, because you can stitch away stress while you’re making it and then squeeze away stress as often as you need after it’s done! How great is that?! Oh, and don’t forget to show off your lovely lemon when you’re done! Post a pic of it along with the hashtag #StitchAwayStress and #lemonstressball on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
**To view a tutorial of this project, visit:** The information on this instruction sheet is presented in good faith and without warranty. Results are not guaranteed.
D651_Lemon_Pattern_3 | 04/03/15 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Monkey Socks

I hadn't thought of calling them that when I made them, but a friend saw the resemblance. It's a great pattern for a thick winter sock (uses worsted, #5 dpns), and knits up quickly.

I used Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in Oak Tweed, and a hand-dyed locally-grown worsted for the red accents. The free pattern, called "Men's Business Casual Socks," is on the Lion Brand website.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Noro v. Winter

Greetings from white-out world, where, yes, it's snowing once again, having started in the wee hours of the morning and predicted to continue till well after dark. We expect between nine inches and a foot. So relentless.  So depressing....

The white expanse between the horizontal lines of trees is the solidly-frozen and snow-covered Wood River. It has recently become a conduit for a small herd of deer. They march around eating shrubbery that ordinarily would be overhanging the water.
Luckily for me, like an infusion of mega-mega vitamins, a review copy of the latest Noro book arrived just the other day. Perfect timing!

Full disclosure: I love Noro yarns, as I've said here before. So this review isn't about why Noro yarns are great, because so far as I'm concerned, that's a given. This review is about the power of Noro yarns to dispel gloom, because simply looking at the photos in this book--all of them exquisite--is as mood altering as a sunny day in June. Add to that the beautiful patterns contained within, and I can almost forget that the weather outside is frightful.

Noro yarns possess two outstanding qualities. First, the colorways are always surprising and uniquely beautiful. Second, the fibers, no matter what Noro yarn is used, are strong, warm, and soft. For a knitwear designer, the challenge is to develop a pattern that displays these Noro advantages effectively. I'm happy to report that all the patterns in Noro Lace succeed fabulously in this respect. The book offers the work of top designers--Deborah Newton's instant classic Tabard with Cowl, done in Taiyo, Laura Zukaite's Bobble Band Scarf in subtle Silk Garden Solo, Pat Olski's Elbow Length Gloves in cashmere-blend Shiraito, Patty Lyons's Poplar Leaf Beret in Silk Garden worsted--to mention only some.

As with most collections, the garments are keyed to different levels of knitting expertise, so anyone from advanced beginner to pro will find an appropriate project. There's a lot to like in the thirty featured patterns, but the star of the show here is always the yarn. And on a white-out day like today, it's really a thrill to flip through this book. Whether you read it, or knit from it, it's a perfect antidote to this New England winter that never ends.

Design by Lars Rains

Design by Anna Davis

The publisher, Sixth and Spring, has kindly offered a free copy of the book to one lucky reader. If you'd like to be that person, please post a comment telling me why, by midnight, Saturday March 7. (Restricted to U.S. mailing addresses.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Newly discovered

Gentle knitters,
I'm one of those people who deliberately limits input of information either because learning curves for new tech programs, tech gizmos, relationships, handicrafts (e.g. crochet, weaving), and pieces of music are so exhaustively extensive, or because I fear the accretion of new knowledge will displace/ permanently remove important stuff already at the edges of my brain bank. For example, I sometimes ponder why I'm unable to teach myself (or be taught) three or four additional useful methods of casting on knitting stitches, or innovative bind-offs, until I remember how my mental space is limited, and that if I foray into the realm of New Knowledge something good and still marginally accessible might permanently disappear.

This could be a false assumption, but it feels true. Plus the nature of technology these days is that if you can breathe, have one working finger to swipe or push a button, and partial vision, you can send messages, talk to people, and take photos in a manner that profoundly conceals your limitations. Just as I believe in the Winnicottian concept of the good enough parent, I also believe in the good enough knitter, computer user, photographer, musician, etc. Perhaps this is no revelation to you, mes amis, but for a recovering Type-A such as I am, it's an essential fact that needs to be placed daily at the fore of consciousness:  Repeat twenty-five times to self:  Good enough is okay.  Good enough is okay.

Recently, in the company of dear buddy Casapinka, I sashayed into the hinterlands of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and was introduced to a beautiful LYS, Love to Knit (or Love2Knit). There are many things to enjoy about this shop, (which I'd heard of for ages but never had the gumption to visit, as I feared information overload), though its two most outstanding features, at first glance, are the high level of friendliness generated by Ann and Gayle, the super-personable proprietors, and the excellent selection of yarns for sale.

It was Love2Knit that introduced me to a really superb fingering weight yarn, Jaggerspun of Springvale, Maine, that's super squishy, strong, and comes in the most beeyootiful colors. How is it that their products, made in New England, eluded me for this long? This company has been in business since the 1880s! I immediately purchased two skeins of red, as with all the endless snow this winter (as I write this, we are being bombarded by yet another storm), I need need need hot colors. (NB: Besides Jaggerspun, the shop carries really interesting indie-dyed yarns, a good selection of standards and luxuries, and has excellent prices on skeins of Swans Island.) was a good thing that I was able to reach out beyond my comfort zone and discover Love2Knit. And Jaggerspun. I'm now about to hunker down for a period of heavy knitting while I convalesce from surgery slated for Tuesday. The big question: Will I be able to finish all of the forty projects I've assembled for my recuperative entertainment during my period of confinement?

Here Ann kindly winds the Jaggerspun fingering into two cupcakes for me

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cat out of bag, and miscellaneous

You can see how enthusiastic Molly is about the latest news, my article in the Spring 2015 of Interweave Knits about Sarah Upton, indie dyer par excellence, and purveyor of the only gansey yarns spun and dyed in the U.S. from American sheep!

See the teaser, "Meet a Seafarer and her Gansey"? That's it!  Find the article, "Wool at Work:  The Utilitarian Yarns of Sarah Lake Upton," on pages 12-14. It was a blast to travel to Portland, Maine last August to do the interviews and photography. If only I hadn't broken my foot...Check out Sarah's beautiful website and blog, too. And buy some of her awesome yarn! Her yarn is great for loads of other things than gansey sweaters. I recommend the sport-weight for super durable socks.

So, while I'm on the topic of my personal disabilities (file under Crumbling Late-Middle-Aged Body abetted by intensive klutziness), such as breaking my foot last August (it's all healed), I was also dealing with a horrible case of tenosynovitis in my right (dominant) hand. Yes, knitting, playing two keyboard instruments, and constant use of a computer for writing, finally just about wrecked my hand. This was most upsetting, as you might conclude. I could barely knit for about a month, and began intensive occupational therapy plus regular visits to amazing hand specialist Dr. Lee,  at Foundry Sports Medicine in Providence.  (What, you didn't know that knitting's a sport? So is playing the harpsichord.) He, and his wondrous OT Vicki Moitoso, analyzed my knitting posture (or whatever one calls the positioning of the hand) and made suggestions--such as knitting on very large needles rather than number ones and twos. Apparently it's much less stressful to the hand to hold large objects (like big fat pens and number 15 needles) rather than those that are smaller.

Ergo, I raided my stash for bulky yarn and found a bunch of rug wool donated to me some years ago by a friend cleaning her ex-husband's debris from the attic. (Don't ask.)

I just love the funky labels. The yarn itself isn't too shabby, either. Preliminary research suggests these skeins date from the 1940s, and it's in amazing shape for seventy-year-old yarn. (It might be even older. Anyone know?) I found a lot of it for sale on E-bay, in case you suddenly develop a craving.

It's surprisingly pleasant to knit big. I'm using the rug yarn to make two heavy-duty rugs/blankets for my sister's completely mental dobermans, Theo and Dorrie. If I made a rug for my pets, they'd just pee on it. That's what they think rugs are for. Barfing, too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The medium is the message.

It's called the Winter Blues hat, and you can get it on Ravelry.  I modified the wording to assuage my delicate sensibility.  Also, I knitted it in a variety of Aran-weight leftovers. If you knit it as specified, using worsted, you may need to go down a needle size.