Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Boilermaker Mittens

It has been cold here, cold enough for mittens, which Mike did not have. Into the stash for some leftover Cascade 220 black and gold tweed yarn, Purdue University's colors. Mike has his master's and doctoral degrees from Purdue, so he is pleased to wear the colors.

I used Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd for the template. This is a great book that I use frequently.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mitteldeckchen III

If you are a lace knitter or want to be of if you just like looking at beautiful lace knitting (or knitted lace; I never can remember the distinction) you need to join the Lacy Knitters Guild. The guild newsletter features members and their knitting, and contains terrific patterns for doilies and edgings, some new, some old. This one, Mitteldeckchen III, called my name.

And it should call my name. It is designed by lace knitting master Eugen Beugler. I immediately grabbed my needles and cast on. The details:
  • Pattern: Mitteldeckchen III by Eugen Beugler in Lacy Knitters Guild 2011-2. According to the pattern notes, the doily combines the center of one doily with the border of a different doily. It has 75 rounds.
  • Thread: Lizbeth, size 40, color 642. Debbie from DS9 Designs carries the Lizbeth in every color and size. This was my first project with Lizbeth, and I was cautious because it is made in China. Based on this first sample, I found it to be a nice thread for knitting, with a crisp finish.
  • Needles: 1.75mm (US00)
  • Finished size: About 12 inches diameter.
I am now going back through my Lacy Knitters newsletters to see what else calls my name.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Boise Retreat 2011

The Boise lace knitting retreat has always provided an enormous opportunity to learn new skills, to admire fabulous knitting, and to stand in awe of amazing creativity. For example:

Easter eggs
Mounting doilies in a ring

We also explored different fibers for lace knitting, with a lot of attention to Shetland sheep and Shetland wool. A conundrum: What is Shetland yarn? Is it yarn produced in Shetland from Shetland sheep? Yarn produced in Shetland from any type of sheep from any location? Yarn produced from Shetland sheep regardless of location? All of the above? Other variations?

Shetland fiber and yarn
Shetland fleece
We also talked extensively about Icelandic yarn with Linda DeMoss from DeMoss Mountain Meadow Ranch, and had the opportunity to fondle and purchase her beautiful fleeces and fibers.

This is only a small slice of all of the good things that happened at the 2011 Boise lace retreat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Big White Felt Whale

During my periodic trips to Richmond, Virginia, I usually try to visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I always find something unexpected and delightful, often something fiber-related. This time it was a big white felt whale.

The exhibit is Mocha Dick by Tristan Lowe. According to the staff at the exhibit, the whale is supported with an inflatable infrastructure. Cleverly concealed zipper seams hold Mocha Dick together and add texture to the sculpture. Felt barnacles also add to the texture.

Was Mocha Dick the model for Herman Melville's Moby Dick? Possibly. Even though I like this sculpture, I am not going to re-read Melville's epic. Did not like it in high school, do not like it now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Skills

I picked up this pattern because it contained two techniques I have never done before, and because I had some yarn in stash that would be suitable.

The first technique is a Shetland construction of the center triangle. Maybe I have done this before, but not recently. The other technique is working with different sizes of needles to create the stripe effect. I like the Shetland construction but I am not as crazy about the two-needle-sizes technique but I think it works here and I am glad I tried it. I really like a picot bind-off, which I have done before.

The details:
  • Pattern: Simmer Dim by Gudrun Johnson at The Shetland Trader.
  • Yarn: Louet Gems, 100% merino wool, 185 yards/50 grams, 2 skeins, Pink Panther
  • Needles: US5 and US10
  • Finished size: 15 inches center back

Monday, September 12, 2011


Seven ribbons at the Western Washington Fair this year: two blue, three red, one white, one green. I won first-place blue ribbons for an edging and a shawl (the photos are a little wonky because they are shot through glass in not-great lighting).

Observant readers here will note that the shawl is displayed wrong-side out. Sheesh.

The three second-place red ribbons are for doilies and for a scarf that did not photograph at all because the case where it was displayed had no lights:

The gold doily was designed as a round doily but it did not want to be blocked round. It wanted to be square-ish. I think it is knit a little to tightly to be round. Maybe I'll try it again on a larger needle.

The third-place white ribbon was for a Quincy hat and the green honorable mention ribbon was for Mike's vest.

This year’s fair grand champion in knitting was stunning. I do not know this knitter but she has my great admiration.

One disappointment (aside from displaying the shawl backwards) was that the number of knitting entries seems smaller every year. The number of entries seemed particularly low to me. If we knitters do not step up and start entering things, the whole home arts program could disappear, which would be sad.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Argentina Memory

One of the must-do attractions when visiting Buenos Aires is the outdoor San Telmo Sunday antiques market. No doubt you will find legitimate antiques; you also will find all of the tourist crapola you can imagine, and then some. With so much going on, you might miss the central market, with fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, household items, and other “treasures.” And tucked in the central market is this shop, the only one I saw selling yarn.

Had to purchase, of course. The skein I bought weighed 136 grams; it is probably worsted weight. The young woman in the shop assured me it is “sheep wool.” The yarn decided it needed to be a multidirectional scarf, specifically this version.

I used US8 needles and ended up with a scarf 5 inches wide and 86 inches long. It is a warm scarf. Every time I wear it I will think of the very hot day in Buenos Aires when I bought the yarn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Love This Hat

The hat that I love is Quincy, by Jared Flood. This is just the latest of several Quincy hats I have made.

As usual, the details:
  • Yarn: Lana Grossa Royal Tweed; 100% merino; 50 grams, 100 meters. The hat took only one skein, but it took all of that skein.
  • Needles: US9 and US8. (5.5mm and 5mm).
  • Finished size: A little large for the “model" but just right for a real person, especially one who does not like a tight hat squeezing her head (that is, me).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I like square doilies. I have looked at this one several times and finally decided it was time.

This doily has some interesting attributes at the beginning and end that I had not expected. I had expected the plain center part to be one row with yarn-overs at the corners, followed by one row plain. Wrong. It is  two rows with yarn-overs, one row plain. At the end, the bind-off as written is done with knitting, not with a crochet hook. I tried it as written but did not care for it, so I used a crochet bind-off. Perhaps with practice, I could master the knitted version.

The details:
  • Pattern: Millpond, from Handmade Lace and Patterns by Annette Feldman. The book is out of print but readily available. Apparently this doily also appears in a Priscilla doilies book. It is not charted.
  • Thread: Cébélia Blanc No. 20, one ball (50 grams, 405 yards) plus a small amount (less than 10 yards) from a second ball.
  • Needles: US0 (2.0mm)
  • Finished size: Approximately 20 inches x 20 inches.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A New Doily

I am a great fan of the doilies on Yarn Over; this one is Stor Rund Dug, which translates to Big Round Doily. In this case, Big Round Purple Doily (it really is round, although it looks cockeyed in the photo).

The details:
  • Thread: Valdani 35 wt. cotton. Color Sweet Violets-Muddy Monet Collection. I love the colors of the Valdani thread; the variations in color are subtle but show nicely. I buy the thread from Debbie at DS9Designs; I want every single color.
  • Needles: 1.2mm (US 0000).
  • Finished size: About 15 inches diameter.
I am a great fan of variegated threads for doilies when the thread and pattern complement each other. I think variegated threads are especially good for scallop-y patterns, such as Feather and Fan, Old Shale and variations.

Let me also here recommend to you the Lacy Knitters Guild and the new Web site. If you like lace knitting, this is a place for you. Well worth visiting and membership.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Design by Me

My husband wears knit vests a lot. Even his students have noticed and commented. This is the latest one. It is a conglomeration of several patterns and my own experience knitting vests, so I think I can claim that I designed it.

I had thought that this yarn would lend itself to all sorts of cables and gansey designs, and it probably does. But getting gauge gave me fits. My swatches (yes, washed and blocked) were spot on, but not at full size. After many false starts, I ended up with a simple Andalusian stitch. I finally got gauge and and a handsome vest, I think.

The details:
  • Yarn: Bemidji Woolen Mills Homespun yarn, "The Natural Yarn ... from the wool of sturdy Northern-grown sheep." Four skeins, 225 yards/4 ounces. Lovely wool!
  • Needles: US3 (3.0mm) and US4 (3.5mm)
  • Gauge: 4.4 stitches/inch in Andalusian pattern (have I mentioned that I am a loose knitter?).
  • Pattern: Loosely based on Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, a very handy book that I have used frequently.
  • Finished chest circumference: 48 inches. Because this yarn is a little on the heavy side, I gave it a little more ease than usual.

Friday, July 15, 2011


I admit that during my many, many, many years of knitting, I rarely thought about the material I was knitting with. Yarn was yarn. It was wool, cotton, alpaca, silk, acrylic, or some combination. Some projects were successful; others less so.

In recent years I began thinking more about the fiber I was knitting with. Why did it behave the way it did? Why did I like a certain fiber? Why did I dislike another fiber?

This new book, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, is a great asset for knitters who want to know about their materials. Open it anywhere and learned something about the basic material we knit with.

The first thing I learned was, "Wow, there are a lot more different breeds of sheep than I ever knew."  The second thing was, "Sheep are not just sheep. There are a lot of differences among them." Then, you have goats, camelids, bison, musk ox, and rabbits, to name a few.

I am not a spinner, nor do I want to go there. But I am learning that knowledge about how a yarn is produced is making me a better knitter. I probably will not read this book from front cover to back, but I definitely will open it to random pages to meet another type of yarn critter.

This book is a great companion to The Knitter's Book of Wool and The Knitter's Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yarn in Innsbruck

Finding a yarn shop in the European cities we visited was not difficult. If the tourist office does not know (and only rarely does the tourist office fail to know), then finding a fabric store — they are everywhere — and asking usually works.

Innsbruck was no different. This shop, Masche & Design, is in a courtyard off Innrain 9, near Marktplatz. It is a small space, but has a large selection of European yarns. Worth a trip.

I also visited a nice shop on Museumstrasse, which had a nice selection of yarn and thread. It was the only shop where I saw — and bought — Diana Strickdeckchen, a magazine with knitted doilies and tablecloths.

Shopping for yarn in Europe is not difficult. It just takes persistence and willingness to ask questions in an unfamiliar language, often with a lot of hand gestures and drawings. It made me wonder if knitting visitors to the United States would find it as easy to find yarn shops.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Now in Bolzano and no shortage of yarn here. At this shop, on via Argentieri/Silbergasse (everything here has two names, one Italian, one German), I purchased some worsted weight wool from local sheep, "mountain sheep," the very patient English-speaking owner said.

I also had the good fortune to find some of the 1.5mm needles I have been looking for at Aadler, on via Portici/Lauben.

Bolzano is a good place for yarn shopping.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Pretty Doily

We are at a lovely agriturismo in Asti, Italy. (Read about it by clicking on the Travel link under Other Interests on the right.)

This was one of the decorations in our room:

I learned that the mother of one of the owners is an expert at crochet. I am not sure if she knit the doily (it has a crochet edging) or whether an earlier generation knit the doily. Other crochet and tatted pieces are attributed to a grandmother. In any case, a knitted doily in the room sure makes Il Milin feel more like home.

Oh, yes, another yarn shop, this time in Asti, just off the main shopping street. Excellent selection of embroidery supplies as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yarn in Torino

Although I have not yet found my 1.5mm circular needles in Italy, I have found plenty of yarn, this time, in Torino.

The first shop was on via XX Settembre. It was small but had a nice selection of threads.

The second shop, Alma, on via Giuseppe Barbaroux in a nice shopping area, appears to produce and sell its own yarns, including lace weights at 1,200 meters/100 grams and 2,000 meters/100 grams, in many, many colors.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bologna for Knitters

It is not very difficult to find yarn and thread in Bologna, Italy. My two favorites are Casa della Lana and Filato Monterosa, two very different shops within easy walking distance of the apartment that is home for a week.

Casa della Lana, on via Augusto Righi at via Gugliemo Oberdan, looks like a women's clothing store from the outside, but on the inside, the shelves are stocked with lovely yarn, mostly Italian. The very finest lace weight is all together. The other yarns are arranged by color, which is not normally my favorite arrangement, but it works here.

Filati Monterosa, on via G. Marconi at about via Parigi, has some yarn but its selling point with me is threads of all varieties, brands, weights, and colors.

I won't list what I bought but it was difficult going down from "one of everything, please" to what will fit in my suitcase.

Buying yarn may be easy but needles, not so much. Yarn shops have some needles, mostly long straight ones. You also can buy needles in mercerie, shops that sells notions such as sewing thread (but usually not fabric), pins, ribbons, buttons, women's underwear, zippers, some crochet threads, embroidery threads, and crochet and knitting supplies (but usually not yarn, except in small towns where mercerie function for both notions and yarn). I am looking for 1.5mm circular needles; so far, 2.0mm is the smallest I have found. Guess I have more shopping to do.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Little Shoulder Shawl

I have long admired the Citron shawlette/scarf/shoulder shawl. What really sold me on knitting this was seeing my friend Joy's version.

As usual, the details:
  • Pattern: Citron by Hillary Smith Callis Smith, Knitty, Winter 2009
  • Yarn: Trekking XXL; 75 percent wool, 25 percent nylon; 459 yards/100 grams; color 418.
  • Needles: US5
  • Finished center back length:16 inches
I had enough yarn for only six rows of the final 12 rows for the ruffle, with about 30 inches of yarn left over. The shorter ruffle works for me.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Knitting ’Round the Campfire

Not a literal campfire. Those who know me know that I do not go camping. Roughing it is a hotel room without Internet access and cable TV.

The color of the yarn is Campfire. The details:
  • Pattern: Glorianna from Elizabeth I scarves by Jolene Treace. The pattern is Pendants from Barbara Walker’s 2nd Treasury.
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow, 100% merino, about 440 yards, in Campfire.
  • Needles: US4
  • Finished size: 7.5 inches x 65 inches
I have made this scarf before because I like the Pendants pattern and it is fun to knit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tiny Purple Hats

My friend and knitting guild colleague Jeannie is involved with the Purple Hat Project at our local Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. Mary Bridge has a program to help prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome. The parents of every newborn will receive a DVD and a book that explains this very difficult time for new parents. And, with help from local knitters, each new baby will receive a purple hat to reinforce the message. Jeannie is collecting hats sized for preemies and newborns in any and every shade of purple. Hat do not have to be solid purple; they just have to have some shade of purple in them somewhere. Size does not matter too much; there is a head for every hat, as the saying goes.

At a recent guild knitting retreat, we were given some new yarns to play with. I chose Cascade Pacific, a blend of superwash wool and acrylic, in lavender. Truth told, it is not my favorite yarn to knit with; it feels plastic-y in my hands. That said, it is very soft and washes up well, so it is good for baby clothes. I actually made four hats from one 100-gram skein but already gave the first one to Jeannie.

I hope some baby likes his or her little hat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Off Topic

Periodically I veer away from knitting to something else. Last week was wine.

First, Chilean Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. My husband, a wine economist and blogger, was invited to participate in an online discussion of these wines. You can read about it here. Our cat, Mooch, figured out that Jeni was going to be his new best friend. Fortunately, Mooch does not mooch from the table and was perfectly happy to sit in Jeni's lap and be petted.

The second event was Malbec World Day. During our visit to Argentina earlier this year, we drank some fabulous Malbecs. Making a selection from our cellar was difficult, as you can read here. But I was happy with the choice (but I would have been happy with any of the options).

My next post will have some knitting it in. Promise.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Knitting But Not Finishing

So it has been a while since I have posted a finished project. That's because I have not finished a project recently, other than a log cabin wash cloth. I learned that technique at a recent retreat of the Puyallup Knitting Guild. One reason that I have not finished something is that I couldn't resist starting a couple of new projects

However, I have been looking through some knitting books, some old, some new. One of my favorites among the new books is Margaret Stove's Wrapped in Lace. The beauty of this book is not just the patterns — don't get me wrong, the patterns are gorgeous — but the information about techniques, design processes, traditions, conservation, and more. This book, like Margaret Stove's other books, is for the thinking knitter.

I also have been looking through a classic, Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker Phillips. While I am unlikely to knit a bedspread, the elements of the counterpanes can easily be used in other designs. This also is a book for the thinking knitter who can admire the designs of earlier knitters and adapt them to contemporary knitting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Milana Scarves

While traveling in Buenos Aires, I visited a lovely yarn store called Milana Hilados and met with designer Joji. For reasons I can't explain, I was immediately attracted to yarns that are very far from my usual fingering weight and finer. These are big, fat, beautiful mega-bulky yarns, which are a signature design of the shop.

I think this yarn is called Florcitas. It is is super bulky wool roving with felted flowers. The blue one, at 146 grams, is 5 inches wide and 76 inches long. The white one is 156 grams, 4.5 inches wide and 61 inches long. The white roving is heavier than the blue, which accounts for the difference in finished size, even though both are garter stitch on 7 stitches. Both are knit on 19mm (US35) needles, which if I never use again will be just fine. Give me my 0000s any day.

Nevertheless, I like the scarves and I think they will make nice Christmas presents for [fill in the blank].

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Knitting and Art

Salentein winery in Argentina's Uco Valley includes an art gallery, mostly featuring work by contemporary Argentinian artists but also a few European artists (the winery owner is Dutch). Among the paintings is this:

The painting is by German painter Hans von Bartels (1856-1913), and it is titled "In de duinen," ("in the dunes"). Note the sheep in the background. It also looks like she is knitting in the round on three, maybe four, needles.

For more about Salentein winery and our travels in Argentina, select Travel in the Other Interests section on this blog's menu.

I am not getting much knitting of my own done during our travels, but I am not sorry about that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Road

I am not knitting much or writing about knitting much during my travels in Argentina. If you want to read about our trip to Argentina, click on the Travel link under Other Interests.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Yarn Day in Buenos Aires

Through the miracle of Ravelry, I "met" Marcela, who lives in Buenos Aires. She recommended a yarn shop called Milana Hilados and "introduced" me to Joji, who works there. Fun, fun, fun!

I looked at a number of other yarn stores on Scalabrini Ortiz, but Milana was by far the best. The others had too much acrylic and bulk commercial yarn, while the yarn at Milana is high quality and creative.

All of that yarn shopping was so exhausting, we needed coffee to restore ourselves.