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.